Episode #63 – The Making Of World Of Warcraft With Vanilla Dev, John Staats


Speaking with someone who was a part of the team that made the game that is the subject of this podcast has been a lofty goal of Josh’s ever since beginning this journey with you all.

Listen in as Josh sits down for a very special, lengthy, chat with vanilla World of Warcraft’s original 3D Level Designer, and architect of many of the caves, dungeons and raids that you’ve spent hundreds of hours in, John Staats.

John has written a book, titled ‘The World of Warcraft Diary: A Journal In Computer Game Development’ (which will have a Kickstarter campaign starting on August 28).  John was kind enough to send me a preview of the first 100 pages of the book and I can easily say it’s something that I will be recommending getting behind wholeheartedly as an excellent ‘in the room’ account of the making of World of Warcraft.

This is an exceptionally long interview.  John was too kind in affording me 3 1/2 hours of his time over two back to back days.  Whilst you may rightfully balk at this run time, I can assure you every minute of this chat had me on the edge of my seat and unveiled a bunch of things that we simply never knew about the development of World of Warcraft.

Highlights Below:

  • What’s To Come This Week On The Show – 0:00
  • Meet John Staats – 4:15
  • Getting To Irvine – 8:20
  • What Does A Level Designer Do? – 14:10
  • Life At Blizzard In The 2000’s – 22:45
  • The Public vs Instanced Dungeons Debate – 29:00
  • Non-Instanced Dungeon Design – 35:45
  • Plans For The Karazhan Crypts – 40:30
  • Unveiling Cut Content Designs – 46:45
  • Blizzard’s Rules Of Games Design – 53:05
  • Itemization Principles & Troubles – 1:03:45
  • John’s Favourite Designed Instances – 1:09:00
  • Blackrock Depths – 1:14:35
  • Players’ Quirky Use Of Level Design – 1:19:20
  • Making Molten Core In ‘A Week’ – 1:25:35
  • AQ40 Lamentations – 1:32:00
  • Real World Design Inspirations – 1:37:25
  • Dungeon Design Order – 1:42:20
  • Most Difficult Dungeon To Design – 1:46:30
  • What Would You Go Back & Change? – 1:50:00
  • Juicy Thoughts On Classic – 1:57:20
  • Patch 1.13 Possibility Thoughts – 2:10:55
  • Dealing With Rumours & Speculation At Blizzard – 2:13:45
  • Playable Races Cut From Vanilla – 2:23:20
  • The Randomly Generated vs. Unique Instances Argument – 2:33:30
  • Least Favourite Dungeon Design Of His Own – 2:45:20
  • What The Plans Were For Cut Content – 2:50:20
  • Time Based Rewards – 2:54:45
  • Designing Karazhan – 3:00:10
  • Blackrock Mountain Inspiration – 3:06:30
  • Working With Jeff Kaplan – 3:11:10
  • Other Wild Blizzard Personalities – 3:19:40
  • Keeping Secrets Intact At Blizzard – 3:22:10
  • Faction Bias At Blizzard – 3:24:50
  • Board Games – 3:27:05


Follow John’s Book Progress @ His Website – https://whenitsready.com/wowdiary/

Pick up awesome Countdown To Classic show rewards @ Patreon: patreon.com/countdowntoclassic

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Or simply show your support by leaving the show a review at iTunes or by telling a friend!

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Send your Memory Lane stories, Anger Management rants or just say hello to Josh at feedback@countdowntoclassic.com or get in touch on social media:

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4 thoughts on “Episode #63 – The Making Of World Of Warcraft With Vanilla Dev, John Staats”

  1. 02:04:45 “I will eat my hat if they get it done before 2020.”

    Welp… here we are, a week before release in 2019 ^_^

    I will not hold it against John, but I still think it was funny (and am so RELIEVED that it will come out in 2019)

    Liked by 1 person

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