It’s crazy how fast a year can fly by when you’re busy learning about game mechanics, design theory and of course, modelling your own 3D octopus. And even though I can hardly believe it, I find myself working in the industry as a Project Manager Intern at Demonware.
For readers that may not know what Demonware is or what they do, here is a quick backgrounder for you: Demonware is a subsidiary company of Activision Blizzard that provides game studios online software and services so that they can focus on creating great gameplay experiences. In the meanwhile, Demonware works to make all of the multiplayer magic – matchmaking, leaderboards and game lobbies – happen behind-the-scenes. Some of the titles that Demonware supports are arguably the most anticipated games to come out this year - Destiny and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
I originally started playing World of Warcraft back in late 2006, a few months before the release of the game’s first expansion. From when I started and playing and to when I thought I was done with the game, I always felt that it was one of the best online experiences a gamer could have. I admit that I didn’t play the game nearly as much as I used to during the game’s latest two expansions, but I have a feeling that could change with my excitement for the latest expansion. In light of the recent announcement, I thought I’d touch on a few highlights.
Last week at Blizzard’s yearly convention, Blizzcon, the next World of Warcraft expansion was unveiled – the fifth in the game’s history. Warlords of Draenor brings players back to continent of Draenor, or Outland as its currently known, which was originally visited during the game’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Unlike previous expansions, Warlords of Draenor takes place in the past on a different timeline to what’s currently happening in the world.
Story wise, former Horde Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, has escaped imprisonment with the help of a new friend who can bend time. With his help, Garrosh goes back in time to enlist the old Horde into his new Iron Horde before they have the chance to succumb to the will of the Burning Legion. With his new Iron Horde, Garrosh intends to conquer the present world of Azeroth. However, both the Alliance and Horde follow him back through time to put a stop to his plans.
The expansion is set to add plenty of new content upon release, although the addition of a new playable race or class appears to be absent from this expansion. In previous expansions, Blizzard has either introduced a new race of class, or both in the case of the game’s most recent expansion. However, with 13 playable races and 11 classes, it doesn’t seem like something that will be missed too much.
My first step1 towards the video games industry was to come to Vancouver Film School to study Game Design in 2011, uprooting both my wife and our three beautiful, intelligent housepets to brave the rain, long hours, and Canucks fans on the Skytrain. I graduated in August of 2012, and just shy of two months later was successful in landing my first job in games interning as an Assistant Development Manager at Relic Entertainment.
I was thrilled, of course. By combing through Relic’s back-catalog of Triple-A games you can see that the studio hasn’t just paid lip-service to their mandates of innovation, passion, and pride in their work. Every game they’ve made, from the legendary Homeworld to the highest-rated RTS of all time, Company of Heroes, sought to break new ground. They are innovators and risk-takers in a risk-averse triple-A industry space, and I was proud to be there.
When I started in November of 2012, Relic was under the umbrella of venerable games publisher THQ, and when my internship ended in March, the studio was owned by SEGA. While the story of that transition ultimately started years ago (and is thus beyond the scope of this article), I want to share with you the shorter version of having a front-row seat to the final stages of that often stressful and surprising transition.