Blizzard is developing StarCraft II
with the patience and precision for which it's known, but just how great is the scope, breadth and time allotment for the project to be fully realized?
The task ahead of the developer -- releasing the game as a trilogy unprecedentedly integrated with the re-launching Battle.net service -- is intimidating. In a new Gamasutra feature, lead producer Chris Sigaty describes the complex issues of game balance and depth
to which the developer must now attend, and he also illustrates just how far ahead Blizzard must look to the project's conclusion.
Blizzard is "definitely having conversations at this point" about expansion packs, says Sigaty. "We know the overarching story. We have certain points we know, but there are a lot of details to figure out," he says.
"We expect everything to be different when you play through the Zerg story and when you play through the Protoss, so you're not going to be mercenaries, and you're not going to be buying tech in that sense. So now what is it?"
The actual single-player mechanics will have to change, Sigaty explains. "What we're doing with multiplayer, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of, so all those things, we're just starting to move into discussions about now," he says. "I really don't expect us to get into any action on it until we actually ship the game."
Does that mean it may be several years until all of StarCraft II
is completed? "Yes," says Sigaty. "That's a fair statement."
And while the general guideline is a four- to six-month beta period, "we're not going to ship the game until it's ready, is the bottom line," Sigaty states. "We're trying to get the beta out as quickly as we can. We're really excited about where it is from a multiplayer standpoint. I don't know what it means other than we won't ship it until it's ready."
For Blizzard, the game's beta will mark a crucial information-gathering phase, according to Sigaty. "During at least the first month,certainly, people are just going to be doing tactics that we kind of expected -- marines, Zergling, and that stuff," he explains.
"We really need to get past that hump to the point where people are starting to do some crazy stuff before we even see the things we want to see from a balance perspective."
Sigaty says Blizzard is doing everything possible to get the game out as soon as possible, to welcome users to the new online experience. "I don't know when it's ready," he says. "That's the best I can say now. I know we were saying other things before, but that's what I can say now."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on Blizzard's development of arguably the most hotly-anticipated PC title in years (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).