Making WoW - Stormwind Inside Jokes, AMA with Author John Staats
Last year, John Staats published The WoW Diary, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of vanilla Warcraft. With Blackwing Lair launching soon in Classic WoW, we've bringing you another essay on vanilla development from Staats, so sit back and enjoy the nostalgia!
This week's essay is
Stormwind: Built on Rock n Roll?
, discussing a practical joke during Stormwind's initial 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
Producers Shane Dabiri and Carlos Guerrero and lead animator Kevin Beardsley returned from a sleep-deprived four-day exhibition in Paris of WoW to Blizzard’s parent company, Vivendi Universal. They gave us a recap of the trip, and Carlos showed his photos of his travel companions either sleeping in airports, toasting in restaurants, or speaking at press events. Team members had traveled to shows in Tokyo, London, and now Paris. “Promo-vacations” were split up between as many team members as possible so people weren’t too envious of the company-paid drinking binges on foreign soil. Vivendi was so happy with what we showed that we didn’t have the heart to tell them the build was the same, stable one we had used at the ECTS in London six months earlier and not the crashy, current version.
A treat was in store for the producers upon their return from Europe—finally there was some happy news from the dungeon team. Aaron Keller and Matt Mocarski had applied the first pass of textures to one of Stormwind’s six districts, and the results were terrific. They settled on an on-screen budget of fourteen textures. Aaron and Cameron Lamprecht had been working on Stormwind for three months, and the current version had six districts, only one of which was textured. Shane brought Allen Adham into the dungeon room to show him the progress. Allen was so impressed he didn’t want to show off the city at the next E3 because he didn’t want to raise the bar for competitors to shoot for. Allen thought it made more sense to impress people when the game got closer to being finished rather than a year before it was on the shelf. This was a typical, strategic Allen-decision, as he was the World’s Most Patient Person. It looked as though we’d be more tight-lipped about the project, making discussions with the press harder, but selling magazines was last among Allen’s considerations.
Aaron and Matt got Jeff Chow (who had engineered WoW’s sound code) to hook up Stormwind’s zone music to an MP3 of Jefferson Starship’s saccharine pop song, “We Built This City.” It was worth a laugh because the song was so reviled, but after a few weeks no one thought it was funny anymore. People muted their sound and Eric Dodds remarked that he hated checking out trade skill vendors because of “that stupid song blaring into my headphones.” This arguably made the practical joke funnier, but everyone breathed easier after it was removed.
Author’s note: It’s funny how these things can be so lasting. Pizza still turns me off; I associate Quake 3 with our early test dungeons; and I shudder every time I hear the beginning of that horrible song. I didn’t even need to work in Stormwind, multiple times a day for 2 months, like the game designers. I can’t imagine what their reaction to this song today.
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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