During BlizzCon 2011 this weekend I got to ask Starcraft II senior designer Jonny Ebbert what was in store for the solo player in the upcoming expansions and why Heart of the Swarm's campaign is nine missions shorter that Wings of Liberty's. You whiny bastards.
Not you folks personally — well, not all of you at least. I'm sure folks that enjoyed the lengthy campaign in Wings of Liberty just sat back and enjoyed it, but those that didn't like it complained loud and hard enough to be heard.
"We actually got a lot of complaints that it (Wings of Liberty) was too long," Ebbert said, causing my brow to furrow quizzically. "Like a lot. We looked at the achievement data, and the completion rates just went (here he makes a schwooing noise, indicating a massive drop)."
About that time I got mad at everyone. I can't play StarCraft II online. I've tried and tried but never seem to make any progress. Even when I think victory might be in sight my opponents suddenly morph into supercomputers, rebuilding entire armies from scratch and crashing down upon me like a wave at the last possible moment. I'm like a walking buff for the other team. So I take solace in the single-player campaign, and anyone that threatens to take even a smidgeon of that away from me is going to get cut (in my mind at least).
It wasn't just the players either. "We got a lot of heat internally about it as well. People on other teams were just 'It's too long!'"
Ebbert assures me that while the Heart of the Swarm campaign is shorter, it'll still be just as entertaining. "We're always talking about concentrating the cool, so we decided to compress it from 29 to 20 missions. We've played through it and we've been 'Yeah, this feels pretty nice.'"
And if it doesn't work out, there's always Legacy of the Void, the third instalment of StarCraft II. Ebbert says they're going to see how Heart goes, and they'll reassess for Legacy if need be.
"We're totally cognisant of your type of player. We have ideas for the next one that we're hoping will reward your type of player a lot more...people who aren't online hardcore that want something they can sink a lot of time into in a single-player way. That's definitely at the forefront of our minds."
You heard the man, singleplayer StarCraft II fans; our time will come. Let's just hope the wait isn't too long. I'd hate to have to complain.