Resurrecting Kel’Thuzad: a documentary on how the beloved character came to HotS
Kel’Thuzad is a hugely important character. Not only was he responsible for many of the events that spawned World of Warcraft, but he’s appeared in other Blizzard games and has been an iconic villain for decades. He’s so important that Heroes of the Storm did a 5-part documentary detailing his design process and creation in the game.
Kel’Thuzad has probably been the most requested hero for Heroes of the Storm since the game launched. In the player surveys for adding characters, he was always at the top. Kel’Thuzad has been an iconic Warcraft villain since Warcraft 3, where he propelled the story forward, both in creating the plague that was the catalyst for Arthas’s downfall, and also in performing the Lich King’s bidding after being risen from death. Ben Brode estimates that in the 20 years of Kel’Thuzad’s existence, hundreds of people have worked on him in some form.
The last time they really had the chance to iterate Kel’Thuzad was in Warcraft 3. Translating a character from one game to another is a challenge. For such an iconic and requested hero as Kel’Thuzad, they really felt that they had to get it right. He’s been in Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and now Heroes of the Storm. Each game has its own design and flavor, ranging from true villain to humorously antagonizing. At the heart of his character he is “this horrible person who gave up everything for power…who owns a cat.” Kel’Thuzad in Heroes is heavily inspired from his original incarnation in Warcraft 3.
The series goes through the entire design process, from the original brainstorming where they come up with ideas from everyone involved with his design, to the final iterations and play testing. The original voice actor for Kel’Thuzad, Michael McConnohie, was brought back to voice him again. He’s voiced every single Kel’Thuzad except for in Wrath of the Lich King, as he also voiced the Lich King and the developers thought using the same voice actor for both would be confusing. Michael McConnohie is also the voice behind Uther, Deathwing, Xul, and many others.
Each episode is only 6-8 minutes long and they’re well worth a watch for insight into Kel’Thuzad as well as Blizzard’s design process. Check them out below.
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