Interview by Callandor, Transcribed by macbeth
We popped by Blizzard’s HQ at Irvine, California, earlier on in the month and spoke to Dustin Browder, Lead Designer for StarCraft 2. Find out more about his thoughts on the current state of the game’s multiplayer balance, Blizzard’s plan to make watching SC2 casts on YouTube much easier and much, much more.
Q. So about the StarCraft 2 expansion, when is it going to be released?
When it’s done, [laughs], when we are ready. You are allowed to ask…it is really ok.
Q. Later this year?
We don’t know for sure yet, or even close. Like, we’re working on it as fast as we can obviously now that the consumers are enthusiastic and a lot of our fans out there wanting it as soon as they can to see what the next chapter is for the Zerg.
So we are beating away on it, but it is going to be new mechanics for the Queen of Blades – she is not going to be worried about how much money she is going to get from her job, that’s not her problem you know, so we have stuff to figure out with what we want to do with multiplayer.
We have stuff to figure out with Battle.net and we are trying to build up a campaign as fast as possible so it is going to be a challenge for us to get it done as fast as the fans want it. We are going to give it every effort but I don’t know at the end of the day, it’s much more important that it be good than it be fast.
When it gets done, we’ll put it out and as we get closer and closer, we’ll have more and more dates for you guys to build the talk about but we’re not even close yet to knowing when we’ll be done.
Q. New units?
Q. Return of old units?
We’ll certainly have the old units [laughs].
Q. What about Lurkers? Will we see them ever again?
Well certainly Lurkers will probably be in the solo campaign. Uhm. No guarantees.
But whether we put them in multi, it really depends on a number of factors.
The reason we pulled the Lurker from multi was that they were simply just weren’t useful at the end of the day. Like, the reality was that so many units had taken over his combat role as we went forward – infesters, roaches and banelings all were doing things better than the Lurker was doing at the time and we found that we just weren’t building them in games really all that much
We were so in love with the unit that we kept it way past its prime like it was sitting way at the very end of the tech tree. It was like an artillery unit now and it was doing all this crazy stuff and it was not really even a Lurker anymore.
It didn’t really make sense but that’s what the unit had become and it was just a desperate attempt to hold on to it and as we looked at it this was not a unit the game needed. The Lurker was not actually doing what it used to do and the game had changed too much for this unit to have the same core role.
I do know there was a big outcry from certain players; not specifically for that unit although they’ll sometimes say that. Although the outcry I’ve heard is that they wish they had more ways to use cloak or burrow specifically as a threat to enemies and they feel they have lost that with the Lurke. I think that is a fair feedback from our players that is something we will definitely look to address in the expansion.
Q. Since we have no dates or anything new that you can reveal, let’s talk about multiplayer. So how is the balance like for multiplayer?
It is going really well. You know, it’s still a very scary time for us because lots of players, even the pros in many ways are still learning the game and still teaching us what works and doesn’t work in the game. We’ve seen a lot of movements in tournament plays in terms of which races are winning and which races are dominant all over the place,. I think there is still a concern that the Terran are still a little bit overpowered but then we are seeing Zerg and Protoss win some high end tournament in places.
Q. I don’t think Terran has won a GSL yet? (Note this was before the 2011 GSLs)
They have not won, but yet they represent a lot of the top 8s and a lot of the top 4s in a lot of the places but they are not always winning. Internally the numbers are really positive, I haven’t checked them today which I should have done before I came up here but certainly the last time I checked I think it was before the Christmas break so it is getting a little old, but we were within a couple of percentage points.
Adjusted by percentage at the highest leagues around the world. So we are doing very well by the numbers. I don’t know if you guys saw our Blizzcon presentation on how we do balance but we don’t like to rely on any one single variable. We use player feedback, we use the adjustment by percentage which we get from our Battle.net stats, we use tournament results, we use pro feedback, and we use our own personal play experience.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Terran 2-Rax All-in Strategy?
We are still seeing a lot of those and we are kind of waiting to see if it gets blocked at some point or not. If it doesn’t get blocked then we will deal with it. We still think it is a little early to say that is a given.
We’ll see. That is definitely something we are watching and something we are concerned about.
Q. And they’ll keep on winning in the meantime…
Yeah right. I wonder if they stop doing that garbage they would they win more games or is that the only way to play for them?
Q. Will we see more big tourneys in the US or the South East Asian region or in Europe? Do you have any plans?
Well, it is really in many ways up to our fans. What they want to do and how they want to organize. We are seeing a decent amount of stuff going on in Europe as well.
So there’s some stuff that is growing but ultimately at the end of the day all we can do really is make the best game we can possible make. Try to make the game easy or as friendly as we can possibly make it and put it out there and see what people do to see what they embrace and see what they enjoy and hope that it will grow to more places around the world who think it is fun.
We think everyone would get a big kick out of sort of seeing people, you know, from their part of the world competing. It would be really really cool. But at the end of the day it is really, in many ways, up to the fans. Whether they embrace it or not.
To be continued…