Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzCon, Activision Blizzard, Overwatch Inside Diablo II: Resurrected, Vicarious Visions, And Blizzard's Big Changes
This is surprising because they had just released a very successful tonyx pro skater, one plus two they’re. Obviously, the developers of the crash bandicoot uh remakes before that, and then hundreds of games before that uh they have an absurdly long list of games that they’ve developed, they’re, incredibly talented, studio, interesting studio. You know i interviewed them back at game. Informer interviewed the original founders, who eventually went on to make vlan studios which made mario kart live home circuit, but interviewed them just about their history and just the weird projects they’ve done. You know they made like uh uh just that radio for the game boy advance. The tony hawk games for the game boy, obviously uh. They made a bizarre multiplayer mode within guitar. Hero 5 called roadie battle that nobody talks about, but it’s a weird funky thing um. So these 200 developers within activision have been absorbed into blizzard. Who knows what it means for the future of tony hawk? Obviously, everybody was getting ready for them to also remake tony hawk three and four it’s, the most obvious choice in the world and when tony hawk one plus two sold so well. You think that would happen. It still could, like you forget about the weird handoffs between all the activision studios and specifically the ones between toys for bob and vicarious visions. Uh, where i thought for sure the vicarious visions was going to develop the new crash game since they made the remake and had that expertise knew the franchise so well.
But then, at the end they gave that to toys for bob to make crash. Bandicoot 4 and toys for bob did an amazing job, so i could certainly see a world where they hand off tony hawk pro skater, three plus four over to toys for bob or another activision support studio. I mean who knows what the hell highmoon’s doing, they’re busy with destiny’s stuff. A lot of other folks are busy with destiny stuff for call of duty stuff, but i could see some other studio, picking that up and then still working off the core tech of tony hawk’s, pro skater, one and two, but they have been pulled into the blizzard Monolith which has ramifications for other things within blizzard, it’s just fascinating how all this stuff connects. So, according to bloomberg’s reporting and jason trier front of the show over there um, they have reported that they are being pulled in to work on diablo, stuff and technically. Since last year, they’ve been working on diablo content over at blizzard, specifically diablo 2 resurrected, which is the remake of diablo 2 happening at blizzard, where this gets fascinating to me is on a number of fronts. First of all, bloomberg also reported that apparently diablo iv and that team had been working on the remake of diablo ii and diablo iv, and the diablo development team is being led by rod. Ferguson, who is the man who got stuff done? He’S, the man who pushed the hell out of bioshock infinite to get that game out the door he’s, also working on the gears franchise for a long time, both at microsoft and at epic he’s, a man who can make things happen.
And so i love the idea of him leading the diablo team, the diablo team, also working on the diablo 2 remake and now combining that with one of the most efficient studios in the industry, which is vicarious visions. To take this studio, that’s known for releasing hundreds of games, getting games out the frickin door and combining them with blizzard, which is a studio that’s known for not getting games out the freaking door. So how that works and how those two collide is fascinating. But there’s more beyond that, because the diablo team and now vicarious visions are remaking diablo 2, with diablo 2 resurrected. The bloomberg report from jason schreier also says that blizzard’s classic games team is no more, which is a real bummer um. Obviously, i’m, a fan of blizzard’s older games and i visited blizzard back when i was at game informer for the cover story on warcraft 3 reforged, which obviously turned out to be a bit of a mess. So i visited blizzard in october of 2018 for that cover story and really fell in love with the classic games team. Like the idea of being on this gigantic blizzard campus, i cannot emphasize enough how big that blizzard campus is. It feels like a small city and the classic games team had just set up shop in a new building. There was a building way off on the lot, but still technically on blizzard’s lot and they had just gutted it.
They had set up trophies. They were getting ready to go, for this is the classic games. Building. This is october 2018, and now classic games team is no more, but what i loved about it was just having this super proud, really excited hardcore team within blizzard that was focused on reviving the older games and it was a fun mix of they had some of The talent that worked on those older games, uh producers, executive producers, artists that i worked on those old games that were working on it. You know, for example, with warcraft 3 reforge. The crazy thing is with that game, so the warcraft 3 engine was turned into the world of warcraft engine with warcraft 3 reforged. They had to turn the world of warcraft engine back into the warcraft 3 engine to make that work, but the benefit of blizzard being around for so long is they had the person that wrote the engine still at blizzard, so he was on that classic games. Team working to retrofit that engine to make that game work um. So it was this fun, passionate group, they were so proud and a lot of those people were also younger. Who came in who just loved blizzard’s games. You know like um the producer for uh warcraft. 3 reforged uh pete stillwell. He was talking about how warcraft 3 was his favorite game. Warcraft 3 was the game that made him want to join the game industry, and so he joined blizzard and then got to work on the remake of warcraft 3.
, like that team loved, these classic games. So much and feeling like the underdog within blizzard working on these beloved old projects was such a cool position for them and selfishly. I love the idea of this team within blizzard becoming rts experts again a little bit like how vicarious visions can kind of understand what made the original three crash games great and go on to make crash four, even though they didn’t touch for bob did. I feel like there was so much potential for the classic games team within blizzard to unpack these old rts games, even diablo 2 um, and use those design lessons towards something new. Like imagine if that team went on to make a warcraft 4., obviously with the result of warcraft 3 reforged and how that game actually released, maybe that wouldn’t be the most exciting thing in the world, but, like don’t, doubt the passion of that team. They were incredible and really inspiring to be around and it seemed like what happened with warcraft 3 reforged is, it was rushed out the door uh and the project was not ready to go. Activision blizzard, realizing hey. We need to get this game out in this quarter. Let’S let’s roll with it, because when we were there in october of 2018, it was fascinating, because so many things were in flux. We were talking to the writers and they’re like uh. We don’t quite have the first draft of the script ready for this game, which is unheard of for a game we’re doing a cover story on you know we were talking to the cutscene director and they’re, like i don’t know how many cutscenes we’re remaking for this Game, i think it’s just going to be the opening one.
Everything was in such a weird state of flux, and it seems like just a very rushed chaotic project and it’s such a bummer that that studio and that team, in particular within blizzard, was so excited about. The future and where they can go next and they were going to make diablo 2 as a remake and then nope and now the classic games team, is no more they’re being absorbed into other parts of blizzard or they’re. Let go from the studio according to bloomberg. It’S really it’s really a shame um, which ties into a lot of people’s pessimism about blizzard overall. These days is how much do they still care about great game design versus? How much are they a part of the activision hive mind and trying to get things out? The door uh in order to turn a profit i understand blizzard, can take a long time on games. That’S very you know, we’re used to that saga. At this point – and i understand from a business standpoint – they’re like hey we’ve, got to get more releases out the door to try and support these games. So we don’t have another project, titan situation, even though that eventually led to overwatch. So you know that one worked out okay, but there have been so many people that have left blizzard recently um in the last couple of years and so it’s tough to see it as the same blizzard that we know and love and that we want to honor By remaking those games in the way that starcraft remastered was made by that classic games team of just highlighting the purity of the game design, not changing anything core to the experience, because now starcraft remastered, i think, is a great version of that classic game like that.
Classic games team was talented it just clearly. This project was rushed and not not coming together. The way they would have hoped, but in terms of blizzard offshoot companies it’s interesting to look at who has left blizzard what they’ve gone on to do. Uh bonfire games uh, it was the first big one that i can think of. I mean, i guess, there’s stuff like ready at dawn, which is also kind of spun off blizzard in a funky way, but bonfire games uh from rob, pardo who’s, the chief creative officer at blizzard for so many years uh. You know designer on all the classics: starcraft, warcraft and so bonfire games has been around quietly developing something for a while seems like it might be in the mmo space, but they have diablo 3’s director at bonfire games. Now they also have morgan webb from x, play at bonfire games and i’m very curious to see what they announce and when. But the other big offshoot is uh. Mike morheim who’s, a former ceo of blizzard it’s, been around forever and that new studio of his is called dreamhaven, which actually consists of the new company. I should say which consists of two development studios, one of which is moonshot, which is composed of dustin browder who’s. The game director on starcraft ii and then ben thompson, who was a creative director for hearthstone and then the other studio, which is called secret door, and this is the one that’s very interesting, so dreamhaven’s secret door studio – has chris sigity who’s the producer on starcraft ii.
Um and also it has a lot of other talent that came from starcraft 2 and heroes of the storm. So if there’s a blizzard offshoot that’s going to make an rts under mike morheim’s management, that seems like it’s right there and i hope, that’s. What chris ciggity and the rest of the folks at secret door end up releasing, but there is another as a wise man once said: uh frost, giant studios, the news broke. What was it two years ago last year the frost train studios. It was a former uh starcraft ii production director and the lead campaign designer for starcraft ii uh, and i believe warcraft iii uh, that they left blizzard with the sole intention of creating a new rts. And so they got a significant amount of funding. And so i cannot wait to see what frost giant studios releases in a perfect world, the frost, dragon studios rts releases at the same time as secret doors, hopefully rts and then there’s a new rivalry. There that’d be great, but there’s, more uh. Spinning off there was years ago, uh the director of hearthstone, one of the directors of hearthstone uh ben broad. He left to form second dinner. I believe, along with some other uh blizzard talent, and they are creating a new game and they have netease funding millions of dollars from netease who’s, also funding, bungie’s new game and then also a new they have a marvel license is all we know about that.
So if there’s going to be more exciting games sprouting up from former blizzard talent, it seems like probably a marvel game inspired or very similar to hearthstone could still be happening in the near future. Yeah, oh david arlene, says a lot of hearthstone talent left with broad yeah, so the idea of the marvel hearthstone. Obviously, the world has changed a lot since then artifact has been released and rebooted several ways to sunday so i’m very curious to see what those blizzard offshoots mean, what it means to have the 200 developers of vicarious visions brought into blizzard. But again, if there’s a team that i trust to make diablo 2 resurrected, vicarious visions seems like a solid team. I mean they’re one of the best remake companies in the business. At this point. Second, probably the blue point so i’m very curious to see what they do, but people in the chat here for men facts have questions which is great um yaro says someone who wanted tony hawk express gator three and four i’m bummed out as someone who also wanted. Diablo to remake to be good i’m optimistic, you have to choose yarrow. Are you optimistic? Are you bummed out? You can only have one way. Uh kyle silva in the min facts chat says. I love roadie battle. I’M. Glad that you played that uh david arlene says. I wanted them to make their own thing, not just go back to more remakes plus.
For me, blizzard has been in decline for a long time now. Yeah, you know, they’ve been quiet about overwatch 2 for so long, they’ve still been pretty quiet about diablo, 4.. I’M. Sure those will be solid games when they’re released, but i i feel for that company there’s, so much old talent still within blizzard, um it’s easy to see these headlines and say: yeah they’re all gone but visiting that studio it’s like so many of the people that You meet like oh i’ve, been here, for you know, 15 years 20 years, it’s just mind blowing um, but obviously a lot of the big names. All the big talent has left and i think more interesting than that is just this. What seemed like increased pressure from activision on blizzard to release things, you know it’s the same squeeze you see happening with ea. You know we had uh two gigantic leads at bioware. Recently, casey hudson and mark dara leave and you got ta wonder – is ea putting the squeeze on them in an uncomfortable way, it’s just natural that these new studios are gon na pop up, but it’s really inspiring to see the supernova of a lot of that top Blizzard talent going off creating new studios being passionate about creating smaller projects again so i’m very curious to see what they do and my fingers are crossed for a big new rts all right thanks so much everybody. I hope you enjoyed that episode of min facts.
Remember on sunday we have the colin episode of minfax with anna diaz joining us. So if you’re at the mid max council tier you can call in and talk to us about anything you’d like or just talk to us, you know talk to us about games. You’Ve been playing what you enjoy questions. We are legally required to answer everything you may ask. This was just a clip from minfax, which is our weekly q, a for supporters on patreon every monday, we stream for what we call the high council and we answer any question. They have about the game industry, our past passed min max’s future and on the last sunday of every month we actually have a call in version of mnfx so check out patreon.