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Interview with Blizzard Classic Team: 1.29 in progress

24.07.17 | UgriWC3 2047


A few days before the new patch is tested during Chinajoy, Blizzard Classic Team had a little chat with esport journalist  Forkxx about the process of balancing the game.

Bright days ahead!

Original article :

Published with the authorization of the author, follow Forkxx

Q: In the first Warcraft 3 update announcement for China, you said that the patch will be Blizzard's "first stop" for all the fans. Does this mean that we will receive more news and changes in the future? If so, what are the goals to keep improving Warcraft 3?

We just released 1.28.5, and are in progress on 1.29. Our original objectives were to update Warcraft III to run properly on modern operating systems, update the installation and distribution pipeline, and fix major issues.

We’re happy with the current state of the game, so we recently moved on to updating the map pools and are experimenting with balance adjustments.

Q: The WC3 community has been waiting for a long time for some balance changes since we still have large competitions running in China and other regions. Do you consider this a challenge when balance comes up in your mind?

Adjusting balance is a delicate process. We’re believe gradual change is the correct approach, because the Warcraft III ecosystem has been unchanged for so many years.

We think good balance starts with competitive map pools. We are crafting a diverse selection of maps to encourage various gameplay styles; there will be maps that result in fast, frenetic games and others that allow for deeper, macro oriented play.

As the community helps us make refinements and becomes comfortable with the new pools, we will introduce balance changes with a focus on maximum optionality between races.

Q: Warcraft 3 is one of the oldest games in eSports. How do you and your team feel about that?

We love that the community still thirsts for staged combat between worthy opponents. Opportunities to give back to our passionate fans that keep this game vital is what drives us. Blizzard has always been an advocate for esports, and we look forward to doing our part to keep players and gameplay evolving.

Q: In the same way, we had some changes in Diablo 2. After so many years, a lot of players still play and have fun with these classic games. How do you deal with the high expectations of passionate fans while changing or updating these classic games?

We’ve learned with StarCraft: Remastered to spend more time listening and engaging with the dedicated communities around the classics. Many of us helped develop these games originally – or grew up playing them – but there is a wealth of knowledge and suggestions from our loyal players that really helps drive decision making.

We were formed to maintain these games so future generations can continue to enjoy them. Who better to help us than the players who never stopped playing?

Q: How does your team work? Do you hear the feedback from the players and then jump into action?

We’re a small team, so we try to have a very deliberate approach when undertaking tasks we know will deliver value to the players.

We look for input from the fans on the forums, on other community sites, and we’re building a group of trusted advisors from the community, people we can have a dialogue with. As players ourselves, we also use our Play-The-Game sessions on Fridays to make sure we’re scrutinizing changes and looking for areas of improvement.

As we collect feedback from all those sources, we start to see patterns emerge. From there, we select the top feedback that we believe will have the most immediate impact, and bigger features we work on over time for future, significant patches.

The feedback process is always ongoing before, during, and after patches. We have a lot of passionate players with strong opinions – which we love. Our players have great ideas and they keep us on target.

Q: Sometimes, me and my friends have some troubles downloading, installing and playing classic games with new computers. The last patch for Warcraft 3 now runs on the Blizzard app. Are we going to receive more classic content on the platform?

Installing and patching is complicated. It’s also something we tend to take for granted with modern software. Moving Warcraft III onto the modern distribution and patching pipeline has been a big priority for quality of life improvement for players.

Long term the move also greatly increases our velocity, so we can make and deploy new patches more quickly. It wasn’t easy or straightforward, and we appreciated the community’s patience while we made the conversions.

Q: Did the team — or even the players — ever share some crazy ideas for improving a classic game after so many years?

There are two types of crazy ideas. The first kind: larger control groups, different AI or pathing, and the like would fundamentally break gameplay – and tend to get shouted down by our hardcore players. The second: like convert World Editor from JASS to LUA or add a fifth race are amazing, but would lead to a new game.

We have some big ideas that people will be excited about – and we’re excited too – but first we need to get the basics right, and earn the community’s trust to make larger decisions in the future.

Q: What is the biggest challenge for your work in the classic games team?

Unintended consequences. There are quirks within the complexities of game code. Gameplay is a result of more than just the intended design. As we’re thawing out pipelines, and updating the code we’ve introduced a few unexpected results. Luckily, players help us uncover any ripple effects so we can get the game back to its desired state.

Q: Do you have a message for all the classic Blizzard gamers around the world?

Thank you all for the passion and patience; we’re looking forward to sharing more epic moments with you in the coming years, because Classic Games has only just started!



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