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Ex-Diablo III Staff Making Mystery iPhone App

| 30 Apr 2009 18:30
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Booyah, a start-up founded by ex-Blizzard staffers who worked on Diablo III, is developing a "playful life companion" for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and have secured $4.5 million in funding for the project.

What could ever steer a group of videogame developers from the sunny shores of Blizzard Entertainment into the wiles of a Silicon Valley start-up? Apparently something big. Something called...Booyah?

"Imagine that you could play life by pursuing and sharing your passions," Keith Lee, CEO and co-founder of Booyah, and former lead producer of Diablo III, said. "Booyah motivates you and others through a mobile companion, everywhere you go. You become a part of an ever-expanding social experiment, inspiring you to challenge yourself and be better at your life."

Lee, along with former D3 art director Brian Morrisroe (blame him for the rainbows!) and senior programmer Sam Christiansen, left Blizzard to pursue this dream of creating a "a playful life companion that combines the immersive experiences that draw consumers to massively multi-player online games, the interconnectedness of social media, and the power of iPhone and iPod touch."

Yeah, I'm still not really getting what exactly this thing is, but apparently someone with money has faith in the idea: the company has raised $4.5 million in funding from investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The money comes from the firm's iFund, which invests in companies working on the iPhone/iPod Touch, money that's gone to publisher ngmoco as well.

So Booyah doesn't sound exactly like a game, but it is being built on the same principles of design that its creators honed in their time at Blizzard. "WoW is one of the most played games of all time, so we've spent a lot of time understanding the internal motivators to play it or another activity, as well as the external factors like social recognition and community building," Lee told Gamasutra. "We wanted to take that and apply it to a new industry and a new audience - a much broader audience."

Furthermore, it seems that Booyah's staff isn't abandoning the making of games at all - there's a job listing for a Senior Game Designer on their staff. On top of that, Blizzard VP of game design Rob Pardo is serves on the company's advisory board.

Booyah will be revealing the project sometime this Spring. I'm expecting unicorns and rainbows.

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