Chris Sigaty interview - Part 2

The original game was praised for it's voice acting and the storyline in the single player. Did you guys bring back any of the original voice cast or did you recast completely? I remember there was a story that you weren't ...

Actually we did. We brought back, so far, currently we have the original Jim Raynor, who is the main character, and then we have a few other returns, specifically this character Mengsk who is kind of the opponent or the enemy of Raynor, is back as well. Those are the two that jump out as being the biggest right now. Then there are a few we decided to change, or couldn't find the same actor, or just decided that we wanted it different -- there's more of it so we wanted to change who the actor was or whatever. So, we tried where it made sense, i guess would be the best answer to that.

The unit portraits have all been fully updated and look a lot better. What changes did you make there?

"Now they're actually moving their lips phonetically with what's being said. "

Yeah, so there are several things: We've done a full face effect system in the actual technology we're using but basically it's a full lip syncing system. It analyzes the waveform that we actually type – there's a bunch of work – and it looks really good. It's pretty impressive at times. In the old games, even in Warcraft 3, it would just muppet, right? And so the whole time it was talking it would just do this [makes puppet hand gesture] and the WAV file would end and it would just stop doing that. Now they're actually moving their lips phonetically with what's being said. And so that's a bit of tech that's in there.

You also fully see the characters rather than through their portraits all the time, you actually see them -- that's a big thing that we're trying to do: put you into what story mode is, what single player is in this game, now you can see them up close and personal. You can see Jim Raynor fully, you control him, you move him around the environment, you say what characters you want to talk to, what technologies you want to buy, and there's a lot of story elements in there so you can explore as much or as little as you want. For example, you start out in this bar on a planet and you can go click on a corkboard and learn about some of these things that are in this world and what it means to Jim Raynor, and who he is and where he's at.

Something that might not effect the game, but a lot of attention to detail.

Yeah. A lot of people love the story, and so we used to tell that by you read a wall of text that comes down or scrolls up as the intro to a mission and you kind of get some story out of it and then you can play. And now it's stepped up so you can click on the objects in the world as much or as little as you're interested in reading.

So you guys have the benefit and the disadvantage of 10 plus years of the original, it's become such a massive phenomenon. Probably no one predicted it would be such a hit in Korea where it's huge and televised ...

Still!

It's so popular there. So going in, a lot of people have said, "Wow, when they created 3 factions in this game it really made just a perfect multiplayer RTS experience." So now you guys are going in making a sequel. Is that sort of daunting because you have quite a legacy to live up to?

Yeah. I mean it's definitely ... it's been an interesting journey, you know, walking along a very narrow cliff, if you will, as far as what's okay or not. We've tried to do what we think is fun and new and innovative while we're also, as I said, hearkening to the legacy. And there are so many different people to try and keep happy at the same time. So yeah, it's definitely challenging, but we've done this and all of our games seem to have some bizarre expectation, or huge expectation at this point because we've been pretty successful with these things, and yeah it's a challenge but at the same time we're kind of used to it.

From my perspective, I think we're striking the right balance, that makes sense to us and to the public for the most part. Occasionally, you'll have people who disagree with that, but from our perspective right now multiplayer is playing great, it's certainly got that core feel about it again, and then the single player is very different, but ultimately once you get down into a mission you're still playing this great, fun RTS game and we've put a lot of effort into making sure each of the missions are a different sort of mechanic and feel to them too, so in their own right they're fun little kind of mini-games in themselves. So, a lot of effort to strike a lot of different chords, and i think we've actually struck the right ones.



In the first game, single-player was how most people learned to play. Is there any sort of a tutorial now? It seems like a steep learning curve to people who haven't played it.

So in the original Starcraft we actually didn't have a tutorial in the traditional sense or a full-fledged tutorial You just played, and the first couple of missions were simple, and hopefully you picked it up. In Warcraft 3, we actually did a full tutorial mission, and they tried to be storied, but they were more about, "Here's how you select a unit, and here's how you move it" and so on.

"RTS is kind of a more hardcore genre in general, it's very overwhelming to a new player,"

In this game, currently, we are including a couple of missions that are easier, and then allowing the player to learn as much or as little as they want to via tutorials. Ultimately, that's not fun, we decided, but that's how we're doing it, so it has a little bit of both elements to it right now. But what we're very hyper-conscious of is, the world has changed, you know? RTS is kind of a more hardcore genre in general, it's very overwhelming to a new player, where, "Wait, so okay. I just move guys, is that what I do?" Well, no actually, you also have to construct a base. "Oh, what? And I have to gather resources, and I have to spend them and I have to get supplies?" And it can be really overwhelming.

So we do want to step people into it, we're doing that by ramping the campaign, but we're not spending a ton of time on it because we want to get you into missions that have different challenges and mechanics so you can spread out as well. So we're trying to strike a balance there.

What's been the most challenging aspect? Has it been the new single-player mode or has it been striking a balance between the new units and multiplayer?

You know, for me, the biggest challenges have been the right ways to do the single-player experience ... just getting into this thing we've never done. We've done multiplayer games. I had a lot of faith that we could step into that for sure, and I had faith even in the story mode, but it was just getting it there and ... it's very hard to share where it's going to go, even to development teams or across the company until they can really get in there and see it.

And so stepping out into it as there were original discussions and everything there are a lot of different reactions and all that. So that's been probably the most challenging thing. Battle.net is just big -- what we want to do in the long run is big. And so that's a challenge. But as far as what to do, you know there's a ton of great things out there. Our services have always been pretty cutting edge or defining. As far as Warcraft 3 and running out with a nice matchmaking system and all that we sort of want to set the bar higher again with this, and there's tons of ideas there, now it's just pulling it off -- story mode being the most completely unique and different, that was probably the most challenging.