This is the first in a series of short profiles of the people behind World of Warcraft, which celebrates its five-year anniversary on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. More in the series: ocregister.com/blizzard
Few outsiders got the chance to observe Blizzard Entertainment’s special celebration for World of Warcraft, on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009. I guess they like me.
Anyone would have been in awe whether they know what WoW is or not. The company invited the whole Irvine campus — more than 1,000 employees — to the outdoor gathering. A stage was set up in front of the 12-foot orc statue and all the big bosses were there. And as you can see from our exclusive photos (by Register photographer Jebb Harris), there was plenty of free beer, BBQ and cake.
But the best part about the whole birthday extravaganza was the stories. Several old timers got a chance to say a few words, in this order:
Pearce talked about reuniting with old high-school friends online, plus the company’s earliest days of offering multiplayer gaming. And, of course, he mentioned that he initially thought taking Warcraft to the massively multiplayer game genre was just too niche. More on that later.
Brack remembers playing Warcraft on a null modem and Usenet, which he called “a horrible version of the Internet.” His WoW memory? Signing game boxes at Fry’s Electronics in Fountain Valley five years ago only to be tapped on the shoulder and told, “Someone is wrecking the game in Europe.” Yes, those cheeky Europeans had already figured out how to hack the game.
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Exclusive: Employees celebrate 5 years of WoW
WoW through the years
Dabiri joined the company just as it released its first game, “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans,” and traveled to Las Vegas to the Consumer Electronics Show to help demonstrate the game. Even though he had barely worked on it as a beta tester, he was really proud of the game. Same was true 10 years later during WoW’s launch when he took the team of developers to sign autographs at Fry’s and worried that no one would show up. Thousands did.
Fitch was one of four programmers for the original “Orcs & Humans” game. He and another programmer hooked up the game to a null modem and played one another online from different buildings on Blizzard’s campus. Fitch said he creamed the other guy. But when he stepped out in the hallway to announce the victory, the other player said the same thing. Turns out, they got disconnected early on.
“The game was designed to keep on going, so both of us won the very first multi-player game,” Fitch said.
Pardo brought up “Star Wars” and how the movie probably influenced a lot of the team. WoW will likely do the same for tomorrow’s game developers.
“If you look at the kids playing Warcraft today, they’re going to be citing WoW in the same way we are ‘Star Wars,’ ” he said.
More to come so keep checking back today and this week. New stories will be linked below.