Two days ago, PC gamer put together an amazing article for anyone who's played a Blizzard game. It details the complete history of Blizzard and its games, including everything from The Lost Vikings (1992), Diablo 2 (2000), Overwatch (2016), and everything between. PC Gamer: The Complete History of Blizzard Games on PC
Here's a thorough excerpt from Scott Mercer's part of the Warcraft 3 section. It's actually filled with a load of great, uplifting things regarding the modding community (that's us!) and the world editor. If you want to skip to that, feel free to scroll down to the texts highlighted in gold.
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (2002)
Today, the Horde. Tomorrow, the World.
Scott Mercer, 20 year Blizzard veteran, Principal Designer on Overwatch and game designer on Warcraft 3:
"Early on during Warcraft 3 development, there was even more focus on the lower unit counts and the heroes. The concept was running around in that party, where here's your hero and here's your footmen along with it. The gameplay was even more of that. And then we actually took it back to sort of this in-between state, where there was absolutely base building, this normal RTS sense of you start small, build up, go through a tech tree. But it was the heroes, and the fact that the heroes leveled and had items, there were all these RPG elements that got added to the RTS genre through Warcraft 3. That concept alone is what I think inspired DotA to do what they did.
"The level editor that the players ended up having was the exact same level editor we needed to create the campaign. When you talk about the Warcraft 3 level editor, you have to go back to the Warcraft 2 level editor. We made the campaign for Warcraft 2 with that editor. It was very limited in what you could do. I think most all of the maps ended with 'destroy all the enemy buildings.' Going forward with Starcraft, we improved the editor, added more ways for you to win, more things we could do. You saw that in the Starcraft campaign where there was a bit more variety in the types of missions that we had there, and that was due to the editor becoming more robust.
“And then going forward into War 3, in early development, we knew we needed to create an even better editor because Warcraft 2I was our first 3D game. We wanted to do all the in-game cinematics and storytelling within the game, so the editor had to be even more robust...We had to create the camera system. There were the in-game cinematics we had, usually at the beginnings and ends of missions, where there was a character interaction. We actually had to be able to place those cameras inside the game world. What the editor allowed us to do was move the map around, the view of what the player would see, and take snapshots and sort of create cameras out of that. It was that kind of camera control that I think a lot of people used in the mod community to create these modes of 'oh, here's these crazy RPGs that are like third-person over a character.' There were a lot of things we could do with that. But that was all going back to needing to make these in-game cinematics.
“A lot of the very important features that the Warcraft 3 editor got over time were things that we needed, that made our lives easier, making the game. Things like being able to create new units with, choosing a piece of art, assigning a bunch of stats to that, if we could do that in the editor, then designers could do that without having to go bug programmers to put in the game. The editor allowed us to be very nimble with our designs in the campaign and really allowed our programmers to work on bigger issues. The mod community basically took all that and ran with it."
"The scale [of the mod scene] absolutely took us by surprise… We couldn't have imagined those kinds of mods would end up existing. We were very excited about it. It jazzed us up. A lot of the ideas that came from the mod community were things that, when we worked on Frozen Throne, we integrated some of those. Like the very last mission of the Orc campaign in the expansion took a lot of its gameplay cues from the Aeon of Strife, Dota type games with waves crashing into each other.
“It was a super exciting time. We just tried to go in and play them occasionally and see what people wanted. And all through this we were getting feedback from these mapmakers saying 'Hey, could you fix this?' There were actually some bugs to fix, and new features they wanted. A lot of those features were things we were like 'yeah totally, if we give you those features, we get those features in our own work.' It was this wonderful time of the community feeding on our creativity, we were feeding on their creativity. And the Warcraft 3 editor was allowing all this to take place."
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