It seems nearly impossible that the video game juggernaut Blizzard was once a small, upstart company. With over four thousand employees working on only a handful of titles, their production process seems exactly the opposite of what is associated with the current indie revolution. Every game they make is reviewed and polished by countless individuals, resulting in insanely polished and streamlined games. Even their product websites seem pristine; meticulously designed to show off the best the company has to offer while bombarding the senses with mixed media content.
Perhaps this is why I thoroughly enjoy looking at materials from Blizzard’s formative years. Their early work showcases a much rawer time in the company’s development; one where resources were stretched to the limit and the art direction was not as stringent. This is perhaps most evident in the widely varied illustrations that appeared throughout one of their first major releases, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
Over the next three weeks I will be showcasing some of the great fantasy artwork found within the original Warcraft’s instruction manual. Although lacking in polish, there is a certain charm to these illustrations. You can begin to see elements that have permeated throughout the rest of the series, and others that have be discarded entirely.
This week we’ll take a look at the artwork relating to the human half of Warcraft.