Interview: Blizzard's Chris Sigaty on the future of Starcraft II
Chris Sigaty is StarCraft II's lead producer, and rhythm guitarist in Blizzard house band The Artists Formerly Known As Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain. His business cards are lengthy and hairy. I interviewed him the other day about StarCraft II's launch, its first patch, and the game's future. Here's what he said.
Rich McCormick: So how did StarCraft II's launch go?
Chris Sigaty: Overall it was really good. I was actually at an event in Sweden, so that was extremely exciting. We had an estimated 1,300 people at a store in Stockholm, and that was just one of twelve midnight launches. It was really exciting to work on a game like this and to be able to go to a launch and have that many people show up, feel their excitement, and participate in their excitement.
Rich McCormick: What does the game's launch say about the state of PC gaming at the moment?
Chris Sigaty: I think it says that PC gaming is not dead, despite the news that has come out in the last few years.
Rich McCormick: So what would you have changed about the launch, if anything?
Chris Sigaty: I think for me personally I would have hoped that we could have had the Chinese version of the game done at the same time. That was a personal goal of mine, but it didn't make it, so we're working on that now. Other things - there's regrets from my side only around features that didn't make the cut at the time. Most of those things are high level features things that we intend to now release over time via patches, things like chat features on the online service. There's group functionality that we definitely want to get into the game at some point, but these are internal things that we've tried to get done that didn't make it in time.
Rich McCormick: Is the intention to release them, via patch?
Chris Sigaty: It depends on our bandwidth at any given time but yeah a lot of things are going to come online at the feature level, in patches, and then some of them will be parts of the expansion.
Rich McCormick: The first patch came out in the last few days. Could give us an insight into what you're planning to do with the next patch?
Chris Sigaty: The next patch is largely our e-sports patch, is the best way to describe it. A couple of main, big things that'll be in there are support for the season rolling - that just means players can look at previous history of how they did in the past in past seasons. Chat is another thing that we intend to get in there in the next patch. Of course there will be bugfixes, balance changes and tweaks, and several other things that I really don't want to speak about yet because the list is constantly changing.
Rich McCormick: Are there any units you're looking at at the moment that you think need to be rebalanced?
Chris Sigaty: We're looking at all of that very carefully. You can go and read on the forums at any one time and there's a bunch of different theories about balance and imbalance, and we're being very cautious about making large swinging changes right now because at the highest level things are actually very strong.
The things that we'll probably be addressing are the 2v2 and larger scale games. Ultimately, the 1 to 1 is the are we want to keep as sacred as possible, but right now there are some things that we need to address in the 2v2 at the higher level. At the moment, there's issues with what race types players pick. The actual matching is working very well, we're very happy with how well its matched, to the dismay of some players who always want wins, but ultimately our goal is to get it where each game is challenging, and whether you win or lose you feel like you could have won. They're not walks in the park, you know? But as far as 2v2 and six, eight player games, it's really a matter of - if it's two Zerg versus two Protoss, is there a huge imbalance there? We want to make sure those are as equal as we can get them, and that'll be an ongoing process that'll take a year or longer. Even after Brood War was released we still patched and continued to drive towards a solid final balance. But honestly, the 1 v 1 is the purest form of competition in Starcraft 2 and is going to win when we have to make choices in that direction.