Hello, everyone.Frank and I wanted to send a message out to all of our players around the world becausetoday is a very special day for Blizzard Entertainment.The company turns twenty years old, which is absolutely incredible.When we first started the company, back in 1991, there were just three of us. We really just wanted to use this opportunity to thank you for all these years of support because without you, we wouldn’t be able to continue doing what we do.
The community that has built up around Blizzard and our games... it's really exciting for us.We're very appreciative, and humbled by the support we get from around the globe. Our games wouldn’t be possible without you guys.So, it’s really awesome that we have a community that shares our intense passion for gaming and holds us to an even higher standard of quality than we hold ourselves.
The passion that you guys have for gaming is evident. We absolutely love the feedback, so keep it coming.It really helps us push ourselves to be even better, and we really do want to continue meeting and exceeding your expectations with even more cool stuff in the future.
I’ve pretty much since Apple 2’s existedbeen interested in playing games.So since I was a kid, I’ve known thatI either wanted to run a candy factory,because Willy Wonka was my favorite movie growing upor run a game shop, so that was sort of the inception of the idea.So I had no idea that this was all going to turn into Blizzard,I actually thought making games would be fun,and managed to talk a couple of cool guys in collegeinto coming on board, and here we are 20 years later...I met Allen, actually my last year at UCLAI noticed there was this guy in both of my classesand there was one day, Allen and I both showed up early,to the computer architecture class and I saw himand I thought I'd be really smart, because I thought,he looked Israeli so I said, “where in Israel are you from?”And he looked at me kind of puzzled, he said,“What?” and I said, “Where are you from?”And he said, “Oh, I’m from Egypt.”I don’t remember that but that’s the one Mike tells,the one I remember is, we were sitting side by sideat UCLA in one of the computer Labs,and I had gotten up to go get a coffee, go to the bathroom,and I had locked my computer system.And when I came back, I sat down,I typed in my passwordthe system unlocked and I kept working.and this guy sitting next to me who I didn’t know was Mike turned to me and said,“Hey, how did you do that?”And I said, “Um, do what?”He said, “While you were gone, your system unlocked itself,and I relocked it using my password?”So it turned out, and what are the chances,that Mike and I were both using the same password,to lock our computer systems.He graduated slightly before me, about three months,maybe six months, but he kind of knew what the plan was,And he was down here in Irvine, working at Western Digital....He got it in his head that I should quit my job at Western Digitaland go into business with him making games...Much to the chagrin of his parents, his father in particularthought it was crazy to leave a good jobfor this crazy start up with a 22 year old kid,but I think his dad knows he made the right decision now.I borrowed 15,000 from my grandmother,10,000 went into the company and 5,000 went into my bank account,and that’s pretty much what I lived off of for the next two years.Frank was a similar story.We were also both in the Computer Science Department...I attended UCLA to study Computer Science and Engineering,and while I was there I was fortunate enough to meet Allen Adham,through a mutual acquaintance.We had an AI class together, Artificial Intelligence,and it was so boring...it was so boring I used to ditch all the time.And I would go to Ackerman Union at UCLA and play videogames.I would always see the same guy there.He had the same AI class, I think we saw each other the first day,and maybe on test days, and that was about it,because we were both always ditching and playing videogames...When I was growing up, I always felt that I wanted to make videogames,but I really had no idea how to go about doing it.Allen also knew that he wanted to make videogames,but he knew exactly how he wanted to go about doing it.And right after Allen graduated, we happened to chat on the phoneand he talked about... Frank I wanna talk to you about what I’m doing next,I want you to be a part of it, and he invited me to make computer games with him.I left my job at Rockwell and I came to work with Allen andthat was actually the first time I met Mike Morhaime was the first day...We built desks together, that was our first day...It was a very small space. About six hundred square feet and,right out the gate we started working on ports of Amiga and Mac Titles.Which was actually really great exposure for usbecause having never authored code for a computer game before,this gave us a huge code base to look at...There was this attitude that it didn’t matter what our project was,we were going to learn how to do it andwe could learn anything we set our minds to.Initially we were called, “Silicon and Synapse.”Silicon the building blocks of a computerand Synapse the building block of the human mind...Computers, brains, creativity, technology, nobody got it...What we actually got over the phone was,“Isn’t that what you put in women’s breasts implants? And what the hell is a synapse?”You know, when we first started we had this idea that,we were looking for smart, passionate people, who loved games,loved learning about game development,we just wanted to make great games, it was really as simple as that...Our biggest criteria is we wanted kinda cool peoplewho we thought would vibe with the company, who played videogames,and that applied to everybody...I think the pre-Warcraft Orcs and Humans era of Blizzard,really allowed us to grow the talent pool at the company...We hired our first 3d artist, his name was Joeyray Hall,Our early hires and art group were like, Sam came in, Samwise...I saw an ad in the newspaper. Said, “Make art for Videogames.”And that was all it said. Really descriptive. I think a programmer wrote it.Computer programming we just wanted guys that werereally into games and were really into computer coding.Bob came in, he was obviously a DnD geek and an excellent programer...I walk in, in my ’I love toxic waste’ t-shirt with a Tazmanian Devil on the front,with shorts, sandals, andapparently it struck a cord with the three guys there...So I came in, for the interview.And the first thing I saw was this cute little receptionist,named Frank Pearce...At the time they had me answering the phones,and honestly I don’t think I’m the best person to beanswering the phones because I don’t always have the most pleasant personality,He opened up his mouth and said, “Ya, can I help you?”I said, “Yeah, I’m here to see Allen Adham.”“Well Allen’s at a meeting, hang on I’ll talk to Mike.”So I met with Mike. I had my portfolio of art that basically consisted of,every piece of art I had framed on the wall.I just threw into a big case and brought it in.And after that he showed it to Allen and they offered me the job there.They hired me to work on Rock N' Roll Racing.Written for the Super Nintendo.It was a new version of RPM Racingthat the company had done as one of their first start up games...We were I think the first American developerto develop and release a title for the Super FamicomAnd we did it, we were literally using untranslated Japanese documents.Rock N' Roll Racing, I didn’t work on that.When I started it was just sort of a normal racing gameand very much just an evolution of theRPM Racing we had been doing.It was also kind of funny because we knew thatrace car games should have cool driving music.And before Rock N' Roll Racingnobody had really used rock music before at all.So I programmed Rock N' Roll Racingusing an assembly language for 6502 Processor,Heemeeheemee.We added spaceships and space aliensand all sorts of laser car sort of stuff,and we just kind of evolved it into a little bit cooler style of game.Again some of the Blizzard influence developing there,where instead of doing the normal cars,we made rocket cars with lasers and guns and that kind of stuff.And that plus the fact that it was an excellent game,“Rock N' Roll Racing” took racing game of the year that year.So the first SNES title that I worked on in ernest was, “Lost Vikings”and we had almost everyone in the office working on that project.When I started on Lost Vikings there were abouta hundred vikings you could control.Some that would raise up ladders, some that would throw torches,that sort of thing, it was very PC Game oriented.We were sort of inspired by Lemmings.The little PC game where you had a ton of little guys,and they would sort of just walk around the screen...so we decided to make it a little bit more friendly for the Super Nintendo,and we dropped it down to five characters, then to four,then to three.But it also had a lot of puzzles and a lot of level design,and a lot more creative stuff that we were putting intothat we had needed previously.For Lost Vikings, I was responsible for doing all the layouts,for all of the puzzles and the levels within Lost Vikings.We used a program called CED that Mike Morhaimehad written for this purpose to lay things out.CED, the Cell Editor, this was my first project at Blizzard.It was a C++ project, written completely in zortec C ++and to learn how to program in C++.It was also the first forerunner for the map editor,that would later become part of StarCraft and Warcraftand our games moving forward.And that’s kind of our first move for taking sort of PC style artwork,And bringing it more into the Blizzard Art stylewhere it’s a little more cartoonyit’s a little bit more accessible to the console market,It went on to win Puzzle Game of the year,in the same year that Rock N' Roll Racingwon racing game of the year.So our tiny little company with abouttwenty employees won two of the topseven awards that year.Keep in mind we were competing with some of the companieslike Sega and Nintendo and Konami and CapcomI think we may have been the only company to wintwo of the seven top awards.I was the lead programming guy on Blackthornewhich was one of the few games that we did over the yearsthat didn’t actually have a multiplayer component to it.It was inspired by a couple of cool games that at the time we thought were really funblends between puzzle games and shooters.Blackthorne was actually our first rotoscope game.We actually took Frank Pearce out in the back alley andgot him to jump over a bunch of wood and got him to run andclimb ladders and things like that and we’d video tape him.And then we’d come back in and we’d draw over him for the character.It was a little bit dry and a little bit boring so we ended up makingIt on some far off planet and for some reason this guywith the dirty shirt and jeans is a prince.And like all princes they have shotguns.It was a pretty quick development, I don’t remember it taking very long.When I think back on Blackthorne, the funny thing I think about itis that the 2 artists that were primarily responsible for creating thecharacter art for Blackthorne both had long stringy hair.And if you look at all the character art in Blackthorne, including the main character,they’ve got this long stringy hair.And it’s like, wow these artists basically created this character art in their own image.And so I think we need more diversity among our artists working on any one project so that we get diversity in that character art.I guess the other funny story to go along with that was that we had to change the name in Europe from Blackthorne to Blackhawk.Blackthorn turns out to be a really popular brand of beer in Europe so it’d be like if we had named our product “Budweiser.”In the early years, the company pretty much lived on royaltieswe got from the games we worked on or the ports that we worked on,but there were times when there just wasn’t enough money to pay salaries and stuff like that.On paper it always looked like we were just a couple months away from being completely in the blackand having a windfall of excess cash to work with and it never really happened.Mike and I tried to shelter everybody from anything other than making the games.We found out that you could actually get interest free advances on your discovery card by going to the super market and getting cash back.They would go and they would cash in their credit cards at the local market and then put the money in the bank account so that they can still make payroll.And although we never missed the payroll, it’s really a miracle that we never missed a payroll because we were always a week away from being unable to make payroll.And some people knew about this, and some people didn’t.And those of us that did, we knew the kind of people these men are and we knew then that we would work for these people forever.And so it was a pretty lean couple of years early on, but amazingly still super, super fun.The company sort of grew beyond the point where our Discover cards couldn’t handle it anymore,so we each went to our parents and we got them to each put $20,000 into a bank account, so $40,000,And at the time that we sold the company to Davidson and Associates, we completely maxed out the $40,000 credit line and so it was pretty tight for the first few years.So that was a period where we were transitioning from being a 3rd party developer where we would make products for other companies based on their ideas.The next step up was sort of being a joint developer where we would take our own concepts and pitch them, like Lost Vikings.And then we decided we wanted to try self publishing and we had started with Warcraft.The idea there was that it would still be published by an established publisher who had distribution, but we would control the packaging.We would sort of control the marketing and our name would go on the front of the box.In the middle of that process Bob and Jan Davidson came along.We became aware of Silicon & Synapse because we had a product called kid works which needed to be transformed into Windows.They took on the project. They did it on budget, on time.I heard about Silicon & Synapse when I started at Davidson and Associates.And interestingly enough when I arrived, first thing I was asked to do was contractual due diligence to acquire this little company that Davidson was looking at.Our interest in buying them came because we had achieved a larger and larger market share of the education software market; and a larger,much larger business, was the entertainment side of PC software.One night Bob just said to Allen, he goes: “How much do you want”and Allen gave him an astronomical amount thinking that Bob would go “no way, that’s way too much,” and Bob said yes.We were a public company at the time, I believe , and so we had the wherewithal to do that,but we didn’t know if they had an interest in selling, but I guess Interplay made them an offer or approached them about acquiring more of them.Interplay, back in those days, was the cream of the crop.They were an excellent company and had a lot of really good people.We always thought that, well, Interplay had a bit of an advantage because they were culturally aligned with the folks at Silicon & Synapse.On the other hand, we were adults, and one of the things they were looking for was adults to do the business side of the business.They basically said, “Nothing has to change.You guys continue doing just what you’re doing now, you guys are really good at making games, we’re really good at educational software,we’ll handle the sales and distribution for you but nothing has to change. Keep doing what you’re doing.”These guys are creative, and you can’t control creative talent. You’ve got to let it do what it’s going to do.And I said they’re more than creative, they understand their consumers. They are their consumers.Finally, on a Friday Allen called me and said, “You know, your company is really very attractive,but you know we’ve been doing business with Interplay for quite a while and we think we are going to go that direction.”And Jan came in my office a little while later, and I said, “Well the guys down at Silicon & Synapse have decided to go to Interplay.”She said: “Really? Can I talk to Allen?”I said: “Be my guest,” and she did. I’ll let her describe that conversation.Well I called him up and I said, “You have made a big mistake.”And he said, “Well you know, we’ve been sitting on the floor and we were thinking that we may have done the worst thing we could have done to ourselves.”And I said: “You made a big mistake and I want you to think about it some more.”The following Monday Allen called me and he said, “I’ve been thinking about what Jan has said all weekend and I didn’t get a minute’s sleep”And I’m thinking, “That’s pretty good.”Finally, he said, ”You know, we really want adults. We really want the business acumen that we see with the folks at Davidson.”He said, “We’re going to change our mind, we’ll go with you.”They said that we would be able to completely retain our creative control over the games we were makingand that has managed to allow us to protect our autonomy all of these years.I think we’ve got a setup that is totally unique in terms of divisions of larger organizations having this type of autonomy.It wasn’t hard for us to allow Blizzard to do its thing, but there was always a little caveat; as long as it was working.If it’s not working, we may have to do something, but it always worked. There wasn’t a time when it didn’t work.Well, I think any name change for our company was destined to be better than Silicon & Synapse.At some point Allen decided: “We need to change our name.”So there was a sort of brainstorming effort and we wound up with “Chaos Studios.”Which we felt was pretty representative of our development process, which I’m told is still representative of our development process.A lot of people thought it said “chaus” or “chads.”And then we got a phone call from a company called “Chaos Technologies.”They’re based out in Florida and they basically said, “Hey, we have the name ’Chaos’ but we’re happy to let you continue using it,But it will cost you $100,000” and we said “oo, okay, no thanks, we’ll pick a different name.”One of the first things that happened after the acquisition was that Allen calls and said,“We had a big meeting and we don’t like the name Chaos anymore we want to change it.”So we were going through some other ideas and then we had an idea for “Ogre Studios”Well, at the time we already were a part of Davidson and Associates andwhen Allen presented the new name “Ogre Studios” to Jan Davidson, she hated it.I said “aww, mmm, that’s interesting.” Can I get back to you on that? So I had a little chat with Jan and she had kind of an initial ’thump’....Thought that the name might be a little scary for the kidsI called Allen back and I said, “You know, I did promise you that you’d have your own independence and this is kind of embarrassing,but this does seem to have some impact according to Jan and our marketing folks and they know better than I on our business.”So we ended up changing that name as well to something a little bit more friendly,and I think the way we figured it out was Allen came in one weekend with seven words he picked out of the dictionary.“Midnight Studios” was one, which sort of sounds like a porn company maybe, and “Blizzard Entertainment” which came up clean andthankfully we navigated all of those mediocre and sometimes bad names and wound up with a really awesome name like “Blizzard.”We went from “boobies” to “ogres” to “chads” to “Blizzard.”I remember, this was 100 years ago, a chap by the name of Chris Metzen came in and he walked into my office.Allen was showing him around. And he noticed I had a lot of D&D stuff on the walls and so he and I were immediately connected there. Geeks.I was playing with a band many years ago and one of the gigs we were doing I guess I was drawing on a cocktail napkin or something.A friend of a friend came by and saw it and said: “Hey there’s a place down in Costa Mesa hiring for artists.”And I didn’t really know what the place was, I thought it was some sort of graphic arts firm, but at the time I figured:“Hey if they’re going to pay me to draw, that sounds pretty good.”And I rolled down on a Friday morning and met a very charming man named Joeyray.I think his first words coming out of his mouth were, “What the hell do you want?”Some of the time we weren’t exactly the most pleasant people to be talking to.We would answer phones like, “WHAT?” and Allen would come out and yell at us and say, “you can’t answer the phone like that guys.” I’m like, “Okay, fine.”And I put some of my drawings down on a desk and he went and got the boss, a guy named Allen Adham,and he invited me back and we talked for a little bit and he asked me if I wanted a job and I told him I would sweep his floors.I just knew that the place I’d walked into and the people I met that day, that was home.It was basically back in the day, a lot of geeks playing a lot of different games and listening to heavy metal and rock ’n’ roll and all that.There were a lot of shenanigans, a bunch of yahoos running around with Nerf guns.Nobody knows how the Jawa wall came to be.One day someone got a hold of a little yellow block of post-it notes and I don’t remember who drew it first but someone drew,like a Jawa and we were like: “haha it’s funny, a Jawa”People started screwing with the integrity of the Jawa name.All these artists were drawing, and we had one that had this particularly big afro and these big glasses,and it was just very very angry flippin’ the bird, and that was “JawaRay Hall.” That was pretty funny....And mixing it up with classic heroes like: “Jawa Wayne”“Jawaptimus Prime” or there’d be a Jawa chasing a jeep, that was “Jawassic Park”From Samurai Shodown: “Jawan Fu”A guitarist smashing a Jawa with his foot, and that was the “Jawa-Wa Pedal”The whole wall was filled with it. And then days later it was gone.It was like a shadow of a memory.And I still look back to those days with longing but alas they are no more. Thanks HR.We had been making a lot of games for the console and everything.We had kind of pushed to be a little more thicker and chunkier.The first thing I worked on for Blizzard was “Justice League Task Force.”It was like a Street Fighter-type game with super heroes which lit me up like a Christmas tree.This game was special because we learned a very valuable lesson in this, that Superman,no matter what you’ve seen, cannot kick.I moved on, I think they tried me out on tile sets for Lost Vikings 2.I started with Blizzard in ’94 and I was quickly put into a bull pen with Micky Nielson, Dave Berggren and Chris Metzen.I didn’t really know Metzen at the time.I remember we were all just starting to learn 3-D and it was a pain in the butt because we had all come from a very traditional background, artistic background.All the artists were transitioning over to 3D MAX- the whole industry was going 3D.I remember being very intimidated by the program.So I’m like... oh no, I hope I can keep this job, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do this.I remember Chris cussing.I’m like, ah that guy's cussing. I don’t know if they allow that in the workplace.I remember just hearing him pull back and just (expletives: snort a loogie.)I wound up, uh, I think spitting on my screen in frustration.I look over and I’m like... Dude that guys getting fired.And I remember for the next week every time I’d come in I’m like,how’s he still here, how did that guy not get fired?In those days we wore a lot of hats. Everyone wore a lot of hats.You had your set job, in my case it was doing art or stuff like that, but I also was a receptionist.We also did all QA ourselves. We also did all tech support ourselves.I was one of two people that was in charge of Tech-Support.So we would basically take telephone calls during the day, (tech support calls during the day.)And then in the evening we would go to Frys or Micro Center or whateverand pick up hardware to come and install on people's computers.So we did a lot of stuff.Any time that you could do more than one thing it was always appreciated,and we always just jumped in... that’s the way we were.We’d have artists working on Death and Return of Superman one day,then working on Justice League Task Force the next day, and then starting at this new little game...I don’t know what it was called...Warcraft!At the time a lot of us really liked Dune II, the game from Westwood Studios.But we were the first company apart from Westwood to recognize the value of the RTS genre.The evolution of the Warcraft universe was probably a very awkward process.Most of its ideas were just this kind of amalgamation of the different designers and the people working on it at the time.It was pretty classic fantasy stuff.So we were making characters, orcs and humans and all this sort of thing,but they just look kinda small and unrealistic, and kinda doink.One of the reasons was because they were small...and doink.Sam Didier and some of the lead artists kinda got involved- the idea of creating kind of these interlocked ideasor cultures really allowed these guys to springboard the art design process.That was our attempt at doing something that was a little bit more... fun and fast and fantasy,But not boring Medieval fantasy with little doinky swords and guys with little chain mail hoods.No we had cool stuff like orcs with horns coming out of the sides of their helmet,and all kinds of teeth and dwarfs and all that.Warcraft was such a hit, that Blizzard really became a known developer.Everybody in the industry went wow.It became game of the year and that raised a lot of eyebrows- the 2nd year they weren’t any longer the new kid on the block.Around the time that we started jamming Warcraft II,I remember feeling very intensely that,wouldn’t it be fun to blow this thing out really, to have multiple kingdoms and continents and more races involved,each with their own kind of distinct flavor in history.Ultimately there were many years between Warcraft II and Warcraft III.We had cut our teeth on a few other games types or universes that allowed us to grow and really get ourstorytelling values in line so by the time Warcraft III came about, we were ready to attack that thing.We knew who we were as artists.We knew who we were as storytellers and the ideas came much freer and much clearer and it definitely had heart.The cinematics were fantastic, in some ways- still feel like those cinematics were the high watermark for the industry,and I think it will just continue.I think we will see over the next 10 or 20 years as this sort of artistic ceiling on what we can do in real time continues to rise.It was also a very important project for me because I wanted to really define the art style for Blizzard.It was probably one of the first times that me and Metzen really worked focused very closely together on the storytelling.I set the bar pretty high in my mind and to achieve that it took a lot of late nights.Cinematics department actually,I guess the seeds of that started way back during the development of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.I think we had one person in the cinematics department,that was Joeyray Hall.I was the original cinematics person at Blizzard Entertainment because I had 3D experience.He created these sort of...by today’s standards very rudimentary looking 3D zoom-ins on the mapBy Warcraft II we had started building up a lot more 3D stuff and bringing in more people.Before I started at Blizzard I was going pre-med and a buddy of mine was working at Blizzard and kept telling me you gotta check this thing out.And I remember walking into the office on Red Hill and thinking...Ok this is home... this is the coolest place ever, why would I ever leave.The Cinematics department was created around about the time of Diablo.We set out to basically prove ourselves, we did the intro to Diablo and at the time it was pretty cool.I look back on it now and cringe but I guess it was pretty cool.The idea for Diablo really came from the guys over at Condor which eventually became Blizzard North.They were a solid team, young like us very good.Originally Diablo was going to be a turn based Claymation role-playing game.And we said... Well, we think the kind of core of the idea is excellent but let us show you what we’re doing with 3D these days,So we kinda re-directed them from Claymation to 3D.Lets try to imagine what Diablo would have looked like if it were done with Claymation.Diablo seemed a little dark to me, but by that time I was not going to question Blizzard.I mean we had already had two products each which went number 1 - that wasn’t a coincidence.With Warcraft II we offered network play and what happened was people wanted to be able to play it over the internet,But we hadn’t actually provided facilities for that so with Diablo,we decided that we should be providing that matchmaking functionality and that was really where the original idea for Battle.net came from.We always talked about one button access.We wanted to be able to just push one button and be playing with your friends.It was intended to be simple and not have to enter IP addresses and all kind of stuff like that.A really easy way for people to find each other and share the gaming experiences they wanted to play together.For us it was a no-brainer because every day after work and during work we would be playing Samurai Shodown or Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat,And there was just no more satisfying a feeling than whooping your friend versus whooping a computer A.I.One of my claims to fame is I actually defeated Roman Kenny in Street Fighter II using my feet.And I would also make sure that after that game anyone else who wanted to play me played with the foot controller so they got my funk on their hands.And they were kinda playing like...uhhhhh, and so I would defeat them too. Defeat- look at that!So we had done Warcraft II and we were going to start working on a space based RTS game.What geek amongst us didn’t grow up wanting to work on Star Wars,so StarCraft was an opportunity to dig out a different kind of space opera.It was just a whole bunch of us just throwing crazy ideas around until ultimately you hadthe Zerg and the Protoss and the cinematics department was just getting up off the ground.We knew we wanted to make cinematics.The thing was, there really was not a flushed out story for the game yet.What we decided to do was create some pieces that could be used in a variety of ways.Matt and Dwayne had already started working on the intro and things like that and doing pieces that they thought were going to really sell the Terrans as red-necks.We went through the sort of idea of hey why don’t we put orcs in space and have it be orcs and humans, except set in space.That was actually an idea we thought about.We had just taken the Warcraft II engine and created some new art almost basically skinned Warcraft II for a science fiction theme.Brought it to a consumers electronic show and showed it off and everybody goes...Oh yeah, orcs in space.We were like, no, it’s not orcs in space.It turns out at the time we were very proud of it but by the time the end of the show rolled around we were actually I think, a little bit embarrassed.And really got our asses kicked. We saw what everybody else was doing.We realized very quickly that we had to change it.About a year in, we completely scrapped the art and switched to a more advanced sort of isometric perspective and it really took on a nice clean advanced look.I said, alright give me a couple weeks, a month, something like that,I’ll do a whole new engine.When I come out of the room I’ll have a new engine and you can use that to make StarCraft. So that’s what I did.Every day for a month leading up to December I said at midnight to all 50 of us who were still there working 7 days a week,don’t worry we are in the home stretch.Of course we were nowhere near the home stretch.We thought we were gonna ship that game in 1997,maybe even earlier than that if you think of when we started doing the orcs in space version.For the team the crunch lasted for about 8 months.Kept telling us we were in the home stretch and we were days away.Well, months were passing and he kept telling us the same thing and for some reason we kept buying it.It didn’t come out I think until April.But honestly I look back on it rather fondly.I took off maybe 18 hours, because that’s how long it took for Garrett to be born...Garrett’s my son.I have this feeling, you know, that entire team was kinda in the zone.My wife slept on the couch while I laid my son 3-days old on a towel on my desk next to my keyboard.Really productive. Really effective.Doing a lot of great work knowing we were working on something really important.I’m sitting there...here have a bottle. Just keep on working.And that was, you know, that was family time at Blizzard in the early days.That’s how I dealt with family in crunch.It was just a really important project, something we could be proud of.When we first started working on World of Warcraft it really was sort of the natural evolution of things.By the point that we decided to really do it, we were already knee deep in the development of Warcraft III.We kind of envisioned one day we would want to bring the universe of Warcraft to life in sort of a persistent universe game, that you could be an individual character within this living breathing world.It was a very organic thing to look at the world that was taking shape in terms of the Warcraft III product and really translating those ideas to a much more open ended real time world.In many ways they were kind of co-developed.The team got behind it and we started to figure out how do we want to build this MMO?What do we want to do different?We wanted something that was a little faster paced action; less grind involved.So that you’re not sitting around waiting.You know, I remember when we first started on World of Warcraft,And it was this vast, rich, colorful world.And so to sit down and play it and be really immersed in itand to find it so compelling, it definitely felt like something that was special.The first creature that we made was called a Furbolg.You would kill these Furbolgs and they would drop a nipple ring which was one of their treasures.The early development of WoW was awesome; the team was pretty amazing.I remember for probably the first month that I joined, they called me FNGI was so happy when we hired the next guy after meAnd I no longer had to be FNG.By the time we put out the original WoW, it was one of those game worldsthat really knew what it was.And I think that was part of the vibe that people experienced when they jumpedinto the product.They just felt like every rock was placed with love and care.Typically in game development, when you put a place holder model in,you put just a checkerboard box.It’s obvious this is not the right modelsomeone had the bright idea that if they took a picture of me and put it on that cubethat that would be better because then obviously I would see that andIt would encourage me to get the artist to fix that piece of artwork.And so the first bug that we got in our alpha was,“Why is Billy Joel looking at me?” and, “Why is Ponch from CHiPs on my shoulder?”His shoulder pad was missing so there was a cube of me on his shoulder.Yeah, that’s the story of the Shane cube.We can make our orcs into heroes, we can have our goblins fly around on jet packs.I mean, it’s a big, goofy, free universe of infinite possibility.By the end of the project we had sixty people on the team and took us five years to make.We crunched a lot, the team crunched much longer than we probably should have.Cuz it was pretty harsh. We crunched for like two years at the end there.But I think we all felt like not only have we poured blood, sweat and tearsinto the game, but it was great as it possibly could be.World of Warcraft has really taken on a life of its own in terms ofthe scope and the scale and the size of the community.But, nobody really appreciated how transformational that game would beto the organization in terms of what it took to operate a game like that.There’s just countless things that we had to learn and that we hadnever experienced really at this scale prior to launching WoW.It’s been a life changer and a company changer, a game changer,an industry changer.We had capacity plans for the first year for World of Warcraftof somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 in North America.And we blew through that capacity in the first month.We had to actually stop shipping boxes multiple times to retail during the first yearbecause we didn’t have the capacity to support the players.And so there was this mad scramble to get more equipmentand to try and make sure the experience for the users went well.So it was nothing that we could have even fathomed to plan for ahead of time.Every single department was affected when we launched World of Warcraft.And had to deal with the massive amount of success,the number of players that came in.And so we really had to scale up the entire business.And we were frantically trying to ship patches for the gamewith an understaffed development team.And I remember some of the first people to join Team 2 were some of the mostinspirational people to get on the team because they so loved what we were doing.That’s when J. Allen Brack joined the team.I was brought in to be the Senior producer for the art team.Been a huge fan of Blizzard for always, since back in the Warcraft days.Played a lot of multiplayer Warcraft, lot of Warcraft II.There was such energy that these people were bringing.They kind of brought the message with them, do you guys realize how awesomethe game you guys made is?I feel like all the new talent brought life back to WoWafter we were sitting there licking our wounds after the rough launch.Even back then, even when we blew through our capacityin our first month for our first year, I don’t think that any of us had any ideathat we would be hitting the 1 million active player mark,The 2 million active player mark, the 5 million active player mark,and then to have surpassed the 10 million active player markwas far and away beyond I think almost everyone’s expectations.The Lore story of Adham saying, “One day this game will have 1 million subscribers!”And everyone (Laughs), that will never happen.If there’s anything that we’ve learned in our time here, it’s we’re not greatat predicting the future.I really have to hand it to the people that helped us build that game intothe game that it is today.Because it really took a lot of hard work, it took a lot of commitmentand it didn’t just happen by accident.It happened because the people here at Blizzard made that happen.I think it shocked and surprised people.It changed the way people thought of things.It changed the social aspects of gaming and took it to an entirely different level.I think we’ve done something that is going to be hard to matchand candidly will potentially only be matched by our next big MMO.Hey, my name’s Chris Sigaty, I’m production director on StarCraft II.My first job here was in QA.I was actually going to college at the time, wanted a summer joband what brought me to Blizzard was gaming.So, StarCraft II was a huge undertaking and the first step in itwas figuring out that we wanted to do StarCraft II.It took 12 years between the time we released the first Starcraftand got around to start delivering StarCraft II.Oh yeah, when did we start on StarCraft II?What was it, 7 years ago? Whaaaat, 7?What I remember about it is the leadership at that time sat around and decided,yes we’re going to make StarCraft II.And I still think I have this document which was:Okay, we’re going to make StarCraft II? StarCraft II is going to hearken to the Legacy.It’s going to largely feel like and play like the original game in 3D of course.And then we’re going to do something really cool with single player and thenwe’re going to do something really cool with the online service.Story telling is a really important component of all the games that we make also.With StarCraft II we recognized that was going to be important.And we really built on that whole flexible storytelling experience.The team is fantastic; we’ve got really a very strong personality helping leadthe team which is Sammy and he’s got such a great ability influence peoplein a very positive manner.You had to have a real dedication to rise up before the crack of noonand show yourselves, and that’s difficult.As you all know, all artists are also designers, so we can design our own games.But, we have designers here now to help us out.I started out working for Rob Pardo on StarCraft.We did stuff on units and structures, we got to work on missions.Then I got a chance to take on more of a leadership role on StarCraft II.We hired a bunch of guys, put together a balance team and really startedtrying to put the game together.I wrote the A.I. for everything actually, StarCraft and a lot of StarCraft II.I’ve always been looking for ways to make the computer not cheat.In StarCraft II we’ve completely eliminated all forms of cheating,all forms of effective cheating.You cannot tell the difference between a human and the computer anymore.We’re trying to remake this classic game that we’ve all been playingoff and on for 10 different years now.And I think there was a lot of legitimate fear and dread on the development teamthat we could accomplish this task.That we could actually make a game that was hopefully worthy of the Starcraft name.One of the best PC games of all time.Probably the best strategy game of all time.When we started on StarCraft and released it, I think everyone knew it wasa fun game and had high hopes for it.I’m really proud of what we delivered from a story telling experience for StarCraft II.The multiplayer experience is awesome as well and the Battle.net experience is awesome as well.To see how far StarCraft went is really incredible.Blizzard is turning 20 years old and at this point in a company’s history youstart looking at not only what has come in the past but what is Blizzard’s legacy.The future, the future is big.20 years is a long time, but I think we want Blizzard to persist long afterthe leadership that’s currently in charge is gone.You know, if you look at a company like Disney as an example,Disney’s been around for 80 years.20 years in they haven’t even invented half their best films or haven’t even done Disneyland yet.So when you think about it from that stand point,I think that our best days are still ahead of us and we still have our golden age ahead of us.Our goal to be a company that does the most incredible gaming experience,that develops those and creates those is something that’s part of our DNAthat we’re going to continue with for a long time to come.Things weren’t always the way they are now actually things were quite different15 years ago and they’ve evolved to be the way they are now and we’re still evolving.And so it’s not this static thing that is Blizzard Entertainment.It’s a very dynamic, growing, evolving thing.Everyone here truly loves these products, that’s a big deal.How many companies in the world, you go to work, you have a great jobyou pay the bills. I don’t know how many places there are out there wherepeople truly believe in what they’re doing.That many places that truly engender the level of pride that you associate with thatlogo, that little blue logo. Means a lot to me.As long as they have good people who are focused and dedicated to makingthe very very best games, with that experience that others can’t deliver,they’re going to do extremely well.I think that our pipeline at Blizzard, the games that we’re working on I think are really awesome.I think that we’re still positioned better than any other company to beleader in online games globally.We get to be at the forefront of a new entertainment medium.With games, we have the opportunity to have new game mechanic paradigms,or new technology, or have the ability to link up thousands of players.And it’s just super exciting to be able to offer whole new ways to interact with entertainment.After all the change that has occurred in our company, and all the growth; the globalizationIt’s a very different kind of company than it was way back in the day.The growth and complexity and scale of the games that we’re making,that has been outpaced by the number of people around the world that areinterested in playing our games.A big part of what Blizzard wants to do is to make our great games availableto as many people around the world as possible.I think one of the things that’s really cool in our offices around the world isthe amazing amount of diversity that we have with the people there.But who all share the passion around the products and who love the Blizzard culture.With the dominance of World of Wacraft, Blizzard might have a tendency to kind of wantto defend that franchise for as long as possible.I know there’s other things in the works and I think that’s excellent.I think that team should go straight at World of Warcraft trying to takeevery customer that World of Warcraft had.Because if we don’t then somebody else will.I think it’s more important than ever that all of us who have been at Blizzard for a long timethat we really take the time and talk to the new employees and teach them aboutour culture, teach them about our values.And make sure that we stay Blizzard.Teaching the next generation of employees to understand that that is importantand that those values do really go to the heart of the people who have been here forever.That is the foundation for Blizzard in the past, the Blizzard today and Blizzard in the future.As long as we remember where our foundation is, and what’s made us successful to this point,and keep that in mind in everything that we’re doing then definitely the future of Blizzardcan be very bright.