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Tuesday, March 12, 2002

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Bill Roper Talks RTS Design
10:40 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Computer and Video Games recently talked with Blizzard's Bill Roper. Though C&VG calls it a "Warcraft III Interview," its main focus seems to be on Roper's thoughts on real-time strategy design, which should be of interest to anyone wondering just how Blizzard does it.

Opening with an interesting salvo, Roper feels that true 3D strategy games have yet to be fully realized, partially due to the fact that some developers concentrate more on the 3D technology than on the actual mechanics of the game. This may have something to do with Blizzard's decision to fix the camera angle in WC3 betas — just because 3D allows one to manipulate the camera doesn't mean the feature has to be in there.

When asked about the amazing long-term success of such titles as Starcraft and Warcraft II, Roper points to several design factors:

We've managed to be very fortunate and have our games remain quite popular long after release. There are two key elements that come to mind. One is that the games are very, very simple to get into, but then we try and build a long-term difficulty curve so they take a while to master. We still see tactics that we haven't ever seen before come out of Korea with StarCraft, where they are very competitive in their play. I think the second element is that we continue to provide a lot of support for our games long after they ship — for example, we just released a patch for StarCraft. We have always tried to pay attention to our gamers and their needs and desires. We really want to make it something that is a community.
As for those still pining for a Starcraft sequel, when asked directly about it, Roper responds that if a sequel were to come out, it would definitely be a 3D title as well. He adds that the decision to continue the Warcraft series came mainly from the development teams, who wanted to explore the Warcraft universe some more.

The rest of the interview covers other RTS design topics and the work still being done on Warcraft III. Those interested in the details should definitely give the interview a look.

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