News: Tardy Debut

It seems a shame to leave a finished game unreleased.
Blizzard should just put it up on Good Old Games.

Warcraft Adventures Receives a Belated Release

There is nothing quite like the unpredictability inherent to the video game industry. It is never advisable to rule out the seemingly impossible, as was evidenced by the surprise discovery of a working Nintendo Playstation, and indeed by this week’s shock release of Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans – a mere eighteen years late. The game is a point and click adventure title and has been described as a black comedy. The game follows the exploits of the orcish main character Thrall [voiced by Highlander and Crash Bandicoot actor, Clancy Brown], and was designed in order to expand upon the story and setting of the Warcraft universe. Despite being largely feature complete in 1998 Blizzard decided to cancel the game because The Curse of Monkey Island had released recently, and they felt that Warcraft Adventures felt dated in comparison.

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.

Subsequently, the story that was to be told in Warcraft Adventures was adapted into a novel titled Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, but happily this week’s leak of Warcraft Adventures means that Blizzard fans are now free to experience it in its original form. In order to produce the game’s animated sequences Blizzard partnered with with a Russian subsidiary of Animation Magic, a company infamous for developing two of the CD-i Zelda games. Animation Magic has been long since made defunct, but it would seem that someone has been able to acquire a near-complete version of Warcraft Adventures that they had held onto – as the game was released online by a Russian. Activision predictably wasted no time in forcing the initial download link to be taken down, but obviously once something awesome is made available on the internet it is there forever, and Warcraft Adventures is now easily available via torrent.

In a final bit of related news Chris Metzen, the creative force behind Warcraft, has announced this week that he is retiring from video game development in order to spend more time with his family. Metzen is a longtime creative director, writer, and artist for Blizzard, and has also performed a multitude of voice acting roles for the company. Thus, it seems kind of fitting one final game of his has seen release in the very week that he announced his departure.

The game is going to under-perform.
Graphics that were cutting edge when the game was announced now look dated.

The Last Guardian Has Been Delayed

Because of course it has! The Last Guardian has been in development for so long that anticipation for the game has fizzled out to essentially nothing. Coming off of the success of Shadow of the Colossus, the hype for the game was initially off the charts, and it was ranked as one of the PS3’s more significant exclusive titles. Jump forward a massive nine years of development hell and interest in the title has flat-lined, with the game barely even being relevant enough to show up in Google’s auto-complete. The game looks old, and far from receiving a fresh coat of paint with the move to the PS4, the game’s graphics may even have received a slight downgrade with respect to what was initially shown off for the PS3. Now to top it all off the game has been delayed by over a month on account of all the bugs that need to be squashed before wrapping up production. Shuhei Yoshida reveals that the decision to once again delay this troubled game was not an easy one given its history, but there was simply no other choice.

Fumito Ueda, gen DESIGN and JAPAN Studio have a wonderful vision for The Last Guardian’s touching, emotional journey of friendship and trust, and we want to deliver the most polished experience possible for our fans who have supported us for so long. A delay is a difficult decision, particularly with this game, but we have encountered more bugs than anticipated while in the final stages of development. To ensure that The Last Guardian delivers on the experience that the game’s creators have envisioned, we need to take the extra time to work on those issues.

The Last Guardian has faded into irrelevancy and there is no way in hell that it is making back its budget. At this point one gets the feeling that the only reason that it was not cancelled outright long ago is as an exercise in saving face by Sony’s Japan Studio. The only feature which tends to distinguish Team Ico’s games are their graphical presentations, and the drawn out development cycle means that The Last Guardian‘s aged visuals no longer pop, and so there is no wow factor there. Without the cutting edge graphics Fumito Ueda tends to make largely middle of the road puzzle games with slightly cumbersome controls. The Last Guardian will be available on December 6, assuming it does not get delayed again.

Valve did us all a favour.
These guys just can’t help themselves.

Digital Suicide

There are many good things about Steam, but the one pertinent criticism that has stuck with Valve’s digital platform is that their content standards are so low that the storefront has been flooded with a near endless torrent of absolute bilge – so much so that lampooning Steam content has become its own cottage industry, a fact that Caspius.com’s Nate Liles can attest to. When considering Steam’s rivers of bilge there is perhaps no developer more emblematic of the problem than Digital Homicide. Not only are their games abject soulless dreck which amounts to little more than blatant Unity asset flips, but they have also garnered a reputation for themselves for coming after anybody who dares to criticise their awful games, resulting in many frivolous Youtube content strikes.

All this has come to an end this week however, as Digital Homicide decided too push things a little too far even for them. Digital Homicide recently took it upon themselves to sue over a hundred individual Steam users for eighteen million dollars in damages because they left bad reviews for their games. Worse still, the developers issued Valve with a subpoena demanding that the company turn over the personal details of these Steam users, prompting them into action. As such all of Digital Homicide’s games have been delisted from Steam so they are no longer able to profit from unwary Steam users.

Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers.

Fucking with the operations of the biggest online gaming store in the world is not a terribly good idea if one is smalltime independent developer, especially since other storefronts do not tend to be as forgiving as Valve when it comes to lax quality. Now Digital Homicide has burned all their bridges with the company that was keeping them afloat, and nothing of value has been lost.

12 comments

  1. The visual style of Warcraft Adventures would have been shocking and awful if it had been released eighteen years ago, but now it is positively retro and would likely be well-received.

    And so the great wheel spins.

  2. I remember reading about Warcraft Adventures in PC Gamer when it was in development. I was a big Blizzard and point-and-click fan back then, and although I’m past that now, it’s nice to know it exists somehow. As Caspius said, it is the right climate for it.

    The 80’s and 90’s in video games is like classic Greek and Roman literature; despite (and because of) the archaism, it will always be appreciated.

  3. @DancingMatt: The 90s were also the last era of video games before the industry-wide push attempt to make games photorealistic. The technology of making a game appear ‘real’ dates quickly, and no technology adequately catches reality for future viewers: at best, attempts at photorealism satisfy viewers at that exact moment. So, looking back on attempted photorealistic games always appears visually dreadful compared to whatever the current, more advanced, efforts have been made in that direction. But looking back on deliberately stylised imagery means not having to live up to the demands of modern CG innovations. The result is that some games from the past still look better than games of the present.

    There’s an artistic corollary here in paintings of the early Renaissance. There was a change in art after the middle ages, which had been the era of two-dimensional staging that still looks fantastic today (as found in illuminated manuscripts, the Bayeaux Tapestry, etc.). In the early Renaissance, in an effort to capture reality as seen, artists began experimenting with perspective. For the first century or two, they could not get it quite right. And, looking at those paintings now, one finds them not only unconvincing, but vaguely amateurish.

    However, those amateurish pictures must have been aesthetically compelling for their time, given that the use of perspective not only persisted for centuries, but continued to spread and develop. Nevertheless, the pictures of the artists who were trying to understand perspective are largely forgotten outside of Art History courses–it is the works of later masters which are remembered today.

    Video games will likely be the same way, if not more so. The invention of the Daguerrotype and Photography rendered obsolete the desire to make painting about trying to capture the real, and so instead we got the impressionists, the surrealists, the cubists, etc. This move ensured that art survived and remained aesthetically relevant. Video game developers have yet to make this decision with their approach to visuals. But if developers continue to chase photorealism as an industry good, they are only ever going to succeed at building visual obsolescence into their products, and rendering whole eras of gaming aesthetically amateurish to future players.

  4. You’re already starting to see people pick weird, art-y visual themes (Limbo, Sword and Sworcery) for their games because it’s not photorealistic.

    That being said, good games from the 2000s/2010s era will still be good games in the future, even if some of the graphics technology becomes dated, because such games are more than their graphics. While some games (the Battlefield series comes to mind) will fall by the wayside, unable to be borne under their own weight, I foresee people playing Half-Life 2, some of the Assassin’s Creed games, and the Witcher 3 for decades to come, realistic graphics and all.

  5. Lane, the studios you mention lack the resources to have chased the photo-realism dragon.

  6. And yet managed to do more with less.

    I’m not saying they wouldn’t (because who doesn’t want COD money?), but that necessity is the mother of invention.

    No one gets creative when $$$ are on the line (see: Titanfall 2’s impending disaster)

  7. But VR is the future! Every game should be first person and have motion contro–I mean VR support!

  8. Your comments section does not accommodate the length of my name! How dare you! I shall have to spell it the untraditional way with ONE L. Some say that is the correct way, but they are wrong.

  9. I wish there was a LucasArts point-and-click adventure game based on Muppet Babies that would suddenly leak out of nowhere.

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