248: A Master Craftsman

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Am I the only one thinking that it is strange for a game designer to refer to his title as "product" ?

Great article by the way, Blizz sure know their stuff.

John Funk:

Rack:
It seems like Blizzard had two sets of goals for SC2.

Make SC2 as good as possible vs make SC2 as faithful to the original as possible

and

Make SC2 as easy to play as possible vs lay down the foundations for charging for multiplayer.

In neither case were they trying to make SC2 as good as it could be.

I'm curious how you came away with both of these from the interview, since that wasn't the impression I came away with at all. SC2 is faithful to the original because they were trying to make it good.

That would be an inevitable conclusion if you think Starcraft was so perfect it is literally synonymous with good but right from the off their goal was to "Hearken to the legacy of the original..." or "What makes StarCraft, StarCraft?"

12 years on if Blizzard were going to make the best RTS they possibly could they'd do well to start from a clean slate and then take all of the ideas that have worked best over the years, refine them and come up with something fresh and original. Instead they've taken Starcraft in its entirety as a base and that hasn't left them in a position to improve any of the core elements.

Rack:

John Funk:

Rack:
It seems like Blizzard had two sets of goals for SC2.

Make SC2 as good as possible vs make SC2 as faithful to the original as possible

and

Make SC2 as easy to play as possible vs lay down the foundations for charging for multiplayer.

In neither case were they trying to make SC2 as good as it could be.

I'm curious how you came away with both of these from the interview, since that wasn't the impression I came away with at all. SC2 is faithful to the original because they were trying to make it good.

That would be an inevitable conclusion if you think Starcraft was so perfect it is literally synonymous with good but right from the off their goal was to "Hearken to the legacy of the original..." or "What makes StarCraft, StarCraft?"

12 years on if Blizzard were going to make the best RTS they possibly could they'd do well to start from a clean slate and then take all of the ideas that have worked best over the years, refine them and come up with something fresh and original. Instead they've taken Starcraft in its entirety as a base and that hasn't left them in a position to improve any of the core elements.

I don't think that's true at all. First, I think that they HAD to use the original as a base because they were doing a sequel. Sequels are for refinements - you want a a better version of the original, that preserves what worked and does new stuff. Save huge redesigns for new IP.

They were trying to make the best game like StarCraft that they could - like Dustin said, there isn't one huge continuum for RTS design. What works in one game might work in another; StarCraft is a different type of game than, say, CoH or SupCom or Total War.

John Funk:

I don't think that's true at all. First, I think that they HAD to use the original as a base because they were doing a sequel. Sequels are for refinements - you want a a better version of the original, that preserves what worked and does new stuff. Save huge redesigns for new IP.

They were trying to make the best game like StarCraft that they could - like Dustin said, there isn't one huge continuum for RTS design. What works in one game might work in another; StarCraft is a different type of game than, say, CoH or SupCom or Total War.

Warcraft III didn't take Warcraft II as a base, so I don't see why Starcraft II had to. Other than that they were trying to make the best game like Starcraft that they could, which is really a restrictive consideration to have to make. It seems like for better or worse they've stuck to it rather bullishly.

John Funk:
Surpassing one of the most beloved games of all time - and getting the diehard community to let its baby go - is a task of Herculean proportions, and nobody knows that better than Blizzard. Still, as the company once noted on its official StarCraft II FAQ, it's been in this position before. Warcraft II was an influential and beloved classic; Blizzard made Warcraft III and WoW. Diablo practically defined the dungeon-crawler, and Blizzard surpassed it with Diablo II. The developers have bested themselves before - why not now?

^That's why I thought it should have been between Blizzard and Valve at the end of that March Mayhem. I mean Blizzard has hit the mark pretty much every time.

John Funk:
A Master Craftsman

How do you follow up one of the best-selling games of all time, a game that was so successful it spawned an entire sport and became the archetype for its genre? If you're Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft II, you do it very, very carefully. John Funk speaks with Browder about the immense pressure - and satisfaction - of creating Blizzard's next great RTS.

Read Full Article

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a truly great game is made. You don't try and aim for the top, you don't try and have the shiniest gadgets; you make the game the best that it can be, with no sacrifices, no "keeping up with the Joneses", with only one goal in mind:

gl, hv

Answer to the subtitle itself:

1) Give the game to Blizzard.
2) Wait.
3) Play Starcraft II.

John Funk, what league are you in the beta? (I'm near the bottom of bronze, I got the basics down, but still learning all the subtle aspects of the game)
Add me to friend's list, maybe we can have a match together sometime. =D
username+identifier: Nalesnik.nalez

How do you make a sequel to Starcraft?

Slowly, very very slowly

Nalesnik:
John Funk, what league are you in the beta? (I'm near the bottom of bronze, I got the basics down, but still learning all the subtle aspects of the game)
Add me to friend's list, maybe we can have a match together sometime. =D
username+identifier: Nalesnik.nalez

I'm in Gold. I really, really shouldn't be.

CFTFunk.jaynez.

well first you take a bunch of bad ideas and hackneyed plots and toss them in a big barrel and roll it down a hill then polish the outcome to a mirror shine

StarCraft 2 without LAN support is not StarCraft. I'll keep playing the old one. I don't need any facebook in it, thank you.

However, Activision has demostrated that they can put a turd in a box and sell millions with MW2. This will sell like crazy, despite lacking the single most important feature that put StarCraft where it is today.

"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Im...trying to decide wether this guy is taking the piss or not...

steeple:
great article... youv'e got to hand it to them, blizzard knows EXACTLY how to approach and create games, and its awesome to see that they're doing the same with SC2

though i would like to know what new races the developers had in mind...

They do seem to break the mold that sequls sucks...SC2 looks like, when it is released, its going to be the RTS of the year, to be sure.

Its nice to see they didny change the old formula too much, just, altered it a little ^^

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

What?

If you're being serious, then that's nobody's fault but your own. It seriously boggles my mind that people haven't heard of StarCraft. That's like saying you haven't heard of Fallout, or Metal Gear Solid, or any other huge name in gaming.

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Well, if you've never heard of Starcraft, you've been missing out on one of the biggest games since the last almost 12 years.

Also, just because you did not know about it, does not mean millions of other people also did not hear about it. The way you stated your claim that Funk was lying about Starcraft being popular/influential leads me to believe this is nothing more but a troll post. If you were speaking honestly, then that is sad ignorance.

---------

Great article, always intriguing to see what developers say. As I stated before I like the fact that they did experiment with stuff, even with some mechanics inspired by Relic's games. Even though they are not used in multiplayer, this certainly gives plenty of ammunition for the editor, so modders won't have to resort to weird things in order to do cover systems or other mechanics.

I'm still worried about that marketplace thing for custom maps though.

I'm still really surprised about the lack of LAN. LAN isn't just something for geeky house parties: LAN is often used at pro tournaments to ensure there is absolutely no lag. Even the Koreans with their astoundingly cheap and fast net will still experience the occasional lag spike while playing online. Really, what reason is there not to include it?

The reason for not including LAN is obviously to curtail pirating of the game and nothing else. That said you can setup provate games on bnet for your LAN party but you will be dependent on the connection.

What I find strange about the beta is how little it differs from the first game. The second one is 99% the same as the first. But then again perhaps that is the winning concept.

Well it seems that according to Blizzard, you make a sequel to Starcraft by taking the exact same 12 year old gameplay, shuffling the units around, updating the graphics to 3D, and take out LAN.

BAM! Game of the Year!

Verus76:
The reason for not including LAN is obviously to curtail pirating of the game and nothing else. That said you can setup provate games on bnet for your LAN party but you will be dependent on the connection.

What I find strange about the beta is how little it differs from the first game. The second one is 99% the same as the first. But then again perhaps that is the winning concept.

You are wrong my friend. The reason LAN was taken out was to funnel people through Battlenet 2.0 so they could sell them crap. LAN will have no effect on pirating; the game is going to get pirated out the wazoo regardless.

Rack:

John Funk:

I don't think that's true at all. First, I think that they HAD to use the original as a base because they were doing a sequel. Sequels are for refinements - you want a a better version of the original, that preserves what worked and does new stuff. Save huge redesigns for new IP.

They were trying to make the best game like StarCraft that they could - like Dustin said, there isn't one huge continuum for RTS design. What works in one game might work in another; StarCraft is a different type of game than, say, CoH or SupCom or Total War.

Warcraft III didn't take Warcraft II as a base, so I don't see why Starcraft II had to. Other than that they were trying to make the best game like Starcraft that they could, which is really a restrictive consideration to have to make. It seems like for better or worse they've stuck to it rather bullishly.

I tend to agree with Rack. Warcraft 3 tried something different from Warcraft 2; although a lot of fans weren't happy with those changes, which is why I suspect they chose to stick close to the original game with Starcraft 2.

But Starcraft 2 isn't just 'close' to the original, it's like the exact same game. If they had made Starcraft only a couple of years ago I could understand, but to change virtually nothing after 12 years? Even Diablo 2 had some pretty major changes from Diablo, and Diablo 3 seems set to revamp the formula once again. Starcraft 2 just seems lazy.

Grampy_bone:

Rack:

John Funk:

I don't think that's true at all. First, I think that they HAD to use the original as a base because they were doing a sequel. Sequels are for refinements - you want a a better version of the original, that preserves what worked and does new stuff. Save huge redesigns for new IP.

They were trying to make the best game like StarCraft that they could - like Dustin said, there isn't one huge continuum for RTS design. What works in one game might work in another; StarCraft is a different type of game than, say, CoH or SupCom or Total War.

Warcraft III didn't take Warcraft II as a base, so I don't see why Starcraft II had to. Other than that they were trying to make the best game like Starcraft that they could, which is really a restrictive consideration to have to make. It seems like for better or worse they've stuck to it rather bullishly.

I tend to agree with Rack. Warcraft 3 tried something different from Warcraft 2; although a lot of fans weren't happy with those changes, which is why I suspect they chose to stick close to the original game with Starcraft 2.

But Starcraft 2 isn't just 'close' to the original, it's like the exact same game. If they had made Starcraft only a couple of years ago I could understand, but to change virtually nothing after 12 years? Even Diablo 2 had some pretty major changes from Diablo, and Diablo 3 seems set to revamp the formula once again. Starcraft 2 just seems lazy.

I'm actually very impressed by how precisely Blizzard nailed the balance they had to have. From the beta, it feels very much like StarCraft 1, but at the same time it's *not* like StarCraft 1. It's a strange mix between familiarity and "whoa, all these new abilities and units change it up entirely." It's considerably more different than I think many people give it credit for at first glance.

Also, I believe that SC2 won't get pirated as much as other games, just because you are actively getting an inferior product. The only benefit is that you get a hacked-in LAN, and get to play with the other few thousand people who pirate (where games can be hacked/cheated, etc). Whereas people who buy the game legitimately get the new and improved Battle.net, a much wider playerbase, a better browser for custom games, all the stat tracking, etc.

Unlike many other products with restrictive DRM, the pirate doesn't get the better copy of SC2. His copy is much worse.

I don't get it, this isn't news, it's just an advertisement for your article.

John Funk:
I'm actually very impressed by how precisely Blizzard nailed the balance they had to have. From the beta, it feels very much like StarCraft 1, but at the same time it's *not* like StarCraft 1. It's a strange mix between familiarity and "whoa, all these new abilities and units change it up entirely." It's considerably more different than I think many people give it credit for at first glance.

Also, I believe that SC2 won't get pirated as much as other games, just because you are actively getting an inferior product. The only benefit is that you get a hacked-in LAN, and get to play with the other few thousand people who pirate (where games can be hacked/cheated, etc). Whereas people who buy the game legitimately get the new and improved Battle.net, a much wider playerbase, a better browser for custom games, all the stat tracking, etc.

Unlike many other products with restrictive DRM, the pirate doesn't get the better copy of SC2. His copy is much worse.

Fair enough; I haven't had the chance to play the game very much. Maybe it's just because the last RTS game I played was Supreme Commander 2 with it's elegant research system, but I feel that Starcraft 2's resource and upgrade mechanics--which are totally unchanged from the original--are completely archaic and outdated. Couldn't they come up with something better than Building A + Building B + Building C = Unit D? I hate that I have to build structures whose only purpose is to unlock a unit. Yeah that's classic RTS, but I thought we were past that by now.

I don't think pirates care that they're getting an inferior product. Starcraft 2 will be a mega-hit therefore it will be mega-pirated. In theory the only reason to play MW2 is for the multiplayer and it still got pirated to high heaven. By comparison I'm sure Starcraft 2 will have a much more substantial single player campaign, and as you say they will hack-in LAN support and maybe even create pirate servers like they do with WoW.

Compared to Starcraft, SC2 is a masterpiece. But that's like saying that Michael Jordan is a better basketball player than some junior high football player.

I don't understand Starcrafts continued popularity. It's absolutely puzzling to me. It was a good game, especially for its time. I played it almost every day for a long, long time. My friends scratched "Big gay game" on the back of the disk because of how much it got played (I had to buy another copy, thanks assholes).

But, that sort of went away when WC3 came out... but WC3 is unrelated to why SC became crap quickly. It more has to do with how the game devolved from a "Oh, lets experiment and try lots of different strategies and compete with said strategies and have a lot of fun" to "WHO HAS THE BEST MICRO BECAUSE ALL STRATEGIES AND BUILD ORDERS ARE ALMOST IDENTICAL".

See, WC3 gave me the ability to actually use units that had interesting abilities. SC has like... three units with interesting abilities and most of them are high-tech flying units that you'll never get to play with because teching up to them is a waste as the enemy has either Muta-clumped, Tank rushed, or... sort of existed as the Protoss.

And this is sort of where I don't get why SC has continued to be popular. It's design is flawed primarily because the game puts extreme emphasis on micro instead of strategy and tactics. Anybody can make an RTS that requires intense micro. Just put the max number of units you can control at once to something small and introduce some 'mechanics' that each faction has that requires intense micro and you've got a 'great game'.

Luckily SC2 doesn't follow that formula and is more like WC3 but with more WC2 unit elements and then you put it in space and you have a game that's fun, but nothing to play for 12 years.

Credge:
-snip-

Methinks that's mainly because it hasn't been out long enough, give it enough time and due to its similarity to the original, Micro and Build orders will develop. That's because of the nature of the game, in that Starcraft is actually balanced, so certain build orders and strategies will come out on top, and it's like chess in that regard, certain openers and stuff are the norm in competitive chess (or so I am aware), then you play from there.

Starcrafts micro requires a MASSIVE amount of skill to play at high level, which is just the same as having good aim and stuff in an FPS, it's only because of the balance involved that you can play like that, RTS today all have massive imbalance, generally having a Overpowered side (Elves, Scrin, etc etc), which breaks the balance, meaning that if you play as that side you don't need micro at all because all your units just murder an entire army (murkwood archers I'm looking at you) I'm sure if you were to play WC3 at tourney level play there would be set build orders and strategies to use.

elvor0:

Credge:
-snip-

Methinks that's mainly because it hasn't been out long enough, give it enough time and due to its similarity to the original, Micro and Build orders will develop. That's because of the nature of the game, in that Starcraft is actually balanced, so certain build orders and strategies will come out on top, and it's like chess in that regard, certain openers and stuff are the norm in competitive chess (or so I am aware), then you play from there.

Yep agree with this. I'm not really a RTS gamer myself, did play the first game and expansion, though mostly on single player.

But what I enjoyed more than playing it is watching the matches on TV (when I was living in Korea). I don't really watch sports on TV, but I can imagine it's the same kind of excitement I get from watching those matches.

elvor0:

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Im...trying to decide wether this guy is taking the piss or not...

John Funk:

What?

If you're being serious, then that's nobody's fault but your own. It seriously boggles my mind that people haven't heard of StarCraft. That's like saying you haven't heard of Fallout, or Metal Gear Solid, or any other huge name in gaming.

I'm not taking the piss, I really have never heard of the game.

YurdleTheTurtle:

Well, if you've never heard of Starcraft, you've been missing out on one of the biggest games since the last almost 12 years.

Also, just because you did not know about it, does not mean millions of other people also did not hear about it. The way you stated your claim that Funk was lying about Starcraft being popular/influential leads me to believe this is nothing more but a troll post. If you were speaking honestly, then that is sad ignorance.

I never said that Starcraft hasn't been popular.
I just thought: If Starcraft really was one of the most influential and famous games of all time, I surely would have heard of it. I mean, I know tons of famous games, even though I've never played them.
If the OP hadn't said 'the most' and 'of all times', I wouldn't have had a problem.

Tales of Golden Sun:

elvor0:

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Im...trying to decide wether this guy is taking the piss or not...

John Funk:

What?

If you're being serious, then that's nobody's fault but your own. It seriously boggles my mind that people haven't heard of StarCraft. That's like saying you haven't heard of Fallout, or Metal Gear Solid, or any other huge name in gaming.

I'm not taking the piss, I really have never heard of the game.

YurdleTheTurtle:

Well, if you've never heard of Starcraft, you've been missing out on one of the biggest games since the last almost 12 years.

Also, just because you did not know about it, does not mean millions of other people also did not hear about it. The way you stated your claim that Funk was lying about Starcraft being popular/influential leads me to believe this is nothing more but a troll post. If you were speaking honestly, then that is sad ignorance.

I never said that Starcraft hasn't been popular.
I just thought: If Starcraft really was one of the most influential and famous games of all time, I surely would have heard of it. I mean, I know tons of famous games, even though I've never played them.
If the OP hadn't said 'the most' and 'of all times', I wouldn't have had a problem.

Except, it IS one of the most famous and influential games of all time. The fact that you haven't heard of it is absolutely *stunning*. It's referred to as "the national sport of Korea," for pete's sake. It defined the RTS genre for years.

Are you saying you've never heard the phrase "to Zerg"?

Tales of Golden Sun:

elvor0:

Tales of Golden Sun:
"one of the most famous and influential games of all time"

Ha.
Haha.
HAHAHAHA.

No seriously this is the first time I have ever heard of this game. People shouldn't make claims that don't hold truth.

Im...trying to decide wether this guy is taking the piss or not...

John Funk:

What?

If you're being serious, then that's nobody's fault but your own. It seriously boggles my mind that people haven't heard of StarCraft. That's like saying you haven't heard of Fallout, or Metal Gear Solid, or any other huge name in gaming.

I'm not taking the piss, I really have never heard of the game.

YurdleTheTurtle:

Well, if you've never heard of Starcraft, you've been missing out on one of the biggest games since the last almost 12 years.

Also, just because you did not know about it, does not mean millions of other people also did not hear about it. The way you stated your claim that Funk was lying about Starcraft being popular/influential leads me to believe this is nothing more but a troll post. If you were speaking honestly, then that is sad ignorance.

I never said that Starcraft hasn't been popular.
I just thought: If Starcraft really was one of the most influential and famous games of all time, I surely would have heard of it. I mean, I know tons of famous games, even though I've never played them.
If the OP hadn't said 'the most' and 'of all times', I wouldn't have had a problem.

Well then maybe you should've done some research before post a response saying he was wrong and stupid, and laughing in his face. Both your posts just show a massive amount of ignorance.
It's hugely influential, and is the poster boy for RTS pretty much.

John Funk:

Tales of Golden Sun:
a lot of words

Except, it IS one of the most famous and influential games of all time. The fact that you haven't heard of it is absolutely *stunning*. It's referred to as "the national sport of Korea," for pete's sake. It defined the RTS genre for years.

Are you saying you've never heard the phrase "to Zerg"?

I do not know what a(?) Zerg is, no. The only RTS game I've ever played is Age of Empires II, and though I loved that game, I've never played any other RTSes. Never cared about Korea either. The only handhelds and consoles I've ever had are Gameboys, NDSes, N64s, Gamecubes and Wiis, and I mostly play jRPGs, so it's not all that strange for me not to know about Starcraft.

I'm sorry for laughing at the OP.

If it makes you feel better: I've never played anything Valve of Bungie either :)

Loved this article, really good stuff, i really would like to know what was the other races they were considering. Maybe they will release another races in one of the other SC2 games (there releasing it in 3 installments) well i hope there gonna ad something to the game with the other two. I didnt like the idea of having to be logged in battle.net all the time i dont see the point.

Cmon blizzard no LAN playing online is great fun meetin new people and playin against freinds but when having a lAN party with freinds and they see your face as you destroy their base...priceless.

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