StarCraft 2 Developers Take to Reddit
Some interesting insider information has come out of a Reddit AMA that three of StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm developers have done. Each of the three developers focused on answering different types of questions. Dustin Browder, Game Director, focused on questions related to general game design, eSports, versions, campaigns and community. Alan Dabiri, Lead Software Engineer, focused on game systems, UI, Battle.net, Heart of the Swarm launch and player quality of life. While David Kim, Game Balance Designer, focused on unit design, race and multiplayer balance.
The full transcript is quite long, so I will just highlight some of the key answers, but if you would like to read the full transcript, it is available here.
Dustin Browder (DB) answered two questions relating to eSports players. First of all, FakeReDeYe asked:
"How important is it to Blizzard that SC2 grows or stay popular as an eSport, and how much do you consider the eSports side when designing/balancing the game? Some changes seems to have been made to make the game more friendly for viewers (observer UI, notable color differences for Infested Terran eggs etc)."
To which DB replied:
"eSports is a big, big part of our development process. I did a GDC talk on this and I think esport ulimately ends up impacting most of the game. We think think it is a really cool part of the StarCraft II experience for ourselves and for our fans."
Then TheSkunk_2 also asked DB about player feedback in general and how Blizzard responds to feedback. DB explained that the StarCraft 2 development team put a very high importance on player feedback, but explained there are so limitations to gathering accurate feedback.
"I think we got a lot of good feedback early on about the Oracle that caused us to change the way the unit worked completely. There were tons of other helpful posts of course but that issue stands out because we basically undid our entire direction for the unit based on community feedback that we thought was really accurate.
We can do some polls, but they will never represent the entire community since so few people relative to the size of our player base actually visits the forums. =(
The esports forum was useful but not in the way we thought. Most pro players are extremely biased towards their own race (as they should be) and it was hard for us to get good feedback from them directly. But David did manage to find some pro players and casters who were more balanced in their views on the game and we have formed relationships with them directly to gather feedback."
Agmcleod asked Blizzard about the potential for an RTS game on tablets. To which DB explained that while there is a lot of potential for an RTS game to be designed specifically for a tablet, he could not see StarCraft 2 working out on a tablet. This is because your fingers would come in the way of the action, as well as StarCraft 2 going at far too much of a fast pace for the limited control scheme of tablets to be able to allow players to keep up.
Perhaps one of the most interesting bits of information that came from this AMA is when Avicenna970 asked about the development team's options for acquiring more time to work on StarCraft 2. Interestingly enough, DB explained that he wanted to have Wings of Liberty released earlier, but it was Mike Morhaime (President and Co-Founder of Blizzard Entertainment) that told the team they need "more time" to work on the game. DB explains "After working on a game for 5 years I guess you lose perspective."
DJHelium asked if the team could have done anything to prevent hacks in Heart of the Swarm. David Kim answered this question
"Our hacks team has always been working hard to eliminate maphackers from the ladder.
On our end, we think the maphackers that cause the biggest problems by far are the players who use it to climb the ladders quickly and disrupt pros, streamers, and just the highest level ladder players.
We think our community actually does a really good job of alerting us to these players, and we will continue doing our best to keep looped in in order to act on the maphackers as quickly as possible."
To round off this news post regarding the Reddit AMA:
Lordofsoup asked "How many users are you expecting online within the first 5 minutes of launch?"
To which Alan Dabiri replied - "Over 9000."