Well, to be honest, they are more like memories of my youth: The year is 1998. PC gaming is still in it’s infancy, the mainstream still quite far away and one of the most important games are point & click adventure games. Monkey Island, Gabriel Knight, Indiana Jones & the fate of atlantis…I could go on for hours without mentioning all of them. All these games have something in common: They focus on the story. So when Blizzard announced Warcraft Adventures – Lord of the Clans, an adventure game in the WarCraft universe, I was hooked. Having played Warcraft – Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II, the idea of following an orc in that world seemed to good to be true. As a matter of fact, it was. It got cancelled although it was almost ready. There are many rumors out there why it didn’t make it:
- It wasn’t good enough. Monkey Island 3 had been released with gorgeous 2d hand animated graphics and Grim Fandango with it’s 3d charakters was just around the corner.
- Adventure games weren’t cool enough any more. Slowly but steadily fps games were on their road to victory. Games like Jedi Knight proved that it was posssible to combine great action games with a meaningful story. Something adventure games were know for until that time. And then there was Half-Life, which would take the world by surprise in October of 1998. Why should anyone still play adventure games, when FPS games could be that immersive.
- It would have taken too much time to make it competitive. This has something to do with the first item. Warcraft Adventures was almost complete. The game was completable, voice overs had been done, the music was there, even the hand animated cutscenes were done (just without sound, therefore this little project here). There were issues though. Riddles were too easy. But adding new ones meant animations had to be redone.
Speaking of animations: Animation Magic, the company Blizzard outsourced the development to, did the Zelda games on the Philips CD-i and those do get a lot of criticism these days (reactions at the time of the release were different though!). But, Animation Magic did a fine job on Warcraft Adventures…at least for the most part. While they did all the ingame animations, most of the cutscenes were done by another studio. And it shows. Just compare the old AMI intro with the new intro when starting a new game. The difference is huge. Still, the work they did on the ingame animations is really good. Most of Thrall’s actions are animated, like using items or using stairs. Maybe (and I’m not even sure) a little behind Monkey Island 3 but still detailed enough to impress in 1998… and in my opinion even today.
The story continues. In 2012 several Youtube videos of the game appeared. Apparently some russian guy had an alpha version of the game and did some kind of a let’s play. I wanted this game so badly, I tried to contact the guy. With no success. Four years passed and suddenly, without thinking about it, I read on some gaming website that the game had just been leaked. Could this be true? Yes, it could! Warcraft Adventures was available in a playable, completable form. Even the cutscenes that were missing in that early alpha from 2012 were included. Only one thing was missing: The cutscene’s sound effects. I had to change that…
But why bother with a game that didn’t make it and had it’s flaws? Because it has it’s strong points and it is…unique. It delivers what Blizzard promised: A point & click adventure game, where you meet charakters from the Warcraft RTS games, where you experience an interesting storyline. A great mix of a rather dark story AND humor. And it looks good. The cutscenes are well drawn, most of them at 12 fps and in 640 x 480 and the game itself features great hand drawn backgrounds and all the charakter’s actions are animated. The “easy” riddles I mentioned? In my opinion they are logical. Finally! I hate adventure games where I try the “put paper under a door to get the key”-solution only to get the response “Good idea, but this won’t work on THIS door”. In Warcraft Adventures riddles get solved by rather obious solutions. I like that. Keeps me playing without having to search every room again and again and again…
And finally, it is just SO cool to “finalize” a game that wasn’t supposed to exist.
This project: So what am I going to do? Warcraft Adventures has been leaked recently. It is completable and, in my opinion, very much enjoyable. As I’ve already mentioned before, the only thing that’s missing are the cutscene’s sound effects. So within the next months I will carefully add sound effects to each cutscene and, where appropriate, music. Video and audio are out of sync so I have to fix that as well. I will use this blog to write about my experiences, findings…or frustrations. If all goes well, Blizzard’s Warcraft Adventures will finally be complete…well, sort of. One cutscene is missing from the latest leak and there is nothing I can do about that (Annotation: That’s no longer the case. See blogpost “Lost and Found” from October 5th). Still, with completed cutscenes the game will be a great experience from start to finish…at least for me. And maybe for some of you, because once I’ve finished all cutscenes, I will make them available in some form, so others (you?) can use them as well. Enjoy 🙂