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I miss Bill Roper

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by Flux, Apr 8, 2012. | Replies: 32 | Views: 4385

  1. Flux

    Flux Administrator

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    I miss Bill Roper

    I don't know what spurred this thought to pop into my head, but I realized today that I missed Bill Roper as a Bliz spokesperson. He left Bliz back in 2003, as part of the "big 4" from Bliz North who went on to found Flagship Studios, etc. So it's been damn near 9 years since he was repping Blizzard games, and thus I'm sure a lot of you guys have no memory of his PRfu or media skills or rich, melodious baritone. But trust me when I say he was *the* media communications guy at Blizzard, and did the majority of their interviews for Diablo, SC1, War3, and anything else that needed talking about from the 90s up until 2003, and was FAR better at it than anyone they've had since.

    (One of the big questions many of us had when he left in 2003 was who would do media interviews for Blizzard now, since he'd been the lead guy at almost every E3, ECTS, handling dozens of interviews at every show about all things Blizzard. )

    I think most of us enjoy Jay Wilson interviews, but entirely for the info they convey. No one would confuse Jay with a trained public speaker, unless perhaps he's running a secret double switch and is actually a trained speaker playing the role of a naif in order to win audience sympathy. Many of the other Bliz devs today *seem* like decent interviews since we only really see them talking on Blizzcon panels, where they're doing prepared material they've written and rehearsed numerous times in advance, and have visuals to accompany it, thus taking a lot of pressure off their dialogue.

    Bill (and the other guys back in those less polished PR days) didn't have scripts, and did the bulk of their conversation at gaming shows, often while running a demo at the same time. Basically, they were sitting at a machine, and the interviewer would stand beside them and talk while watching them drive the char around the demo a bit.

    Sadly, the most recent memory most of you guys will have of Bill is from the HGL days, when his golden tones and PRfu lulled us into expecting great things from a game that didn't deliver on our high expectations. (For various reasons addressed in numerous postmortems.) Here's one Bill interview from the HGL days just for a taste.


    It's hard to find interviews with Bill talking about anything from the Blizzard says, since those were all way before You Tube, and largely before media presentation of video. (For instance, I interviewed him half a dozen times at E3, at Bliz North, and later at Flagship Studios, and never recorded anything but audio for my own notes.) But in a quick YT scan I did find a decent interview with him from ECTS 2000, talking about War 3.



    Perhaps fmulder or someone else with google-fu can track down some other, better examples? Bill did literally hundreds of interviews about Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 in his time at Blizzard; some decent audio/video of those must remain, likely in the vaults of IGN, GameSpy, PC Gamer, etc.... which don't seem to have been uploaded to YT, alas.
  2. Mackan

    Mackan IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    Do you know what is Bill doing today, after he left Cryptic Studios?

    Never mind, found out that he is apparently vice president of Disney Interactive Media Group, Marvel franchise.
  3. Ixnatifual

    Ixnatifual IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    I liked him best for his orc and footman voices.
  4. Davidus

    Davidus IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    post Blizzard interview
    [video=youtube;GbYH6sRWOuQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbYH6sRWOuQ[/video]
  5. Diab

    Diab IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    It's been so long that I honestly can't remember his interviews. Thanks for doing this write-up!

    Here are a few things I dug up from Gamespy:
    E3 2004: Out of Blizzard and with his new start-up company, Flagship Studios, Bill Roper talks games, technology, and creation. (text transcript)
    http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/starcraft/533035p1.html

    Bill Roper's "Benefits of Rewarding Gamers" Speech
    http://www.fileplanet.com/138395/130000/fileinfo/Bill-Roper's-

    Warcraft 3 - Press Event Q&A Movie
    http://www.fileplanet.com/57749/50000/fileinfo/Warcraft-3---Press-Event-Q&A-Movie
  6. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    Oh I know Bill Roper, but ironically, not from the days of Diablo 2 - I only really started following game development in earnest with WarCraft 3...and that's where I got my dose of him ^____^.

    I too feel that Blizzard doesn't feel quite the same since he left. That said, both SC2 and D3 has got a 'resident fat guy' to fill in, and I think that Dustin Browder and Jay Wilson have both done a phenomenal job leading their respective games' development :).

    Ironically, as bad as you may say Bill Roper's narration for the D1 promo is, it doesn't compare to the cringe-inducingness of Jay Wilson's narration for the D3 gameplay movie in its July 2008 reveal >_<.
  7. Apocalypse

    Apocalypse IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    what i really miss is talking to some of the devs in the chat room. you used to get a lot of activity out of them, now we all sit around waiting for a blue post and its almost always something stupid and cryptic. man those days in irc when the devs would join and just field questions, man those were the days
  8. Loriku

    Loriku IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    The internet was a lot smaller place back then with a lot less whiney kids, Big Bill was cool at Blizz North, along with the majority of it's employess, they were down to earth and spoke frequently to fans on a level field. Unfortunately we now know everything bill touches doesnt turn to gold as since leaving Blizzard nothing has gone right, he still deserves respect though. His time has come and gone though, much like the wide interaction we used to have with developers back in the past sadly.

    Oh and FYI, Disney are really going to mess the Marvel franchise up, the films and games will suck so much :( that's why they're trying to get everything started before Disney have complete control at the end of the year. Hope they don't touch the comics or tone down deadpool! Grrr!


  9. Apocalypse

    Apocalypse IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    just cause of love derailing a thread, i agree that disnay getting marvel is just about the worst thing to ever happen. i see so many changes coming even though they claim they wont mess with anything. everyone says that when they buy out another company (we are seeing this with bliz now) but its never true, changes also come. maybe they will make the hulk take anger management classes and wolverine will get de-clawed
  10. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    Unfortunately, the relative silence on Blizzard's part is largely understandable. As Loriku said, there are soooo many whiny, entitled-feeling people on the net...it's hard to carry out the same level of back-and-forth as you could once upon a time.

    Everything you say gets dissected, or blown apart, and misinformation is spread. It's unreasonable to combat wave after wave of misinformation about your game, so instead, Blizzard chooses what they DO communicate very carefully.

    You might say that smaller game companies have much more interaction with their fans, and this is true, but that's because they're smaller companies - their fanbase doesn't generally have the same sense of selfish entitlement that attracts most casual gamers :p.
  11. Flux

    Flux Administrator

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    In my fairly YT quick search I saw a bunch of vids from the HGL days, 2005-2007 especially, and then a few from after that. It's anything from pre-2004 that seems hard to find.

    In my early days working on this site, late 90s and early 00s, bandwidth was still a big factor. It cost money to post video, people had dial up modems and couldn't download large files, and almost every interview and other feature was written text, interview transcripts, small resolution screenshots, etc. We presented all our Blizzard North 2000 visit info in articles with some photos, and that was unremarkable. We didn't post any audio or video, never even thought about it, and no one asked us to. It just wasn't done then, online.

    If you look on YT for D2 gameplay, you might find some of the early promotional videos, which were limited to like 50meg in size, and looked terrible. Like 320x240 resolution, bad frame rate, etc. Up until War3, Blizzard sent out actual CD-ROMs with their beta tests and people bought gaming print mags largely for the CDs full of demos that you couldn't get otherwise, or would have to spend hours downloading.

    It was nothing like we've seen since 2006 or so, now that everyone has small/cheap digital cameras, YT makes video posting/hosting free, most users have broadband, etc.



  12. Risingred

    Risingred IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper



    Third singer. ;)
  13. Dread

    Dread IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    I also miss him a bit. He was more or less the face of Blizzard back in the old days. I was always impressed how enthusiastic he was about his games. I don't know why he left, but I am sure he had his reasons. He took the risk and sadly he failed, but nevertheless, you have to give him respect for that. If he had stayed at Blizzard, today he would be one of the most known persons in the gaming business, I have no doubt about that.

    Hellgate: London wasn't a bad game. It just wasn't up to par with Blizzard quality, it was missing the last 10% work, but the last 10% can take very long. It wasn't as atmospheric as I had hoped, I didn't like the interface and the areas of the game felt quite repetitive and I couldn't find my way into the story, it just didn't hook me up. Most stations looked the same and the art style had a generic feeling. But still, the gameplay was fun and it had potential, the core mechanics worked quite well. Sadly they ran out of money.
  14. Loriku

    Loriku IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    Should've held onto the Blizzard mantra of, 'It'll be released when we're happy with it and it's finished' unfortunately it wasn't a finished game, it could've actually been fantastic, there was some parts I absolutely loved but as you said, some very repetitive sections, something that actually put me off oblivion as well (yes I know, non-related to Bill) but every gate to oblivion was the same old crap with the same old tower...bleh. Much like how HG:L stations felt and some of the areas, like I said though...some parts were absolutely fantastic, I remember crapping myself in a big library because I was surrounded and stuff was flying everywhere, flying demons were materializing out of the air. It wasn't enough though...a real shame :(.

    One thing I am thankful for to Blizzard is the polish they put into their games (ok they're not perfect on release but they're always immersive) which is why when it comes down to it, I don't mind their release schedules, even though I may complain while waiting for a release :) I love them really and everything Bill did before leaving, like I said, shame he didn't have the resources to carry that Blizzard polish with him :).
  15. Lord_Jaroh

    Lord_Jaroh IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    It's kind of funny how you "dismiss" the fans as if they aren't important.

    I see it more as a small company is actually trying to build a game for gamers, one that people would enjoy playing and so talk to the people to figure it out, bouncing ideas off them and such and seeing reactions. Now the company is big, they create games to make money, and instead of "conversing" back and forth with their fans, they "tell" their fans and expect them to like it. It's a small difference on paper, but it makes a world of difference with PR speak, and in how people view them.

    Look at the companies behind Path of Exile and Grim Dawn. Both small companies conversing with their fans about what to include in the game and making changes based on that. Both are similar to how Blizzard North operated in the past. Compare that with Blizzard today and you can see a large disconnect.



  16. Wildmoon

    Wildmoon IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    I really miss Bill. His voice is WC1 is ****ing awesome. "You pitiful worm, your defeat could mean our loss in the war against humans"
  17. HardRock

    HardRock IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    The problem is that we don't know how much of the game was shaped based on fan feedback in the case of D3. I have no problem with how Blizzard communicates with us, but I wouldn't mind more frequent responses to fan inquiry. I hope we'll see just that after the release of the game.

    As for listening to fan requests, it should be done with caution and careful consideration. Most gamer think that he or she has great ideas, and that may be true, but those ideas may not work in the context of a game. The designers must have a direction for their game and must be willing to throw away awesome ideas, if they don't fit into that direction. A game can't be everything that every single player wants it to be.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
  18. Loriku

    Loriku IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    It's not that anyone dismisses the fans, it's just that the larger a game gets, the harder it is to be in touch with everyone and please everyone, back in the day developers had a nice personal touch with customers because the playerbase was lower, people had less access to the internet and for lack of a better word it was a more 'grown-up' community, even though we were a lot younger then.

    Look at the official forums for WoW and D3 now, its absolutely rediculous, you can't mention anything serious without a flock of idiots dumping their trollcrap on your head, it's even worse when a blue or MVP posts, not to mention if they did hold live Q&A's again, there's only so much crap one person can deal with and rather put up with the idiots (which is a shame for the real fans) it's a lot easier to pool questions together and release a statement with no further discussion without becoming infuriated and saying somethings that shouldn't.

    It's nothing to do with being disconnected, as things grow, things have to change, you can't blame the company for the type of people that flock into the community, if the majority of people weren't idiots then I'm sure we'd still have a happy community with developers chatting about this that and the other. They try to do it on twitter because it's slightly auto-regulated. The days of Blizzard chatting personally to us are long gone though because of said reasons. However, Blizzard do take note of things being said and ideas, there's a huge community team employed solely for this reason, just because there is no personal thankyou does not mean by any means that a GOOD idea hasn't been noted and ran past someone, (unfortunately, said idiots also contribute and sometimes get their own way). Catch 22 situation.


  19. Flux

    Flux Administrator

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    I was thinking about that when I wrote the OP, in light of D3's beta. You look at the MASSIVE changes in D3 even since the beta started, and we're only seeing some small percent of them. Endless fine tuning, but also much bigger things like the rune and skill system overhaul, removal of the mystic, big changes to crafting, itemization galore, etc, and think of all the "if we'd only had 8-12 more months on HGL" comments we've heard from Bill and Max and others. What might have been...



  20. Ixnatifual

    Ixnatifual IncGamers Member

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    Re: I miss Bill Roper

    HGL had some great stuff but lacked some polish and iteration.

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