Titan (Blizzard Entertainment project)

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Titan was the project name for a cancelled Blizzard Entertainment massively multiplayer online game. With speculation regarding the game beginning in 2007, Blizzard revealed little information besides that it would be completely new and not be based on the company's three main franchises.

The game was internally canceled by Blizzard in May 2013, though publicly they announced that the project would be delayed as they took the title in a different direction.[1][2] Its official cancellation was made in September 2014.[3] Internally, about forty members of the Titan project used the developed assets to craft a new game which became Overwatch.[4]

Gameplay[edit]

The exact details of how Titan would have played are not known, but Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan, who served on the Titan development team and became the director for Overwatch, identified that the game was a class-based shooter game. Players would have selected a character from several classes, which granted them initial abilities. As they progressed in the game, they would gain points to use to spend on a skill tree for that character. Kaplan said that near the point of Titan's cancellation, the variety of skills they had in the game led to overpowered combinations, and described the result as "very cluttered and confused".[5][6]

Shortly after the cancellation announcement Kotaku ran an article in which they described the game as "a massive multiplayer PC game in which players could both maintain non-combat professions and shoot their way through death-matches on a sci-fi version of Earth."[7] According to the article, which was sourced by anonymous employees who worked on the project, the game would take place on a near-future earth where the player would take on a "mundane job" during the day while fighting enemies at night.[7]

Development[edit]

In 2007, users on a Blizzard Internet forum speculated that the game was in development after the company published job listings for character and environment artists to work on a "Next-Gen MMO" that was "Top Secret." A Blizzard community representative confirmed that the postings were for an unannounced game that was not an expansion for World of Warcraft.[8] Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Blizzard COO Paul Sams, and Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime all verified that it was a new game in 2008.[9][10][11][12] A confidential project schedule was released without the company's consent in November 2010. It showed a project titled "Titan" with a release date in the fourth quarter of 2013. Blizzard China's general manager either resigned or was terminated after the leak.[13]

At the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce told gaming blog Destructoid that the studio had begun talking about the title as a recruitment tool.[14] Morhaime spoke of the game in broad terms during a panel discussion at the 2011 D.I.C.E. Summit. He said that the company had its most experienced MMO developers working on the project. He explained that they were using lessons from the years of working on World of Warcraft, and he also emphasized the significance of players gaming with people they know as opposed to strangers. Morhaime believed that World of Warcraft and Titan, upon its release, would be able to co-exist on the market.[15] He had made a similar statement in 2008 when he told Wired magazine that the game would be so different that it would not compete.[16]

In an interview with Gamasutra in March 2011, Sams revealed that the game was playable and laid out a vision for the project to "still be growing strong" in ten, fifteen or twenty years, having "set a new mark in the industry."[17] By September 2012, development had grown from small teams focusing on concepts to a team of over 100 people and Blizzard vice president of game design Rob Pardo said that the game was "in the middle of development", noting that it would be a "very big project that's got a long ways to go".[18][19]

On May 28, 2013, it was reported that development on the project had been rebooted, with seventy percent of the team moving to other Blizzard projects and the release date delayed. Blizzard spokesperson Shon Damron confirmed the development status, stating that the remaining core developers would be working to accommodate new technology into the game.[1] Blizzard president Mike Morhaime stated that the company was in the process of selecting a new direction for the project and re-envisioning what they want the game to be. He said that the game was "unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG", and that there were no official announced or projected release dates. Morhaime noted that Blizzard has gone through this sort of iterative development process with previous games.[2]

On September 23, 2014, Morhaime revealed in an interview with Polygon that production of Titan had been cancelled.[3]

Transition to Overwatch[edit]

While Blizzard publicly stated that Titan had been delayed in May 2013 as they refocused its development,[1] the game had already been canceled internally. Of the 140 members on the Titan team, only 40 were kept in a group to develop a new IP, while the others were transitioned into other departments within Blizzard.[20][6]

The remaining Titan group of 40, which included Kaplan and Chris Metzen, were told they needed to come up with a new idea in about six weeks, or otherwise they too would be transferred to other departments.[20][6] Taking inspiration from team-based shooters like Team Fortress 2 and the popularity of multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), the team used some of the existing Titan assets to develop a prototype game, where players would select pre-defined hero characters with different types of abilities and skills, and face off in team-based matches.[21] Metzen also said that due to the recent failure of Titan, the group suffered from poor morale, but the idea of a team-based shooter invigorated them, and helped to establish a optimistic narrative taking place in the near-future of Earth, encompassing a range of diverse heroes and characters.[22] The prototype game proved successful, and the team set off to develop what would become Blizzard's fourth major IP, Overwatch.[20] Some Overwatch assets can be traced to their Titan roots, such as the character Tracer, who originally was one of the skins available for the Jumper class in Titan, and the map "Temple of Anubis" that had been developed for Titan.[4] Overwatch was formally announced on November 7, 2014, and released May 26, 2016.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Takahashi, Dean (May 28, 2013). "Blizzard delays unannounced MMO until 2016, resets whole project". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Bramblet, Matthew (August 1, 2013). "Diablo III Announcement Coming at Gamescon - Activision Blizzard Q2 2013 earnings report details the Blizzard All-Star progress and 'Project Titan' revamp". Diablo Somepage. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Kollar, Philip (September 23, 2014). "Blizzard cancels its next-gen MMO Titan after seven years". Polygon. 
  4. ^ a b "Overwatch includes pieces of Blizzard's canceled MMO Titan". Polygon. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ "He was a failed poet who became the director of one of the most popular games in the world". Glixel. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c {{Cite web | url = http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-03-14-blizzards-jeff-kaplan-traces-line-from-project-titan-to-overwatch | title = Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan traces line from Project Titan to Overwatch | first = Wesley | last= Yin-Poole | date = March 14, 2017 | accessdate = March 14, 2017 | work = Eurogamer }
  7. ^ a b Schreier, Jason. "Here's What Blizzard's Titan MMO Actually Was". Kotaku. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ Kollar, Philip (December 12, 2007). "Blizzard Confirms New MMO In Development". 1UP.com. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ Thorsen, Tor (September 4, 2009). "Blizzard's next MMOG to have 'more broad appeal'". GameSpot. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ Bailey, Kat (November 13, 2008). "Blizzard Says New MMO Will Be "Cool, New, And Different"". 1UP.com. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  11. ^ Pereira, Chris (February 10, 2011). "After WoW: Blizzard's Next MMO". 1UP.com. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  12. ^ Cavallii, Earnest (October 26, 2008). "Q&A: Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime on DRM, WoW and the Next MMO". Wired. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  13. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (December 8, 2010). "Rumor: Blizzard leak reveals 5-year product plan". ZDNet. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  14. ^ Magrino, Tom (December 7, 2010). "Following purportedly leaked release schedule, cofounder Frank Pearce says studio has begun talking about title as a recruitment tool.". GameSpot. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  15. ^ Kuchera, Ben (February 10, 2011). "Blizzard CEO talks new, unannounced title". Ars Technica. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  16. ^ Peters, Mathew (May 4, 2009). "Blizzard: Next MMORPG 'brand new' IP". GameSpot. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Interview: Blizzard COO Sams Says 'Many Years In Front' of WoW". Gamasutra. March 8, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  18. ^ Petitte, Omri (September 28, 2012). "Titan's team is over 100 people". PC Gamer. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Mists of Pandaria Interview with Rob Pardo". YouTube video. 
  20. ^ a b c Graft, Kris (February 22, 2017). "How Overwatch's bleak beginnings turned into positivity and inclusiveness". Gamasutra. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  21. ^ O'Dwyer, Danny; Haywald, Justin (April 26, 2016). "The Story of Overwatch: The Complete Jeff Kaplan Interview". GameSpot. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  22. ^ O'Dwyer, Danny; Haywald, Justin (April 25, 2016). "The Story of Overwatch: The Complete Chris Metzen Interview". GameSpot. Retrieved June 2, 2016.