Blizzard COO Paul Sams was interviewed by VentureBeat’s blog: GameBeat to talk about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and the Unannounced MMO.
Paul Sams describes in a heartbeat the 20 years worth of experiences that have led Blizzard Entertainment to be successful as a studios.
Something to note is that GameBeat focuses religiously on social games: PC, cellphones, iPad, iPhone, PSP, etc.
I bring it up because the main topic of this interview is the upcoming MMO by Blizzard Entertainment. Paul Sams refrained from dubbing this MMO as Titan, after the interviewer mentioned that name.
“VB: What is your thinking about when to do a new game instead of continuously refining your older game? When do you do the next MMO?
PS: We have another MMO that I don’t think we’ve been talking about.
VB: Project Titan, right? Based on the leaked schedule.
PS: We will just talk about “the project”.
VB: Yeah, so how do you decide that?
PS: We intend to do more expansions too. There is no change in our thinking. We intend absolutely positively to continue to support the existing World of Warcraft product. There are over 12 million global paying subscribers that are active in our game. We are not going to turn our back on them and we intend to continue to support that franchise for many many years to come. As to our new unannounced game, we believe that it will be more complementary than competitive. And while people do have a limited amount of free time that they can devote to these types of games, we do think that people will want to check out the new and the old. We think the new one is very compelling and is going to capture a lot of hearts and minds and will be very successful for us. But we also believe that many people will continue playing World of Warcraft because they have such a huge collection of friends and community. We have taken some of our most experienced developers and put them on this project. We believe we have a dream team. These are the people who made WoW a success. We are going to blow people’s minds.”
So Diablo III was announced last week at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. That leaves one unannounced game unaccounted for … the Next-Gen MMO. Diablo III is not it according to Rob Pardo during an OnlineWelten video interview.
What would this new Next-Gen MMO game be?
- Starcraft Online?
- Starcraft: Ghost?
- New IP?
- Diablo MMO?
During the Teaser Splash pages days before the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals, fans started to lose morale and hopes on a Diablo announcement. I quickly posted my personal views supporting that this new game announcement would be a Diablo game.
At this point it is too early to make a prediction on what the Next-Gen MMO is all about, but I have a theory.
If we took Warcraft III and its expansion Frozen Throne as an example, both RTS games and the MMO were in development basically simultaneously, with Warcraft III introducing a lot of new lore. Kalimdor, Northrend and the Night Elves did not exist in previous Warcraft games. So this game served to expand the lore, and set things in motion for the MMO—whose quests match up and start a year after the death of Admiral Proudmoore.
So how does that translates with Diablo III? This is speculation, but Diablo III is naturally adding a lot of new areas that players have never explored. NPCs were hinted to be more talkative of their history. We have the Diablo: The Sin War trilogy adding a lot of new lore into the mix, as well as previous books. The lost city of Ureh from Kingdom of Shadow by Richard A. Knaak appears on the map of Sanctuary—a clue that elements from the novels’ lore are swiftly making its way into the game.
Those who read Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy may have read at page 168 of book three: The Veiled Prophet that Trag’Oul the dragon was stopped by other sentinels such as himself from entering the world of Sanctuary, revealing there were other worlds out there whose fate depends on Sanctuary’s fate.
“The gateway was nearly complete, and then the voices struck him from all directions. You cannot! You cannot! You cannot! At the same time, the gateway disintegrated despite his best efforts to keep it from doing so. Filled with an unaccustomed anger, he confronted the voices. This is my burden! This is my duty! You have no say in this, none of you! There was a moment of silence, and then, together, they responded, But we do … this goes beyond Sanctuary now. Beyond all of us who stand sentinel.
The dragon grew wary. How so? How can that be?.
Their words struck him as nothing else could. Because the war is coming to Sanctuary, and if you interfere with what the Balance demands, it and all existence may be forfeit.”
They left him, then, all the others who stood guard as he did over their separate worlds, left him with the knowledge that it was his Sanctuary whose imminent fate might decide theirs.—The Veiled Prophet, page 168.
With such a setting in the novel, it is now official that there is more than just the High Heavens, Sanctuary and the Burning Hells … but more worlds out there as playground for both forces. This quietly sounds like the other worlds Blizzard plans to make accessible in World of Warcraft through the portals found in Outland.
Of course, the same Warcraft III + World of Warcraft formulae applies to the Starcraft franchise, with Starcraft II being in development. Only time may tell what’s brewing at one of Blizzard’s departments heavily guarded by men in black suits.
It is still early to figure out what the new Next-Gen MMO is. However, I can’t help thinking of previous Blizzard history with developing Warcraft III and World of Warcraft simultaneously.
Blizzard Vice-President of Business Operations – Paul Sams – told Gamespot that Blizzard is currently working on various unannounced games hinting that Diablo and Starcraft franchises are among them, and a possible new franchise as well. Read More
Gamespot: ” When asked by GameSpot if the Warcraft universe was all that’s left for the company to mine, chief operating officer Paul Sams said, “No. Absolutely not. We have multiple games in development, currently, they are just not announced? To the outside world—and the reality of it is—we are laser focused on what is the thing right then, but there’s a ton of additional focus being put toward these other [games] that are in development.”
Reflecting on the existing franchises, Sams emphasized, “World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise is not the last and the only franchise we are going to operate within. We have two other very, very key franchises to our company’s history and to our company’s future success. The Diablo and Starcraft franchises are of the utmost importance to us as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new franchise from us at some time in the future; there’s certainly a desire to do so.”
What everyone is asking! Will Blizzard announce the unannounced project at E3 2006 or at BlizzCon 2006? Maybe next year? Whatever the answer, Blizzard Entertainment has been hiring tons of new personnel for their Diablo Department. Few months back, Blizzard North offices in San Francisco were shut down for good. What few seem to know is that most of the personnel was relocated to their Irvine Headquarter and have kept work on the unannounced project.
On June 31, 2003, the eve of Warcraft III: Frozen Throne release, executives Erich Schaefer, Max Schaefer, David Brevik and Bill Roper resigned Blizzard North due to lack of communication between Blizzard North and conglomerate Vivendi Universal during the shadowy days of VUGames’s fate and buy out offers.
Shortly, on July 11, 2003, lead programmer Rick Seis took over the role of development team lead for Blizzard North?. On August 2003, the ex-executives that had resigned founded Flagship Studios. That same month there was a massive exodus and round of 30 resignations. Some joined Flagship Studios, Castaway Entertainment and other studios. Immediately two projects were leaked out to have been in production. A game was canned due to the lack of personnel. The remnants were moved to the second project. Read more on our previous speculation article.
With the Diablo Team still working on the unannounced project and Blizzard hiring new personnel since early 2005, fans are pondering what’s Blizzard cooking. The same year of mass resignations there was a patented project titled Diablo II: Salvation – which never came to see the light. The patent expired. Some fans think Blizzard could be developing Diablo III or World of Diablo, but no evidence or announcements have been revealed to support the rumors. However, recent Job Openings are explicitly tagged to be for the team behind Diablo I and Diablo II has been flooding the Blizzard Jobs Listing. This one just came out on April 28, 2006:
The team behind Diablo I and II is looking for a talented, motivated, and experienced Art Director to help lead our art team in developing beautiful, cohesive game worlds for an unannounced PC Project and future projects.