We've known that Blizzard had scrapped a project called Nomad, but we didn't have too many details other than it was to have been a squad-based affair. Author David Craddock has been able to fill in a few details from his in-depth interview with Shacknews.
"World of Warcaft didn't start as such. The team originally conceptualized a squad-based game based on a tabletop war-game called Necromunda," Craddock said. "In the game, codenamed Nomad, players would build up squads of soldiers, upgrade their abilities, find new guns, and go online to challenge other players' armies. Others on the team favored an adventure/RPG more in the vein of Final Fantasy. Many of the team members were growing frustrated. Some wanted to settle on a direction and hit it hard, others didn't care for one direction or another and wanted to do something else.
"Two developers from the latter group were Kevin Beardslee and Bill Petras," he said. "They, like most of the guys at both Blizzards, were hooked on EverQuest and started to think, "Hey, why can't we make a game like this?" In fact, most of Blizzard's games came about because of games the developers enjoyed playing: Diablo was a graphical roguelike, Warcraft was meant as an answer to Dune II's lack of a multiplayer mode. On a Wednesday, Kevin and Bill pitched their idea for a better, more user-friendly answer to EverQuest to Jeff Strain, one of Blizzard's senior programmers. Jeff offered to bring it up to management at the next meeting.
"Two days later, Nomad was scrapped and the team started in on what became World of Warcraft."