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Monday, December 21, 2009

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Warcraft 15th Anniversary Retrospective
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Gamasutra has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Samwise Didier and J. Allen Brack about 15 years of Warcraft. The developers discuss the beginnings of the franchise, the unexpected success of World of Warcraft, the viability of the personal computer as a gaming platform, and the company's future plans.

One of the things that's most interesting about Warcraft is that it is borne entirely out of games, not an external license, and now is an extremely successful setting that spans genres. How does it feel to have helped create such a huge property?
Sam Didier: It's actually kind of like watching your child grow. I've fathered many illegitimate children, Warcraft being one. You create this thing, and you have all kinds of great hopes for it, but you never really know how far it's going to go.
Warcraft started out as this small game. Not a lot of people knew about it, but the people who did were really into it. I took a lot of pride in that. And now that it's kind of grown into this gigantic, nation-wide, worldwide entity, it blows my mind that there are people out there who know more about this game than I do. They'll let me know when I'm incorrect. When I'm stating some fact about the Warrior class, they'll go, "Oh no, that got changed in this patch." "Oh. Okay."
It's really a cool feeling, though, to know that something that we created here as a bunch of dorky guys and girls could become something everybody knows about. When we first started making the games here, people would always ask us if we made Street Fighter or if we made Doom. And nowadays, when someone finds out that I work in the game industry, they go, "Oh, did you work on World of Warcraft?" I always say, "No, I didn't work on it," because otherwise I'd spend the next three or four hours arguing about how come we changed this spell or altered that class.

So as someone who was involved in the art direction of Warcraft for its entire history, I'm curious how much intention you guys had behind the evolution of its tone. From the original game through Warcraft III, then WoW, there's been a big shift -- more exaggerated and stylized, for one thing. Were you consciously trying to distinguish it from its influences?
Sam Didier: The influences are pretty clear -- Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings. We're all big comic book fans. But the actual art style evolved more out of us being comfortable making our own games. When we first started with Warcraft on the PC, people said that nobody on the PC liked action games or anything like that. They were saying, "Oh no, the PC audience is older, and they like slow-paced games and more realism in the graphics and storylines."
So we started off with Warcraft being kind of tame. It was a little bit more like medieval Europe -- your classic castles and farm buildings and stuff like that. Once that games were a success, we kind of started putting a little bit more of our own flavor into it. Warcraft II had a lot more humorous elements.
Visit the site below to read the full Q&A.

Gamasutra: 15 Years Of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment

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