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Home / SmartTech / The RetroBeat: Why Blizzard remastered Warcraft III – and what's changing

The RetroBeat: Why Blizzard remastered Warcraft III – and what's changing

Warcraft III is one of the best real-time strategy games of all time. Its rich history and memorable characters form the basis of what would become World of Warcraft. Blizzard announced last week during BlizzCon 2018 in Anaheim, California, that the 2002 PC game will be redone with Warcraft III: Reforged, to be released in 2019.

Last year, Blizzard StarCraft remastered. But re-forging is more than a remaster. Blizzard updates character models, cut scenes and even tinkers with the story and gameplay of the original. That could be risky. Warcraft III has sold over 4.5 million copies. The modding community has helped to create new genres like MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). Why bother too much when you can spice up the original assets?

I had the opportunity to speak with Reforged Chief Producer Rob Bridenbecker and senior author Christie Golden last week during BlizzCon. They told me how Blizzard approached this remake of one of the most popular games, and they gave me an idea of ​​the changes to come.

Above: Warcraft III is back.

Source: Blizzard [19659006GamesBeat:WhynowWarcraftIIIremaster?

Rob Bridenbecker: We really cut our teeth as a team at StarCraft Remastered. This was the first time we had returned to find out what it meant to remaster a game, upgrade it to modern standards, and solve some of the major technical challenges involved. We had all this great learning, great systems, all rooted in RTS. With Warcraft III, this beloved game, we had the opportunity to take all the learning with us and bring it right there.

GamesBeat: This is called a remaster, but many assets have been rebuilt. Is it fair to call this a remake? Or is Remaster still the preferred term?

Bridenbecker: We landed on Reforged. First, because we thought it sounded cool, and second, we did not feel it was a pure remaster, much like StarCraft. However, it definitely has its roots from what we did with StarCraft because it's a game rooted in the original game engine. We started with the existing Warcraft III, and we built on that and engineered the engine so that we could create all the modern graphics you see, all the modern interfaces you see, and layer them into the original game engine ,

The reasons why we wanted to do that are pretty simple. We did not want to break the game. We did not want to break the community either. We wanted to make sure that all the campaigns, the custom maps that came out, all these things just keep working.

GamesBeat: Are there any gameplay changes?

Bridenbecker: Again, drawn some parallels to StarCraft, in StarCraft Remastered, this game. Everyone felt they were in great shape for balance. The associated competitive game was incredible. Therefore we did not want to change anything at the core of the gameplay. With Warcraft III, it's a bit different because the community has actively alerted us that the balance of the game may not be as perfect as StarCraft's. And we have the opportunity to introduce some of these subtle changes to achieve the same balance we have with a game like StarCraft.

Above: StarCraft Remastered.

Credit: Blizzard [19659006] GamesBeat: The campaign is popular. It really started much from the larger Warcraft tradition that we now know. Does history change things?

Christie Golden: As we said before, we know how important this game is for humans. We did not want to change it very much. We did not mean to say, oh, here are these new characters and subplots and a whole new one, that and the other. I was invited to join the team to work on it. What we have decided would be really useful if I revisit my novel Arthas which is also considered a canon, and do not highlight the background story – that's the realm of the novel – but the scenes we do actually played through. See what I've done with them in the book, what kind of dialogue I have written, what conditions they have, and not on huge heels of people standing around and talking because we want to play a game here, but only one a few lines Emphasize some things that have become very important in World of Warcraft now.

For example, Jaina, we were able to visit her again. We can put more emphasis on their personality so that we can connect and build the bridges that exist. Do not build new ones, but strengthen what's there to guide people to where they are now. Sylvanas is, of course, huge. She is very important. We really did not see much of her when you really go back. You will be surprised how little we see. We wanted to return to the novel and see what we can do to improve that.

We wanted to remind people that Arthas was once loved and once had really good intentions. He wanted to do the best for his people. He wanted that so much that he was obsessed with not failing at all costs, and that led to his demise. And to remind people and make the story a bit more powerful. We wanted to give more depth and a richer feel without adding big storylines.

GamesBeat: Arthas is such a cornerstone to the franchise. What do you think it is about him that he resonates with the fans?

Golden: As a writer, there are many topics that I keep coming back to, and I have always chewed, what makes people do bad things? How to get from point A to point Z? It seems so dramatic when you see Arthas at the very beginning. How on earth could he land here? And of course it's step by step, choosing on the way. We all face decisions and decisions. We all want to be good people. It's there except for the grace of God, right? As you see this figure that was so powerful and so popular – you just have to see what a mess he has done by any means along the way.

Above: Arthas started as a hero in Warcraft III.

GamesBeat: The In-Game Cinema looks a lot more … Cinema? Was it difficult to repeat these story beats with things like camera angles and animations, while the original game used the same perspective for these cutscenes as it did for the rest of the game?

Bridenbecker: Over the years, as a company, we've learned a lot about telling stories through cutscenes in the game. It is definitely less to look at people on horseback, to look at people's backs while on horseback, and to zoom in on the characters themselves, to see people in the city. What we are doing with the removal of Stratholme is an example of the treatment we are trying to do with the remaining vignettes of the game.

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

Bridenbecker: Part of the Reason Why We Wanted to Start with the Warcraft III Engine and Develop It So we did not break the community, not break learning and understanding. If you are very familiar with the existing World Editor, it will be developed further, but it will not develop so much that it really feels different. We're talking about new features, new features, but nothing else. If you're familiar with creating these custom maps, you can get back in and use the skill level right away, whether it was yesterday, 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, and you can apply it directly.

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

Bridenbecker: The main thing we're interested in is making sure we provide so much compatibility and capability to our custom mod community. Which mods are popular or not, and so on, these are things that we will learn more about over time. But the first step for us was to let these things be charged, work, function, play, so that people can continue to enjoy them. Where it does not work, it's when people go in and – say, they've scrapped some of the original Warcraft assets for other assets. In these areas, we're still talking about how this will actually manifest, because we do not know if it's great that you have all these high fidelity images and then, so to speak, certain units in Low Def to have coordinated. Technologically, this is possible, but artistically we are not sure if the game looks like a great game or not.

There are many things on the custom map front that we are still working through. But first and foremost, it's important to make sure they can load and play. The players can continue to enjoy it. To your earlier point: If you are someone who is interested in expanding your custom maps and using all your knowledge, you can do so the moment this comes out.

GamesBeat: Many speakers for these characters have changed since the release of Warcraft III. Do you use original language files or re-roles with newer actors?

Bridenbecker: We are definitely, as Christie has mentioned, we're doing a few things around extra lines, additional Warcraft III and World of Warcraft bridging, just to give characters and background stories a little more flavor to lend. In terms of total V / O, you will receive more information in the coming months. But we add new languages. There are a variety of things that we will be getting more information about in the future.

GamesBeat: The trailer you showed to announce Reforged was a remake of Warcraft III's original CG movie. Will Reforge have a new version of all Warcraft III CG cutscenes?

Bridenbecker: The current idea is that our pre-rendered kinematics – if you go back and look at the original Warcraft III-pre-rendered kinematics, you still look pretty good. The teaser movie we had was one we felt like – the original orc that was in it, the original foot soldier that was in it, maybe they could have used a little tweaking.

We came along with our movie partner in story and franchise development, and they were able to cut a version of it. It's definitely a time-consuming process, definitely something we want to use wisely. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities when the existing kinematics are in the game and they clean up because they came out 15-16 years ago. The technology of that time, even from the original source files, caused us to shut down this kinematics by compression, so that they did not have their full glory. There are a lot of things we can do without having to rewrink everything.

GamesBeat: I remember when I heard shortly after the frozen throne The last fight between Arthas and Illidan was to become a prepared movie, and for whatever reason, it just became an in-game scene. Could this finally become a full-fledged movie?

Bridenbecker: We did not talk about anything. Laughs ]

GamesBeat: Would not it be funny?

Bridenbecker: Many things would be really fun. I'll come back now – we're pretty much focused on making sure we're doing all the right things to keep the game going and keep going. It's a pretty aggressive undertaking when you think about it. From this place, hey, we're going to take a 16-year-old game engine and push it on until 2018, 2019 to make it look pretty, but by the way, all the old stuff still has to work.

You have to carry all this with you. That alone is a separate company. Where we are going in the future is just that. We will talk more about that in the future. Now we are 100 percent at stake. Let's make sure that everything we do today is what you see.

GamesBeat: Let's talk about adding a little new dialog To make things more relevant to World of Warcraft, you may be able to clarify some of the things World of Warcraft closed or changed , Like Muradin – in Warcraft III it looks like he was killed, but later we find out he's knocked out. Same with Illidan in the end. Even Illidan's motivation has been clarified over the years in some way.

Golden: It is interesting that you bring up Muradin because he really only comes on stage. He is only this dwarf. We do not really understand what's going on. He has a long history with Arthas. He taught him how to fight. Arthas was not a natural fighter. A dwarf calmed him. He was Arthas' weapon trainer.

As an example of how to do a lot with just one line when Arthas starts doing these questionable things, he says you lied to your men. They prevented them from going home. This is not the boy I trained. Boom. They have now discovered that they have known each other since he was a boy, and he has trained him in a few words. That's the kind of stuff we try to refine things.

Above: Illidan made his debut in Warcraft III, but he was a big part of the story of World of Warcraft.

Source: Blizzard [19659006] GamesBeat: So much of Blizzard's identity started with these RTS games. Does the company enjoy working on RTS again?

Bridenbecker: Yes, definitely. We were still involved in RTS today. Now we have – I guess that's three real-time strategy games at the show, between StarCraft, StarCraft II and Warcraft III. Part of the fun was to go back in time and take a look at how we started as a business. The engineer or the artist who looks at things and says: Oh, wow, why did we make those decisions? And often it was good, we decided on technical constraints, where we were in terms of our personal development as a designer. But the idea of ​​being able to advance the RTS genre, helping to rewrite and add to everything, giving it a higher upper limit, is something that the team finds immense pride in.

GamesBeat: These original in-game models are now relatively low-poly. If you re-run these assets, you can do almost something completely different. If you look at it, it's not like you just type in what they look like in World of Warcraft. It's different. How did you come to terms with the game's new look?

Bridenbecker: We really spent a lot of time deciding how we wanted to take over the original assets. Because they were very low. They did not contain as many details as we would otherwise have wished. We looked at World of Warcraft and said, yes, there are many more details, but we want to add a sense of realism. We ended up on the fog of Pandaria. On the one hand, we wanted to have the visual fidelity to tell these stories in the game with this art style so that you could make the cutscenes in the game and tell the story and make it look as if these are people engaged in a conversation interfere.

They have real animations with each other. They show and argue. When Uther is annoyed at Arthas because Arthas is doing something absolutely crazy and plundering a city with those poor citizens who got infected by the plague – you see the emotion in his face. You see the emotion in his gestures. To do this was a kind of core, why we wanted to promote this art style. And if you adjust that to make them feel iconic like Warcraft units from the gameplay standpoint, that's a certain balance.

Above: The Culling of Stratholme is an important part of the history of Warcraft III.

GamesBeat: What's the Future of the Original Warcraft III Now Where Does Reforged Come? Is conservation important, even if the remaster comes?

Bridenbecker: For me personally, this is an industry-wide one – not just specific to games, but more likely to speak for the digital industry. It is a challenge that we need to think through quite thoroughly, because the idea of ​​getting a digital artwork is a very different space than what we have learned about physical goods and what they have received over the years. So much content that is created can disappear overnight. If you can not properly manage the code or manage the place where users have access to it, Warcraft III itself was not good, and that was not a great process for our fans and players. That's part of the reason why we wanted to do a refried.

So when we talk about the future, the way we approach, hey, we go through and do Reforged, but if you want to play the original version of the game, it will be right there with Reforged. You can still play the original game with all the original assets. If you like the neck version of the equipment, you can do that. [laughs] This is our strategy for making sure we talk to you as a person who wants to play the game the way you want. It's not to say that this is the only way you'll see Warcraft III. You can choose. That's up to you.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that explores the game's past, delves into classics and new retro titles, or how old favorites – and their design techniques – inspire today's marketplace and its experiences. If you have any retro projects or scoops you would like to send, please contact me.

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