Sometimes, I’m still a little taken aback by the fact that World of Warcraft is as huge as it is. I’ve never actually picked up that game for a number of reasons, but it got me thinking about Blizzard Entertainment’s journey to its most successful platform yet. Where did this all start? I thought I’d take us back in time to when Blizzard was known for WOW’s predecessors – in particular Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness.
Warcraft 2 is a real-time strategy game where players engage in close combat. The game involves Humans and Orcs in an epic battle for supreme rule over the land. Game play view is overhead and you control characters, vehicles, etc with your mouse. The idea is to spend all your time building a massive army and civilization (complete with barracks and churches) to go beat the crap out of someone else. It moves fast.
Sometime in middle school (I’m assuming) I picked up this game and started my conquest. I swear to God all I ever did was chop wood, dig for gold, and build farms until an enemy spell caster would come along and ruin all my precious work. I cared about creating a strong foundation. So most of the time, my civilization was attacked quickly and left in burning ruins. Clearly I wasn’t cut out for war.
Not adding to my already lacking skill set was the “fog of war.” The entire map was blacked out until you went and explored those hidden areas. Clever. This generally meant you’d have to send a scout team out to their death in order to find out where the enemy base was. Unfortunately, the enemy base was always a lot closer than I wanted it to be and I was never prepared. Also, I found that I was unusually preoccupied with revealing the entire map regardless of enemy base discoveries. I would run away and avoid fights just to continue my exploration and therefore fall behind my enemies in army production. In other words, I was awesome at this game.
Cheaters always win
But then something amazing happened – in the midst of my soul-destroying defeats, I discovered a strategy guide. I’m not even sure why we had it, but it didn’t matter. Suddenly the world opened up to me and I was invincible. I made myself a millionaire and cut down time spent on production. From there, I most importantly went to work constructing an impenetrable wall that was at least six rows of blocks thick and surrounded my entire civilization. Any time someone came to attack, their weapons and spells couldn’t reach me. Human spell casters could suck it. I would send hordes of my people out and destroy the enemy with my superior weapons. They never saw what was coming. Cheating was created for people like me. I felt successful.
Drunk with my newfound power, I became a merciless leader and destroyed everything in my path. Large zeppelins and spell casters that once made me cower in fear were now victims in my grand rule. I was king and no one was gonna stop me. It was excellent and I successfully beat the entire game as such.
So, what I’m really trying to say is the moral of the story here is to cheat. Apparently it makes everything fun and teaches you a lot about the human experience. For example, I’m clearly just a dark overlord waiting for my opportunity to rise to power. Anakin Skywalker anyone?
Despite my tendency to cheat my way to the top, this game was awesome (even when I was losing). There were tons of different maps and scenarios to play and I always thought the Orcs had more badass buildings and creatures than the humans. I can see why Blizzard went on to make successful sequels and its more well-known game, World of Warcraft. They had a good storyline and they stuck to it. If you haven’t ever checked out this game, I consider doing so. There’s nothing like a classic strategy game to make you feel like a God.
Did you ever play Warcraft 2 or any of the other games in the series? If so, I gotta know – Orcs or Humans?