Available: Now
Developer: The Patton Crew

Interview by: Tommy Lovrekovic

Recently a brand new bonus campaign / mod by the name or Ner'Zhul's Return has been released for Warcraft III. We've sat down with the campaign's team leader and managed to get him to answer some questions about the mod. Here are the results of our conversation, enjoy.

Please introduce yourself and the project in which you're involved.

Well, I'm exmode, team leader and head spokesman for The Patton Crew. Our team also includes advenir, main terrain and texture artist, and Park Sulhee, army general and warrior of the Koryo empire during the 10th century A.D. General Park also serves the purpose of spiritual guide and inspiration for the currently living team members.

The first project we released was a small cinematic map called "dealer", which was a short story about a not-so-good paladin and his "business contacts". We have also recently released our first campaign, Ner'Zhul's Return, and are trying to decide where we want to go next. We're currently passing some ideas around for our next project. We have thought of doing a campaign based around the Three Kingdoms period of Korea ( around 900 A.D. ). This campaign would be based off of historical facts, and would also include full Korean voice acting with English subtitles. We've also talked about creating our own world, and making a campaign from that. Some other ideas were to have a few multiplayer maps, both melee and non-melee style, and some cinematic maps. We plan to sit down soon and focus on deciding the next project, and moving forward from there.

Tell us more about it: key features, graphics, etc.

The first noticable thing about the Ner'Zhul's Return campaign is the customized campaign menus. The campaign plays through the campaign menu system, just like Blizzard's campaigns. This, of course, was before The Frozen Throne's release, so it was something rarely seen. We also added in some new textures for different units, some new items, new sounds, and a few hidden things here and there. I'd say the best feature was the addition of Ron Jeremy. Most people didn't even pick up on him being in the campaign, and the few who did didn't really seem to know who he was.

So, what's the most special thing about your project?

I would have to say that it's the customized campaign menus for the Reign of Chaos version. Prior to The Frozen Throne's release, there really was no easy way to have a campaign menu setup like Blizzard's campaign. Virtually every other campaign, save for one that we have seen ( Rise of Krill ), have simply been a group of maps that you could play in any order that you wanted. We wanted to have something that would stand out from other campaign, even before you started to play the maps and get into the storyline.

Tell us more about story?

Our story picks up a little bit before the end of Blizzard's campaign. When Arthas and Illidan meet in Blizzard's campaign, some people were curious as to what Arthas was even doing in Kalimdor in the first place. We decided to pick up on this, and give him a reason ( aside from pushing Illidan to kill Tichondrius ).

Arthas is searching the lands of Kalimdor for a forgotten spellbook, one which may be able to help free his master, Ner'Zhul, from his icy prison. During Blizzard's campaign, Arthas and Kel'Thuzad are "missing" between the end of the undead campaign and the second to last night elf mission. During that time, Kel'Thuzad was researching ways to help Ner'Zhul. Through magical scrying, he was able to get an idea as to the location of the tome, but not able to pinpoint it. So, Arthas decided to search for it himself. Arthas ends up encountering Illidan while he is in Kalimdor, and is able to convince Illidan to eliminate Tichondrius, while he continues his search.

Are there any special units in your project?

We decided not to add any new or special units to the techtree, and tried to mostly focus on the storyline. We had some ideas during the begining stages of development, such as adding in Sylvanus as a new banshee-type hero with new spells, but we eventually decided against doing that, as our next campaign project will most likely be focusing on creating new and distinct races and techtrees.

How many people were involved in this project, and how long it took to finish it?

The main driving force behind The Patton Crew right now has been myself and advenir. That's probably the main reason that we took so long in getting our first campaign out there, since it was just the two of us doing everything.

We originally started tossing a few ideas around for campaigns right after we finished Blizzard's campaign. So, basic conceptual designs started about a week after the release of Reign of Chaos. It took quite a long time to make significant progress, as we both had real life issues that kept coming up, and we are both pretty laid back guys with a "whenever it gets done, it'll get done" attitude. It's not so much that we didn't care about getting the project done, it's more along the lines of "doing it for our own enjoyment". If we were working too hard, and pushing ourselves to get it out too fast, we would have burnt ourselves out on Warcraft, and might not even want to load the game up after a while.

So, we did our best to pace ourselves, and released Ner'Zhul's Return on the first of May, 2003. That's around ten months or so, from first ideas to release. The campaign is truly never "finished", as we have made several updates, accomidating the new patches and adding support for The Frozen Throne expansion.

However, for the next project, we're definitely hoping to add some more talented people to the team, so that we can get it done in a more efficient fashion.

Hm, your next project sounds interesting. I know that it is probably in "pre-planning" phase, but I think that it will be promising title. Can you tell us something new, exclusive about it? You know, first info?

Our most likely next project will be Emperor Wang Guhn. This campaign will be based around the unification of Korea around the time of 890-950 A.D. There was a Korean historical drama based upon the same thing, and that is what gave us the idea for the campaign. What we'd like to do is to bring that wonderful bit of history to the Warcraft world. Not only is it a great storyline, but it's based on historical facts. All this stuff really happened, and the campaign could make people feel as if they were really there, helping in the quest to unify the country.

The campaign would focus primarily on Wang Guhn, and his rise to king of the state of Koryo, and eventually Emperor of¬¬† the peninsula. It would have several different chapters, each focusing on the states, and their different struggles and battles with each other. Also, the tv drama will allow for us to take voice samples from that, and have full voice acting for all of the characters.

We even have some plans to do a multiplayer map based off of the same idea, just to get people a little more intrigued, and eager for what's to come with the campaign.

I heard a lot of interesting stories about forming teams. How did you guys meet each other & decide to create a team? What was the hardest moment in the history of your team?

The team was originally formed as a ripping group for the mp3 scene a long time ago. When I had decided to put that behind me, I took the name "The Patton Crew" with me, wanting to use it for something more legitimate. I ended up meeting advenir through work, and we became pretty good friends. One day, when I was coming in for my shift, advenir was there, and he told me to check something really cool out. It was a trailer for Warcraft III. I was never really into strategy games, but advenir was into Starcraft, and the mod scene for that. After seeing the trailer, I knew that I definitely had to play this game. Once we got ahold of Warcraft, and saw the great potential for mods and campaigns, we knew that we had to get together and start working on something. So, I brought back The Patton Crew, and we got right to work.

We've never really had any difficult moments, as we're both pretty easy going and laid back. I'd say the only thing we've had trouble with is scheduling time to get some work done. There was a period of a few weeks where we just played Warcraft instead of working on the campaign, even though we should have been working. Then again, we never really had a specific deadline for getting the campaign finished, so we just worked whenever it hit our fancy

Would you like to tell us anything else? Something important that we didn't ask you?

We'd like to mention that we will soon be looking for a few new people to join our team. If anyone is interested, feel free to contact us at pattoncrew@warcraftiii.net. All we ask is that anyone who's interested, just show us some work that you've done, and we'll look it over and get back to you.

Any messages to GH readers? Conclusions?

We just want to express our thanks to everyone out there. We never quite expected all the attention that our little campaign has been getting. It's good to know that a lot of people are enjoying it and we hope that everyone likes the next one even better