Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 13, 2007
How big is Azeroth?

It takes quite some time to completely explore every corner of the World of Warcraft, Azeroth. But how big is this world in square miles or square kilometers? While other game companies brag about the size of their worlds, Blizzard is keeping mum about this. So I had to go out and measure it myself.

If you have a look at the continent of Kalimdor, you will see that it is roughly rectangular, and three times as long as it is wide. So if we could measure how wide it is, we would have its area. And the second continent, the Eastern Kingdoms, while being shaped more irregularly, has roughly the same area. But how do you measure the widths of a continent?

To measure a square mile, you first need to define what a mile is. As "a mile" doesn't even have the same length on different places on our earth, that isn't trivial. The basic definition of a mile is coming from Roman times, defining a mile a 1000 double steps of a marching legion. The soldiers had to walk through all of Europe anyway, so you just needed to count their steps and had the place all measured up with few extra effort. Clever guys, these Romans. But on Azeroth "steps" aren't that easy to count, and the length of legs between the different races varies widely. But interestingly all races move at the same running speed, so it makes sense to define the mile by the time it takes to run it. On earth, a marathon runner has a running speed of about 12 miles per hour. As everybody on Azeroth is a hero, lets just define the Azerothian running speed as 12 mph as well. This effectively defines an Azerothian mile as "the distance you can run in 5 minutes", without using any speed enhancing items of course.

So what I did was run from the east end of Thousand Needles to the west coast of Feralas, because you can do so in pretty much a straight line. I timed it, and crossing the width of the continent of Kalimdor running took me 18 minutes and 35 seconds. That makes the distance 3.7 miles. That means the continent of Kalimdor is 41 square miles (just over 100 square kilometers) big, and the world of Azeroth pre-Burning Crusade is about 80 square miles or 200 square kilometers.

I called Kalimdor a continent. But at 41 square miles it doesn't really qualify. The island of Manhattan has 20 square miles, and somebody else compared it to Azeroth. He used a different method, but ended up with a similar result. The Isle of Wight, a small island in the channel between the UK and the European continent, is 146 square miles, and thus bigger than the World of Warcraft including Outland. Azeroth is a pretty small place.

But in the end measuring the size of a virtual world in square miles doesn't make much sense anyway. If you made a parallel World of Warcraft with exactly the same number of quests and mobs, and the same geography, but just doubled all distances, Azeroth would be 4 times as big. But that wouldn't add anything to the game. So counting the size of Azeroth in number of quests is a better indicator of game "size". And in that respect World of Warcraft is easily beating other games that just have more land mass.
The question here is actually what is the question that you want answered with the size of the world?

Physical measurements will give one answer to one question, number of quests another one. The time which it takes to travel from one end to another a 3rd one and the number of distinct, interesting items in an area another one etc.

Just counting the number of quests is not good enough IMHO, but that of course depends if people just want a measurement for added xp and potential "hidden grinds" or some addeded experience besides xp/faction gain. For the latter a quest or a series of quests should give some sense of accomplishment - success in meeting a certain goal, followed an interesting story, learned some interesting and/or useful about some faction/group/area.

Number of quests are mostly irrelevant if I just want to explore and see new and fascinating areas - quests can tie in of course to allow one to learn more of the area, adding to the experience.

Also the number of events and activities going on could also be part of a relevant measurement - a world where every NPC is just standing there waiting for something to happen is quite different from a world with NPCs walking around, talking, interacting with each other and players etc.

For harvesting/crafting neither of these are particularly relevant.

And on matter of size of a world, the number of instanced dunegon type may alo be relevant (inluding their size). Also, how would you treat games with instanced outdoor zones (EQ2, GW etc)?
Again, depends on the question.

Been thinking of some meaningful measurement of the size of an MMO world, but can only find meaningful measurements for a certain context.

The question that people may want answered may be "does the world feel large (and interesting)?". I think answers will be somewhat individual at least.
There is no doubt that you were destined to be a scientist.
Seems Tobold isn't europeanised enough to use the metric system. :)

But good - if rather obivious - point about what really matters, when you talk about "size" of a game or its world.
Other way round. I'm completely European and metric, but manage to have enough empathy with the majority of my readers to not confuse them with this metric stuff that is so hard to understand. :)
I think the provided continental map is more there to provide context, than an accurate map.

It might be more accurate to view the continent as an archipelago, with each island having a bridge or three to the next island.

One WoW addon stitches together the mini maps, and the result is the third map down on this page:
A while ago I came up with the same technique and used it to measure the size of the Guild Wars world. It turns out that the map of Tyria is about 20 by 15 kilometres, or 300 square kilometres in area. A good deal of that is ocean or inaccessible land, though; I'd guess that the accessible maps account for maybe 1/3 of the total area, which would make Tyria about the same size as Kalimdor in practice. That sounds about right to me; back when I was playing both games, I had the impression that each of WOW's continents "felt" about the same size as GW's whole world.

This was before either of the GW expansions came out. I haven't measured the new continents myself, but it's pretty clear that Cantha (GW: Factions) is much smaller than Tyria, and Elona (GW: Nightfall) is somewhere in between, probably closer to Tyria. (Actually, it's made clear in-game that Tyria and Elona are regions of a single, much larger continent, mostly unmapped.)

Richard Bartle, in his virtual worlds book, reports that somebody calculated that Everquest's continent of Norrath was about the size of Singapore. That's 700 square kilometres, much larger than WOW or GW; I've never played EQ so I don't know how realistic that figure is.

-- Ross Smith
Somewhat related, one thing I can't stand about Tauren is they seem to move so slow because of their size. If I log off one other character and log onto a tauren I feel like I'm running through molasses. On the other hand, Gnomes really fly :)
About the zones you selected to use, im quite sure that if you used Dustwallow March, Barrens, Mulgore and Desolace (if there was a straight line through) you would get very different results.

For me Dustwallow march takes forever to walk through... and desolace feels a bit big too.
Okay.. if you are to take 18 minutes and 37 seconds to travel from a to b, and as you say thats 3.7 miles, then the runner had to be running at an amazing speed of 1 mile every 4.864 minutes.

To put that into perspective the mile record is held by Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome in 1999.

Now, a pace such as that is only sustainable for more than 1 mile.

To be more accurate, in comparing your hero's you'd be better off using a more realistic target than a marathon running who runs in just a running outfit.

My gut tells me that a soldier (I was one) in full battle gear with his guerney (backpack), weapon etc.. After all well trained soldiers are full time athletes due to training almost everyday.

Remember, our heros are running in full armor, with weapons and multiple bags of goods.

No soldier could run a five minute mile with a 30+ kilo backpack, kevlar helmet, boots, rifle, ammunition, water, combat fatigues on. The best speed you could expect them to do would be a forced speed march which might give you a speed in the region of the 11 - 12 minute mile. Bear in mind that would be only be achievable over good terrain such as a road and for not much more than 5 - 10 miles or the soldiers will be to fatigued to be effective in combat. Longer distance (20 - 40 miles) are regularly marched but a slower speeds to avoid excessive fatigue.

Even running with little more than their weapon soldiers will rarely do above a 7:30 to 8 minute mile, and this will only be sustained over very short distances after reaching the battle area dumping their heavy equipment so they can move into combat. Again, a fatigued soldier can't fight properly or shoot straight.

Finally you have to consider terrain. The minute record, and the speeds I take about above are in near perfect conditions.

Our heros in Azeroth move at the same pace regardless of terrain, but in the real world I've marched over terrain where it took us from 30 minutes, to an hour and upwards to cover a kilometer, let alone a mile.

So when it comes to Azeroth, as we clearly can't take the speed of the heros as being even resonably close to reality, and distances between town-lands are therefore impossible to judge with any degree of accuracy the answer is that Azeroth is as big as your imagination!
In WW2 a German infantry division in Russia force-marched 180 miles in 3 days, and then went into battle at the end of it. Hmm, forgot what point I was making there.
The Google Map of Azeroth is the best I've seen. I think it proves that Azeroth is flat, as ther is no obvious distortion from any type of projection!
You could get more accurate results by doing the following (although very time consuming):

Most buffs have a 30 yard range. Take yourself and a friend, and travel the same straight line from Thousand Needles to Feralas, but have your friend walk ahead of you until you can't buff him anymore. Thus being 30 yards away. Then move to his position and repeat... adding up every 30 yards until you get a total.

Like I said, more time consuming, but definitely more accurate.

Just my two cents.
I have always been curious about this topic and have wondered what ways to measure azeroth could there be ... like someone pointed out .. buffs go 30 ft .. on the other hand we might know how close a mob has to be if we want to shoot it .. so .. there are things to grasp .. My motivation? I always wonder if it is feasable to make a WoW themepark :)
All places in world of warcraft are just symbolic, of course the world is much larger then shown in the game. They just made it this way so the game "works"
The WORLDS BEST marathon runners do 12 mph. That is not, by any means, a common thing.
The maps at are based on the data used to make the minimap. An accurate measure of the width of a minimap pixel in scale feet would allow you to determine a pretty exact measure of the area of the continents -- and the zones -- simply by counting pixels (or colouring each zone with a single colour and getting a program to count the pixels).
Well, the faster way would be to measure the running speed by measuring the time it takes to run the 30 yard buff distance then plug that speed into the data already acquired.
These numbers are somewhat inaccurate. Warcraft actually gives you a method of measuring exact distances, albeit slowly.
Mages can use "blink" to jump forward 20 yards. So, I blinked forward five times, ran back and measured the distance a few times.
Averaging it out, you run 100 yards in 14.15 seconds.
100yards / 14.15 seconds = 7.067 yards/sec
Three yards to a foot, means 21.201 feet/sec.
Which works out to 14.46 MPH.
Meaning, in 18 minutes 35 second you actually ran 4.48 Miles.
So, lastly, 4.48 miles / 3.7 * (6.4 miles on each side [The square root of 41 square miles]) = 7.75 Miles on one side.
7.75² = Kalimdor is closer to 60.1 Square Miles.
I think one of your errors in calculation is in assuming that an Azerothian day is as long as an Earth day... your speed is based on real world time, not virtual time.

Now, I don't know how long the Azerothian day is in real time, nor could I find information to that effect. However, I do know that the in-game sunrise to sunset cycle is not 1:1 with the real world by any stretch of the imagination. If the day period is SHORTER, then the size of the world will correspondingly INCREASE.
To the guy who questioned the virtual time as opposed to real world time. Server time is based off of Californian time (I live in Australia so I could be wrong about the specifics) and unless California has Shorter/Longer days than the rest of the world (lets not get fancy about time zones eh ;) ) then game times is the same as RL time.
In response to trent... That's not what he was referring to. Sunrise to sunset in Azeroth doesn't span the same amount of time as sunrise to sunset on Earth.

Server time is another thing entirely. And I'm positive that server time isn't indicative of Azeroth time because I do live in California and there can still be daylight out in-game when it's midnight, server time.
"If the day period is SHORTER, then the size of the world will correspondingly INCREASE."

I'm not sure I follow. You could assume that a shorter day indicated a smaller planet/world, given that the rotation speed and distance from "the sun" was the same as Earth's. But I don't see how this matters. I'm not familiar with "virtual time," but if we assume that there is a solar-system-wide clock (which isn't accurate according to Relativity) to measure against, Mercury will have shorter days because it rotates faster and is smaller, but 5 solar-system minutes elapsed there would sill equal 5 solar-sytem minutes elapsed on Earth.

You could argue that the whole concept of time, minutes and hours is just a subdivision of what our human experience has been here on Earth. We call things "seconds" and "minutes" which are just subdivisions of our Earth's sun-cycle. But I think by now we've managed to move on and define our time system in terms not just of the sun but of electron oscillation and radioactive decay.

I guess what I'm saying is that Azeroth may in fact not have a 1:1 sunrise-to-sunset timing with any one spot on the Earth, but that doesn't mean that a 5 minute mile on Earth doesn't correspond to a 5 minute mile in Azeroth.
Maybe you should consider, I dunno, getting a life and stop obsessing over how large a continent is in World of Warcraft.
He's a step ahead of you, anonymouse.

He's got a name.
How ever interesting this study is (and it is!), wouldn't measuring using the in-game unit "yard" be much more accurate? Every ranged ability in the game is available (or unavailable) based on the range between your character and the target. That range is measured in "yards" which can be 30 for something like the Mage's Frostbolt spell and 31-41 yards for most Hunter abilities.

My take on it would then be to measure how long it took to run the farthest range you could get in the game (e.g. 40 yards) and then use that as a base when running around measuring the whole world. And then take a wild guess that the in-game unit "yard" is the same as the English "yard" which is the same as 0.9144 metres or 1/1760 miles. :-)
It has to do with time. If a day is shorter, then if there are 24 hours in a day then an hour is shorter and if there are 60 minutes in an hour then an hour is also shorter. That also means shorter seconds too. If he is saying a character can run 21.201 feet per second then how long that second is matters and is a function of the resulting distance.
While the sunrise and sunset in Azeroth has a very different length than on earth, for purely artistic reasons, the Azeroth day is exactly 24 earth hours long.

In any case we need to stick to earth hours if we want to compare different games. Time is Vanguard is advancing much faster, with a "day" taking just over 1 earth hour. I'd still define the distance you run in 5 earth minutes as 1 mile, not 20 miles, because otherwise speed in relation to body size becomes silly.

Using yards would have been more accurate, but more difficult to actually measure. You'd need to string a lot of 30-yard distances together before you can extrapolate to a distance of 4 miles.
Bear in mind its a known fact that the WoW universe is actually 10 times smaller than what Azeroth really should be (i.e how its described in novels or the previous Warcraft games). It's made that way for gameplay reasons, since if it was all real sized ti would take days to cross, say, the barrens rather than simply feel like days =P
uh... time cancels out and you are left with X number of miles. So who cares what unit of time you are using as long as your consistent...
Here is another thing to consider about the size of the continents.

I would go for measuring the size of a human player because you can average that and then see how that works out with architectural features.

But: I haven't ran across Kalimdor to see how big it is.

I got my feel for its size by swimming around both continents [and yes, you -can- do that].
There isn't much to see in the places that you get to visit that way that are off-limits by any other means, so you shouldn't do it to find some valuable piece of kit [although there is a dwarf lying on a bed in a house North East of the Tandol Span who seems to think he's somewhere different :)].
It takes about 5 to 6 hours [including some distractions along the way] for each island. I did it to get a feel of the land and for recon purposes. But, if you can swim around an island in about 6 hours, it can't be all that big, right?

On the size: you will see that the map zooms out as Azeroth needs more room to show the new content [unless they are going for another world again]. They need the room on Azeroth so that they can expand. That is why the islands are small and we don't know how big the actual planet is supposed to be where the narrative plays. There is a reason for that. It's to do with water: they're protecting their revenue stream...
Get a life, losers!!!
Anonymous said...
Get a life, losers!!!

Listen to the man. He is obviously an expert on getting a life, having found a highly productive career trolling blog comment sections. :)
Let me rephrase my argument.

Assuming, for ease of calculation, than an hour of time passing in Azeroth is roughly equivalent to an hour of time on Earth, and thus that your average day/night cycle is 24 hours. If it took your character to travel from sunrise to sunset, on foot at the predicted speed of 12 miles an hour to cross a zone, that zone should be 12*12 miles across, or 144 miles.

When gauging a virtual world's dimensions, you have to measure entirely on that world's terms, or inaccuracies enter the equation. The day/night period is very definitely there, whether or not it's for aesthetic reasons, and it should be roughly equivalent to a mathematically average Earth day. Each game has it's own day/night cycle period, and should be gauged on THOSE terms. How long it takes someone in Earth terms to cross an area is meaningless, if in the one game three cycles passed, and in the other, only half a cycle passed.

If you measured the day/night cycle and plugged it into your calculations, you'd probably find Azeroth to be quite a bit larger than previously assumed.

An example of scale and cycles: FFXI. In FFXI, the day/night cycle is roughly an hour (58 minutes or so). If one took someone on foot from the Bastok zone to the San d'Oria zone, it would take roughly two and a half hours. At an estimated speed of 12 miles an hour, would that equate to a size of 30 miles, or of 720 miles? Considering the distances represented on the map, and the supposed size of a continent, 720 miles between major cities seems MUCH more reasonable.

THAT is why the day period matters, in simple and easy to replicate math.
On a side note:

Normal running speed: 100% (12 mph)
Walking speed: 40% (4.8 mph)
Aspect of the Cheetah: 130% (15.6 mph)
Cheetah form: 140% (16.8 mph)
Ground normal mount: 160% (19.2 mph)
Ground epic mount: 200% (24 mph)
Druid Flight Form: 160%
Normal flying mount running: 160%
Normal Flying mount flying: 160%
Epic flying mount running: 200%
Epic flying mount flying: 380% (45.6 mph)
Epic swift nether drake: 410% (49.2 mph)
Wind Rider (Flight Master): 500% (60 mph)

From those figures, I'd say that your guess was just about right on, as far as base run speed.
The longest measurable range ingame isn't 30 yards (buff) or 41 yards (hunter/firemage) but 100 yards.
Probably the easiest spell for this is "Hunter Mark"

If you use this it makes it a lot easier to measure. Although you'd need people from both faction for this
OK, since I have no google or blogger account I'm anonymous, Some ppl know me as Stormhorn on Draenor server, europe. Since I quit gaming a few weeks ago, I can't try this anymore but I have an interesting way to estimate kalimdor.

Let's assume that nate is right, because he is by now the only one who tried a 100 yard distance walking in time in practical. Future measurements might improve accuracy, but running speed is now accurately estimated @ 14.5 miles/hour. I want this to convert to Km/h because a km is shorter, so it takes less time to travel one, making measurements easier because you are less likely to come across obstacles in a shorter distance, savvy?!

14.46 mph = 23.14 km/h

23.14 / 60 = 2.59 minutes
= 2 minutes and 35 seconds to walk one km

You probaly can find an area in the barrens or durotar to walk 1km continuosly without much elevation or obstacles without hitting the steer/mouse. You need to mark your start and end on a scaled map.

appears really good to me, if you can mark the 1km distance over there on that map, you're almost there!

before you start doing alot work, make sure you get yourself an accurate digital weight-measurer (use your mums kitchen equipment :P ) now you have to print out the whole map of kalimdor. Put this map under a sheet of blank paper and draw out all the playable areas on that blank paper, like the drawed parts on the third map of the link above (and make sure you get winterspring moonglade felwood and teldrasil also on scale on it)

Cut out your playable areas, it doesnt really matter if becomes a jigsaw puzzle.

Now you measure your 1 km distance and you draw a sqare km on a sheet of blanc paper. This paper must be the same quality as the other blanc paper you used

Weight your square km blanc paper

Weigth your playable area of Kalimdor

Now divide your weight of kalimdor with your weight of your square km. You get your playable area of kalimdor in square km now!!

PS -you have to do this on blanc paper, because the pitch (or is it ink? nvm you get my point) from the printer puts some weight on your paper.
-the bigger your map, the more accurate your measurements get. But also make sure you really know your walking speed almost exactly, and more important; your 1km distance on your map!

I'm not saying this is the best way to do it, but I think it will get you somewhere. I did the weight measurement method one time on university and it's really an accurate way to estimate an integral!

Have fun,

The fact that space is measured in hours and minutes suggests that it can't be separated from our thinking of time. Since years and years and years of user time is being sunk into World of Warcraft, I'd suggest Azeroth is really really big.
you forgot instances
yards are 'absolute' in warcraft, because blizzard implemented them in buffs, spells, etc. Assuming that an Azerothian yard is the same as on earth, you can easily deduct ze travelling speed to travel a certain amount of yards. And man, wherever you are on earth, time is calculated in seconds etc. Game time is also measured in 24/60/60 system, so plx stop arguing about time systems plx.

Aside from absolute distances, the world can be big or small from a relative point of view, depending on your travelling speed, sense of time, drugs, alcohol, perception, quests (running back and forth).

Being small as a gnome appears the world to be bigger, while as a tauren it looks smaller. Furthermore, your size in comparison of the monsters and objects (trees in ashenvale 4 example) also has an impact on your mind of how 'big' or 'overwhelming' this world might be.

And yes I forgot about instances, but I only would get you in some directions.


14.5mph can't be right. the characters are jogging along when travelling (exc gnomes obviously) 14.5mph is a sprint not a jog so if the travelling speed is wrong then the distance and land mass is wrong.

how about this

hunters mark is 100yards so you stand at the furthest point from a mob that you can put that on. run to the mob and time it, that will gives you time taken to run 100 yards so you can work the speed out from that.
then you run from one end of land to the other like orignally said and work out the distance from the time taken to travel. I'm at work but I'm going to try it tonight.

I dont think that would work tbh, u would need an opposing faction member as suggested b4 - the reason for this is that for hunters mark to work u need an Attackable target, Using a mob could make this difficult to produce accurate result due to Aggro ranges and pulling of the target, u would also need to factor in a random variable to cover the fact that the mob will not be static for the period of Marking > Running.
Having a player who will just stand still makes the above idea more viable.
ok then, but the calculations would be the same.

I also remember that it was in a pc format review and at the time (pre TBC) they had it as 3/4 the size of london.

Ever built a Model Train Set?

If you took the distance between two train stations on an average 4m*1.5m size train set and translated it into real life distances, two major train stations would barely be half a kilometer apart. Yet a 4m*1.5m trainset feels like a large, rich and detailed world.

Why is this?

My theroy is that there is something like a "psychological distance" between events happening on a train set. We all have an idea how long it takes us to travel between two cities by train, or to experience the change of landscape whilst passing through it. WE have an implicit understanding how long it would take to experience a change from the outskirts of a city for example, to farming areas etc.. I believe that this
is what makes a trainset feel large, even if the real disctances to scale are completely unrealistic.

By the same token Azeroth feels much larger then the above proposed sizes. I wonder if we can apply such a theory of "psychological distance between events" to this world, comparable to a train set.

Starting with your most simple quest of bringing a message from one NPC to another one at the other end of a settlement, how long would that take in your average size real life village or small town, or in your capital like Stormwind?

How far apart would two warring tribes settle in an assumed medieval real life Azeroth? 20km?, in the game it can be the lenght of a football field if you take the real scale or running distance.

How long would it take in a real life azeroth for the landscape to change from a lush forest like Ashenvale into a dry and barren landscape like...erm..Barrens ? How long would we require to traverse this on foot or horse?

In order to understand to scale of Azeroth we need to take all of these psychological factors into account in order to appreciate how grand this world feels to us.

Difficult but not impossible perhaps to re-measure Azeroth's size based on "psychological distance betwen events"

Ulorikk - Kilrogg
I played alot of "operation flashpoint" and GTA vice-city before I played Wow. What these games do have in common is that you also play on islands where you can move free. The worlds appear to be massive on foot, in a tank, etc. But once you get in a helicopter or a plane, you're on the other side of the island in 5 minutes.
What also makes your perception of an island smaller is increasing your viewing distance, so you might see the other side of the island (if you have an über GFX card). Seeing an horizon which is the end of your virtual reality gives you a sense of limitation of the world.

North America is in an absolute sense alot bigger then Europe, but psychological, Europe can appear to be bigger, especially if you travel by car, because there are alot of old, non straight roads, fancy towns within a few kms, alternating landscapes, stuck in traffic etc.
While driving on the prairies or the desert doesn't give you really an idea how big it is, it's big but nothing happens. Once you're out of it, you don't really have an idea how immense the region was, because it was just all the same.

On ancient maps Europe is always alot bigger then it is in the real world. Because the map makers had to draw in all the names, coastlines etc. In very detail! But if you see on google earth, Europe is just tiny when compared with north America!

Can we measure Azeroth then in a mental-map way? I don't think so. Everybody has it's own perception of Azeroth, so for everybody it's different. This won't withold us from measuring yard/sec and square km's. Travelling 23 km/h is really fast on foot, and I'm really curious if this is correct.
Going this fast makes perception of the island smaller. running in wow actually means going as fast as cycling. However if you go into walk mode, you are really going slow. But that is realistic walking!

Wondering what results you guys get from the 100 yard in x seconds get!


I recently flew over some indeterminate snowy waste on the way back to the UK from California.(Canada or America - I just don't know)
I remember looking out my airplane window again and again and marvelling at the fact that nothing had changed. It seemed to last forever. Certainly an hour+ at trans-atlantic airliner speeds. I live in Scotland and It's possible there to feel quite out in the wilderness after only an hour or two of walking but that was my first exsposure to real wilderness.

I guess the only point I'm trying to underline is Azeroth 'feels' very big. There is lots of detail, lots of changes in terrain and climate. Sure, if you were focused you could run across it in a far shorter time than your perception of it leads you to expect but the point is you never would. You would always be sucked into some local drama or amazed by a particular vista for a while.

You have to consider granularity when trying to decide how big a world is. I've walked in the highlands of Scotland for a solid hour and seen nothing but heather and the same graduated rolling moors and hills. That's not to say it's unpleasant. I love it but the variety of WOW adds to your perception of space.

OK. Nothing new in this post but I felt compelled to write after searching for an answer to the original question. Now I found the official No Answer(tm).
Interesting article and discussion. Sorry for anonymous, I don't have an account. Nils ( here.

The reason why Azeroth (and other virtual continents/worlds) are so small are twofold. First of all, it'd be very boring to the players to walk around for 10 days before they reach the next city. And second of all, designing and filling all that landscape is an enormous task too. Sure, you could randomly generate it but that still leaves the basic question: Why bother if you don't fill those thousands of square kilometers with something interesting?

As has been pointed out, other games have compensated by also speeding up the game day. It can be even more extreme, Ryzom for example also sped up the seasons by an order of magnitude (a few realworld days per season, if I recall correctly).

This totally messes up the system, but for Azeroth it's no problem because time is 24h standard days.

Oh, you could do the hunter's mark measuring trick, by the way. Use duels.
Old thread but a topic I'm fascinated with.

One thing I have seen in WoW is that a lot of the world design is based more on the time it takes to travel a path than the actual distance, though clearly time and distance are related. Specifically there seems to be a "30 second rule" in the design of pathways in WoW which I think could also be called the "30 seconds to boredom" rule. That is, it's boring to travel a route more than about 30 seconds without getting bored.

If you get on a road and start running at standard speed, something "interesting" will happen every 30 seconds - or about every 1/10th of a mile. The road will turn, there will be a side path, a distinctive tree or rock, you will reach the top or bottom of a hill, there is a stream, a house, the entrance (or exit) to a town, etc. These are in a sense virtual milestones and visual reference points along the path.

As an example, the enclosed "crater" that new Elf players start in (Shadowglen) is 2/10 of a mile (60 seconds of running) from side to side. Players start in the middle, it's 30 seconds to the boundaries of the area.

Now consider that people will get bored traveling the same route over and over, and you can see a game's need to start adjusting for the "30 seconds to boredom" rule. That is where you get things like mounts. It wouldn't surprise me to find that on a mount, it's 30 seconds between larger milestones such as towns, major road branches, caves and so on.

And ratchet up the "30 seconds to boredom" thing one more level and we have flight paths. Again I haven't timed it, but I wonder if the time between nodes on the flight path is 30 seconds?
Maybe the question to ask, is how much space there is. Since Warcraft people don't take up any space, there is an infinite amount of space in the world of Azeroth. For instance, I've seen more than 300 people filling the Auction House, a place that really isn't very big at all.
Hi folks, I thought some of you might be interested in this,

Have fun :)
No account here, I'm Scurvyjuice - Eredar

Personally I always felt that the "zone maps" didn't correspond with the "continent maps" in terms of scale (running up STV takes WAY longer than it appears it should by the continent map). So basing your math off of the apparent "3 times as high as it is wide" size of the continent as opposed to each individual zone could give drastically different results.

Or maybe I'm just wrong and STV fascinates me so I stick around longer. <3
i would say the best way to meassure is to take teldrasil, its nearly a complete circle, find a good spot, then run half the island find out the wow size and the normal size, and then meassure the kalimdore and see how many time it can be in it..
you might consider that it might be more accurate to view the continent as an archipelago, dont u think?

Heavy Equipment Esco Teeth
There is a system of measurement the game system uses for AOE spells and ranged weapons. The game knows and keeps track of how far your character is from everything, creatures (calculating agro per character's level), rocks, plants, deadly high ledges, anything and everything in the game and it loads this data into native memory when you load the game so everything is pre-calculated. That's why WOW's physics engine is tops.

There are addons that naturally use the information in the physics engine of the game that pop that info up as a heads up display, namely Quest Helper and Carbonite. Both of these addons give you distances to quest items or locations. Using one of these, you can measure the distance between two points in the game and then lay a map image onto Google earth with real world measurements and viola, you have a basic estimate of how big everything is.

There's a basic estimate that has been discussed; The eastern kingdom is a little better than 9 miles from north to south, slightly larger than Manhattan. I would have to say it's actually slightly smaller than that. I measured the distance between Orgrimar and Razor Hill using one of the addons I mentioned, taking this measurement into account, I laid a map of Durotar on the globe in Google earth, used the path measurement tool and I came up with a size that is representative of Durotar based on that measurement, scaling durotar until it matched. I then overlaid and matched up the entire continent of Kalimdor with the correctly sized Durotar. Then finally, I laid the entire world map over this and I got a global representation of the entire known world of Azeroth. I used miles initially, but since they use yards in the game, I converted to Kilometers and this is what I got:

Kalimdor – 12.40 K by 6.40 K
Distance to Eastern Kingdoms – 7.40 K
Eastern Kingdoms (including the Blood Elf area) – 14.25 K by 5.25 K

Teldrassil – 1.75 K in diameter

Bloodmyst Isle 1 K by .95 K

Azuremyst Isle 1.07 K

There has been some modification to the map with the new expansion, the Frozen Throne coming out. I did the overlay with the newest map courtesy of WOWWiki and got the measurements for Northrend.

Northrend – 8.15 K by 6.85 K

When I finish the google eart overlay and make it look nice, I'll post it somewhere.

I had anotehr thought on Population density, here you go:

Taking the data from on population of servers, ratios of Alliance to Horde, and race, I've compiled the following -

The server on which I currently play has a population of 36,859 players as of 9/24/08 at 3:12 pm.
The Ratio of Horde to Alliance is a 1:1.7 in favor of Alliance (no accounting for taste but I digress).
Racial percentages are varied with Humans and Night Elves at 19% each, Blood Elves at 13%, Draenei at 12%, and all others at 8% or less. Hunters make up the majority of the classes with 15%, followed by mages at 12% and others between 11 to 9%.

If you take the area of the land masses, add them together and convert to square miles, the population density of Azeroth on this server at this time with these players is roughly 277.87 players per square mile. Taking this into account and comparing it to war torn areas like, um, I don't know... IRAQ? We can postulate how many Horde it would take to Hold Ironforge and if it'd even be possible given the numbers of players on each side and spawn rates of the NPCs which I didn't even calculate into any of this.

In a nut shell, it's not logical to think of “holding” and area or having any kind of real war in Azeroth but it has nothing to do with square miles. It is not tru that there is always someone better. If you take a forsaken mage against a human mage, spec them the same, give them the same gear, it would be like playing tick tac toe. There would be a fifty fifty shot unless one person has faster fingers. At any rate, it wouldn't be fun. If you notice, the level cap keeps going up and the reason for that is to create an adversarial atmosphere... it's about getting better, not getting even.

I conclude with this... does it matter how big the world is or how many people are in it? Would it stop any of us from playing to know that Durotar is not much bigger than my neighborhood? NO! We play because we enjoy the virtual interaction and earning fake gold and pwning noobs, do we not?
Wouldn't you guys just ask Blizzard.. They may already have done this...
Is it possible to measure angles with some instrument?
There is also some question to time zones in WoW. Right now, there are no time zones, even from one side of Kalimdor to the opposing side of Eastern Kingdoms. All zones within the game are set to the server time, including the Outlands. There is speculation of the "other" side of Azeroth on which there are unexplored continents, however it has no confirmation whatsoever.

Perhaps we could take the distance between the top and the bottom of the given map, assuming we have some sort of scale and measure the circumference of Azeroth... Assuming it is a 'sphere' of sorts.

If time zones are non-existent, then who is to say this world is not a world at all. Perhaps this world is truly a flat world? It is. The devs didn't design Azeroth to be round.

We can only truly find out once Blizzard gives us some notion of Azeroth's complete size.

Although, this does not include the 'playable' world.
regardless of the "planet" of Azeroths size, time is only relative when moving at incredible speeds. the size of a celestial body has no effect (increase or decrease) on the actual passing of time. wheather a planet rotates 5 miles an hour or 5000 miles an hour, the time it takes you to travel 1 mile will not be affected. 1 hour is 1 hour, everywhere all the time, night or day. as to the worlds night day cycle, again, how fast the world rotates ( sunset sunrise) are there own thing and again, have no effect on actual time.
Based on that last paragraph, that makes WoW a very small game indeed. trying to count unique content runs you into problems when there's like no more than 6-7 unique types of quests in wow. Most quests just being the same kill X monsters but with different flavor text.
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