The Numbers Of Warcraft

In a keynote to GDC Austin, two Blizzard developer pulled back the curtains on some aspects of World of Warcraft that players might not consider much, and dropped an interesting tidbit about how the series evolved from RTS to MMO.

Gamasutra, covering the keynote, reports that World of Warcraft grew out of a Blizzard team's frustration with a concept called Nomad, which was to have been a squad-based RTS. Unable to find much purpose in the work, they chucked Nomad and asked "What would we do if we wanted to start a project today?" The answer was World of Warcraft.

"Operating an online game is about more than just game development," said Pearce. "World of Warcraft has completely changed the organization".

As proof, Pearce supplied numbers for the staggering amounts of manpower and computing infrastructure the game needs just to stay up and running, such as:

• 20,000 computer systems • 13,250 server blades • 75,000 CPU cores • 1.3 petabytes of storage • 4,600 staffers • A partridge in a pear tree.

Kidding about the last. But they don't stop there. Warcraft's a game with 7650 quests, 70,000 spells, 40,000 NPCs, 1.5 million game assets and 5.5 million lines of code. QA's swatted some 180,000 bugs. And the playing community has unlocked 4,449,680,399 rewards.

The keynote, mostly a department-by-department breakdown of those who keep the World of Warcraft running, is reported fully over at Gamasutra. Here's another number: 5. It's World of Warcraft's age as of November. I'm not sure if it seems like it released just yesterday or a dozen years ago.

An Inside Look at the Universe of Warcraft [Gamasutra via VG247]


    It doesn't have 70,000 UNIQUE spells...and that number definitely includes spells that only npcs have. WoW is not that complex. I don't even know what the 4 billion rewards even means.

      They don't claim that there's 70,000 unique spells though - The quote is "has created some 70,000 spells". Guessing the 4 billion rewards refers to loot dropped by mobs. Interesting article though!

      I don't see the word "unique" in the article.

      In response to Pachang.

      Wow certainly has 70 000 unique spells that requires different code to another. Therefore making it unique and not identical and that would include NPC spells. The 4 billion rewards refers to the achievement system and I assume by rewards it means you are rewarded with 10 points per achievement therefore making up that number.

      Lets not miss the point of this report, the hardware behind the game which is quite impressive and larger than I had guessed, but I have limited knowledge of that anyway.

        If by different code you mean 99.9% of the code is identical except for one or two variables like damage or duration, then yes.

        If you go by your definition of unique, a text based game with 3 billion versions of magic missiles each doing 1 more damage than the last has 3 billion unique spells. Far more than WoW.

        The point i'm making is that how many different versions of the same spell you have doesn't make a game complex or take a lot of work to make. It is the number of original unique spells that gives you an idea of the amount of time the devs took balancing and creating them. The hardware stats are good but the others don't really give you an accurate idea of the magnitude of wow.

        The number of quests also includes "Good job, now go and talk to the person next to me" quests.

    I'm thinking 4 billion rewards may be achivements? But it's a bit obscure.

    But yeah, I'm assuming the 70,000 is including a lot of double ups with maybe a slightly different hue of colour that only NPC's use.

    What is a petabyte? I thought after terabytes came flops, kiloflobs, megaflops, etc.?

      gigabyte > terabyte > petabyte > exabyte > zettabyte > yottabyte

      Flops are a measurement of speed (FLoating point OPerations per Second) as opposed to above measurements of capacity.

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