Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On Geekyleaks

MMO-Champion posted an assumingly “leaked” document presenting a roadmap for Blizzard’s game development the next few years.

Looking closer at it, I’m not sure it’s worth to get that much excited over and I find it hard to believe that someone at Blizzard will get fired over leaking this supposedly internal presentation intended for executives and/or shareholders.

For one thing: it’s rather old, eight months, and this kind of plans are subject to constant changes. It’s unlikely that it’s still that valuable to them from a business perspective.

And secondly: There isn’t all that much new in it, is there?

WoW in Portuguese
According to Boubouille it’s the first time someone confirms that WoW is planned to be launched in Portuguese. Big news? Barely.

I suppose it makes a few Brazilians woopie-di-do happy, but to be honest – if they launched WoW in Swedish, I’d rather stay where I am – with an English speaking game and community.

A guildie of mine recently made a guild map showing the locations of everyone in our guild. Every time I see that picture with dots in various corners of Europe it makes me smile. We’re so far away from each other and yet we’re close as we’re raiding as a team. It definitely adds something when you get the chance to get to know people from different countries and backgrounds.

The global character of MMOs and MMO communities is one of the things that attracts me in the first place, and I can’t see why I would be happier locking myself behind a language barrier.

The one reason I can see to insist on playing the game in your native tongue is if your English is so poor that you can’t understand the quest texts or what you’re supposed to do. We have to respect this and maybe that’s the case with Brasil, and maybe Blizzard has good business reasons for making this investment.

But I think many players who have basic skills in English will get on pretty well anyway, and as time passes, they’ll notice how they improve their language skills while having fun at the same time. I can’t think of a more entertaining way to learn a language!

In any case: WoW in Portuguese, would it come, is not breaking news.

The next MMO
The “leak” also shows that the next two expansions of WoW would be released with 1,5 year intervals. Sounds like a plan. So far they’ve said they have the ambition to have one year between them and they’ve ended up on two. On the other hand they might have streamlined the development process as they claim, so they can do it quicker in the future – which I suppose would please the Activision shareholders.

The final, probably most spectacular piece of information. is that the secret MMO is supposed to be released in two years time, in the end of 2013. I must say that I’m a bit sceptic to this suggestion – it sounds rather early considering there wasn’t a word about it mentioned at Blizzcon.

The Wikileaks of Geeks
So what will we make of it? Boubouille seems to think that the document probably is authentic, and he’s got a huge reputation for being right. But at the same time he warns us that “a kitten will die each time you use it as a fact or post about it on official forums”. So beware and take it with a pinch of salt! We don’t want dead kittens around, do we?

I think the most exciting thing about the document is the very idea that someone at Blizzard is leaking. If the players sign three agreements whenever there’s a new little patch coming, I can imagine the NDA:s the Blizzard employees have to agree to. What’s said in the Blizzard HQ:s is supposed to stay there. Period. Who dares to leak? And what motivates him or her? Vanity? The urge to feel important? Friendship? Bribes? Revenge? Or perhaps it’s just a matter of pure thoughtlessness? This assumed that the document is for real.

I couldn’t help smiling as someone quickly stated that this was the Wikileaks of Geeks. It sure comes out so nicely, rhymed and all.

Admittedly this is just one page and not hundreds and thousands. (Am I the only one to feel a little overwhelmed whenever we hear about the latest Wikileaks publishing? Is there anyone who actually can be bothered to read all those documents?)

But still. Geekyleaks is the word.


Grimmtooth said...

Honestly, production "roadmaps" don't change a lot. It would take a disaster to cause that to shift. This is the sort of chart that's put on powerpoint presentations for stockholders, upper management, and bean-counters. Chances are good that it was presented at a recent stockholder's meeting, assuming they have stockholders (not clear on that, and I have a meeting in like 30 seconds, so imma gonna just throw that out there and run run run).

Indy said...

Who's bothering to read all those documents? Our enemies, of course.

Tufva said...

Meh. That sums up my reaction. Whether it is real or not it is just boring corporate info. Couldn't care less - far too busy with the current game to ponder about when the next expansion may or may not arrive. :-)

Ratshag said...

When some of the stack of leaked documents discuss stuff like who might build a nuke or just how sane is that dude with a million-man army, yeah you can be sure some poor shmucks are gonna get stuck with the job of reading all of them. Sucks fer ta be them.

Larísa said...

@Indy: You mean Deathwing?

Analogue said...

Well, no one will get shot for this leak, which is what should happen to the wikileaks source guy. I have trouble finding much amusement in light hearted comparisons to that incident. My brother trained with and held the same job and responsibilities as the private who gave wikileaks all that data. The betrayal of trust and violation of oaths involved would have resulted in a firing squad in other times.

Shrug. Whereas this, if it's even legit, doesn't rise to the level of oathbreaking.

Larísa said...

: I'm sorry if I thread over a line making a lighthearted comparsion.

It's not my intention to be political about it at all; this isn't that kind of blog as you know. My focus is WoW and the WoW community.

I must admit that the sheer volume of information has kept me rather un-engaged in Wikileaks issues. While I think it's right to make public violations against Human rights such as torture, I'm not enough updated on the latest leaks to have a view on it.
Perhaps I should have realized that this is infected and painful, especially for the US audience. And if I've insulted you I apologize.

Asilwen said...

I guess I only have a valid comment for the plan for WoW expansions. One year kind of seems really short for an expansion to be relevant, and I have been pretty fine with what they've been doing which is around two years. Maybe that's me. Sure it would buff out the slow months between patches, but I feel like it would seem more like a race of raid progression if it was one year.

That's me, looking at it from a raiding perspective. Or maybe I'm over-exaggerating how long a year is. That could be it. Oh did you guys hear the sky is falling?

And really, all I got from this document was a reminder (followed by sadness) that we have to wait years for games, haha.

Andenthal said...

Boubouille has had insider information for ages now. This one is maybe just a little more juicy than the rest.

I'd find it hard to believe that they (Blizzard) haven't known about his insider source for a while now.

They may not know who it is, but they know he has one.

kaozz said...

Less than two years between expansions would make me happy!

I saw one similar to this a few years ago and (from what I remember) so far it's been pretty close to home.. wish I still has it to compare the two.

Indy said...

No, Larisa, I mean Al Queda in regards to Wikileaks. It's such an intelligence bonanza it's probably the best thing for terrorism since the invention of high explosives. What with Pakistan now having to refuse any aid in securing their weapons (to save face, I guess), it's now much more likely some city is going to be nuked someday.

I *wish* I meant Deathwing.

Larísa said...

@Indy: Let's pretend we're talking about Deathwing using Blizzard's internal memo to destroy Azeroth.


Angry Gamer said...

Er, yeah this is a big deal

New versions of WOW et al are tied to Blizzards/Activillians future revenue. So, billions of dollars in future revenue are being discussed in this "nothing new" slide.

For example Blizz is saying that Brazil is so important that it gets it's own launch version and development sequence slot. THAT means Brazil localization was an expensive proposition (probably like China) AND they are sequencing it with the expectation of major revenue, like cata launch. They will market it, sponsor carnival samba schools and pump the heck to get this revenue. This slide indicates how much Blizz is banking on this one alone.

It also sequences Diablo III. Since Diablo is a major franchise of Blzz/Act it is a big bubble of revenue when it goes. SO... yes knowing that Diablo will be later will impact Activillians stock price. AND impact Sony's internal deliberations about buying Actievil.

In reality this slide is money in the bank. Since in broad terms the only "play" left in actievil stock is the hope for a "hostile" takeover of Blizz with 2 suitors. Given that Evil Boy Kotick will sell out as soon as someone breathes offer... the buyout price will be low. (sad face no arbitrage opportunity for you goblin stock picker).

Any who... someone SHOULD get fired over this. Disclosures of this magnitude should get taken seriously. If Actievil had more frothy stock price I would definitely play this stock trade for the next 6 months based on the slide leak.

AND stock analysts at investment banks are PAID to be as smart as me. HINT- a great way to play this slide would be to short the stock after the BRAZIL! launch... there is no way that a Wow version localized to a BRIC can ever meet the hype level.

Kotick is so like 2 years behind any trend... like his Facebook hindquarters worship.

Grimmtooth said...

Wow, didn't take long for that one to jump the shark.

Larísa said...

: On the other hand it was dated 8 months back so I suppose it wasn't recently. And yes, they do have stockholders.

@Tufva: I actually think the corporate info is generally interesting. I'm always curious about what's going on behind the curtains, trying to spot the difference between the image they present publicly and how things really are. Even if you're in a transparent organization there's always a glitch. Always.

@Ratshag: Yeah, it's not a work I'd like to have.

@Asilwen: I do the same reflection. If two years was a stretch in the case of Wrath, one year would indeed feel too short.

: He appears to have inside sources; however in this case the leak originated somewhere else. He was linking somwhere else. But he has very rarely been wrong before so he's got quite some cred to live on.

@kaozz: there as a link in one of the comments to this post to an older leaked plan, posted in 2007 I think it was. Looking back at it it seemed so-and-so accurate. A big change was to go from 10 levels to 5 levels per expansion. (assuming that document wasn't a fake)

@Angry Gamer: hm... what you say makes a bit of sense. Which is why I'm not into the stock market. I fail at that kind of analysis!

Kurnak said...

There's another option you haven't considered: the fake leak. And I don't mean the document is fake, but the action of spreading it as if it was a leak/stolen/corporation spionage. It's a tactic used by a lot of companies to try to stir shareholders by thrilling consumers. It's a way of saying to the player base "we're going to do this and this" without an official announcement, yet the words will spread over the internet like wildfires. Now we have a codename for that secret MMO project. Imagine the rivers of electronic ink this will spur.
On switching to other realms due to language, in my case I'm also staying in my realm. Spanish realsm have existed for quite some time now, but I've never thought about switching, neither creating alts ont hem. Personally I find videogames translation to spanish very defficient if not rubbish at all. And even when the translation is good enough it feels very kinky, specially when translating composite names. Plaguelands has been translated as "Tierras de la Peste" when using "Tierras de Plaga" or "Tierras de la Plaga" would be more accurate ("peste" in spanish also translates as stench, and while it appears related would make look old Lordaeron like it's the land of the open sewers). And composite character names feel really not right in spanish. I prefer to see someone called Blackthorn than "Espinanegra". I don't know if native english people find these names awkward, but for me in spanish really are.
And for language improvement, in our guild we have a dutch woman (around or above her sixties) that didn't speak english when she started playing WoW, and now thanks to the game she's able to hold a very decent conversation.
Language issue aside the main reason for staying is the people you know. After so many time together I don't feel like hopping to another place without them. Our guild is also scattered around Europe, although 50% or so are icelanders we have people from Sweden, Norway, Germany, England, Latvia, Greece, Portugal...

Bronte said...

"Is there anyone who actually can be bothered to read all those documents?"

Uh, I do. That's my job, I work in media, currently placed in one of the most volatile places on earth: Pakistan. And a large volume of those documents relate to the country and adjacent regions (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. states).

Sifting through 250,000 documents is a daunting tasks. But thankfully the wikileaks websites has intelligently disseminated the documents into codes. "PK" for instance, leads to all documents that mention "Pakistan" in it. "SEC-DEF" lead to all documents with the Ban Ki Moon in them. It is still an arduous process, we still have to sift through thousands of documents, but not all 250,000 of them!

You might think it's crazy, but I love my job, and honestly can't get enough when things like this happen! :D

Syl said...

personally I think that's just a cleverly placed PR gag - leaked? hardly.

it just seems too funny a 'coincidence' this gets talked about the same week that wikileaks hit their documents off. a whistleblower hommage maybe or just an attempt to be clever. it's actually more common than we think it is.

Hiram Miller said...

I live in Brazil, and you are absolutely correct.
We're all used to playing games in english and many of us feel awkward to play titles in portuguese, it's a natural thing I guess.

One thing that can actually be big is to have actual servers in our country. We tend to have high latencies, simply due to distance. And this can hurt any kind of online gaming

tufva said...

I completely understand about the language issue. Even before I moved to England I had pretty much completely moved to reading all my favourite fantasy books in English rather than Swedish. Translators seem to have this need to translate names even though they are actually just names and should be left alone, the results can be horrific. *shudder*

klokbok said...

Breaking news: Deathwing said to be furious over leaked docoument. Threatens the world with a Cataclysm.

More to follow ...


Carra said...

Ten years ago they released a Dutch version of Black & White. People screamed!

The developer finally released a huge patch with the English voices & texts for the game.

Noone bothers translating games here except for games aimed at kids. People are happy with English games.

Weatherlight said...

Everyone forgets about Portugal! :'(

I'm portuguese and I doubt I'll ever change to a PT server. For starters European and Brasilian Portuguese are quite different languages, we sound awkward to each other as Hiram can certanly testify. And in any case I'm quite confortable around English.

Besides I do enjoy my little melting pot. Hearing some swedish cursing on Vent is a funny experience!!! Mocking our Italian officer and being mocked by the Dutch one is great. We can discuss sports on National Team Basis (the world cup was fun, except for the british),Oh what's your opinion on Curling Larissa?

PS: @Hiram, Where do the brasilian players ermmm... play? Mostly Europeam or US servers? I Very rarely find one, or maybe I just don't ask!

Larísa said...

@Kurnak: That's an option too, although I wonder if the PR department at Blizz is that cunning...
And translations are a difficult thing as you say. I'm currently rereading Harry Potter in the original instead of the Swedish translation I read aloud for my kids. And it's definitely an improvement.

@Bronte: If you've got that kind of job I bet it can be exciting. Pakistan, gosh. I'd never dare to set my foot there tbh. Yes, I'm a coward.

@Syl: Hm... Not sure about that. But it's a kind of fun idea.

@Hiram Miller: Oh, I can definitely understand the server issue. Possibly it's not as useful for marketing purposes though. People who consider starting to play have no idea about the importance of server locations, they don't even know about servers.

@Tufva: the worst example I guess is the former Swedish translation of LOTR where Åke Ohlmarks managed to not only add and take away details, but even mix up names, thus changing the story. "Shudders".

: I suppose the Brazilian players are on US servers, considering the time zones.

About the translation I definitely think that it's all about Brazil and ot Portugal. After all it's a very crowded country...

I think that if this comes true it will annoy some Turkish players. They've been campaigning for a Turkish translation in the forums but got very cold responses so far...

My opinions on curling or cursing? Hm. I can have both? I tried curling a few times in my low teens and it was actually pretty fun once you get over the silliness in it. Or maybe it's the silliness that makes it fun. i don't know. It's totally something I could do again, as a social activity. Even though I suck horribly.

If it was cursing: well, since cursing in a foreign language is about the most difficult thing you could do - it takes some skill to find the appropriate curse in a certain situation - it's not something I do a lot. But I actually like curses. My parents wrote a little book upon this topic once upon a time so I'm kind of grown up with a certain appreciation of the art of proper cursing. I know it sounds weird, but hey...

tankforlife said...

I feel it neccessary to point out that the leak in question is indeed authentic, and someone has already gotten fired because of it.

Read about it here:

Imak said...

Tufva: I think that the names should be translated too. In English, the English names often have a meaning. (Even if it's very subtle.) In other languages, the English names only mean the characters are English (or American or Australian... I suppose you get the point).

Larisa: I think that for every language there are players who campaign for WoW to be localized. (Unless a great majority of speakers is bilingual.) It's not just Turkey...

Weatherlight said...

It was Curling indeed. I love watching it but my friends don't understand me... Could have something to do with zero snow all year and an average temperature of 17ºC. ;)

But I have to say your insight on cursing and curses was well worth the bad wording on my part.

As for PT-WoW, Turkish-WoW, Italian-WoW, it's all in the numbers: 190 millions, vs 70 millions, plus one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Without any corparate knowledge it's not hard to see that it's a good investment for the future to create a portuguese suuport team. not only for WoW but also for any future games coming out.