Just found this interesting interview with Frank Pearce in 2010 on Starcraft, WoW and Diablo. It reinforces a lot of what we've been speculating about, so hopefully it hasn't been posted before and I've just missed it! D: I also can't stress enough that this interview is all straight-forward stuff that we have reasoned at, this is just clarification if anything. Thanks to NealBloome for mentioning it:
As another quick foreword, I want to mention I don't treat these as solid rumours regarding Titan, but I do treat them as solid indicators of what Blizzard is really thinking about when developing their games. Yes, this is slightly outdated and their views will have changed as per the context but I still think this is relevant and of course, credible!
VG247: One interesting news announcement you made recently was about Facebook integration with Battle.net – what is the thinking behind that?
Frank Pearce: Well, it’s less of an integration and more of a convenience feature, wherein if you want to import your Facebook friends list to create your Battle.net friends list then you have that option. It’s really just a convenience feature.
Interesting that they've been thinking about this, with things like RealID this social element could be something that's even bigger in Titan (and I think the whole idea of broadening the audience figures supports this). I don't know about direct integration with social networks; as Mynsc mentioned below, their RealID fiasco didn't go down too well. Again as mentioned below, the anonymity of the Battletag thing is likely to be their revised incarnation of RealID in a sense and the B-tags will be the social interaction 'link'.
VG247: Are those types of features going to encourage more casual players into your games?
Frank Pearce: Hopefully.
VG247: I mean, Starcraft II is obviously going to appeal to the huge community of Starcraft and Blizzard fans that are already out there. But how do you start to appeal to those casual gamers that might have never even played a strategy game?
Frank Pearce: Yeah, and they are also potentially very intimidated by the concept of a real-time strategy game. Well, hopefully, the story that we are trying to tell in the campaign is something that will draw new players in to the experience. We’ve also got tutorials, missions, challenge-mode missions to teach people some of the basic concepts behind an RTS, AI skirmish maps in the missions… And basically, it is always a connected experience. The landing page almost looks like a browser and we point you to the different stages along the way before we throw you onto Battle.net for head-to-head play.
This tells us a bit about their thought process with regards to how they're going to approach a broader audience. What is also tells us is how they've gone about it in Starcraft specifically, and this is likely a nudge to how they'll do it in Titan. Yes, Titan is going have huge changes in all areas of gameplay, but I think the strategies mentioned for broadening an audience will still be valid today. It's all straitforward stuff, more tutorial-like beginnings, less being thrown out into an open world (like DayZ, for example). It is a valid point that an RTS isn't completely comparable to what we think Titan will be, but I think this is still useful in furthering our understanding of how they're going to go about the things we've heard about the game.
VG247: Looking ahead over the next three, five, ten years or more, do you see Starcraft II moving across on to console and on to mobile devices? There was a story recently that Dave Perry had WoW running on an iPad, for example. Is console and mobile gaming part of the longer-term strategy at Blizzard?
Frank Pearce: It all depends on the device, it depends on the game, on the platform. Starcraft II has been designed with the PC and with PC peripherals in mind, from the very beginning. We don’t have any plans for console versions of Starcraft II right now.
And then as it relates to mobile devices and things like that, it just depends. We are looking for ways that we can use those devices and platforms to enhance the gaming experience we’re delivering to our customers. So, if you take WoW as a specific example, we are currently in beta for the Remote Auction House, offering players remote access to auctions in WoW via browsers and mobile phones. And, you know, we want to add more functionality to that as well. Where it makes sense.
VG247: Project Natal is also the big news in the console industry in 2010. Could you envision using that kind of technology in Starcraft?
Frank Pearce: Potentially. We can do anything we want. It’s just a factor of time and resources and whatnot – and making sure that the experience is going to meet everyone’s expectations.
Project Natal = Kinect btw. These two answers give us a really good idea of the open-mindedness Blizzard is using towards consoles and I think this is significant because it really is an admission that it's something they're discussing with their games at least (I hope I don't seem to be making biased presumptions here, if so smack me). A bit of speculation here, a place where I think consoles would be useful would be for things like vehicles or possible console stuff could be quite non-game effecting. An example being the update to Skyrim that let you say your commands and the game would do it. I know this is all a bit fairy-land, but I think it really is a strong bit of evidence to mount up with the console side, or at least it's something they've considered.
I hope my ideas were clearer now, and I hope you think some of it is credibly relevant to Titan. What I really want to say is that this information is to be tempered against context and of course how much is just about Starcraft. What I mean about that is, you have to dig about and put to the back of your mind specific Starcraft or contextual things like RealID and Facebook. Once you sort of 'remove' those there is information that can really help focus in on how Blizzard approaches its games and likely how it will approach some elements of Titan.
Please feel free to debunk away!