The lights are on
Probably the most controversial moment in StarCraft II’s development was that announcement that the game’s single-player campaign is going to be split between three separate releases. Now that Wings of Liberty is out, I don’t think many people were disappointed by the amount of content in there, but obviously when it was announced, there was a lot of community concern. How early into development was this decision made? How did you approach making sure that people wouldn’t be disappointed with that first release?
It was the middle of development. It was not the opening move. At one point we had 17 or 18 missions per campaign, so we were looking at making 50-some missions. Even then, they didn’t have a lot of choice and options in them. The critical path was still fairly linear, and we wanted more missions than that. The more we looked at it, both our need for a lot more missions per campaign and at the same time looking at how fast we can create this content, we realized we were setting ourselves up for a 10 or 12-year development cycle if we wanted to finish it. Then the hard talks began…and the screaming and throwing of things and the battles about what we could and couldn’t do.
We ultimately decided that we could break it up like this. This would be a way to get a great product into consumers’ hands in – well, I don’t want to say a reasonable amount of time, because that’s not fair. It still took us forever. But we wanted to get a product into consumers’ hands sometime before the end of the decade. Even that we didn’t quite make, I guess, but it was still sooner!
We knew we had a lot of content and were still going to provide as close to 30 missions as we could, which was comparable to our previous products. We knew we were providing the content, but we knew that fan reaction would be loud and angry. We knew we were costing players something, because they wouldn’t get a chance to play their favorite race if it was Zerg or Protoss. When fans said we weren’t giving them value, we knew that wasn’t true, but we knew that we were costing fans something if they only came to the game for Zerg and now have to wait another two years. That was a price we had to pay.
Looking at all of the choices we were giving players and the additional depth that the game would have as a result, it was totally worth it. We were looking at maybe a 12-mission campaign for each race. And looking at the plot, we’d be racing through these stories at light speed to try to get it done. If we’re only going to be able to do 30 to 35 missions, we’d be racing through the story. “Hey, here’s Jim, now he’s doing his thing, and he’s done. Okay, here’s Kerrigan.” We’d be going so fast that the story wasn’t going to be able to breathe. We just knew it wasn’t going to be as fun.
So we made that sacrifice. We felt very sorry for our Zerg players, but we’ll have to pay it back to them when we get to that campaign with a larger campaign, with more details on Kerrigan, a more in-depth look at what it means to be a Zerg. But it’s going to cost them right now for the first release, because we had to delay it a little bit. I stand behind that decision. I’m absolutely convinced and will be to my dying day that it was absolutely the right creative choice even though we knew that it would cause a lot of outrage. We had to count on our fans to buy the game and see it through and hopefully agree with us that we made the right choice. As a player, I think it was absolutely the right choice to break it up. It allowed us to focus on the plot and focus on the choices and tech tree and technologies at the player’s command and make something truly awesome.
It certainly seems that since the game’s release, the fervor over that decision has died down quite a bit. I know you guys are still recovering from finally getting Wings of Liberty out the door, and again, congratulations on three million copies sold so far. That’s fantastic. I’m sure it’s far too early to go into any specifics on the expansion stuff, but I’ve got to ask: Can you give us any hints as to how long we’ll be waiting or when we can expect to hear more about Heart of the Swarm or Legacy of the Void?
I don’t really know yet. One of the things we’re trying to avoid – we’ve always tried to avoid it, and we still fail frequently – is to unintentionally lie to our fans. We don’t like telling them dates, because we’re so often wrong, and that just upsets them. We don’t like telling people creative stuff until we have some idea of what it’s going to be. We definitely want to get stuff out there so people can comment on it. We get a lot of good comments from our fans based off of interviews like the one we’re doing here, so I like to get stuff out there, but it’s still way too early to know.
We are working on it. We’re working on our patches going forward. We have a lot of exciting plans for Battle.net in future patches. We’re going to monitor balance for future patches. We’ve got some mods we’ve developed internally that we’re going to put out to get some more art into the hands of the mod makers but also provide what we hope are some polished gameplay experiences for our fans to get more value out of Battle.net. But I don’t know when we’ll be ready to roll something out on what the mechanics are for Heart of the Swarm, what some of the missions will be like, what our multiplayer plans are. We have a lot of stuff we want to do. What are we going to do with challenges going forward? There’s so much stuff we could be talk about, but I don’t know for sure what any of it’s going to be yet, and I don’t want to spin a bunch of tales and have them turn out to be B.S., and then the fans are sad. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to wait. I’m sorry we don’t have more information for you right now.
I just had to ask.
Totally, you’re right. Keep asking!
starcraft 2 wasn't that great..... It didn't stop me from playing mw 2 and civilization 4
Starcraft2 is the first truly great RTS in a loooong time
I really thought this was a good game. Enjoyed the campaign but didn't really get "hooked" on it or the multi player.
uggggg/ just foguht 2 cheating protoss. they really need to fix that, and no im not a noob im platnum. the guy had 4 warp gates, templar arcive, dts, high templays and 10 cannons in my base on one base by the time i had a decent army and 4 warpgate. i hate cheater, all of them shoudl die.
This guy seems really cool and approachable. I'm not sure if its just the interview format or what, but a lot of the interviews of game designer's I've read make me think he/she is a complete tool.
Now I believe it's time to start this bad boy up!
Well that's fine. Even with a two-year timeline, I think I'll still be playing coop with my friends and family by the time Heart of the Swarm rolls out.
i want warcraft 4 =(
wow grew boring
agree with havoc best RTS in a long time
Wings Of Liberty was so good. I simply cannot wait for Heart of the Swarm! /me crosses his fingers for a two year development cycle... Unrealistic, I know.
''Our baby is going out there, and there’s nothing we can do for it now. Either our baby is prepared or it’s not.''
A 12 year old isnt a baby :/
Its almost a teenager :/
I mean what other game has used longer to come out than this game ?
Maybe the Duke Nukem game that is supposed to come out but i still doubt it will.
I love Starcraft 2! I play it almost every night.
This is one of the first RTS's where I truly enjoyed and cared about the campaign, it was a real treat to play. Oh, and the multiplayer isn't too shabby either haha.
I still need to play this game!!!
No offense GameInformer, but I don't it fair for starcraft 2 to be reviewed by someone who is OBSESSED with it. All I'm hearing about starcraft 2 is how amazing and perfect it is. It's probably a good RTS but there is no way it was worth the 12 freaking years wait (Plus the system requirements are so high, most people can't even run it on their computers :)