How StarCraft beat Chess • Page 2

Blizzard looks back on the world's best strategy game.

Eurogamer: Do you think it's possible when developing races, with the tremendous amount of content that's out there, to avoid this kind of "inspiration"? It's very hard to come up with something completely original these days.

Sam Didier: Yeah, the goal is; we don't want to come up with something totally original, we want something people can relate to, that we can, as artists, designers and programmers, infuse with our ideas. We could, as designers, have a race of space aliens that are a big mass of amorphous goo that have the flying shit but nobody could relate to that, they'd be like they "how come they're flying a spaceship but they don't have any arms or legs and how come they're shooting lasers from their tentacles?" That's original, but it's also kinda stupid.

[laughter] Even that's unoriginal! Have you seen the Simpsons?

Frank Pearce: I think there's a reason why developers do better when they include aliens and that's because that's what people are drawn to.

Eurogamer: Did the three factions already exist from the previous games or did the redesign reshape your ideas for the factions?

Frank Pearce: StarCraft was our first game where our sides weren't basically symmetrical...

Sam Didier: ...chess pieces...

Bob Fitch: ...this was the first time where we tried to make each side its own unique army and not copy wherever possible any of the things the other sides did. It probably would have been easier to do two. Three seemed like the good thing to do. While we could have done more, it would have been diluting one of the others taking cool ideas and forcing them into a fourth one.

Frank Pearce: One of our design philosophies is "concentrated coolness". There's only so many great ideas you can come up with at any one time. When we started making Warcraft III, a little off-topic, we were talking about 9 different races.

Mmm. Why do ruptured Zerg buildings make me think of kebabs?

Sam Didier: Yes! [Everyone else groans]

Frank Pearce: Probably a little too ambitious, there's only so many good ideas you can deal with. With SC it was really important for us to make all three races compelling.

Eurogamer: StarCraft was such a tremendous success. Firstly, What do you think made it such a success compared to any other strategy game. Secondly, what was the biggest flaw, looking back?

Sam Didier: [To the first] The gameplay. It was really balanced and fun to play. It wasn't as balanced as it is now, but everything was really balanced from the off, it definitely has a faster pace than the other competitive RTSes out there. The art isn't what's still bringing people back to the game, it's the gameplay. I've said this many times, but chess and checkers are still being played and the art for those isn't great. Gameplay!

Frank Pearce: You can't really point at any one particular thing that we can hang our hat on, but certainly one thing was, the online matchmaking and the community that grew online. Before that people were only playing RTSes on LANs, so the experience of bringing multiplayer to the internet and creating this mass community of millions of players is certainly a factor as well.

If you see this many carriers in multiplayer, you've probably already lost.

Bob Fitch: The user interface was one of the best of its time and still hasn't been improved on, actually. It gave you fine control over the units and it makes a big difference for gameplay. Aside from any little pathing issues there might be, in SC when you click and tell a guy to go there he goes there. He goes as fast as he can, and does exactly what you tell him what to do.

Eurogamer: He also mouths off when you ask him to go.

Frank Pearce: That's another good point, something we try to do with our games to draw people is to inject personality. Even though the unit you see on screen is only a handful of pixels tall, we draw portraits and voices so we can build a stronger emotional connection. That applies to the story. We tried to make not just a compelling story, but a compelling universe, so you'd have that emotional connection.

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Dan Griliopoulos

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