The ‘lost’ Warcraft adventure game can now be played the way it was meant to be

Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was a point-and-click adventure game that was canceled by Blizzard in 1998, and how time flies. The game was lost for most of its history, existing only in a few old screenshots and videos floating around the internet, but in 2016 the full game suddenly appeared as a download (opens in new tab). It was playable, almost complete, including film 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 responded, “This is my DMCA for all Warcraft Adventures hosts, old and new.” So the game is Out There Somewhere, like nothing can ever really be scrubbed off the internet, but don’t brag if you do find it.

The reason you might want to is that modder DerSilver83 has spent the past six years fixing one of the biggest build problems, and one that’s pretty significant for an adventure game (first noticed by IndieRetroNews (opens in new tab)). The original Warcraft Adventures leak was playable from start to finish and featured almost all of the cutscenes, but the last one in particular suffered from desynchronized audio and missing sound effects.

“In addition, they were encoded at a low bitrate and suffered from many compression artifacts,” writes DerSilver83. “A few weeks later, 2 missing cutscenes on a DVD were found, but because they were filmed from a TV screen, they had even bigger problems.”

DerSilver83 has now released The Warcraft Adventure Cutscenes Remaster project, a standalone mod that includes all of the game’s cutscenes (so you’ll have to track down the game yourself), including the 2 that weren’t present in the original leak, all fully remastered . Here are the main changes:

  • Appropriate sound effects and music have been added (200+ sound effects, music from Warcraft 1 + 3).
  • The audio is synchronized, with noise filtering, reverb, etc. applied as needed.
  • Many compression artifacts were removed by hand (this tedious work was done for all cutscenes).
  • The previously missing cutscenes, available only as a TV recording, have been painstakingly remastered using flickering filters, waifu upscaling, Photoshop editing, and hand painting over large areas of nearly every frame. In addition, as originally intended, they are carefully tuned to 12 fps.
  • Missing voices have been restored in 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 2016-2022, I worked on this small project in my spare time,” writes DerSilver83. You can download the remastered cutscenes here (opens in new tab).

Warcraft Adventures was conceived in an era when point-and-click adventures were hugely popular and Blizzard wanted a slice of the action with its biggest brand. However, Blizzard wasn’t much of a specialist in adventure game elements and so teamed up with Russian studio Animation Magic (best known for the infamous Legend of Zelda CD-I games).

The story was supposed to 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 feeling that the traditional adventure styles are no longer state-of-the-art. the art alongside competitors such as the beautiful Grim Fandango. Former Blizzard VP Bill Roper later said of the decision, “when we got to the point where we canceled it, it was just because we looked at where we were and said, you know, this would have been great three years ago.”

Here’s a deep dive into the game’s difficult development (opens in new tab).

The game’s story was turned into a novel, Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, and Warcraft Adventures disappeared until videos appeared on YouTube in 2011. The Russian ancestry of many seemed to suggest that former Animation Magic employees or freelancers may be behind the amplified copies

Warcraft Adventures is a relic, a curio from a time when Warcraft was not yet a world, and Blizzard was still figuring out elements such as the tone and humor it would use in the future: this is a game in which the world-destroying dragon Deathwing puffs on a hookah (opens in new tab).

The only major problem that the leaked Warcraft Adventures had was these cutscenes, and it’s kind of amazing that a dedicated person has tinkered with them over the past six years.

“Version 1.0 is a turning point for me,” writes DerSilver83 (opens in new tab). “I’ve been working on it for the past 6 years and in that time I’ve done almost everything I could do in a reasonable time frame to complete and improve the cutscenes. For me the game is a lot of fun now and I don’t see any 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 this is it. The final release of my Cutscenes Remaster Project and I hope everyone who uses it can enjoy it just as much as much as me.”

Fully playable from start to finish, and with all existing cutscenes now working as they should: there’s a much worse fate for canceled games than this.

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