Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

The Art of Warcraft: Part II

This is the second part of the Art of Warcraft series. You can view part one by clicking here.

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.

Warcraft OrcsPerhaps 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.

Last week we took a look at some of the great fantasy artwork that appeared in the “human half” of the original Warcraft’s instruction manual, and this week we will be reviewing the “orc half”. The overall aesthetic for the race is rather undefined at this point – clearly seen through inconsistent characteristics from unit to unit – but some series mainstays (such as the grunt and peon) are prominently displayed.

My personal favourite of the bunch is the Necrolyte, although Blackhand’s double battle axe and antler crown were certainly badass.

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