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Rob Pardo: VR MMOs not happening any time soon

World of Warcraft designer also offers advice to aspiring developers during his View Conference keynote

Long-serving games developer Rob Pardo believes virtual reality is nowhere near the stage where it can host an MMORPG.

Following his keynote talk at last week's View Conference in Italy, the former Blizzard exec took questions from the audience, including whether VR was ready to host projects like his biggest success: World of Warcraft.

"I think we're a long way away from that happening," Pardo said, before going on to discuss the difficulties of developing large-scale video games for virtual reality.

"Think about all the different things that VR has to achieve. They have to make the form factor light enough so that you can wear the thing. They have to make it technologically good enough so that you don't get sick while you're doing something inside that space. You have to have an input device that works really well for games. And then we have to figure out how the content works and how the game works.

"I just think it's going to be a really long time until we see something as complex as an MMORPG in VR. But one day, I'm sure one day we'll see the Holodeck - I just don't think it's any time soon."

Pardo's keynote reflected on his journey to starting Bonfire Studios, a company he opened last year following his departure from Blizzard in 2014. The talk stretched as far back as his childhood Dungeons & Dragons sessions, with Pardo referring to his role as dungeon master as his "first job as a game designer."

Lessons he will take from Blizzard to Bonfire include the importance of "excellence through iteration" - something he learned working on StarCraft, adding that developers really need to "master [playing] your own game" to understand its mechanics and the balance between them.

Warcraft III taught him how difficult making video games can be, but how important a friendly team can be to overcoming this - and that no game should be shipped until it's ready. World of Warcraft opened his eyes to the "power of shared player experiences", something he has hinted he would like to explore at Bonfire, while Hearthstone proved how "small empowered teams can accomplish great things."

At one point he referenced parents who have asked him how their children can find work as game developers. While he's keen to encourage more talent to create games, there is an important caveat.

"The first thing I say is, do they actually want to create games or do they just want to play them?" he said. "Because it's actually a very different experience. I think people confuse the two things - they think, 'oh I have a lot of fun with games therefore I would love designing them'. But it's a very different experience."

He later reiterated this message as he wrapped up his keynote, adding: "Games are supposed to be fun. Making games is super, super hard. Making any sort of entertainment is hard. But making games should be as fun as playing them. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be hard work, but I think if you have the right idea and the right crew, it should actually be a lot of fun to do."

We spoke to Pardo about what he's working on at Bonfire and how he is structuring the new studio based on his lessons from Blizzard. You can read our full interview later this week.

GamesIndustry.biz attended View Conference as a guest of the organisers, who paid for our travel and accommodation.

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Latest comments (1)

so in the meantime all we see is rehashes of Everquest with updated graphics. Please... change is coming faster than some think.
Think about all the different things that VR has to achieve. They have to make the form factor light enough so that you can wear the thing. They have to make it technologically good enough so that you don't get sick while you're doing something inside that space. You have to have an input device that works really well for games. And then we have to figure out how the content works and how the game works.
Has he played VR is the last few years? I'm thinking not.
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