Starcraft 2 senior game designer not comfortable with making big changes

Starcraft 2 AMA

Starcraft 2’s senior game designers David Kim just finished up a Reddit AMA on Heart of the Swarm balance. 

He managed to answer a lot of questions, and covered a lot of ground. But for anyone hoping that the team will start making bigger updates or big changes when the new expansions drops will be disappointed. 

The point reiterated the most during the AMA was that Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 team are unlikely to ever change their minds about the effectiveness of large changes. And Kim seems quite risk averse, unwilling to make a change unless it’s “completely awesome.”

“We prefer not to make big changes due to careers being on the line in a game like Starcraft 2,” Kim said in response to a comment suggesting that the team could learn a lot from Dota 2’s design procees. “We also mentioned we would prefer not to make design changes in patches because we don’t think it’s good for the game to change too much and confuse returning players or players who just don’t keep up with every single change we make to the game.”

It’s a peculiar stance. Gamers are used to learning the ropes again after taking long breaks from a game, and Starcraft is one of many games with pro-players, yet it’s in the minority when it comes to the absence of change.

“Like we mentioned in another post, one of the most core philosophies for our SC2 design team is that if the change isn’t completely awesome, we don’t change it,” Kim said in response to another comment about certain units seeing little play. “Reason being we don’t want to take away from players who are actually using the current versions of the units in a fun way of their own. And we’re in such early stages that it’s really difficult to say that we have a good solution for any of these things, but we are trying our best not only to work on supporting HotS, but also thinking farther down the line.”

And it’s not just patching in changes that Kim isn’t keen to do. He doesn’t want to mess with “core mechanics” in the expansion either. “the most important thing to remember is that core mechanics are difficult to mess with in an expansion because we’re talking about completely changing major parts of the game. There are people out there that want such major changes (which is sort of what the mod community is for), but there are also people out there who like the current core systems the way they are.

“Also, the danger of doing something like this is that it’s not as easy as just changing something,” Kim continued. “We know the ins and outs of how this game works through years of experience. It would be very difficult to simply change a core part of the game to something completely different, and still have it as polished as what we have now.”