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StarCraft II

Blizzard on all things Zergling-related

StarCraft II's associate producer Tony Hsu recently got grilled by PC Zone magazine about Blizzard Entertainment's RTS sequel. Take it away, Tony...

What is it that made the Koreans so mad-keen on StarCraft?

Tony Hsu: Well, they took the game to a totally different level, one that I don't think anybody really expected. They were able to micro-manage everything, and do crazy stunts with units that nobody ever thought could be done. I think the game allowed for a lot of that, and it combined with the factions being really diverse, the timing of the release and the storyline. It was just a mix of those things and it worked its way up.

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But seeing as StarCraft was released ten years ago, how are you making sure that new people 'get it'?

Hsu: That's one of the bigger challenges we have with StarCraft II - we have to appeal to the hardcore players, especially in Korea. So it's one of those 'easy to play, hard to master' mentalities. There are a few things that we allow to be automated, however.

For instance, one of the new abilities is a charge ability for the zealots - where they automatically work by themselves, upgrade themselves and charge into the enemy. So we've simplified some things, while allowing for new units to bring in other levels of complexity. It's been a balancing act, going back and forth, and that's one of the biggest reasons why we have to test it all the way. We have to make sure that it's fun to play, but also appealing for all different levels of players.

It must be hard to do a sequel to something people already know so well...

Hsu: Even details in our trailers get critiqued. At the beginning of one, a Terran dropship targets in some marines - and in no time on our battle.net forums, we had four threads discussing how that was going to affect the new game...

And what about major gameplay changes? Can you tell us about the kind of stuff you've brought in for the sequel?

Tony Hsu: I think it's the stuff brought in by our new units, and the warp-in is a great example of how our mechanics have really advanced - for the Protoss. You can warp guys in from Phase Prisms, which are these mobile tower platforms which fly around and they're also transport. And anywhere that's powered, you can warp in guys through its gateway. It opens up new tactics, you can go behind someone's base, power it up and then warp in a whole army.

It's refreshing to see a game that isn't ashamed to be hardcore...

Hsu: Absolutely. A lot of RTS games you see on the market are watered down, they make it easier for gamers to play. But I think we can entertain everyone at the same time, that's what we're trying to do. It is possible! That's what got everybody into the RTS genre in the first place...

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