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"The game feels fundamentally different when you're playing as Zerg than when you're playing as Protoss - you approach it in a different way. That is absolutely critical," Browder says. The team chose to limit the game to the original three races not out of a lack of urgency or a fear that the team wouldn't have enough time - "Lord knows we've taken enough time with the game," Browder laughs - but out of a "genuine enthusiasm to make them all feel and play really distinct."
Beyond having a scope and feel very similar to the original game, StarCraft II has come under fire from some hardcore RTS fans who say that the title is "dated," and that it ignores many advancements in the RTS genre that happened in the last decade. That, too, was a conscious choice says Browder. If Blizzard "included 12 years of features from every game that we ever thought was cool, it would be the most messed up, complicated, confused and psychotic RTS ever." Instead, he says, designers need to focus on what makes sense for their own games and not shoehorn ideas from other games into them simply for the sake of having cool features.
That's not to say that Blizzard didn't consider new game mechanics for StarCraft II. The team experimented with a cover system similar to that of Relic's RTS titles like Dawn of War II and Company of Heroes, in which certain terrain like forests would give your units defensive bonuses. "We tried it many, many times, and every time it was always a fail for StarCraft because it's such a fluid game," Browder says. "There's a very specific pacing to StarCraft ... [the cover system] made it a lot slower and a lot more boring." Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander are "great games in their own right," Browder says, but that doesn't mean their mechanics worked in the game his team was making.
"There isn't just one continuum for RTS design; we're not all working on the same game and throwing all of our ideas into one big pot," he elaborates. "We're working on our own games with our own goals. We added what would add value to StarCraft but not make it too incredibly complicated."
The need for relative simplicity is partly due to the fact that players need to be able to reasonably predict (or at least guess) what their opponent is up to at any given moment, but also due to the fact that StarCraft II needs to be fun to watch as well as fun to play. The team is designing it with an eye toward the "e-sport" industry - especially in Korea - that the original StarCraft helped bring to prominence.