Much as I've always wanted to design a questline in which Grom Hellscream comes back to life and makes my world whole again, World of Warcraft's a straight shooter when it comes to story. Sure, users can mod the UI, but – compared to, say, City of Heroes' Mission Architect – the possibilities are far from limitless. Don't think, however, that Blizzard hasn't considered putting the “craft” back in Warcraft.
“Thinking in terms of allowing the public to entertain each other? That's amazing. That's amazing business. You're all sticking around for each other. We see systems – for instance, Warcraft III – the guys who developed DotA, that thing took on a life of its own. They used this toolset, and suddenly it was a whole new way to engage RTS audiences. If you can provide toolsets or whatever game contrivance to allow people to entertain each other, that's a hell of a spot to be in,” Blizzard lore lord Chris Metzen said during a panel at GDC Online.
“It'd be really cool if I could design my own castle and have people run through it. It'd be fun if I could design this big, epic quest line and let my friends run through it. The thing you run up against is quality level. With WoW, you're going to get millions of submissions. There's a lot of creative people out there. But maintaining a level of editorial control and quality control is just logistically impossible. But it's something we talk about from time to time. I think it would be amazing if we were able to open this thing up.”
Among many, many other things, Metzen also discussed what it's like to be adding a new IP to Blizzard's holy trifecta after all these years – and the almost suffocating level of pressure that sometimes entails.
“Obviously, I can't get into what our thinking is in particular [with Titan],” he said. “But if you're fortunate enough to have that hit game that's beloved by X number of people, that expectation of performing again or outdoing the competition that's also learned from your big hit can become very, very intense.”
“It's a bitch,” he added, resulting in uproarious laughter from the audience.
“But there's glory to be found – a testing or refinement process where you have to look soberly at the game. Projecting ahead 'Well, what would be the next level?' What did we learn from this one? And what will we absolutely never do again? You have to take an exhaustive audit about what worked and what didn't and really try to envision something that may be radically outside your comfort zone because no one's ever tried. But it can be a very daunting process.”
And there's plenty more where that came from. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Metzen after the panel for an exclusive interview, and you'll see that in the coming days.