Blizzard “just now getting serious” about second StarCraft II

The release of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm — the second of three planned StarCraft II games — may be quite far from actual release; Blizzard is “just now getting serious about breaking ground” on it, says Rob Pardo, the studio’s executive vice president of game design.

According to the exec, there has been “some design work” completed on the follow-up but “hardcore art and programming is just now starting to begin.” So best not expect it anytime soon; it’s even “too early to estimate” when it could be released, Pardo tells MTV Multiplayer.

When it does arrive, however, it should offer a single-player experience different to what’s seen in the already-available Wings of Liberty campaign.

Pardo explains: “Playing Jim Raynor, who’s this mercenary, living on this battle cruiser, and has a whole big crew and things like that…that makes a lot of sense for [the Terran-based Wings of Liberty]. It’s hard to imagine doing a Zerg-based campaign the same way or, for that matter, doing a Protoss one.”

Heart of the Swarm will focus on the Zerg, and Legacy of the Void — the third release — on the Protoss.

“We’re going to do some things that are pretty different, based on the races themselves,” Pardo continued. “We really want to make each racial experience feel true to the race and feel interesting, so I think there will be some similar stuff and some stuff that really diverges to make sense for the race.”

Blizzard sees the new games as both sequels and expansion packs: “From a single-player point of view, they’re going to kind of feel like sequels,” with each of the new campaigns offering “a pretty meaningful amount of content.” The multiplayer additions on the other hand are likened to the content included in the original game’s Brood Wars expansion.

All in all, Pardo certainly doesn’t make it sound like the game will be ready in time for a pre-2012 release. But that’s what Diablo III is for anyway, right?