Blizzard’s ‘Overwatch’ Is A Remnant Of ‘Project Titan’ – Forbes

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Yesterday, Blizzard stunned the video game world by debuting their first new IP in 17 years. The game is Overwatch, a multiplayer shooter than blends elements of different genres and games, and perhaps is most similar to Team Team Fortress 2 from what we’ve seen so far

But past the existence of the IP and game itself, the most curious part of Overwatch is the timetable. At its BlizzCon reveal, Blizzard was able to show not just a cinematic trailer, but a gameplay video as well. Even past that, the game is actually playable at BlizzCon and will have a beta sometime in 2015. For Blizzard, known for preposterously long release tables, this is moving at lightning speed. So how is this possible?

There’s a pretty simple explanation. Overwatch has been Frankensteined to life from the corpse of Project Titan.

Blizzard recently cancelled the would-be MMO, causing many to applaud them for axing a game they deemed to be going nowhere even after sinking tons of time and money into its development. But they weren’t going to let all that hard work go to waste, and it seems to be the case that Overwatch has been spun out of Titan, perhaps even once existing as the game’s PvP mode.



Don’t believe me? Read this description of Titan from a Kotaku story that spoke to those who has seen the game in action:

Three people who saw the game have compared the aesthetics to Team Fortress 2, with one source describing it as a cross between StarCraft II’s in-game cinematics and Pixar’s The Incredibles. Your perspective would switch between first- and third-person based on whether you were heading into combat or hanging out in a city, according to two sources—not unlike Bungie’s Destiny….Players would be able to select from classes with names like Reaper, Jumper, Titan, Ranger, and Juggernaut, each of which had its own special combat abilities and items, according to a source. 

This almost 100% lines up to what we’re seeing with Overwatch, down to the near-future setting, the Pixar animation influences and even at least one of the names (Reaper). Overwatch is Titan, or at least it was.

This was also recently addressed directly by Blizzard VP Chris Metzen, who explained the connection between the two projects during a press conference:

“I’m not going to get into what [Titan] was going to be or what we wanted it to be. I can tell you what it was, in a way, it was frustrating. It was a big, giant idea; it was almost like six video games in one. It was the most ambitious game ever. It was fun to try to tackle it, and boy did we tackle it. We wrestled with it for a long time. And it sucked; we couldn’t figure it out. It makes you just [clenches his fist], we couldn’t crack it.

“Imagine this amazing team just frustrated. ‘Why can’t we do this?’ It’s trying to fret a chord and write the song. ‘We can’t write the song, why can’t it just sound awesome?’ Can’t find the harmony, whatever. And when we decided to go another way, like Jeff was saying, we’ve got this hook, ‘Why aren’t we doing that? We love that.’ And we decided to do it and, suddenly, ‘Boom!’ The music just exploded. And we started looking at [Overwatch] for what it was, and it unleashed this tidal wave of passion and certainty and distilled, clear ideas. And this world idea. It was just this monstrous thing of energy.”

Obviously there’s a significant amount of work in taking years and years of building an MMO and turning it into a frenetic multiplayer shooter. Even if many of the physical assets are in place, it’s still quite a leap to go from that kind of huge scale to something smaller.

Now the question is how Overwatch fits in with Blizzards other universes. It seems to be starting relatively small with a multiplayer-only title, but could this be the beginning of Blizzard building Overwatch into its fourth pillar? Will it grow and expand with its own lore and something like a single-player campaign? If so, perhaps it could eventually grow into the scale that they once envisioned for Titan, but it would be an ongoing process rather than the debut of some giant, massive universe all at once.

During the Overwatch debut, Blizzard said that they looked forward to building the game with players. Perhaps they found that years of internal testing on Titan just wasn’t a recipe to produce fun, so now they’re going to essentially start over with a loose framework in place from Titan, but allow fans to dictate where the series could go.

It’s kind of a fascinating story. Blizzard spent years building an MMO, but by the time they had anything substantial, MMOs weren’t as much of a powerhouse genre anymore. So thinking on their feet, they converted it into a genre that’s seldom explored (TF2 has relatively little competition) and just starting to expand (ie. Gearbox’s Battleborn, the oddly defunct Monday Night Combat). That’s an impressive bit of video game development judo.

Whether or not it will work is still anyone’s guess with the game only 48 hours old and still much to learn about it. But by going with a “what is dead may never die” philosophy with the Titan, they may have just done something extremely clever, and may manage to craft the universe they imagined, just with a different kind of roll-out and evolution.

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Blizzard’s ‘Overwatch’ Is A Remnant Of ‘Project Titan’ – Forbes