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StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm "99% Done"

"We are 99 percent done," StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder told Kotaku when asked about progress on the upcoming Heart of the Swarm expansion for their science fiction RTS sequel. However, he makes it sound like one of those progress bars that will sit at 99% for a while, adding: "but that last one percent's a bitch." He goes on to explain that all the units are in place, but this next phase is open-ended: "It's the tuning and polish that really takes us a long time, and that's where we get into the unknowns."

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46. Re: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Jun 17, 2012, 04:41 Flatline
MattyC wrote on Jun 16, 2012, 23:17:
I also don't mind that it didn't revolutionize the genre. In fact I was getting bored with all the 'revolutionary' RTS titles. I just wanted a good, solid, fun RTS. Blizzard gave me that. Easily one of the best RTS games I have played with a solid online ladder. I guess we just have to agree to disagree, because I had a blast with it and am looking forward to HOTS.

And folks, this is precisely the thinking that makes it lucrative to crank out another Call of Duty every 11 months. "Fuck it. It's new and shiny as long as I don't scratch it with my fingernail. WOOHOO!"

Also if you think SC2 was a 'moderate graphics overhaul' then you either never played Brood War or played SC2 on something you constructed out of sticks and bits of pocket lint. It isn't the most beautiful game ever made (Blizzard has never been a Crysis style graphics thing - fine by me, I hated Crysis) but come on... Moderate? Really?

Yes. Really.

And I played Brood War, and SC2 (on a machine that could run max settings).

Let's play comparison here...

Company of Heroes, release date 2006 (and this is representative of what it looks like max'd out, and was one of the better shots on the first page of GIS):

Starcraft 2, released 2010 (I went for the best 2 looking pictures on page 1 of GIS):

And for shits and giggles to prove how moderate the upgrade is... Warcraft 3 (release date 2002):

And Starcraft 1 (release date 1998) to round things out:

So aside from transparencies and some additional lighting and maybe a 25% bump in model geometry, the game itself is barely iterative from WC3, and as I said, moderately improved over SC1. Yes, the jump from sprites to models was significant, but still lagging behind old technology.

Perhaps I should refine my statements. In between missions, the engine pushed out some really pretty visuals. In-game itself, the engine was not used to anywhere near it's full potential.

And as far as being slower than molasses, Blizzard pushed out Starcraft on March 31st of 1998 and pushed out Brood Wars... November 30th 1998.

Diablo 2- June 30th 2000, Diablo 2 Lord of Destruction June 27th 2001, pretty much one year later.

Warcraft 3: Launched July 3rd 2002, Frozen Throne: July 1st, 2003.

Noticing a pattern here? When you have 99% of the art assets, gameplay, engine, and everything else you need, an expansion *used* to take Blizzard about a year to put out.

Dev time for World of Warcraft Vanilla? Hard to say, but it was announced in 2001, had been worked on for about a year by that point, and was launched in 2004. So let's say 4 years. Burning Crusade took 3 more years to develop, and after that Lich King took about a year. Cataclysm took 2 years to develop.

Diablo 3? Five years of development before being announced in 2008 (according to an interview on Kotaku), and another 5 years after that, or twice the time than it took to create World of Warcraft. Wait, let's put this into further perspective. It took longer to make Diablo 3 than it took to make ALL OF THE CONTENT IN WOW.

Starcraft 2? From what I can find, the consensus is around 7 years of development. Again, that's the same amount of time as all the content in WoW up through Lich King.

Blizzard moving molasses-in-winter slow isn't something they've always done. It's not even something they started with WoW. It's entirely new to SC2 and D3. I suspect these teams are surrounded by *so* much money, that "it's done when it's done" is becoming a hindrance. It's a well known business concept that when you set a deadline for people they tend to meet said deadline, or at least work towards it. Set a task without a deadline and your productivity will drop like a stone. I present D3 and SC2 as proof: decent games that probably could have been made just as good in half the time if someone was cracking a whip.
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