Hello master Malstrom, I wanted to hear your thoughts on modern RTS games, and how you think Warcraft 4 will shape up.
I’ve been playing some SCII. Comparing it to WCIII, I see elements in both I don’t like. The most notable one is Gold Mines and Vespene Geysers. Both games tend to start you in one of these bases and you must expand to bases that have these resources. Along with that you almost alway tend to start in a natural fortress with a ramp or chokepoint to defend. All the maps for starcraft 2 use these and map variety end at how many battle paths there are and where vision towers are at.
This brings me to Warcraft 4. If their goal is to not cannabalize sc2, then They will make a very different rts. Do you think they might go for an easier to control rts where choosing where easy to manage large armies fight, and you have to adapt to more different landscapes, or do you think it will end with the heroes being a focus for differentiation? These days, theres not many rts games, so I’ve been hoping Blizzard will step up wih Warcraft 4, seeing as they have all the RTs talent.
The design decisions behind Starcraft 2 was to do a faithful recreation of Starcraft 1 (except for the units everyone wants like the lurker and arbiter) and make the Korean E-Sport scene international. I heard from a Blizzard employee (whose name is in the credits as far back as the original Starcraft) that the game speed of Starcraft 2 was intended as a joke but then it became the default speed. This change was likely made because Dustin Browder loves ‘speed’ in RTS but also due to making E-Sports more ‘exciting’.
Warcraft 3′s development was to not cannibalize the original Starcraft. It is said that Blizzard wanted to make Warcraft 3 more of a tactical RPG game but since this was the sequel to Warcraft 2, a major change had the game go in a RTS direction.
One of the big reasons why Warcraft 3 ended up in its state was due to the instability of the game engine. Starcraft 1 was panned by reviewers because it was not 3d (as say Total Annihilation). Starcraft 1 wasn’t in 3d because the technology didn’t exist then to make the units look interesting enough (which is why they are all blocky in Total Annihilation).
Blizzard knew Warcraft 3 had to be in 3d. A serious problem was with technology had not risen to the point where many units can be on the map at the same time. As someone who did much with the Warcraft 3 engine, I was able to push it as far as it could go on modern machines and used every trick I knew to try to get it to work. The engine simply cannot handle many many units out. This is why Warcraft 3 had unit upkeep so players were encouraged to keep their army sizes small.
What direction they will go with Warcraft 4 is likely being experimented right now. Clearly, Warcraft 4 will not go in the Starcraft 2 model of an economy centric RTS. But will Warcraft 4 be a RTS or will it become a Tactical RPG game as Warcraft 3 was originally intended to become?
I expect Warcraft 4 to continue in the direction Warcraft 3 did. As Diablo 3 and Cataclysm/Pandaria shows, Blizzard keeps trying to ‘recreate’ their past games. It will be a recreation of Warcraft 3 just as Starcraft 2 is a recreation of Starcraft.
The two questions I have are:
What about the story? There is this other game called World of Warcraft that has many expansions. How does Warcraft 4 fit with that? And do we have to buy Warcraft 4 four times?
Since Blizzard’s non-subscriber games have been creating new revenue streams, what would Warcraft 4′s new stream be? It wouldn’t be E-Sports as Warcraft 4 is much slower and more confusing. It wouldn’t be random loot and auction houses as that doesn’t work in RTS.
If I had my way, I would mix some Master of Magic techniques into the game. One thing I wish is that you could play Warcraft 4 while actively not playing it. Starcraft 2 has this in a way where you are watching replays of top players. What if there was a way where you could conjure and modify or make up new spells not unlike how Master of Orion’s customized ship building? The hero spells get lame because they are all samey. Instead of blizzard spell, why not red blizzard? Or green blizzard? Or blizzard and snowmen? Or blizzard that freezes more than damages? These little nuances could be fun to tinker with outside the game. It’d be a bitch to balance though.
There is no possibility of Warcraft 4 becoming like Age of Empires. If you want more Age of Empires, there are some RTS games on GoG that came out a few years ago that might be up your alley.