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Creating WoW Classic

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The panel is dedicated to the origins of World of Warcraft and how the team is restoring the Vanilla experience in WoW Classic and the various technical hurdles behind development.

What's under the hood?

  • Database data - e.g. number of HP/Stamina on Item, millions of points of data are stored in databases.
  • Art Assets - sounds that play when you cast a Pyroblast, or the sound an Orc makes when he swings his axe.
  • Source code - a component that binds everything together.

Uncovering what we had to work with

Source code


The first bug in WoW was fixed in April 25, 1997.bug.JPG

Database Data

There were two versions of the game. Development (PTR) and live.


Currently, Blizzard is working on multiple builds at a time. Fortunately, they were able to revert the database data to an earlier state.


They desperately wanted to restore art assets and found a backup of a backup with 1.12 data.



Now that they've been able to restore all components, they were able to internally run the 1.12 version of WoW, BUT

  • 1.12 version of the game doesn't run in our Blizzard cloud
  • No Batle.net desktop app
  • No customer support access
  • Every bug, exploit and hack re-activated


They didn't like the old source code, it didn't load all data.


Is there no way to stitch forces together? They went with a compromise and launched Patch 1.12 data on their new 7.3.5 engine.


There were errors, but the core pieces of the WoW Vanilla was there and it was running on the modern infrastructure and that gave them a proof that this could actually work. The same idea would lead them to WoW Classic.


From Prototype to Demo



For the prototype, they chose Dun Morogh, because it was unaltered by Cataclysm. Venturing deeper into Loch Modan, there were various bugs.


Notice the bugged water Thousand Needless.


This is because of changes done to terrain chunks over the years.


Restoring Models

In 1.12, there was a white light when something was missing. In the modern client, it's purple and easier to spot.


Hunters had things like pet training and pet loyalty or quivers. They surgically removed the pieces of data from the original client and added it to the new one, so your pets will run away if you don't feed them in Classic.


Weapon skills are also back.

weapon scales.JPG

Character Customization Screen

Restoring the art was not enough. The reference client had a snowy effect, the work-in-progress did not have it. They're doing side by side comparisons of the lightning equations (modern lightning).


Restoring Lightning

They also needed to fix formulas for shadows and fogs. Here's a bug that was active in the prototype. Too much light is projected onto a texture.


Here, Blizzard fixed the formula to make the lightning look closer to the original.


What's Next?

Plenty of things still need to be revisited for Classic and the team is focusing on the following content next:


Design Philosophy (Authenticity as a Goal)

  • Blizzard is dedicated to deliver an authentic experience.
  • High priority on integrity of social dynamics.
  • Avoid messing with the 1.12 data.
  • There are changes to how the modern client responses to the server and vice versa.
  • Many decisions were clear-cut
    • Dungeon Finder? Of course not.
      • You can currently type /lfr in the Demo, but it will be removed. If you spot an element of the new WoW in the Demo, don't take it as a final product.
    • Cross-realm grouping? Never.
    • Flying? Come on.
    • Achievements? Nope.
    • Unified Auction Houses? No way.

Others are much more nuance

  • Debuff limit? You could have a maximum of 8 debuffs in Vanilla per character.
  • Blizzard raised it to 255 in recent WoW. It was a technical limitation (how much memory was used for a character at a time).
  • The 16 debuff limit will be restored in WoW Classic.
  • In-game mail mechanics will be the same as in Vanilla - 1 hour wait, no instant mail.
  • You will be able to take mail a little bit faster.
  • Loot trading will be implemented to free Customer Support bandwidth.
  • Energy regeneration for Rogues is being restored.
  • AddOns - way back in 2005, 2006, addons could do things that they can't do now (a single button for your whole rotation).
    • They don't want AddOns to reproduce features that they're removing to ensure the authenticity of WoW Classic.

Content Release Schedule

All content will not be available at once, there will be four stages and a new wave of Scarab Lords when Ahn'Qiraj opens! Unlock schedule is TBD!


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Ohhh! So loot WILL be progressive and so will raids, sweet! That was one of my biggest questions with WoW Classic and this decidedly makes it way more interesting than if we got Naxx + respective catch-up gear dropped on us (as 1.12 had in retail).

Also addons are a huge part in making / breaking WoW Classic, there were a lot of "one button" addons for healing, decursing, etc...would be nice if we actually have to use our eyes this time, after all we are way better players now, and that will make it a little bit more challenging in raids ?

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I would quote myself if I could find the post, but yeah, they are pretty much doing exactly what I wanted them to do: start at a perfect recreation of 1.12 with staged raid tiers, and then see where things might go from there. It's actually kinda scary, if it wasn't for the graphical options menu, I could have sworn they just put on the old 1.12 client. They even got mobs stuck in the ground everywhere, just like the old days ? (well, I say "old days" but still happening on live...)

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My mind is completely blown by the revelation that they were working on WoW between the release of Beyond the Dark Portal and the original Starcraft. Makes you wonder what they're working on now that's still years from being openly acknowledged.

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13 hours ago, Seksi said:

Ohhh! So loot WILL be progressive and so will raids, sweet! That was one of my biggest questions with WoW Classic and this decidedly makes it way more interesting than if we got Naxx + respective catch-up gear dropped on us (as 1.12 had in retail).

Also addons are a huge part in making / breaking WoW Classic, there were a lot of "one button" addons for healing, decursing, etc...would be nice if we actually have to use our eyes this time, after all we are way better players now, and that will make it a little bit more challenging in raids ?

..wonder how Chromaggus will be without addons ? 

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Im not really at all interested in classic.  I think the game now is significantly better than it was then, in every respect except nostalgia.

That said: Im glad theyre goign the mile for the vocal fanbase that it DOES have.  I think it'll pay off for them. 

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On 11/4/2018 at 6:16 AM, echorausch said:

..wonder how Chromaggus will be without addons ? 

I don't think they are saying no addons at all. They just don't want certain addons that take away from the experience and trivialize the game. I am sure we will see damage / threat meters and simple things like bar and bag changers.

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