I knew there are still some details related to current state of Warcraft 3 that are worth talking about. There's a very small chance that you somehow saw my previous posts about Samwise Didier and some aspects of Reforged. If that's true, I hope that you enjoyed and I'm glad to see that responses to them were overall positive. You'll get some "nostalgic" moments as I'll also come back to some previous topics I mentioned before in my previous posts. I find some sort of irony that this is my third post regarding Warcraft 3's current status that should be a final one. At least for a time being.
There's just not that much to talk about and I want to make sure I didn't miss anything this time. Expect this post to be as large as the previous ones, if not even bigger. I apologize if that's inconvenient for you, but it just feels right this way. As always, I hope it's not that bad to read.
WARNING: This post is definitely the long one. My apologize if that's inconvenient for the third time I decided that it's time to go in fully. Grab your tea, coffee or whatever you wanna drink with food you wanted to eat and get ready for a huge wall of text ahead. Like in "What about... Samwise Didier?", there're some quotes from interviews and what not written one-by-one from the source. I understand that these quotes might look a bit messy due to me not really correcting the text for more pleasant reading, but it just feels right to go in this strange route.
Also, I would like to make sure that we're all smart and civil human beings that can easily understand each other. There's nothing wrong with being upset because of what's going on with Warcraft 3 and you definitely should speak out about it. However, there's a clear difference between providing a constructive criticism of developer's work and personal attack towards them as a people just because you're mad. I'm gonna go through some words they said during various interviews and events for the course of this post to criticize their work on Warcraft 3 and how they treated this old beloved game. Not to give some of you an excuse to go after them in mindless and toxic rant. Don't put a shame on Warcraft 3 community. This won't help the game.
Hypocrisy of the Developers.
Developer Update articles from Blizzard served as one of the main sources of my inspiration for writing this particular post. Some aspects of them really caught my attention, such as mentioning of "legacy version of Warcraft 3". What a cheesy way of maintaining, sadly, common misconception that Warcraft 3 Reforged isn't a remasteupdate of Warcraft 3, but more of a remake/"new product" among those who still believes it. This perspective lowers players expectations from Blizzard when it comes to the future of Warcraft 3. By establishing Reforged as a separate game instead of the next step in Warcraft 3's lifespan, people that fell for it would tend to be less demanding and more acceptable to Blizzard's decision making and slow pace of delivering those changes with bug fixes. Actually, they did it all the way back in February 4 in Developer Update on Warcraft 3's forums by using such terms as "original Warcraft 3" and "original game".
When you read all these articles and posts from Blizzard where they talk about "preserving the true spirit of Warcraft 3", you would think that phrases like this supposed to sounds exciting and inspiring. Knowing that Blizzard respects Warcraft 3 and wants to make sure that its legacy remains the same... Except you know that's a lie. Let's just be me honest here and agree that Classic Games Team didn't really bother about preserving Warcraft 3. They still don't, really. Otherwise, they wouldn't:
Warcraft 3 Battle.net Profile Icons.
- Eliminate Reign of Chaos and tournaments rulesets.
- Eliminate Battle.net 1.0 for Warcraft 3.
- Change Warcraft 3's art style, making it not fit for both RTS game and Warcraft series as a whole.
- Ignore 17 years of custom content created by community with original art style/designs in mind.
- Plan to change campaign to be more in like with inconsistent story/lore of current Warcraft.
- Plan to change the cutscenes of the campaign to something more cinematic.
- Silently update game's client to its Reforged version with no alternative for this community.
- Indefinitely robbing from game such features as custom campaigns, clans and much more.
- Not even warn players about the absence of these aspects in current version of Warcraft 3.
- Use this community as a shield when it comes to abandoning the original direction of Reforged.
- Swap Warcraft 3's original ranked ladder to Starcraft 2's. More on that later.
- Treat Warcraft 3's legacy and its community so poorly and disrespectfully.
From Back2Warcraft interview at Blizzcon 2019:
Jannes Tjarks: "What part of the development of Warcraft 3 Reforged was the most tedious?"
Keith Sizemore: "Making sure we didn't break the original, basically. We wanted to make sure, because we're on the original game and, um, we're taking and we know that there's a community currently supports it, we didn't want to release a title that we felt that just disconnected, severed that original condition of the game. We wanted to make sure that people when they played it they said 'This feels like original Warcraft' and so we definitely listening to the feedback that we're getting on the Beta right now. We're acting on it to make sure that we still going down that nice path of balance, but also long maintaining the, the current community supports it and has loved it for 16+ years..."
In "What about... Reforged?" I concluded that Classic Games Team's choices were based on setting their bars too high, while also choosing the wrong way to approach this project. I said that it's very unlikely that they wanted to put Warcraft 3 in a state that it is right now, but it's not that surprising to see some people think otherwise. When you compare how members of Classic Games Team talk about the legacy of Starcraft and Warcraft 3 during the development of their remasters, it's surprising to see a different tone between projects. Here's what Pete Stilwell said in an interview about Starcraft:
"...so moments like that added clarity of, like, what we have to do right and what do we have make sure to maintain because this is like a classic car, right? Where there are certain elements that define what it is that you don't want to change just because you have modern engines and modern brakes, and things like that doesn't mean we should, we should do that and that those trips that we took that we've taken, I think, eight trips to Korea over the past year. You have added that clarity of 'don't mess with the gameplay'. It's okay that Dragoons are derpy and, and that occasionally a Reaver shot won't go off. Like, those are things that make the game exciting. Those are the things that, that separate a really great player from a mediocre one and so we started there with just 'don't touch the gameplay', 'leave it alone', but it's, it's not just that.
Like, players that have been playing this for so long visually had programmed a silhouette, a type of animation. You know, cues in their brain, what they should be doing and when. So even as we approached remastering the art, you know, we sat down with the art team and we're like 'just look at the profilies, watch the animation'... like, you have to get them to be one-to-one. We don't want people to have to relearn the game. We don't want the game to appear differently. It needs to be the core of what may has made Starcraft great."
"Yeah, so that where our server team has been amazing. We've bridged basically the classic services with the modern ones because there isn't an example of a chat channel at the moment and, again, when we, when we did our research and found out how important that is, we didn't want to lose that as we, as we brought the game over to modern Battle.net. So, we essentially created a bridge and we've done a bunch of, you know, server and infrastructure work to, to make it possible to have modern chat channels that, you know, look the same built into that, to the legacy chat channel. So you can still have, you know, your old buddies next to your new ones, depending on whether you're on modern or a legacy Battle.net account."
"So, one of the greatest things that, that we're bringing along are your, your classic accounts. We didn't want players to lose potentially 20 years of history and the, the, the guys who have logged in every 90 days make sure that those accounts didn't expire. We wanted those to be paired to their, their new modern account so that they won't lose them and that's the cool part. You get to keep that name that you loved, the associated wins/loses and all that, and then it will be paired forever to that modern account.
Think, you know, like a WoW server where you just keep the gateway and then underneath that you have the characters, right? So, similarly, you'll be able to log in to US West or Kr1 and, and just select 'this is the one I'm gonna play today' or I wanna link my old one to it and then that will be forever saved."
"That's another place where we were really lucky. Blizzard has a number who has created the original game that still work here. So Brian Sousa, who's our lead artist, worked on the original game and he worked on Starcraft 2. Like, he, he's the soul of this world, right? He's this universe and so it was easy for him to sit down and be like 'here are the things, here's where we changed between the games, here's where we need to make sure we maintain, here are the units that are unique to this game' or that and really the art style itself, right. The Starcraft 1 and 2 have a different saturation and just generally have a slightly different aesthetic, and part of that is because one is 2D and one is 3D. But, in general, it's just, you know, the way things have evolved over time. So, having Brian know what, what the ultimate outcome should be to be true to it made it really easy to impart on our team how to achieve these goals."
It's really nice to read or hear these words because in moments like this makes you convinced that Classic Games Team truly cares about their work. That they have this everlasting passion and spirit that seems to be mostly absent among current developers and workers of Blizzard Entertainment. Now, I want to bring you back to more "recent" and relevant to us theme. To Blizzcon 2018 and 2019:
Grubby: "I understand that Warcraft 3 was Blizzard's first 3D game. Now you see that. *laughs*
Jay Patel: "Same engine."
Grubby: "Same engine?"
Jay Patel: "Little change to lots of between there, but yeah. War 3 was our first 3D required game and it started with graphics cards that could only draw one texture at the time and *laughs* so you can see that there has been a little bit of a change. Now we have shaders and compute shaders, raytracing is coming down the road. So yeah, we're given the artists a lot more to work with than we straight had it back in 2002."
Grubby: "And Arthas has a neck now?"
Jay Patel: "He does!"
Rob Bridenbecker: "Why is Arthas so like, like four feet tall? And now he's like nine feet tall?"
Brian Sousa: "Perspective."
Matt Morris: "Art."
Brian Sousa: "Art. That's the way they 'art-ed' back in a day."
Brian Sousa: "So, the, the most we had to focus on where there's basically, um... looping animations that you can interrupt. Like, if you're just standing there and you do a walk then it'll interupt the stand and you'll start walking. But there's certain things like that are uninterruptible, like the attacks. So, like at a certain time in the attack is when the damage happens and so that has, that animation has to play at least until that point you need to watch it, but after that, because the rest of the animation is just him like resetting into his stand, we had a little bit of leeway on the timing of that, so we could make it a little bit longer to make it a little more natural when he's coming back into his resting state versus before. Like, the, the animations were so quick that it just looped, it just went back to stand really fast \thinks* and when the art was so, like... I don't know, um...* *giggles* low quality?" *laughs* Visual Comparison from \"Warcraft 3: Reforged What's Next\" Panel from Blizzcon 2018. Recreation of Visual Comparison from Blizzcon 2018. Made by StormKnight.
Pete Stilwell: "Woah, woah, woah!"
Brian Sousa: "Woah, woah, woah."
Grubby: "Um... Shorter! Shorter."
Brian Sousa: "Shorter. Now, like, the standart doesn't... the definition, right? Um, so everything was... You, you really didn't know what was happening a lot of time because the characters were so, um... nondescript. Now that you we have, like, these characters that you can really see and they're fully realized, um... It makes a lot, it makes it look a lot better now that we have a little bit more timing on it."
Quite a drastic change of narrative, isn't it? From "having modern technology doesn't mean that you should use them" to "Oh yeah, we have all this new and cool fancy stuff. Just look at how funny Arthas looks. 'Old art', am I right?" with occasional laughs from developers on the stage here and there. Some might say that it's just a silly acting to play along with the audience they had targeted with Reforged and you might be right in some way. What I want to know is who and why decided to go on like that.
Truth is, Warcraft 3's legacy has been damaged severely. Right now, when someone refers to Warcraft 3 in video or text materials, being it some news article or YouTube video, they're using Reforged as the visual reference. The problem isn't just broken promises and high expectations that weren't met. It's also about these promises and expectations being unhealthy for good old Warcraft 3. Consequences of these decisions echoes through its legacy and each day it's only getting worse.
Pete Stilwell: "So... Understand that's part of our dialogue, guys. Like, we're, we're open to being wrong and we want to share that, and we want to hear from you guys when we are..."
Pete Stilwell: "You're the bedrock of why we show up to work every day and we appreciate you so much. We love your activity. We love your honestly. Please, keep being honest with us. Keep up on point..."
I will. That's why I'm here.
Recognizing a Foreshadowing.
Previously I talked about how some minor group of people advocated for adding some certain features that would ultimately transform Warcraft 3 into another Starcraft 2 and why it's as bad as it sounds. I also slightly mentioned how planned cutscenes were similar to what Starcraft 2 has. What I forgot to mention is how, unironically, current situation was the best of the worst possible outcomes for Warcraft 3. If old vision of Reforged had persisted or if its current iteration would've been carried by successful release, who knows how much of a Warcraft 3 would've been twisted, changed or removed in favor of something generic, alien to the original, even inferior. Warcraft 3: Reforged Player Profile. Taken from Blizzard.
I didn't plan to come back to this topic as I thought that I touched it well enough in my previous post. However, Blizzard themselves reminded me about this "issue" by confirming my concerns in one of their "recent" posts. That's right, I'm talking about Ranked Play. I think it's not a mystery that future Reforged version of ranked ladder is quite similar to the one from... You guessed it, Starcraft 2. It would've been nice to compare it with Starcraft Remastered, but I'm not sure if Starcraft ever had a Ranked Play originally (or officially), as I couldn't really find any information regarding that. Interestingly enough, that ladder doesn't look like a direct copy of Starcraft 2's system. Maybe it's similar in some way if you look more closely, but I'm not gonna pretend that I'm an expect here. Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne Player Profile. Taken from Gaming Tools.
I would've preferred if ladder system (or any other aspect of Warcraft 3) wasn't changed so drastically from what it was officially. Address the experience decay from the past version of ladder that activated if you wasn't active in Warcraft 3 for a week? Perhaps. They should've kept the basis of the old Warcraft 3 ladder intact: tweak and polish it here and there instead of replacing it with straight away. If the majority of "Warcraft 3 Ranked audience" are happy/satisfied by this version of ladder and believe that it's better than how it was originally, okay. That's completely fine. I respect your opinion and don't want to question your expertise here. However, I'm very concerned about Warcraft 3's legacy and I want to save the little of it that's left untouched as well as recover the casualties. This might doesn't seem like a big deal in the great scheme of things, but sometimes problems like that start small.
Growing the Roots of Damnation.
Modding is cool. I wouldn't say that this time of content is my thing (at least recently), but it's always quite interesting and fascinating to see what this part of game's community comes up with. Some examples of games with a wide variety of modifications are DOOM, Quake, Minecraft and, of course, Warcraft 3. From icons to models, maps, campaigns and even something more. In all 18 years of its lifespan, Warcraft 3 received a lot of different creations of different types and various scales, quality and genres from its players. I already talked about how some Blizzard's choices during Reforged's development and the consequences of its existence directly affected the work of modding community in a very negative way.
Luckily, some bits of Warcraft 3 community are still prevailed against all odds of a grim present. That also includes a selection of content creators and by that I mean the creators of custom maps and other modding stuff, like icons, models and much more. I mean, World Editor side of things is reportedly "not as bad as it could've been" and in some aspects are even nice. Not to say that everything is perfectly fine, but there's more room for some positivity and that's actually great.
Despite all that, I want to dedicate some words towards a few modding projects which has a negative impact on Warcraft 3 in its current shattered state. I want to make it clear that this is not me going after the authors of these creations in some type of merciless rampage. I admire their creativity and respect all the hard work and passion they're putting into their work. Don't want to discourage them from doing their thing or you from enjoying this type of content. There's a room for any type of content in this modding field. However, I believe that it's important to point out certain issues that these modifications are bringing into Warcraft 3 nowadays.
We'll start with Quenching. This mod is a program that aims to change Warcraft 3: Reforged graphics to make them look and feel of Blizzcon 2018 version. More realistic and pale picture, UI similar to one from Blizzcon 2018 and other graphical features. In original description and view of some people, Quenching suppose to "enhance" Reforged's graphics. I'm not putting that word in quotes to disrespect creators of that mod or anyone who enjoys it, but because this "enhancement" is an even more drastic discrepancy from Warcraft 3's art style and design. In current environment that surrounds this game, mods like this do more harm than help due to normalization of Blizzard's wrongdoings, slow updates from them and their lack of capacity (and/or will) to fix those mistakes. This mod doesn't fix these issues. It celebrates them by embracing it in much larger scale.
Another mod I'm going to mention is Re-Reforged. Only Prologue chapters has been updates so far, but I believe that author's goal is to change all main campaigns to match something that's more close to Blizzcon 2018 and show what could be done with all this stuff. There're no changes to the story, which is, honestly, a very good thing. From gameplay standpoint this mod could also turn out pretty interesting. Despite this, going back to Blizzcon 2018 vision and reminding a certain audience about what could've been isn't exactly a good idea. When it comes to the ideas for the campaigns of that time, it's about denying new players to experience and learn about Warcraft 3 as we know it. Which is hilarious, since remastering the game is about the exact opposite. With some tweaks here and there, sure, but it's still about providing this classic experience in updated look that stays true to the original.
Now imagine a darker timeline where Classic Games Team's mistakes have reached Warcraft 2 and given it the same "Reforged treatment". That's what Chronicles of the Second War is... Jokes aside, it's actually not that bad. Just yet another Warcraft 2 project that focused on "reforging" Tides of Darkness campaigns and taking inspirations from Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft to certain aspects of it, such as gameplay and story/lore. They're talking about keeping Warcraft 2 aesthetic with their models, which isn't really possible when you're trying to keep Reforged aesthetic as well. It's only one or another and, honestly, latter mostly prevails here. I would say they have more success with buildings, which is quite impressive. Either way, it's just another Warcraft 2 project that I brought up as an example of how Reforged with previously mentioned issues can affect more niche (or any other type of) custom content. Good luck to all of these authors in their work on all this custom content. Screenshot from \"Chronicles of the Second War - Official Trailer\".
To be fair, there's another side to this subject. With community focusing on this type of content, it opens a way for Blizzard to move forward and do the right thing for Warcraft 3 in best case scenario. It's exactly what's going on with Co-op maps and it should stay that way. Although then you can point out the existence of "officiality syndrome", as one of my friends called it. Certain players tend to neglect various custom maps and campaigns that offer a type of content they demand because it doesn't come from Blizzard themselves. Sometimes they brought up various arguments for it, but usually it all comes down to "it's not from Blizzard, therefore it's not good/worth my time". It's like complaining in the shop because they're out of cheese when it fact they just don't have this specific and expensive brand that's not quite better than other types of cheese on shelves. Reason for that is it being a community work. There's no barrier between players. No informational filters based on some corporate restrictions or anything like that. They're dedicating more time and soul not only in the work itself, but also in discussion surrounding it because nobody can stop them from that... Except various obligations in real life, but I think you're getting my point.
Before moving on, I wanted to take a step back and redirect our attention to something more positive... for the most part. It's not secret that Patch 1.32 caused a lot of technical issues with Warcraft 3 that Blizzard are still trying to resolve. "Recently" they fixed some of them, such as (Some changes doesn't get documented in patch notes for whatever reason):
- Lighting for Portraits in Classic Mode.
- Deep water being too transparent in Classic Mode.
- "SetMapMusic" function not allowing playlists to play music.
- Shadows for custom units in Classic Mode.
- Some trees were breaking when custom models were assigned to them.
That's just some examples of the fixes I heard from someone who has been really concerned about these issues and I'm glad that Classic Games Team finally listened to him. It took them a long time, but I guess it's better late than never. They have a long way to go since there're still some major issues within the game. For example, some building and doodads are still have problems with scaling and rotation. Desyncs are still a thing, although they're reportedly not as regular as they were before. There're still a lot of issues within this game, but it's kind of nice to know that Blizzard are making small steps in the right direction. They're doing that extremely slow, but still. Moving on...
Reign of Misery.
One of the worst things that could happen within Warcraft 3 community is people getting used to Reforged. In fact, I started to notice how some players started to do that and it's truly frightening. They're giving up on the game and move on, get desperate to the point where they ask Blizzard to "at least do that one thing", forcing themselves to get to Reforged and work with what they have, etc.
I've kept a somewhat close eye on community in some places and it feels like a lifeless wasteland full of sadness and sorrow where a few shattered groups just waiting for their demise. This community had Warcraft 3 for around 18 years now. It has been a part of it legacy just as much as any other aspects of this game. It's really sad to see what kind of a effect Reforged caused to it specifically. I would like to tell about a couple of those "shattered groups" to get some perspective on how things have been around. Of course, I won't be specific as to who, where or what I'm talking about as I don't want to turn this into stupid drama. I just want to share my experience as an observer:
\"Last Spell, Last Arrow, Last Orc\" by Samwise Didier.
- Exhibit A: This space has a very active group of users that are focused on one of the few aspects of Warcraft 3 that's been not that bad. They tend to be more chill and acceptable when it comes to Reforged as everything that matters for them seem to be fine in their eyes. One of them kind of tried to hype up next big Patch (1.33) among others by loosely referring to his friend, Blizzard's developer, that's well known within that group. Maybe he just wanted to mess with people or please his ego, I'm not sure.
- Exhibit B: This space has fallen into hiatus. One of the most noticeble types of activity there are cycles of various types of trolling and other nonsense, which I assume is their way to reflect on current state of Warcraft 3. Somewhere there appears to be various discussions about Reforged, where... Let's just say, that people are tend to "agree to disagree" there. However, I would say that mostly common group of people aren't happy with Warcraft 3 of today and some of its aspects.
You know what's funny? I don't know which of them I should take more seriously. These "spaces" share something in common and that's not being as active as they could've been. In both cases, there're groups of people that were there before, during and after Reforged's release. As other people, newcomers and even some long-time players, have moved on, these veterans have stayed here.
You know, that indicates one of the major reasons why direction to which Classic Games Team tried to move Warcraft 3 with Reforged was so wrong. They tried to appeal to newcomers and took that to extreme. Most of these players were coming from World of Warcraft and majority of them were interested in just two things: campaigns and mount from Spoils of War. After getting what they've wanted (being it Blizzcon 2018 version or current Reforged after fixes), what would these players do? That's right, most of them would've moved on. There was no need for Blizzard to impress this kind of audience with all this... fancy stuff to capture their attention at Warcraft 3. "Starcraft Remastered-like" scale of project would've been enough and nobody, except for possible minority, would've complained about art style, design, campaigns, cutscenes, etc. A true love letter to Warcraft 3 community.
As I was saying before, Classic Games Team could've avoided all that. Just follow the path they walked before. None of this "reimagining" business, dedication to Warcraft 3 community and staying true to this game and its expansion would've generated a lot of money and love for them. But, for whatever reason, they didn't do that. Blizzard decided to take a harder way and abandon Warcraft 3's legacy in favor of some weird mess of a remaster. Years of memories and nostalgia were ignored just so there could be created a demand for something different that shocked new crowd. Audience that didn't needed to be impressed by this realistic look and cinematic cutscenes because they would've easily enjoyed a proper remaster of Warcraft 3. Enjoyed and moved back to World of Warcraft or something.
Instead, bar that didn't needed to exist has been set. To reach it, developers ruthlessly rushed to it by neglecting and destroying everything on its way. I suppose, they truly believed that transforming the game and reinventing the wheel were worth doing. Well, they miscalculated and we all know how it went from here. Broken promises that never should've been given. Broken game with missing pieces and soul. Broken legacy that's been shattered as the community surrounding it.
New legacy has taken the main spot, the one I mentioned above. Stigma on the gaming industry, not just here. It's not something that you would be able to wash away, not for awhile. We have recent example of that. Is there a hope for restoring Warcraft 3's legacy? Of course there is. Question should be whenever Classic Games Team has powers and/or will to do the right thing? I'm not so certain, not even with the discovered icons I showed in previous post. To truly reassemble Warcraft 3, they have to abandon the fundamentals at which Reforged was originally built on. Either forgotten or put somewhere far away. Blizzard still seem to somewhat hold on to that principle. Even some community members, as I've mentioned before, believe that Reforged is something that should be established and accepted. But to come back to our roots, we should move on from it.
Some believe that offering "true HD models" as a bonus, similar to Cartooned, would be a good compromise between the two. I disagree. If you just push them in, nothing would change. Reforged with all its mishaps is still gonna be all what people would be think about. These models, as well as menus and all the other aspects of Warcraft 3 that has been lost to this calamity, have to claim their rightful place in order to begin the rebirth of Warcraft 3 and its legacy. Although it's not the right time to talk about it, especially due to troubled time, and this subject deserves a long post of its own. When it's gonna be a right time to take a stand for it? Perhaps after Blizzard brings back all major features into Warcraft 3 and deals with most of its current bugs. Screenshot from \"Eternity's End\" cinematic.
Theme of "Legacy" has been something that followed each of the previous posts in this so-called trilogy: from Samwise Didier to art style and other aspects of Reforged. It seemed natural to give it a proper attention, as preservation is what really matters for Warcraft 3 now. For this whole franchise, as I watch as Blizzard continues to torn Warcraft apart by negligence towards its legacy.
And that's what I'm going to do, not that you care. I'll keep observing Warcraft 3 to see where it'll go. At least we succeeded with credits, huh? It's been such a blast to work on these posts, despite these themes being rather sad. I'm thankful to everyone who deemed them to be worth reading. Especially to those who, in one way or the other, helped me with creating these posts. As of right now, this is where it ends. Maybe I'll come back with something back eventually, but this is the end.
Thank you so much for reading this post all the way here!
Links to the referred material: