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what's up everyone how you doing I'm
glad I could be here to host your
hangover i want to say I'm extremely
humbled to be in front of so many of you
you guys have created experiences that
have made me so happy as a gamer so on
behalf of all gamers out there myself
thank you for what you guys have done i
also want to give a shout-out to my team
it's always a little awkward at blizzard
because everything we do is a team
effort so whenever we put one of us
I like to remind everybody that
everything we do at blizzard is a team
effort i think a lot of you guys who
work on team-based games understand how
important the team is so to my team I'm
honored to be speaking on your behalf
hopefully I don't screw it up so world
building is the theme of this year's
dice summit and it's one of my favorite
things about video games it's it's
probably the area that I feel most
comfortable in so it's very excited to
be asked to talk about world-building as
it relates to overwatch so what I want
to do is start with a concept from one
of the movies that we made called recall
and in this movie it features a doctor
named Harold Winston who has a baby gorrila
on the moon and at one point that the
baby girl had never seen anything beyond
just boring moonscape his whole life and
he has this moment where he shows baby
Winston what planet earth looks like and
he says never accept the world as it
appears to be but dare to see it for
what it could be and I feel like this
more than anything else really sums up
the world-building philosophy on
overwatch and I'm going to come back to
this later on so i just wanted to share
this with you and remind you of it so
the story actually begins with the
project before overwatch which was a
project called titan so Titan was to be
a successor MMO to world of warcraft
it's something that we began development
on in 2007 and for various reasons we
ran into a lot of trouble on the project
and ultimately in may of 2013
we had to put an end to the to the
project which is very rough because at
that time the team had grown to be about
a hundred and forty developers and we
were really emotionally invested in what
we were trying to do with the game so as
may of 2013 rolled around we got the
team in the room 140 people 80 of us
were told that we would be permanently
relocated to other teams within blizzard
we'd go on to work on Diablo hearthstone
world of warcraft heroes of the storm
starcraft 2 etc about another 20 of the
developers would be long-term loans on
those projects and what long-term to us
means is anywhere from six months to two
years so you were going to come back to
the shit to the Titan team anytime soon
what was left was a group of about forty
developers who were given the task of
come up with a new idea for a blizzard
game in six weeks and if we came up with
a concept that was compelling enough we
would move forward and we make that one
of our next projects if we didn't come
up with something that was super
compelling we too would be redistributed
to the other teams at blizzard
needless to say it was it very daunting
almost devastating sort of mindset that
the team was in because we were unsure
of what our future was going to be and
it was during this time that overwatch
was born
now I've been a blizzard for almost 15
years and I always thought in the early
years at work at blizzard that one the
dreams that I had as a blizzard
developer was having the opportunity to
come up with a new blizzard game
it seemed like it would be the most fun
sort of inspiring activity but fast
forward to may have 2013 we were going
through that process in a period of sort
of despair there wasn't a lot of hope on
the team we were very nervous about what
our future was so we started off with an
ideation process and we came up we
decided to sort of split our six weeks
up into these two week blocks so we
spent two weeks on an MMO that was in
the blue another blizzard universe that
we haven't made an MMO and a lot of
choices for you to figure out which it
and then we also spent another two weeks
on a brand new MMO that took place and
completely new intellectual property and
during this time almost on the side we
started cooking up this idea that became
overwatch and where the idea came from
was we had an amazing artist by the name
of Arnold saying who was drawing these
fantastic character designs have done
many of them back on project tighten and
we were sort of looking at his work and
then at the same time as we were doing
these MMO pitch ideas with a class
designer by the name of Jeff Goodman who
had also been an encounter designer did
all the big raid bosses on world of
warcraft and he had all these amazing
class designs and we started to think
about you know well what if we took
Arnold and Jeff you know strengths and
put them together and that really led to
the project that was to become overwatch
so this was an early rendition that
Arnold did of what the overwatch lineup
might be and some of these characters
were actually taken from the project
before which was project tighten and
there's a lot of inspiration that we had
taken from Titan in particular title was
a game that wanted to take place on
planet earth and we had this sort of
concept of a future worth fighting for
that was coined on Titan but we were
never able to figure it out and make it
fast-forward to overwatch and we were
starting to figure it out more we had a
really talented artist by the name of
Ben zhang who this was in I think June
of 2013 where he created this concept
picture we start talking about how we
want it over watch to play and how we
want to overwatch to feel and been made
this image that I think really holds up
today for those of you have seen over
watching knows what the game looks like
this was almost like a guiding light
image for us about the game that we
wanted to create and I need to say this
for our subreddit so it doesn't implode
know the hero in this
Center is not the hero who thinks think
it is thank you for putting up with the
head so as you guys know Blizzard has
been fortunate enough to work in some
very exciting IP spaces and world
building is something that we really
enjoyed doing is one of our favorite
things we've been fortunate enough to
explore high fantasy in the Warcraft
universe we've been lucky enough to go
to high science fiction and starcraft
and then also gothic fantasy in diablo I
think any blizzard developer feels very
comfortable in these spaces if you got
to go up to blizzard developer and say
hey we need an idea for a diablo dungeon
or we need an idea for a starcraft
planet or warcraft zone
this is our natural comfort space but
with overwatch like with project titan
we wanted to push ourselves into a new
frontier that we haven't explored and
that blizzard that challenging frontier
happened to be planet earth and it was
really daunting to us for awhile on
titan we really struggled our developers
would often ask the question what's cool
about planet earth we love these fantasy
universes that we explore we love these
science fiction universes that we
explore but what is so interesting about
planet earth to us that we can make a
blizzard game that takes place there so
our first step was to sort of study you
know how were other games approaching
planet earth or what was really going on
in gaming around planet earth and we
found I mean there's a lot going on and
when you put things like sports games to
the side for a second and look at the
universe building that was happening
there there was some incredible stuff so
you know starting off an obvious one is
post-apocalyptic and some of the most
beautiful games of our era were
post-apocalyptic I look at a game like
last of us which I think we can all
agree on is is pretty much a masterpiece
or fallout 4 so some incredible work
being done in this space and it didn't
feel like there was a lot of breathing
room for us to make a new statement
felt like a very daunting place for us
to go equally daunting to us because
some incredible games were being built
in the space was realism I think I've
lost more hours of my life to the
battlefield and call of duty series than
anyone have frequently told the story
about how world of warcraft production
literally shut down for a week when the
battlefield 1942 wake island demo came
out i'm not sure how many of you
remember that but we just stopped work
and pretty much bombed each other for a
week and we actually it was one of those
moments where you get the team talking
to like okay that's enough battlefield
guys it's time to get back to making
world of warcraft so we decided you know
like with tight and we wanted to go back
we want to finish the challenge and
finish with this work this future world
worth fighting for we weren't seeing a
lot of games exploring the space of what
is near future earth but in a sort of
positive hopeful way and this is the
place where we wanted to be and we
wanted to explore so as we embarked on
this journey to two world bill was to
become the overwatch version of Earth we
actually started with world of warcraft
and we look back on some of our basic
tenants of world-building from World of
Warcraft and the pictures that I've
chosen to show behind me are very
deliberate it's the human starting area
of world of warcraft for those of you
not familiar with it and it encompasses
Elwynn forest red Ridge duskwood and
Westfall and these areas are unique
because they each have their own special
story but the variation is what was
important to us they very deliberately
our art director on overwatch who
happened to be the art director on
original world of warcraft at the time
always talks about color theory of
location and these areas and where are
very deliberately green red yellow and
blue has an immediate emotional impact
on players for those of you who played
World of Warcraft i always use the
of that moment when you wander from
Ellen forest and you cross the river
into duskwood you immediately have an
emotional change that happens and you
know something different is happening
and we really want to take this concept
of variation and bring it into this new
world we're building for overwatch the
other lesson that we learned from World
of Warcraft is what I like to refer to
as the burning crusade lesson so burning
crusade introduce a new planet to world
of warcraft one called outland it was
very familiar to players of warcraft to
they had seen it before and and it was
familiar to warcraft three players but
Burning Crusade was very interesting to
us from a developer's standpoint I think
a lot of game developers and a lot of
you in this room we have a hyper
sensitive geek radar and what I mean by
that is we are extremely attracted to
things that are different and sort of
challenging more so i think than your
average person so we have the the
concept art that i'm showing behind his
friends owns like hellfire peninsula
another storm shadow moon valley and
blades edge mountains and immediately as
game developers we responded to these
areas like these are the coolest places
ever i can't wait to build them i can't
wait to go there as a player
what we found out over time is that
environments like this can actually be
very oppressive and fatiguing two
players and in a game where you hope
that players spend hundreds if not
thousands of hours you kind of need a
visual and a tonal break from the
oppressiveness every so often so in
burning crusade we start to see players
hang out more and more in a ground or
going to tarik our forests or even back
to starting areas like stormwind in the
old world because they found places like
netherstorm and shadow moon valley so
utterly oppressive so this was a lesson
we immediately thought of with overwatch
our goal is to make the game very
approachable we wanted it to feel as
inclusive as possible we wanted as many
hey gamers in the world to feel like
overwatch was a place that they were
so when it came to world building an
overwatch we started to ask the question
ok we're making this game that takes
place on planet earth where would you
want to spend time on planet Earth
what's cool and fun so what are some
vacation spots so santorini greece which
is the place on the Left someplace I've
always wanted to go on my life literally
dreamed as a fantasy for me like wow I
would be so great to go there
look so beautiful I've seen so many
pictures and on the right is our map
called illios which is RO Maj to
santorini greece so we started really
with this concept of you know visit
places that people have always wanted to
go to and might not ever have the
opportunity to get to in their lifetime
if they're going to spend hundreds and
hundreds or thousands of hours there
make it somewhere you want to be not
somewhere you're a oppressed by we also
wanted to be hopeful i have talked about
how a bright hopeful vision of a planet
earth was what we were sort of after so
my slide has not advanced correctly so
we're having a technical moment here so
Iraq was another place we wanted to go
to now if you look at how Iraq has been
portrayed in video games for the past 10
years i would describe it as usually
war-torn a place of conflict a place of
little hope but overwatch takes place 60
years in the future and we were asking
ourselves on the overwatch team could we
imagine a better future for Iraq is it
really necessary to show dusty streets
or bombed-out buildings anymore
haven't we seen enough of that not only
in video games but in the world so can
we please imagine a better future for
iraq so the overwatch vision of Iraq is
that as one of the most technical
advanced cities in the world exists in
Iraq and it was built by a group of
scientists and researchers hoping to
make an even better future for people on
planet earth so that's that was our
vision of it and where all this is going
to sort of that old cliché that fantasy
is greater than reality and there's
nothing new here it's it's all about
tapping in to the imagination of your
players and your players can imagine
things far greater than then we can
build them and we really wanted to to
run with this this kind of idea that
fantasy is greater than reality and I
have a couple stories that that I think
some this up better than than any others
so what is the story of Hollywood which
is one of the locations and overwatch
now I grew up in Southern California
while i was in college i interned for
four years at Universal Pictures and
when I was a teenager I used to hang out
on melrose boulevard going into the
vinyl record stores and trying to buy
imports goddamn fucking each end so
records where this thing was kidding but
I spent a lot of time in Hollywood
growing up and when it came time to make
a map and over watch that took place in
the u.s. myself and Chris Metzen who's
creative director really wanted to do
something in Hollywood we thought it was
one of those strong fantasies of you
know people who weren't from California
or who had never been there probably
would like to spend some time in
Hollywood and we're very fortunate at
blizzard to have an amazingly talented
environmental our team but our
environmental our team is comprised of a
lot of foreign folks so we have people
from Belgium Sweden portugal brazil for
the list goes on and none of them are
from Southern California so they start
building this Hollywood map and it's
looking amazing like they build the
streets of Hollywood and we're just
blown away at like what their vision was
for that map but when it came to work on
the backlot portion of the map they
didn't really know what a Hollywood
backlot was so we set him up on a day
trip to one of the studios
to check out the backlog get an idea
what soundstages look like that sort of
thing and it was fantastic they got a
ton of great reference but there was
this unfortunate moment where they drove
through hollywood on the way home and
they get back to the studio and they
start redoing the streets of Hollywood
in it and they're Sanchez they do this
totally different concept and they're
like we got it all wrong it doesn't look
anything like what we were building and
we were panicked because it honestly it
looked kind of shitty you know the new
version it looked like Hollywood uh-huh
and we went back to them and we said
like no I i would rather have the
Hollywood as it appears in the mind of
the guy from Belgium or Sweden than the
Hollywood that exists in the at in the
in the real we're not after realism you
know for those of you who know we have a
map that takes place in London and we we
have a EMP garage under big ben which
makes no sense whatsoever so it's not
about realism it's about that fantasy
similar story with the Mexican map that
we built which is called dorado so we
knew for a lot of reasons Dorado is an
important story location in overwatch we
had a hero coming up that was from
Mexico we had a movie that we're making
called hero that takes place in Mexico
and there's a lot of storytelling one to
do in this area so myself and the
assistant game director Aaron Keller
we're looking at locations in Mexico to
build and we start with mexico city but
it just didn't work for us mexico city
is a very contemporary urban sort of
modern what you expect it to be type of
city and the map we need to build had to
be coastal for gameplay reasons we
needed the edge of the map to be open so
we wanted a coastal town
it had to be hilly and we wanted there
to be a lot of color in the map we
really wanted there to be color but
we're kind of ignorant about you know
the area besides like you know mexico
city we live in Southern California so
we're familiar with you know Tijuana and
ensenada but none of them were really
hitting what we wanted so being the
utmost top researchers in the
industry we went to Google Images and we
typed in this is literally like you can
type this in right now on your phone if
you want colorful mexican town is what
we typed in and we weren't even looking
at that picture we just get the
thumbnail pictures and we're like this
is it this is perfect
it's so awesome this is exactly the the
version of Mexico that we wanted to to
build and like I said we haven't even
blown up the picture but the one that we
talked about the most that really fit
the gray box block out of the map that
we had was this one right here which is
just gorgeous this like coastal seaside
town after we had completed the map i
think it was about two months after
someone came up to us and said why are
you coming
why did you use manarola Italy as your
reference for your Mexico map and I
think this kind of is very exemplary of
the idea that overwatch is not about the
reality of what the planet is over
watches much more about what we hope
that the world would sort of be and I
promise the citizens of Mexico when we
make the italy map will only use
reference of Mexico for that so Chris
Metzen who is our creative director he
since retired and I miss him dearly i
hope he comes back to us has a quote
that I just love which is that Blizzard
is a hero factory and he sort of means
two things by this one we if we had to
align ourselves and terms of the type of
heroes we create their lawful good
paladin's if you look at Luther you look
at thrall if you look at rainer they're
all kind of they fit a type but also
that we try to make our players walk
away from our games feeling like the
hero and overwatch more than that then
the the environment that we built over
watch is more about the heroes than
anything else and i think it's
interesting to talk about how heroes are
part of the world building process is
not just about these environments that
you're building so approachability is
one of the top things we care about we
want as many people to feel included and
welcomed in overwatch as possible so for
that reason each of the heroes has to
have extremely distinct gameplay
mechanics and also extremely varying
skill levels required to be good at
those heroes we want some heroes to be
very approachable very easy for players
to pick up in play and other heroes have
an extremely high skill cap because we
care very much about hardcore skilled
players as well so there's a great
variety there the other sort of obvious
thing is the visual design it starts
with the character silhouette and how
the character gets modeled but also
includes how the character gets animated
imposed we wanted no characters to be
very visually different and you can
recognize them from anywhere on the
battlefield but even more than sort of
the gameplay and art mechanics behind
how these heroes work we wanted there to
be heroes that felt approachable to each
person we all like different things were
all attracted to different things that's
one of the beautiful things about
humanity and making a game on planet
earth is how awesome the differences are
so we started getting into the back
stories of all these heroes and we found
it to be really really fun to sort of
explore different countries and how
different people from different
countries might think about one another
and and how they're all going to
interact and it became really fun and
what's weird to us is that overwatch
started to spark lots of discussions
about diversity it was a very hot topic
during the development of overwatch you
think it's still a very important topic
in in today's gaming world and so
there's a lot of discussion about
diversity and we've been both praised
and criticized for some of our decisions
when it comes to diversity and I think
it's really interesting that people
think that diversity was the goal of the
overwatch team when it was not what we
cared about was creating a game and a
game you
reverse in a world where everybody felt
welcomed and really what the goal was
was inclusivity and open-mindedness we
wanted there to be this feeling and I've
talked to a lot of people about this and
I think they've agreed with it that you
know when I say like you you might be
from somewhere that we haven't
represented yet in overwatch but you
could imagine there being an overwatch
hero or an overwatch map from your area
and it seems totally plausible like it
seems like at any time I could be
represented in the game is the sort of
open-mindedness and inclusivity that
were the goal of overwatch I think
diversity is a beautiful end result that
you get when you embrace inclusivity and
open-mindedness now we did the subject
of stereotypes comes up frequently if
you are making we found it like super
challenging to make a game on planet
earth as her off and sanctuary and the
starcraft universe are far safer but as
soon as you say somebody's from a
location like I probably pissed somebody
off from Hollywood today but um as soon
as you say somebody's from a location
everybody gets very sensitive so we've
tried to in many ways challenge a lot of
stereotypes so I'm not going to tell the
story of each of the heroes that i put
up on the screen behind me but in some
way each of them challenges a stereotype
on on the far left is particularly
interesting to me because she is a
sniper she's an older woman who is a
mother and has a very complicated story
with her daughter about whether or not
she did the right thing by the way of
her daughter so as you can see there's
not a lot of it
games you know featuring older Egyptian
mothers who happen to be snipers we went
out of our way to sort of challenge this
notion in december we wanted to kind of
put a thank-you out to our community so
we made a comic book written by michael
to our lead writer that was called
reflections and we wanted it to feature
all of our heroes in there
in life we show them you know in these
adventures movies all the time and doing
all these cool things in the game and we
want to show them in their home life and
reflections happened to reveal that
tracer had a girlfriend at home not a
boyfriend like some people expected and
this is all part of what we on the
overwatch team just think of as normal
things are normal and it's important to
normal things as normal so they become
more normal and a lot of people had
expected other characters to maybe be
representative of the LGBT community and
maybe it wasn't tracer and to us what
was important about tracer was that she
was this badass time-traveling hero
first and foremost I i was preparing for
this talk and I i took a moment to study
some of the shooters over the past 10
years and as i was looking into these
games and these are some of my favorite
games of all time i played more shooters
I daresay than anybody and I poured more
hours into these games then I'd like
anybody to really be aware of and I've
had so much fun but I started to notice
a trend like as I put the box covers
together of these games and the trend
seems to be grizzled soldier dude and it
made me think about just how different
overwatch was in so many ways that you
know when I look back on the past 10
years of great shooters and I'm not
trying to say that overwatch is a great
shooter but we aspire to be
it's very different to have an LGBT
character on the cover and also one
who's a female so it's something that
we're pretty proud of
now don't think for a second that we
don't also embrace stereotypes
so I've never had an American come up to
me and complain about the horrible
representation of americans in video
it's actually it's more sad that i think
a lot of us Americans see ourselves like
this kite back here when it couldn't be
further from the truth
really what was happening through this
whole process is
that the world that we were building and
the heroes that we're creating no longer
belong to us
so the fans of overwatch through
fanfiction through cosplay through the
most amazing fan art that I've ever seen
started to take over the world building
and the intellectual property for us
you can ask the overwatch founds who's
dating who and the overwatch lineup and
it's actually kind of amazing they have
stories for for all the heroes and and
what their love lives are and we love it
we think it's the it's the best thing
ever that it belongs to them we now
think of ourselves you know blizzard and
the overwatch team we are just the
custodians of the universe we're taking
care of it for what our community is
going to create moving forward and the
end of january we saw something very
special happen there was an
international march for women's right
that that took place all over the world
and the thing that really caught our eye
was that in seoul korea during the march
somebody who's flying this flag that had
the symbol for diva who is our our
character from Korea who in some way
challenges stereotypes and and in other
ways embraces them but we saw this flag
flying for diva and we looked into it
more and there was this Nash this
National Foundation for diva which was a
feminist foundation for women's rights
and what really started to fascinate me
when I looked more into this i started
to read their charter and I don't expect
you guys to be able to read any of this
but it's a last sentence there so we
decided to act for feminism under her
emblem they're talking about diva so
that in 2060 someone like diva diva
could actually exist which I thought was
just amazing and it sort of came back to
that original point that I was trying to
make a never accept the world for as it
appears to be but dare to see it for
what it could be and that was exactly
what was happening in in korea in no way
do we aspire to be a political game we
have no political motivations whatsoever
but it's fascinating to see that the
of the overwatch team are now being
embraced and owned by the community in
their own sort of positive way and i
wanted to end with my team because this
is my team today and it's obviously
bigger than the 40 people that we
started with and a lot of that is
because we've had a decent launch and
luckily we didn't get dispersed to to
the winds we still exist but I talk a
lot about overwatch at and sort of the
people that it's touched in the type of
world that we tried to build but i want
to remind people that and I hate to use
the word has it sounds negative but we
started building overwatch from almost a
selfish place and what I mean by that is
you had a team that was faced with
little hope and a lot of despair and we
felt like there was a failure was kind
of a dark situation that we were in and
to almost pull ourselves out of that
dark situation we imagined a bright and
hopeful world and it all became true
sort of a fairytale ending
I don't want for a second to discount
the importance of realism and video
I think it's extremely important for us
is an industry to keep pursuing realism
because we need to show people what the
world is like
likewise i hope there continues to be an
awesome pursuit of post-apocalyptic
games because it's very important for us
to imagine what could end up being our
future if we're not careful but I hope
in some ways that the overwatch
experience of the overwatch team stands
to show that there is room for
positivity and inclusiveness in our
industry as well thank you guys very
much hope you enjoy the summit
what they told me don't ever touch the
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D.I.C.E Summit 2017 | Overwatch | Jeff Kaplan (Stream with chat)

1032 Folder Collection
Aster published on May 21, 2017
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