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Interviews

Starcraft 2

Blizzard's Chris Sigarty answers our questions...

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Then after going through the process of figuring out what that meant and dealing with things like how we were going to handle World of Warcraft, you know, let's use portions of this team to do that, we finally got where we need to be to do it.

So we went from the decision that we were definitely going to do it, to thinking about what it was going to be and then finally making it.

Blizzard began development on Starcraft 2 in 03/04. Why do you need that extra time?
We made the decision to make it in 03, but we didn't really want to get into it in earnest until after World of Warcraft. We began thinking: 'What would we need to do this?'

The truth is when we did make the decision we were going to do it, it was very clear to us. Sure, we wanted to establish a sense of nostalgia for people that did play the original game but, to a point, it's new: 60 per cent new units, improved UI, a new graphics engine and other things.

Then we had these two sort of huge factors, which were: 'We're going to be really innovative on the single-player side - totally a step forward compared to what we did in the past - and we're also going to revamp Battlenet to be totally new and cool.

It was a lot of iteration to get where we are today. We needed a full dev team ready to begin in earnest and large enough to do it.

I'd like to get your general thoughts on the RTS genre. Do you think it's as popular as it was back in the days when the original Starcraft launched? Does it give you any concerns over the potential audience for Starcraft 2?
I don't know. Overall, the total popularity of the RTS has probably fallen a bit - yet I've seen a tonne of really cool and innovative directions that RTS has gone in. My perception is that they aren't selling as well but I don't really know.

But one of the things for me that has been interesting about it is that people have changed what's crucial to an RTS - now it's all about blowing everything [traditional] out of the water.

People do crazy different things - sometimes to the level of getting away from the essence of what was established previously.

Our feeling is: 'Hey, this is a really solid play style and great gaming method'. We're being very innovative but also making sure we don't alienate people.

So for me, I feel pretty positive that with Starcraft 2 we'll spark a resurgence in RTS gaming. As far as PC gaming goes, it's definitely still alive with World of Warcraft so we don't think it's dead yet.

We've got Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void coming to Starcraft at some point in the future. How far into development on those two titles are you?
The original [journey] was conceived with a total complete story arc so we know those big points - but the details are still being talked about and discussed now.

I've said this before, but our estimate is 18 months approximately from when we launch Wings of Liberty that we would be looking at getting Heart Of The Swarm out.

Have you got any ambition or would you consider a move onto console with this second Starcraft?
Console is not on the radar for us but there have been a lot of interesting moves in that direction [elsewhere]. There's been some pretty cool things on the control side.

I still think that at least from our perspective that it feels like the mouse and keyboard just lends itself to this style - but you know we're getting closer and closer all the time. So when we see that optimum moment, I think it's certainly possible that we'll explore that junction as well. But it's not on the radar right now.

Are you hoping Starcraft 2 may reach a wider audience than the first game ever did?
Yeah, that's my hope. I don't really know what the perception is from a player who's first game is Guitar Hero - I don't know what their perception is of Starcraft, or Starcraft 2. I don't know that they have a sense of awareness, but I think they're going to come across it somehow - whether it's through friends that play World of Warcraft or who are into RTS, or whether they're just casual gamers that come across it.

But I hope that they do come across it and they make the leap. We've done the right things to make sure that they have a good time. Then, hopefully, word of mouth will spread and people realise that RTS - although, technically there's a lot more to think about and do and often the learning curve is higher [than your average game] - we can get them into it and they can have a good time.

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