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!