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Published: June 12, 2022

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • Ex-Blizzard employees created an indie studio that’s making the newest RTS sensation Stormgate
  • The team focuses heavily on the game’s social mechanics
  • Stormgate will have a co-op campaign, 3-player-vs-AI battles, and many other social game modes

Developers of games like Warcraft 3 and StarCraft 2 banded together in an indie studio to create a new RTS experience called Stormgate, a spiritual successor to the StarCraft franchise.

The Next RTS Sensation

StarCraft is one of the most influential RTS games of all time, effectively being the gold standard for games of the genre from the late 90s through to the mid-2000s. Nevertheless, the game’s sequel StarCraft 2 was released a good 12 years after the first game. Now, another 12 years after the release of the second game, fans are still waiting for a third installment, but Blizzard has not even hinted about making such a game.

This is why a bunch of now ex-Blizzard employees have risked it and struck out on their own to make Stormgate, a brand new RTS, which is effectively the sequel to StarCraft 2. Production lead Tim Morten and his veteran crew have been wanting to make a third installment of the franchise for years now. And at first glance, one can see how Stormgate began life as the dream of a StarCraft that would never be.

What Will Stormgate Provide?

It is hoped the game would enter beta testing in early 2023, and at a glance, one could easily see how much of a StarCraft legacy it carries:

  • Humans vs aliens sci-fi story with some fantasy elements
  • It promises to deliver classic 1v1 multiplayer for competitive veterans
  • Three factions, each with a unique playstyle

However, Stormgate is not just a generic StarCraft clone, but rather has some features that stand out in general, compared to other RTS titles:

  • Co-op campaign
  • Focus on team-based objective multiplayer model
  • A three-player vs. AI mode with its own progression system
  • Focus on simplifying micromanagement

Tim Morten, co-founder of Frost Giant, the game’s developers, had a ton of experience working on StarCraft 2. He and his team have been receiving feedback from players that the game, albeit having a much-coveted multiplayer, always seemed a little bit lonely. “MOBAs, battle royale, even Roblox, these are social experiences, and RTS really had not kept up and evolved along with that axis,” Morten said.

For this reason, Morten and the team will implement mechanics revolving around more interplayer cooperation. The game will have co-op campaigns, a PVE co-op three-player vs one AI mode, and team-based competitive modes that focus on objectives, rather than deathmatch.

“We think we can really lean into that depth of experience we know and love, but improve around it,” said Tim Campbell, Frost Giant’s other Tim. He is a co-founder along with Tim Morten and has worked as the campaign lead on Warcraft 3, before more recently directing Wasteland 3 at inXile.

What Prompted the Two Tims to Make Stormgate?

The game began life as a series of coffee shop chats between the two Tims a few years ago. Both were excited to work on a new RTS after the success of StarCraft 2. However, games like Diablo 4 and Overwatch saw massive success in the years after StarCraft 2’s release, and Blizzard’s focus changed. “If I had stayed at Blizzard and waited, I want to believe there might’ve been more opportunities to work on a new RTS, but I was eager to move on and apply all of this knowledge,” Morten said.

Campbell explained that RTS games provide a good opportunity for players to improve their skills, but newer players might feel overwhelmed. “A lot of the time a new player who’s struggling to learn the basics, their first experience is just getting crushed in a multiplayer match,” he said. “We think we can really lean into that depth of experience we know and love, but improve around it.”

Despite the focus on making a more social, team-based RTS, the developers were keen to point out that Stormgate will still prove a challenge for those wanting a more hardcore experience. But even for 1v1 competitive play, Morten points out that the game’s social aspects are a core tenant of the game.

The development of an RTS as ambitious as Stormgate is no easy task, especially considering the studio is using Unreal Engine 5, an engine more closely associated with big triple-A games than indie studios. But despite that, Frost Giant has some serious talent behind it with staff that had worked for decades as one of the biggest game developers in the world. This brings hope that Stormgate will release its beta early next year.

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