Thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign, John Staats, former 3D level designer at Blizzard, has published a diary about the development of World of Warcraft (Vanilla version). In addition, he regularly writes essays for Wowhead, in which he gives insights into his time in the WoW team. The current part is about how WoW benefited from the mistakes Blizzard made with Nomad.
Have over 8,300 supporters on Kickstarter raised nearly $ 600,000 for John Staats, former 3D level designer at Blizzard, his diary about the development of World of Warcraft (Vanilla version). Staats gives small insights into the anecdote collection not only in the book, but also in his short essays, which appear weekly on Wowhead.
in the current part For example, the former WoW developer talks about how WoW could benefit from the mistakes Blizzard had previously made in the Nomad project. We have summarized the most important findings from the essay below:
- At the time, Blizzard had two development teams. Ultima Online inspired one of the two teams to work on a persistent MMO that would rely on a squad-based, tactical combat system. The name of the project: Nomad. Players should be able to upgrade and equip their own troops and then compete against other players and AI opponents.
- At the time, however, the team consisted only of programmers and artists. All areas of the game were discussed democratically, there was no one who, as the supreme authority in game design, gave the direction and ultimately made the decisions. The result: The development did not progress properly, the many ideas did not make a big picture. Sometimes people on the team felt more like playing other games. Something emerged that nobody was happy with. After a year, they admitted that Nomad was a disaster. Another six months were invested to check whether the project could be saved, but nothing worked.
- After Ultima Online, fans of the game in the second development team felt like developing an MMO as well. The desire grew in both teams when Everquest appeared and hit the market.
- However, the second development team worked on an early version of Warcraft 3 (which was later thrown overboard), so only the Nomad team had the opportunity to design a pitch for an MMO. It was Kevin Beardslee who prepared the pitch for the top management level. His vision: an everquest in the Warcraft universe, with WASD control, instanced dungeons and a clear quest structure so that the MMO experience also appeals to casual gamers. The pitch was presented by Jeff Strain, who headed the Nomad team.
- Mike Morhaime and Co. gave the pitch the green light in the meeting, at the same time Nomad was finally buried.
- Allen Adham joined the team to support as a game design director and big Everquest fan. It was also he who brought the philosophy known from Diablo into the project, to adapt the niche genre for hardcore gamers in such a way that it can also appeal to a much larger target group. Everything in WoW should be intuitive and easy to learn. He gave the clear direction of design and thus took on a role that was still missing at Nomad.
- Before the end of Nomad, Eric Dodds strengthened the team, he came from the QA area. When it became clear that the MMO in the Warcraft universe would be developed next, it was he who launched the game World of Warcraft for the first time (buy now for € 19.99) called. It was decided that this placeholder would be used until someone had a better idea. Oh well … 😉
- In July 1999, almost a dozen developers started the largest project that Blizzard has accomplished. There was more progress in three months than Nomad had achieved in a year and a half. As already mentioned, this was due to the leadership of Adham. But there were also other reasons. On the one hand, Everquest provided a good basis for many areas that could be used as a guide. On the other hand, not everyone was working on their own idea anymore. The office was redesigned so that it was easier to work together and to exchange ideas more directly. Everyone knew what the other was doing. Everyone was allowed to contribute their opinion. In the end, however, it was the game designers, especially Adham, who set the course.
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