The big Blizzard news of the last week was the transfer of Jeff Kaplan (Tigole) from the World of Warcraft team as lead designer to a lead role on the team developing Blizzard’s new MMO, World of Unnamedcraft.
Kaplan, as Tobold suggests, is the reason that World of Warcraft is such a raid centric game. He was a hardcore raider in Everquest and the inference is that Kaplan bought that influence into WoW. It leads into one of the rumors that Kaplan is moving on because Blizzard have recently softened WoW raiding, making it more casual.
Maybe. But the truth is that any raiding in the original Everquest required a hardcore, achievement focused mindset. Tigole wouldn’t have been alone in the WoW dev team. Blizzard would have sourced quite a few developers from the ranks of the veteran (pre-2002/03) massive gamer ranks.
Anyway the conclusion is that this will lead to many of the same design principles being incorporated into Blizzard’s new MMORPG, whatever it is going to be.
Well, that’s all great as a rumor, but it doesn’t necessarily follow. There are a few factors that will determine if hardcore raiding will be a part of the game or not.
- Blizzard’s new MMORPG might not be a hardcore game at all. It’s entirely possible that Blizzard will aim for the other end of the casual market. There are more than a few Asian MMORPG’s that are doing extremely well indeed. One or two of them have more subscribers that World of Warcraft. Could Blizzard be aiming at that market?
- Blizzard’s next MMORPG might be a hardcore game after all, but it might not be PvE focused. A solid PvP or RvR experience, perhaps like Warhammer Online, would not really need hardcore raiding.
- Raiding might not be appropriate to the setting. Blizzard might attempt to try something really different in their next MMO. It’s been suggested they might attempt an Eve/Elite style game. Would that sort of game be suitable for Hardcore raiding.
I’m thinking that Blizzard will try to move away from the way that they’ve designed World of Warcraft. The prime reason for this is simple. Competition. They are not going to want to compete with themselves.
Blizzard’s goal will be to draw in players who have never played a MMORPG before, and the players who have stopped playing World of Warcraft (and MMORPG’s in general) who would number in the millions. They won’t want to draw people out of WoW.
So my bet is that Blizzard’s new MMORPG will be very different from World of Warcraft, and possibly most of the other MMORPG’s on the market. Jeff Kaplan is probably enjoying himself with work that is very different than what he is used to doing.
Of course, anything is possible.