Hi! I'm a huge Star Trek nerd ... so here we go.
First, The Next Generation is not old. It only went off the air some 15-odd years ago... wait, that is old. Oh god, am I old? I'll let you know once those damn kids get off my lawn.
Faint yelling can be heard in the distance, screaming at them about "emotion smiley face."
Okay, now that I'm back...
I think the Klingons are very, very much like the Horde. Star Trek has a ton of in-game Easter eggs, and there are a lot of similarities between some of the cultures in the WoW universe and the Star Trek universe. But what I think isn't necessarily right.
The original Star Trek series was sent against the backdrop of the real-life Cold War. The diplomatic (and other) relationships that existed in the series were heavily modeled after real-life counterparts. Star Fleet and the United Federation of Planets were the United States and western/capitalistic powers (albeit a more enlightened form), and the Klingons were the Soviets and communism.
Russians were, for the most part, seen as honorable foes (but foes nonetheless) in a game of global brinkmanship. The same was true for the relationship between the Klingons and the Federation, and the same is true for the relationship between the Horde and Alliance. Of course, they're not always called honorable, but numerous aspects of the lore tell us that at the moment of battle and death, everyone considers everyone else honorable (with rare exception).
In this regards, the relationship between the Horde and Alliance is more geopolitically aligned to the Cold War, if direct conflicts were taking place. Star Trek was more about indirect conflict with the Klingons, especially in the original series (although yes, many direct conflicts also happened).
Now, are the orcs a direct nod to the Klingons? I don't think so. Many aspects of the Klingon culture were derived from old Oriental culture (also a key point of the 1960s, with WWII right behind everyone). The focus on honor, strength, and a show of stoic leadership -- these are all things that spoke strongly in eastern tradition. It's my contention that WoW orcs are based more directly on these aspects than aspects of the Klingon culture.
But with that being said, there are still a lot of similarities there, and Metzen has mentioned Star Trek often enough that it's safe to assume that they had some influence. But remember too, orcs and other denizens existed heavily in D&D literature prior to WoW. And that's the true foundation of them and their culture as it relates to the game (note that I said foundation, which is not everything).
One of the major reasons it's easy to draw similarities between the different cultures is that both universes are extremely well put-together. In fact, I'd wager the WoW universe and Star Trek universe are two of the shining examples of a modern richly developed fictional universe. Gene Roddenberry was a genius, and so are the lore gatekeepers of WoW. Each universe is so easy for us to relate to and understand because they draw upon modern-day elements. This is where many other MMORPGS have failed (Aion, Rift, Warhammer, Conan... the list goes on); they try to permute the stories into something new instead of working with what's golden and true. Klingon vs. Federation, humans vs. Horde, United States vs. Russia, Rome vs. everyone -- they're all about the battle of two opposing cultures that have key underlying differences in their ethos. That story is as old as time and will always be told by master storytellers like Roddenberry and Metzen.
I want to impress upon everyone here, too, that until Metzen says, "This is where this aspect of the orc culture came from," all we can really do is play these fun games of speculation. He's the final authority and could invalidate everyone in here without much effort.
(Two notes here for the end. First, in Metzen's Geek Is presentation last year at BlizzCon 2010, he mentioned Star Trek several times. I've also gotten into discussions about the series with Blizzard staff -- they're huge nerds, just like everyone else. Second, Michael Dorn, who plays Worf, has done numerous bits of voice acting for WoW. Go touch a tauren if you don't believe me.)
Professor Putricide asked:
I've posted questions in the comments for quite some time and I've continuously been ignored! How do you search through the comments and decide which one's to answer and which ones to skim past?
We try to answer as much as we can, but between comments here, via email, on Twitter and Facebook, we usually get between 80 and 100 or so every day. You have about a 1% chance of being answered. Just keep asking; eventually the odds will be in your favor. Also, we really like to answer questions that we can actually answer, versus just speculate over.
The Professor then asked:
Am I the only one that thinks it's some form of sin that any and all Undead characters in-game can't do the Thriller dance?
Is that the question you've been trying to get answered?
My guess is that Thriller will get added at some point, probably with the dance studio. But I have no inside knowledge of this.
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