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BlizzCon 2017 StarCraft Remastered: Then and Now

by - 2 years ago

Welcome everyone to the StarCraft Remastered: Then and Now Panel recap. If you’re a fan of the original game, then this is the panel for you!

The Beginning

We open the panel up with Day9 claiming that SC Brood War is the greatest game ever. He’s not wrong. Opening the panel is Bob Fitch the technical director, Collin Murray, Samwise Dider, Brian Souza, Rob Bridenbecker, Pete Stilwell, and Grant Davies.

They open up with mentioning that StarCraft was originally planning with LucasArts to do a Star Wars RTS. Talks at some point fell apart. They decided to continue working on their own license instead. Samwise brings up the good point that there wasn’t going to be as much to do if they did the Star Wars games, all art would already be existing, which for him wouldn’t have been as exciting as creating something original.

They mention that there were rules with working with other IPs that would have made working with something existing much harder. The discussion moves on to where the ideas came from for StarCraft. Samwise continues on that they’ve all been fans of the Sci-Fi genre and they decided to pick up the some of the things that interested them. He continues on that they wanted humans but didn’t want the “Galactic Good Guys” trope, instead they went with “Surly Space Cowboys That Were Prisoners”

Day9 asks what were some of the ideas coming down the lines, Bob talks about some of the various influences ranging from Spaceship Troopers, to Battlestar Galactica, to Predator. Brian talks about how things then were very different back then, it was more he would do his art and hand it off and start work on the next thing. Talks about how the SCV was originally supposed to transform into a jet when not working, but that idea was scrapped as it took “too many frames.” Talks about even in the remastered you could see the cockpit and the engines.

Day9 asks what the projects that the team was coming out of before they started on StarCraft. Bob talked about a game called Shattered Nations which was a Post Apoc Civilization RTS style game. However the team came back with the deal with LucasArts fell through and decided to move on to the new project.

Day9 asks about Warcraft II and how they wanted StarCraft to be different from from Warcraft. Bob talks about balance and how Warcraft was easy to balance because the two sides were just mirror images, but StarCraft would be a little harder because of there being 3 races.

The question about how to balance the 3 different races comes up, Bob talks about how internally they’d match their best players up against each other, but when it went into beta there was a huge amount of difference in skill between players which opened up a lot of data for them in order to balance the races until it “felt right.”

Development

The question of how many people worked on development comes up and the answer of 25 comes up. Day9 asks for some juicy stories. Samwise jokes about the final stretch lasted about a year. They kept talking about having to come out with press version after press version. The concept of “Orcs In Space” comes up. They mention about E9 1996 and Blizzard wanting to focus on Diablo and them putting StarCraft on the backburner. They mention that they took all the knowledge they gained from Diablo and put that to work on StarCraft which ended up being the first fully 3d game they’ve ever made. They saw another game being made called Dominion, they said the art style and 3d style really fit their idea of how an RTS should look. Samwise interjects about how they were using the Warcraft engine for those first screen shots.

Day9 asks who was working on StarCraft while everyone was working on Diablo and Bob mentioned he was the only one working on it to some laughter. Bob said he took the time to redesign the engine in order to achieve some graphical effects that weren’t possible before.

The pathing for the Dragoon is brought up. Day9 notes that there were a lot of small fixes to path finding in the weeks leading up to release and asks to get more information on that. Day9 presses about about the dragoon, and Bob beings to talk about the collision boxes on the Dragoons and how their collision detection would constantly change because of their legs.

The final stretch is brought up. One of the devs brings up there 15 hour days, there was a week where Bob didn’t leave and people just had people to bring him food, apparently his child was born during that time and he was unable to leave the office. He said he took a 15 hour break to make it to the hospital. A few more funny stories came out about the child at the office.

Day9 brings up “Operation C-wall” and Bob once again gets to handle the question. Apparently people thought Blizzard was withholding the games. When the crunch started, they thought they were going to be able to make it in time. This was in November, the game was released in March. After the launch apparently everyone sent. They didn’t even get copies of the game from the publisher so they had to go out and buy the game.

Balancing

The next question comes about Korean developing a professional scene and how that influenced everything. The answer was they were vastly underprepared since they only started off with one server and then they had to quickly develop a server for both NA, EU, and KR. They decided to give KR their own dedicated server due to the massive utilization that KR required.

Day9 asks how did the remaster came about. Notes that Brood War noted that the community felt that it was “just right.” One of the devs notes that they noticed that the games weren’t connected to the modern battle.net. Talks about wanting to get the game connected to the modern servers. They asked the community some “whatifs” and met were some surprising pushback at first.

They thought the game would be easy to remaster at first, and then it ended up being much more difficult, as they didn’t have any of the original assets and remake everything from scratch. They talk about some of the units geing rendered at different angles and that was difficult to deal with. Commented on wanting to do their best and wanting to keep everything as close as possible.

Another dev talks about talking to pros and wanting to keep things as unchanged as possible. They had to be able to flip between old and new versions of the game and wanting to switch between those with F5 and the consternation that caused but ended up a really great idea. Notes it had 70 bugs involved with that F5 function.

Day9 asks about bugs and how some of them are vital and how they approached it. They talk about an input bug that was present that they accidentally fixed the bug and players complained that it wasn’t working like in the original. Devs mention that there was a weird balancing act between bugs and and gameplay.

The Future

The question is asked about what is coming down the pipe for SCR. Devs mention that they’ve been doing a patch a week, talking about latency on the global matchmaker, and go into a finalization of patch 1.21. They’re talking about Use Map Setting maps and how they’re going to be how those will be coming back, mentions that Super Mario Bros probably will be not coming back among some other things.

That seems to wraps up this panel, a pretty facinating panel overall. Thanks for joining us!


zexerous

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