BlizzCon 2008: StarCraft II Gameplay Panel

By Benjamin J. de la Durantaye
Managing Editor, Community Sites

style="font-weight: bold;">By Benjamin J. de la Durantaye

Managing Editor, Community Sites style="font-weight: bold;">

Rob Pardo, Dustin Browder and Chris Metzen stepped up to plate at href=""
target="_blank">BlizzCon ’08 to talk a
little about the game play for the upcoming title, style="font-style: italic;">StarCraft II. (You
can read our hands-on coverage of the game href="" target="_blank">here.)
The crowd sitting in Hall C of the Anaheim convention center waited
with bated breath as Rob Pardo stood up in a rainbow-and-ponies style="font-style: italic;">Diablo
III t-shirt and gave his formal introduction. As the crowd
cheered, you
could almost see a smile of relief on the faces of the panel.

Pardo began by explaining that it was time to rethink the Real Time
Simulation (RTS) single-player campaign in the style="font-style: italic;">StarCraft universe.
emphasized that gamers today, and particularly RTS fans want something
varied and interesting. The developers no longer want to be constrained
by what’s going on in the multiplayer aspect of the game,
Pardo explained, and they want players to understand the lore,
geography, and universe of StarCraft.

At this point Pardo introduced us to Jim Raynor, who will be starring
as the protagonist in StarCraft
. The crowd once again rose to a
thunderous applause. Alongside Jim, will be his old acquaintance,
Tychus Findley, with whom we had become familiar during the style="font-style: italic;">StarCraft
II trailer. Findley is the big guy in the techno-armor.


href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 137px;" alt=""

Findley and
Raynor in Firefl...

erm, StarCraft II

A pride of the project has become the real-time in-game cinematics.
While we were unable to see too many of these, Pardo assured us that
there are many cinematics in game, working as both storyline and
rewards after missions. Many of these cinematics will segue into a
virtual “space” where a lot of the game play will
take place as players interact with the environment and characters and
select missions.

These spaces will be filled with characters, bulletin boards,
television screens, wanted posters, jukeboxes and much more that the
player will be able to interact with to get a bit more of the story,
lore, and of course, to progress in the game itself.

The first of these spaces that we were introduced to was a back-alley
space bar. The ambience was familiar - wooden stools and neon lights,
and the charm set in as neo-western music played in the background.
During the introduction scene to this space, one couldn’t
help but feel they were watching a clip from href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Firefly
as our hero downed
a shot of malt, and spoke through the side of his mouth to meet
Tychus, who had just entered the bar. While there weren’t as
many snappy one-liners as one would find in href="" target="_blank">Joss
world, the atmosphere was unmistakably similar.

From there, Pardo skipped to the third mission in the game, where the
goal was to protect a small base from an invading force of Zerg which
were encroaching from two bridges. The game play was what has come to
be expected from a StarCraft
title, and slowly escalated from a light
trickle of Zerg to a full-fledged infestation.  The mission
ended with hundreds of Zerg pouring into the area while
a rescue ship landed and a cinematic cut-scene started up.


href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 85px;" alt=""

returns in StarCraft II

During the cut-scene we learned that the Zerg have attacked on a massive
scale across planets, killing billions in their way. The scene ended
with a live news-report coming from one of the television screens in
the bar, and at the very end of the report we saw a quick glimpse of
Karrigan. Again, the BlizzCon crowd cheered a lengthy and loud ovation
as Jim Raynor informed Tychus that she was there to “finish
the job.”

Pardo then set up the screaming masses with one of the most successful
twists on an announcement Blizzard has made to date. He told us that
the biggest challenge they have faced in the creation of the game was
how wholly enormous the stories have become, and that the story mode
has demanded three to four times as many resources as previous games.
He then listed the options they had at this point.

style="font-weight: bold;">1.  
 They could simplify the campaign and make it more linear with
fewer choices.
style="font-weight: bold;">2.  
 They could make each campaign epic but release them as their
own products.
style="font-weight: bold;">3.  
 They could compromise somewhere in the middle, but delay the
game greatly.

The response was inevitable. When given a choice of dung, slop, and
plastic; plastic will win every time (unless you have a paper bag,
matches and a neighbor's porch nearby). The audience roared to new
as Pardo informed us that option two was the route they were going to
take. Very few, if any, questioned why a compromise would mean a delay,
and no one asked why the game could not be shipped as a single game
(even if it did turn out to be several DVDs). As extra insurance that
players would buy all three titles, Blizzard
told us that each campaign would have a mini-Protoss campaign which
would continue over all three titles. The crowd again cheered.

The product looks to be a good one, and I have no doubt it will be
enjoyable. I have to tip my hat in admiration though, at
Blizzard’s iconic status. If any other company had announced
that their planned game was going to be split into three boxes, and you
couldn’t play the entire game (in this case the mini-Protoss
campaign) without buying all three titles, it would have been met with
a thousand flying tomatoes.

Regardless, one thing we can be sure of when it comes to Blizzard
titles is that the game will be complete and enjoyable upon release. I
believe this is the whole point anyway, and style="font-style: italic;">StarCraft fans will
not be
disappointed come launch, even if their hands are a little sore from
the incessant, and often unprovoked, applause.

style="font-style: italic;">Check out more StarCraft II
screenshots target="_blank">here.

Check out more BlizzCon coverage href=""

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