Evolution of Warcraft

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

It’s always a good day when I hear about the Ritz getting a movie on opening night. Friday, June 10, the Ritz is getting the latest installment of a franchise that I’ve been very familiar with for more than half of my life.

Starcraft and Broodwar got me started with Blizzard, the company behind Warcraft. At that same time that I’d got Starcraft, I also picked up a copy of Warcraft II: Orcs and Humans. It’s a nifty little game and it’s worth a play just for the nostalgia. It was obviously very dated, even when I’d first got it, but it was (and is) a solid game.

Blizzard was the pioneer of real time strategy (RTS) gaming, in which you build an army and basically command an entire army of units to attack your opponents’ cities. In the first Starcraft and in Warcraft II, the goal was to expand as quickly as possible and basically build your army large enough and fast enough to overwhelm the enemy with sheer numbers. There were plenty of little tricks to help that along, but when you got right down to it, it was pretty straight forward.

Then came Warcraft III. Eventually.

This game kept getting delayed while developers ironed out the kinks and the wait was nearly unbearable. But once the game finally came out, it was all worth it. Gone was the straight-forward strategy of cranking out soldiers for a straight forward brawl, this was a real time strategy game that required serious strategy. Each of the four factions (Human, Orc, Night Elf and Undead) have a wide variety of well-balanced units and multiple strategies for use in dozens of situations and against particular opponents. Fourteen years later and I still haven’t mastered this game.

Not long after, Blizzard tried their hands at an entirely different sort of game. World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) meaning that players join in on massive group games on servers with thousands of other players. Other companies had done this with some success, but when Blizzard stepped into the market, WoW blew all other MMOs out of the water and became a standard that no game has been able to reach in over a decade.

Between 2004 and now, I’ve never had a chance to experience WoW, but that may be for the best. I’d already wasted my teenage years on an earlier MMO called Ultima Online and everyone talks about how addictive WoW is.

The point is, Blizzard has already invaded and conquered two very different markets. When I heard about WoW, I had absolutely no idea what they were thinking, taking an RTS and making it into an MMO, but now WoW is the only MMO that anyone ever talks about.

And now they’ve got a movie out.

As of this writing, I haven’t seen it. Reviews are mixed, but I’ve disagreed with popular opinion on movies far too many times to let that change my mind. I’ve also heard that fans of the game (of which I am one) are likely to enjoy the movie. I certainly enjoyed the books that I’ve read. And even if the movie has a lot of problems, it’ll still be Warcraft, with the characters I love. As long as the movie does those characters justice, I’m sure that I’ll probably return home Friday night glad that I’d seen it.

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