Few days ago, Mike Morhaime, Rob Pardo and Frank Pearce were keynote speakers at the 2008 D.I.C.E. event in Las Vegas. There they revealed their list of Blizzard games cancelled in the past nigh-couple of decades since 1991. Blizzard Entertainment became a 17-year old Gaming Company on Feburary 14th. Gamespot offers a lengthy video of one hour. You can tune up to Blizzard Team at minute 11:25. Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce introduce the history of Blizzard since 1991 to 1994. Briefly, Rob Pardo goes on his experience the moment he joined an already successful gaming company. By minute 22:00 we get an internal-joke related to Bobby (aka Robert Kotick
Chairman & CEO, Activision) concerning the Activision Blizzard Merger that makes the audience laugh.
Frank Pearce and Mike Morhaime explain how the Blizzard Community grew since the launch of Battle.net and how ten years worth of fanbase translated into a successful World of Warcraft MMORPG interaction today. At minute 31:28, Morhaime explains that Lost Vikings was first concepted to have fifty vikings – idea based and inspired by the game Lemmings, but a last minute approach from Interplay president Brian Fargo resulted in the decision to make it a three-vikings game. Additionally, after listening to Brian Fargo’s feedback, Interplay offered their own artist to remake the three vikings into three different-and-unique-looking vikings using a 16-colors-pallete.
“We come up with a lot of great ideas, we talk about them a lot, we really think we know where we are going, we implement a lot of technology, and artwork and gameplay, and then we go … “shit! This kinda sucks!” And then we have to take a decision: “Do we keep going that direction?—and we know the answers is no—Do we kinda do a reboot?, you know re-evaluate the game throughout the engine. (Note: A slideshow shows a 1997 Starcraft Alpha, where the engine was based on clay models) … well we obviously have to think of something different. Or, we would definitely cancel a game if we don’t think there isn’t a realistic reboot. We put gameplay first in our decision.”
Around minute 46:00, Frank Pearce talks about the Pandaren, designed by Senior Art Director Samwise. It seems there won’t be a Pandaren race in World of Warcraft—this is my personal view (Medievaldragon), based on what he describes. The chinese didn’t like how Blizzard made their national animal of peace mixed with Japanese military samurai garments. So unless Blizzard makes Pandaren reboot and making them neutral NPCs, I don’t see this race showing up in World of Warcraft future expansions any time soon. Blizzard has learned over the years to take in mind the global community and other cultures.
At minute 51:00, Frank Pearce talks about canceled games very briefly showing a slide on the background listing all those games. By minute 54:00, the public was open to ask questions. An interesting one broke the ice: What was the biggest fight the developers have had? Pearce mentions an anecdote where the team was split between wanting naval units in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. This question opened the pandora’s box. Fans now found out there was a big bitter design fights at Blizzard between Rob Pardo(Warcraft III Lead Designer) and Allen Adham( Warcraft III Senior Designer). Allen really was passionate about adding Naval units in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos because it was a great feature fans loved in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. Many fans missed and demanded these naval units when Warcraft III came out. However, Rob Pardo says Warcraft III was strongly designed to be a Hero-based game. A Hero can’t use any of his magic abilities from within the naval unit, and it wouldn’t be nice to build an army and stock up your Hero to suddenly see him go “bloop-bloop-bloop!” sinking down along with your naval boat. It was a common-sense design decision.
Morhaime adds that Allen Adham was a very persuasive person using his “Jedi mindtrick”. Bottomline, there was a public showdown between Pardo and Adham in front of the development team who split taking sides. Adham didn’t take well losing the Naval unit, but Pardo says they made up. The next question had to do with game release schedules to which Morhaime gave as example Diablo (1996). The Starcraft team put their game on hold for some months, to help with the crunch time behind the Diablo team until it shipped. Starcraft II was put on hold and its team was moved to help with the launch of World of Warcraft (November 2004). Morhaime created the Battle.net chat interface.
The third public question had to do with the process to cancel original IPs such as Shattered Nations and Nomad, and other games that didn’t even got announced. Sadly, Joseph Olin (D.I.C.E. President) approached the podium and interrupted Pardo: “Time’s up!” So we missed a lot of good info about these games. /rasp @ Joseph.