World of Warcraft and the official Shrek origin story (aka the Warcraft movie) are separate. Mostly. However, the movie has gotten Blizzard thinking about older Warcraft games -- and how they could bring them back.
After a BlizzCon Warcraft movie panel in which, among other things, Blizzard lore maestro Chris Metzen described the film as kind of an ideal realisation of stories told in/around Warcraft I (the strategy game from ye olde 1990s), I caught up with him to find out if the movie's feeding back into World of Warcraft at all. His response? Sorta, but not as overtly or cloyingly as you might think.
"The interesting thing is, we were building [previous WoW expansion] Warlords of Draenor while they were developing the film," Metzen told me, "so a lot of that Draenor history -- the orcs and the development we did on those characters -- all came into play relative to the film. Now that we're looking at Legion, yeah [there's some overlap]. Gul'Dan's back. Khadgar's back. The characters that are still alive from the filmic era, if you will, are coming back into play. Some of the themes are coming full circle. So they definitely inform each other. Legion is obviously a different time, different place, different scale, but they inform each other."
So probably don't expect any big synergistic events or quests that suddenly rope in big screen heroes who have no business mucking about in current conflicts. I asked WoW: Legion production director John Hight if the team was ever tempted to go full tie-in, if only for a quest line or something like that. He told me the idea just didn't feel right.
"If we had any conversation specific to the movie, it was usually about, 'How does that reinforce things for our players?'" he said during an interview. "Not the other way around. We never felt like capitalising on that or doing something that felt weird or contrived was the right thing."
That said, the movie has made Blizzard interested in revisiting earlier periods in Warcraft history -- especially ones whose stories were told in fairly, er, rudimentary fashion back in the day. I asked Metzen if Blizzard had considered creating new, non-WoW Warcraft games rooted in those eras or reinventing old-school Warcraft RTSes with modern mechanics and graphics. Metzen said there have definitely been discussions.
"We've talked about it," he explained. "We would love to play with those early games, but when you think about it, it's like, 'Wow, there's a lot of work we'd have to do to go back, and reinvent basic game mechanics to get them playable.' Even just, like, right-click. We've talked a lot, and we may continue to think that way. But nothing's [officially in the works right now]. It'd be pretty rad, though."
A modern revamp of Warcraft I or II? Now if they'd just un-cancel Warcraft Adventures already, we'd have ourselves a party.