The ‘lost’ Warcraft adventure game can now be played as it should be
Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was a point-and-click adventure game canceled by Blizzard in 1998, and how time flies. The game was lost for most of its history, only existing in a few old screenshots and videos that circulated the internet, but in 2016 the full game suddenly appeared for download. (opens in a new tab). It was playable, nearly complete, including cutscenes and voice acting, and the person who leaked it said, “This is my gift to all Blizzard fans old and new.”
To which Blizzard’s attorneys replied “This is my DMCA for all Warcraft Adventures hosts, old and new.” So the game is Out There Somewhere, in the sense that nothing can ever truly be erased from the internet, but don’t brag if you find it.
The reason you might want to do this is because modder DerSilver83 has spent the past six years, on and off, fixing one of the biggest problems in the build, and a pretty big one for an adventure game ( first spotted by IndieRetroNews (opens in a new tab)). The original Warcraft Adventures leak was playable from start to finish and included nearly every cutscene, but this one in particular suffered from out of sync audio and missing sound effects.
“Furthermore, these had been encoded with a low bitrate and suffered from a lot of compression artifacts,” writes DerSilver83 “A few weeks later, 2 missing cutscenes were found on a DVD, but being filmed from a TV screen, they had even bigger problems.”
DerSilver83 has now released The Warcraft Adventure Cutscenes Remaster project, a standalone mod containing all of the game’s cutscenes (i.e. you’ll have to find the game yourself), including the 2 that weren’t present in the original leak, all completely remastered. Here are the main changes:
- Adapted sound effects and music have been added (over 200 sound effects, music from Warcraft 1 + 3).
- Audio has been synced, with noise filtering, reverb, etc. applied if necessary.
- Many compression artifacts were removed by hand (this tedious work was done for all cutscenes).
- Previously missing cutscenes, only available as a TV recording, have been carefully remastered using anti-flicker filters, waifu scaling, Photoshop editing, and repainting large portions of almost every frame by hand . Additionally, they have been carefully adjusted to 12 fps as originally intended.
- The missing vocals were restored to the alternate “AMI intro” using the original script and TTS software.
- Continuity errors (e.g. disappearing orcs or items that should no longer exist) have been fixed.
“From 2016 to 2022 I worked on this little project in my free time,” writes DerSilver83. You can download the remastered cutscenes here (opens in a new tab).
Warcraft Adventures was crafted at a time when point-and-click adventures were hugely popular and Blizzard wanted a piece of the action with its bigger brand. Blizzard wasn’t much of a specialist in adventure game elements, so they teamed up with Russian studio Animation Magic (best known for the infamous Legend of Zelda CD-I games).
The story would revolve around Thrall uniting the various orc clans and eventually forming the Horde as we know it, but the game was canceled shortly before E3 1998, with Blizzard essentially believing that its traditional adventure styles would not be more state-of-the-art. art alongside competitors like the magnificent Grim Fandango. Former Blizzard VP Bill Roper later said of the decision, “When we got to the point where we reversed it, it was just because we looked at where we were and we said, you know, it would have been great three years ago.”
Here’s a deep dive into the game’s troubled development (opens in a new tab).
The game’s story was turned into a novel, Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, and Warcraft Adventures disappeared until videos started appearing on Youtube in 2011.
Warcraft Adventures is a relic, a curiosity from a time when Warcraft wasn’t yet a world, and Blizzard was still looking for things like tone and humor that it would use in the future: it’s a game where the world-destroying dragon Deathwing puffs on a hookah (opens in a new tab).
The only major problem with the leaked Warcraft Adventures were these cutscene issues, and it’s pretty amazing that a dedicated person has been tinkering with them for six years.
“Version 1.0 is a turning point for me,” writes DerSilver83 (opens in a new tab). “I’ve been working on it for 6 years and during that time I’ve done almost everything I could do in a reasonable amount of time to complete and improve the cutscenes. For me the game is very enjoyable now and I don’t see any no real use. to further improve the cutscenes. I want to remember this project as something fun before it turns into some kind of burden. So here it is. The final version of my Cutscenes Remaster project and I hope everyone who uses it can enjoy it as much as I do.”
Fully playable from start to finish, and now with all existing cutscenes now working as they should: there are far worse fates for canceled games than this.