J. Allen Brack and Allen Adham Interview

Last week, during this year’s BlizzCon, VentureBeat had a chance to sit down with Blizzard’s president J. Allen Brack and the studio’s co-founder Allen Adham. This resutled in a fairly extensive chat covering numerous topics, including the online nature of this BlizzCon, all the Diablo projects currently in the works, the art of remastering classic titles, the future of World of Warcraft, and more.

Here’s a couple of sample questions:

GamesBeat: Vicarious Visions has become a part of the company recently. What exactly is its role? Is it with Diablo II?

Brack: We started to talk with some of the folks at Vicarious about two years ago. We’ve had the idea of doing a Diablo II: Resurrected, or what has become Diablo II: Resurrected, with the idea of them leading some of the work on the remaster. It’s been a joint co-dev in that I think roughly, it’s fair to say that the Vicarious folks have worked on the front end and the Blizzard teams have worked on the back end and the Battle.net integration. Blizzard does not have a long history of working with other studios. We’re relatively insular. One thought we had from the very beginning is, it would be a shame if we worked on this game together, if we solve a lot of the cultural integration, technical problems of working effectively, and then at the end of Diablo II we just said, that was awesome, thanks a lot, good luck with whatever your next project is.

As time has moved on, it’s always been [thought] it would be great if this team, that then has a lot of knowledge about Diablo, a lot of understanding, a lot of working closely with the people who are in charge of the Diablo franchise at this point, were able to continue to help out in some way. We have some percentage of the team that’s working on the Diablo II remaster, and some percentage of the team that’s working on Diablo IV, and we’ll continue to have them work on Diablo going forward.

Adham: It’s a testament to how well that joint development is going. One of the things we’ve found through this development is that we share a lot in terms of culture. In fact, Luis Barriga, the game director of Diablo IV, came from Vicarious Visions. We have senior Blizzard developers who’ve gone back to Albany to work at Vicarious Visions. One of our greatest challenges and opportunities at Blizzard is we have these beautiful rich worlds we’ve created, and now platforms with PC, console, and mobile, and so many ideas that we’re excited about. This will help us make great games with a common culture and a great bunch of friends on the east coast. It’s a win for everyone.

GamesBeat: Is Vicarious Visions now tied exclusively to Blizzard properties? Would they ever be tasked with remaking a different Activision brand again, like another Tony Hawk game?

Brack: I don’t want to say never, but that’s not the plan. The plan is, for the foreseeable [future], they would be dedicated to Blizzard properties in some way.