In the wake of such bad Warcraft Movie reviews from critics, who likely never played the game, Inverse writer Sean Hutchinson reached out to me to research opinions from World of Warcraft gamers to share those thoughts with the general public who doesn’t know anything about Warcraft.
You may read Inverse’s article which quoted some of my thoughts on the Warcraft film a day before I watched it at the Cinema.
Not everything was used for the article, so I wish to share with our audience the full document with my responses:
Would you also give me a little bit of info about what you do at the Blizzplanet site?
Medievaldragon: Blizzplanet is a registered Blizzard Entertainment fansite. It was launched in 2003. I am a devoted Blizzard games fan and gamer. Played all Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo games; and more recently Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Blizzard always invites me to Alpha or Beta testing, so that gives me the opportunity to write articles and share videos about the games. In Blizzplanet, something that set the fansite apart from others is to post news about upcoming licensed products, and when the product is near its release date, I reach out to the publisher or company for a review copy, and sometimes an interview.
How long have you been playing Warcraft and why do you think you’ve played for so long?
Medievaldragon: I have been playing World of Warcraft since beta testing 2004. I have played this long because the Warcraft lore and the storylines within the game itself are very immersive. World of Warcraft was my first MMORPG, and I haven’t been able to play any other MMO. I have played other genres and games outside Blizzard — such as Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (Over 5,000 hours played), Crysis 1/2, FarCry, and a few others; but I play Blizzard games more consistently and daily. Playing dungeons or raids in World of Warcraft is extremely fun, and challenging. I mostly play as a healer in dungeons and raids. Keeps me on my toes, alert, trying to keep the tank and DPS players alive through everything the dungeon mechanics throw at you.
What made you become interested in the game in the first place?
Medievaldragon: My first Blizzard game was StarCraft. Back then, I had an Apple Mac G4 and played free games I could find in download.com. There I found the StarCraft demo. I was hooked to that for about 2 months playing in Battle.net against other players. Then I decided to buy StarCraft and its Brood War expansion. I started visiting the Battle.net and Blizzard websites, and when I read about Warcraft III, I played that. I fell in love with the stories in the manual, and the gameplay missions or in-game lore.
Back in 2003, I had my first interview with Richard A. Knaak about a novel I hadn’t even read — Warcraft: Day of the Dragon. I was so excited after the interview that I decided to read the novel. I couldn’t help myself, and started reading previous Warcraft novels, and those published thereafter: comics, manga, graphic novels, etc.
Sometime after the interview, I was invited by Blizzard Entertainment to play World of Warcraft beta in 2004. It was so addictive, and fun. It was different to anything I had ever played before. And so damn hard too. I remember when a developer wrote on general chat asking everyone to head to Dustwallow Marsh. It was the first time anyone in beta was going to test Onyxia. Just clearing the trash (dragonkins) was so hard. Later on came Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King. I was totally hooked, playing 15 hours a day. I can’t explain what single thing makes this game so good. It’s likely a combination of different gameplay systems, the story, and the overall experience. You feel you are part of the in-game world.
Have you noticed the numbers of players dwindling, or have you hear about the news of numbers dwindling?
Medievaldragon: I have heard numbers have dwindled over the past 5 years. From 12 milllion down to around 7 million or such. However, Blizzard no longer provides those numbers. I think that’s for the best. Mass-hysteria and hate articles can help to those numbers going down. Some of the reasons for the numbers going down is the lack of content over a long period of time prior to the release of the next expansion. That’s somewhat understandable. However, once a new expansion comes up with new content, people comes back. As a gamer who always gets invited to either Alpha or Beta, and plays considerably a lot of that, I always come back. I keep paying my subscribption even if I don’t play. The past months, I was playing only World of Warcraft: Legion. Recently, I returned to Warlords of Draenor to try to finish the Legendary Ring questline, and to complete the Draenor Pathfinder achievement which unlocks flying in Draenor. I got the achievement done a few days ago.
Why do you think gamers have abandoned playing Warcraft, and what do you think drew them elsewhere?
Medievaldragon: Obviously, there are other game studios out there. Some start Beta testing, and people go in to play those games. Some might get tired of playing the same content in that period of time prior to the next World of Warcraft expansion. Some people simply have no time when they are in their college finals, or start college. There are so many reasons for people to abandon playing Warcraft. It doesn’t mean the game is dying. I think it’s simply a normal cycle that happens between expansions, and the reasons are so varying, you can’t blame one specific thing for all the numbers of players leaving at a given time. I always get to see in advance the next beta content, and I’m amazed at what Blizzard brings to the table in terms of new content, new systems, and the sheer story and art creativity to expand the Warcraft universe.
What kept you playing the game until now? Do you think you’ll ever stop?
Medievaldragon: I would find it hard to stop playing Warcraft. I might be away for a while, but eventually I come back. Some of what drives you to come back are short and long term goals. You might want to collect a specific pet or mount that drops from a boss in a raid dungeon — and that raid has a 1-week lockout. Even if you don’t do much throughout that week, you will come back next week when the lockout expires. Maybe you want to send followers in missions for gold, or for that rare reward you need. Maybe you want that weapon upgrade from a boss and you keep coming each week. Maybe you are into dailies, or need 20,000 apexis to upgrade your gear. There is always something in the world that will make you comeback. Of course, if the newest expansion in the block comes out, you want to reach max level, then focus on end-game stuff, and before you know, you are hooked up again.
When did you first hear about the film adaptation and what were your impressions of it when you saw the first looks and trailers? Had you ever heard of director Duncan Jones?
Medievaldragon: I was at BlizzCon when Thomas Tull and Chris Metzen came onstage to announce plans for a Warcraft movie. That was so long ago. When I heard Sam Raimi was stepping down to do the Oz movie, and then Duncan Jones took over; I was disappointed that the movie got the reset button (meaning more years to wait), but as Duncan started to express himself in Twitter over the past 5 years, I got excited and hopeful. It’s rare to see a film director so charismatic, passionate and a gamer himself. I even watched his Moon film, some time after I started following his tweets, just to understand his thinking process in a film. I traveled to PAX East in Boston from New York, only to watch the Warcraft movie trailer Duncan unveiled there. I was breathtaken with what I saw, and I very much look forward to watch the film tomorrow (June 9).
When I saw the new trailers after PAX East, I was astonished by the level of detail in the orcs, and the Alliance characters and soldiers. You don’t get to see many films with epic battles and mayhem, and swords clashing, blood and gore. The few magic special effects I have seen look awesome, and with Khadgar, Medivh, and Gul’dan it is guaranteed to be far more of those scenes in the film. Recently, I have read terrible reviews rising forks and dripping hate toward the film. That won’t stop me from watching it tomorrow and enjoying it. I just hope those bad reviews don’t sway non-gamers away from watching an epic film. Compared to the action in Lord of the Rings (and I have watched all of the sequels), Warcraft is more battle-centric with top-of-the-line special effects by ILM.
Do you think Warcraft should have been made into a movie in the first place?
Medievaldragon: Warcraft started way back in 1994 with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (dubbed Warcraft 1). I don’t think the technology to create a film like Warcraft today existed back then. The lore was limited and vague back then as well, if you get access to the original game manual. So I’m glad the Warcraft film was done in modern day with all the technology and tools the industry has nowadays. The Warcraft universe has expanded a lot since 1994 with more than 30 published works spanning novels, manga, graphic novels, and comic books, and that doesn’t include 5 Warcraft games, 5 World of Warcraft expansions, and the website short stories. There is potential for more Warcraft films, and as the game developers and Duncan have said, this film opens the door for other type of projects on TV: cartoons, TV series like Game of Thrones based on Warcraft, Netflix series, and more.
This Warcraft film wasn’t created by a director who wants to turn a game into an A-film. The game and all the stories have existed for 22 years (since 1994). It was just a matter of choosing which story to tell and how to convert it into a film in a way that is enjoyed by gamers and the general public; but the story doesn’t end there. Not by a long shot. There are many Warcraft stories to tell, many new characters that will come and go.
Do you think the movie will help or hurt the game Warcraft? Do you think it could attract people to play again or possibly people who have never played the game?
Medievaldragon: The success or failure of the movie won’t affect the game Warcraft. It has existed for 12 years. I have played World of Warcraft: Legion since Alpha testing, and that’s such a great gameplay experience. Blizzard Entertainment has achieved a great level of development with this new upcoming expansion (coming August 30). Each class spec has a unique Artifact weapon and questline, each zone in the Broken Isles is beautiful with a great story, your goal is to acquire the 5 Pillars of Creation in order to seal the rift opened by the Burning Legion to stop the flow of more demons troops coming into the Tomb of Sargeras. Each zone’s storyline culminates with a quest sending you into the dungeon of that zone where you acquire one of the Pillars of Creation. You have to do this in Azsuna, Val’sharah, Highmountain, Stormheim and the level 110 zone: Suramar. There is a lot of content to grow your artifact weapon, and as you do, you grow more powerful.
The film will at least itch the general public’s curiosity. Some theaters currently provide a free copy of World of Warcraft, and there is also the World of Warcraft Starter Edition which is Free and allows you to play up to level 20, no strings attached. I won’t be surprised if Duncan Jones announces at BlizzCon 2016 a sequel is in the work
Star Wars is a very old movie, and decades later people started playing the Star Wars video games, and later the MMO. So it’s logical that some people who watch the film, and hear about the Warcraft game, might feel curiosity to learn more about Warcraft, and the characters. Even if they don’t hear about the game, which I doubt, anyone who goes to a library, a toy store, or Amazon Kindle will eventually see the title: Warcraft, and become intrigued as recognition of the word Warcraft kicks in.
Do you think the movie will be any good? Why or why not?
Medievaldragon: I have read all the Warcraft novels, comics, graphic novels, and anything published. Played all the Warcraft games and manuals. So I know already more or less what the story in the film is or may become. For me it would be a matter of discovering how Duncan, Chris Metzen and Charles Leavitt translated that knowledge into a film. There will be some fundamental differences and alterations to the canon lore. They have said it multiple times, but the essence, I know what the film is. So I know based on that, the film is good. In terms of the special effects I have seen in the PAX East and BlizzCon trailers, and the over 20 new trailers that have come out in the past 2 months — I am completely thrilled and breath-taken. Non-gamers won’t know that though, so how about the people involved in developing the film?
Paul Hirsch was the film editor for Star Wars Episode 4-5, Jeff White from ILM (people who made The Avengers’ Hulk and the recent Planet of the Apes), Charles Roven (producer of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Batman Begins). Those are heavy names in the film industry. So I am very enthusiastic that I won’t be disappointed watching the movie, and the future sequels. Yes, I am disheartened to see bad reviews out there talking against the film, but that doesn’t discourages me from watching it.
Can you think of any good video game to movie adaptations?
Medievaldragon: I have seen many video game to movie adaptations. I might not remember all of them, mind you — I am age 43. The ones I can remember are Tomb Raider, Super Mario Bros, Tron, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Max Payne, and others I have forgotten the name. I played the games plenty before I watched the film adaptations. I started playing old arcade rooms in the 80s, then when the Atari first came out, Sega, Nintendo, SuperNintendo, GameCube, and the arcade room. The difference is that the Warcraft universe is far more developed than any of those games. Heck I even heard there are plans for a Frogger film adaptation. Like … really? Directors had to bring to the big screen games that had barely if any real story. Warcraft is rich in lore in-game and outside in over 30 published works. Some of what you see in the game came to exist first in the published works, and were then introduced into the game.
Duncan first listened to what Blizzard’s vision for the fim was even when Sam Raimi was around, and Duncan was like — let’s make a film adaptation showing two factions clashing together, Alliance and the Horde, where the Horde is not fully evil — like what you might expect in Lord of the Rings. Durotan knew that the Warlocks and their fel magic were dooming their race, and their world of Draenor. What no one knew, however, is that Gul’dan had made a pact with demons of the Burning Legion — the true source of the Fel magic he wields, but while Durotan didn’t know much of the Warlock’s secrets, he is seeing a blood-thirsty fellow orcs, and their land ruined.
So the Warcraft film is about the Alliance trying to stop this massive evil machine destroying the Kingdom, and then Durotan and his followers uniting with the Humans to stop that machine. Both factions are heroes in their own way, and we get to see both sides; and epic battles of sword and magic. That’s the core of what the original Warcraft Real-Time-Strategy game was in 1994; and Duncan added canon elements from Christie Golden’s Warcraft: Lord of the Clans and Jeff Grubb’s Warcraft: The Last Guardian into the film adaptation. So I know this will be a great movie adaptation. Hopefully, the general public gets to at least read the novels to see the big picture before playing the game.
NOTE: If you never read any published Warcraft books, you can find them here in paperback and digital format. For the Warcraft Movie story I recommend reading Warcraft: The Last Guardian, Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, and Warcraft: Rise of the Horde for the plot basics.
I posted the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994) Game Manual story a few years ago, which you should read: Aegwynn Chronicles: Fall of Azeroth, Sir Lothar: Stormwind History, and Garona’s Journal.