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Interview: Blizzard's Chris Sigaty on the future of Starcraft II

Rich McCormick: Are there any mods that you've had your eye on?

Chris Sigaty: I've not looked in personally on what the leading mods are in the community, but I know the most popular ones: Nexus Wars is one of the most played maps out there right now.

Ultimately we're going to go a lot further with this: we are working internally on some mods to demonstrate what you can do. In the last patch we added various features to the editor to help people developing these maps; 1.20, our next major patch, will add a lot more significant features as well, as well as tools that show how to use them.

We also have a team that's going through mod and map submissions right now. We just completed a map contest and the top three of those are going to be showcased at Blizzcon, so we will be doing a review process shortly on those maps. The mods we're making, we're going to showcase three or four of our own internal creations to the world at Blizzcon.

Rich McCormick: In an age where a lot of people are locking things down and not letting anyone play with their source code, why have Blizzard made the decision to let everyone tinker with the game?

Chris Sigaty: The experiences that have come from us doing that in the past, even going back to StarCraft and WarCraft 2, through to WarCraft 3, were amazing. It's a self-feeding community that forms up from that: DotA (Defence of the Ancients) is a phenomenon, and it came about because of providing those tools to the end user. For us it's really exciting to see the ideas, they inspire some of the things we do in our own games. Tower defence was - as far as I know - non-existent until StarCraft and WarCraft 3, and now I have probably twenty different games on my iPhone that came about because we put tools like that in users' hands.

We want to open it up even more if we can. We've talked about the concepts of a marketplace, and it's a goal of ours to get something like that up. Ultimately, we want to create an iTunes-like platform where not only can map creators share their ideas, but also actually make money doing it. We're way behind it.

Rich McCormick: How do you think Battle.net has held up?

Chris Sigaty: I think it has been robust enough. As far as the stability of it and what it's capable of, yeah, we're very happy with it.

Rich McCormick: Where do you want to go next with it?

Chris Sigaty: Our next patch will focus largely on competition and supporting the season. We're going to roll the first season after 1.20 launches – along with that, we'll allow people to look back at the records, implement a chat capability, and then there's a longer list of other features that are on the table as well: things like customisable hotkeys that have been requested by the player community.

Rich McCormick: How do you think Korea's taken to the game?

Chris Sigaty: They've taken to it the same way they have with all of our products so far. With StarCraft, with WarCraft 3, there's been a long ramp up over time. Generally it's been about a year of time as the game ramps up in interest. So far, we've seen a lot of professional players looking in on it but not committing to it. But now we're now starting to see very high level players committing, or transitioning from StarCraft to StarCraft 2, and we're seeing that the player population following along with it.

Rich McCormick: Has it taken over StarCraft I/Brood War yet as the major spectator sport?

Chris Sigaty: Not yet, and I don't know that that's our goal, either. I think letting Brood War live on its own while still having really great players in Starcraft II would be great. If players do come over that's fantastic as well, but we're certainly not out to destroy Brood War. In a perfect world, both would live side by side, but we'll see.

Rich McCormick: Do you have contact with the network of shoutcasters who provide English language commentary on game replays? (People like Community Hero Husky )

Chris Sigaty: Yeah, our e-sports team knows quite a number, and interacts with quite a number. We hire each year a couple of the more famous English speaking shoutcasters that come out to Blizzcon.

Rich McCormick: What are your intentions for this year's Blizzcon?

Chris Sigaty: Our focus is competitive play and and modding at Blizzcon this year. The idea is to showcase some work in progress stuff, but it will be the first hands-on with these maps and mods and also an opportunity for players to understand just what they can do. We'll also have various panels around how you can do these things yourself, some of the tricks of the trade.

We've also got the big e-sports competitive side of the event, too.

Rich McCormick: Can we expect any news about Heart of the Swarm?

Chris Sigaty: No. We're still working on the details and the last thing I want to do is get us there, talking about theoretical things instead of talking about what's real. We will be featuring a Q&A to talk about story, but that will largely just be to tie up any loose ends and questions players have about what was happening during the story, we won't be going into details about what's going to happen in Heart of the Swarm.