From Warcraft to Hellgate and beyond

So the team’s rep from working at Blizzard was a bit of a burden?

Yes. We had gained a lot from growing up with Blizzard, but there are certain things that Blizzard does that we tried that failed. You know, Blizzard can work on a game and they can decide that they are going to take six years to develop it if they want to, because they have the support and finance, and they could say: “You know what, we are going to need another year on this.” That’s extremely rare – if not unique – in the industry.

Above: World of Warcraft is the ultimate result of Roper's imaginative doings

However, when that is how you grow up, then that is how you think. You shoot for the moon. You go for the big home run. You just keep iterating until it is ready to go.

How was the Hellgate experience for you personally?

The thing that really disappointed and saddened me was that it went beyond the “Hey, you guys made a game and I thought it was crap” posts to personal attacks on people. This bizarre thought process somehow suggested that we did things specifically to screw our players. As if we were all sat around plotting what we could do next that would really make them angry. No developer thinks that!

It was really exciting though, don’t get me wrong. Certainly that was the first major entrepreneurial step that I’d taken, in terms of being there from day one, creating something from the ground up, both from the game standpoint and in terms of the company. I’d never trade that experience. Even with the fact that we ended up failing so spectacularly.

Above: A man of many talents

What have you learned from your 16 years of making PC games?

That very connectivity that helped the PC to explode, becoming a massively popular games machine in the first place, now feeds into our greatest challenge, as there’s now such a high bar for developers to hit when creating a PC game.

But that’s exactly what still makes PC gaming all so exciting. It’s that challenge that keeps me motivated as a developer, and so enthusiastic about going to work every day. What we do is so hugely different now from back in 1994. And that’s the exciting part.

Apr 21, 2010

INTERVIEW: Blizzard's loremaster gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the shaping of Azeroth

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