You Were Never Meant to See the Warcraft Game the Internet Just Found
Eighteen years ago, Blizzard cancelled Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans—and probably for good reason. A point-and-click adventure game set in the Warcraft universe, everything we’ve seen of Lord of the Clans looks a bit silly, a bit clunky; Blizzard is a game company with a high pedigree, and when it came right down to it the near-finished product didn’t seem to match their full expectations.
Talking to GameSpot at the time, former Blizzard North vice president Bill Roper said, “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.” In 1998, years before the adventure game genre imploded, it was likely a good call.
But on the Internet, secrets (and less-than-stellar videogames) never stay buried, and thanks to a user named Reidor on the Warcraft fansite Scrolls of Lore, a near-complete build of Lord of the Clans has leaked. The version has almost all the game’s cutscenes and audio, and seems to be essentially finished, with the exception of some missing assets here and there and desynchronized audio during the cutscenes. Various redditors and writers at other publications have even managed to get it running on modern systems.
This leak offers us a more complete history of one of Blizzard’s list of legendary canceled titles, which includes the defunct stealth-action game Starcraft: Ghost and the mysterious Project Titan, whose spare parts were mined to create Overwatch. It’s not the first leak of Lord of the Clans—we’ve had pictures and videos for years that are easy enough to track down—but it’s the first time it’s been playable to a wide audience.
Lord of the Clans is also a fascinating snapshot of a time in Blizzard’s history when Warcraft was a more broad, flexible place than it is now after the massive success of World of Warcraft made the series a household name. It’s a goofy game, with animation in a hand-drawn style by Animation Magic, who made the legendarily bad Legend of Zelda CD-i games, and features all the hallmarks of classic point-and-click adventures, from obtuse puzzles and obscure jokes to extensive inventory management.
Activision, Blizzard’s parent company, has, as of this writing, removed the download for copyright infringement, but once you open a box like this there’s no closing it.
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