World of Warcraft kickstarter wows the WOW'ers
If you have been a gamer for any length of time you most likely have heard of little company called Blizzard and their Diablo III, Starcraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, HearthStone and of course the Warcraft Series of games. If you ever wondered just how this little company became the world wide juggernaut that it currently is, and still creates only top AAA titles, then there is a new book you might want to get your hands on called The WOW Diary.
The WOW Diary is a current Kickstarter Campaign by John Staats that was funded in about 10 minutes when it went live this week. The author is a former employee of Blizzard hired as their first 3D Level Designer. This is his account of how the little game called World of Warcraft (WOW) came into being and which is still running today from it's release date of Nov 2004, about 14 years ago. WOW , after 13 years, just released its latest expansion on Aug 13th to great fanfare. At the games peak it had over 12 million players worldwide and still today almost 14 years later still has millions of players which is unheard of in the game industry.
This is a big book (336 Pages) with plenty of screenshots, pictures of the tools used to create the game, and in-depth technical details of just how World of Warcraft was brought to life by the different teams on the project. The author designed most of the outside world dungeons and quite a few of the instanced dungeons in the original game and the author based the the book from interviews and his journal that he did monthly as the game was being created. It gives insights to how this little company before WOW was released created maybe the most important game in the last decade and grew this company into the what it is today. Many of the people mentioned in the book that created WOW are now lead designers of the other blizzard games like Overwatch or have left to create other big games and leave their impact on the gaming industry.
If you are a long time WOW player like me and are now afraid to do the /played command ingame or have a deep interest in game design/technology this is a dream come true to be able to pull back the curtain and see behind the scenes on what was good/bad and ugly with the creation of WOW. You get a glimps of how and why things turned out the way they did, creating the experience that was and is still loved by millions. You will find out the mistakes they made, and how they fixed them - and also how accidents and their solutions came into being. For me it is a thrilling trip down memory lane since I played though them all both good and the bad. It is amazing how some of the things we came to love about the game actually developed and how sometimes last minute things were put into the game and not part of the greater vision as the players assumed.
Over the last 14 years I've played every facet of the game from Casuel Solo to Small Group Friends to 40/25/20/10 Man Raiding (even being a Raid Leader) to PVPing (I suck at PVP so I did not last long at that). I hope this book brings back all those good memories of friends and accomplishments I had over the years in WOW.
The geek in me it was fascinated by the small parts of the book released already for publicity on how WOW worked - and I cannot wait to read the entire book. From the tech side of me there were a ton of giant technology challenges back in 2004 that had to be solved to release a game as big and complex as WOW, not to mention the number of players it had to support. And also the tech side of me laughs at the story about the database server getting physically lost while it was up on the network and running the game so there was no way to fix it or upgrade it. This is not as uncommon in IT as you might think. WOW was the single biggest thing on the Internet until Youtube videos. The network tech side of me always loves to read up on how teams pull that feat off with no large scale experience.
Right after launch the game was selling so fast that they actually had to stop selling new copies for a couple of months because they could not get new server hardware fast enough to handle the load of players. Even though they had pre-bought server hardware for the expected first years growth. In the first month of the games release the game sold as many copies as they expected to sale for the entire 1st year. I look forward to reading in his other articles about the stories behind those issues.
The timing of this account could not be better since Blizzard is currently working on bringing back the original game as it was in 2005 and making it available as World of Warcraft Classic due to the high demand of the player base to go back it it's roots as we remember the original game.
Many older gamers are chomping on the bit to go back and relive the glory of WOW Classic.
Link to a Article from the Author about how Scholomance came into being and how it had to be fixed.
The End of the KickStarter is September 25th at 1pm. If you are interested in game development or game tech in any way I would highly recommend you get this book.
Update: This book as I found out from a kickstarter update this week is at this time the 6th largest non-fiction book though KickStarter and closing in on the 5th biggest non-fiction book. There are still weeks to go on the campaign.