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Dustin Browder - Page 2

Kevin Kelly
08.17.09
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Is there any sort of new matchmaking system coming out?

There are a couple. So first of all, we are going to have it matching you on maps that are anti-rush maps so that you can sort of get your feet wet and learn the game a little bit better. That isn't as fun ultimately, because the game is a lot more fun when you have to choose between attacking and defending. But still, we know players need this. When they first start, we know they are very afraid of being rushed. So we have maps that basically put giant rocks between you and the enemy that must be destroyed before you can get at each other.

You can still get, I suppose, rushed at minute fifteen with a bunch of air units, but still, you would have had some time to get your stuff together. So that is one basic level of matchmaking. The other thing we are going to do is we are going to have a whole bunch of different divisions and stuff that sort of divide the player pool up into a variety of skill levels. We feel like RTS games are really fun as long as the match is fair.

The minute the match becomes unfair, it is actually not that fun for anybody. I suppose there are a few guys who like pulling the wings of butterflies who think it is really fun to beat some noob. But even they will get bored after a while, right? Maybe a few of them. But for most humans, it is not that fun very long. They will do it for a couple minutes, but then they are like, "OK. I don't want to play them again."

We had some really solid matchmaking actually in Warcraft 3 that was really good about that. There were some weaknesses to it. One of the biggest weaknesses was players could infinitely re-roll the characters. And when they infinitely re-rolled the characters, they reset their matchmaking status. So you would be minding your own business down there and having a good time, and here comes a re-roll through the ranks, just cutting everyone down that gets in its path like grass.

After 10 games we should have you pretty well pegged, and you should be in a good place where you are going to win about half of your games.

We have some systems we have planned to prevent that from occurring, sort of remembering your skill level when you reroll and stuff like this so that you can't just do this kind of destroying all the noobs. We think we have got most of the ways stamped out to prevent you from running into guys who are way more hardcore than you.

After 10 games we should have you pretty well pegged, and you should be in a good place where you are going to win about half of your games. Most players would like to win about 60% or 70% of their games. I can't really do that for them, just by the basic math. At that point, someone else would be like losing more games. But we can hopefully get you into a place where you are winning about half of your games. And that will put you in a place where you don't feel like you are just going to get owned every time you play.

And that is some sort of metric that will be tracked, like your rank or your level or something like that?

Yeah. Some of it we track. The matchmaking we track sort of behind the scenes, and we can show you what it is. But just to tell you, it is like this is the pool that you are in. And if you get better, then we will promote you out of that pool. And at the same time, you will have a ranking within that pool so you can sort of see how you are doing against people of your skill level.

Was the single player version of the game sort of always envisioned to be this big? It seems huge. It is a giant change from the last one.

Well at one point we had hoped to do all three races in this big in one product. And then at one point we kind of woke up and said there is no way. If you want to have meaningful choices ... how many levels have you played at this point, like four or five?

I am at the mining planet where you are working with a guy to harvest all the resources ...

So at least five levels. That is the 2nd choice then. Imagine now that the Terran campaign only had five missions left. What the hell? I am just getting started. Like, this is so cool, right? Who would want it to end that soon?

So when we were looking at doing the game and we had to make this difficult decision, we really thought, "Hey. You know what? By focusing on the Terrans in the first game, the players think it is 30 missions or thereabouts. Only now, he gets a really robust story with lots of choices and lots of chances to get used to these units and really experience them instead of rushing them through the experience."

At this point, if we had 10 or 12 missions per campaign, we would be down to just the core, no fancy medics, no fun Spectres, no cool neutron bombs or whatever we have got coming later in the game. None of that would exist and you would have very few choices at all. You would get your couple introduction missions and then like one or two choices, and then, "Hey, we have to end the game. We have to wrap up the story now." So it just gives us a lot more space to really enjoy the whole experience.

Is everyone focused on working on Wings of Liberty right now, or have any people started to branch off and say, "All right. Let's start working on the next installment." It seems like it will be a pretty decent amount of time between installments.

No, it's all Wings of Liberty. Everyone is working on that. We will have to wait and see. If you look at our previous expansion packs, what have those been? They have been sometimes as little as nine months or a year. Sometimes longer, I think. Sometimes a year and a half. I would guess that is kind of what we would be at, but no real serious discussion has occurred.

Yeah, because once you have finished Wings of Liberty, you almost have to go back to the drawing board, because what is the Zerg experience going to be like?

What is the equivalent of this for the Zerg, or do we need an equivalent? What would it be? There is definitely a lot of work to do.

It can't just be all like wet oozing orifices and stuff. The Terran one has the advantage of being fairly accessible. Like there are news reports. It makes sense to me. Like, what is the equivalent of this for the Zerg, or do we need an equivalent? What would it be? There is definitely a lot of work to do.

The technology that you guys have added, the ability to upgrade units and stuff, is there any chance that would ever come to multiplayer?

Multiplayer is a sport. Multiplayer is a competitive environment where I need to know what you have got potentially in your arsenal. And you need to know what I have got in my arsenal or it is not really fun. Like if it gets to be, "Oh, here is something zany!" OK. I guess I lose, right?

So I don't really think that is a practical choice for us. At this point, we can barely balance the one game as well as we want it to. It can never be too good, right? And so to add a bunch more additional complexity like that would be unwise. That would just pretty much make the game unbalanced.

I know it would be a cool feature. I know it would geek everybody out, like, "Imagine the power!" Yeah, but imagine the broken, too.

Do you guys have a sense of how many missions there will be in the final Wings of Liberty set? I mean how many were in the first one, 10? For each campaign it was like 10 or 15?

Yeah. 10-12. It is about 30. I think our actual number is 29, but that might vary a little bit as we get closer to the end. It may go up. It may go down.

I was in the scenarios menu, which isn't fully fleshed out yet, but it feels like you guys going to do those sorts of chess scenarios where it is like, "OK. Here is the situation. Can you get yourself out of this?"

Yeah. We have a bunch of those. I think we have got about 10 or 12 of those now, and we will probably add more as we go forward.

And then there are the small skirmishes, which are just like mini-battles.

The challenge is it really gets a chance to try to move you from solo player to multi. We kind of figured you are going to come in and you are going to play solo and have a good time. And then you are going to realize that multi is a completely different thing. And we kind of hope that you will put the challenges on and you will play some skirmish battles to sort of learn the tech. But I mean it is, "Hey, there are no medics here anymore!" You have to learn that stuff again.

And then the challenge will hopefully really allow you to bridge the gap in terms of the kinds of game play that is expected of you. You don't ever have to use your workers to defend against an attack in solo. You just don't. But in multi you frequently do. Like, here comes four Zerglings. What do I do? Get the SCVs to kill them! They can fight?! And that is like news to a lot of players.

So the challenges try to teach a lot of those basic lessons to sort of get players to make that jump. We never really felt like the solo player worked that well as a tutorial for multi in the original game in any of our RTS games, or any RTS games I have played for the most part. So we will like it will be a lot more fun to split them up, make them two totally different experiences, and then find other ways to bridge the gap.



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