Q: Two days ago you’ve announced StarCraft II release date, are you excited about that?
Very much so. I’ve been working on this game for over five years now, some of the guys from the team are up to seven years. I think we’re all really really excited to be done with the game and to get it to the hands of the fans. We know many of the fans have been waiting for the game over upwards of ten years. We on the team and the fans are all very excited to be approaching the end.
Q: Do you think there’s something that could change this date?
No, I really don’t see it. I would be unbelievably surprised.
Q: How long do you expect that the beta test will last?
We’re definitely gonna push it as long as we can, we have some hardware deployment that we have to do. We’re definitely be going on here for about another month and then we’ll see what we can do after that. When we have to deploy hardware, when we have to bring it down, prepare for launch but we’re gonna run as long as we possibly can.
Q: This will be few days before release date or maybe some more?
It won’t be necessarily just a few days. We do have to take down the servers to prepare for the launch so there will be some time between the launch and when the beta comes down. I don’t know how long it’s gonna be right now. There will be at least couple weeks or maybe more where the beta is down before launch.
Q: What can we expect in the future patches? We already know that there will be some Facebook integration from today’s announcement. Can you tell me something more about that? Or maybe about map publishing system?
So we’re obviously working on map publishing so that you can publish your map on Battle.net and share it with all your friends. We’re adding two levels of publishing plant. We have sort of a beta test publishing which will share with just you and your friends so that you can test your map and see if it’s any good enough before you publish it live for whole world to see. At that point you will be able to control versioning of your map, decide what version of your map you want people to be playing. We also continue to polish a lot of UI elements that you guys aren’t seeing today. Like we have some very rough version of achievements in the beta right now which we’re gonna keep working on before we go live. We’ve got improved profile functionality, we’ve got lots of little tweaks and fixes across Battle.net to sort of bring it up to speed. Once we go live we have patches planned in the future for things like tournament support, for things like obviously chat channels, lots and lots of little features to happen after we go live as well. We’re sorta viewing Battle.net as sort of a more of a living service in StarCraft II. A little more like we do In World of Warcraft where we’re sort of adding as we go and it’s not just major games that see improvements to Battle.net we also do improvements along the way. I don’t know a lot about Facebook integration functions you probably want Greg Canessa for that stuff but that is something that gonna go live with the product. They are putting it in beta patch so that will just allow you to sort of import your Facebook friends into Battle.net allowing you to quickly populate your friends list with people who are playing StarCraft with you.
Q: How do you assess commitment of players in beta test? Do they provide you enough statistic data?
We’re seeing lots and lots of play on Battle.net right now. The average Battle.net player right now is playing over 20 games a week. Which is really great. Our highest end players up in platinum leagues are playing upwards of 50 games a week. And this is including players who tried it out for two or three games got beaten down decided they didn’t want to play anymore until game went live when they had more time to learn and left. So that means that the players that are active are playing well above 20 games. They are playing lots and lots of games. We’re seeing a lot of information about balance, we’re seeing lots of feedback on the Battle.net service itself. Like all our betas it’s a great learning experience for us. The fans have really sort of jumped in with both feet, played our game is not the most polished experience yet but they played our game and gave us a lot of great feedback to improve final product.
Q: You mentioned in some interview that 2v2 won’t be balanced for obvious reasons, but most our readers like those games a lot. What is the future of those games in your opinion?
I know that numerically it’s not true, the vast majority of players are playing nothing but 1v1. But for players who are playing 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 we’ve been working on balance of those modes and we’ll continue to work on the balance of those modes. We’ve been putting in some changes to the map pool to make those modes a little bit more fun to play. There have been some complaints about for instance Twilight Fortress map that it might be a little bit too easy to support your ally but that’s one of the things that we’ve been trying to do to those versions of game; provide maps where it’s very easy to get to your ally, to protect your ally. So it’s not a question of everybody rushing and eliminating one player and then the game is effectively over. We’ve been definitely trying to create balance in the maps and in the design that will allow you to play with your team and win and lose as the team. In addition we’ve been working on a lot of the rule sets for resource sharing after ally has dropped or have been eliminated and we’ve been working on reveal rules for when you lose your last Command Center, Nexus or Hatchery. We’re definitely working on team play and we’ll continue to work on the team play. I don’t know in the end of the day if the balance will be quite as tight as 1v1 because of all possible interactions but I think it will be pretty tight balance and I think that players will have a good time.
Q: On what stage are you in single player?
We’re coming pretty close to the end.
Q: Is there any possibility that units from the single player will be some day in multiplayer mode? Maybe in expansions?
It’s totally possible. It happened in the past, right?. Like Dark Templar was a single player unit in StarCraft and became a multiplayer unit in Broodwar. So anything is certainly possible. I don’t anticipate that at this point but we’ll be certainly looking at that stuff as we’re moving to the Heart of the Swarm and multiplayer elements of that game.
Q: So I think you have already some ideas for new units for the expansion? I think it’s right time to think about that.
Is it? I’m just pretty excited to be getting done with this game. We haven’t really started working hard on Heart of the Swarm. We’ve got a little bit idea of story, we’ve got few ideas for few missions but we haven’t worked out on how we’re gonna do it for multiplayer yet. One of the exciting challenges for multiplayer for Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void is we don’t really want to add more units on top, right? That would take us to maybe seventeen units per race and in Legacy of the Void that would be twenty-one units per race. That would be insane, right? There would be no way for us to effectively balance that, there would be no way to make sure units don’t have overlapping roles, would be very difficult for a player to guess what your opponent gonna do when he has twenty-one different choices laid out in front of him. So it will be very challenging for us to find clever ways to create both fun and new content for multiplayer but not make the game too complicated.
Q: After release of StarCraft Blizzard have published some bonus maps that expand StarCraft universe. Are you planning to add similar maps in StarCraft II?
We’ve definitely been discussing it. I don’t know what gonna happen one way or another. It’s obviously something we would like to do it’s all gonna come down for us to time and polish. Like do we have time to do it to Blizzard quality or not? And that’s always our standard. We could definitely do a lot more with the team we have should we choose to do so but it would compromise our quality to sort of jam things too quickly. We’re gonna see what we can do. We definitely see the urge for it from the fans and it’s something we would like to purse but I don’t know what’s gonna happen. We’re definitely gonna be working on some custom maps to release to the community on day one with the day one patch that will go out with the game so we’re planning on putting a lot of maps out there so they will help community make custom maps and sort of provide some new games types. But as you see maybe in the beta already the community may not need that much of our help in making custom maps as they’ve done some amazing things with the editor already.