The lights are on
Dustin Browder, the design director for Blizzard Entertainment's
upcoming mega-RTS StarCraft II: Wings of LIberty, took time out of his
busy Zerg-nerfing schedule to speak with us about the philosophy behind
the game. Strap yourselves in, because we're in for several pages
of exclusive info on one of the biggest PC games of the year.
the biggest change you've seen in the way the StarCraft II beta plays
compared to high-level StarCraft play?
We're seeing all kinds of crazy strats. We don't know if
they're real, if the counters have been found out yet, or if it'll all
shake out in the end, or if we need to make fixes. Obviously, StarCraft
II is a more mobile game in many ways than the original StarCraft was.
This is in some ways a function of the types of units we have. There's a
lot of mobility in this game in terms of moving and dancing, attacking
and retreating. We're seeing lots and lots of dancing between players as
they vie for position, as they try to get in good flank attacks, and as
they try to get in behind their enemies and prevent them from escaping.
That's probably the single biggest global change that you see, but as I
said we're also seeing lots of crazy rushes that we haven't really seen
before. We're seeing lots of warping in stuff early on in enemy bases.
We're seeing lots of early attacks that weren't really possible in the
original game and we're trying to decide, "Are these permanent problems?
Are they problems that we need to deal with right now, or will they
shake out in the end?
Is that change in overall mobility something you
intentionally built into the game?
No. Our creative process on StarCraft II was very
different than the creative process I've used on other RTS games I've
worked on or even on WarCraft III. We didn't set out with any goals in
mind, and I'm sure that this will upset the fans terribly. What we did
instead was that we said, "We want to make a bunch of cool units, and
we're going to make each unit as cool as we can possibly make it, and
then we'll see how it all works together, and we'll tune as necessary
from there." So it was never our intention specifically to do anything
exactly with the races. Our goal was to make the units as interesting as
possible and as different from one another as we possibly could. From
there we could see how the races changed and evolved. That's definitely
how it has worked out.
The Zerg, I think, are a lot more methodical in
StarCraft II than they were in the original StarCraft. The Terrans have a
lot more of a commando feel to them in a lot of cases than the original
Terrans ever did. I know that's something that a lot of the fans look
at and say, "Oh my god, you've changed the Zerg!" but there's really no
way to re-make this game and to change the units without fundamentally
changing the character of the races. So our goal initially was, "Each
unit is as different as it can be from all the other units in the game,
and each unit has its own unique role and its own unique abilities, and
each unit hopefully feels as cool as it possibly can feel, and then
we'll see where the races end up and hopefully it won't feel too
different from where they should be conceptually." But we didn't really
have a set goal when we started, and right now I'm very happy with how
everybody is playing out. Everybody feels very different from one
another, the kinds of strats you see in the different race matchups are
fairly different. We're obviously looking to continue to push those even
further. For example, we're seeing the Roach-Hydralisk combo for Zerg
is pretty core to a lot of the matchups, and we're going to do some
things to try to break that up a little bit. But against Terrans we're
seeing very different strategies as a Protoss player as opposed to
playing against a Zerg player.
Were you sad to see
anything have to go in the name of balance?
Early on we obviously weren't as
worried about balance as we are at this point in time, but for instance
the Thor was a unit that went through a lot of changes. We had these big
cannons on the back of the Thor that did massive, long-range AOE [area
of effect] attacks because that looked cool and it sure was fun to play
with. It stepped on the Siege Tank in the worst way. You really didn't
need a Siege Tank if you had a Thor, or if you had a Siege Tank you
didn't need a Thor; one or the other. So we ended up scaling those back
to be a single-target, high-damage stun attack, which feels pretty
different from the Siege Tank, but it doesn't quite match the visuals as
much as I would like. But it's a much better player-based experience.
I would say that those are some of our biggest struggles with
StarCraft, that the art will imply a certain look and feel, like what's
supposed to happen, and it doesn't always match the best gameplay goals.
We'll often go with the gameplay, which means that the art is sometimes
a little bit out of sorts with what you imagine it could do. For
example, if I build six Battlecruisers, a lot of players look at that
and imagine, "there's nothing in the world that can defeat this. Look
how big they are! I will crush all with this! No-one can stand before my
might!" And they're quite surprised when they run into 30 or 40
Hydralisks and they get rolled, and they think, "What?! That can't be,
that's not right!" But we're not willing to make the Battlecruiser look
wimpy just because if he encounters ten times his cost, he's going to
lose. Those are some of the challenges we face, and that's the area
you'll see we've done something and we have to go back on it a little
bit, just because we thought it would look cool and we thought it would
play cool. If we thought it didn't play cool, but we still think it
looks great, we'll keep some of the visuals but we'll change up the
gameplay to make it a better experience.
Email the author Adam Biessener, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
This is too long. I couldn't finish reading it, and with all these articles I probably won't
agreed that it was a little long-winded, if not informative. hard to maintain the level of fanatiscism about a game that still continues to have no release date. of course im excited, and of course i'm going to buy it but cmon...like diablo 3 I was so ready for it 2 years ago...not like I get any MORE free time as I get older..
that was dense but built some excitement
Didn't read everything, but I've had a little fun playing around with a cracked version of the beta (though the AI is terribly idiotic) and I'm really looking forward to them giving out the release date so I can tuck away that $100 for the Collector's Edition.
now where is the release date