How StarCraft II will teach you to play competitively

When the single-player campaign isn't enough, Challenge mode awaits

With time pressing before the game needs to be rubberstamped and shipped, Chris outlines how his team is trying to squeeze in as much useful content for those with the knowledge andambition to fiddle with the base game. “We’re trying to also include examples of things that people can look to as roadmaps for games they can make, things like tower defence maps or (another Warcraft III hero-on-hero RTS) Defence of the Ancients maps.”

The end result will be these industrious types uploading maps, or tweaks, or even entire game modes to, and letting others download them and add to their legacy. “We’ve seen some amazing stuff without a centralised download location, so we think sky’s the limit once we’re able to bring in something like that online.”

Chris is taking his community seriously – when we checked up with him during the interview, he was up to speed on all recent strategies, namechecking obscure tactics like the planetary fortress rush (fly your moveable Terran fortress outside an enemy’s base, set it down, build massive cannon on it, win) and even picking out areas he thinks the community will expand into next.

“We’re totally paying attention. We have community teams in every region and we’re reading through our forums constantly.” By the time you read this, Blizzard will have added a feature suggested loudly by the beta crew – the ability to refocus the camera on a specific spot of the map you’re interested in, and call it up with a keystroke. You don’t get this kind of player/developer interaction from many other game makers.

StarCraft II is described by Blizzard as a ‘new game for old players’. The ease with which the very best can slip back into the competitive multiplayer has been proven by their dominance in the upper reaches of the beta tables, but the steps taken to allow, even enforce participation in those who would stare blankly at a Baneling are impressive.

“There’s a lot of people who have no idea what it’s about,” Chris says, “so we’ve done a ton of things to enhance it for them, to make it easier and accessible.” Regardless of the enticing single-player mode or home-schooling Challenge missions, StarCraft II will be defined by its balance. At this stage in its development, the see-saw – zergling newbies at one end, battlecruiser masters at the other – is nearly stable. A few more additions from Chris and Blizzard will make it rock solid. Let’s just hope that one teeny tweak doesn’t bring the whole playground crashing down.

Apr 8, 2010

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