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Blizzard, Disney vet Bill Roper joins Improbable to help devs build virtual worlds

SpatialOS creator Improbable has just brought on someone else who's been known for their work in creating online kingdoms that bring millions of players together: MMO game dev vet Bill Roper.

SpatialOS creator Improbable has just brought on someone else who’s been known for their work in creating online kingdoms that bring millions of players together: game dev veteran Bill Roper.

SpatialOS is designed to be a platform that ties together multiple servers and game engines to help developers create vast digital worlds. That makes Roper's involvement as chief creative officer especially interesting; devs will remember he's spent time at Blizzard (Warcraft, Diablo franchises), Flagship (Hellgate: London), Cryptic (Champions Online), and Disney (Disney Infinity 3.0), so he's presumably no stranger to the creation of deep worlds filled with lore, beautiful vistas, and large places for players to explore together.

It’s something Roper has always loved, dating back to his time working on the much-beloved worlds of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft, and what he says he hopes to continue pushing forward with SpatialOS.

“Characters, story, and world are so important to making great games. Building places for players to explore, to have emergent gameplay, and to have their own unique experiences is fulfilling for the player and the developer.

"The possibilities for not just massive worlds, but highly detailed and truly persistent worlds built on SpatialOS are exciting. I believe the games that will define AR and VR are yet to be realized, and the type of simulation that can be achieved with our platform can be an integral part of these new experiences,” says Roper.

"I've been fortunate to be involved on a lot of games that have done well and I'd like to share that experience and knowledge with others."

“Blizzard and Disney are two fantastic homes for detailed stories and characters. If you look at the evolution of storytelling from Blizzard in their games, it tracks very closely to the technological advances of which they took advantage," he adds.

"From the simple missions, voice over, and manual backstory of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans to the evolving, rich and massively detailed World of Warcraft, everything from richness of audio, depth of gameplay mechanics, number of players, quality of cinematics, and intricate social connectivity has changed and grown. I love when technology enables creatives to express and explore in ways that were too time consuming or expensive to build, or thought to be impossible.”

Roper notes he's been watching Improbable with interest for some time, ever since it became clear the London-based startup wanted to build its own virtual world rendering platform. “I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of SpatialOS during DICE a couple of years ago and was impressed with what they were setting out to accomplish. It was still fairly early and didn't fit with our production slate at Disney, but I stayed interested in the company and the technology.”

Now, some time later, Roper is excited to return to online game design, and the opportunities SpatialOS looks to afford developers in the creation of grand worlds for players to get lost in.

“Fast forward to just after GDC this year and I had a chance to talk with Herman Narula about where Improbable and their platform had progressed, and I found myself getting really excited about the possibilities it afforded in so many areas of gaming.” says Roper.

“The potential for massive connectivity and persistence of game space got my design gears turning, and the incredible and continued growth of the gaming industry makes this especially exciting and valuable.”

As CCO, Roper will be turning his passion for deep digital worlds into a means of helping other developers achieve their visions of concocted realities.

“I'm looking forward to working with developers on realizing their creative vision," he says. "While at Disney Interactive I launched the Central Creative group, where our mission was to enhance and empower the creative endeavors of our development partners. This is the same focus I want to bring to teams that work with SpatialOS. It's about being a dedicated and thoughtful partner with companies utilizing our platform to get the most out of what the platform has to offer.”

Roper is looking forward to helping other development teams realize their visions of deep, interesting, beautiful, and open online worlds through Improbable’s cloud-based distributed computing platform. Through this technology, he hopes to help further the narratives, both developer-based and personal, made possible through these modern advances.

“With respect for their creative vision and working to build trust in what we have to offer, I want us to be a resource for designers and creative leaders in terms of how they can get the most out of SpatialOS," says Roper. "It isn't about telling anyone how to make a game - its about listening to their aspirations and finding ways to use our technology to distill, refine, and enhance their ideas. I've been fortunate to be involved on a lot of games that have done well and I'd like to share that experience and knowledge with others."

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