EA Games, THQ, Rockstar, Nintendo. To name but a few companies that have shaped, modeled and inspired countless of other game designers to the 21st century. EA Games being the most successful of all game franchises and being the sole bearer of the title "The Megadon of the gaming industry" I mean with more then 20 years of gaming expertise and most movie-to-game release titles, Sports games, racing games, and FPS (First Person Shooters) like Battlefield under there belt, why wouldn't they? But it would be a small but visionary company in California, with the name Silicon & Synapse that would be the birth of EA games greatest rival more then 15 years later.
Silicon & Synapse was founded in 1991 by Michael Morhaime, Ayman Allen Adham, Frank Pearce, and was situated in California. The small company did many ports at the time, mainly consisting of board games and other well orientated titles, but it was not until the company was put on the project with the mighty company at the time Interplay Entertainment (Baldurs Gate, Fallout) and together created "The Lost Vikings" side scroller on the Snes, that its breakthrough came. With critical acclaim, the Lost Vikings hit the shelves in 1992, and almost straight away it was a smash hit.
The Super Nintendo game that was Blizzards first major project.
With the success of The Lost Vikings, the young designers of Silicon & Synapse got ahead of them selves and decided to release a few bootleg-like copies of The Lost Vikings. Interplay immediately broke the contract and the partner ship was out. Interplay Entertainment then sued Silicon & Synapse for forgery claims, but they never won. They tried everything they could to shut them down, and in 1994, wanting to start fresh with a new identity Silicon & Synapse changed the name to Chaos Studios.
Interplay was now out of the picture and at the time was working on what would be the first of the smash hit Baldurs Gate series (That's right, 4 years in the making). Chaos Studios, after a long and bitter legal battle with another company at the time calling itself Chaos, lost the legal fight and was forced to change the name. 3rd time lucky right? Definitely! That same year Chaos changed the name for the last time, to what is now a house hold name among gamers world wide. Blizzard Entertainment was born.
World wide recognition.
More then 15 years later, a cultural following, and a net revenue estimated at 1.5 billion dollars, Blizzard is a power house in the gaming industry. But how did it start? While Starcraft and Diablo had definitely alot to say, it was Warcraft: Orcs and Humans that would engrave Blizzard into the history books. So join me on this epic 3 part series, as i now begin the tale of Warcraft: Part 1.
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.
Once again Blizzard show off their art department.
It was the first in the Warcraft series, it was the name and title that would spark the immortality fuse of a gaming giant. Little would Blizzard have known that this title would become a house hold name almost 2 decades later. Well it did.
The human Mage Medivh, scion of a mortal human and one of the last guardians, comes under the influence of the dark Titan, Sargeras (although it is revealed that he was possessed). Mad with lust for power, he offers the world of Azeroth to the bloodthirsty Orcs in exchange for the Titan's powers and unwavering loyalty of the Orcish Horde.
The Orcs begin a very swift invasion of Azeroth but are, at first, beaten back and Medivh himself is slain, putting an end to his quest for power and domination. However, fortunes take a turn for the worse when the Orcs assassinate King Llane, sack Stormwind Keep (the capital of Azeroth), and drive the humans from Azeroth north into the Lordaeron subcontinent.
Sounds all to familiar right? I mean in the 90's what game didn't have fantasy based creatures, such as trolls, orcs and elves? And whats this? The good killing the bad for a happier ending? Oh but in a time where the fantasy genre dominated the market, Blizzard did something very different, but very right. Not only could you build your own army, structure them and attack as you wished, but the game play was different each time you played, creating a refreshing and new experience each time. So in a time when gaming was quite scripted, this direct insult to the code proved to be a massive, correct hit.
The game that started it all.
The objective of the game could not be more simple if it tried, you must raise a army, tend to its need and farm the resources such as lumber and gold, organize a assault and finally attack the opposing side with your army. Buildings must be built in order to sustain and expand your base, such as farm houses, barracks, and castles. All this, with Blizzards always amazing graphics and art department, insured a truly successful hit, and set the basics for all other strategy games to follow.
After winning multiple gaming awards, it was obvious the Warcraft universe needed to be expanded, fans were asking questions that the guys at Blizzard needed to answer. What did happen after the fall of Azeroth? Who was Medivh really? Was there any more threat of invasion? Gamers would have to sit patiently and twiddle their thumbs a whole year and a half for these questions to be answered.
Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness.
Blizzards unprecedented graphics has always been well known and respected.
Six years had passed since the Orcs invasion of Azeroth, the Humans now desperate for survival, called upon their neighbors for help, the Elves of Quel`Thalas, the Dwarves of Khaz Modan and the Gnomes, to bring forth a Alliance.
Building a balanced army was the key ingredient to a victory.
The Orcish Horde waged a second war on Lordaeron, the Humans last great fortress. But with the Humans new alliance, they were able to push back the Orcs, and decided to attack Blackrock Spire, one of the great clans of the Orcs. But treachery was in the works, when the Nation of Alterac betrayed the humans and began to deal with the Orcs.
The wars for their time were
The Horde itself had become divided when the Warlock Gul'dan split off his Stormreaver clan. Together with Cho'gall and his Twilight's Hammer clan, he searched for the Tomb of Sargeras. Orgrim Doomhammer, Warchief of the Horde, needed to dispatch some of his forces to deal with Gul'dan, weakening the Horde's front.
The intro to the Human Prologue.
Eventually, the armies of the Alliance pressed into Azeroth and laid waste to the Orcish main base at Blackrock Spire, a battle in which the Alliance lost Lord Anduin Lothar, their military commander. The final battle was fought at the Dark Portal, the gateway between Azeroth and the Orcish homeworld Draenor. The Archmage Khadgar destroyed the portal but did not seal the rift between the two worlds. This would enable Ner'zhul to stage a new invasion in the expansion pack Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal. The Orcs that had not fled to Draenor through the portal before its destruction were either killed or rounded up in internment camps. Orgrim Doomhammer, the leader of the Orcish Horde, was taken prisoner and escorted to Lordaeron.
A Human Paladin in the era of the March of Lordaeron.
Advanced units, different races to control, map editor, and online battle.net system that would be one of a kind, welcome to Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness.
In my opinion, Warcraft 2 would see Blizzards full potential for story, graphics, and game play. With a new arsenal of units to control, from the Mages, Paladins, and Dwarven demolition squad on the alliance, to the Death Knight, Ogre-Mage, and Troll Berzerker on the Horde. There was something for everyone in this game, beautiful and huge landscapes, from deserts, to forest, to snow, even the Orcs own Red World.
Lumber Mills now upgraded arrows and buildings, Town Halls to Fortresses, and all was needed to advance your units skills. A Gryphon Aviary was able to build further down the advancement line for powerful air units. My personal favourite was the Death Knight you could built from the Temple of the Damned in the Horde side. Death Coil and Raise Undead were the 2 greatest skills ever.
Blizzard march into the new millennium
Its easy to see how Warcraft began its rise to the top, when you combine a good story, gameplay, and graphics, fans will be screaming for more. But it would be 7 years before Blizzard calmed the screaming fans with yet another continuation to the Warcraft series, join me in my next article, Part 2: Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos.
Until next time, take care!
Warcraft 3 would catapult Blizzard once again, and be the beginning of the fan base that would see 1.5 billion dollars in revenue.