Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

The Art of Warcraft: Part I

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.

humansPerhaps 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.


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    • This is one of the reasons that the Pandas and Werewolves in WoW vex me so; it seems so out of place compared to the original source material. If the first release of World of Warcraft wandered off the beaten path of continuity, then the later expansions jumped to the fuckin’ moon.

By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer