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WoW RPG Designer Talks Content Challenges, Solutions

Gamasutra has just posted an in-depth look at the creative process that went into producing the World of Warcraft tabletop RPG books, discussing how th
Many game developers are in the throes of creating a product based on a license. But how do game developers co-ordinate their IP with other media? Here, Gamasutra presents an in-depth look at the creative process that went into producing World of Warcraft tabletop RPG books, courtesy of Luke Johnson, the co-ordinator of the book series at White Wolf's end. What works and what doesn't when you want third-parties to extend your game world? Firstly, Johnson explains of the necessity to add detail to the books to make them sufficiently detailed: "When you're writing these books, you need to make up things. How orc culture feels about mages, for example, or what the streets of Stormwind would be like for a poverty-stricken child. We extrapolated from existing material, coming up with a clearer and more detailed picture of what Azeroth would be like for someone who truly lived in it. However, Blizzard didn't feel comfortable allowing a third party, like us, to invent stuff about the Warcraft world. That's understandable, certainly, but definitely a problem if you're a roleplaying game line." Thus, it was necessary to work out a sensible solution, and according to Johnson, "We ended up with the following procedure": "1) We would write the books (using the above strategies), making stuff up when necessary. Then: 2) The good folks at Blizzard would check the manuscript to make sure that a) everything in it was consistent with both their vision of the Warcraft setting and the information that had already been presented in some other format (the video games, the novels, and the like); and b) that we didn't add anything that they didn't like. 3) The writers would then alter the manuscript as per Blizzard's requests, and we'd return to step 2. This process -- while it eventually resulted in a great product that made everyone happy -- was long and arduous." The full article on the subject is now available on Gamasutra, including much more information on the process gone through to arrive at the books, and some suggestions on alternate processes to arrive at similar or more refined results.

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