If you didn’t already know, I’m one of those types of people that just love to know how things work. When Blizzard announced World of Warcraft Classic during Blizzcon 2017 it got me thinking how they could go about bringing back a 13 year old game. So let me try and break down one method they could use to achieve this.
The method is actually resurrecting the code and trying to get it all working on modern technology. I’m not entirely sold on the idea that this is as hard as they are saying. I think it’ll run just fine, however the problems that arise stem from the advanced in technology. We’ve improved net code, database processing and other systems since World of Warcraft was launched.
If you were to take databases for example, there is no guarantee an archaic database structure from 2004 would run on the newest version of SQL, Oracle, etc. The net code might have worked wonderfully under their chosen operating system then, but now that’s changed for the better. The code is more efficient today, which is what led to many of the advancements in the core server engine in todays game.
The question you have to ask about making these types of changes is how will it effect other systems within the game. Will a swap to a new database version change how the auction house works? Will the reduction in lag require modification to combat mechanics? These are the types of things we don’t think about as the end user but they have to contemplate during the rebuilding process.
I recently read a great article from PC Gamer called “Why World of Warcraft: Classic is deceptively tough to make” and they are under the influence that Blizzard will actually use the old server code. They spoke with Viper from Nostalrius who indicated that Blizzard actually does have all the old server code. If they do take this route it would be an amazing accomplishment for any developer tasked with rebuilding these subsystems.
I’m very excited to hear more about this side of the development of the game. This part of the development is never talked about and I think it’s a shame because it would be great to hear from the programmers themselves. Over the years Blizzard has employed amazing developers and I think it’s another opportunity to recognize and appreciate every single one of them.