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December 17, 2003 – Those that played Warcraft III: Frozen Throne all the way through will have found that the Orc campaign comes to a sudden and head bonking cliff hanging “to be continued…” conclusion. Fans have been waiting on the final two acts of that RPG-like campaign for almost six months now and thankfully acts II & III are finally here. Of course, you have to have the game to play them and you have to connect to Battle.net to download the patch to your game.
The bonus orc campaign from The Frozen Throne was certainly a bit of a move away from the traditional RTS involving building, massing, and attacking, but had a whole appeal of its own. Role-playing elements received a big boost and heroes became the focus with normal units only taking a mercenary status.
Tim Campbell, one of the level designers from The Frozen Throne was nice enough to sit down for a Q&A; session about this campaign. In his answers you’ll find all kinds of goodies about the difference in gameplay, role playing elements, what to expect in these next two acts, and how the whole thing ties into the upcoming MMORPG World of Warcraft.
Can you walk us through the reasoning that led to the creation of the bonus RPG orc campaign in The Frozen Throne?
Tim Campbell: Unfortunately for orc fans like myself, their storyline just didn’t work well with the Arthas-versus-Illidan direction that we took in the expansion. Even though we really wanted to fit them into the main storyline of the Frozen Throne, we realized that in order to get it to work, the orcs’ portion of the story was bound to wind up feeling very forced and contrived.
However, none of us wanted to make a Warcraft game that didn’t feature a storyline for the orcs – it just wouldn’t have been Warcraft without them…. Additionally, over the course of creating Warcraft III, we had generated many ideas that were simply unfeasible for a normal RTS campaign – but were absolutely begging to be tried. At some point in development, a light bulb went on over someone’s head, and we decided to connect these two things. We decided to separate the orc storyline from that of the rest of the races and to approach their campaign in a fundamentally different manner. This wound up giving us several advantages: we were able to tell the “real” orc story instead of coming up with some way of forcing them into the main storyline, we were able to try out several new level-design concepts, and in general we were able to just break away from standard RTS conventions and inject a lot of new gameplay elements into the campaign.
What are the differences between The Frozen Throne’s main campaign and the orc missions that will make them fun and compelling?
Tim Campbell: The first thing that most players will notice is that the orc campaign is focused on controlling a much smaller set of units than is typical for most RTS games. For example, there are no bases to be constructed, no resources to be harvested, and no upgrades to be researched. Instead, players get the opportunity to control a small party of heroes. This focus on individual heroes allowed us to bend or break a lot of the “rules” that exist within the other three campaigns in the Frozen Throne.
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