Hey guys. I know I took a bit of hiatus... but I'm back and here at the Austin Games Conference. I actually beat David here, as I got in last night while he got stuck in Chicago. Today's keynote was Rob Pardo who's the VP of game design for Blizzard. He was the lead designer of Starcraft too, so at this point there is a good chance that you've probably played one of his games already.
It was interesting hearing him talk because he didn't really say anything earth shattering but rather talked about how Blizzard develops games - specifically Worlds of Warcraft.
Things like putting fun ahead at the top of your list of things and not shipping the game till its done. However, there are some interesting ideas too, like this idea that you're core gamers and casual gamers aren't really two completely separate groups.
There seems to be a mentality that you should focus on hardcore content and then branch out to being accessible instead of the common route of doing it the other way around - the linch pin idea being that if your hardcore content is good, you'll draw people in with the casual content and mechanics and they'll grow into the hardcore content later. There is this idea that you don't build your game to the extreme player who is going to blaze through the game without sleep - no matter how long it takes him.
As Rob was speaking though, I did think about their philosophy of depth before accessibility and polishing everything at every stage of development and its easy to see why Starcraft:Ghost didn't really work as a game being farmed out to another developer.
Anyway, now I'm sitting in a meeting about developing for the Playstation 3... So far it just sounds difficult... Even funnier is that I just heard them use the words 'low cost' and 'PS3' in the same sentence.
I really really hope that Starcraft: Ghost has not been just thrown to the bin since it sounded very good and interesting, at least on paper.
However, Blizzard's exemplary track-record makes me think it was the right decision to put the project in hiatus. Better to not have a game than to have a mediocre one that hurts your installed fanbase. Talk about canned projects: Warcraft Adventures anyone?