Under most circumstances, 99 percent is a milestone worthy of popped champagne corks and impromptu trips to Disney World. I mean, you’re basically done. Who cares if you cut a corner on the victory lap? As with every rule, however, this one has its exceptions. And in the whole of human history, Blizzard may well be the greatest. Observe.
“We are 99% done,” lead designer Dustin Browder told Kotaku, “but that last 1%’s a bitch. There’s something in for everything – it’s whether we like it or not that’s an open question. It’s the tuning and polish that really takes us a long time, and that’s where we get into the unknowns.”
“Like we could do a play-through next week that we’re like, ‘Wow this is really great.’ Or we could do a play-through and we still have 250 items we wanna fix. You know, historically speaking we’re doing pretty well. We’re getting there. But I don’t know for sure yet when we’ll be done.”
Most tellingly, an open (or even open-ish) beta’s not up and running yet, and Blizzard’s betas have a way of, well, being actual betas and not simply glorified demos. For instance, Diablo’s – while limited from a content standpoint – saw time extensions and overhauls/outright removals of series standbys. Meanwhile, some of Heart of the Swarm’s new units seem pretty ridiculous, so we’ll see what kind of fine tuning Blizzard deems necessary.
If I had to guess, I’d peg this one for late 2012 open beta and 2013 release – if only because Blizzard promised two launches this year, and Pandaria’s beta is already ongoing. But then, StarCraft’s proven me wrong in the past – for example, every single time I’ve ever thought I was even vaguely competent at it. So we shall see.