As the end of the Unite 2015 Boston conference draws near, things have become a bit more casual around the John B. Hynes Memorial Convention Center. There is a noticeable lull in the fervor and frenzy that has been steadily present in the previous days. Really, it is a perfect time to sit down, relax, and have a casual chat…with Rob Pardo.
The nerd inside of me is eating away at every excitement center in my brain, so I am really doing my best to report this Q&A adequately to you. But forgive me if I have to paraphrase, because seriously, this is an amazing moment.
Without further ado, here is a bit of the Q&A session with Rob Pardo!
Q: How do you feel when you say you have a fan who cares about a concise and cohesive story, and someone corporate says, “We cant end the story?” (In relation to WoW.)
Rob: Every franchise is different, insofar as how they handle story lines. Persistent worlds demand continuous stories. Is there a beginning middle and end? No, it goes on and on. The universe (World of Warcraft) we created can have infinite stories, like comics, tv, etc. But it eventually will probably end once interest wanes. You know there won’t necessarily be a cutoff point. The teams are going to try to keep creating new and engaging content.
Q: What’s your approach to creating new IPs (Intellectual Properties)? How much planning do you do before it’s overkill?
Rob: There are really two types of IP: IPs which may have a new universe and world, and then IPs that are just a new game on an old idea. Hearthstone is a good example: new IP, but part of a larger story. I think Overwatch is gonna be a new IP: new world, new universe, new everything. In terms of planning and over-planning, Blizzard isn’t really all about planning, it’s about constantly attempting to create, and when something really great comes along, it gets pushed to the top. The process really belongs to the creators, not the higher-ups.
Q: Where do you begin (in the creative process), and what can we learn from that?
Rob: Oftentimes, it ends up forming around a mechanic or world I’d like to see. When my team and I see other MMOs, even ones we’ve done, we constantly want to do something better. We want a more hashed-out, exciting title. I get inspired from everything. Sometimes not even stuff in my genre. Oftentimes some of the most interesting ideas are in different genres. Movies, tv, all kinds of stuff.
Q: What games, outside of Hearthstone, are you currently playing?
Rob: I play a lot of “Build and Battle” games, but there isn’t a lot of differentiation in that space. Like “Clash of Clans” is one I play. Invisible, Inc., from Klei [Entertainment] is awesome, I like a lot of the indie titles. Don’t Starve is another good one. Also a huge fan of Agar.io. And I really do enjoy playing Hearthstone (laughs).
Q: What are your thoughts on future mechanics for mobile?
Rob: With mobile, developers still trying to discover what “good mobile games” are.I feel like a lot of games on mobile right now are single-player-friendly on mobile devices, not really mmo or online-friendly. It’s a bit of an asynchronous environment. So I think they are going to try to make more synchronous games, really up the tech on making that happen in a big way. The real challenge is coming up with enough games that work for touch interface as well.
Q: What’s next for you, Rob?
A: There’s no real clear answer for that (laughs). I’ve been spending a lot of time with others in the industry. I’m just really taking a moment to see where things are going myself, hanging with indie developers, and friends that work in the same field. And what i’m excited about is what is currently happening in the gaming community. I’ve really been in learning mode. So, no immediate plans, but I’m definitely starting to get antsy.
This was only a small bit of the “Fireside Chat” that took place today, but it was an event filled with passionate gamers, aspiring developers, and a man that has been at the forefront of the gaming industry for a good, long time.
We all know Mr. Pardo still has a lot left to offer the gaming world, and with his insightful and thought-provoking ideas about the game industry and its continuous evolution, it is safe to say we could all learn a thing or two about how to get started, and even, how to get to the end.