Or, as he was once called, Tigole Bitties.
Jeff Kaplan left Blizzard after nearly 20 years last week. I can still recall the Legacy of Steel message boards way back in my EQ raiding days. Fires of Heaven may have been the big one, but LoS was right up there. Where EQ lacked general direction (other than ding!), it’s the guilds that really made sense of it all. Jeff’s passion for that structure, with a distinct focus on purpose, logic, and testing, drew the eyes of Blizzard and he was pulled on as an early dev for WoW.
It’s hard for people who weren’t there to understand the impact WoW had when it launched. EQ was evercrack and opened a pandoras box. WoW took that opportunity and filtered out nearly all the bad stuff in EQ so that it was accessible to more people.
The high polish and balance we take for granted today absolutely did not exist in EQ. The structured logic of progression at max level did not exist. Storyline did not exist. Quests were barely present. Week long spawns were gone. Trains were gone. Instances were created to avoid guild rotations of raids, which also removed the need for camps. XP death penalties left (imagine losing a level in 2021).
Now, I’m not saying this is all Jeff but I am saying that the initial launch of WoW was like a night and day version of EQ and without a shadow of a doubt would not have existed had Blizzard not gone looking for those guild leaders coming over. Jeff eventually came to be the overall lead and his last touch on WoW was the Lead Game Designer for Wrath. There’s some interesting bits where this expansion was the peak of WoW.
He then moved to Titan, the mystery project. That went belly up and he delivered the only new IP for Blizzard in 20 years. Which, you know, is massively successful to boot. His honest videos on game development and overall lack of hubris was something to behold, as compared to other franchise leads.
And now he’s moved on. There’s a lot of people who have.
What is Left
Which gets me to the Ship of Theseus paradox (this put a smile on my face when it was posited in WandaVision).
It is supposed that the famous ship sailed by the hero Theseus in a great battle was kept in a harbor as a museum piece, and as the years went by some of the wooden parts began to rot and were replaced by new ones; then, after a century or so, every part had been replaced. The question then is whether the “restored” ship is still the same object as the original.
If it is, then suppose the removed pieces were stored in a warehouse, and after the century, technology was developed that cured their rot and enabled them to be reassembled into a ship. Is this “reconstructed” ship the original ship? If it is, then what about the restored ship in the harbor still being the original ship as well?
We’re a long ways out from the founding of our golden companies… BioWare and Blizzard have the same name but there’s no leadership left from back then. My heart wants to believe that the heart of the company is more than it’s leadership team, but my brain says from experience that is never the case. It’s non-sensical to think that the people working at Blizz today have the same passion and importantly, ability to deliver the quality of yesteryear.
It’s not so much a bad thing, but a sad thing. All good things must come to an end.