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Blizzard: 80% of effort for 20% of polish

So that's why they take so long.

Blizzard senior engineer Dominic Fillion revealed the extent of the developer's perfectionism at GDC today. During a presentation on programming StarCraft II, he quipped that the vast majority of the developer's effort goes into the final polishing stages of the game.

"They say that the last 20 per cent of your effort gets you 80 per cent of your game," Fillion said, quoting the the common game development maxim.

"With us it seems to be the other way around. 80 per cent of our effort goes into the final 20 per cent of polish."

Fillion was almost certainly exaggerating for effect, but his talk - titled 'Designing for Performance, Scalability and Reliability: StarCraft II's apprach' - went on to showcase Blizzard's legendary attention to detail.

It was mostly a technical talk detailing the tricks Fillion's team uses to ensure that StarCraft II will run smoothly on a broad range of computers. He also showed how Blizzard, unimpressed with the third-party tools available, had built its own tools suite with a wide range of features.

One readout allowed designers without technical expertise to quickly view which components of the game were consuming the most processing power and causing slowdown at any given time, listed by company department - and so see immediately which colleague they needed to speak to about it.

Fillion could also automatically trigger AI-driven StarCraft II battles ranging from light to heavy demands on processing power, typing a single word to summon half a dozen of every single unit in the game in a huge scrap. It ran at 8 frames per second on his $1000 laptop. "I'm OK with that," he said.

StarCraft II is currently in beta testing, and is due out in the first half of this year.

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Oli Welsh

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Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.

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