Such a fantastic read. Go to the source and don’t give Kotaku free hits since they repost it as their own.
Being a huge Warcraft 2 fan, I followed development news on the upcoming Warcraft 3 eagerly. I was upset that the game was going to be more about heroes than a RTS. I was very happy when I heard about the change and the game was going to switch to a more RTS direction. However, I never understood what was going on (none of us did).
Now, we have an answer:
Briefly, Warcraft III started out as a game called Heroes of Warcraft, which departed from the type of traditional RTS we had already launched five times before (W1, W2:ToD, W2:BtDP, SC, SC:BW) and was instead a squad-based tactical combat game set in the Warcraft universe. This game morphed into a more traditional RTS — but retained the element of heroes — after a change of team-leads halfway through the development.
There is a mission at the end of Starcraft 2 where you guide four heroes underground to nuke Zerg holes. The gameplay is all tactical. Perhaps this was what they were wanting to make. This would also explain why so many of the Warcraft 3 missions had a tactical structure to them.
The most shocking part is the origin of the ‘bright cartoony look’ that Warcraft became infamous for using. He mentions artists’ previous experience on 16-bit consoles but then says…
Another reason was at the behest of Allen, who charged all the artists with drawing artwork in bright conditions. He’d regularly stalk the halls of Blizzard turning on lights and opening window-blinds.
His view was that most folks play games in bright rooms, so our artists should be authoring our games to play well in that environment. He argued that it’s easy to draw artwork that reads well when viewed in a dark room with no outside light can distract from the monitor. But when computer art is competing with bright lights it’s much more difficult to see. And fluorescent bulbs are the worst form of light available — the cold, flickering glow of their tubes tires the eyes and washes out colors.
So the lights were always on in the art rooms to force artists to compensate for terrible lighting by creating art that accounted for those conditions. These working conditions chafed on some (all?) of the art team, but ultimately led to artwork that stood out compared to products of the day.
Now you know why Warcraft artwork looks like it has been candy-coated!
And we all assumed it was some sort of creative or business decision behind the candy-coat. But no! It was a response to a forced bright light environment.
You see, reader? These were the things game developers did before they got drugged on ‘creativity quests’ and all. I can’t imagine any game developer artist going through something like that today. They are too snooty. (And it was no picnic for the programmers back then either with those insane low tech computers. Today, game developers have ‘kits’. Kits!)
Interesting he brings up DayZ. The Blizzard employees I know are currently playing DayZ (and Battlefield 3 strangely). However, I did learn about Minecraft (and bought it while it was still in alpha) from them.