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Build for hardcore first, says Blizzard

Pardo argues accessibility can come later.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Blizzard's game design chief Rob Pardo has argued that it makes more sense to build a game with the hardcore gamer in mind first, and then improve its accessibility later.

"It's not really any different for StarCraft than it is for World of Warcraft, Warcraft III or Diablo, to be honest," Pardo said. "We really try to serve both audiences.

"One of the ways we do that is that we build for the depth first - for the hardcore first... Then, what we do gradually once we have that basic game - which is really fun to all of us, because a lot of the people here are pretty hardcore - then we really start trying to make the game more and more accessible."

It's easier to design for more casual players, Pardo explained, and therefore easier to add those features to a strong hardcore design than the other way around.

"The reason we build the game in that order is because you can easily come up with game design concepts or ideas or mechanics that are shallow and designed for a more casual, broad-market gamer - they're not going to put fifty-five hundred hours into a game, right? But we really want to make sure that we build in those features that have a lot of depth and a lot of replayability first, because we can always make that stuff much more accessible for someone that's not going to put in the same amount of hours."

Elsewhere in an interview covering the current development of StarCraft II and Blizzard's design philosophy in general, Pardo reveals that Blizzard similarly - and contrary to the way many other studios work - builds and tests multiplayer components before developing the single-player side of its games, and prioritises having a playable version of a game up and running over creating detailed design documents.

"We very much believe in not making a mammoth design document and then just having a team make that to spec and shipping the game," Pardo said, and added that "I think that if you want to have a great multiplayer game and have a great single-player game, you should build the multiplayer first.

"The challenge a lot of console games have is that they think about the single-player, they build that game, and then they try to tack the multiplayer on at the end - which I don't think is ever going to be very successful."