Last night, outside GAME's flagship store on Oxford Street, London, hundreds of PC gamers queued to buy Blizzard's real-time strategy sequel StarCraft II. It wasn't exactly chaos - more like orderly enthusiasm - but it was fun nonetheless.
Before all the hullabaloo, Eurogamer hopped on the train to London to chat with Blizzard's vice president and executive managing director for international operations Michael Ryder, and StarCraft II's lead software engineer Carl Chimes, to get some insight into the launch of what will no doubt be the biggest PC exclusive game of the year (unless World of Warcraft: Cataclysm comes out in 2010, anyway).
Read on for Real ID, really epic stories, and what's next.
Eurogamer: What emotions are you experiencing now that the game is finally out?
Carl Chimes: It's very exciting. We're all pumped up and ready to start work on the expansions. We're just very happy to be releasing StarCraft II. It's riveting.
Michael Ryder: It's been a huge effort. The one thing that makes it even more exciting for us is the fact that it's a global launch. We're launching in 11 languages on five continents within 24 hours. So there's a lot of excitement. We've got the adrenaline.
There's going to be a lot going on starting in a few hours. It is really exciting. It's kind of exhilarating, actually.
Eurogamer: What do you do after the servers are turned on and the game goes on sale? Do you obsess over what people say on forums?
Carl Chimes: We're always interested in hearing what the community has to say about the game. We're going to be monitoring the balance of the game. We were in beta for a while, and we think we've nailed it and come up with a finely tuned, balanced game.
We'll definitely be monitoring it going forward and we're ready to react.
Michael Ryder: Part of our company culture is to be in tune with the players. We want to hear what they're thinking and make sure everything's working right.
Obviously with such a big launch in so many different places, there are bound to be a few things here and there that need to be tweaked. So we want to be right on top of it. We're going to spend a lot of time listening to how people are responding.
Eurogamer: What can you do then? Can you react quickly to what people are saying?
Carl Chimes: It's true, we do have the ability to patch the game when we feel it's necessary. We're able to react very quickly if we need to.
Michael Ryder: We've got an organisation at Blizzard, even as we speak, we've got a group of people that are in a command centre, so we can coordinate on issues that need be addressed as we launch around the world. We monitor that on a 24/7 basis all the time.
Eurogamer: StarCraft is known for its balance. Did you keep the number of playable races in StarCraft II the same as in StarCraft to preserve the balance?
Carl Chimes: At Blizzard we have this core design philosophy called concentrated coolness. If we think we can make the races completely distinct and unique from one another and still balance them appropriately, then that's what we'll do.
We don't think we're going to add much to the game by adding an extra race and diluting the abilities of the existing races. So really early on we decided we want to stick with the three races. We love them. We just wanted to make them even more distinct and still just as balanced as the original.