World of Warcraft’s Chris Metzen: ‘I don’t think I’d ever make video games anywhere else than Blizzard’

Plus: Metzen isn't 'overly fond' of Blizzard's 'gameplay first' principle


Just before Christmas, Chris Metzen – who’d retired as Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development for Blizzard back in 2016 – rejoined the World of Warcraft team as a “Creative Advisor.” He’s been incredibly quiet since, presumably working. So what does he want to talk about in his first big interview on World of Warcraft website Wowhead? Tabletop roleplaying.

OK, that’s maybe no surprise as tabletop game design is what he’d been pouring himself into during his “retirement,” but there are a few nuggets in there that are applicable to MMOs. For example, in discussing his experience crafting tabletop campaigns, he touches on video game narratives.

“My first thought would be that, in some ways, designing a campaign is remarkably similar to what I did most at Blizzard all those years. Writing down ideas, framing up worlds, and creating logic between moments in history. If you’re a world builder or an ‘idea guy,’ you’re absolutely bound to the system itself, the core of game design, the fantasy experience that you want people to feel. Whether it’s an RTS, an MMO, or an ARPG – whatever it is, you know you start with a fantasy. We try to build a structure that enables the player to feel their accomplishments, to feel the fantasy through the gameplay. One of Blizzard’s core principles is ‘Gameplay First.’ I wasn’t always overly fond of that particular value, but at the end of it, it is true, right? If a thing isn’t fun in the first two minutes, it doesn’t matter how great your story was. That is why some ideas just aren’t going to work within that video game system. Some of the big themes are just too much for some video games, right?”

He does downplay the idea of turning his tabletop game into a video game. “[N]ow that I’m back alongside Blizzard again, I think I wouldn’t chase that idea,” he says. “If I’m thinking about video games at all I want to make sure I’m focused on Blizzard. Maybe there will be licensing opportunities or something at the end of the day, but that is not where my head is today. I want to make good on my commitment to Blizzard, and I don’t think I’d ever make video games anywhere else than Blizzard.”

Source: Wowhead
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