Making WoW - Griefing Other Developers, AMA with Author John Staats
Last year, John Staats published The WoW Diary, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of vanilla Warcraft. Today we're bringing you another essay on vanilla development from Staats, so sit back and enjoy the nostalgia!
This week's essay is
Griefing Other Developers
, discussing pranks the WoW team would play on each other during early development.
Have any questions on the essay or vanilla WoW development in general? He'll be checking out the comments section and answering them, so you may learn something new!
A million years ago, I designed and built half of the dungeons in vanilla WoW. If you have any questions about making the game, I’m happy to answer, here on Wowhead. - John Staats
In June 2001, the company hosted quarterly show-and-tells so everyone could keep abreast of one another’s progress, and we showed our build of WoW for the European Computer Trade Show in September. The Diablo team was shocked at the number of features we’d added in the last three months. The build had clouds, shadows, the day/night lighting cycle (complete with sun and moon), customizable faces, armor components, sword-trail visual effects, and merchant/quest-giver interaction. They were especially impressed, since Team 2 was little more than half the size of their team. There were new buildings and zones and even a character-creation screen. The last time they had seen monsters running around, they were just ghouls. Ghouls were our favorite test monster because they were our only fully animated monster. Ghouls had covered the landscape, and in the last show-and-tell, an exterior level designer, Josh Kurtz, had demonstrated how he could toy with them by creating the first WoW train, in which a stampede of ghouls chased him across the world…until the game crashed. It was a hilarious throwback to EverQuest hijinks, and the entire team watched and laughed. Programmers murmured about ways to optimize a scene with so many creatures, and artists talked about adding variations to the animations (called fidgets) so that the monster movements weren’t synchronized like a chorus line.
On June 6, 2001, Josh was part of another unofficial milestone. He and two artists who shared an office (Tom Jung and Carlo Arellano) became the first assholes in the WoW universe! Every morning team members checked out the daily build to see progress with art assets, features, or bug fixes. Josh, Tom, and Carlo knew there would be many people checking out the game because Brandon Idol and Justin Thavirat had checked-in a ton of character skin variations the night before (so that morning’s build would be the first to support them). Brandon was their first victim. He went through his morning routine of updating his client before jumping into the game. When he spawned, Josh, Tom, and Carlo began beating on him, killing his character. They “camped” at the default player spawn point and killed Brandon a couple more times before the joke got old, but howls of distress and laughter echoed throughout the offices as more people tried to kill the campers and turn the tide of battle. People hurried to their desks to get in on the player-vs-player (PvP) action, and much trash-talking ensued. There were times when working at a game company could be a lot of fun.
If you found this essay interesting, consider purchasing The WoW Diary on Amazon:
WoW Diary Book on Amazon - $29.99
Special Boxed Edition on Amazon - $79.99
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