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Michael Morhaime a Hall of Famer

December 12th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 11 Comments · Awards, Blizzard

Blizzard CEO Michael Morhaime has been inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame, making him the 11th inductee and the fifth of that group to have a notable background in strategy gaming (Wright, Bunten Berry, Molyneux and Meier are the others).

I’ve never had the love of Blizzard RTS games that others have. I appreciate the art of Warcraft II and the genuine innovation of Starcraft, but neither tweaked my fun sensors the way that other strategy games have.

But Morhaime’s contribution to RPGs, RTS and MMOs is obvious. He has been with Blizzard since the beginning, doing programming on the original Warcraft game. Blizzard has a reputation for quality and production values that is almost unique in the industry. I mean, how many companies can point to record breaking titles in three different genres? (I’m thinking Diablo, Starcraft and World of Warcraft.)

So what do you do when you have all the talent and all the money in the world?

You make a new MMO of course.

Congratulations to Mr. Morhaime.


11 Comments so far ↓

  • Scott R. Krol

    I once foolishly believed that bandwagon had ceased to be jumped upon as much as say, five years ago, but apparently that was wrong to think. I suppose as long as WoW is raking in the cash everyone else is going to follow the money trail and hope that they hit that magic formula also. Problem is that once there is a major hit in gaming it seems no one ever surpasses the original. Consider that no one has ever outsold D&D in the world of tabletop RPGs, no one has equaled Magic: The Gathering in the CCG market, and Squad Leader remains the top dog when it comes to tactical board games. The only thing that will ever challenge WoW would be WoW2.

    Of course, I also hold out hope for the future, a future freed from MMORPGs all together. I know, not gonna happen, but a man can dream, can’t he?

  • Dave Long

    I’ve been playing through Warcraft III alongside World of Warcraft and one thing that really stands out is Blizzard’s consistency in their vision of the Warcraft world.

    You can’t help but retcon some of your past work when you’ve been making games (or comics or movies or TV, etc.) in that universe for so long, but for the most part Blizzard has done a fantastic job of keeping everything together from Warcraft: Orcs & Humans right up to the present WoW storylines.

    When you combine that with the strong gameplay in all their games, it adds up to a Hall of Fame worthy whole.

    You really ought to play Warcraft III if you haven’t, TSG. It’s a pretty darn brilliant offshoot of the RTS genre. I really can’t think of a game that copied its design, either.

  • Dave Long

    “The only thing that will ever challenge WoW would be WoW2.”

    People used to say that about EverQuest.

  • Scott R. Krol

    EverQuest never had 9 million people playing it. ;)

  • Natus

    Oh, Dave, there I disagree. I found WC3 to be almost a pre-alpha test for WoW, and nowhere near as brilliant as SC was. I own it and still play it now and again, but that game was polish without the “genius” design, which re-surfaced with WoW.

  • Dave Long

    I think the hybrid RTS/RPG thing they did with Warcraft III is a unique entry into the category of real-time strategy. No other games really do that the way WCIII does.

    It still retains the stuff you expect from RTS. The building, the resource collection… it’s there and necessary, but I really like how they used heroes to change your focus. I think it’s a great design, and especially well-suited to the single-player campaign, which is superb.

    I can see where that might not be as appealing to people in it for the multiplayer or skirmish, though.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Ah, but Dave, Warlords Battlecry did the hybrid RTS/RPG thing first, and personally, better.

    That’s the thing with Blizzard. I fully agree with you that they excel with their gameworld’s unifying visions. Their manuals are superb for bringing the game to life. And of course their excellent production values help. But in the end
    they never innovate, only refine. If they didn’t have that creative vision as a framework I imagine Blizzard would have been another forgotten RTS developer like so many before.

  • Natus

    Scott, you beat me to the Warlords BattleCry punch (and somewhere I hear Tom Chick revving up his keyboard.)

    Dave, I guess I expected WARCraft out of WC3, not SKIRMISHCraft, which is what it turned into, with a side of RPG. After marshalling battalions of paladins and men-at-arms in WC2, it was a bit disheartening to lose that grandeur.

    And I just can’t agree that the WC3 campaigns were superb, not after SC’s. However, with the advent of WoW, they have some interest as pre-history. And what other RTS campaigns have really been any good? Oh, Kerrigan, where art thou?

  • Troy

    RTS story based campaigns are generally weak because they have to have variation in mission types for what is, basically, the same sort of scenario over and over again. You can mix it up by adding puzzles or time limits, but telling a story with base building is not exactly natural.

    That said, I liked the Age of Mythology campaign quite a bit even though it followed the same pattern over and over. Training missions with each faction built up to huge epic moments in each setting until the final awesome battle.

    Kohan‘s campaign wasn’t too bad, either, from what I recall. And the Company of Heroes campaign is a great war movie.

    All these are great games, but of course that isn’t enough to guarantee a great campaign. Rise of Legends wasn’t very interesting as a campaign game, though it tried to blend a story and world conquest, and the Age of Empires games have never had good campaigns.

    (This, of course, sets aside those RTS campaigns which are about moving on a map from battle to battle like in Rise of Nations or the Ring War mode in Battle for Middle Earth II.)

    I think one reason why Blizzard’s are generally better than most others is that they seem to take their worlds seriously. Characters have motivations, battles matter to the campaign heroes, etc. Bruce could tell us more about how accurate they are about the orc/human war, historically speaking, but there at least is an effort to make the campaigns stand on their own.

  • SwiftRanger

    Not to be picky about something but if you’re talking about the first RTS/RPG hybrids (with emphasis on RTS, otherwise you could talk about Baldur’s Gate as well :) ) then you can’t dismiss games like War Wind or Original War (or even Rival Realms).

    War Wind and Original War had more real “roleplaying” in their campaigns (making choices that could come back and haunt you several missions later) and gameplay (a real inventory for nearly all units, a set amount of possible recruits which you had to train, vehicles that could be hijacked, turrets which had to be manned, etc.) than some so-called RTS/RPG’s have now.

    As for WarCraft III, it wasn’t a bad game but its campaign didn’t came near the StarCraft/Brood War campaigns imo. That being said, not even the latter were without their faults (especially the enemy AI was too predictable and nowhere near as challenging/dynamic as the Dark Reign campaign AI). On (linear) story terms though, StarCraft does it best idd.

  • Mobius 1

    I personally believe that WoW is one of the greatest contemporary gaming companies. They do an epic job with keeping their storyline in check. There are, however, many differences, though most of them are small, between WoW the games, and WoW the books.