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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

War Stories from Azeroth

Joseph Cochran  (Sr. Software Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment)

Kurtis McCathern  (Principal Software Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment)

Date: Wednesday, July 21

Time: 1:20pm - 2:20pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Programming

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

This talk celebrating World of Warcraft's 16+ year history covers unexpected server challenges and lessons that can be applied to any live game. WoW has constantly evolved with every expansion and the server team has encountered different challenges at every turn. Through four examples, this talk will cover a cross-section of those issues. Using events players remember such as the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj and the launches of several expansions, it will cover topics including load balancing, performance monitoring, good development practices, integrating new features into an existing code base, and transitioning to work-from-home during a pandemic. Take a look into the ongoing development of one of the most active and popular games of all time.


Attendees will learn about some of the specific incidents that challenged the WoW server team and discover strategies that they can use in their own projects to help avoid some of the same pitfalls. They will gain insight into the development processes of a long running AAA title over time.

Intended Audience

Programmers and engineers looking for valuable tips in server development, and developers from other disciplines who wish to understand the challenges live operations face.