Rants and raves

Warcraft Adventures leaked; designer spills beans

Warcraft Adventures was supposed to have been released by Blizzard back in 1997, but never was. That is, until now.

All the major game sites have now covered this, but in case you haven’t noticed: a Russian dude who says he “found it” back in August last year, decided to release his long-forgotten copy of it.

So, is it worth playing? I don’t know, because I haven’t, yet. I plan on doing a one-off video on it tomorrow, if I can get it running. That’s not why I’m writing this post, however.

I’m writing this because Mark Kern of Blizzard really wants you to know one thing, and I concur that it’s a really important thing:

He goes on to explain the real reason why this version that’s now been leaked never saw the light of day:

And that he, along with Bill Roper and Steve Meretzky of Infocom, tried to fix the design …

… before deciding to scrap it because it would just have taken too goddamn long to fix.

So that’s the real reason why Warcraft Adventures never hit the shelves: the game design by the 3rd party developer was shit, so was the code, and Blizzard tried to fix it by locking the franchise’s creator, a celebrated adventure game legend, and this Kern dude in a conference room for a week, then took one look at the code and went, “Ah, fuck it.”

By Space Quest Historian

Hi, I'm the Space Quest Historian, and I also manage this blog. When I'm not talking out of my ass, I do Let's Plays, podcasts and hang around on Twitter all day.

7 replies on “Warcraft Adventures leaked; designer spills beans”

[…] Warcraft Adventures… it’s got nothing to add. It takes the interface from Full Throttle, but few of that game’s inspired thoughts on how to make a tough character into a different kind of adventurer than the usual inventory-packing geek. Thrall is bland, inappropriately quippy, and just generally stock. It comes from an RTS lineage, but can’t seem to find any way of integrating that into the mix in the way that, say, Quest For Glory merged RPG elements with its adventuring. There’s the occasional flourish, like using magic scrolls to solve puzzles, but not to any great extent – not even the extent of potion mixing in Kyrandia 2. There’s no ambition beyond ‘make it solid’. There’s no burning desire to improve the genre. It’s not a terrible adventure, but there’s no point in the 90s when it would have been a great one. It wants to be Full Throttle, but it’s closer to the likes of Dragonsphere, Inherit the Earth and Touche. Certainly Bill Roper was right when talking about its cancellation in 1998 that it was at least three years late and could only have diluted Blizzard’s already firm reputation for quality. Though it would have been interesting to see what the final version might have been. […]

I call BS on “not Blizzard’s design”. Blizzard approved the script. Blizzard approved character design. Blizzard received intermediate builds on schedule. They could’ve course corrected at any time they wanted. And I would not call in game scripts “code”. Truth is Blizzard dropped the ball on this one and they waited to the last moment to decide that main quest and puzzles needed redesign. Cost of doing additional animations and voiceovers was much bigger issue then the scripts could ever be. So I would not take an opinion of somebody who wasn’t even involved in the project as gospel.

Reportedly, Blizzard worked on the overall story but not the actual puzzle design. This is hearsay, though. I was not involved in the project, as you say; I’m merely relaying information.

I wouldn’t call inventory code copy-pastes across 300 game screens a “scripting” problem, though.

I was actually talking about Mark Kern and his non involvement in the project. When did he even join Blizzard?
There is no need to look for alternative explanations. Bill Roper outlined real reasons quite accurately: cost of finishing game in both money and time made it a money loosing proposition, so canceling it was a practical choice.
PS. Did some googling for Mark Kern and it looks like he prefers to express his opinions in a rather forceful way…
And the game doesn’t even have 300 screens 😉

Well, yes, I looked up Mark Kern as well, and he does have some rather … questionable attitudes in general. That said, I have no reason to not trust that what he’s saying about being part of its cancellation with Bill Roper. If someone else from Blizzard would step forward and contradict what Mark has said, then I will of course amend what I have said in this post.

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