Though World of Warcraft Classic won’t be widely available until later this year, many players received access to the game via its beta launch last week. Days later, Blizzard has published a list of non-issues that players keep reporting as bugs, advising these players that ‘the nature’ of the game ‘sometimes invokes different memories for different players…’ Those discrepancies have resulted in some players perceiving normal gameplay as buggy.
In restoring World of Warcraft Classic, our guiding principle has been to provide an authentic experience. Things might run a bit smoother and the hardware is better, but the game should still look and feel like you’re playing World of Warcraft from 2006. Things like combat equations, original models, and hunter skills are certainly part of that—but things like social dynamics are a part of that too. The reliance on others, the effort it took to assemble a group, and how that impacted your journey into a dungeon—these were all part of the classic experience that we wanted to preserve.
In this form, there is much less wasted space and spells are no longer limited to three effects. But before we can load any database data, we need to transform the old data layout into the new one. This is not limited to spells, as almost every game system (including items, creatures, player characters, spawning, AI, and more) has had its database layout altered over the years.
World of Warcraft Classic is currently in beta, which means some players are getting a chance to experience a much older version of the MMO ahead of its release. WoW Classic is based on how WoW played in August 2006, back around update 1.12. Back then, things were different. Tauren hitboxes were much larger, sitting could cause certain combat effects to not trigger and completed quests were marked with dots and not question marks. Strange days.
For another example of lighting, we looked at Elwynn Forest. We had a period in Warcraft’s history where we changed all the lighting equations and as a result, our environment artists had to take a pass over all of the zones to improve the lighting and take advantage of the new equations. To recreate the original experience, we had to rewind those changes. The first thing we did was restore the old lighting data. This brought us much closer to the original lighting—and with a few more changes to the distance formula, fog formulas, and some changes to shadows, we were able to bring things even closer to the original lighting.