BlizzCon 2018: World of Warcraft Classic liveblog

If you look to your left, you will see a sad person.

So. World of Warcraft Classic. Did you think you wanted it, but it turns out you don’t? Did you think you want it and are finding out now that you do? Did you think you didn’t want it but have slowly decided you do want it? Did you think that you did want it, and now you have it, and you’re slowly realizing that what you wanted isn’t what you got? If so, will you use that as an opportunity to refine what you think you want or to claim that there must be something wrong with it?

Feel free to contemplate all of that as we liveblog the panel about exactly this! With fewer deeply recursive questions, we promise. You can enjoy taking part in the running liveblog in the comments, or you can catch up on any and all major reveals summarized just below. So tell us what you want, what you really really want… wait, that’s something different. Never mind.

Follow all of Massively OP’s coverage of BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard’s annual fan convention highlighting World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and beyond!

4:30 Here we go! Ion Hazzikostas introducing the panel and Omar Gonzalez up first.

4:35 So video game development is hard. Gonzalez basically is laying the foundation for explaining how WoW is put together from its component pieces, by way of explaining why truly restoring WoW (the right way) is not some simple thing. Blizzard basically spliced together a functional version of 1.12 based on old art assets and data cribbed from backups of backups of backups.

That internal version wasn’t up to snuff: It didn’t run on current cloud servers, didn’t work on; it had no content delivery pipeline, no login servers, no customer support, and so on. That required splicing together old and new assets to make something that would function in the modern era…

4:47 … Which isn’t exactly easy either, Brian Birmingham explains. Specific tools were needed to read the old terrain data and turn it into something modern, fixing, for example, the funky dam water.

4:54 Discussion here of code that needed to be brought back specifically because it refers to mechanics that no longer exist, like hunter ammo, pet feeding, weapon skills, and so on.

Animation bugs led to some fun quirks.

Birmingham won’t promise “pixel-perfect” replication, but he says the UI is getting pretty close.

He also lays out the case for why it was easier to build WoW Classic anew based on the original rather than using the original as a base.

5:00 Hazzikostas is back to talk about authenticity and design philosophy, how Blizzard is focused on pure rebuilding the mechanics and social experience rather than substituting “modern judgement.”

That includes things like not bringing the dungeon finder into Classic, or cross-realm grouping stuff. No flying either. And no achievements. No unified auction houses.

Those were the easy decisions. Apparently, some decisions are much harder: For example, the debuff limit. The original design, Hazzikostas says, wasn’t great game design – it was a technical limitation – but the team decided to go with the 16-debuff limit anyway to avoid having unintended effects on balance. There’s not going to be instant mail either. Old rogue energy regen is coming back too.

The UI, however, is definitely getting tweaks because it won’t have any impact on balance or social interaction. Loot trading is happening too (sorry ninja-looters).

As for addons, some functions – like skill rotation addons and social addons – won’t function.

5:14 Blizzard is indeed planning staged content unlocks, starting with 1.12, roughly where WoW was in the spring 2005, with Dire Maul, Onyxia, Molten Core.

5:16 And a reiteration that it’s coming out summer 2019.

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