Zerg Rush

Zerg Rush
A Master Craftsman

John Funk | 6 Apr 2010 12:27
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For Browder and the rest of the team, part of it was the idea of the "rush." "We love the speed, the chance to lose - or win - the game at any moment; these were all critical components," says Browder. "We don't want it to be the sort of RTS where you're absolutely safe for 15 minutes and after that, that's when you might lose. We really wanted to make a game where you need to be on the edge of the seat from the first 10 seconds onward, thinking, 'I could win or lose right here. Oh man, I need to harvest, I need to get ready as quick as I can!'"

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Going hand in hand with the game's speed and urgency was the idea that any given match's decisive victory could happen on any scale, from a tiny skirmish to an epic finale. In StarCraft, Browder explains, the player has "the ability to build up from small armies to massive fleets - and like I said, either could decide the game. StarCraft is a game where you can see the game end in a fight with five Marines versus eight Zerglings," depending on the skill of the players involved. But the game also has an incredible sense of scale. "If both people are of equal skill," Browder says, and the match goes on long enough, "I could have a fleet of 15 Battlecruisers."

"So you go from a very small scope that's almost squad-based, to this epic, insane battle with dozens or even hundreds of units all fighting in a massive clash, over a 20-minute period," he continues. "That sudden change of scale is really crucial to StarCraft's success: Every moment is critical, whether big or small. You can win or lose anytime."

It was one thing to make a game that looked like StarCraft, but more important was making a game that played like StarCraft - and the team made a deliberate decision to keep the sequel's scope limited in order to preserve that essence. To that end, the team opted to stick with the original's three core races: the Terran, the Protoss and the Zerg. "We could have added a fourth, fifth or sixth race, and you bet we certainly discussed it," Browder says, but the sticking point was this: When do they start to feel the same as the other races? That each race was carefully distinguished from the others was "absolutely key" to StarCraft, and that was a point on which the designers would not budge.

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