Perhaps the airlines lost someone’s luggage, since Gamasutra has just gotten around to posting the transcript of an interview they conducted with Kevin Martens and Julian Love at Blizzcon, four weeks ago. (Ironically, we interviewed the same 2 guys.) Late or not, it’s a nice interview, and while it doesn’t probe for new game info, it hits some interesting, general interest topics. Several questions on art design, coverage of Blizzard’s iterative design process, the non-death of PC gaming, stylized character design, and more. A quote:
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I notice you significantly redesigned parts of the Barbarian again after his previous unveiling. It’s interesting to see the character undergo those changes from outside the studio. As far as that general iterative process you described earlier, does it feel in practical terms that you essentially have an indefinite amount of time to spend on any particular game? At what point do you say, “Well, we do need to ship this game”?
Kevin Martens: I would say when all of the elements are at an equal level of not just quality—not just how polished and balanced it is—but also an equal level of awesome. One of the reasons we keep retooling the Barbarian stuff—some of the Barbarian skills were done a long time ago—is because as we added a new class or added higher level skills in, we did something else that was more awesome. And part of the Blizzard design is that if something is too awesome, we generally try to make everything else as awesome as opposed to pulling that one back.
That’s one of the reasons that the iteration takes a while, but it’s also one of the reasons why everything is over the top. The example about art—you find the line by crossing it—applies to the design as well. You make things way cool, smashy, explodey—everything. Then you pull it back a little bit, for balance reasons more than anything.
Julian Love: There is another thing I could mention to round that out. There is kind of a sign we look for internally, which is when we can’t get any more work done on the game because everybody’s busy playing it. That’s when we know it’s ready to go. I’ve had that experience within the company. It’s just like, “Okay, nobody’s working. Everybody’s playing. Maybe it’s time to go.”