The BlizzCon 2018 Warcraft III: Reforged panel revealed details about the process of bringing the game to modern standards including 4K assets, and broadband internet speeds without affecting previous custom games created by mapmakers.


BlizzCon 2018 Warcraft III: Reforged Panel Transcript

Grubby: Welcome, everyone. Members here at BlizzCon and for the people at home, we have gathered here today to celebrate our love for one of the most legendary, iconic, and genre defining games of all time… Warcraft III is getting a remaster. As one of the best real-time strategy games ever, it is my extreme pleasure to host this games remastering, and I’m joined by a stellar cast. Please, allow me to introduce them to you.

They are the Blizzard Classic games team. We’ve got Jay Patel, Matt Morris, Brian Sousa, Rob Bridenbecker and Pete Stilwell. So a question on everyone’s mind must be, what led us to this for mastering of Warcraft III; and Rob, what led you to it?

Rob: It’s Warcraft, right? Like we started classic with this idea that we have to preserve these games. We cannot break the fun, we want to extend it to generations to come. And so we cut our teeth on StarCraft, and we learned a lot with StarCraft: Remastered; and so, it was a natural progression to move from StarCraft into Warcraft… this beloved RTS, and it just, like I cannot tell you how excited I am as a player, I am as a guy that has been able to work with these crew here, as well as the broader classic team and the broader Blizzard team. So just… it is an unbelievable honor. And that’s kind of how we got here.


Grubby: And I know that I speak for everyone, when I say that we’re very grateful that you are doing that. So thank you very much.

Now, a rumor here and a few patches there. This year, there has been rumors about the Warcraft: Remastered coming out. But until now, we haven’t had it confirmed. So has it been hard, Pete, to hide this information, and to sit on it until the big BlizzCon Announce?

Pete: Yeah! I mean, you want to share, especially with this game being live, and we get so much input from the community, like you want to admit that, yes, this patch is a precursor for something amazing that’s coming; and the balance changes that we’ve been doing. And generally, just like getting back involved with the game, like we want to incrementally release things so there isn’t a big patch at the end with a lot of problems.


So there are those telltale signs that I think a lot of you folks gleaned; and especially, people that are really into the community understood probably where we’re headed, and it’s frustrating when you’re reading on the forums like: “Yea, I just wish I could type a response to this, and say absolutely it’s coming. So hyped. See you soon.” But you just kind of have to wait.

Grubby: But then you have that famous Summer of 2017 interview with the cheeky smile and we’re working on a lot things. (laughs)

Pete: Yeah! And, you know, I wore the Warcraft III shirt last year to BlizzCon as a less than subtle hint which certain people were upset about.

Rob: I don’t think I was that mad.

Pete: You were pretty mad.

Grubby: Now, first thing that springs out to everyone is that Warcraft III, as a veteran Warcraft III player, I have the nostalgic glasses on. I look at that game, and I think the graphics… they are finally aged wonderfully, and nothing could possibly be improved; but actually, when you look at it on the art side, you see things could be more 2018 like. And Brian, as a designer for Blizzard, you’ve done work on World of Warcraft, you’ve done a lot of artistic work. You get this chance to go back to Warcraft III, and to work on the art, and to make it, well… more current. What’s that been like?

Brian: First, I hope you guys liked the style we went with. Our original idea was to go in a actually more cartoony-stylized version for Warcraft remastered… Reforged, and we did a lot of tests with characters, we really wanted to get the Orc to feel like an Orc. Of course, Warcraft Orcs are noticeable, if you’re looking at the Cute But Deadly toys that we have.


If you look at the Warcraft movie, the Orc is an Orc. So we really had a huge spectrum to work with. So, after we worked with a little bit of style, a little cartoony, we noticed that a lot of games out there have that kind of similar style, a lot of games are doing that more cartoony look; and so we sort of took a step back, and we said: You know what? What really speaks Warcraft to us?


And for me personally, the Mists of Pandaria cinematic with the Orc and the Human really nailed Warcraft to me. I was like this is what I believe an Orc looks like, this is what the Humans look like. Stylized, but still had that realistic textures, the funnest tone. So we went back to the drawing board. We took these concepts as our base, and then we redid the Orc until we got to a point where we really liked them.


Grubby: And this model is gorgeous. I understand that the Warcraft III was Blizzard’s first 3D game. Now you see that, alright.

Jay: Same engine.

Grubby: Same engine.

Jay: Little changed to between… let’s say between there, but yeah! Warcraft III was our first 3D required game and it started with graphics cards that could only draw one texture at a time. So you can see that there has been a little bit of a change. Now we have shaders and compute shaders, ray tracing is coming down the road. So, yeah! We’ve given the artists a lot more to work with than we had back in 2002.

Grubby: And Arthas has a neck now.

Jay: He does.

Grubby: Oh! He’s nice

Rob: Why is Arthas so, like 4 feet tall and now he’s like 9 feet tall?

Jay: Proportion

Pete: Perspective

Brian: Art. That’s the way they art it back in the day.

Grubby: So, you can do a lot more now with– the technology has caught up than– I mean back then, I felt like the graphics were far ahead of their time, but time has caught up, graphics, computer, internet. It’s all caught up. So, under the hood you can do so much more now I guess these days.

Pete: And I think Jay is downplaying, like the level of effort that’s gone into this and so is Brian. Like what you’re seeing here is a year’s worth of work to be able to render the game this way, and I think one of the most powerful things is, this will also translate to the editor and we’re going to give these tools to the community so you can make your own models that look this great for custom maps and things like that.


Like, one of our big focuses and understandings is that the community, you guys have done so much to keep this game vital, since our absence for the past 13 years or so; and we want to give you the tools to keep the game healthy and be able to continue to draw your own experiences; and this is a combination of that effort, and these guys are amazing for making it possible.

Grubby: And that’s so good to hear. Now, here at BlizzCon, the Culling of Stratholme, the iconic mission where Arthas turns to darkness. It’s playable here already, and it will be playable throughout the whole BlizzCon. And that’s just one of the many missions of the campaign that has captured so many of our (depending on your age) high school lives, primary school lives. It’s been a big part of all of our lives.

And Matt you’ve done a lot of work on the original Warcraft III, you’re part of that process and now you’re getting a chance to re-imagine some of these campaign missions, some of the maps, the balance, there’s so much that you can do now on the design and you’re going back to this work from way back when. What’s that been like?


Matt: It’s been really exciting. You know 15 years ago, the way we built her missions and the things, the we designed; since then, we’ve done a couple of RTSs, and we’ve learned a lot of different things.


Alright, we have a lot of lessons we can apply coming back to Warcraft III: Reforged. And one of the goals, I mean you touched on it a little bit with calling is, one of the things we want to do with our campaign is we want to level it up to what people know from the World of Warcraft, right?


So we kind of look at Warcraft III as one of the origin stories of World of Warcraft. There’s a lot of characters introduced, and the World of Warcraft did such a great job of taking those characters and moving on. And looking back at the campaign right now, we see some areas that we know that we need to level up, we want the locations that you remember or know from World Warcraft to kind of match what you see in Reforged; and we want to kind of go through some of the stories and just kind of really tie the two franchises together in a tighter way.


Grubby: So, World of Warcraft players that will be playing for example, the calling of Stratholme, they’ll recognize the iconic entrance. Arthas and his band of warriors start at the south side of the battleground now and they can navigate it up in an area that is more… look alike to World of Warcraft players are going to be used to, right?

Matt: Yeah! That’s what we’re hoping on. This IP is such a great deep story here, and Warcraft III… it really just touched upon it; and the World of Warcraft kind of expanded upon that. So this is really a good opportunity for us to come back after 15 years, and deliver a new experience in some ways, right?


If you’ve played the game and you come back, you’re going to see it through a different lens. If you’ve never played the game before, but you’re familiar with the IP, you’re going to recognize a lot of the locations. So, it’ll be a lot of fun going through this.


1. Intro2. Enhancements3. Design & Balance4. Map Editor5. Q&A

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts