Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Blizzard Entertainment Retrospective

Blizzard Entertainment started out as a company called Silicon & Synapse in 1991, with Interplay as their publisher. Their very first game was RPM Racing for SNES in 1991, followed by The Lost Vikings in 1992, and Rock n' Roll Racing in 1993. They were then briefly known as Chaos Studios, before changing again to Blizzard Entertainment, with the 1994 releases of Blackthorne and Warcraft. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is a retrospective video produced by Blizzard themselves, which tells the story of the company, from their startup as Silicon & Synapse, up until the biggest game of all times - World of Warcraft. Featured in the video are (in order of appearance) Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Frank Pearce, Sam Didier, Bob Fitch, Joeyray Hall, Bob Davidson, Paul Sams, Jan Davidson, Chris Metzen, Nick Carpenter, Shane Dabiri, Matt Samia, Jeff Kaplan, J. Allen Brack, Chris Sigaty, Dustin Browder, Rob Pardo, and Mike Ryder.

Also, check out the timeline over at the Blizzard website, for a chronological summary of the company's history.

Diablo II post-mortem

(description TBA)

Prince of Persia animation reference videos

The animation of the characters in Prince of Persia (1989) was unique at the time, and was done by using a technique called rotoscoping - a live actor is filmed with a camera, and the animator then traces over the footage, frame by frame, to achieve a more life-like animation. This technique was also used in games like Another World and Flashback, inspired by Prince of Persia.

Here are some of the reference videos used for the rotoscoping in Prince of Persia. These videos were taken from Jordan Mechner's own YouTube channel, found here. The Prince in the videos was played by Mechner's younger brother David, who did the running and jumping in his high school parking lot!

And here are some of the early results:

Behind the scenes of The Last Express

Following up on my previous post on Jordan Mechner, here's a short behind-the-scenes look at his 1997 adventure game The Last Express. Unfortunately, the game was not a commercial success, despite receiving positive reviews. Still, Mechner considers The Last Express to be his greatest title.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

"From Bedroom to Attic: Making Prince of Persia" by Jordan Mechner

Jordan Mechner (Karateka, Prince of Persia, The Last Express) was a special guest at the onGameStart conference in Warsaw, Poland, in September 2012. There, he told a fascinating and inspiring story about his life and career, going from programming games in his bedroom, to writing scripts for movies in Hollywood. His most famous work is the Prince of Persia franchise, which began in 1989 with the release of Prince of Persia on the Apple II. Mechner spent three years creating the game almost entirely on his own, drawing inspiration from silent movies, and using a technique called rotoscoping to produce the game's fluid animation, which at the time was unique in video games.

He also talked about how technical limitations can inspire creativity, why being burned out can be a good thing, and how the "dumbest mistakes" sometimes lead to the biggest successes. A truely inspirational talk, and also a must-see for fans of Prince of Persia.