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Home / Technology / RetroBeat: Why Blizzard is Remastering Warcraft III – and What It Changes

RetroBeat: Why Blizzard is Remastering Warcraft III – and What It Changes

Warcraft III is one of the greatest real-time strategy games all the time, and its rich history and memorable characters lay the foundation for what would become World of Warcraft. Blizzard announced during BlizzCon 2018 last week in Anaheim, California that the 2002 PC game will be restored with Warcraft III: Reforged, which will be released in 2019.

Last year, Blizzard was remastered StarCraft. But Reforged is more than a remaster. Blizzard updates character models, cutscenes, and even tinker with the story and gameplay of the original. It can be risky. Warcraft III sold over 4.5 million copies. Its modding community helped create brand new genres, such as MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas). Why mess with it too much when you can only upgrade your original assets?

I had a chance to talk to Reforged, executive producer Rob Bridenbecker and lead writer Christie Golden during BlizzCon last week. They told me how Blizzard approached this recovery to one of their most loved games, and they gave me an idea of ​​any of the changes to expect.

Over: Warcraft III is back.

Bill Credit: Blizzard [19659006] GamesBeat: Why is Warcraft III now reminding?

Rob Bridenbecker: We really cut our teeth as a team at StarCraft Remastered. It was the first time for us to go back and learn what was involved in remaking a game and bringing it to modern standards and solving some of the heavy technical challenges that are associated with it. We had all this good learning, great systems that were all rooted in RTS. We had an opportunity with Warcraft III, this dear game, to carry everything that teaches and bring it there.

GamesBeat: This is called a remaster, but many assets are restored. Is it fair to call this a new collection? Or is remaster still the preferred choice?

Bridenbecker: We landed at Reforged. One, just because we thought it sounded cool and two, we did not feel that it was just a straight remaster, similar to what we did with StarCraft. But it certainly takes its roots from what we did with StarCraft because we're talking about a game that's rooted in the original game engine. Starting from existing Warcraft III, we built on the top of it and developed the engine so we can do all the modern graphics you see, all the modern interfaces you see, and put it into the original game engine.

The reasons we wanted to do it are quite simple. We did not want to break the game. Nor would we break the community. We wanted to make sure that all the campaigns, the custom maps that have come out, all these things just keep working.

GamesBeat: Will there be any game changes?

Bridenbecker: Again, draw some of the parallels with StarCraft, in StarCraft Remastered, that game, everyone felt it was in just a great state as far as the balance was concerned. The competitive game associated with it was amazing. And then we did not want to change anything about the core game. With Warcraft III it's a bit different because the community has actively realized that the balance of the game may not be as perfect as StarCraft's balance. And there are some opportunities for us to introduce some of the subtle changes to try to drive more towards the same level of balance as we have with a game like StarCraft.

About: StarCraft Remastered.

Credit: Blizzard [19659006] GamesBeat: The campaign is loved. It really started a lot of the bigger Warcraft lore that we now know. Is the story seeing changes?

Christie Golden: As discussed, we know how important this game is for people. We would not change it very much. We would not say, oh, here is this new character and sidelines plots and a brand new one, it and the other. I was invited to join the team to work with this and what we decided would be very useful would be if I should return to my novel Arthas who is also considered a gun, and not to emphasize the backstory – It's the area of ​​the novels – but the scenes we actually played through. See what I had done to them in the book, what kind of dialogue I wrote, what framing, and just do not gloom on big sections of people who are talking, because we want to play a game here, but only a few lines to emphasize some Things that have now become very important in World of Warcraft.

For example, Jaina, we must visit her again. We can bring her personality a little more in advance so we can connect and build – strengthen those bridges that are there. Do not build new ones, but strengthen what's there to guide people to where she is now. Sylvanas, of course, is great now. She is very important. We really did not see so much of her when you actually go back. You will be surprised at how little we see. We wanted to go back to the novel and see what we could do to improve it.

We wanted to remind people that Arthas was once loved and once upon a time he had good intentions. He would do the best for his people. He wanted to make it so much that he was obsessed with not failing at no cost and that led to his demise. And to remind people of it and make history a little more powerful. We wanted to give more depth and a richer feeling to it without adding large pieces of history.

GamesBeat: Arthas is such a basic character for the franchise. What do you think it's about him that makes him resonate with fans?

Golden: As an author, there are many topics that I find myself back over and over, and I've always cheated on what makes people do bad things? How do you get from point A to point Z? It seems so drastic when you see Arthas hero in the beginning. How in the world can he end up here? And of course, it's a step by step, the choices along the way. We all face choices and decisions. We wish everyone to be good people. It is there, but for God's grace, right? How to see this character that was so powerful and so loved – just see what a mess he did for himself by pursuing this course at all costs.

Over: Arthas started as a hero in Warcraft III.

GamesBeat: The Cinema in the game looks much more … cinematic out? Was it challenging to recover this story beating things like camera angles and animations, while the original game just used the same top-down perspective for these cutscenes as the rest of the game?

Bridenbecker: A little over the years we have learned a lot like a company regarding the way to tell the story through game-cutscenes. It's definitely less to look at people on horseback, look at their backs while on the horseback, and a little more actually zoom in on the signs themselves, see the people coming into town. What we do to throw out Stratholme is an example of the treatment we are looking to do with the rest of the vignettes that exist in the game.

GamesBeat: Creating custom maps was a major part of Warcraft III. Will people who learned these tools in the original game could jump right in with Reforged?

Bridenbecker: Part of the reason we wanted to start with the Warcraft III engine and develop what is so that we did not break the community did not break that learning and understanding. If you are very familiar with the existing world editor, it will be developed, but it will not be developed so much that it feels very different. We are talking about new features, new capabilities, but nothing completely different. If you are familiar with creating the custom maps, you can jump right back in, use any of your skill level, whether yesterday or 10 years ago or 15 years ago, and use it directly.

GamesBeat: Some of the custom games have inspired the entire genre now, including MOBAs. Do you think we will still see the original Warcraft III version of the Armed Forces Defense? Is there any legal problem there now?

Bridenbecker: The most important thing we are interested in is to ensure that we provide as much compatibility and capability to our customized counterpart. What mods are popular or not popular and so on, there are things that, as time goes by, we learn more about. But Step 1 for us was left – let's make sure these things upload, work, work, play, so people can keep enjoying them. Where it will not work is when people have entered, and – let's say they have subbent out some of the original Warcraft assets for different assets. In these areas we are still talking about how it will actually manifest, because we do not know artistic if it's so good that you have all this high-profile image, and then certain devices in low def, as it were. Having these two mixed and matched with each other. Technologically it is possible, but artistic we are not sure if it looks like a good game.

There are many things on the custom map front that we are still working on. But first order is, let's make sure that these are able to upload, able to play, players can continue to enjoy them. To your previous point, if you are someone who is interested in expanding your custom maps and using all your existing knowledge, you will be able to make the moment this comes out.

GamesBeat: Many of the voters for these characters have changed since Warcraft III came out. Do you use original voice files or rework roles with newer actors?

Bridenbecker: Clearly, as Christie mentioned – we do some things around several lines, further bridge between Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, just to give a little more taste around characters and backstory. As far as the general V / O, we give you some more information over the coming months. But we add new languages. There are a number of things that go into this as we want more information about the future.

GamesBeat: The trailer you showed to announce Reforged was a new recording of the original Warcraft III announcement CG movie. Bridenbecker: The current thinking is that our prerendered cinematics – if you return and look at the original Warcraft III prerendered cinematics, you will get a new version of all Warcraft III's CG cutscenes.

They still look pretty good. The teaser film we had, that's where we felt – the original energy that was in it, the original man who was in it, maybe they could have used some fine tuning.

We joined our partners in history and franchise development and were able to recut a version of it. It's definitely a time-consuming process, definitely something we want judging. I'm quite excited about the possibilities just with the existing kinematics that are in the game and clear them up, because remember that these originally came out 15-16 years ago. The technology of the time, even from the original source files, resulted in the dithering of these kinematics through compression, so that they did not fully honor. There are many things we can do without cutting everything.

GamesBeat: I remember hearing shortly after the frozen throne came out that the final battle between Arthas and Illidan would be at some point a pre-rendered movie theater, and for what reason it became just an in-game scene instead. Can it finally be a full blown movie?

Bridenbecker: Nothing we have talked about. Laughs ]

GamesBeat: Would not it be fun, though?

Bridenbecker: Many things would be very fun. I'm coming back to right now – we're quite laser focused on making sure we do all the right things to keep the game and carry it forward. It's a pretty aggressive business when you think about it. Starting from this place, hello, we are going to take 16 years old game engine, and we will carry it until 2018, 2019, make it look beautiful, but by the way, in the process, all the old ones still have to work.

You must carry all that with you. Only that alone is its own business. Wherever we go in the future it's only. There is something we are talking about in the future. At the moment we are 100 percent on, let's make sure we have all the day's trimmings forward and adjusted to what you see.

GamesBeat: Talking about adding a new dialogue to make things more relevant to World of Warcraft, there's a chance to perhaps clarify some of the things World of Warcraft retconned or changed. Like Muradin – in Warcraft III, he seems to be killed, but later we find out he has just knocked out. Same thing with Illidan at the end. Even Illidan's motivation has been clarified over the years.

Golden: It's interesting that you take up Muradin because he's really just kind of coming on stage. He's just this dwarf. We do not understand what's happening. He has a long history with Arthas. He taught him how to fight. Arthas was not a natural fighter. A dwarf hardened him. He was Arthur's gunman.

As an example of how you can get a lot, hopefully, with just one line, when Arthas begins to do these dubious things, he says that you lied to your men. You prevented them from coming home. It's not the boy I practiced. Boom. You have now established that they have known each other since he was a boy, and he gave him training, with just a few words.

Over: Illidan debuted in Warcraft III, but he has been a major part of World of Warcraft's history.

Image Credit: Blizzard

] GamesBeat: So much of Blizzard's identity started with these RTS games. Is it fun for the company to go back and work with RTS again?

Bridenbecker: Yes, definitely. We still have to be involved in RTS even today. We have now – I suppose this will be three RTS games on the show floor, between StarCraft, StarCraft II and Warcraft III. Part of the fun has been to go back in time a bit, take a look at how we started as a company. Engineer or artist looks at things and says, oh, wow, why have we made these decisions? And often, we made a decision because of technical constraints, where we were in the shape of our own personal development as creators. But the idea of ​​being in place to continue the RTS genre and help lift it up above all and add it, give it a higher thank you, so to speak, is part of something the team feels a huge amount of pride in. [19659002] GamesBeat: These original game models are relatively low-poly now. When you account for these assets, you have the opportunity to almost do something completely different. Looking at it, that's not what you just put into what they look like in World of Warcraft. It's something different. How did you decide on the new look of the game?

Bridenbecker: We really spent time identifying how we wanted to take the original assets. Because they were very low poly. There were not so much details in those we would otherwise have liked. We took a look at World of Warcraft and we said yes, it is much more detailed, but we would like to add a realism that is attached to it. We eventually landed at Mands of Pandaria cinematic. Part of what we wanted was, we wanted to get the visual fidelity to tell these game stories manifest themselves in that art style so you can make in-game cutscenes and tell the story and make it look like yes people are engaged in conversation.

They have real animations with each other. They point and come in arguments. When Uther is pissed off on Arthas because Arthas is doing something completely crazy and racing a city of these poor citizens who have been infected with the plague – you see the feelings in his face. You see the feelings of his movements. In order to do that, some kind of core was why we wanted to drive on this art style. And when they adapt from a gameplay point of view, they are still iconic like Warcraft devices – it's a bit of a balance.

Over: The Culling of Stratholme is an important part of Warcraft III's history.

GamesBeat: What is the future of the original Warcraft III now that Reforged comes? Is preservation important, even if remaster comes?

Bridenbecker: To me personally, it's an industry-friendly – not just specific to games, but really more the digital industry so speak. It is a challenge that we will need to think through quite heavily because the concept of preservation of a digital artwork is a very different place than, for example, what we learned about physical goods and preserving them over the years. So much content that is created can just disappear overnight. If you do not maintain the code correctly or if you do not maintain the correct place where people have access to it – even to find Warcraft III, it was not a good process for our fans and our players. That's part of the reason we wanted to do Reforged.

So when we talk about the future of it, the way we're approaching it, hello, we're going through and doing Reforged, but if you want to play the original version of the game, it's going to be there with Reforged. You will still be able to go back and play the original game with all of the original assets. If you like the no-throat version of the devices, you can do it. [laughs] It's our strategy of how we can make sure we talk to you as someone who wants to play the game the way you want to play it. It's not for us to say, this is forever the only way you will see Warcraft III. You will choose. It's on you.

RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at the game's past, dives into classics, new retrotitles or looks at how old favorites – and their design techniques – inspire today's market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you want to send me, please contact me.

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