Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans
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|Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans|
|Designer(s)||Bill Roper, Chris Metzen|
Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was a black comedy point-and-click adventure computer game under development by Blizzard Entertainment that was set in the Warcraft universe, and cancelled before its release. American company Animation Magic was out-sourced due to their experience in classical two-dimensional animation to produce the twenty-two minutes of fully animated sequences, the game's artwork, the coding of the engine and the implementation of the sound effects. Blizzard then provided all the designs, the world backgrounds, sound recording and ensured storyline continuity. Four or five months after Blizzard had released Battle.net and Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal had shipped, Blizzard began development on a title that would be cancelled just over a year later.
The game was originally slated for a fourth-quarter 1997 release; however it was pushed back until the end of 1998. This was a result of unforeseen technical problems coupled with communication limitations between Blizzard and the Russian animators at Animation Magic. Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans had been in development for over a year: nearly all features, puzzles, and areas were in place, the voice acting had been recorded, and much of the animation was complete, yet Blizzard was not confident with their title. Blizzard hired Steve Meretzky, creator of A Mind Forever Voyaging and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy computer games, as a design specialist to help refine the puzzles and make them further cohesive with the narrative. Meretzky spent two weeks with the developers looking over the game for up to fourteen hours a day and it was decided that sequences of the game had to be rewritten which would involve more animation and more dubbing.
However as the 1998 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Atlanta was approaching, Blizzard became increasingly aware that implementing the proposed changes would result in them being unable to meet their already extended 1998 deadline. LucasArts had released their (competing) title Monkey Island III in the fall of 1997, and had announced their next adventure game title Grim Fandango sporting a 3D engine. In comparison producer Bill Roper felt WarCraft Adventures looked dated;
I think that one of the big problems with WarCraft Adventures was that we were actually creating a traditional adventure game, and what people expected from an adventure game, and very honestly what we expected from an adventure game, changed over the course of the project. And when we got to the point where we cancelled it, it was just because we looked at where we were and said, you know, this would have been great three years ago.—
After over a year of hard work, press tours, magazine covers, and fan fervor Blizzard announced that WarCraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was cancelled days before E3. Within hours of the announcement fans of the series formed an online petition, demanding the project be resurrected. On the 22nd of May 1998, Blizzard responded via their website;
Blizzard Announcement — 22 May 1998
Press Desk: Blizzard Cancels WarCraft Adventures
Blizzard wants to take a minute to respond to the Warcraft Adventures petition that is circulating on the Internet. First, we want to express our gratitude to the Warcraft fans that took the time to organize such an effort. We recognize that the cancellation of Warcraft Adventures has disappointed some of our customers, and we appreciate that they have shared their opinions with us.
Secondly, we want let you know that stopping development was not a decision that was taken lightly. It was a hard call to make, but each of us knows that it was the right choice. The cancellation was not a business or marketing decision or even a statement about the adventure genre. The decision centered around the level of value that we want to give our customers. In essence, it was a case of stepping up and really proving to ourselves and gamers that we will not sell out on the quality of our games.
And finally, we hope that Warcraft fans will consider our track record and trust our judgement on ending the project. The cancellation of Warcraft Adventures does not signal the demise of Azeroth. We have every intention of returning to the Warcraft world because there are still chapters to be told. We will keep you informed as we announce future Warcraft plans.
Despite their press release, rumours still persist the game was cancelled due to projected low sales from the deteriorating market of the Adventure game genre.
Even though the game was cancelled, Blizzard felt the story itself too important to ignore and hired an author to adapt it into a novel. The author contracted to scribe it was unable to complete the book on time, so Star Trek novelist Christie Golden was then hired to write the novelization based on scripts and outlines provided by Warcraft universe co-creator, Chris Metzen, and had to be completed within six weeks. The book was released under the title Warcraft: Lord of the Clans by Pocket Books and is considered canonical. Warcraft: Lord of the Clans is the second novel based in the Warcraft Universe.
Blizzard returned to the Azeroth setting in 2002, with the release of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Even though the game exploring his storyline had been cancelled, Thrall played a major role in Warcraft III and the subsequent MMORPG World of Warcraft and his story as outlined in the novel is considered canon, according to the Warcraft III manual's backstory.
In March 2010, a video of 20 minutes of gameplay was uploaded to a Russian gaming website, proving that someone outside of Blizzard Entertainment possesses a version of the game. The video is also available on YouTube (where it is labeled as from an alpha version of the game). In February 2011 a series of 11 gameplay videos (labeled as from a beta version of the game) were uploaded to YouTube (in December 2014 the 12th video has been added).
The project from conception to cancellation took over one year, over that time the following resources were used:
- The cost of a small internal team for one year.
- Outsourcing the American animation house, Animation Magic that had over 100 artists and animators working on the project.
- Establishing a Boston sound team.
- Establishing a secondary sound team.
- Voice actors.
- Hiring Steve Meretzky as a design specialist for two weeks.
- Trademark costs and advertising budget leading up to its expected release.
- Thrall played by Clancy Brown (of Highlander and The Shawshank Redemption fame)
- Orgrim Doomhammer played by Peter Cullen (of Optimus Prime, Transformers fame)
- Drek'thar (the shaman) played by Tony Jay
- Zul'jin (Troll leader) played by Unknown
- Nazgrel (the shaman) played by Unknown
- Gazlowe played by Unknown
- Durotan played by Unknown
- Rend played by Unknown
- Maim played by Unknown
- Kargath Bladefist played by Unknown
- Deathwing played by Unknown
- Additional Voices: Bill Roper 
^ Bill Roper produced the voices for all the characters in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and many of the voices in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, however as primarily a producer he is not a union actor so was not allowed to be used for WarCraft Adventures. However they could legally use his previously recorded work sparingly throughout the game.
- StarCraft: Ghost - another canceled Blizzard title
- Hardcore Gaming 101: Zelda: Wand of Gamelon / Link: Faces of Evil
- WarCraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans looked at by GameSpot.
- Interview with Author of Lord of the Clans, Christie Golden
- Art of Warcraft, Brady Games, Pearson Education, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46290, United States of America, 2002. ISBN 0-7440-0081-5