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On the notion of the e-sports phenomenon, there are some people for whom StarCraft is a fundamental competitive dynamic; it makes sense to them that StarCraft II still relies on that same dynamic, in the same way football hasn't changed its basic competitive form in many, many years. Then there are the people who are more dismissive, who say, "Well, it's the same thing I played ten years ago, but in 3D." How do you address that second group?
DB: For us, we're not trying to be innovative. We're not trying to change for change's sake. We're just trying to make a quality product. We definitely felt like there were some things from the previous game that were very high quality that we weren't super confident we could do a ton better. I wouldn't have a lot of enthusiasm to make Siege Tank 2.0. Siege Tank is good. It's a good unit.
It's much the same as the guys who are making Civilization or Team Fortress. They're making iterative changes to a quality product to do something really, really great.
But for the guys who are saying, "I just need new," we've created a whole solo play experience which we feel really scratches that itch, that is a brand new experience.
It gives them a new way to play RTS games that they haven't played in our games before. I know other games have done a similar experience, but we feel we've got a very high quality version of a non-linear RTS experience.
We really think that's an area where players who are just bored of RTS can have a lot of fun. But for the multiplayer experience, we're much more about quality than in showing off, if you know what I'm saying.
I'd heard you actually tried to implement a Relic-style cover system, like in Company of Heroes or Dawn of War.
DB: We did actually try a cover system. We tried it frequently, and what it did to our game was prevent a lot of movement from happening on the battlefield. It slowed the game down. Players would move to cover and stop. The other player is like, "Can I get around it? Screw it. I'll just fight." Or, "I'll just build up." The game stagnated.
Our game is about dancing: advance, retreat, advance, using the choke point -- until, "Oh no, the enemy went air, the choke is useless!" It's about give and take. For our game, it was a disaster.
It wasn't a perfect cover system. We never got that far, but the early indications were very poor. A lot of players view RTS as a continuum: RTS was this, and now changes have been made, and now RTS must start from there. We don't view it that way.
We think each game has its own style and flavor. Each game has its own strengths and weaknesses. What works for us would never work for a Dawn of War, and what works for Dawn of War would never work for us. They're different games, and that's the way it should be.
It seems encouraging that in 2010, after something of a lull in RTS, that we have such a broad spectrum now -- those games, as well as things like Total War and so on.
DB: Right. Totally different gameplay experiences, as it should be. [Those developers] are making a game that really speaks to their consumers and makes their people really happy, which is awesome.
How do you look at that market? Do you feel more confident when you see more RTS out there?
DB: It's always great to see games, as a gamer. There have been a decent number of Diablo clones, but we haven't seen a ton of them. And yet, we're making another one. So, if we were the only RTS out there, I'd be happy to make an RTS. We don't need thousands of people making this genre for it to feel like we should make a game. We can make a game.
You don't see a ton of clones of The Sims, but you still see The Sims turning out a product that's obviously very compelling to the users. But as a player, yeah. It is cool. It's fun to play these games, and I love a lot of them.