It’s been public fact for some time that long before World of Warcraft, Blizzard was working on an adventure game set in the Warcraft universe. Titled Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, the point-and-click adventure game followed the adventures of Thrall, who would later star as the hero of the Orc faction in Warcraft III.
Lord of the Clans (which was developed in part by Animation Magic) was cancelled by Blizzard in 1998, but a pre-release copy of the game surfaced on the Scrolls of Lore forums over the weekend, and if you were quick enough, you could have snatched a copy of it for yourself.
The file was quickly removed from Mediafire thanks to a DMCA apparently filed by Activision-Blizzard, but as you can see above, a few YouTubers seem to have been able to download the game file and start uploading Let’s Plays of Lord of the Clans.
For game historians, it’s an amusing throwback to how Warcraft would have looked as a ‘90s style point-and-click game akin to Tales of Monkey Island, but for developers, it’s a rare opportunity to see one potential direction that Blizzard was interested in taking the Warcraft franchise in before the success of Warcraft III and World of Warcraft.
(A brief note: as Kotaku points out, a version of the game was floating around in the ether for the last few years, and playthroughs of Lord of the Clans have been viewable for some time.)
In particular, it’s interesting how much of the writing and humor is so starkly different from what Warcraft would eventually become. The video above shows gameplay and dialogue that riffs very heavily on the LucasArts games of the era, with some characters feeling more like they belong in Full Throttle than a Warcraft game.
Blizzard producer Bill Roper previously told Kotaku that Lord of the Clans was cancelled due to the struggles of keeping up with advances in the adventure game business in 1998.