Blizzard talks new spawning option for Starcraft II

Production director Chris Sigaty explains why spawning is only just now coming to RTS, says company has done a poor job making gamers aware of Starter Edition.

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Blizzard Entertainment today introduced a system called spawning into Starcraft II, allowing its Starter Edition and Wings of Liberty players to be temporarily upgraded to Heart of the Swarm accounts when playing with friends.

GameSpot caught up with Blizzard Entertainment production director Chris Sigaty to discuss the move and what it means for the future of Starcraft II.

Why are you doing this?

There's a couple of things that are coming together here. There's spawning, and then there's Starter Edition. And Starter Edition is something that we've actually had for a while, but we have done, being self-critical, a poor job of making people aware of. We limit the race to Terran traditionally because we feel they're the most accessible to brand-new users coming into Starcraft II. But, starting today up until the end of Sunday, all three races are available. We will go back to one race being active, but then we'll have weekends with promotions to switch the race or have multiple races active at once.

Spawning has been a feature in Blizzard games since Warcraft II and Starcraft: Brood War. As such a Blizzard-specific feature, why has it taken so long for this to come to Starcraft II?

"Now that we've had the bandwidth to do this, it just felt like the right time now that we've finally had a little bit of air to breathe into this feature."

I think priorities. This was something we talked about in the past but never really had a good vision for it. We were working on important features for the core game as we did Heart of the Swarm, and a lot of the patches that followed up Wings of Liberty that added things like Masters and Grand Masters leagues. If you go across the patches they were all adding newly important functionality. Then Heart of The Swarm drops with a whole bunch of great stuff, including things that make life easier for players to find each other, take command, all the new replay functionality, all that stuff felt more important. Now that we've had the bandwidth to do this, it just felt like the right time now that we've finally had a little bit of air to breathe into this feature.

Beyond the bandwidth side, I think one of the things that Starcraft faces as a perception issue is being a really hardcore versus eSport. It's about the best of the best facing off against each other to show who's the better player. If you go back to Warcraft II, the original Starcraft, and then Warcraft III after it, I think there's a lot of nostalgic memories around just playing Big Game Hunters with a large group of friends, or playing in team games against each other where the pressure wasn't that. I think a feature like this will help bring down the perception that SCII is only a game about playing competitively and at a super-high skill level, and that there is a way to interface in SCII that's not so focused on who's the most elite player.

A few months ago you stated there were no plans for a multiplayer free-to-play Starcraft II. Do you believe the Starter Edition and spawning is the better way of going about putting the game out to the masses?

I don't know if it's a better way or not. But I think some of the pitches--and this is my personal view on it--free-to-play is a great concept for some games, but the way Starcraft II is built, it's just not designed for stuff like skin and that sort of stuff that players have suggested so far. For what we have today, this does feel like the right answer. Whether free-to-play as a consumer product versus a boxed product on which one is better, it's hard for me to judge that. For that we've built, and how we built it, the Starter Edition/spawned way seems like the best way we can make it accessible to players, and the widest group of players.

The idea is that the game is most fun when you play with your friends, and that's what this feature lets you do easily. In free-to-play, it's more about how am I interacting with the purchase of this game myself, where this feature is approaching it like "What's an easy way to get players to be able to play with their friends?"

Is there a possibility of having one-versus-one ladder play unlocked in the future?

As you have to be in a party, there's no current plans to have the one-versus-one ladder active at this time. We'll continue to look and see how this is successful, and who knows what the future holds, but right now we don't have any plans in that direction.

Based on previous spawnings in older games, do you have any guess on how many will use this, or how much the player base will increase?

I have zero idea. (laughs) I think this will help educate the existing community and they'll understand it is actually very easy to share and get people into SCII, where maybe they didn't understand that.

Do you think spawning is the best way to get these people into Starcraft II--those who have a notion of the game as a one-versus-one hardcore eSport?

I think so. Having a friend along to help steer you in the right places is a hope. When you came over to somebody's house to play the game with friends in the old days, and that person knew, not only were they helping you play the game even though you didn't own it, they were also helping educate you on the fun. I think this is a really good way of having a guide along with you--"Let's try this; let's go do this." Without it, you need to figure that out for yourself. Being with a friend has that benefit to it where you can have that guide, where you can go, what you can do, and what's fun.

Discussion

61 comments
wolf503
wolf503

Blizzard should start a Sunsilk campaign.

Slagar
Slagar

Multiplayer aside, I really hated how over-produced the campaign of this game was. It really put me off Blizzard games, and I saw more of the same with D3 so stayed away. They really need to come down to earth and focus on creating fun games, not big budget auction houses with glitchy hollywood interfaces and overdone symphony orchestra music every time you touch the mouse.

CeZar_87
CeZar_87

I thought the dude in the picture was Al Snow...

atopp399
atopp399

Trying to drum up hype for a game that people are not buying as much as Blizzard wants.  I know I passed on the second one.  After Diablo 3 online requirement and focus on real money in game garbage Blizzard has lost a lot of my confidence and I will not be buying any more of their stuff for a very long time.  When I can play Diablo 3 offline I will think about getting into Starcraft 2.  

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

All the money Blizzard makes goes into maintaining that guy's hair.

Jmalk
Jmalk

What kind of shampoo does he use ?

FTB_Screamer
FTB_Screamer

Whenever I want to play offline, I get told I have the Started edition, so no you have not done a bad job at letting people know that even though they have paid for it, they have the Starter Edition :/

frozenux
frozenux

Damn, that's some fabulous hair,i know some girls who can't even take care of their hair like that.Brian Crecente got some serious competition....

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

I imagine that guy combs his hair every night while looking in the mirror in admiration. There comes an age when people need to let go of the long hair thing unless they're rock stars.

ahpuck
ahpuck

 Is that Carolyn Petit with a beard?

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Starter edition...... might check it out when I upgrade.

eyematter
eyematter

I'll always be loyal to blizzard, as a PC gamer, they have stayed faithful to us. Blizzard literly saved PC gaming....

georgebot84
georgebot84

I used to love Blizzard, but am hating them more and more.  Yes, I like the games they create., but I hate how their updates and "innovations" makes the games buggy and sometimes impossible to play.

Also their games are way overpriced.

By the way it's not 1993 guy in picture.

Jjinne
Jjinne

wonder if this is to help take away the sting of the titan project news?

eyematter
eyematter

SCREW THIS....... WHEN IS LEGACY OF THE VOID COMING OUT!!!!!! 

3 years?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!

StonerDemon
StonerDemon

Wait a minute... I didn't know William Baldwin worked for Blizzard.

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Is Chris doing a John Romero impersonation, or is that really how he looks ?

eyematter
eyematter

@atopp399 

What a Child.......

YOu must not have an internet connection.

It's a thing of the future buddy, since people, most likely you are one of them, steal video game soft ware, companies like blizzard and Valve, have to cover their ass, by requiring being online, plus I really have no idea wtf the big deal is, I like that I am always connected with 1,000's of other players, and you can talk to them and meet people while playing.

gufberg
gufberg

@Bellum_Sacrum The joke would've been more fun if it had an ounce of truth to it. 

Never cutting your hair requires a lot less maintenance than getting it trimmed every other month. 

Riddick123
Riddick123

@Bellum_Sacrum Heh I was going to suggest he get a haircut to reduce the cost of maintaining those illustrious locks.  Beat me to it.  :)

atopp399
atopp399

@eyematter Hmm, they are ruining PC gaming.  They are requiring online DRM in single player games and they are pushing real money transactions in games.  Two of the worst things PC gaming has ever had introduced.

frozenux
frozenux

@the_big_doggg  What kind of question is that ? lol It's a god damn televised national E-sport in South Korea for fck sake....

Which leads me to believe -1: you suck at it or -2: you are a console player.

SteamyPotatoes
SteamyPotatoes

@the_big_doggg People still make these false statements about every blizzard game which outpopulates most other games.

gufberg
gufberg

@eyematter That is utter bullshit. "This is the future" is not an argument. 

Always-on has consistently been proven not to work because companies fuck it up. Remember Error 37? or the entire week in which most people couldn't play Sim City?

Online DRM actually PROMOTES piracy. Why? Because it gets cracked and when that happens you've essentially got a DRM free product that can be attained for free instead of buying it and getting a game that may not even run due to the DRM. 

Online DRM is actively anti-consumer, causes piracy and destroys consumer trust in developers.

Lastly, you may live in, say, Los Angeles or another place that is well connected. But what about the hundreds of millions of people who have unstable connections? Are we just supposed to suck it up? 

Take your smug attitude somewhere else. 

eyematter
eyematter

3 years for a Fuckking expantion.... what a joke...... They already have a game engine made, they just need to make a the missions...

Nova_Prime_85
Nova_Prime_85

@moistsandwich @the_big_doggg i wont comment on his skill level, because i play SC cause i love it, and i get wrecked online

(no personal time to really get practice in, alot going on in life right now)

but yea, there are ppl who still play it overall

the_big_doggg
the_big_doggg

@moistsandwich

No I just figured out how cheap and repetitive it is for a strategy game and moved on to better games like most people.

eyematter
eyematter

@MatrixGamer78 @atopp399 

Well... I don't see how it's a failure, when it sold 12 million copies....

I like D3, I still play it now and again, infact I like it a lot better than D2.

You two are retarded, Blizzard is an amazing company, that started out simple, and than brought the gaming world to it's knee's, they have made more money with 1 game, than EA has with any of theirs.

Glynth
Glynth

@PSYCHOV3N0M @SteamyPotatoes "Population is only a number based on OPINIONS from people who LIKE the game."

... In other words, it's popular.

That was a REALLY stupid argument in general, but especially when used to supposedly back up a claim that the game is "overrated".

Blitzkrieg129
Blitzkrieg129

@PSYCHOV3N0M @SteamyPotatoes It'd be foolish to think that SC2 isn't the king of strategy games, especially when you consider the amount of attention it receives from esports. SC2 is not only a great strategy game, but it's fun to watch too as evidenced by the amount of viewers on Twitch and other tournaments and whatnot.