So in this blog post I'm interested in the essay "The Game Design
Process" by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. What draws me to this topic
has been my interest in the design process of Blizzard's expansion to
the World of Warcraft, entitled The Wrath of the Lich King. Ever since
the open beta testing began its been quite interesting reading the
related forums to see both play-tester feedback and the developer
notes. More postings have been possibly the most interesting because
both the players and the devs have begun to feel the deadline creep up
on them. WoW has a extremely large player base and so this design
process will be affecting a lot people when its released.
The first thing I'd like to point out is a quote from the essay "because iterative design is an open-ended process, a strong vision for the player's experience helps to structure the process. At any moment in the cycle of iteration, a game designer might try out thousands of different rule tweaks and variations- why choose this modification over that one?" I feel that so far in the design process Blizzard's development team has kept this idea in mind. I say that because there has been constant information exchange among play testers and devs. For instance, there is a play-tester by the name of Jayde on the beta forums who is considered to be a spokesman for the deathkinght game class on the forums. He writes well thought posts designed to help the develpors make a better game and devs respond to him and other posters explaining why certain changes are being made. Here is a video Jayde posted about his experiences in the beta dueling characters with his death knight. http://files.filefront.com/Jayde+Duel+Schoolwmv/;11865962;/fileinfo.html A note about this video is that the aforementioned tweaking of the game made the video obsolete less than twenty four hours after Jayde posting it.
A second thing I want to comment on is how open developers from Blizzard, such as Ghostcrawler, are about this second quote from the essay "Because iterative design is an open-ended process, a strong vision for the player's experience helps to structure the process. At any moment in the cycle of iteration, a game designer might try out thousands of different rule tweaks and variations- why choose this modification over that one?" There are regular discussions on the forums with lines like this from Ghostcrawler "That is a pretty major change so we want to make sure it's needed (for Lich King ship -- we could always add it as a later patch). We would need to reorganize the tree, adjust trainers, perhaps change other talents to affect it, perhaps change glyphs, and all of that assumes we get the numbers close on the first attempt. More than likely it would take a lot of iteration. " So I feel that this has been a great opportunity to follow a major game through iterative software development that has lasted for months and will in the end affect over 10million people.
Jayde can be found posting on blogs at http://jadefury.blogspot.com
Ghostcrawler and other members of the Blizzard development team can be found posting about the new Wrath of the Lich King at http://beta.worldofwarcraft.com/forums