How World of Warcraft Was Made

If you have any interest in Blizzard Entertainment's flagship MMORPG World of Warcraft, you should check out this massive USgamer feature that looks back at the game's origins and its ongoing development, aided by plenty of quotes from past and present developers. As a result, we get to read about the roots of WoW's quest-based design, its distinct classes, the innovative phasing system, the memorable events and milestones throughout the years, and much more.

Here are a few opening paragraphs, and you take it from there:

For 14 years, World of Warcraft has remained not only active, but relevant. It didn't define the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) genre, but it continues to evolve with the genre. World of Warcraft has sold millions of copies, made billions of dollars, and won hundreds of awards. With the release of its seventh expansion Battle for Azeroth, WoW still boasts a thriving fanbase.

From the beginning, World of Warcraft was designed as a response to other games, with players of successful MMOs wondering if the experience could be made better. On the backs of games like Ultima Online and Everquest, the team at Blizzard Entertainment transported players to the Azeroth established in Warcraft 3. Those players could explore a vast world full of heroes, villains, gods, and monsters, combined with an experience that was far more player-friendly than its contemporaries. I played those early MMOs myself; I remember the anarchy and player-killing (Corp Por, anyone?) of Ultima Online, or the mob trains, corpse runs, and vicious grind of Everquest. In comparison, World of Warcraft was a breath of fresh air.

Game development is hard. Games fail all the time, sometimes because they're broken and other times because they simply don't find the right audience. Launching a successful game is difficult, and keeping a game successful for more than a decade is a combination of craft, passion, and luck. It's evident by the litter of defunct competitors to World of Warcraft left in the MMORPG's wake. Over these past 14 years, World of Warcraft has benefited from its developers designing around player perception or learning to talk more with the community.

We spoke with just a fraction of the folks that have been behind Blizzard's decade-plus hit. Current World of Warcraft principals like Battle for Azeroth game director Ion Hazzikostas, principal artist Jimmy Lo, and technical director Patrick Dawson are joined by former Blizzard Entertainment chief creative officer Rob Pardo (lead designer of World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade) and former lead systems designer Greg Street (World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria). Together, they'll help provide some structure to the story of World of Warcraft's early and continuing development.