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World of Warcraft: Recreating WoW Classic

In the WoW: Classic panel today, Ion Hazzikostas, Omar Gonzalas, and Brian Birmingham talked a bit about the challenges and the various decisions that went into making WoW: Classic.

As a software developer myself, I know what it’s like to attempt to go back to a previous version of a software application.  Throughout the entire life cycle of a software application, the backend would change, the UI would change, and if there’s a database; that would change as well.  These are all things that Omar Gonzalas spoke about during the panel.

A lot of pieces go into the overall WoW: Classic puzzle.  You have art assets, database assets, and source code.  All of these various pieces would need to fit together in order to have a working game.  As the game evolved over the years and various expansions, things changed in such a way that the Classic client wouldn’t be able to use modern assets.

Lots of testing went into transforming the data from the modern assets into something the classic client can read.  Luckily, the team was able to find a backup of a backup of a backup containing a folder that read “Final 1.12 Data”.  The team was able to put that together and come up with a semi-working Classic experience running on a 7.3 client.  Of course things were broken, but everything would slowly come together.

The way terrain data was read in Classic was different than how it is currently laid out.  The reference client was able to correctly display terrain data, which consists of Terrain data, Gameplay information, Lighting, and Object placement.  When the team went to display the Classic terrain data on a modern client, some pieces did line up, but Object placement did not.

The Classic team re-wrote part of the code that reads the terrain data and was able to instruct the client to display both Classic and modern data.  Now they had a working Prototype that functioned well enough to play through a few quests and so forth.

Speaking of tools, the Tools Team developed tools that work for both Classic WoW and Modern WoW.  It will be easier to make changes now that there is one unified toolset.  While there are many issues that you can see in the client, the team is focused on fixing the issues that you can’t see.  Things like models with missing information would display as bright white in the classic client will display as purple in the new Prototype.

So what’s next?  Ion Hazzikostas spoke about how Classic will evolve.  Since the team only has data from 1.12 and a little before, everything was pretty much available.  There will be a staged release schedule, but the dates have not been determined:

  • Stage 1: Molten Core, Onyxia, Dire Maul, Kazzak, Azuregos (Content released as of March 2005)
  • Stage 2: Blackwing Lair, Battlegrounds and PvP Rewards, etc.
  • Stage 3: Ahn’Qiraj, Tier 0.5, Silithus Content, Green Dragons
  • Stage 4: Naxxramas, Scourge Invasion

I’ve played the WoW: Classic demo and it is pretty close to what I remember.  The best part is, the gameplay limits for the demo have been removed!  Now you can play as much as you want, without waiting for Chromie to regain her strength!

What’s Next?  We’ll be covering some important points in the World of Warcraft Q&A at 3:30 PM.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @WoWDailyBlog!

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