First Details on StarCraft 2's Mercenaries, and How Wing Commander Influenced Blizzard

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StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder detailed a previously unrevealed component of the RTS title's story mode during an interview with Shacknews.

Within the NPC-filled hubs of the StarCraft II campaign, players will be able to hire mercenaries to use during subsequent missions. "They're one use per mission, but they regenerate after every mission," said Browder of the troops.

Browder then went on to detail additional objectives players will be able to complete in the course of a singleplayer battle, including optional quests to gain additional technology.

Click through for Browder's comments on mercenaries, research objectives, Wing Commander influences and other components of the exciting story mode:

Shack: In terms of the adventure stuff--well I don't know, what do you guys call it?

Dustin Browder: We have a terrible name for it, we call it "story mode." But you can call it the "adventure stuff," that's probably better.

Shack: Is the extent of it a hub for players to explore between levels?

Dustin Browder: Yeah, it's like a hub. It's like a place that lets you choose your mission, your technology. We've added some parts that haven't been in there in the past, that I don't think I've told anybody else about today actually--we've actually got some mercenaries you can hire, which is a new way to get some troops onto the field. And they're one use per mission, but they regenerate after every mission.

We've got some research that you can do, and that's really just a fancy way of saying we have some quests for you. So you have a scientist that says, "Okay, here's the deal: I can get some really cool technology for you, but I need you to go get some stuff from the battlefields." So when you get into the battlefields, some battlefields will say hey, there's a research objective. Find the Protoss artifacts, or find and kill that giant horrible Zerg creature that's going to really wreck your day unless you're really ready to fight him.

So then once you complete enough of those, over multiple missions we unlock some special tech for you. And then of course the armory tech where you choose what upgrades you want to have for your units.

So it's a hub for all these things, and then in addition, it's a chance for you to get a little bit closer to these characters and find out more about the story if you're inclined. If you're not inclined it's cool. We've got lots of little cutscenes that are full of action and people shouting at eachother and stuff. You can just watch those and you get the gist. But if you want to find out more of the inner motivations, you can delve into it.

And our theme in this one, it's like, look, everyone has a different tolerance for story. Some people want more, some people want less. We don't want to force it down their throat, but we don't want it not in there. So we create an environment where it's much more of an optional experience. If you're really interested in these characters--and we kind of hope that at some point everyone is interested in at least some of them--then you can sort of customize your story experience and get as much of it as you want.

Shack: It sort of reminds me of flight sim games.

Dustin Browder: It's very Wing Commander.

Shack: Yeah, Wing Commander, any of those games.

Dustin Browder: Tie Fighter, yeah. Wing Commander is one of our obvious favorite games. We all played it back in the day and loved it, and it's something that definitely spoke to us. I know we're going back years now to pull some of these things out, but we kind of feel like hey, what if it works? Other folks sort of feel like there's sort of an evolution, you can't go back. We're like, hey, if it works, we can go anywhere.

Shack: People talk about that in terms of the RTS and strategy genres, moving to consoles, and what might--

Dustin Browder: "Where's it going," right?

Shack: Exactly. And you guys seem to be saying..

Dustin Browder: It's going where it's fun. And it should go wherever it makes sense for every game. Some of our competitors are doing stuff that I would never do for StarCraft, but I respect it.

For them it makes sense. They're trying to differentiate themselves, and they want to do something a little different. The parts of RTS they don't enjoy, and maybe their fans don't enjoy--like, if you don't like base building, hey there are some games out there that do that. I like it, and I think a lot of our fans do as well, so for us it makes sense to keep a lot of those elements.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 29, 2009 12:14 PM

    Ehh. Man, I don't know. I hated that stuff in WC3. I was kind of hoping they'd keep the two gameplay styles separate, but it sounds like they're implementing a lot of RPG stuff from the Warcraft games.

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      June 29, 2009 12:25 PM

      Keep in mind, it's only for the single player campaign and not the online play. :)

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        June 29, 2009 12:44 PM

        That's the thing, though. I don't care about the multiplayer.

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          June 29, 2009 1:01 PM

          Did you play DoW2? This sounds like an improvement on the best SP experience in an RTS to date.

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            June 29, 2009 11:31 PM

            No part of DoW2 really grabbed me, unfortunately. Micromanagement shits me to tears and DoW2 had more of it rather than less. It's a cool game, but it's definitely not my thing.

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          June 29, 2009 5:57 PM

          RTS games are made for multiplayer. The singleplayer is so predictable it hurts. Turtle, tech, attack. It's really that simple. I haven't seen one RTS game where you couldn't do that.

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            June 29, 2009 6:39 PM

            That's cus AI sucks. No AI can replace a human's unpredictability.

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            June 29, 2009 11:26 PM

            I can't disagree, but I'm mostly playing for the story. I enjoy the gameplay, obviously, but I suck far too much to ever stand a chance in multiplayer.

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      June 29, 2009 12:59 PM

      Yeah, I couldn't stand W3 and DoW2 was only slightly better. I was hoping they'd just do something simple, like actually use the kill counter they had in Starcraft.

      My original idea was that as your units kill more and more without dying, they move through the military ranks which gives them increased armor, firepower, firing speed, etc. It's all a very automatic upgrade, nothing you click or physically change yourself but it is definitely noticeable and provides a lot of incentive for smart micro and squad management. Alas, now we have to deal with pickups and shit :\

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      June 29, 2009 1:15 PM

      I don't think side missions are very RPG-like. I don't even think unit upgrades are. I hope they don't get into experience counting and hero inventory management, because that sucked, but having little side goals is cool.

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        June 29, 2009 1:29 PM

        I just hope the stuff from the earlier interview, where they were talking about all the war3-esque gimmick missions (race across the map, hide at night, etc.) don't overwhelm the core gameplay, as I felt it did in War3.

        At least the early parts of war3, I sort of gave up on that game a short way into the Undead campaign because I didn't think it was very good. Maybe it just puts its worst foot forward.

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          June 29, 2009 1:53 PM

          A campaing without missions its not a campaing, its an skirmish mode

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            June 29, 2009 2:15 PM

            You certainly don't need a shitload of gimmick maps to make it a campaign.

            Starcraft had a campaign, it was made up of lots of little missions. With the exception of a few action-rpg-style small groups go through a building maps, and one survive-thirty-minutes map, they were all basically the standard Starcraft thing - set up your economy, go fight shit.

            I don't mind a little variety here and there, but I don't need retarded EVERY MISSION IS LIKE A TOTALLY NEW GAME MAN, IT'S LIKE YOU'RE PLAYING STARCRAFT WHILE EATING DRUGS AND BABIES!!!

            Just make sure the mechanics people want from an RTS are good, and build from that. From the interview, I fear we might end up with a million shitty "race to the shore and burn the ships before whoever the hell gets there first!" missions.

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              June 29, 2009 2:18 PM

              The other alternative is that the only "progression" is bigger and bigger maps with more and more enemies, and in my experience those "base crawl" missions always sucked.

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              June 29, 2009 3:19 PM

              playing skirmishes with limited units available early in the game and unlocking more in further skirmishes makes for a pretty boring campaign to most people these days

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        June 29, 2009 11:28 PM

        Well, we'll see, but to me it just sounds like fancy words for side quests and loot.

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      June 29, 2009 3:30 PM

      I don't think the units can level up like in Warcraft3 or Dawn of War 2.

      It's supposed to be more of an adventure games between the mission than a rpg.