Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

11 Innovation Lessons From the Creators of World of Warcraft

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-about-dragons-in-the-boardroom dept.

Role Playing (Games) 243

Ant writes "Colin Stewart's OC Register Inside Innovation blog has up a post discussing Blizzard Entertainment's success in the games industry. According to the site, Blizzard has learned eleven lessons on innovation that can help almost any business. The industry leader used these innovation methods not only to create the world's most popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft, but also to keep the game fresh and challenging for more than 10 million players. Because many of those customers pay $15 a month to continue playing, Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues, not counting the multi-millions it tallies from its other games."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

11 lessons (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983052)

But we'll never know what they are.

Re:11 lessons (5, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983134)

  1. Rely on critics
  2. Use your own product
  3. Make continual improvements
  4. Go back to the drawing board
  5. Design for different kinds of customers
  6. The importance of frequent failures
  7. Move quickly, in pieces
  8. Statistics bolster experience
  9. Demand excellence or you'll get mediocrity
  10. Create a new type of product
  11. Offer employees something extra
RTFA [nyud.net]

Re:11 lessons (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983322)

#12: Post generic bullshit slogans off motivational posters as major new insights

#13: Profit???

Lesson #12 (5, Insightful)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983400)

Lesson #12: if they get addicted, they'll pay more.

Re:11 lessons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983566)

Hmm, i think this is a list which they didn't do in order to archive high player numbers...Come onn "Rely on critics"? I have never seen they do that. "Excellence"??? the game is full of bugs(created in game) even a gm could fix it with 5-6 letter command word and yet they still refuse to fix things up. I really think Blizzard archived this high number of players because of "friend factor" and "warcraft" name brand(which also means some lore) I have seen better support for players even in free games...

Re:11 lessons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22984488)

What's the matter, didn't get your purplez on your last 5-hour long raid?

Re:11 lessons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22985144)

I have seen better support for players even in free games...

Bold claim. Could you back it up with an example so that I might have a fun game to go and play later this week?

The REAL 11 lessons of WoW (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22984696)

As others have said, the list in this article is fluffy and useless.

However, I've been following the design of MMORPGs over the past decade, so I will offer a list of things that Blizzard *actually* did well, that together (combined with the strength of their pre-existing brand) are what I believe are responsible for WoW's overwhelming success.

1. Polish, Polish, Polish! -- WoW is probably the most polished MMORPG ever to be released. It makes a huge difference.
2. Smooth Newbie Experience -- this is critical, making it easy for casuals and spouses to get started (or "hooked")
3. Fun, Fun, Fun! -- if it's not Fun, get rid of it. Blizzard ruthlessly excised most of the un-fun stuff from the standard MMORPG design.
4. Don't Ship Until its Done -- several MMORPG disaster launches have shown that you really must wait until its ready
5. Low System Requirements -- 95% of the PCs in peoples livingrooms can run WoW, compared to like 25% for most games. This is no accident.
6. Reward Quests More Than Grind -- WoW was the first MMORPG where questing was the most efficient way to level for most players. This kept them moving around and doing different things, which is way less boring than 30 hours of grinding foozles. This idea is also behind the daily quests, for example.
7. Something For Everybody -- crafting, raiding, casual content, battlegrounds, PvP servers, lots and lots of quests, epic mounts... there is stuff in WoW that appeals to each of the Bartle playertypes.
8. Customizable UI Makes Players Happy -- even Everquest could be customized somewhat, but WoW made it possible to make powerful and useful custom UIs, and made it easy for other players to then use them. There are now a lot of players who will not want to play some new MMORPG unless it has a customizable UI.
9. Infrastructure Is Important & Hard -- they knew this from battle.net too. Again, they underestimated some things--like bandwidth--in the first year, but it eventually got sorted out.
10. Manage Community Expectations/Customer Service is Important & Hard -- they already knew this from battle.net, of course. The WoW forums are a cesspool, but that is unavoidable for a game of that size. In all other respects they've done a pretty good job.
11. Keep Cheaters, Botters and Farmers Out -- they watched Diablo I get absolutely destroyed by cheaters, and Diablo II had its share of setbacks here. Currently they can't stop Glider, but at least they're trying.

Re:11 lessons (2, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985314)

So, all I need to do to be successful is go back to the drawing board and quickly create an excellent new type product specially designed for specific types of customers! It's so simple!

first post (-1, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983058)

not very innovative, but always fun

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983230)

I agree. World of Warcraft isn't exactly innovative, but they've managed to make a game that is fun and a game that has gotten people, who may not have even played a game (or an MMO, to be more exact), to put endless hours into it. And they've remained strong and retained a majority of their user base because of this: Alot of people play the game for the people. Friends, distant family, friends through the game, ect.

Re:first post (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983234)

keep the game fresh and challenging
What game are they talking about? It CAN'T be WoW, which is "fresh and challenging" for approximately the first 2-6 weeks that it takes you to hit the level cap. Thereafter it becomes an infinte repetition of essentially the same content for as long as you're capable of withstanding it (usually a period of time inversely proportional to the intelligence of the user).

Kudos to all you folks who've ground it out longer than 4 months!

-AC

Platitudes (5, Insightful)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983112)

Look, the game is pretty, fun for a while, and very addictive. They took the tried and true method of giving item hoarders, dungeon crawlers, D&D fans, and basic gamers a basic concept that each one could easily get addicted to. TFA had nothing you didn't already know. They basically took the best parts of Evercrack, UO, and D20 systems and made a pretty game out of it. End of article. Making red-colored crack and successfully getting a whole bunch of people addicted to it isn't really that impressive, and neither was TFA.

Re:Platitudes (4, Insightful)

Pennidren (1211474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983176)

In some ways you are correct. The game isn't very remarkable or innovative.

But on the other hand, people are finicky. To have kept the subscription count as high as they have for as long as they have is impressive no matter how much you want to label it as obvious and inevitable.

Simply put, Blizzard's best skill has always been to shine and polish an old idea.

Re:Platitudes (1)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983188)

Bla, I personally know at least 5 gold farmers who at any one time have more than 30 accounts. Statistics can prove anything except the truth.

Re:Platitudes (1, Flamebait)

Pennidren (1211474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983226)

How is that not truth? Number of accounts is number of accounts.

And I know plenty of people that still play. And some people that recently started playing.

Proceed to call me a loser for knowing these people. It's completely on topic and proves your viewpoint somehow!

Re:Platitudes (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984388)

Care to give me their home addresses so my eager friends and I can visit these gold farmers of yours ? I've always wanted to beat^H^H^H^Hmeet one!

Re:Platitudes (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983218)

The article doesn't mention many specifics from WoW; it does talk about company values and such though, did you even read it?

Getting people addicted to a game is very impressive. If you've ever tried to design and develop a game you'd know that. Personally I don't want to be addicted to WoW so I'm not going to play it, I'd probably enjoy it, but I get more satisfaction out of more skill based/action games than repetitive RPGs... the social aspects of it are slightly attractive, though the social aspects of real life are preferable :P

Re:Platitudes (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984124)

Getting people addicted to a game is very impressive. If you've ever tried to design and develop a game you'd know that. Personally I don't want to be addicted to WoW so I'm not going to play it, I'd probably enjoy it, but I get more satisfaction out of more skill based/action games than repetitive RPGs... the social aspects of it are slightly attractive, though the social aspects of real life are preferable :P

Actually one of the lessons I've taken from MMOs is it's shamefully easy to get people addicted. The social aspect plus a sufficient amount of content to churn through will take care of most of it. Even in games that have positively the least reason to play addictively there will still be a core base that works it like it's a job. The trick is keeping people addicted long-term, and while WoW does a pretty good job of it they have not figured out a way around the burnout that people eventually experience. I am not sure there is a way around it. People tend to stick with their first MMO for a couple years and then wander around from game to game a couple months at a time when expansions get released.

Re:Platitudes (3, Insightful)

snkline (542610) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985000)

This is absolutely true. Certainly WoW is very polished, and has alot of fun to it. But what keeps you going after your 200th night in the Black Temple or Hyjal, is your sense of obligation to your guildmates. It is the social connectedness people develop with the people they play with that keeps people playing, even when they have grown rather bored with the game.

Re:Platitudes (4, Informative)

DarkProphet (114727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983416)

<verbose active="true">

I think the reason that WoW STILL has 10 million subscribers is simply because it takes a LONG time to do things right. Levelling goes very fast(faster than ever since patch 2.3), but grinding for reputation, items, gold, and professions is a huge time-sink, in terms of hours. If you are the kind of person who ISN'T allowed to play for 12 hours a day, it can take many many months to move toward end-game content.

And that is to say nothing about PvP and Battlegrounds. The only other online games I've ever bothered to get into are Quake2 and Quake3. There is something irresistible about CTF and the other battlegrounds games. But to kick ass, you need a twink, which obviates the need for your main to spend all kinds of time grinding to fund your twink.

Then there is arena, where you attempt to twink your main, basically.

To have it all, it takes a huge time investment, which is reflected in the number of subscriptions Blizzard maintains over the long-term.

Now, I am not saying it is wrong for Blizz to extend the gameplay time by making it take forever to get anywhere on foot, or low drop rates, or the price of an epic mount versus the amount one can reasonably grind in say, 50 hours of play.

Well, the travel time actually is nothing short of ridiculous. Travel-time between "flight points" should be instantaneous. Just replace flight points with portals. PLEASE! Travel time between kalimdor and anywhere in outland is just crap. C'mon now.

OTOH, Blizz has been pretty good about regularly adding new content (even outside expansion releases), adjusting item and talent specs, and generally making the game more accessible to people with less time on their hands.

They've struck a good balance between making their product more open to new subscribers, as well as maintaining their long-term customer.

They've executed a well-crafted plan to widen their subscriber base while retaining a solid number of existing customers. That is the hallmark of any successful business. </verbose>

Re:Platitudes (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984394)

You sir are already a lost soul I'm afraid. I played the game for about 10 days out of my 14 day trial and I have no idea what you're even talking about.

Scary!

Re:Platitudes (2, Insightful)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984472)

"Well, the travel time actually is nothing short of ridiculous. Travel-time between "flight points" should be instantaneous. Just replace flight points with portals. PLEASE! Travel time between kalimdor and anywhere in outland is just crap. C'mon now. "

I respectfully disagree with you. I think having time between points is what makes it imersive and fun, the large world does the same. You made the best point I've read here though, subtley... This game is successful because it's good for a long time. When someone says "dude, after you get to level cap it's so boring!" I have had an active account for a high percentage of time since it came out, my highest is a level 59, I have a bunch of other characters, but I just have them so I can play different classes, they mostly fall in the 20's. I just think the atmosphere of the game is great, and the play style is very relaxing. Well work the 15/month... but 15/month isn't very much to me; I could understand if I was much younger I'd think it was a big deal.

Re:Platitudes (3, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983834)

They basically took the best parts of Evercrack, UO, and D20 systems and made a pretty game out of it. End of article.

Way to miss the point, genius. The article wasn't about WoW, it was about Blizzard's internal policies and processes.

Re:Platitudes (2, Insightful)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983938)

Not that it's worth the time or bandwidth to get into a geek slap fight with you, but since you put the condescention in your post, I'll take the time to enlighten you. The article was about innovation. The article also spoke at length about the innovations in WoW. My point was that WoW was not that innovative, and therefore not worth reading. The game was pretty, it was shiny, and it was a rehash of things that have already been done, while the article was rhetoric fitting for a Slashdot Sunday.

Now if you want to banter on the ultimate point of the article, I would say that the point of the article was to get hits from Slashdot, because everything I read in there was a useless diatribe... otherwise known as platitudes.

Internal policies and processes that nobody gives two shits about. The article didn't reveal the reason that Blizzard is a gaming phenomenon, why WoW is the biggest ticket in a crowded MMO genre, or much of anything. It was filled with floating daisies and self-appreciating drivel.

If you wasted your time reading it, like I did, and then came on here to try to make some grandiose statement, thereby wasting my time and yours... mission accomplished. All I wanted to do was cut out the middleman for some other poor, bored, tired soul and let them know the article was not worth reading. Then they can better waste their time on here in the WoW sewing circle.

Re:Platitudes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22984632)

You are an idiot. The article was about business, not "why WoW is the biggest ticket in a crowded MMO genre".

You obviously didn't read the article the first time around, or you are borderline retarded.

If you notice this is a blog under the OC Registers Money section, this is not a section devoted to why "Blizzard is a gaming phenomenon".

Hell, the fucking article was called "11 innovation lessons from creators of World of Warcraft", and the first fucking paragraph says "Blizzard Entertainment, the envy of the computer game industry, has learned 11 lessons on innovation that can help almost any business.". Do you think "almost any business" would benefit from a discussion about "The game was pretty, it was shiny, and it was a rehash of things that have already been done".

And you did anything but "cut out the middleman for some other poor, bored, tired soul and let them know the article was not worth reading." since you imagined a completely different article and commented on that. More so, when someone pointed out that you completely missed the point of the article, you decided that instead of concede that you were wrong, you'd try and make it seem like you weren't retarded.

You Sir, have AIDS.

Re:Platitudes (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984580)

Way to miss the point, genius. The article wasn't about WoW, it was about Blizzard's internal policies and processes.

What's an "article"? Is it something you're supposed to read before commenting?

Re:Platitudes (0, Flamebait)

sevenfootchicken (1268690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985302)

Umm, Ive actullay talked to girls.

The Article Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983114)

11 innovation lessons from creators of World of Warcraft
April 4th, 2008 Post a Comment posted by Colin Stewart

(This post consolidates lessons published in the O.C. Register and the "Inside Innovation" blog.)

Blizzard Entertainment, the envy of the computer game industry, has learned 11 lessons on innovation that can help almost any business.

Irvine-based Blizzard used these innovation methods not only to create the world's most popular massively multi-player online game, World of Warcraft, but also to keep the game fresh and challenging for more than 10 million players.

Because many of those customers pay $15 a month to continue playing, Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues, not counting the multi-millions it tallies from its other games, such as StarCraft, Diablo II and Warcraft III, plus trading cards, comic books, etc.

This combination of creativity and profitability is much of the reason for the upcoming merger of game company Activision with Blizzard's parent company, Vivendi Games. The new company, to be called Activision Blizzard, will be valued at about $18.9 billion.

The following lineup of innovation lessons emerged from a video game conference, an interview, and several experts' comments.

Blizzard executives discussed the company's innovation processes during the D.I.C.E. video game conference last month in Las Vegas. Then, in early March, World of Warcraft lead producer J. Allen Brack explained his teams' work methods during an interview at Blizzard's new headquarters in Irvine. I also invited several business and innovation experts in Orange County to comment on how Blizzard works and how it and other creative enterprises such as the Walt Disney Co. innovate to keep their customers interested.

1. RELY ON CRITICS

Blizzard welcomes criticism - seeks it, in fact - both during game development and after the launch, when games need to be fine-tuned and freshened up.

In a process that is common for software companies, an alpha test provides crucial pre-release feedback from company employees. When the game software is ready, Blizzard moves to a beta test involving a limited number of outside players. Blizzard plans a beta test of its upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack for World of Warcraft, but hasn't announced when it will begin.

In addition, tens of thousands of Blizzard subscribers sign in to the game's Public Test Realm area to test and give advance feedback on patches, upgrades and revisions for the current version of World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft scene"Seeking out customers' viewpoints and criticisms is an ideal way for businesses to align products and services to what their customers want," said Ardelle St. George, intellectual property attorney and chairman of the Orange County Innovation group.

Innovation educator Marty Wartenberg of UCI Extension and the ZB Global Design Center in Carlsbad said, "It is very useful when developing your design and product to have third-party objective folks review and critique the design."

"The idea is that colleagues will not be completely honest and critical with the participants present," he said. "It would be much healthier if folks could take well-meaning and constructive criticism as a chance to improve the product or service. Unfortunately human nature tends to resist. This is a challenge to overcome in the business world."

Mike Morhaime, Blizzard CEO and cofounder, said criticism is important, but it's hard to take at first, as he recalled from tests of Blizzard's early game The Lost Vikings.

"We thought the game was good enough, but Brian Fargo of Interplay took it home and played it, and had lots of feedback," Morhaime said. Fargo wanted all the Viking characters to be redrawn so they wouldn't look so similar, which the game team didn't want to hear.

"It means he really cares," Morhaime told them. "When I digested it, I thought, 'Hey, these are good comments.' "

2. USE YOUR OWN PRODUCT

At Blizzard, that's an easy demand, since the product is a game that's fun to play. Game developers should find a new job if it they can't enjoy playing it and, in the process, spot ways to make it better.

"We're all fans. We all play," said Brack, who averages 15 hours playing World of Warcraft each week.

At home after quitting time, he often plays his high-level World of Warcraft character for four hours, taking notes on what works and what doesn't, he said. The next day at work, he meets with team members to discuss the problems he found.

In some industries, taking on the role of the customer "is referred to as 'eating your own dog food,' " Wartenberg said, "actually using your product before subjecting the consumers to what may be an ill-conceived and poorly designed product."

"In the theme park business (Disney and others), they have a phase in their development life cycle called 'Family and Friends.' This occurs right after the state regulatory body approves the event or attraction and before the general public gets to ride your new attraction. This gives the design folks the chance to see how normal or non-involved people react," he said, "a final chance to make changes prior to opening it up."

3. MAKE CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS

Criticism of the Vikings game "was our first painful iterative process," Morhaime said, "and it's happened with every game at Blizzard."

Multi-disciplinary "strike teams" repeatedly critique the latest version of each game in progress.

"We do it every couple of weeks," said Rob Pardo, senior vice president of game design, in the panel discussion with Frank Pearce, executive vice president of product development.

"It's possible to go too far," Pardo said, "and that's what Frank and I are supposed to keep charge of. We're trying to make great entertainment projects, not perfect ones. If we wanted to make perfect ones, we'd never be finished."

St. George added, "Making continual improvements is a must for all types of goods and services. A competitive advantage can be attained from attention to improvement, innovation and detail."

"In many industries, near perfection is the goal," Wartenberg said, "whether we call it Zero Defects or Six Sigma (one error in 3.14 million) this is very true of the biotech/pharma community as well as those in aerospace, where human life is at risk. The emergence of process improvement methodologies in many of our local companies, (Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, etc) attest to the fact that management recognizes that reducing errors, improving reliability and eliminating scrap are worthwhile and quickly drop to the bottom line."

World of Warcraft scene4. GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

Blizzard Entertainment will throw out unsuccessful work rather than try to salvage a fatally flawed plan.

"We come up with a lot of great ideas, we talk about them, we implement a lot of art and game play, and then we go '... that kind of sucks,' said Pardo. "So do we do a re-boot, throw out everything -- or do we make the call to cancel a game if there's no realistic restart to do? It's one of the things that makes us infamous for never hitting a release date, but it's part of 'gameplay first,' " a key principle at Blizzard.

"The Back to the Drawing Board concept has applicability across all industries," said innovation educator Wartenberg. "Start over if a product is not turning out right."

"The idea that we have spent so much so we should just keep going is a bogus one. If it's the wrong approach, past spending should not be part of the decision process," he said.

Wartenberg outlined a Phase Gate method for developing products, which establishes a standard procedure for cancelling projects that aren't working out.

"At each gate, the decision to stop, go or modify should be made based on achievement of specific identified points. (Will meet market window? Design-to-unit production cost is within profitability range? Customers will want it? Etc.) Some large product companies refer to the decision at each gate as the 'Kill Switch,' even though it's not called that in their official documentation," he said.

5. DESIGN FOR DIFFERENT KINDS OF CUSTOMERS

Blizzard designs its games to appeal to a variety of customers -- players from different cultures, in different settings, and with different personalities and experience.

In the recent panel discussion, Blizzard executives focused on how the company tailors its games for multi-national audiences -- after making mistakes based on game developers' inexperience with different cultures.

Frank Pearce, executive vice president of product development, told of a Japanese panda character that an artist drew for Warcraft III.

"He drew this Samurai panda. Turns out the Japanese and the Chinese aren't big fans of each other, and the Chinese people objected to this animal of theirs being dressed in Japanese garb. So we had to change it," Pearce said.

CEO Morhaime added, "Living here in the United States, we kind of had a North American focus. We had to catch ourselves when we weren't considering that we have players all around the world."

Pearce explained a variation that Blizzard adopted to allow players to experience World of Warcraft in commercial game parlors, especially in Asia.

"People don't just play the games at home. They play the games in game rooms in China and Seoul, where it's a totally different payment model, too. It comes down to, if you want to be successful globally, you have to think about what markets you want to go into."

"One thing we do is send game charges to the account you play on, not to your computer. It's a small thing, but it really helps people play in that game room environment," he said.

World of Warcraft lead producer Brack said his teams focus on making sure the game appeals both to high-level and to low-level players. That's part of what game developers think about when they make plans for new dungeons, new raids and new monsters, he said.

To improve the game's appeal to experienced players, Blizzard is planning to add 10 additional experience levels as part of its upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack, he said. The top level, which is currently 70, will increase to 80, he said.

In addition, Blizzard will give players new ways to customize characters, including new hairstyles, he said. That's aimed at increasing the game's appeal to "social players," including many women, who are interested in creating a unique look for their characters, he said.

World of Warcraft scene6. THE IMPORTANCE OF FREQUENT FAILURES

"One of the mantras that a large software development company uses is 'Fail Often, Fail Fast,' " Wartenberg said.

"As Alan Mullaly said when he led Boeing Commercial Aircraft, 'We celebrate mistakes; bring them into the open, because we can't help fix what we don't know about.' "

To show Blizzard's devotion to this principle, CEO Morhaime and other executives listed the titles of canceled games Blizzard had worked on: Nomad, Raiko, Warcraft Adventures, Games People Play, Crixa, Shattered Nations, Pax Imperia, and Denizen.

"We don't have a 100 percent hit rate. We just cancel all the ones that aren't going well," Morhaime said.

"Failure begets success," intellectual property attorney St. George said. "Many successful companies and CEOs have noted that their best successes have come from failures. The lessons learned from failures will provide the stepping stones for the next innovation."

7. MOVE QUICKLY, IN PIECES

"In today's rapidly moving market, the only way to get products out is to use various rapid prototyping methods to build products or services and try them in controlled pilot groups and then change as you go along," Wartenberg said.

"A new concept in software development - dubbed 'Agile' methods, which includes techniques called Scrum, XP, etc - basically forces developers to build in small increments, review with the clients and continually iterate the design until the customer is satisfied."

At Blizzard, small teams focus on narrow elements of the game. For example, different teams of artists specialize in trees, rocks, the game environment, and monsters, said lead producer Brack.

Multi-disciplinary "strike teams" serve as critics of how the different aspects of the game work together.

Raman Unnikrishnan, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at CSU Fullerton, said:

        "With entertainment software and online services, it is all about understanding what the gamers want and then proceeding to incrementally deliver that unmet need. The developers cannot follow a traditional waterfall style development (First requirements, then design, implementation, verification and finally maintenance) because they have millions of software users whose allegiance depends on the ability of the software developer to deliver new user-demanded features quickly and reliably."

Quick work doesn't mean that Blizzard will introduce a game before it's ready, said Blizzard PR representative Bob Colayco. As evidence, he noted the release date of Diablo at the end of December 1996. Because Blizzard insisted on getting the game right, it missed the entire holiday shopping season, he said.

Diablo was a critical and sales success, proving to Blizzard that getting the game right was more important than meeting a deadline with a flawed product.

8. STATISTICS BOLSTER EXPERIENCE

"Innovation and player behavior have to be the focal point of Blizzard's business model," said Don Hicks, executive director of the AEA high-tech trade group in Orange County. "I am certain they have figured out how to monitor and measure player behavior, and have outlined an innovation process."

When Blizzard's game designers sit down to figure out whether a game can be improved, they have more to go on than just their personal game-playing experience and other players' comments.

Statistics also help Blizzard find ways to make games more enjoyable.

Many statistics are automatically generated, such as what kills the most players and what is killed most by players, Brack said.

That helps game designers determine whether the game's various monsters and classes of characters are fairly balanced.

Class designers hold regular meetings to decide whether to adjust the strengths of different classes to keep the game fair, Brack said.

World of Warcraft scene9. DEMAND EXCELLENCE OR YOU'LL GET MEDIOCRITY

"We could ship a sub-par game, but ultimately it hurts the brand. We should ship it when it's ready or we shouldn't ship it at all," said Pearce, the executive vice president of product development. "It's an issue of making sure we're not risking long-term gain for short-term benefits."

Brack added: "That's a core value of Blizzard, not a luxury that it can afford now that it's bringing in so much revenue."

"Living with mediocrity can be the downfall of a company or service firm," said St. George. "There are many companies that have learned this lesson through failed product lines and even company closures. Requiring or demanding quality and excellence is a must for all companies and service firms."

"Demanding excellence is a tough call, as it often requires that we accept 'good enough' to meet tough shipping schedules. The concept of 'perfect' is one that most cynical employees will laugh at," Wartenberg said.

"But one of our local companies, QLogic in Aliso Viejo, has that exact title posted through out their facility - a big sign saying 'Perfection: Our Clients Demand It.'

"If you ask for excellence or perfection, you many never get it, but you will sometimes get something approaching it - and mostly will get good enough. If you ask for good enough, however, you will never get anything approaching excellence and will often get below-average results. People tend to rise to meet expectations," Wartenberg said.

Wrath of the Lich King scene10. CREATE A NEW TYPE OF PRODUCT

Blizzard was one of the pioneers in a new category of game - massively multi-player online role-playing games.

In addition to Blizzard's original product line - the game software itself - the company created a new type of product line by selling ongoing subscriptions for online access to the game, said Unnikrishnan at CSU Fullerton.
"Blizzard remains ahead of the competition because the company was able to parlay its strength in one game format to create an online service, which created a whole new product line and different type of revenue stream," he said.

In Asia, where gamers typically play World of Warcraft in Internet cafes, Blizzard uses a variation on monthly subscriptions, which wouldn't work well in that setting. Instead of subscribing with a monthly payment, gamers purchase prepaid cards. In addition, in China Blizzard has licensed World of Warcraft to the publicly traded entertainment company The9, which also runs other online games.

Sketch of new Taunka warrior11. OFFER EMPLOYEES SOMETHING EXTRA

Working at a computer-game company can be fun, but that's not the only type of company that can benefit by providing employees with more than just a paycheck. Any innovator needs something beyond just monetary incentives.

"One advantage that Blizzard Entertainment has over many product organizations is the high degree of 'fun factor.' For young programmers, getting paid to develop what you love doing anyway is ideal," Wartenberg said.

He added, "The trick is how to take the techniques that are so successful for Blizzard into other industries. It's relatively easy in the life science field, in that the companies can replace fun with a deep sense of purpose and high societal value of the products delivered. For many engineers and life scientists, this is what drives them and allows them to work on very long-term projects without getting too discouraged."

What I learned from WOW (1, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983144)

Never play it. Ever. If you don't find yourself addicted to it you will become so awkward you will eventually cease to have a social life (assuming you had one in the first place).

All of this thankfully learned from observance and not experience.

Re:What I learned from WOW (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983264)

mod parent -1 irrelevant

Re:What I learned from WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983508)

mod parent up +5 insightful

Re:What I learned from WOW (2, Funny)

Starrk (1268600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983516)

you will eventually cease to have a social life (assuming you had one in the first place)
Aha. I seem to have found your mistake.

Re:What I learned from WOW (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983518)

MMOs are too boring to become addicted to. Point and click combat? Pay to play redundancy? No thanks.

Re:What I learned from WOW (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983688)

I find it kinda boring above about level 30 or so. I usually kill my characters around them. It's not inherently addictive, but to get above that you have to spend a lot of time on it which I could see would interfere with your life if you had poor priorities.

They've started to take a lot of the challenge to it so I haven't played in a while. Instead of questing properly for example they made all the 'hidden' stuff sparkle obviously, and in lots of cases put a huge yellow questionmark above them - removing the point of a huge class of quests.

I hear in the latest patch PvP players can now start fully twinked up at level 70 so they don't even have to play the game to level up, thereby removing the entire point of the game.

Re:What I learned from WOW (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984052)

Leveling isn't the point of the game, enjoyment is. Why would you want to force a PvP gamer to grind through a a gameplay mode they just don't enjoy so they can compete on the relatively even playing field they are looking for?

TFA in two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983150)

SLASH VERTISEMENT

1. hire some guy from the linux underground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983156)

IE, Sam Lantinga, the main dude behind SDL.

2. sell an addictive substance that causes unemployment, obesity, and contact bed sores

IE, repetitive social networking based violence simulation, with bar-pushing

11 things?? I can think of one... (0)

Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983158)

#1 Take the most popular online game on the market (EQ), copy it, dumb it down, make it so easy that even an 8 year old can get level 50 (60, 70, whatever it is now :), and you have a winner!

Re:11 things?? I can think of one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983248)

Are you implying it was actually difficult to level in [insert name of any other MMO here], as opposed to just requiring even more ridiculous amounts of time?

Let me tell you about innovation. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983186)

Let me tell you about innovation. I own a small business, with six employees. We do Flash games, web development, and other custom software projects. On Friday I wasn't feeling so well. A bit of the flu, I suppose. Regardless of my health, our work must go on. So there the entire company was, sitting in our 10'x10' meeting room with two representatives from one of our larger clients. In short, I shit my pants. It wasn't a solid shit, either. It was diarrhea that ended up dripping down my legs onto my shoes, and then onto the carpet. And in a meeting room as small as ours, packed with nine people in it, it isn't an enjoyable experience. Needless to say, the reps from our client were not impressed. And tomorrow I get to deal with the repercussions of the whole ordeal. Since I clean our office (we can't afford a cleaning firm), I'll probably get to clean up the now-dried stool that has no doubt been festering there all weekend.

Re:Let me tell you about innovation. (1)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984534)

Riveting

Congratulations on inventing MMOs (5, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983214)

the company created a new type of product line by selling ongoing subscriptions for online access to the game, said Unnikrishnan at CSU Fullerton.
"Blizzard remains ahead of the competition because the company was able to parlay its strength in one game format to create an online service, which created a whole new product line and different type of revenue stream," he said.
Wow. Imagine a world before WoW where there were absolutely no MMOs an no one had ever thought of a monthly fee for these games that didn't exist.

The irony of this whole piece is that just about every single on of Blizzards "innovations" are things Sony Online was doing with EverQuest for half a decade before it (Beta tests, test servers, employees playing the game, upgrades, cancelling titles that didn't work, broad demographics, stats analysis, the fun of a gaming company).

The more interesting thing is, EverQuest only ever achieved roughly a twentieth of WoW's subscription figures. So, more valuable than simply listing the things SOE already did as Blizzard innovations* would be to look at what Blizzard did differently that got them 20 times SOE's subscriber base - and fifty times that of most other competitors.

As a fluff piece, it's nice to congratulate Blizzard for innovations they didn't come up with. The thing is, they evidently did something different and the article manages to miss that far more fascinating angle.

*Note: Not claiming SOE came up with the innovations either. Ultima Online was doing much of it several years earlier still. And they took over from a lot of MUDs, MUSHes, etc. If anything, there've been a series of advances that have been made one at a time, everyone else copying whenever someone else has success with a new idea.

I'd suggest Blizzards real achievements were something more like:

Truly earn loyalty from your customers: People who bought Diablo and Starcraft played for years on a service they didn't have to pay any extra for. Any other company would have turned those servers off once they weren't making money from boxed copies of the game. Blizzard kept providing it and earned a fierce loyalty from their fans where everyone else leaves their fans feeling screwed the moment the dollar signs don't add up in the short term.

Set the barrier of entry LOW: While SOE was playing with the brilliant idea but agonizing experience of StarWars Galaxies and everyone else was chasing prettier graphics, Blizzard put out a game with cartoony graphics that everyone and their mom could play. Ten million general players doing something simpler beats out a few hundred thousand beardy ones and housewives with enough time to learn your complex game mechanics.

Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983314)

I haven't read TFA. But your arguments seem about right:

- The reputation is a big one. In addition to keeping the servers going, you also have things like the patch to Diablo II years after it came out that was so huge as to almost be an expansion pack. Also, Blizzard has arguably never made a bad game. That carries a lot of weight. It also helps that people knew and already liked the Warcraft world.

- Balance. People love to whine, but the truth of the matter is every Blizzard game is scrupulously balanced - I am not sure anyone is better. I have some friends at a rival MMORPG studio (not saying which) who actually make fun of their designers because the game is so badly balanced. This is not good.

- Difficulty. People also love to harp on how easy WoW is, but it's accessibility has a lot to do with why it's so popular. And of course what these people fail to mention is at the high end - raiding or PVP - it's as hard as anything else. This keeps the hardcore players hooked and gives the others someone to look up to while also giving them easy ways to inch closer.

- Graphics. This is more personal opinion, but I think Blizzard must have some of the most talented artistic designers around. I think WoW pushes way less polygons than some of the competition, but it just looks so much more alive, and so much more unique to me.

Blizzard innovates only in minor ways, but they are polished to an extreme. And in the end, I think your average consumer prefers polish over innovation.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (2, Interesting)

Sanguis Mortuum (581999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983340)

Exactly what I was thinking when I read this. Everything WoW does was done before, WoW just happened to do it better and marketed it in a way that appealed to more people...

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (4, Interesting)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983366)

Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."

My MMO playing friends would from time to time claim that the continuing fees of MMOs were there at least in part to ensure that there would be continuing updates and new content, aside from server maintenance costs. Naturally, I'd look at it as a slap in the face if, having that attitude, a company asked me to pay an additional charge for that content in the form of an expansion pack.

Something I've always wanted to see would be a serious, impartial, disinterested observer sitting down and going through a point-by-point comparison of WoW, Guild Wars, and Diablo II, and maybe throw in FFXI or some one of the other popular MMOs, just to see what is objectively different between them. It would be interesting to see in light of all the noise of fans crying that such-and-such is an MMO, is worth the money, etc. Of course, that latter point is nearly entirely subjective. Most of what people claim to get out of modern MMOs I was able to get out of games like Halflife--and that without paying every month for it.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (1)

Grail (18233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983792)

If you want an MMO where the subscription fees are actually used to continually update the content, where you don't have to pay more money for expansion packs which have been financed by your subscription, try EVE Online.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984894)

My MMO playing friends would from time to time claim that the continuing fees of MMOs were there at least in part to ensure that there would be continuing updates and new content, aside from server maintenance costs.
Yeah, I've never quite bought that line either... Most MMOs charge both for the game AND for expansions, as well as the monthly fee. If they gave the game client away, or at least gave you more than a month of free play time, I could see it (maybe six months). But the part about server maintenance - I'm not sure I buy that either. No way does a player cost Blizzard anywhere close to $15 dollars a month (see: Guild Wars). That's just what they've figured out people are willing to pay. But the monthly revenue is the big draw for all those companies.

Something I've always wanted to see would be a serious, impartial, disinterested observer sitting down and going through a point-by-point comparison of WoW, Guild Wars, and Diablo II, and maybe throw in FFXI or some one of the other popular MMOs
I'm sure someone's already done this...

just to see what is objectively different between them.
Oh... objectively? Hmm.... yeah, I'm not sure about that...

Kidding aside, the problem is, someone would have to get seriously invested in *all* of those games in order to make a reasonable comparison (all while trying to stay dispassionate and objective), and that's a pretty tall order. But I think you can get a pretty good idea by looking at the fan forums and discarding the obvious flames and fanboys. Many people are willing to give a pretty good list of pros and cons when discussing the multiple games they play and enjoy.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983390)

Simplify the game play.
Make a very big world.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983444)

Truly earn loyalty from your customers: People who bought Diablo and Starcraft played for years on a service they didn't have to pay any extra for. Any other company would have turned those servers off once they weren't making money from boxed copies of the game. Blizzard kept providing it and earned a fierce loyalty from their fans where everyone else leaves their fans feeling screwed the moment the dollar signs don't add up in the short term.


Blizzard was making money off of those services. They got sponsors for the Battle.net Servers ("D2USWest-1 Hosted by AT&T") and in turn would only run ads in the BNet GUI for that specific company. The execs at Blizzard were very good about getting other companies to play ball on their terms while making money or AT LEAST breaking even and appeasing their user base. You're correct, though, it's a lot more than just Blizzard throwing money at services just to make sure their customers are happy.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (3, Insightful)

Koby77 (992785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983498)

Don't milk the cash cow until its teats fall off: Blizzard's managed to get what, one expansion out so far? SOE has put out how many for EQ2 that was released at the same time? Sure, your balance sheet looks better if you can say, "I'm going to get 200% revenue from my begrudging players this year." It actually looks even better if you say, "I'll stick with 110% revenue from 2000% of the number of happier players."

I also agree that Blizzard's success has nothing to do with following certain business principles. Instead, Blizzard's popularity was because it brought MMOs to the masses, and it achieved that because it set the speed of game play correctly.

For single player games, especially console RPGs, you progress in the game at a certain pace. You may earn a level increase every few minutes. You'll go back to town and purchase some new equipment every now and then. But MMORPGs prior to WoW were unacceptably slow. A single player game which progressed at the speed of a pre-WoW MMO would be labeled as a failure. Simply put, it would be very boring.

Unfortunately, other companies got greedy. After playing many other MMOs, I could see that they designed their game around forcing a player to subscribe for a certain length of time to achieve the "endgame" content. If they didn't have enough content for their players, no problem! Simply slow down the pace of leveling or money acquisition. If your game is boring, people will still forced to play it and pay for it, right?

Blizzard was the first company to significantly change the trend. It eliminated the common "camp & grind" game play, and allowed players to gain levels and equipment at a significantly faster pace. This made the game fun, and attracted a ton of subscribers in doing so. As you said, it turns out that having lots of subscribers is preferable to forcing a few die-hard subscribers to pay. In the end greed wasn't good, and a fun game beat the alternatives.

Timing (1)

Simian Road (1138739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983582)

I would have said that the main difference between EQ and WoW was timing (stating the obvious?). EQ arrived way before online gaming was mainstream, WoW arrived as it became mainstream. Every major gamer had broadband by that point and WoW was the game that filled the gap.

Yes, of course it had to fill the other criteria of being a great game, addictive, fun and with a good reputation. But it won for the most part because it was the right game at the right time.

Re:Timing (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983774)

It's more than just timing. Unless you count the two weeks between the EQ2 launch and the WoW launch to be significant.

Re:Timing (1)

Simian Road (1138739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983810)

EQ2 always felt more like a graphics upgrade than an entirely new game.

Re:Timing (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984016)

Which is completely irrelevant to new people entering the MMO playing field, what's your point?

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983594)

Seriously, WoW is just doing the same old shit that other MMOs have been doing for over a decade. It's popularity still boggles the mind. If you want to look at more "innovative" MMOs, City of Heroes would be a better example.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983618)

"The thing is, they evidently did something different "

Yeah they took an established franchise millions loved (warcraft) and made an MMO out of it, what gamer has not played warcraft?

They had huge mindshare, if they used a different property other then warcraft (i..e something new) do you really think they would have had such runaway success? I doubt it very much. Warcraft has a history from gamers playing it all over the world and those who played any of the warcrafts (1, 2, 3, etc) are of course going to go gangbusters over an MMO version of their favorite franchise.

Franchise != Success (2, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983880)

Yeah they took an established franchise millions loved (warcraft) and made an MMO out of it
StarWars is vastly more beloved but sandbox so beautifully complex it took two years to seed itself and never really became easy to use before being so brutally modified as to lose what those who had persevered loved didn't make anywhere near WoW numbers.

Marvel Online got cancelled before ever seeing the light of day despite massive numbers of comic book readers past and present.

Matrix Online had a HUGE franchise that translated in to a game no one cared about.

Disney has a massive fanbase yet Toontown putters along quietly.

Ultima Online followed on the back of a game series that many people would argue was far more beloved than Warcraft - long established as near a dozen of the greatest RPG experiences on the PC. Even there, its numbers were never anything close to WoWs.

I think the IP helps. It certainly got a lot of the initial interest though I'd suggest most people who've since picked it up only heard of the RTS series later. But I'd suggest there's more to it than just milking an IP.

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983946)

There's more to it than that, unless you're ignoring Star Wars Galaxies.

It's not just the initial point that matters, but where they go from there. WoW is more accessible than just about any other MMORPG, looks great on just about any computer above the minimum spec and has a solid reward mechanism as players level.

It's not perfect by any means, but Blizzard has done a lot of things better than other companies (assuming the goal is maximum players and profits).

Personally I'd like to see a real story in WoW, something that doesn't feel so strongly that it was made up during a long drinking session by people who've never read anything more complex than fan fiction. But hey, I'm not running a company with ten or eleven million fans so what do I know?

Timing, maybe? (1, Insightful)

Shazow (263582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983706)

The more interesting thing is, EverQuest only ever achieved roughly a twentieth of WoW's subscription figures. So, more valuable than simply listing the things SOE already did as Blizzard innovations* would be to look at what Blizzard did differently that got them 20 times SOE's subscriber base - and fifty times that of most other competitors.
Might have something to do with the fact that EverQuest was released in 1999, while World of Warcraft was released in 2005. A lot changes in six years. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of people with internet access grew more than 20 times in that time span.

- shazow

Re:Timing, maybe? (2, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983798)

I must point out that EQ2 and WoW launched within a few weeks of each other. EQ2's userbase is nowhere near where WoW's is.

Re:Timing, maybe? (2, Funny)

Shazow (263582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983850)

EQ2's userbase is nowhere near where WoW's is.
Neither is the game quality for today's standards.

Ultima Online surpassed MUDs.
EverQuest surpassed Ultima Online.
World of Warcraft surpassed EverQuest.
EverQuest 2 surpassed a shriveled piece of ginger root vaguely shaped like a one-armed voodoo doll.

- shazow

Re:Timing, maybe? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984372)

True, but timing wise, EQ2 was WoW's main competition, with near contemporaries Star Wars Galaxies (also SOE) and Final Fantasy XI. It just goes to reinforce nick_davison's point: What WoW did differently was what sold it.

Re:Timing, maybe? (1)

Shazow (263582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984712)

Absolutely. WoW is clearly a vastly superior product to SWG, FFXI, Asheron's Call 2, EQ2, DAoC, etc. I just didn't think that comparing it to EQ1 made a lot of sense due to the time gap.

Anyways, Blizzard has a reputation for releasing incredibly polished, stylized, and innovative games. Every time a "Top 100 games of all time" list comes out, all of Blizzard's games are in the Top 15.

- shazow

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983776)

Wow releases more content in their big patches than SOE is releasing in their expansions.
Plus, if EQ2 is so great, why is everyone playing WoW?

Re:Congratulations on inventing MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983966)

Truly earn loyalty from your customers: People who bought Diablo and Starcraft played for years on a service they didn't have to pay any extra for. Any other company would have turned those servers off once they weren't making money from boxed copies of the game. Blizzard kept providing it and earned a fierce loyalty from their fans where everyone else leaves their fans feeling screwed the moment the dollar signs don't add up in the short term.
Yeah, earn loyalty by shutting down projects like bnetd; the free, open source server software that allowed for Diablo II "LAN parties" that you and your friends can enjoy without having to worry about hackers and item dupers.

1. RELY ON CRITICS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983222)

Bliz, the mage class is broken. Has been for a year.

Re:1. RELY ON CRITICS (1)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984620)

Can you expand on this? Honestly.

Lessons learned (5, Funny)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983250)

From Blizzard:
1) Money doesn't buy you happiness.
2) Money will buy you lots of shit that make you happy.
3) Did I mention we have lots of money? I know it's not really a lesson, but it's our list and we're rich, beyotch!
4) Money isn't very flavorful. We had a buffet lunch of money once and after the 10th or 11th thousand dollar salad, I had to switch to the lo-carb dressing. Ugh.
5) Money.
6) If you have money, girls (some) will like you for it. As long as you have a proper pre-nup, wear rubbers (always) or get a Vasectomy to reduce risk, enjoy the ride.
7) It's amazing what you can do with money. This one time, we filled the company pool up with crisp dollar bills. The first guy to dive in got massive paper cuts from the crispness. Wow, like millions of dollars worth of cuts. We had to drive him to the hospital, while we used $100 bills to try and stem the flow of blood.
8) The morning commute into the office is so much nicer in my Ferrari. Vroom Vroom my ass, Mazda.
9) Money money money money money!
10) Sometimes, you have more money than you can spend. Paper crafts are so much more fun!
11) Nerf warlocks, bitches.

Re:Lessons learned (1)

blankinthefill (665181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983442)

Possibly the best nerf locks post in existence :D

Re:Lessons learned (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984584)

12) Our dollar bills would buy the Brooklyn bridge

Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (4, Informative)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983278)

This is a piece about some egomaniacs that want to express that they're simply smarter than so many others in business.

They actually think that their "11 Innovation Lessons" are new, different, and special.

Even a junior manager at a McDonald's has learned this stuff within their first 30 days on the job. Really. They are intrinsic to running any service organization.

Read through them, and ask yourself: would a McDonald's Junior Manager know this as an intrinsic part of his job servicing customers?

The short answer is YES, a junior manager at McDonalds would know 10 of 11 of them. The 11th just doesn't apply to McDonalds. Because Big Macs are perfect.

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983506)

ok, everybody already know you are a junior manager at McDonald's. So, what? Go back to play WoW!

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (3, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983576)

You may think this list is silly, but certain other MMO makers haven't grasped them.

Sony Online Entertainment, in particular, tends to piss off its userbase on a regular basis. They even totally changed (read: trashed) one of their properties [starwarsgalaxies.com] with about two weeks notice a few years ago.

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983888)

You may think this list is silly, but certain other MMO makers haven't grasped them.
BINGO! I read the list and felt sad, because my favorite MMO decided to violate a number of them and now is a hollow shadow of what it once was. Then I come here and everyone complains because it's all "obvious". Well, common sense isn't common. Developers get so wrapped up in whatever petty thing they are working on and forget to listen to the players or do other stupid stuff in violation of the totally obvious stuff on this list.

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (2, Funny)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984460)

"Read through them, and ask yourself: would a McDonald's Junior Manager know this as an intrinsic part of his job servicing customers?"

And as I read through your post I wondered "What does this guy do for a living, and how is he so intimately acquainted with the training a McManager gets?"

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984560)

Even a junior manager at a McDonald's has learned this stuff within their first 30 days on the job. Really.

Two things: a) you're wrong. And b) if you were, you'd still be missing the point.

You're wrong, because half these items are about product innovation. I promise you that a junior manager at McDonald's is not rewarded for changing the menu every week. McDonald's is primarily in the business of reliability and repeatability; innovation is only of interest in certain parts of corporate, and only so much as it keeps others from stealing their turf. Otherwise, they wisely don't let anybody fuck with what's making them billions.

And you're missing the point because it's not about what you can repeat out of a business book's bullet points. It's about doing it.

I've never played WoW, and I think the whole crack-via-internet thing is morally dubious, but I respect them for what they've accomplished. A lot more people set out to do something like this than succeed. Even if their explanations for success were totally banal (and they aren't entirely so), it's still worth paying attention, because however obvious these things are from your armchair, people engaged in giant projects often lose sight of things that you would think are painfully obvious.

So please take your snide superiority and go launch something that makes it up to a mere $5m in annual revenues. Then come back and tell us again how easy and obvious it is.

Re:Totally Crapified Article about Egomaniacs (1)

definate (876684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984816)

1) A McDonalds Junior Manager understands that a marketing orientation is better than a product or production orientation?

2) A McDonalds Junior Manager understands that when the business uses their own product they get a better sense of its flaws and similar, which allows for them to make better decisions?

3) A McDownalds Junior Manager understands that a business does not need to produce a perfect work, and can use iterative processes to improve it over time?

4) A McDonalds Junior Manager would know not to consider sunk costs when making business decisions?

5) A McDonalds Junior Manager would know to develop a product which reaches different kinds of customers, however limit its scope to only economic market segments?

6) A McDonalds Junior Manager would understand that to reduce the impact of failures it is necessary to fail early on in the development lifecycle?

Okay, I'm bored with commenting on this now...

I think you would find many people including McDonalds Junior Managers who would just say "of course" without knowing any reasoning or repercussions, and because of this if you put them in a position to make these decisions, they would fail since they would down play the impact things like this have, on every business.

I remember having a conversation with someone about how I was amazed by activity based costings ability to improve understanding about the business, quality and similar, but all I ever got back was "Of course, it's obvious". Yet later on when I brought up an example that they could use in their business, they were absolutely dumbfounded.

Supermodel at Fat camp (1, Interesting)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983360)

Sorry but Blizz is a supermodel at fat camp when it comes to talking about things.

First they do not listen to critics, If it gets placed on the test realm it WILL go live.

Not that much fun to work there, most people that have worked there would not go back, and rather work for other firms.

They are pretty much the only gaming company that is their own publisher, they do not have to answer to the money like everyone else does. Who else can postpone a launch until after the holiday season?

Re:Supermodel at Fat camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983558)

Nah, it doesn't NECESSARILY go live. An example would be what WOULD have been a devastating change to Warlock's "Life Tap", but they reverted it in the test realm, as well as the Shaman's Flametounge applying a Mortal Strike effect.

Re:Supermodel at Fat camp (2, Informative)

zire (1187009) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984000)

> First they do not listen to critics, If it gets placed on the test realm it WILL go live.

That is incorrect, there are many changes on the test realm that do not go live.

For example, in the last patch there was a change to the way mana replentishing food/drinks worked in the test realm. Players gave negative feedback about it and it was taken out.

Re:Supermodel at Fat camp (2, Informative)

tacarat (696339) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984494)

First they do not listen to critics, If it gets placed on the test realm it WILL go live.

Right... Listening to critics is not the same as mindlessly obeying critics. There have been plenty of changes that either didn't get past the test realm stage or got reverted/tweaked shortly afterwards. You're only remembering the buffs and nerfs that you didn't like making it live. The easiest to remember change that didn't go live was when druids in bear/cat form were able to finally drink potions. The reversion of that buff drew outrage to the point of organized protests across the live servers and a lot of my beloved forum trolls getting themselves banned due to overly flaming or critical posts.

No innovation at all... (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983368)

.... but blizzard did something even MORE important - they did a damn good job of giving people what they wanted.

not many people give a fuck for super complex game rules (that's why nerds love DnD) they want something that's fun and group based. WoW gives that.

Not the best example (2, Interesting)

propanol (1223344) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983380)

Blizzard's not exactly the best example when looking for innovation. Sure, they've made some solid games, but all of the ones I'm familiar with (that is, most of the major ones save WoW as I don't do multiplayer-only) were awfully derivative; the RTS stuff from Dune 2/C&C, Diablo from Rogue/Nethack etc.

Blizzard hasn't had big innovative ideas... (4, Insightful)

sharopolis (819353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983496)

... just lots of little ones. There's not a lot in WOW that hasn't been done before in other games, either MMOs or other genres, but what Blizz has done is make the innovations of previous games work. Previous MMORPGs have been innaccessible, imbalanced, prone to exploits, buggy and often just downright boring.
WOW has so often overcome these issues to become one of the biggest games of this decade with a lot of well thought out and well designed gameplay.
Take the whole bind on pickup/bind on equip mechanic for items, meaning that some in game items can be bought and sold freely, but others (usually top tier weapons and armour) can only be gained by achieving in game goals. This means that there is still a viable cash economy, but players cannot simply 'buy' their way to the top, they need to go out and complete quests etc.
Wow was not the first game to feature an ingame economy, but what it did was make the economy fun and useful to players whilst at the same time limiting it's potential to be expolited.

Re:Blizzard hasn't had big innovative ideas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22983670)

or as other games that predate wow, would call them NODROP items.

What WoW Learned From Everquest (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983614)

EVERYTHING. Except the dancing naked gay elves on mailboxes and a ridiculous cow race..at least Everquest and Everquest 2 makes it more realistic and believable.

Re:What WoW Learned From Everquest (2, Insightful)

Medevo (526922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984984)

By "More Realistic" you mean "Everything is Brown"?

Bad accountants (1)

nmistake (1268610) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983694)

So you have 10 million people at $15 per month with 12 months in a year. That gives me 1.8 Billion, so who is pocketing the other 800 million?

Re:Bad accountants (1)

Crazy_CorranH (1207148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984720)

That would be Mr. More Than

FTFS:
>Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues,

Main Innovation (2, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983700)

Blizzard executives went to the crack-addled streets of inner-city LA, bought a bunch of it, gave it to their employees, and said to them, "Figure out how to make this crack into a computer game. Feel free to try some of it too." The crack enabled them to stay up late enough to think of WoW.

Blizzard's strengths (4, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983718)

In my opinion, Blizzard did do a few things differently, but I don't see the ones I'm thinking of in the list.

What they did differently was this:

They made a good UI.
Blizzard usually has good UIs, and WoW's is no exception. They've even modified it over time to add some new things to it (such as additional button bars)... things that were being done by AddOns before.

They allow... no, encourage people to make UI Addons
Certain types of Addons have had the ideas behind them incorporated into the main WoW interface, too. Examples of this include the current Raid UI and the multiple button bars.

They don't nickel and dime you to death. See: EQ2, where even new dungeons (AKA "Adventure Packs") cost money.

Keep It Simple Stupid (the KISS principle)
WoW still has the same 9 classes it started with. While the abilities these classes have has changed over time, it's still easier than juggling 20+ classes like most other MMOs. While there will be a 10th class introduced in the next expansion, it will automatically start at a certain level (although Blizzard hasn't yet said which... rumors say 50 or 60) and will only have to be balanced from that level up.

(This would have been a numbered list, but Slashdot is apparently stripping out ol and ul tags now, despite them being on the Allowed HTML list)

success (3, Insightful)

g4b (956118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22983804)

I admit, I would want to rant about their success. Is it jealousy? Maybe. But let's keep that aside for a moment.
They talk about innovation.

Nearly every aspect of World Of Warcraft is stolen from other games.
Example: UO. You can find a lot of similarities, from mounts to gray death screen. UO still has features, WoW hasn't. But most importantly: UO takes a lot of innovation from the so called freeshard-scene, and i think, this is also the reason origin never pursued those emulated servers in the first place.
E.g. the speech system which does not allow you to read other's language is something which was developed on UO roleplaying shards (as for I know, but it could have been also in some MUDs) - so it is not new in WoW.

So, why is WoW still better than the other mmogs? well, let's face it: it is because they took all the good things and tinkered it to something better.
So, yes, they are successful. And yes, they can talk about how to get successful, how to keep successful.

However, I rant, because it is not innovation, they should talk about. There is hardly any great innovation in WoW from my perspective.
It's a fun game, trying to suit the majority of players, the company cares for the players, they did some good decisions (e.g. low hardware specs, scriptable client), and of course, don't forget, they had a lot of publicity from previous games (the warcraft series, diablo, starcraft and lost vikings), and those WERE innovative in a great deal.

Still, talking about WoW, I think they really should talk about success, not innovation. Because it was more advertisement, more strategy and more publicity behind the success of WoW, than innovation.

Face it: Most Innovation comes from innovative and creative minds, which are not bound to deadlines or sallaries. Innovation was to include a modding engine in HalfLife, which kept a very bad coded game alive until CounterStrike came out (so innovation lead to innovation). Innovation was to include a Level Editor and Sound Editor in Warcraft2, which made the game popular for custom maps, and in WC3, innovation from the _users_ has lead to a lot of custom maps, like tower defense or dota (because the game was very scriptable and moddable). WoW lacks all those opportunities of customization and blizzard has hunted down any modding scene from the beginning, who tried to do something else, than interface scripts (which are limited in innovative ideas), like emulator software (but that is perfectly understandable! emulators are bad for business!).

Because the userbase can't contribute a lot of new ideas, and because the game itself has very few "new elements" at all, but sums up all the other MMOGs before it, I simply can't accept blizzard as teacher in innovation, regarding WoW.

Fun for a while, now I CBA (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984454)

I played WoW for a while, during a period where I was off work for a few months. I played it all freakin' day long. Then when my life got back on track, I quickly lost interest because WoW felt like work, especially after hitting the level cap. I didn't need nor want a 2nd day job.

Had I not gone back to work, I probably would have kept on playing. I don't dislike MMOs, but the primary reward they provide is some sort of progression, be it experience/levels or grinding for new gear. If you can't invest the hours to achieve that progress, then it becomes an unsatisfying exercise. If I have only an hour to kill, WoW won't give me any fun, and consoles or flash games will provide a better endorphin/time ratio :)

They left out a couple of items. (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22984732)

12. Hire lots of good lawyers

13. Use them.

Ghost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22985036)

Curious they didn't mention Ghost as a cancelled title. Perhaps there is hope!

Re:Ghost? (1)

f_raze13 (982309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985312)

Why would they? The article is about WoW and their business model.

Additional Lesson (1)

sskagent (1170913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985088)

#12 - Create list of Innovative Lessons and sell them for cash money

What innovation? (1)

sinij (911942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985106)

I just can't take seriously all this talk about Blizzard's innovation in WoW. WoW released without single ambitious feature, if anything WoW is culmination of shine and polish on tried&true ideas that were tested in countless other games. UO that released in what, 97, had more innovative features than WoW.

A billion buckaroos, wow (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22985158)

Blizzard's ongoing creative achievement is worth more than $1 billion a year in revenues, not counting the multi-millions it tallies from its other games."
I wonder how much of that is getting reinvested in the game. I only ever took the plunge on one MMO, EVE Online. It was a brilliant concept but still sort of half-broken in implementation. I followed it for a year and only ever saw things grow worse with the patches, the fun turning into a grind, the grind turning into repeated punches in the scroticles, the mass tearing out of hair. It seemed like the major bugs never got addressed and management's ideas for "improving" the gameplay always made it worse. They then bought out White Wolf and started talking about a World of Dorkness MMO and "station ambulation" without ever addressing the long-standing game-breaking issues, let alone the thieving and griefing caused by developers playing the game alongside customers.

At least with a traditional game, the only way the developers can screw things up is by making a bad sequel, the original will remain the same. If the devs on an MMO screw things up, you're not getting the original game back, ever. It's gone.

Don't have the time for MMO's, don't have the inclination. I do think that MMO's will replace bingo and daytime gameshows when our generation retires. Teenage Korean geeks, you'll rue the day you tangled with the American old farts! That or we'll just get our grandkids to beat you.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?