The collective, vocalised nostalgia for World of Warcraft from "back in the day" was enough to get Blizzard working on a ancient, timeless version of the MMO, smartly named WoW Classic. In a new developer post, the company has revealed the new-old game will be based on patch 1.12, however, the client and server software will use up-to-date code.
Given the task of recreating WoW as it was 12 years ago, Blizzard had two options: grab everything from 1.12 and bring it up to scratch, applying fixes, security updates and the like, or work backwards from the game in its current state, and feed it data from 1.12.
As the post explains, Blizzard tried the former approach first and while it did get something running, it was going to take "a lot of work" to make it "live up to the Blizzard standard of quality":
Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn't recognise our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system.
That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities. Clearly we had a lot of work to do to make WoW Classic live up to the Blizzard standard of quality, and deliver the experience players want.
So, it went ahead with option two. The problems dealing with an old codebase were addressed, but it meant Blizzard had to find a way for the 2018 software to properly process 2006 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.
While our initial effort helped us determine the experience we wanted to provide, this second prototype really defined how we’d get there. Starting from a modern architecture — with all its security and stability changes—means the team’s efforts can be focused on pursuing an authentic classic experience.
Any differences in behavior between our development builds and the patch 1.12 reference can be systematically cataloged and corrected, while still operating from a foundation that’s stable and secure.
And that's all we know for the moment. Blizzard has promised more of these "dev watercooler posts" and even though I abandoned WoW almost ten years ago, I'm keen for more.
Dev Watercooler: World of Warcraft Classic [World of Warcraft]