Saturday, May 10, 2014

Turn It On Again

Making news after a decade? HELL YES.

I try and cast quite a wide net for my 'news' posts on any given day, and my search this morning pulled up this gem from yesterday. 'According to an insider involved with Blizzard and their annual convention' (which could be anybody from an admin assistant at the Anaheim Convention Centre all the way up to Rob Pardo) Blizzard have a new MMO up their sleeves, which they intend to announce at Blizzcon this year. The thing is, the company had everything from a new MMO to a bid to buy out the Seattle Seahawks [*] up their sleeves for the best part of a decade. If Azeroth Choppers hadn't convinced the general populous that *anything* is possible with these guys, I'm not sure what will (though rumours of a special episode of 'Void Storage Hunters' cannot at this time be confirmed or denied.)

Fact remains, these guys are a living definition of evolution.

You only need to look at the plans for the new 'Curse of Naxxramas' expansion for Hearthstone or the Alpha development of 'Heroes of the Storm' to understand that if they're not moving forward, there's a problem. Although there may be some of us lamenting the lack of any Warcraft news, as we discussed yesterday that's a game that, at least right now, isn't the overriding priority or the only part of Blizzard's arsenal of gaming weaponry. At some point this game too will be a memory of the past, and I'm betting Blizzard will want to continue going well after that point. To make that happen, there needs to be a continuous process of development. At any point, at any given time, companies from Apple to Zoopla will be looking forward to the Next Big Thing [TM] I cannot believe Blizzard are any different.

That means new stuff is going on all the time.

That's five months ago...

Michael Booth is a Game Director at Blizzard. According to this article from BlizzPlanet Mr Booth's speciality is First Person Shooters (with a side order of Zombies) and looking at who else was being sought in connection with this project, it's quite easy to grasp that this could be Blizzard looking to move into a market that's more familiar to their brethren at Activison. In fact, there's a game that EXACTLY fits that bill, but it never actually happened. StarCraft: Ghost was imagined all the way back in 2002. They'd probably want to change the secondary title, but it is entirely possible this gem could have evolved and might yet appear in a new form in November. There's always very little information immediately available from Blizzard but I saw a Tweet in late April go out for people to test *something* and at least one person on my Twitter feed was on the Blizzard campus on April 29th (presumably) to do just that. Mr Booth hasn't posted to his account since early February. I'm going to guess he's quite busy as a result :D

However, that's not an MMO. The 'title' that was going to succeed Warcraft was, and presumably still is, referred to as 'Titan.' Interestingly, an article on exactly that subject turned up YESTERDAY on Kotaku:

The whole thing's only four paragraphs. Take 3.

GameRant's 'source' looks like it could well be the 'Blizzard Staffer' that Kotaku reference (needless to say, the Linkedin profile no longer exits.) The speculation is that this could be Titan-related, but it is just as likely our Mike Booth-helmed project could be what the profile was referring to. On the current Blizzard Entertainment Career Opportunities Website there is also an opening.. but for what?

Oh I say. Click the link for the full job description.

Blizzard are always moving forward, continually developing their products. Look at the surprise and amazement that met the Heroes of the Storm trailer at Blizzcon LAST year: that's publicity you simply can't buy. I can see the company wanting a 'surprise' reveal like this for Blizzcon 2014, especially as there is a good chance there'll be no obvious announcement for the NEXT Warcraft expansion this time around.

So, anyone like to speculate what we'll get in November? Will Blizzard go down the First Person Shooter path or can we finally expect to see the reveal for Titan? Or is this all simply a pointless exercise? After all, if the right Blizzard employee Tweeted he's played something new and loved it, how many people would assume it was referring to the company's latest outing? The company are news just for turning up for work most days. Should we stop speculating and simply let them get on with their jobs?

Sometimes, things happen together for a reason. We just have to decide whether that's relevant or not.

[*] This is the one thing I can completely guarantee there's absolutely NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT :D


dobablo said...

Ghost was to close to completion to evolve. Blizzard declared it unsalvageable but the idea or theme might be something that gets reused.

Grimmtooth said...

Yeah, Ghost's gizzards are too old to serve as a proper franchise at this point. One thing about FPSs is that if you move slow, you probably won't impress. Might make it untenable for Blizz' style.

Dead ends happen all the time. The important thing is to keep the sales and marketing weenies ignorant. Of course, if you have rock-star developers blabbing about all the cool stuff that they have and you don't, well, maybe their managers should learn to, well, MANAGE their rock stars.

Even hardware companies. I won't name names but one company I worked from took a device from lab prototype all the way to production prototype before canning it. It worked fine. But it was ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road. The wails of despair from the reliability lab whenever one of the things appeared for testing finally tipped them off. WHY ME, JOHN BIG BOOTY? It happens. That's the "R" in "R&D".