BlizzCon 2018 Warcraft III: Reforged Panel Transcript

SYSTEM ENHANCEMENTS

Grubby: Let’s also move to the topic of patches. This year, Warcraft III has been receiving… like the original Warcraft III… has already been receiving patches to update functionality for a 2018 system of Widescreen Support, lower ping for Multiplayer. So, these kind of things… we used to have these limitations in the engine, and in the internet, and we had dial-up modems, that made sense then; but it may not necessarily make sense now.

 

Jay: For sure, and so we have been trying to roll out a lot of quality of life improvements for the people who are currently playing the game, that we can’t tell them about Reforged; but we can definitely like: “Hey! We can improve the patching system, we can take advantage of more memory, we’ve been… let’s see…

Brian: Widescreen Support.

Jay: Widescreen.

Matt: What is Port Forwarding?

Jay: Silence! Yeah! But, we’re definitely trying to see the things that people are… the pain points, like the lag was a problem and we looked at the code and like, well, actually some of these– the rationale for this doesn’t matter anymore. 56K modems, okay, that’s just not a thing anymore.

So definitely going back and reviewing the things that people are running into, where you’re stuck with limitations that we had to do originally. No point, let’s get rid of those and make it better. And that’s just our plan is continually improving the game as we go as well as build the foundation for Reforged.

Grubby: So, when people are trying to launch multiplayer games with their friends and making custom games, are you saying they no longer need to go under the hood and open Port 6112?

Jay: I will ask our network guys, they are in the audience; but I’m pretty sure they’re working hard on this and they’re just not going to require us to install a lot of software or anything, it’s going to be smooth and seamless.

Grubby: Very cool, very nice. A lot of quality of life improvements to the accessibility.

Jay: For sure.

 

Grubby: Another thing that people are going to be very curious about is whether Warcraft III: Reforged is going to join the family on the main Battle.net launcher? Because I’ve heard some people that refer to the current Battle.net launcher as half a launcher or like a 0.5 launcher.

Rob: Sure! Yeah! That’s actually a really important reason to really be exploring this stuff, like again with StarCraft: Remastered, we were able to bring all the millions of players of StarCraft players from the past 20 years back into the family; and with Warcraft III, we’re able to do that again.

And it’s not just the core Warcraft III players, but it’s also the 10s of millions of players that continue to engage through all the different custom maps that have been created over the past 16 years. Like, I’m going to double down that comment, I think Jay is underselling a little bit of the engineering effort and the art effort that goes into this, because at the end of the day, this is actually an evolution of Warcraft III as you know it.

The engine itself is still rooted in the engine from 2001 and 2002. So, the graphics that you see are actually being added on top of the the gameplay engine, the input engine, and all the different bits that allow you to experience Warcraft… be it the campaign, the multiplayer maps, the custom maps that you’ve been able to play; and bring them forward into this sort of modern view that you see today. To do that means you have to account for all kinds of bad code that you wrote 16 years ago.

Jay: It wasn’t just me.

Rob: And different para… (laughs)

Pete: Rob wrote some of it too.

Rob: Okay. “What is 6112 for the win?” At the end of the day, like all of this was like an effort to really heal up the community and bring everybody together. So when you talk about putting this stuff on the modern Battle.net, like that’s the vision, that’s the reason, that’s why we got to do this stuff. It’s, there’s one big Blizzard, and the way in which we engage with that one big Blizzard is through Battle.net, it’s through our launcher. And to not have some of our games in that, it’s just criminal; and I’m just happy as hell to be able to like, usher it back in.

Pete: Rob has a small amount of passion around this. I think one cool point that didn’t get brought up that was eye-opening for me, I didn’t realize that WoW’s engine was built upon Warcraft III’s engine. It was transitioned into WoW. And what we’ve done is, take a lot of those learnings and what they did to beef that up, and poured it back essentially into this engine. So like it’s come full circle in a really epic way, and James Doverspike who is another graphics engineer who helped us out immensely came from the WoW team. So he understood what we were trying to bolt in there. And how to…

Jay: Well, he knew better, he could look at the code and go: “Oh, Wait! This is all familiar, and it’s so much simpler than it is in WoW, right now. So, he was able to bring over things much more easily and cleanly.

Rob: I’m pretty sure he was able to get that lighting in, in the dynamic shadows that took you like three months of tinkering. He did it in like a week.

Pete: No, it was like two days.

Rob: Oh! It was two days. (laughs)

Grubby: Are there any funny Easter eggs you guys discovered when going through the programming, like of the old code?

Jay: There are comments that would not be… Those comments had to be removed and deleted. Those are a lot of work. There was a lot of stress on the team. Not always as much love between programmers, artists and designers as we like to have. So yeah! All those comments have to go.

Grubby: So Rob, you were saying the engine underneath for the most part is still very much the same, but there’s going to be a lot of things tying in on top of it, over it, underneath it, in between? To what degree is that engine still there the same, how much is being revamped?

Rob: Yeah! So, that’s a question that Jay is going to be able to kind of dive into a little bit more detail. But one of the things that, like I think it’s just, is particularly cool, is all of the animations, the attack swings and so forth, that all has to be accounted for. Because at the end of the day, like the version of Warcraft III that the players have had for the past 16 years, yeah! that just needs to continue to be able to be played with this new version.

 

Because we don’t want to break the community, right? We don’t want to break the game, and we want to allow for players to just continue to coalesce together. That has some hang ups, right? Like the fact that you cannot go hog wild with animations (be it death or what have you), means that you have to actually make it look as high-fidelity as possible while at the same time adhering to some of those original time constraints.

So in terms of like, additional sort of under the hood improvements, I don’t know Jay… like, what do you think?

Jay: Well, I mean, the graphics engine is actually getting completely rewritten, alright? But it will be compatible and still be able to read all the existing content, the… we call it SD for what’s live right now, for standard definition. And we have… the goal is to maintain perfect compatibility with that. So barring people using hacks or anything like that, the original game will play exactly as you expect… hit boxes and everything will work.

As you notice, we’re still working on getting the new HD assets to match and have full parity with what you expect. But you also have a lot of freedom though, to do things like well, we used to be really constrained on memory and animation was the problem, now animation is a relatively small percentage of the time. So, artists are creating just fun Stand Animations. So you’ll have a Stand Animation where the Orc or the grunt takes his axe and just scratch his back with it.

Why? Because an artist thought it would be cool. And we look in and we’re like, oh! my God, that’s just amazing. Yes, that has to go in. And so, lots of things that are not gameplay-breaking, we can add a lot more personality to the game because we’re able to take advantage of much better hardware than we used to have, and more memory and more processor cores. So, the infrastructure at the base level is changing, the sort of thing that touches the user as far as the user interface and what not, changes; but the core gameplay has to stay the same.

We want to maintain that, and we want to not divide the community. It’s really important that everybody is able to play together for us.

I don’t remember you being able to zoom in on the sheep quite so much.

We tweaked the mouse wheel, if you’re going to play The Culling, make sure you spin the mouse wheel, and just get in there and see how much detail Brian has put into the textures, it hurts me; but the poly count and the texture sizes are a bit high now.

Brian: And then I think for the artists, the only thing that we are constrained by is because we are making this compatible. SD can play with HD, we have to make sure that the animations, the way the attack works, if it hits at a certain point, that has to be exactly the same as the old one. We were kind of constrained just by the fact that this attack is only 20 frames long, the new attack can only be 20 frames long.

We have a little bit more freedom with stands, and like he was saying, we can have more variety in there. So you won’t see like, 10 guys standing in a row doing the same animation at the same time. There’ll be a lot more variety, a lot more realism, I guess, as far as your armies go.

Rob: Yeah! And part of the reason why that’s, again super important is, all of these maps that have been created over really the past 15, 16 years, they just need to be able to be loaded up as a custom game and playable in Reforged.

Jay: With the new assets. For sure.

Rob: With new assets.

Jay: Yes, and they feel…

Rob: Totally easy.

Brian: Like, totally. Yeah! I got this.

NEXT: DESIGN AND BALANCE

WORLD OF WARCRAFT: WHAT'S NEXT PANEL TRANSCRIPT
1. Intro2. Enhancements3. Design & Balance4. Map Editor5. Q&A

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