Interview with StarCraft II lead writer Brian Kindregan
Starcraft II may now be out for retail, but did you ever stop to wonder why it took the developers so long to produce the latest sequel to the popular game? VR-Zone interviews StarCraft’s lead writer, Brian Kindregan, and Blizzard’s Global Manager for Community Development, Kevin Yu, to shed some light on this little mystery.
VR-Zone: Before we start, allow me to
congratulate you on a very successful StarCraft II launch. What are your thoughts of the
Brian Kindregan: I guess, really, it is
just all of the excitement. When I think of it, I mean, the Southeast Asian community was so excited and happy to have the game in their hands.
You know, they were very friendly, gracious, smiling people. So, it
was just a great experience all around. And you know, I’m just very
excited that everyone finally gets to play the game.
VR-Zone: Did the turnout surprise you
yesterday? If you looked outside the building, the queue had already
stretched all the way to the roads. After all, the game was under
development for 12 years.
Brian: Well, actually it wasn’t in
development for 12 years. The team actually went on to do Warcraft
3 and other things. But still, considering it’s been 12 years since the first game came
out, it is pretty amazing. It’s really gratifying and humbling. I
mean, I had no idea what to expect. So, it was amazing.
VR-Zone: So yesterday’s event was a pleasant
surprise for you?
Brian: Oh yeah.
VR-Zone: When you came to Blizzard to work on
StarCraft II, what were your first thoughts about taking up a title
that was under development for so long?
Brian: Well, when I started on it it was
already in development, so it
was both really fun and very challenging. The first
day that you sit down to write a line of dialogue for the Queen of
Blades, you know, you sort of have an ‘Oh my god,
this is the Queen of Blades!’ moment. And I’m going to put words
in her mouth. So it’s a little bit intimidating in that respect, but
it’s also really fun, just because the StarCraft universe is such a
fun universe, and the characters are so great, so it’s
really fun to be able to just play around in there and continue the
stories of the older characters and make up new characters that fit
in that universe.
VR-Zone: You spoke about being intimidated
at having to put words into the characters’ mouths. What were some of
the challenges you faced in the process?
Brian: Oh, it’s not necessarily creatively
challenging. It’s just that, you know, that you’re writing dialogue
for a character that many people really care about, or are really
interested in. And if you write the line wrong,
or if you make a bad line or something like that, there are
people who have invested and care so much about the character that you’re gonna
disappoint. So, the intimidation is in not wanting to disappoint
the fans who are so excited about these characters.
VR-Zone: So it is always about looking out
for the fans, making sure that their interests come first?
Brian: Oh absolutely. That is what all of
this comes down to; entertaining people.
VR-Zone: You had a huge responsibility on
your shoulders. After all, you are picking up a title that was almost
forgotten for 12 years: were you concerned about any consequences
that might have resulted in doing so? I know that yesterday’s event
has shown that gamers are willing to wait for a sequel, but were you
ever concerned that gamers might have been turned off because of the
Brian: Not really, just because I’m
lucky enough that the world I live in is more of the creative
side. So, my worries and the things that concern me everyday are
worries about whether the story is good enough, or whether the creativity
there. Worrying about the market and what people are thinking is
stuff that Kevin deals with a lot more than I do.
Kevin: Sometimes, yeah, But it has
worked out very well for us, and as far as possible, we make sure
that the game is polished and ready to go. So when you finally do get
it, you are willing to line up at the long queue for the game. So
yeah, the philosophy has worked quite well for us.
VR-Zone: Let’s draw a parallel between
StarCraft II and Duke Nukem Forever: the difference is that while
Starcraft II eventually saw the light of the day, Duke Nukem Forever
is still somewhere in limbo. During the development process, did you
ever worry that Starcraft II might pull a Duke Nukem Forever?
Brian: No, I wasn’t. I mean, I know, from
the outside, it can be very frustrating, because Blizzard just moves along at its own pace, so you think that ‘They’re not really doing anything! They’re just playing
World of Warcraft all day!’. But actually, on the inside, you
can see that it is moving forward everyday. We could feel the
momentum building and we could see the game get better. And then we would knock down parts that weren’t as good and we build it back up into something better. I know the
timeline is quite long, but as Kelvin was
saying, the philosophy is ‘release it when it’s ready’. You don’t
want to release a game that’s just good enough. It’s like, ‘oh let’s release
it now’, and then people really like it for a few weeks, and then they
forget about it. You want to release something that is ready and is
everything that you wanted it to be for the consumer, and then they
will embrace it for years.
VR-Zone: In the original StarCraft, Blizzard released the Terran campaign first, followed by the Zergs and Protoss campaigns in the form of expansion packs, and we see that this practice has also been carried over to Starcraft II, where Wings of Liberty is the Terran-based campaign. Did this practice ever impact development of storyline? Surely there would be times where you felt that it would be better to work on the Zerg or Protoss campaigns first.
Brian: Yeah, there are times, but once I get completely into the world of those characters and what they’re going through, I stop thinking about that. So, in Wings of Liberty, as soon as I start really looking at Jim Raynor’s life and situation and the role that he’s in, I stop thinking about ‘oh, what would it like to be Zeratul?’ The only way Zeratul comes to mind in that moment is how he would affect Jim Raynor’s life. Although, in Wings of Liberty, we actually do have a mini Protoss campaign: a four-mission mini campaign with Zeratul. But yeah, I think it’s all about just really thinking about the characters that you’re telling the story about, and knowing that you’ll get to tell the other characters’ stories in time, you know, that Kerrigan’s time will come.
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