Another hurdle we had to overcome was how to store and merge our data. World of Warcraft has multiple updates or patches in development at any one time, each in a different stage of development. If an art asset or terrain file is added to one patch, the system is designed so that it also automatically shows up in later patches. This meant that If we had simply inserted a new patch for WoW Classic into the current development environment, we would have overwritten things like the current broken dam in Loch Modan with the previous intact version—and as you can imagine, this would have caused issues for Battle for Azeroth.
In terms of what the World of Warcraft Classic Best Classes are, Warrior and Priest stand out almost instantly. This is partly due to the fact that Protection Warrior is the only viable Tank Class in WoW Vanilla Patch 1.12. Both the Proc Warrior and Priest are required for Raids and when combined in a PVP setting can be a fierce combo on the battlegrounds.
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A demo of the game was available at BlizzCon 2018, and was downloadable on home computers for anyone who purchased a BlizzCon ticket or virtual ticket. The servers became available when Opening Ceremony started at BlizzCon 2018 and was set to end on November 8, but was extended until November 12. Players started at level 15, and the only available zones were Westfall and the Barrens. It was based on patch 1.13.0, essentially patch 1.12.0 ported to a modern infrastructure. The first day of the demo, there was a playtime limit of a cumulative 60 minutes with a cooldown of 90 minutes, applied through the BlizzCon Exhaustion debuff. The debuff was removed on the second day of BlizzCon 2018.
What add-ons can do has changed over the years and have become much more sophisticated as authors have gained years of experience and savvy. We’re not 100% on a concrete solution to what this means for WoW Classic yet, but one thing we know is that we’re not going to roll all the way back to the 1.12 add-on API. Doing so would open the way for nearly complete automation of combat decision making allowing for “bot” behavior that is counter to the core WoW gameplay experience. This is one thing we know we don’t want. On the other end of the spectrum, the modern API offers some additional functionality for creating social features that could also undermine the authentic classic experience. We’re still figuring out the details and looking for a good middle ground. We’ll be keeping a close eye on feedback from the community and add-on authors on where we should be setting those boundaries.
To get past these hurdles, the team looked at what we liked (art and data) of what we had and what we didn’t like (the code). We wanted to see if we could utilize classic art assets and data within our modern code and get things to play nicely together. Things didn’t quite work right out of the gate, but with some trial and error, we were able to pull together a proof of concept of how to get things to work together and have something playable. This built our confidence that we could deliver a Blizzard-quality experience with the modern platform.