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.