In order to populate the database with clean content, each update begins with a research process, which you will get to know here.
Since the original release of World of Warcraft was in November 2004 for US players and February 2005 for EU players, most original documentation and sources of information provided by Blizzard Entertainment or by the player community is gone.
Thankfully, a very active player base, a few game database sites and a few other resources remain available to this day. Which these are and how you can and should use them is the focus of this document.
There are several different types of resources available:
- game database sites: these sites did use several methods to record game content, either via storing game data from within the games user interface in Lua files, or via gathering the game’s cache files, commonly known as WDB files. Some even used a combination of both to cross-reference and verify game data.
- fan sites: fan sites usually gather anything posted about the game and post it including their own view points on game updates. While these may not be resources for data, they may provide insight on how certain features worked during their release.
- official sites: during the early days of the game, Blizzard Entertainment ran dedicated websites for World of Warcraft, which covered game features and updates. Sadly the original sites are not available any more and only little is left on the current site.
- web archives: the wayback machine has been running for quite a few years, and allows us to look at old websites, archived versions of the site types described above. Most of the old sites long gone are still accessible there.
- game guides, books: BradyGames has released several books on each game expansion. In common these books are of good quality, since BradyGames has used data provided by Blizzard Entertainment to populate the book’s tables.
- cached game data: on rare occasions there are WDB files available created by the game. These can be parsed to extract some basic and some advanced game data.
Sadly not all available resources are of equal value. Some contain incomplete data, others already contain data for game content for expansions of the game, and some may even contain wrong content.
Thus we provide a quick run-down of how each available resource is to be valued, and which information should be valued “more” valid than others.
Resource list, books¶
These books by BradyGames can be considered authoritative since they do provide original game data:
- World of Warcraft Official Strategy Guide
- World of Warcraft Master Guide, Second Edition <World of Warcraft Master Guide, Second Edition
- World of Warcraft Battle Chest Guide
- World of Warcraft: Dungeon Companion
Please note that the Strategy Guide covers World of Warcraft version 1.0, which was the last version before the game’s release version 1.1. Using this as a base, it is possible to find out when content was added.
The Master Guide, the Battle Chest Guide and the Dungeon Companion cover content for the game’s release version 1.12, thus providing us with a clear view on which content was available in the last branch of vanilla WoW.
It is important to note that none of these books covers extended stats for creatures, quests, etc.; only the basics are covered.
Thus it should be considered that these books at least provide a view on what content actually existed and what did not exist during vanilla WoW.
Resource list, game databases¶
Ever since the inception of World of Warcraft, people have tried to gather game content in online database to make it easier for other players to explore and enjoy the game. Some are gone, others still exist. This section will show you those still in existence.
- Wowhead: ever since 2006, Wowhead gathers game data both via uploaded WDB files and gathering in-game data with the client’s Lua interface. The most interesting feature of Wowhead still is the comments section for game data. Usually you will be able to lookup creatures, quests, items, game objects and spells, and can use the comments combined with the data displayed to find out more on game data.
- Wowhead archive site: With the release of the Cataclym expansion, Wowhead moved old game data for every expansion up to Wrath of the Lich King
- including The Burning Crusade - into their archive site. In many cases the archive site allows you to view game data, in an older state, and thus can be used to verify older data.
- WowPeek: WowPeek was targeted at The Burning Crusade, and gathered game data via WDB files and in-game data via the client’s Lua interface. While not as comprehensive as Wowhead, it still has benefits, and may be used to cross-reference data from the Wowhead archive site.
- Sigrie: MMO-Champion started a game database of its’ own with the Wrath of the Lich King, mainly to reduce reliance on Wowhead for linking game data in their news posts. What Sigrie excels in, is completeness. While Wowhead usually only offers game objects, that are somehow connected to quests, Sigrie simply imported all via WDB files. This is very useful to find missing game objects, and also missing creatures.
- WowDB: with Cataclysm MMO-Champion wanted to do something different, and improve the integration of their game content site with the Curse network. To this day, WoWDB still is maintained and offers valuable data. Sadly it is not much of use for anything preceding the Cataclysm.