Old Skool Fantasy Post

June 26, 2007

Gamasutra have an iteresting article about failed games with a link to a series of fascinating blog posts by Joe Ludwig who worked on the never-released Middle-Earth Online. One thing in the article that stood out was a reference to a never-made Warhammer MMO (pre-Mythic’s WAR) which is described as having “…a darkly realistic style, something that hearkened back to Games Workshop’s earlier more baroque style.”Anyone who has read my earlier posts about artists that have influenced my own style will know that I’m a huge fan of John Blanche‘s and Ian Miller‘s work for Games Workshop.

I’m sure that the non-realistic, ‘cartoony’ style of World of Warcraft has had some influence on its popularity because it has such a recognisable style and is therefore more salient than games that aspire to photo-realism. While the early Warhammer style shares some similarities with WoW (WoW borrowed many of it’s aethetic flourishes) it was darker, more organic and grittier. Even the humans looked pretty monstrous and ‘corrupt’ and I’ve always felt that a game with this aesthetic would look stunning. In fact a Warhammer game with witch hunting, political and physical corruption and all the elements that were found in the roleplaying version of the game would be brilliant. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that the Warhammer ‘world-story’ was a somewhat wasted on the wargame.

Look at these images below. Ok the quality of artwork may not be as polished as you would expect from a contemporary game release, but there is a raw style there: big shoulder pads; dramatic skies; impractical armour and weaponry; huge attention to detail etc.




Anyway, I was going to write a post based on this article from the Guardian gamesblog, but I managed to miss the radio show with Steve Jackson (Fighting Fantasy, as if you didn’t know) and Austin Grossman (Deus Ex). So I know that this blog gets a lot of views for the John Blanche post, so I’m going to treat everyone to some of his work from Steve Jackson’s epic Fighting Fantasy series Sorcery! truly the best FF books ever written and still immensely enjoyable to play today, combining the classic FF karma-free logic of un-deserved death with a cheat-frustrating magic system. Just imagine these images in 3D and if there are any modders reading this please make something that looks like this…







  1. fantastic artists indeed!
    too bad a lot of their works cannot be found now!

  2. It’s such a shame they’ve been almost forgotten, I would love to get some media attention for their stuff.

    The new Talisman game art looks so bland compared to the previous 3 versions 😦

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