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StarCraft II is Blizzard's "best work ever"

Plus new battleground and WOW story plans.

In the second of Blizzard's podcasts, or BlizzCasts, vice president of creative development Chris Metzen says that the company's forthcoming RTS sequel StarCraft II "feels like the best work we've ever done".

Metzen - Blizzard's story supremo, creator of the original Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo storylines - says of StarCraft II that it will be "much more cinematic" than the first game and that "I think we're all doing the best work of our careers".

"It's been very, very rewarding to see this thing take shape," he adds. "Just getting back to that Blizzard of yesteryear where it's not all about WoW - don't get me wrong, I love WOW! But we're so much more than that."

The podcast also features some revealing comments on where the company plans to take World of Warcraft in future - in terms of its story and battlegrounds in particular.

Metzen talks about some of the themes in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion, mentioning that it will scale things back from the outer-space extravagance of The Burning Crusade, but delve deeper into the world's history.

"The Burning Crusade: it was huge on a conceptual level, right?" he says. "Some would argue maybe too huge. Whatever happened to Gnolls and Kobolds? Suddenly, you're in outer space fighting angels. With Wrath of the Lich King, you almost get both. We come back to terrestrial Azeroth... it's a little more palatable to classic fantasy. But at the same time, we're also pushing forward hugely on the setting. We're going to get into themes like the Titans and the creation of the world, the function of Azeroth at the dawn of creation."

Central themes will be the dwarves' research of their origins and the creation of the world, and the warring dragonflights, as well as a refocusing on the current state of the Alliance and Horde factions.

Elsewhere, WOW lead designer Tom Chilton mentions that Blizzard is looking into creating more battleground maps around existing themes, so you have a choice of maps for the capture the flag game type, for example, rather than just the one available at present (Warsong Gulch).

There's also a detailed discussion of the Magtheridon boss fight for all you raiders out there, answers to some fans' questions, and (contain yourselves now) even a brief mention of Diablo.

You can download the podcast, listen to it, or read a transcript. Do; it's worth checking out the Metzen interview, because he's a very smart man and he sheds some light on how Blizzard got to be one of the best storytellers in gaming.