Interview: Greg Canessa - Page 2

Rob went into some detail about the decals. They sound like an achievements system: you complete in-game goals and are awarded decals. And those appear on units? Which units?

That's right. We actually have two different award systems. So you have your achievement system, and then the rewards for earning those achievements are either avatars, decals, or both. And so the avatars, again, that is pretty straightforward. Those are like your gamer pics that you get; your 2D avatars that you can put on your character. And as soon as they are tied to achievements, some will be easy to get. Some will be super hard to get. So there will be like the elite one that you get, it will be like, "Oh my God. He looks like a Lurker. Wow. The Lurker gamer pic is really rare, so he must be really awesome."

So there is that. And then the decals will be broken out into Terran, Protoss, and Zerg. So they are essentially art that you can apply to the 3D model and it applies to your whole army. So you have got the gear, the Protoss one, or say the Terran will have, say, a gear, and the gear will appear on all the pieces. It will be kind of like a stamp on all the 3D models for all the pieces in the game.

And then will people be able to, either inside Battle.Net or in the game, know which achievements avatars and decals are tied to? Like, if I'm looking at you and you have this awesome avatar, and I'm like, "I've got to have that," will I be able to mouse over and see how that asset is unlocked?

In game it will be a little more indirect because if you are obviously playing a game of Starcraft, you are not going to have a lot of time when you are playing Starcraft. Out in Battle.Net, you will be able to go into your achievements. So you will be like, "Wow, that gear one, that is super cool." You will be able to go out to your character profile in Battle.Net, if you go into the avatars and decals area of your profile, it is like a sticker book. You see all the ones in color lit up that you have earned, and then all the ones in gray that you haven't earned. And you will be able to right click on that and say "view correlated achievement", and you will be able to view the achievement. It will link you out to the achievement that you need to unlock that gear. So you will be able to essentially find it through your profile.

Like you would for Achievements on Xbox Live or Trophies on PSN?

Exactly. But this is rewards based on that, but yeah, same sort of thing.

How does Blizzard use data from old Battle.Net games? Does that data actually go as far as to affect the way games are developed? Like, for instance, "Defense of the Ancients," ido developers analyze that in data form and try to figure out why it's so popular, and then try to replicate that experience?

Certainly there are pieces of data that are useful. Obviously Battle.Net is a pretty old service, so there was some data that we definitely can accumulate. And some of that data has been valuable to us in terms of our decision making process around the design for the new Battle.Net. We are pretty observant. We have looked at industry trends. We have looked at how people play our games. We have looked at, you know, DotA is a great example. And we have definitely built many aspects of the new Battle.Net design around scenarios like Dota. We want to be able to facilitate the community creating the next DotA for Starcraft 2. I mean that is definitely a design goal of ours.

Switching back to what Rob had talked about. What did he mean when he mentioned an offline guest mode?

All that really means is in the case, say, where you are on a laptop on an airplane, you are going to be able to play the campaign mode. So once your game, you have taken it home and you have registered it in sort of a registered installation, you are going to be able to play offline if you are, say, on a laptop. So that is what that means.

Somebody in the press room here at BlizzCon was like, "Did they just say that LAN was coming back because of this offline thing?!"

Offline single-player campaign.

That makes more sense.

As far as the new stat tracking goes, is that going to be a huge function of the new Battle.Net? Will you have your own pages of data that you will be able to access?

Absolutely. And that is one of the benefits of the always connected experience, right, because you are always connected and you have got your character. We have very rich stats that we are tracking across all your game play modes. Your league and ladder play as well as your individual play, your pickup play, your co-op skirmish play, your campaign, your challenges; all that, there are stats around all of it. You have got pages of stats and so forth.

During the Battle.Net presentation you guys showed some of your research into experiences like MySpace, Xbox Live, WoW, and so on. Then you had a separate spotlight on Facebook and Twitter, which are two of the most popular social media platforms today. Had you guys investigated any sort of parternship with these services within Battle.Net?

Yeah, we have definitely looked at it, and some of those great thoughts are the same thoughts that we have. We are still figuring out what we want to do there. But we have got a lot of great ideas around ways to sort of extend our experience into social networks and bring more social network features into our service. So there are really kind of two aspects to it. Look for more from us going forward.

You mentioned that eventually the new Battle.Net will support older games. Is that a pretty arduous undertaking to, say, prep Diablo 2 or the original Starcraft to run on the new Battle.Net?

It could be potentially, and there is a big list of stuff we need to do. Obviously our number one goal is to get Starcraft 2 to a level of ... the Battle.Net experience to a world class level of service and support for Starcraft 2. That is the number one goal. Beyond that, of course we have got Diablo 3. We have got other games and we want to make sure that we are serving Diablo 3 and the World of Warcraft audience really well. And then that is another project that we are looking at. The answer to that question really depends on the level of integration we would be talking about. The full feature set that you saw today for Starcraft 2, that would be really ambitious for all of the games, obviously. Some subset of that may be a little less ambitious. Maybe you could do something with the social stuff. You know, it is on the list. We just don't know exactly where it is on the list.

Mike said earlier today that he still believes the Starcraft 2 beta will be out this year. Will Battle.Net be working with that if it does?

The goal is for Battle.Net to be there in some form for the beta. The beta is a multiplayer beta and Battle.Net is the service for Starcraft 2. By definition, Battle.Net would need to be there.

So it's a double-edged beta: Starcraft and Battle.Net.

Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. That is the goal.

Well, we're ready to get our hands on it already. Thanks for your time.

Thanks a lot!