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Thanks to this year's BlizzCon, we now know that World of Warcraft Classic will be launching next year. And if you're among the people who are curious about this new/old way of playing the MMORPG, you may want to check out this article on the game's website that offers a detailed recap of BlizzCon's WoW Classic panel.
Most of it revolves around the work that went into creating Classic, but some bits also describe Blizzard Entertainment's philosophy when it comes to crafting an authentic "classic" experience, as well as the team's plans for the future. An excerpt:
Philosophy and Future Plans
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.
Many decisions we made were fairly clear cut. Things like Dungeon Finder were clearly a “no.” So were things like cross-realm grouping, the achievement system, unified auction houses, and flying.
Other decisions were slightly less clear cut. At one point in WoW’s history, there was an 8 debuff limit on any one target. This was later raised to 16, and today there is no debuff limit. Thes change radically changed the balance of classes and strategies players could employ when using these debuffs to overcome content. To preserve that balance—and to avoid the slippery slope of retuning patch 1.12 data to compensate for such modern-era changes—we’re looking at setting a debuff limit of 16 for WoW Classic.
In-game mail between guildmates now is instant, but in the past, it had a 1-hour delay, just like mail between strangers. The change to instant mail made things more convenient, but removed the social interaction of having to meet up with someone to make a transaction if you wanted something sooner. So we’ve reintroduced that delay for that reason. Other conveniences such as auto-completion of names or quickly clearing a mailbox have been left in. This seemed an easy enough call given that someone could create an add-on to do the very same thing, and we felt those sorts of conveniences didn’t impact the fundamental “classic” experience.
In the past, if someone accidentally looted something they didn’t mean to in a group, players would have to contact customer support to trade it. In the modern system, players are given a period of time in which they can still exchange loot with others. This is a convenience we felt was worth retaining for Classic rather than making people go through customer support. (Sorry ninja looters!)
For classes who rely on energy regeneration such as Rogues, things have also changed significantly since the classic era. Regeneration used to occur in chunks based on the server “heartbeat.” So, to gain 20 energy, it would take a full two seconds. Today, the system is smoothed out so that that 1 energy regenerates every tenth of a second. This difference changed the timing of being able to use certain abilities. What seems like a minor convenience today actually changes the very flow of combat rotations and burst capabilities in classic gameplay. We felt this was important to restore to provide this authentic experience.
What add-ons can do has changed over the years and have become much more sophisticated as authors have gained years of experience and savvy. We’re not 100% on a concrete solution to what this means for WoW Classic yet, but one thing we know is that we’re not going to roll all the way back to the 1.12 add-on API. Doing so would open the way for nearly complete automation of combat decision making allowing for “bot” behavior that is counter to the core WoW gameplay experience. This is one thing we know we don’t want. On the other end of the spectrum, the modern API offers some additional functionality for creating social features that could also undermine the authentic classic experience. We’re still figuring out the details and looking for a good middle ground. We’ll be keeping a close eye on feedback from the community and add-on authors on where we should be setting those boundaries.
Content Release Plan
While we’re using patch 1.12 as our foundation, we also want to make sure we’re providing the journey players will expect. To provide the roadmap for this journey, we have four stages that we plan to integrate into the experience over time:
These plans are subject to change, but we wanted to provide an inside look at future plans. We look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts as we continue to bring WoW Classic to life.
- Stage 1: Molten Core, Onyxia, Dire Maul, Kazzak, Azurgos
- Stage 2: Blackwing Lair, Battlegrounds and PvP rewards, Zul’Gurub
- Stage 3: Ahn’Qiraj (including opening event), Tier 0.5, Silithus content, Green Dragons
- Stage 4: Naxxramas Raid, Scourge Invasion