World of Warcraft’s first 3-D level designer is Kickstarting a massive behind-the-scenes book, and it’s already written


The Ancient Gaming Noob himself tipped us off today to a bizarre but intriguing Kickstarter that should appeal to that cross-section of our audience into World of Warcraft, coffee table books, and the history of coding. Wait, no, hear it out.

“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. […] 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.”

All of that written by “WoW’s first 3D level designer” – John Staats – in a “a hardbound journal with over 95,000 words and 130 images across 336 varnished, full-color pages” that are already completely finished and just need funding for a printing run. In other words, you’re buying a $40 book detailed by the guy who built what appears to be a huge chunk of classic WoW: “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.”

But as Wilhelm points out, $400,000 is a really high ask for a book like this. When you guys funded MOP (for far less than that), it was so unusual that we had actual academics calling us for interviews relating to the social science behind crowdfunded journalism. We’re probably in somebody’s thesis by now. It’s pretty unlikely $400,000 is going to happen, in spite of the fact that as he points out, the actual paper is half the cost. It sits at just under $10,000 right now with 11 days to go. And this is the first we’ve heard of it.

But then again, there’s a really good reason behind this book’s production. Says Staats,

“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.”

It’s not clear whether the book will be released in a smaller quantity if the Kickstarter doesn’t succeed, but he Staats does downplay the potential for a PDF or eBook version. Color us intrigued anyway.

Source: Kickstarter via TAGN. Thanks, Wilhelm!
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Wilhelm Arcturus

Comment from the author on the campaign:

Yeah, this campaign isn’t going to happen. LOL. I had some really bad advice. I’ll reboot it with 1/10th of a target and give it 30 days to clear. Thanks for your support. If you sign up to to my email list, I’ll send a notice to you when it begins again. (And I promise not to spam you with constant updates).


I as many people love the idea, we want to buy the book, maybe Indiegogo is better option for funding, i’m going to buy the book, and going now to sign the email list :-)


Needs some work on cover design, for starters.

Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron

I don’t think he should do a kickstarter. He should do a pre-order for copies of the book instead.

Robert Stuever

He’s going to reboot but he said the book will be missing some content like pictures. The price for the book seemed fine but the goal was like he was going for 10k copies, I don’t think there’s that much interest.

Oleg Chebeneev

400k for a book? Is he on drugs?


He looks like it.

Randy Savage

Does he even have the legal right to distribute this obviously copyrighted material? And if he does, why isn’t Blizz helping him publish the book?


Was curious about this as well, per his KS page:

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.

Randy Savage

Which leads to my second question lol

Kickstarter Donor

Interesting idea. Hope it makes it.