Last year at BlizzCon 2017, Blizzard announced that the World of Warcraft folks would be adding a new classic server option, which was meant to provide a way to experience the game before any of its expansions launched. Aptly, this option would be called World of Warcraft Classic. While we haven’t heard too much about it since then, a recent developer update confirms that this project is still under development and will be based on World of Warcraft‘s Patch 1.12.
Patch 1.12, also known as “The Drums of War”, would serve as the foundation for World of Warcraft Classic, as the team felt it “represents the most complete version of the classic experience.” This patch would mark the last major developmental milestone before WoW launched its first expansion, The Burning Crusade, back in 2007.
In their update, the devs continue to say that they began by rebuilding Patch 1.12 so that they could get it to run internally. After successfully completing this task, the team was able to do some basic questing and leveling in the game world as if visiting the Ghost of Warcraft Past. The team also revealed that the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize modern video cards, and was incompatible with the current login system.
With this in mind, the developers went on to begin development with their second prototype of the Patch 1.12-based world. They decided to approach the issues they were encountering from the opposite end: instead of recreating Patch 1.12 from scratch, they used code from Patch 1.12 in conjunction with modern code to see what that got them. According to the game devs:
So we asked ourselves, would it still be possible to deliver an authentic classic experience if we took our modern code, with all its back-end improvements and changes, and used it to process the Patch 1.12 game data While that might seem counterintuitive, this would inherently include classic systems like skill ranks, old quests and terrain, talents, and so on, while later features like Transmog and Achievements would effectively not exist because they were entirely absent from the data. After weeks of R&D, experimentation, and prototyping, we were confident we could deliver the classic WoW content and gameplay without sacrificing the literally millions of hours put in to back-end development over the past 13 years.
With a second successful prototype working based off of both Patch 1.12 and modern game code, the development team wraps up their update by stating that they are currently working towards making World of Warcraft Classic both optimized and stable in order to help avoid latency and stability issues. In addition to the benefits provided by the modern system, up-to-date anti-cheating systems, Battle.net integration, and other conveniences that do not affect the core gameplay experience are also currently in the works.
While we do not yet have a date on when World of Warcraft Classic will be arriving for players of the quintessential MMO, this developer update does help us picture how the game’s development is coming along.