Joystiq Interview: StarCraft 2 Lead Producer Chris Sigaty

click to embiggen
The big announcement at BlizzCon yesterday was the morphing of StarCraft II into a trilogy. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the people instrumental behind this change, StarCraft II Lead Producer Chris Sigaty. I spoke with him right after the announcement was made, and we talked about how this will impact SC2, what it will mean for multiplayer games, and what challenges the developers are facing in making SC2 the best game it can be.

According to Sigaty, it took two to three months to decide to roll the game out as a trilogy. They spent that time weighing options, looking at what they wanted to do, how they wanted to do it – and all the while working on creating a game that is as large in scope as possible, he said. In the end however, according to both Sigaty and his colleague Rob Pardo (Executive Vice President of Game Design at Blizzard), the decision was made because they wanted to include everything they possibly could in SC2. They wanted to deliver a great game and tell an epic story.

In telling this story they're aiming to make changes across the board. According to Sigaty, while there are lots of familiar elements, they are "totally changing the way you play." It appears this change will be most noticeable in the differentiation between single player and multiplayer modes. In single player mode, your goal is to complete the mission, while in multiplayer mode your goal is to defeat your opponent. In the original StarCraft, the way you go about that would often be the same. You zerg in multiplayer mode, you zerg in single player mode. You use the same units, the same structures, and sometimes even the same maps. No longer.

We learned earlier in the day from Rob Pardo that there will be units in the single player mode that are not usable in the multiplayer mode.

We learned earlier in the day from Rob Pardo that there will be units in the single player mode that are not usable in the multiplayer mode. Sigaty expanded upon this a little bit; Goliaths and those six-person Terran Bunkers will not be usable in multiplayer. By removing those units, and others like it, they will change significantly the way the multiplayer game is played compared to the single player.You can't just turtle your way through a multiplayer match with bunkers anymore.

When I asked Sigaty about the different parts of the trilogy and how each part would affect the multiplayer game, he said that each campaign will add something to the multiplayer game. Of course, one of the bigger questions today, we asked if multiplayer will be fully implemented with all the races when the first part of the SC2 trilogy is released? The answer is simple: "yes." Players will be able to play each and every race, setting them against each other in massive do-or-die battles.

If the game play, units, and graphics are all implemented at the release of the first part of the trilogy, and even multiplayer is there and finished, why make three games? Sigaty described the reason behind doing a trilogy as an issue of "scope." They want to do it all and don't want to cut things. They have "extremely grand plans" and want to see them through to the very end, and that end has to be the best it can be.

"We want the ability to tell the story the way we want to," he said. While nothing is set in stone, Sigaty said that each part of the trilogy would ideally be able to played as a stand alone game. And no matter if each part of the trilogy can be played stand alone, there will be an overarching story arc which they already have mapped out. Right now the three biggest things they're working on are the graphics engine, the tools, and the cinematics. According to Sigaty, the cinematics for SC2 will be quite amazing and quite immersive.
There are plans for several large fully featured cinematics throughout the game – more than we've seen before in any other Blizzard product. And that's not all. After each mission you complete, you'll be able to view a unique news report. These news reports will dynamically change depending upon what you've just done in the story line. Earlier in the day we got to take a look at an example news report – the quality of which is on par with the Warcraft III cinematic, he said. The actual full length SC2 cinematics however are better than anything we've seen so far from Blizzard.

With StarCraft 2, Sigaty said they are trying to move away from the original's linear structure with the single-player campaign. Once you've done a few introductory missions that everyone has to do, you get the ability to choose which missions you do next . You get to select which characters in the StarCraft universe you want to interact with, and you get to choose what you want to do for them. You complete the missions, approximately 26 to 30 per campaign and eventually you end up completing a set of final missions to finish off the story of that campaign.

Everyone will have the same beginning and end game, but the middle game can be very unique to what you want your play style to be.

Sigaty described it as looking at a football. You start out at one point, then as you progress you have more and more options. Finally when you're nearing the end of the football your options become more limited until finally you only have one path to take. Everyone will have the same beginning and end game, but the middle game can be very unique to what you want your play style to be. While there is definitely new aspects of a kind of "choose your own story" to it, Sigaty said SC2 will be no-where near as non-linear of a game as World of Warcraft or Spore. But it definitely will not be your typical 1-2-3-4 type game anymore.

Throughout the whole interview with Sigaty I got the feeling that here was a guy very committed to the game and the fans. I asked him what in SC2 he was the most excited about. He said that while single player mode was very cool, he is most excited to see what fans are able to come up with in the multiplayer mode. We talked a little bit about the evolution of strategies in SC1, where at first nobody heard of zerging your enemy – and now "to zerg" someone is practically a verb in our language. This is what Sigaty is looking forward to the most, and it's good to hear that the developers of such a great universe are watching the fans closely.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.