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WarCraft Was Originally Conceived in Part as "Lost Vikings Meets RTS"... And Lemmings

And that's how a genre is born.

News by Kat Bailey, .

How do build a brand new genre? You mash a couple other genres together (see: League of Legends, PUBG, and a whole lot of other things). And that's exactly what happened with real-time strategy, which has been enjoying a moment in the sun this week courtesy of StarCraft Remastered.

While WarCraft: Orcs and Humans wasn't the first RTS ever—that honor goes to Westwood Studios and Dune 2—it was still a very new idea when Blizzard set to work on their first RTS back in 1994.

In Kotaku's history of WarCraft, Patrick Wyatt talked about the team playing Dune 2 and wanting to develop their own version, but as a multiplayer game.

But long-time Blizzard employee Bob Fitch, who later joined Wyatt as a programmer, recalls an extra wrinkle. Having just finished The Lost Vikings, they wanted to make something like it as an RTS. And they were further inspired by how cool it was to direct hordes of Lemmings.

"It was originally based on Lost Vikings meets RTS. I know that for a fact," Fitch recalls. "We also liked the Lemmings game. We just went, 'Oh it's so cool when you see lots of Lemmings all over the place. Why don't we have lots of Vikings all over instead, and then the Vikings can fight each other."

From there, he says, it steadily evolved into the fantasy RTS that we all know and love. Of course, while Fitch denies any of the persistent connections to Warhammer, Wyatt has said that the art was indeed inspired by the Games Workshop property. Success has many inspirations, it seems.

WarCraft has since grown to encompass three main games, an MMORPG, a popular CCG, and one middling feature film. And it all started in part because Blizzard thought it would be cool to mash-up The Lost Vikings and Lemmings with Dune 2.

As for Fitch, he's still at Blizzard, having worked on everything from Death and Return of Superman to Hearthstone. I talked to him about his early days working on StarCraft, which will be going up later this afternoon. Stay tuned!

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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #1 Captain-Gonru A year ago
    Ah, Lost Vikings. If ever there were games I wish would get revisited, it's those two.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #2 donkeyintheforest A year ago
    I still don't understand why Utopia on Intellivision (1981) doesn't count as the first RTS. It has base building (hospitals, farms, defensive towers, etc), resource gathering, you control units to fight other units or to gather resources, it is in real time... My guess is that it's just less familiar to people.

    That said, I can totally see the Lemmings influences, especially with the roads of the first Warcraft (and the comical expendability of certain units haha). And Warhammer was the first appearance of green orcs.

    Can't get mad at taking influence from Warhammer though, as Games Workshop took influences from lots too--of course GW had the licence to make the LotR models since the 70's or earlier so you could argue they weren't as brazen with IP theft. It's crazy how Starcraft cribbed so much from 40k, but then 40k turned the Tyranids into looking like the Zerg around 3rd edition. I imagine both Blizzard and GW had a MAD/non-aggression pact by that point, otherwise the IP wars would've been furious haha.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #3 Nuclear-Vomit A year ago
  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #4 Nuclear-Vomit A year ago
    Lol. Looks like that Lemming is running away from that pissed off Orc!
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