The World of Warcraft Diary (Canceled)
What did it take to make World of Warcraft? Blizzard's first 3D level designer provides an in-depth view of making computer games.
The World of Warcraft Diary:
A Journal of Computer Game Development
by John Staats
The WoW Diary provides a candid and detailed look at the twists and turns inside computer game development. Its author was WoW's first 3D level designer and he writes about the people behind the game and the philosophy behind their work.
The WoW Diary will be a hardbound journal with over 95,000 words and 130 images across 336 varnished, full-color pages of high-quality paper stock printed in the U.S.A.
Why are computer games so hard to make?
The WoW Diary takes you inside one of the gaming industry’s most famous companies and follows the development of one of its most successful titles. You'll learn that game development can be surprisingly messy: There are improvisations, mistakes, surprises, and lucky discoveries. The book covers what goes into the secret sauce that makes computer games great.
The book’s author served on World of Warcraft for over a decade and his journal illustrates the complexity behind computer game development in terms that even non-gamers could understand. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to work in the games industry, this book is for you. The scope of the narrative describes the people and departments part of a top-tier game company, and, month by month, covers four years of the project's dev cycle.
Who is John Staats (author) and what is The World of Warcraft Diary?
I was a games industry outsider before joining Blizzard Entertainment in 2000 as the company's first 3D level designer. After many of my misconceptions about game development were dispelled, I thought it would be a compelling subject to write about. I began The WoW Diary by interviewing my team members to build a broader understanding of how a computer game company works, and I logged monthly updates our progress over the next four years (until we launched). This book focuses on the highs and lows of making massively multiplayer online games, and because WoW is so familiar, it's excellent common ground for covering both the basics and specifics of game development.
My personal Vanilla WoW portfolio includes 90 percent of the game's non-instanced caves, crypts, dens, mines, and hive tunnels. I designed and built Ahn’Qiraj Temple, Blackfathom Deeps, Blackwing Lair, Blackrock Mountain, Blackrock Depths, Booty Bay, Karazhan (w/Aaron Keller), Loch Modan Dam, Lower Blackrock Spire, Molten Core, Razorfen Downs, Razorfen Kraul, Scholomance, The Slag Pit, Upper Blackrock Spire, The Wailing Caverns, and Warsong Gulch (w/Matt Milizia).
A few years ago I developed a medical condition (an undiagnosed neurological issue with my hands) that prevents me from sustained computer use—including both making and playing computer games. With computer game development in my rear-view mirror, I am passing on what I’ve learned about the industry. My only agenda is accuracy. Because The WoW Diary is an independent publication you can rest assured that this isn't a promotional piece; you'll be getting the full story.
What production values can be expected of this book?
I’ve rewritten, iterated, and edited the text eighteen times over in addition to four passes by a content editor, a copy editor and a proof reader (all of whom have 10+ years of professional experience in their fields). I've a degree in graphic design and ten years’ experience in advertising so I’m familiar to printing. I’ve designed the layouts myself and will be printing the book in the United States, using a high-quality stock that will be varnished (if necessary) for readability, protection, and presentation. I’ve held up press runs over subtle color shifts, imperfect trims, or errant flecks of ink (weathering angry glares from pressmen twice my age) so I’ll be a strong advocate for the book's quality control.
The WoW Diary is trickier than most books to produce. Technically speaking, it needs a five-color sheet-fed press (for the best color control), has full-bleed, and will be a large-enough print run that extra attention (and costs) must be paid to maintain quality control of both trim and ink coverage. It's thicker than most books; it uses a high-quality paper stock (i.e., photography books) that will be dull-varnished (if necessary) to reduce the glare for easier reading. I will be on-press to personally sign-off on every sheet.
Will The WoW Diary be available in other formats?
I doubt it. Because of its heavy use of imagery and captions, The WoW Diary layouts won’t translate easily into eBook or audio formats. Even the PDF (which is hundreds of megabytes) would make for awkward viewing on tablets because the layouts were designed to as full-sized spreads. Maybe there is a way to reformat the manuscript into an eBook, but I'm too focused on delivering a printed version to know for sure.
What will backers receive? Why aren’t there other Kickstarter rewards?
Backers will receive a copy of the first edition of The WoW Diary. It will be comparable to a textbook with 336 8” x 10”, full-color, varnished (if necessary) pages of high-quality paper stock bound in a hardback format. It has over 95,000 words (the length of The Hobbit) and over 130 annotated images.
As a one-man company, I don’t have the bandwidth for special editions, buttons, banners, or baubles. Such extras will balloon the printing costs, so I’m focusing on delivering a high-quality product. As I mentioned earlier, I have medical issues preventing me from signing copies, so this Kickstarter campaign will not offer signed copies as rewards.
It looks like the book is already finished, what will the money be used for?
After ~8% goes to our friends at Kickstarter, about half the sum total will pay for paper upfront. The rest will go to operational costs for being on press, printing, binding, packaging, and production fees; it'll pay for distributor fulfillment and inventory fees, warehousing, insurance, and shipping. I’ve already covered the editing and most pre-production expenses. Additional copies of the first edition will be available on Amazon.com, but my inventory space, at first, will be limited to 5,000 books (until Amazon is convinced to give me more inventory space). Since Amazon sales will fund future printings, additional Kickstarter campaigns won’t be necessary (each printing will take a few months) so there might be spotty availability of The WoW Diary immediately after this Kickstarter campaign.
What are the printing and delivery details?
After the crowdfunding campaign ends, it will take a few weeks to process the money transfers. It will take a couple months to print and another several weeks to ship and distribute throughout Amazon's many fulfillment centers. Kickstarter backers will receive their copies via Amazon's normal delivery options (such as free shipping within the US) and international backers will be subject to Amazon’s international delivery fees. I'm hoping to lower shipping rates later in 2018.
Doesn't Blizzard own these images? Are there legal risks in an independent publication?
I have a licensing agreement with Blizzard Entertainment to use their content for this book. I've had lunches with their management about the book and I sent them over a dozen copies to read, fact check, add details, and make corrections. Even their attorneys read it to ensure all was groovy.
Where I can get more information about The WoW Diary and John Staats?
My website, whenitsready.com, has everything you need to know (including some juicy excerpts). My homepage is a typical author's blog covering my post-Kickstarter campaign goings on. My Facebook page will send notifications about Amazon availability of The WoW Diary, future milestones, reviews, articles, and schedules. If you don't want spam, you can sign up on my website for an email preview of my next project (a dungeon-based board game that I'll also crowdfund).
Risks and challenges
Aside from its mass production, storage, and delivery, The World of Warcraft Diary is done. Although it’s my first Kickstarter project, I’ll be working with one of the top independent book printers in the United States, and the rewards will be delivered by either Amazon or a fulfillment house that specializes in book delivery using a custom-fit "bumper-end mailer" that offers the highest degree of protection. The only scary bit will be buying the paper upfront (which is half the cost of the project!) but this is typical for press runs.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)