This week Blizzard held a panel at the Game Developers Conference, an event for gaming companies to gather and discuss game development in today's industry. The major part of the panel was lead by Rob Pardo, Senior Vice President of Game Design. While a major portion of the panel was in reference to WoW, StarCraft II was also frequently mentioned, which included:
- Blizzard creates Multiplayer games first, then creates the single player game. Designing games with multiplayer in mind but creating the story mode first is much more difficult than the other way around. This is how StarCraft II was developed. So far in the beta, this design philosophy has been obvious, as the multiplayer beta is incredibly polished for a game that hasn't been released. One can easily see that the multiplayer has been in development for years, and this emphasis on multiplayer is what set the first game apart and gave it it's incredible longevity. These design principals reflect Blizzard's commitment to recreating the "magic" that was StarCraft's balance- they obviously don't believe it was a fluke or created through luck, and intend to prove it with StarCraft II. This way of designing also allows them to run "free" with the single player campaign, creating new and overpowered units for the purposes of storytelling without worrying about how it affects the multiplayer, which has already been established. A good example of this are the "Stone Zealots" from the single player demo at last year's BlizzCon.
- Pardo then discussed "What Is the Fantasy?", meaning making the game live up to player's expectations of the game for their characters, such as Kratos from the God of War series truly feeling like a god-slaying hero. Pardo goes on to say that he feels they failed in this regard for StarCraft 1, in reference to the hero units of the campaign.
"Pardo feels that Blizzard failed in the [task of hero units] with the original StarCraft. By their nature, heroes should be the character that is the most powerful unit on the field who leads armies and can turn the tide of battle. In StarCraft , though, the hero units were fragile, especially in battles involving 50-plus units, so players ended up sheltering their heroes back at their base. He said this problem was fixed in Warcraft III, though, where the hero actually was the most powerful unit, and since battle sizes were smaller and the legendary fighters could resurrect, players used them as intended."
This is an easily relatable sentiment for many who played StarCraft 1 - hero units were indeed best kept away from the battles, as they were much too precious to lose. The minor role of hero units in StarCraft 1 was probably beneficial for the multiplayer of that game, and radically different from the design of WarCraft III, which most can agree was not as large of a success in the multiplayer department as StarCraft.
Do you feel the heroes were designed poorly in the original StarCraft? Do you agree with Blizzard's "multiplayer first" philosophy? Why or why not?
Source: Gamespot GDC Coverage Official GDC site