PLUS MORE GAMING SECRETS AND RUMORS: Microsoft big wig leaves for Blizzard | Quantic Dreams' next two projects | A very different kind of Need for Speed that we never got
On their resume, a Blizzard staffer states that they "are working a top-secret project to be unveiled sometime in 2014." The most likely candidates are probably another World of Warcraft or Diablo expansion (Blizzard recently polled fans about the latter), but I have to wonder if we might finally see something from the mythic Project Titan.
While initially intended as a followup MMO to World of Warcraft, Blizzard went back to the drawing board on Titan — which has been in the works since 2006 or so — and restarted the game's development last year, culling the Titan team's size from 100 to 30. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime later admitted Titan was no longer a subscription-based MMO like World of Warcraft.
At last year's BlizzCon, Morhaime told IGN the current version of Titan "is pretty different from what [Blizzard] originally set out to do," which makes me suspect the game may no longer be an MMO at all. In today's marketplace, developing and launching a capital-intensive massively multiplayer project is a much more precarious proposition than it was a decade ago. Following the decision to rescope Titan, the longtime "Next-Gen MMO" category on Blizzard's job page disappeared, but soon thereafter an "Unannounced Game Title" category appeared.
A lead producer opening currently in the "Unannounced Game Title" category curiously contains the copy "With Hearthstone, Blizzard has revived its tradition of creating small and nimble game teams and [the unannounced project team is] following in those footsteps." A level designer opening on the team talks up "competitive multi-player games" and "game maps," suggesting a game at least more like Heroes of the Storm than Hearthstone. Although Blizzard's existing AAA brands are not going away anytime soon, there seems to be a trend at Blizzard toward less costly, smaller future projects, and my suspicion is that Titan, assuming it is still in development in some form, might have transformed to a title on the scale of Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm.
Last month, Ben Kilgore, a corporate vice president of Xbox program management at Microsoft, quietly left the software giant to become Blizzard Entertainment's chief technology officer, according to his LinkedIn profile. Kilgore was "Responsible for development of Xbox One client platform including operating system, development tools, and platform user experience" and reportedly "one of the chief architects" of the Xbox One. Prior to being promoted to a corporate vice president at Microsoft in early 2012, Kilgore served as a general manager on Xbox development, overseeing work on the Kinect and New Xbox Experience.
Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream might be continuing their status as a two-project studio. On their CV, a designer at the Parisian studio lists two unannounced projects.
A Quantic Dream domain registration hinted the studio was working on a PS4 project titled "Singularity," a name that very much evokes the influences and ideas of the firm's decidedly futuristic tech demo Kara.
Additionally, Carle Côté, who was AI lead on Eidos Montreal's Thief reboot, joined Quantic Dream in March to serve as AI lead on an unannounced project. Côté also has a PhD in engineering and wrote his doctoral thesis on "an architecture for integrating heterogeneous software components for the development of mobile and autonomous decision-making systems in robotics." Quantic Dream's job posting for an AI lead said the studio wanted to have AI technology that exceeded industry standards—perhaps their next projects might be slightly more emergent experiences?
The portfolio of a former presentation director at one-time Need for Speed studio Black Box reveals a previously unknown and cancelled title in the car racing franchise called "Need for Speed 10" (the number referring to either fiscal or calendar year "2010") that was in development circa 2008. The portfolio page says the "goal" of the game was to answer the question "How can large scale street races take place in a post 911 US city?" Images on the page depict a group of street racers named the "TerrorFive" and a concept art mockup of gameplay wherein players seemingly hacked into police cars, things that sound more like Watch Dogs than a street racing game. Concept videos of prototype game's UI elements (one of which is embedded below) — created in collaboration with production houses Buck and Imaginary Forces — depict a lo-fi security camera aesthetic far removed from the polish typically associated with a Need for Speed game. However, it is unclear if Black Box's "Need for Speed 10" ever progressed beyond the prototype stage.
superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone. Follow him on Twitter.