How Blizzard turns fans into employees

“My interview took place right after the first Blizzcon,” he said. “I really felt like Blizzard was, and still is, a paradise for the way games should be done. Many of the business leaders are video game makers. We understand the player’s philosophy a bit. “

Brack conjures up a refrain that you hear constantly as you spend time in the games industry. Blizzard is not the largest or most profitable publisher in the industry. (In reality, it’s not even in the top five.) But traditionally, he’s worn a bespoke aura of milk and honey that none of the other major players – neither EA, nor Ubisoft, nor Microsoft – can muster. It’s hard to say why. Obviously, Blizzard has some remarkable bona fide gameplay; the company’s multiverse is beloved and untouchable, and it often seems like everyone who identifies as gamers has at least one Blizzard franchise that obsesses them. But there’s also that weird ethereal quality to its mystique – as if the studio represents the game-dev equivalent of Shangri-La. You feel it from the moment you walk into the Irvine, Calif. Campus and stand under the tanned orc warrior which keeps the circumference of gray and sunny office buildings. Even if you have no curiosity about 3D modeling or AI or any of the other grubby challenges that come with building a video game, you’ll still want to join the cult.

Cora Georgiou would know. She tells me that she majored in communication in college and never expected to work in a game studio. After graduating, she got involved in the esports scene. from Hearthstone where she commented on the tense playoff games between wordless Grandmasters, but had grown tired of the inconsistency in contract work. That’s when she saw an offer for a Hearthstone design job. Georgiou suspected she would be out of his reach, but resolved to shoot him anyway.

“I used to be the expert in the room, and now I was the little fish in a big pond. I went through every step of the process with no hope of going any further, and then I was offered a job and it was very, very real, ”she says. “I was traveling across the country doing something that I didn’t really let myself think I could do.

Georgiou believes her passion for Hearthstone – which spanned five years of travel, tournaments, and endless changes in the broadcast booth – has helped her cripple the elements of game design she learns on the job. She might not be a balance maestro or a C # prodigy, but she Is know how much the community hated the patch meta. Sometimes that’s more than enough, and certainly enough for Blizzard who saw it as essential to their staff.

“You know how the design philosophy has changed over time. You know which mechanics worked and which didn’t. You know what separates a good theme from a great theme. You know exactly what models we have. already achieved, “said Georgiou. “It’s just knowledge that we are recovering

time because we love to play so much. We know what we love most about playing Hearthstone, and what we don’t like. “

Alec Dawson, another Hearthstone developer who previously broadcast tournaments for the game, mentions that in total there are five former competitive players on his squad. Sometimes, thanks to their sixth sense of synergies hidden in the cards, they can signal an overpowered combo long before other developers realize it.

“[They can] tell you what’s going to be broken when the next series comes out. They’ll use their competitive side to smash whatever you throw at them, ”Dawson said. In fact, a recent recruit took our team-wide play test and decided he wanted to build his own decks instead. I only remember this because in our QA report it was pointed out that a player used an unassigned Mage deck and then went up to 13-1. “

Allen Adham, one of Blizzard’s co-founders, says keeping new blood like Georgiou and Dawson in the company’s brigades is essential. The instincts of a superfan can challenge the orthodoxy established by those who have been around a project since pre-Alpha. As Adham says, game development is a lot like cocooned in a spaceship. You bounce ideas off the same handful of people every day, and sometimes an injection of fresh blood may be needed to break the echo chamber. However, Brack also mentions that sometimes a growler’s perspective on a game’s needs can be skewed as well. A rental that has played for 300 days World of warcraft does not necessarily guarantee that they will be a great developer. “Someone who is really hardcore won’t understand the user experience for the first time, or someone who is a 35-year-old dad getting into the game,” he said. “You have to get tested for this.”

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