He's the Man
Oct 17, 2007 08:24:30

Rob PardoHe's the man.

He is the vice-president of game design at Blizzard Entertainment. He was the lead designer for World of Warcraft. In 2006 he was named by Time Magazine as one of 100 most influential people IN THE WORLD. Who is he? His name is Rob Pardo.

If there is a god of gaming other than, perhaps, Michael Morhaime - Rob Pardo is it. Who is Micael Morhaime? Ah, I am glad you asked. Michael Morhaime is the president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. He is the man who uttered the following quote at Blizzcon 2007: in the opening speech:
"Because of your support, World of Warcraft has quickly grown to be the most popular on line game in the world. Since we were last together in Blizzcon '05 the global population of World of Warcraft has actually doubled. There are now more than 9 million residents of Azeroth - that is bigger than half of the countries in the world." - Michael Morhaime

But this is not his story. This is Rob Pardo's story. I thought that every person who played World of Warcraft by now would have known exactly who Rob Pardo is - apparently not. This is a fact that was recently drawn to my attention.

Rob Pardo was the man who led the team that designed World of Warcraft. Consider those words for a moment. This is a virtual country - Azeroth - whose residents number more than half of the world's countries. This is an individual who led the team of creative minds from which sprang the history, culture and look of the virtual world so many have come to know and love.

So what exactly is a game designer you may ask? Rob Pardo told Next-Gen.Biz the following:
"It's really hard to find game designers because as an industry we haven't defined what a game designer is. I find them in a lot of places like the mod community, through some game design schools and internally in development or QA or support. The number one thing I look for is an ability to deconstruct a game and look past the emotions that the game evokes and really see the mechanics behind the emotion." - Rob Pardo in "Pardo on the Creation of Wow"

There have been many, many articles trying to define the success that this man has helped create. The French say that something like this has "je ne sais quoi" - a certain indefinable something. Whatever that quality is, many have tried to duplicate it and failed. Some like Brad McQuaid's now defunct company Sigil that created Vanguard, miserable so. Some, like Turbine, have tried to learn lessons from the success of the King of the MMO Jungle - World of Warcraft.

The game that Rob Pardo designed is so incredibly engrossing, so involving, that there have been times I would have sworn that he just had to be in league with the devil. There are many reasons why people leave WoW. I left for a short time over the whole issue of the structure of end game and raid progression (see my earlier articles on the "Kharazan Wall"). I knew someone who told me she quit WoW for Vanguard "and never turned back." Yet just this last weekend I got an in game message from her. Like so many others - like me - she is back. I left WoW to go play Eve Online, and I came back. I left WoW to go play guildwars, and I came back VERY fast. I left WoW to go play Everquest 2 and I came back - pulled back by the virtual siren song that Rob Pardo helped create in a very big way.

Perhaps what most impresses me about Rob Pardo is not his creative genius but that despite being V.P. of the biggest game developer in the world he still has fun at what he does. The second an MMO becomes just a business the game stops being fun. Have you ever played a game like "Voyage Century"? It's an import game designed on a micro-transaction business model. It is also just a business - right down to the in game spam by the game developers. But not so for Rob Pardo; he has fun at what he does. Here is another quote from the article by Next-gen.biz:
"I work a regular nine-hour day on average but even when I go home I don't know if I'd call myself completely off work. I play a lot of games and for me games are still fun. It's a problem for a lot of designers in the industry that they sometimes stop having fun." - Rob Pardo

Does all this make me a fan girl? Looking back on this article I guess it does.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Oct 17, 2007 08:24:30 CST (comments: 4)


'Pardo' by Token
Submitted on 2007-10-17 11:12:18 CST
This guy raised the bar. Now we all need him to make a new game because nobody else knows how...

'good designer, will next MMOG be a success?' by Sente
Submitted on 2007-10-17 13:56:33 CST
He is probably a quite good MMOG designer and definitely a good game designer. Why would I only say probably on the MMOG part? Beacause he has only been involved with one successfull MMOG so far. For non-MMOG games has a number of successful games with the different Warcrafts and Starcraft, so he has obviously repeatable successes in that area.

Compare it to Brad MacQuaid who was a star game designer on Everquest. After Vanguard his second MMOG, who is singing his praise now? Brad did not really have any other

Richard Garriott has many successful games behind him and his first attempt into MMOG space (Ultima Online) was certainly a ground breaking game at that time. Soon his next MMOG Tabula Rasa will be released. Some like it, some have a more "meh" or negative view on the game.

Regardless of a single persons brilliance, they are still just one person working on something that is a big team effort also.

I think both Rob Pardo and Richard Garriott are very good game designers. Will the next MMOG they are involved with be a success or not? I really do not know.

'Pardo is bulletproof' by Brent
Submitted on 2007-10-17 14:39:06 CST
Before I make my main point, let me set the stage.

1. I've played a ton of WoW, but it isn't my go-to MMO. Never was, never will be. It simply isn't aimed at me, but I recognize the excellence.

2. Teasing and full on hate directed at Blizzard and Pardo is easy to come by - just like Microsoft and Bill Gates or Apple and Steve Jobs. As a result we see a ton of negative perspectives but can probably write it off to 'attacking the big guy syndrome'.

That being said, I've seen Rob Pardo speak on a few occasions. This is an experience a gamer won't easily forget and it has nothing to do with WoW or Warcraft or StarCraft. The man is rather brilliant. He has a amazing insight into game design and he has a way of taking a very complicated idea and putting into a tiny box and saying, "Here you go" that astounds me. Seeing as I spend a ton of time trying to take complicated topics and put them in bite size chunks, I find the man's ability to do so simply amazing. It isn't that he's a influential speaker and he's not even particularly well spoken - instead - he has supreme clarity of vision and the ability to communicate that vision very concisely. This ability no doubt translates to his day to day interactions with the large teams he works with, which means: We will continue to see sustained success from Rob Pardo.

(How's that for a concise summary of Rob Pardo?)

'brilliance' by Sente
Submitted on 2007-10-17 17:10:53 CST
Good points Brent, I have no doubt he is a brilliant man.

Still, MMOGs are team efforts which involves much work on server backend side which can provide some technical challenges other games do not see. A game designer need to understand and adapt to those challenges, but there will also likely be a need to be people who can be brilliant in the area of high performance highly available distributed architecture solutions - not just making such solutions, but also be good in communicating challenges, possibilities and limitations so that the right decisions can be made.
If he is a new Da Vinci and masters those areas as well, then he should be cloned and distributed ;)

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