So What’s Christie Golden Doing?

/equip_tinfoil_hat

So I’m possibly reading too much into something small, but I stumbled across a rather intriguing story last night. It seems Christie Golden has suddenly moved to California so that she can work at Blizzard’s main offices for a secret project that will last until October.

The Emerald Dream in World of WarcraftI’ve been a pretty big fan of Christie Golden’s for a while now, as both an author and a person. She’s written a number of excellent tie-in novels for Blizzard’s various games, and I have had enough sporadic contact with her over the years to determine she is a pretty excellent person. Therefore, the news of her doing more work with Blizzard excites me.

But what’s really intriguing is the question of just what she’s doing there. While I’m not an expert, I have done some research on the process for how authors produce tie-in novels for Blizzard, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t normally require actually working at the Blizzard offices for months. Why would it?

Again, I might be jumping the gun, but my mind has turned to the possibility that she may be writing an entire game. It would explain why she needs to be in close proximity to the development team(s).

But what game?

Christie Golden has the most history with the Warcraft universe, but I’m not sure things quite add up for her to be working on WoW. It seems a bit early for them to be designing the plot of the next expansion in detail, and the continuous nature of WoW’s story doesn’t mesh with the temporary nature of her job at Blizzard.

Given she is in theory only there for a few months, I would think she’d be working on something with a clear beginning, middle, and end. A game that can be finished.

The Spear of Adun's Solar Core in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidThe only other Blizzard franchise she’s worked on in the past is StarCraft, so perhaps she could be writing a new mission pack. Blizzard’s said they were moving on from story content for StarCraft II, but they could always change their minds.

However, I see no reason she must be limited to franchises she’s already worked on.

We do know something is in the works regarding Diablo, though whether it’s an expansion, Diablo IV, or some kind of spin-off is anyone’s guess. I have a little bit of trouble picturing someone as sweet as Christie Golden working on a series that’s basically all torture and brimstone, but then I remember how dark some of her past writing has gotten, and it doesn’t seem quite as far-fetched.

The possibility that really intrigues me, though, is that she could be working on Overwatch, either a story mode within the current game or entirely new title in the same universe that focuses on story instead of PvP. There’s clearly a strong desire for such, and the Overwatch universe seems the perfect fit for her emotive, character-driven style of writing.

Regardless, I hope it is a new game she’s working on, because any game written by Christie Golden is a game I want to play.

Review: The Warcraft Chronicle, Volume Two

Continuing their efforts to provide a unified record of the vast Warcraft lore, Blizzard has now released the second installment of the Warcraft Chronicle.

Cover art for the Warcraft Chronicle, volume twoThis time, focus shifts away from Azeroth to cover the history of Draenor, before jumping back to Azeroth and reciting the history of the First and Second Wars, up to and including the events of Beyond the Dark Portal.

The first installment was for the most part of a fascinating dive into a lot of mostly unknown lore, but perhaps inevitably, volume two is less impressive.

My favourite part was learning about Draenor’s pre-history. This was for the most part totally new lore, and while it may not have been quite as thrilling as learning of Azeroth’s origins and the days of the Black Empire, it was nonetheless an interesting read. I particularly enjoyed learning the history of the Arrakoa civilization.

However, once it got around to more familiar history, it became much less impressive.

This is perhaps to be expected, as it’s all stuff I’m already familiar with, but the familiarity wasn’t the thing that bothered me most. Quite the opposite, actually.

When this whole Chronicle business started, I had the vague worry this might be another excuse to start retconning everything willy-nilly. Seems I was right to worry.

Much of the history of Draenor leading up to the First War has now been changed. It’s mostly smaller changes more than total rewrites, but when you add up all the little changes, it starts to become a rather different story.

A mighty Sporemound as depicted in the Warcraft Chronicle, volume twoThe intention seems to have been to unify history by incorporating elements of the alternate versions of Draenor seen in Warlords of Draenor and the film, but I’m not sure why they felt the need to do that. Both of those were pretty clearly alternate realities, and attempting to combine all the different versions of Draenor causes more confusion than it solves.

It’s doubly confusing when you consider that neither WoD nor the movie were terribly well-received. I really don’t think any Warcraft lore fan was like, “You know what we need? For Warlords of Draenor to be more canon!”

Hilariously, Garona’s origin story has been retconned yet again. I believe this is the fourth backstory she’s been given now? It’s getting hard to keep count. I think she officially takes the crown as the most heavily retconned part of the Warcraft universe now.

To be fair, most of these retcons don’t make the story any worse. Some even make it better. There’s finally a clear explanation of how the Twilight’s Hammer went from being a Draenic Orc clan to a multi-racial cult of Azerothian Old God worshippers, and it actually makes pretty good sense. I’m glad of that.

But sadly they do invalidate a good chunk of Warcraft literature, including a lot of Christie Golden’s work. And that’s a real shame. Rise of the Horde was one of the better novels.

Where it all began...In the end, volume two of the Warcraft Chronicle occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where the people who are most likely to read it are hardcore lore fans, but the people who are most likely to enjoy it are those with only minimal experience of the lore to date.

Overall rating: 6.2/10