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Old 17th December 2007, 05:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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New Blizzard MMO in the works.

This is rather old news for anyone who keeps up with the industry, but I figured that there might be a few folks here who have or are still playing WoW and who might want to discuss the new as-yet-unrevealed title.

I've done some poking and found a few rumors have already surfaced, one of those being a Starcraft based MMO. This makes quite a bit of sense, as it would be released on the heels of Starcraft 2. Most of you who were Blizzard fans prior to World of Warcraft know that WoW came out around two years after Warcraft III, and being this next-gen MMO has likely just started the pre-production phase, that would put its release somewhere in the same time frame, following Starcraft 2 by about 18 to 24 months (if the speculated release window for SC2 can be believed).

Another rumor suggest a new Diablo game, focusing heavily on the multi-player aspect seen in previous titles. We know Diablo 3 had been in development as Titan Quest hit the market, and that the development team decided to scrap the current D3 project and go back to the drawing board, so this rumor definitely has some weight. However, Flagship Studios, which is made up of former Blizzard employees, namely those folks who worked closely on Mythos and the Diablo titles, was formed mainly because said employees weren't happy with the direction of the company and wanted to make a spiritual sequel to the Diablo franchise. It's likely that if the new MMO in question was a Diablo title these individuals may never have left the company to begin with, seeing as the decision of changing D3 from a single-player game into an MMO would've probably happened well prior to the announcement and their resignations.

The other problem I have with the Diablo MMO idea is that it's thematically very similar to WoW and would essentially become a competing platform. Historically we've never seen two similarly themed MMO's share the spotlight, as MMO players usually follow the herd and will leave their current games for other MMOs that become popular and therefore garner a larger player base. Meaning that if Diablo was to gain a following that its possible Blizzard may split their user base, a terrible mistake (the same one that SOE made with EQ2 and Vanguard).

I'm leaning toward either a Starcraft MMO, as it would present an entirely new style of play and would probably grab the very niche sci-fi MMO audience - the EVE, City of Heroes/Villains and Tabula Rasa players - and would effectively draw the core SC fans. Much in the same way WoW pulled players from other fantasy based MMOs and former WC players. This belief is also fueled by the previously anticipated Ghost title, which may have given Blizzard a couple of starting points for building a SC MMO built around an individual experience.

Of course one of the other ideas is that of a totally new IP. While the idea is compelling, I think Blizzard already has too much on its plate and creating entirely new assets would probably be far too difficult given what they're currently working on.

Thoughts, ideas?
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Old 17th December 2007, 07:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: New Blizzard MMO in the works.

careful with the starcraft rumours - they did an april fools joke run of that last april - and rumours could still be floating round from that
personally, with the merger and all, I think they will try and take on a new target - starcraft would be much harder to MMO whilst retaining its story line and character attributes - if you played as a zerg you would also strickly speaking, not have any free will, so would every player be a Kerrigan clone?
A new title would also let them target new markets as well.
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Old 17th December 2007, 08:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: New Blizzard MMO in the works.

These rumors aren't leftovers. These speculations are coming from members of the enthusiast press and individuals close to Blizzard employees, as well as a few respected industry analysts.

A Starcraft MMO wouldn't actually be that difficult, no more difficult than it was to translate Warcraft into an MMO. If you remember correctly, before WoW was in the hands of actual players there were quite a few naysayers as well. Also, something to consider is the fact that Starcraft is a huge presence in the Korean market; there are weekly television shows devoted to the game and many individuals have made quite the living playing SC competitively. Why do you think Blizzard chose to announce SC2 to the Korean audience first? And what else is the Korean market nuts for? MMO's. Their entire country is devoted to them; the unbelievable number of games sharing market success over there is astronomical.

A new IP would be intriguing, but it presents a few logistic problems as well (some I should've mentioned to begin with). First, fresh after a merge a company is far less likely to take a chance on a new IP; new IP's, specifically those in the MMO marketplace, are a risky business. While its still completely possible that this title is a new IP, I would rule it out almost entirely (I'd bet on a Diablo-based MMO before I'd put my money that). Part of the reason Blizzard was so successful, beyond making their game so easily accessible, was they pulled an entire core group of players into their game based on the fact that it was a Warcraft-inspired title. They know this, and have acknowledge it before as being a huge part of their formula for taking the market over...or rather, eradicating it entirely.

Here's my prediction: Starcraft 2 hits the market in late 2008, Q4. 2009 sees the announcement of Diablo 3 and Starcraft Universe, the development of D3 is semi-outsourced to Flagship Studios, with a few employees helping the project along to ensure consistency and quality. 2010, we see the release of Starcraft Universe (on both PC and next-gen consoles) and Starcraft Ghost finally disappears from the release lists. Diablo 3 launches in 2011, and is subsequently followed by the announcement of the final WoW expansion and WoW 2 - which will release around 2013. This allows Blizzard to set up an almost rotating schedule of updates/patches and expansions to each game every year or two and gives them the kind of momentum they would need to literally own the multi-player market.
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Old 18th December 2007, 05:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: New Blizzard MMO in the works.

Hmmm, interesting rumour.

I have seen some shots of the interface for Starcraft II on a UK TV show called Gamer TV on Bravo. It is interesting you should bring these rumours at this time as from what I saw the main menu screen is set up like more of a roleplaying game.The voice over explained that you would be doing quests for money as a sort of mercanary, and good ole Jim Raynor is back as afore mentioned mercanary.

We shall see, as to an MMO I do see a problem with the Zerg, how would they get around it?
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Old 18th December 2007, 09:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: New Blizzard MMO in the works.

Well, they'd have to manipulate some of the fundamentals of the game, much in the same way they did with WoW. If you look at World of Warcraft on the whole, it lacks almost every major gameplay element of the RTS series while bringing just enough of the flavor and style from the previous games to justify the namesake. Another way they made the individual player character idea feasible was by building upon the lore.

With SC they could easily do the same, and for the Zerg it could be something as simple as a mimic of the Warlock class of WoW. A pet-based class with the PC acting as the leader for a number of Zerg (possibly allowing a higher number of Zerg per level or depending on the particular build of the class). We know that WoW works, even with these fundamental changes, and it wouldn't be too difficult to make the game convincing. If you consider that the Xel'Naga are to return in SC2, it leaves an entire gameplay device open to the developers.

It's possible rather than having the Zerg be a playable race, the Xel'Naga have found a way to harness the power of the Overmind/Cerebrates technology, and that the Xel'Naga are the actual player characters, having control over the Zerg (as pets). There are quite a few possible scenarios that would work.
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