There’s a favourite phrase that StarCraft 2 game director Dustin Browder has. It goes: “We’re open to being wrong”. And listening to Browder talk about the game, it really does seem like Blizzard appreciate the feedback that comes with making a mistake – especially when it can be put right with a well-placed patch or two. Every time Team Liquid’s interviewer confronts him with an issue, Browder isn’t defensive, apologetic or cagey. He’s excited.
At one point Browder shakes his head at the very mention of neural-ed motherships: “I feel like that’s a problem with mothership. I think we’re going to explore just chopping neural altogether.”
Neural parasiteis the zergability which allows players to convert and commandeer enemy units. Browder continued: “It doesn’t get used that much anyway, and when it does get used it’s kind of terrible. So I think neural is on the chopping block for Swarm, I think that’s a definite possibility. It’s definitely something we could take a look at and see how it goes.”
Elsewhere, Browder confirmed that Blizzard are testing a projectile version of offensive AOE favouritefungal growth – something the developers already tried in the original StarCraft 2 beta.
“Now that people understand that the infestor is dangerous, maybe we can go back and put the projectile back in, which will make the unit a little harder to use. I don’t know if this is going to work, but my hope would be with the projectiles that [fungal growth becomes] not as sharp a counter. So more skill comes into play and there are more options for players.”
Blizzard won’t test the change until Heart of the Swarm’s release to avoid disrupting tournament play, but Browder hopes it will mean “you just don’t hit as much and it’s got a little more tension in it”.
The developers have also talked internally about having fungal growth slow units rather than stop them, but Browder doesn’t know if the change would be worth implementing: “The Zerg army is so fast, what is slowing really going to accomplish in a lot of cases?”
“I can think of a couple of cases which are legitimate,” he added. “So my banshee flies in and right at the cliff edge I get fungal-ed. That would be real. Or I get fungal-ed right in front of a spine crawler line. Because those are lines of death moments.
“That’s definitely an option for us and we can consider it, but we do think [the stop effect] is one of the things that makes the spell unique, that it does lock you down. We feel like the projectile or other units being immune might be enough diversity in play,” he concluded.
“It could be cool. But we’re definitely open to being wrong, and we’ll see.”
If you’re a Starcraft 2 player with a spare half an hour, you’ll want to watch the whole video; even if you’re not, it’s worth the time to watch a developer rapt in conversation, both enthused by their shared love of a game:
Our Nick cried out in anguish at the suggestion of neural parasite’s removal. Do you share his pain?
Thanks again to Team Liquid.