WoW Wednesday: The Unmitigated Warcraft 3 Disaster

Last week we talked extensively about Warcraft 3: Reforged, the “complete re-imagining of a real-time strategy classic,” as quoted by the game’s splash-page. At length we discussed the very critical problem throughout Warcraft 3: Reforged’s development cycle, as well as other impactful events throughout Activision-Blizzard that could have potentially negatively impacted the final product. At the time of publishing Reforged had been out for less than a day, and as such all of its issues were not yet brought to light. While writing we here at MMOGames.com were only aware of many of its critical game-breaking bugs and a few missing features.

Last week was much more positive in hindsight, wasn’t it?

In the span of a week Blizzard Entertainment and Activision-Blizzard have come under fire what is, in no small terms, an unmitigated launch disaster for Warcraft 3: Reforged. On top of the release day bugs that saw players fundamentally unable to play the game, the entire game was rife with quality of life issues. One friend of mine, humorously, had a glitch during the Night Elf campaign where voice lines from any Hero Class character could be prompted immediately without cancelling the prior. As the units speak each time they engage movement he managed to accidentally have Malfurion become locked into the first syllable of every single voice line for the entirety of the mission.

Pushing aside the nature of humorous bugs, we now have many more serious things to discuss and address. Warcraft 3: Reforged is missing a large host of promised features, many that were originally in the original Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Thankfully WoWhead has put together the short list of missing things, which includes some fundamental aspects. Online Multiplayer content, both competitive and social, are to be included in an upcoming Reforged patch. Other systems, like player profiles and custom campaigns, remain balefully absent.

With the release of Reforged the original Warcraft 3 has been removed from the Blizzard launcher, and now uses Reforged as its base programming. As such, if you are using Reforged to play the Classic version, issues in the newer updated version pass on to the original. Such graphics issues include standard definition models having massive color, shadow and particle effects missing throughout. However most egregious is the overwriting of Reign of Chaos’ AI difficulty and stat balancing. As its expansion, The Frozen Throne, is now tied to the base product the unit balance is retained for the original campaign. Some missions in both versions of Warcraft 3 are now vastly different than before in terms of mathematics, with difficulty swinging rapidly between later campaigns.

Then we have the expected missing Reforged aspect of the game. The “complete re-imagining,” was publicly cut during Blizzcon 2019. This included the Campaign Overhaul to soft-retcon the game and bring it more in line with the “Chronicle” books, the Improved Cinematic cutscenes and the player choice to play either the original Warcraft 3 or the Reforged game. We discussed this previously as being cancelled due to fan outcry, however in further research we have been largely unable to find any public backlash against the notion with the coupling of ‘player choice.’ This has not stopped Activision-Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment from using the 2018 ‘Cinematic Cutscene’ for the Culling of Stratholme heavily in the game’s marketing and splash page, despite it not appearing anywhere in game.

As with any online game release, Blizzard updated its terms of use and rules for Reforged. In the End User Licence Agreement for the game’s modding software, the World Editor, Blizzard fundamentally changed the rules for ownership for any custom games.

“1. Ownership Custom Games are and shall remain the sole and exclusive property of Blizzard. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby assign to Blizzard all of your rights, title, and interest in and to all Custom Games, including but not limited to any copyrights in the content of any Custom Games. If for any reason you are prevented or restricted from assigning any rights in the Custom Games to Blizzard, you grant to Blizzard an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional, royalty free, irrevocable liscense enabling Blizzard to fully exploit the Custom Games (or any component thereof) for any purpose in any manner whatsoever…

3. Use of Third Party Content in Custom Games. You represent and warrant that neither the content you use to create or incorporate into any Custom Games, nor the compilation, arrangement or display of such content (collectively, the “User Content”), infringes or will infringe any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property right of any third party…”

This is fairly boiler plate and expected. To put it plainly, Blizzard owns every and any aspect of whatever custom content you make in Warcraft 3: Reforged. It stops you from making money off of their content (such as Patreon-Only or ‘Early Access’) maps, and forbids you from making ‘Lord of the Rings’ maps. This, after the creation of both DotA and the entire genre of Tower Defense during the original Warcraft 3, is expected given their original lawsuit with Valve that saw the Steam developer gaining the sole rights to DotA. This sudden turn, however, has caught the community off-guard particularly with the relaxed nature of the original EULA:

“The EULA prohibits the use of Warcraft 3 or the World Editor for any commercial purpose without Blizzard’s prior written consent. In addition, the EULA restricts any distribution of “New Materials [defined as modifications of Warcraft 3 created using the World Editor] on a stand-alone basis… through any and all distribution channels, including, but not limited to, retail sales and on-line electronic distribution without the express written consent of Blizzard.”

For obvious reasons, this has set the entire community in full-tilt upheaval. Metacritic currently has Warcraft 3: Reforged sitting at a user score of 0.5, which indicates a potential review bombing of discontent by the player base. Reviews have been, socially speaking, at an all time high for Blizzard Entertainment with Reforged. Players have cited dozens of reasons from the game’s seemingly endless bugs, to fraudulent marketing with its Culling of Stratholme trailer which could be a legitimate complaint in countries such as Canada and Australia. Warcraft 3: Reforged refunds have since become automated through the Blizzard Help page.

Very clearly, this has not been a positive week. Blizzard Entertainment decided to make it worse.

Warcraft III: Reforged
In what could only be described as the most tone-deaf post in history (potentially thanks to their mass PR layoffs last year), Blizzard Entertainment posted their thoughts on the first week of Reforged on the game’s forums. Posted by Kaivax, one of the team’s community managers, the letter is signed by the entire team. While the post started well, addressing issues with well-known bugs and the promise of fixes, the letter began to derail nearly halfway through. While concerns were addressed such as the ‘missing’ cutscenes and the missing tournament mode, nearly nothing was addressed about the game’s currently revolving controversies.

The EULA was not discussed. The launch day disasters were brushed over. Missing features were promised in a future ‘major Reforged patch.’ Tournaments, despite the fact they were largely buggy and broken in later versions of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos were not fixed and instead removed. Concerns about game quality to portions outsourced to a third-party developer.

Simply scrolling through the open letter thread gives you the large idea of where the community sits.

Warcraft 3: Reforged is a complete, utter, absolute, disgusting total disaster. There is no beating around the digital bush in saying that. Reforged is fundamentally and completely unfinished in many regards if we are describing this as the “complete re-imagining” of what was originally initial in the base game up until seven days ago. It hardly even qualifies as a remaster, as the remastered portions of the game do not compare to the original and are filled with flaws. The state of Reforged performs the cardinal sin of remastering any game; it makes one consider if the original was really all that good to begin with. The most advisable notion, at this point in the controversy, would be to remove its branding of Reforged. Label the game as a remaster, reduce its suggested retail pricing and let it rest.

Even now, a week into this disaster of a game, players will only remember one thing. It was not Blizzard Entertainment that released a truly upscaled wonderful re-imagining of their childhood. Instead, it was Blizzard Entertainment and its parent company that released a rushed, poorly cobbled together and incomplete mess. Its sad to think that with what we’ve seen over the last week this is what Blizzard’s mission statement contains on its company website:

“Blizzard polish” doesn’t just refer to our gameplay experiences, but to every aspect of our jobs. We approach each task carefully and seriously. We seek honest feedback and use it to improve the quality of our work. At the end of the day, most players won’t remember whether the game was late – only whether it was great.”

The post WoW Wednesday: The Unmitigated Warcraft 3 Disaster appeared first on MMOGames.com.

WoW Wednesday: Reforging the Past of Warcraft

Last weekend was Blizzcon, and while there’s a number of massive updates incumbent to the World of Warcraft, there was one major announcement I wanted to particularly talk about in this week’s WoW Wednesday. This game saw the world of Azeroth surge to popular new heights and set up some of the most popular and impactful characters the franchise could ever imagine, several of which would go on to define several major expansions and change the world (in more ways than one). From the humble roots of Orcs fighting Humans to a Scourge intent on scrubbing the world clean of the living, Warcraft 3: Reforged looks to bring that immortal conclusion to a wonderful RTS trilogy back into the modern age.

“Like fools, we fought for centuries… Until the day the sky rained fire…”

Now at first glance, remastering any game seems like a fairly simple task; touch up the visuals, update the voice-acting, throw in a few more cutscenes and BAM, you have a Ratchet and Clank for 2016. As we’ve seen with some of the later announcements this year, such as Medieval and Spyro the Dragon: Reignited, remastering a game that is older than most of its current player base is a difficult task. Older game engines simply cannot handle some of the modern advancements that players have come to expect; even World of Warcraft, a game built on the original engine for Warcraft 2 and its expansion Beyond the Dark Portal, has seen more than its fair share of updates and overhauls as recently as Battle for Azeroth’s launch. There it was updated to include higher graphics resolutions, improvements on its dynamic physics (introduced in Mists of Pandaria) and greater DirectX integration. With sudden advancements in World of Warcraft’s main storyline and the fallout of character development over the years, Blizzard is also intent on gently adjusting some of the story content in Reforged as well.

Of course, the art will receive a breath of fresh air; someone, after all, does need to fix Arthas’ incredibly strange looking face from the original. The team behind Reforged wants to update their storytelling to reflect the evolution of characters from World of Warcraft. For players familiar with Warcraft 3, most will remember Sylvanas as an incredibly minor character instead of the narrative powerhouse she has become in Battle for Azeroth. Those playing Warcraft 3 today wouldn’t even be able to reconcile Stratholme with how it has been depicted in its MMO counterpart. In an interview and demo with Kotaku, QA lead Nicholas Louie expressed the team’s interest in reconciling the two.

Arthas, The Prince of Lordaeron (And his Much More Normal Looking Face)

“Even down to Crusader’s Square,” said Louie, demoing Reforged’s iconic level which has since been reworked to reflect its Azerothian counterpart, The Culling, “There are other tidbits, too, that are WoW callbacks… Characters like Sylvanas [Windrunner] and Jaina [Proudmoore]. In the events of Warcraft 3, they’re not these huge, pivotal characters. It’s important to us that we bring them into parity with their presence in WoW in terms of importance.”

The changes don’t stop there, as there is a great focus on allowing players to connect with even the oldest versions of Warcraft 3, a touch that doesn’t go unnoticed by yours truly. In doing so they’ve recovered the original creation tools for the game’s custom matches and campaigns and are updating them to directly reference older materials, allowing art assets to interface with each other between games. This not only means that players playing the original Reign of Chaos will be able to square off against Reforged owners, but the potential for custom campaigns to be reusable in Reforged is gigantic!

An Orcish Encampment, besieged by the Human Alliance Forces

The campaigns, which could be created by anyone, directly used assets from across the Warcraft 3 release library and resulted in some of the most incredible content releases I got to play as a child. To this day, the Hive Workshop is still open at HiveWorkshop.com with fantastic custom campaigns for players to dive into. These campaigns also allowed players to create genres and stories never seen before, the most famous being the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena and the original DOTA: Defense of the Ancients.

With all of that being said, there are some significant concerns throughout the fanbase; how MUCH of the story is being changed? That, frankly, is hard to answer on any level. Christie Golden, one of the newest additions to the WoW writing team and the hit author behind several Warcraft novels including Heart of the Storm, Rise of the Horde (one of my personal favorites), and several of the biopic novels including critically acclaimed Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, is heading the team responsible for story rewrites. Together, they’ll be adjusting Reforged’s narrative to bring things more in-line with the current world of Azeroth, as well as redeveloping character interactions. However, with so many iconic moments peppered throughout Reign of Chaos, such as “Mannoroth’s Destruction,” and “This Entire City… Must Be Purged,” its hard not to swing a pen and hit another massively influential scene. With such amazing fan works out there such as JoseBV’s Reign of Chaos animation series on YouTube, it’s not hard to see why such scenes have been immortalized in the minds of fans.

 

So where does Reforged step off from here? I for one am incredibly excited. Over the next few holiday months, I’ll be revisiting Warcraft 3 to relive some of the greatest storytelling I’ve still experienced in my life. I am looking forward to Reforged in much the same manner, even if the story is different to what we have come to expect. The fact that a remaster of this level is finally being reconsidered after almost 16 years is a great connotation for the future. If Reforged is as successful as I hope, we could potentially see it herald the possible future of a Warcraft 4, though where it could sit is best left for those with a better imagination than my own.

To see Warcraft 3 return isn’t just a storyline revisited or an adventure renewed, it’s a celebration of what made the original so great and a potential revival of its wonderful community. Now new stories can be forged alongside old ones, and create a generation of new ideas and fans.

 

The post WoW Wednesday: Reforging the Past of Warcraft appeared first on MMOGames.com.