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Blizzcon Aftermath

For all the wait and anticipation, this year's Blizzcon flew by in an instant. One moment I was getting ready to report any news we might get and in the next one it was all over and I was stuck trying to bring my sleeping schedule back to a certain degree of normality (8 pm - 7 am Blizzcon ftw). The main reason for this swift passing of time is of course that, as Titan enthusiasts, we got exactly 0 new info until right before the Closing Ceremony. At that point, Rob Pardo came at the interview stand and gave out some small development status updates. Pretty much the same as what happened at Blizzcon 2010.Even with this interview, I can honestly say that I've learned more about Titan by watching the Mists of Pandaria panels, an idea I will get deep into in my next article. For now though, I have some comments to make about Rob Pardo's reveals, some of them very interesting in my opinion!

--> in pre-production (research and development) phase, close to entering production
What does this exactly mean? Pretty much that Titan right now mostly consists of concept art, design tools, game engine, tons of lore "manuals" / short stories and a long list of gameplay mechanics in various degrees of implementation (from just being written on a whiteboard to actually being partially available "ingame").Considering the team is close to entering full production mode, most of these are probably in a very advanced phase, especially the design tools, since these are pretty much the biggest bottleneck right now for the development process: you can't start building the actual world without them. Same goes for the core mechanics. These of course will suffer important changes along the way, but when pre-production ends, the entire range of features should be mapped out in the fullest of details. Concept art and lore will always be "in development", but by now there should be enough material to sustain even the most accelerated production processes.To put it in a different way, Titan is close to being done. Problem is most of its parts are on whiteboards, paper and in the minds of the designers. The production process has to put all these fragments together inside the actual game and as we know, the road from theory to implementation can be a ridiculously twisted one. Best of luck to them!

--> "90 developers"
Quite an impressive number for a game that's so far away from launch. And the team is still growing fast, considering it had 40 - 50 members one year ago and they're still actively recruiting through numerous channels: one, two, three.This alone pretty much kills the theory that Titan is not a big project for Blizzard and that it is mostly being kept on the backburner. If that would be the case, at a time when Blizzard has SO many games in development, with 3 of them launching as soon as 2012, they would certainly not keep 90 people on a "weekend project".Rob Pardo seems to want more though. If you watch the interview carefully, after he says the number, he then goes on to observe that it "SOUNDS like a lot but...". The difference between "sounds" and "is" can be huge and with the risk of reading too much into this, I think the sheer magnitude of the started-from-0 project is eating up developers like crazy.

--> "probably unlikely for Blizzcon 2012"
I have to say this really took me by surprise. I was counting on a late spring / summer announcement, with extra details being revealed at the following Blizzcon, but this statement pretty much burns this theory to the ground.There are two major factors involved in a decision like this:
  • state of the development process. If they'll start production as soon as we enter 2012, this gives them a good 8,9 months to put the game together before Blizzcon. This is why Rob Pardo also noted that "it's probably too early to tell" and also why we can still retain some hope. If everything goes well or better than expected, they might have enough actual game content to feel comfortable with a reveal.
  • state of other projects. Titan is obviously not Blizzard's only project and i am sure that because of this, the marketing department is having "fun times" joggling all the announcements. :) When Titan will get revealed, it will absolutely blow anything else off the table. That's good if a competitor is getting close to launching a game, bad if Blizzard has something in the pipeline. It might also be bad for WoW since no matter how much Blizzard will keep trying, it will instantly get labelled as "of the past". This could be fixed with another "piggy bank ride" (play WoW, get bonus stuff in Titan when it comes out), much like the one that D3 is giving it now, with the Annual Pass thing, but nonetheless, it will be a problem.Funny thing is though, Blizzcon 2012 seems more than ok for an announcement. WoW will probably already be at version 5.0 and its biggest announcement might be nothing more than a 5.1 patch. As for the other games, D3 might give some first clues about its next expansion (but nothing too in depth) and SC2 might be missing completely (if HotS launches in spring / summer). Enough free space even for a heavy-weight like Titan.
All this considered, I'm not entirely sold on the "no Blizzcon 2012 announcement" possibility, but since its been thrown out there by the Vice President of Game Design himself, we have to give it a strong chance of happening.Jumping to the "I might be reading too much into this... BUT MAYBE NOT" section, Titan might not be scheduled for a 2013 release, as initially thought. Why? Well after talking about Blizzcon 2012, he mentions that they don't want to announce it too early because then they "end up, Blizzcon after Blizzcon, talking about the same stuff".Hmmmm... well if the game would be set to launch at the end of 2013, Blizzcon 2013 would of course have ALL the details about it. So announcing it at Blizzcon 2012 wouldn't lead to any repetitions... small hints, teasers and clues at B12, full details at B13 and then launch in 1,2 months. No problem. This is mostly true for a spring / summer 2014 release too. After October 2014 though, the problem Rob Pardo is talking about starts to creep in... with a Blizzcon 2012 announcement, Titan will have to endure 3 conventions, which might indeed be a bit much.So there you go, if we're to take this latest statement into consideration, a late 2014 might be the earliest we can expect. Unless they move Blizzcon to March or something silly like that.

--> "people are going to be really excited about it and not really expect what they see coming from us this time."
One word: SANDBOX. It's coming, be sure of it! The myth that sandboxes are only for hardcore players, one that has been scaring big developers from ever touching this category, will finally be ripped into pieces. And by who? By the theme-park giant himself: Blizzard!If you've been reading this entire article, you know very well into which category this should be placed, but nonetheless I am positive it will happen. The density and form of the sandbox features remain to be seen of course, but I have a feeling we won't be disappointed. More on this in my next article!Images taken from Mists of Pandaria media section because Pandaren are awesome, that's why!