Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The "B" Team

A few days ago I came across a rather interesting post on a rather interesting blog. The blog is Elder Game and is co-written by two MMO developers with impressive looking resumes. It's more of a general MMO blog and covers topics that are mostly about game design and decision making. It's a good read if such things interest you. The post is called "The Warcraft Live Team's B-Squad" and explores the thought that there are very likely some new hands at the helm of WoW.

As a gamer who also has a lot of experience with sports, both as a coach and a player, the concept of a "B-Team" of developers is quite funny, poignant, and, in this case, apt. You see, in the sporting world, the B-team is usually your group of younger, less experienced players that are hoping to one day make the A-team, which is exactly the description the author was making about the development teams of MMOs.

Contrary to popular belief, being on the B-team is not all bad. Sure, you didn't make the "best" team, but that's often because you're young and need more work on your game. A second team allows you to do this, often when the stakes aren't as high. Additionally, with lower stakes, a B-team can be more focused on "fun" instead of "winning". In some ways, you can almost get back to the basics with a B-team and really work on the fundamentals of the game without all the fluff that goes with the Friday night lights.

The post goes on to make several good points about what being on the B-team means as far as MMO development goes, and explains several signs that Blizzard may have turned the reigns over to these second-stringers. What do you think? Have they brought in the B-team? The C-team? The Z-team?

Personally, I have no problem with bringing in the B-team at this point. WoW is a mature game, and torches need to be passed since we don't all live forever. Getting younger developers some experience in developing and balancing a game like WoW is essential for the future of the genre. After all, the B-teams of today are the A-teams of the future. You just hope that your B-team doesn't completely blow the game for you. I think WoW may have enough of a lead over the competition, that you can safely write this one down as a "win" in the books, but that doesn't mean we don't want to see good play for the remainder of the game.

Still, perhaps we should cut the team some slack. After all, maybe many of them are learning more than we are at this point. Maybe some of us have been with the game longer than the man behind the curtain. If so, that certainly puts things in a different light, does it not?

In the end, we're still paying them and still are entitled to a quality game for our money and time investments, but has WoW made us all just a little be "l33tist" as far as game design and polish is concerned? Can we now never be satisfied with anything less than the "A-team"? If so, they might need a bigger van.

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