E3: IMG Talks with Blizzard [Updated]
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story
IMG's Michael Yanovich and Lucian Fong recently met with Beau Yarborough of Blizzard Entertainment at E3 to talk about WarCraft III as well as their upcoming MMORPG World of WarCraft. Here's their report:
Many thanks must go out to Beau Yarborough for sliding us into the busy Blizzard marketing machine today without a prior appointment. Lucian and I were in for a treat as we were walked through the near-final build of WarCraft III and the still-in-early-development showcase that is the birth of World of WarCraft.
There’s not much left to be said that hasn’t been covered in countless articles both on IMG and the rest of the web. Basically the game is in final beta-testing, where the single-player campaign is being put through its paces by folks who are doing their best to break it in any place they can. That way all the bugs will get fixed before the game is shipped out.
Current deadline is the end of June, and if they miss that, they’re looking at the first day of July. We were informed that several members of the programming staff have literally not left the office in two weeks – they sleep on the couches and their wives bring them fresh clothing – and none of the programming staff was on hand that day, as they were still chained to their desks making the pretty pictures nice and sparkly.
The game looks great. In-engine cinematics are beautifully done (and everyone is already aware of Blizzard’s legendary pre-rendered cutscenes), the sounds are great.
The best news as far as I am concerned is that the things that make Starcraft a little less fun to play – like being able to build a massive army and just slay your opponent in one fell swoop, all while using the mini map – have been taken out. Upkeep of large armies just makes that sort of tactic unusable, and instead players will be forced to rely on strategy and careful use of their heroes and troops.
The game is definitely being released as a hybrid Mac/PC disk – yes, a true simultaneous release! – in five countries.
World of WarCraft
Let me paraphrase a conversation I had with the person who demo’d this game to Lucian and myself.
Me: “Has a Mac version been announced?”
DemoGuy: “We can’t answer that at this time.”
Anyway…. Once again, Blizzard has upped the ante. The game is gorgeous. It loads continuously in the background so you can walk for hours without noticing any load time, and the graphics are of a high-end third-person-action game (not the scaled down pixels we’re used to seeing in MMORPGs). We were informed that the game, while able to take advantage of next-generation hardware, will also run on more modest machines.
We were treated to views of a variety of characters traipsing through a plethora of landscapes, fighting monsters, using spells, and changing their equipment. Everything is simple and streamlined, easy enough for the person new to these games to jump right in, yet varied enough that veterans will have plenty to do.
The story elements are being kept under a very tight lid. Apparently, the game takes place about four years after Warcraft III’s storyline ends, and they made sure to keep the story intact.
Apparently, divulging too much of the plot will spoil the fun of Warcraft III’s “better than Episode II” story, which we have been assured will shock fans. Basically, the WarCraft world will undergo a massive World War II style upheaval in WC III – important characters will die, institutions will crumble while new ones spring to life, and the landscape will be forever altered.
[Update]: We have just uploaded four gameplay videos from World of Warcraft. The clips are about 10 seconds each and weigh in at 3.5 MB.
World of Warcraft Movie 1
World of Warcraft Movie 2
World of Warcraft Movie 3
World of Warcraft Movie 4
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