Blizzard's J. Allen Brack, Frank Pierce, and Rob Pardo sat down in front of a small group of members of the press this morning to answer question about Blizzard's history, games, and outlook, and WoW Insider was there. In the hourlong chat, we covered Wrath of the Lich King, WoW's past, whether WoW should appear on a console or not, and what's going to happen to the old world. Just for you guys, I personally asked about Heroic Deadmines, midlevel content, and what they're going to do about those AFKers in Alterac Valley.
My notes from the chat are after the jump. There were not one but two PR people hovering around the developers, so even they had to stop themselves from revealing secrets, but they did provide a lot of background and a lot of clarification about what players want to know about Wrath of the Lich King and Blizzard behind the scenes.
It's down to almost two weeks until the big event. E3 saw some info released about the new instance on its way, Zul'Aman. Yesterday Blizzard game design guru Rob Pardo sat down with the Orange County Register. In his interview he spent a lot of time deflecting questions about what big announcements the company might make. Just as Barb mentioned, we're going to have to hold our horses on the expansion front until BlizzCon, but he did run TheGadgetress through a demonstration of Zul'Aman, and gave us some lovely tidbits about the instance.
My first favorite note is the instance's seeming similarity to Zul'Gurub. Once again it appears we will be battling animal-themed bosses, with my current favorite of them (current in that I haven't set foot in the instance yet, and am only talking about what I heard in this interview) Nalorakk, the bear boss, which has a chance of dropping a rare bear mount. Some might be dissappointed at the similarities between these instances, but to me it's simply a continuation of the story set out in Zul'Gurub, which I found to be one of my favorite pre-TBC instances. I still get groups together to hunt down the Fishing Boss in there, hoping one day the Poly Turtle tome will drop.
Zul'Aman will be like Karazhan in that it will be a 10-man dungeon, but Pardo mentions that it will be smaller than Kara, so players will not have to spend the time in Zul'Aman to finish the dungeon since it will be about half the size. Not having gotten to experience Kara in all its epicness, I admit this is good news for my little guild. This info about the dungeon released so close to the convention strikes a bit of similarities with the previous BlizzCon, where we were introduced to Ahn'Qiraj. I dunno about you, but the wait is killing me.
The whole panel is a good read (reps from MTV and Sony also make appearances to talk about how they're taking audiences across media), but Pardo specifically makes the point that in whatever media you're in, you have to balance how you're using that media against how you're using the intellectual property the media is based on. "Demographics," he says, "follow the IP," so Blizzard clearly thinks that if a Warcraft movie is released, that Warcraft players will run to see it in droves. But at the same time, he says the media must define how you use the IP-- Warcraft RTS is a different experience than WoW, and WoW will be (supposedly) a different experience than a Warcraft movie. He does want to make sure "the epic scale of the IP shows up in that movie."
He also speaks to Blizzard's plans to make "episodic content" for WoW rather than "boxed content," and says that they haven't delivered content as fast as they've wanted to yet. But he also claims, "We've got our head round it now." So maybe they really will have a new expansion for us ready on time next year.
Our most recent one was Starcraft Ghost. With that game we were very stubborn. I still believe in that game and the characters but we were not able to execute at the level we wanted to...Rather than work on that we had to focus on our other games. We're hoping one day to return to it.
So March 2006's indefinite postponement of development on the project may not mean cancellation -- perhaps they're just saving the best for last.
Gamasutra has a few Father's Day week tidbits up about game designers who are also fathers, and how that affects their work. One of their interviews today is with Rob Pardo, who is VP of Game Design with Blizzard. He talks about how he plays with his daughter, who apparently plays a mean 54 warlock. Maybe that's why they're overpowered? I'm joking, I'm joking!
Seriously, he says that watching his 5-year-old daughter play lets him in on what's "fundamentally fun" about the game-- he and his team may be working hard to tune raid encounters, but when he sees that his daughter is jumping around buildings or trying on outfits, he's inspired to put a little more flavor into those seemingly mundane experiences as well (I'm a huge fan of putting on items in the dressing room, so I know right where she's coming from on that one). WoW has always been a game that balances the hardcore with the casual very well (in the early and mid-game, if not in the endgame), and apparently the way Rob Pardo makes that happen is by playing with his daughter. Neat.
Have you ever wondered what the names and faces behind WoW do in their off time? In the recent interview 1up had with Shane Dabiri, Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, and Tom Chilton, we get to find out a bit about that -- at least in regards to some of the games that they're playing right now. Two of them were really no surprise to me: Guitar Hero II and God of War. Those two have been all over the gaming media and are a lot of fun to play, so it makes total sense. The two titles that caught me off guard were several mentions of Viva Pinata and Rob saying that he plays the PopCap game, Peggle. They also covered some great background information from their gaming roots, to some ways they think WoW has changed the genre. Check it out!
Recently Blizzard's Rob Pardo sat down with Businessweek.He mostly talked about the future of the game, the success of The Burning Crusade, and the creative process.Since reading his interview, I have spent a lot of time mulling over what he said.The first thing that stuck out in my mind was his likening the MMO to a television series."We're developing episodes just like Lost or Seinfeld," he commented, "We're always trying to come up with something that's true to the theory; that's true to the content that people love; but that is new."
I never had the chance to look at the development cycle like this.In some ways it explains the company's drive to constantly bring us new content rather than connecting old dots (Uldum anyone?).The designers are looking forward, and as they mentioned at Blizzcon in 2005, more portals will be opening, new worlds for us to explore.And we as gamers are ravenous for this new content.Our expectations are high, and the company is there to try and satiate our ever growing appetite.What this also means is that there is a story arch with which they are working.I know Lost is working on a seven-year story arch.Does this mean that we can expect a grander plotline connecting the expansions together?I for one am eager to find out.
I haven't really thought about the game in these terms.My previous experience with MMOs (*cough* Anarchy Online *cough*) has taught me that games are fairly linear.Yes, there might be a new world connected to the old one, but the story pretty much stays the same.Since playing World of Warcraft I have had to reinvent my view of the MMO, and now I, too am one of those ravenous players dying for new stories and new characters to love or hate.This interview has made me wonder where we are going with the next expansions.So I'd love to hear what you think.Beyond the proposed Northrend and Emerald Dream expansions, where would you like to go as the World of Warcraft universe expands into new worlds?
Even if you don't know the name, you're familiar with Rob Pardo's work. He is, after all, the Vice President of Design over at Blizzard, and he's responsible for the game design decisions you see whenever you venture into the World of Warcraft. Next Generation sat down with Rob Pardo to ask some of of everyone's burning questions on the future of World of Warcraft. First up, what exactly does a VP of Design do? Pardo explains: With the teams as big as they are I don't get as much time to write design documents myself. There's a lot more meetings, a lot more collaborative stuff that happens. Let's take one small component of WoW, let's say quests. We have a team of quest designers and we all sit in a room everyday and jam up ideas. I'll follow up with each individual quest designer. I'll play their quests and iterate through it. But there's some stuff I get to design too. I also try to fill gaps that need filling. I'm trying to provide the big picture vision and philosophy and also helping out where it's needed.
Pardo is happy with the way the Burning Crusade has turned out. But what about the future? Are regular expansions a matter of survival for Blizzard's hit MMO? Calling it a matter of survival makes it sound grim. It's more a matter of entertainment. Of course we want our gamers to stay in the world for as long as we can. But I look at this from the positive angle of us trying to entertain them. We're trying to give them new experiences. One of my favorite analogies is how much an MMO is like a TV series. We're developing episodes just like Lost or Seinfeld. We're always trying to come up with something that's true to the theory; that's true to the content that people love; but that is new. From the moment that the series starts re-treading the same ground over and over again... well, that's what we're trying to avoid.
I've got to admit, parts of this Hollywood Reporter interview feels like a rehash of Pardo's keynote at the Austin Game Conference back in September. New and interesting tidbits include an officially increased subscription count at 8 million worldwide and an interesting discussion of microtransactions. Pardo tells us that while such microtransactions might work for some games (he uses the possibility of extra songs in Guitar Hero as an example), it doesn't work for MMO's, or at least not World of Warcraft:
What's fun about "WoW' is going into a dungeon and completing a particular quest and then being rewarded with a really cool item that your character can wear to show the other players that you've accomplished something. If you could suddenly buy that item, it would really cheapen that idea of accomplishment.
Haven't heard of Rob Pardo? Well, you might want to familiarize yourself with him. Not only is he Blizzard's Vice President of Game Development, but he recently was put on Time Magazine's list of the top 100 people, which points out that Pardo didn't invent the MMO - he just perfected it.
So Wednesday morning, when the Austin Game Conference started out with a keynote from Mr. Pardo on the game design philosophy behind World of Warcraft it wasn't to be missed. Read on for the highlights of the keynote.
Joi Ito has a post up about Rob Pardo and the success of World of Warcraft as a casual game. And, while a lot of people (myself included) believe the game stops being so "casual" when players hit level 60, the experience up to that point is much more casual and accessible than in other games of this nature. And even at level 60, the raiding experience can be casual as well - if you can find, or build, the right type of guild.
Blizzard VP Rob Pardo has made it
to TIME Magazine's yearly list of 100 people who are transforming the world around us. Pardo, they say
"didn't invent this kind of game... he merely perfected it." It's interesting to see that World of
Warcraft has developed such a high profile with those outside the gaming industry - enough to have Rob Pardo on TIME's
100. Of course, with 6 million players and counting, how could this game not have an impact? From my
perspective (from the inside looking out), it's hard to see World of Warcraft transforming the world around us - but
what do you think?