8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Making of Wizard101
The Spiral is a magical place, with Wizard City at the center of all the worlds that are or could be. But, the Spiral had to come from somewhere. Who conjured Merle Ambrose? How did Ravenwood School come to be? What evil genius summoned the diabolical Malistaire and Morganthe? It all began with an idea… These eight facts about the making of Wizard101 might truly surprise you.
1. Was Wizard101 the brainchild of Shadowbane?
Once upon a time, there were some heroes on a quest to build a different kind of world. Little does most of the public know that many of the Wizard101 founders, including Josef Hall, initially learned how to build worlds by creating Shadowbane, a popular MMORPG game from Wolfpack Studios. That experience translated into the creation of the family-friendly MMO game, Wizard101.
2. Wizard101 Wasn’t meant to fit in with other MMOs.
When the heroes mentioned above came together, they thought about all the other games out there, like World of Warcraft, and realized there were not many games designed for parents and kids to play together. Josef Hall was a father, and he knew he wanted to build a game that would be fun for families. Quests in most MMOs are filled with violent battles and weapons that are not appropriate for children, so the creators wanted to come up with a game that was suitable for the whole family. In addition, the chat feature within the game is filtered to be safe for players of all ages.
3. Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Wizard101
Turns out Pixar’s model played into the inspiration behind Wizard101. Like the heroes behind Pixar, the heads at KingsIsle wanted to create a world that would be engaging and safe for children, but still interesting and challenging for adults.
4. It started out as a real card game.
Believe it or not, the premise behind the game didn’t magically appear. The team spent days playing with a deck of character cards, some dice, and beads that symbolized the power-up and other boosts. They scribbled down rules, ideas, and notes about what worked and didn’t. They knew that the core of any good game, no matter how amazing the graphics and effects, is that it is fun to play.
5. It was made in record time.
The team of heroes had an ambitious goal: They wanted to launch their new game within three years, which is a pretty short video game development time in the gaming industry. By keeping the initial features compact and focused, they imagined, designed, tested and programmed the game on time!
6. You can play it at Grandma’s house.
The creators realized that many kids and families don’t have the latest technology, so the game is designed to run well and look great on any system, even the old one at Grandma’s house. The specs that this game requires were actually thought out with a purpose. The designers knew casual users and kids on hand-me-down computers would be playing Wizard101, so the focus needed to be on the game being easily accessible and able to run on minimal RAM and processing power.
7. The cards actually come to life!
Instead of flat cards popping up on the screen during game play, Wizard101 took creativity a step further to have the characters on the cards actually come to life and act out the combat.
8. The first launch of the game only included four adventure areas.
With a deadline quickly approaching, the team opted to only ship with four major adventure areas (Wizard City, Krokotopia, Marleybone and Mooshu), then added a fifth area three months after launch. Can you imagine playing the game back then?!
Wizard101 is constantly evolving, bringing about new spells, characters, and technology. The creators of the game frequently refer to it as the best project they’ve ever worked on, and you can see why!