The Remaster Disaster - Behind the Scenes of WarCraft III Reforged

frostwhisper

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An article was recently posted on Bloomberg detailing Activision Blizzard's failed WarCraft III remaster.

Reforged was announced in 2018, promising modernized graphics, a reinvigorated campaign experience, and “over four hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs.” Such promises entailed a challenging budget - ultimately cut down by Activision due to WarCraft III's relatively unimportant (monetization-wise) status compared to the company's heavy-hitting franchises.

Blizzard's official stance on the scrapped cinematics/voiceovers was that “we did not want the in-game cutscenes to steer too far from the original game.” Recent documentation and interviews with people close to the project revealed that this was in fact due to substantial budget cuts and internal arguments over the game's direction, as well as a lack of clarity on whether the game is a remaster or a remake.

Already on Blizzard's sideline during Reforged's development, the Classic Games Team was hampered by a limited budget, constant miscommunication, unrealistic expectations, unprofessional management by team head Rob Bridenbecker, and low morale. Remastering a single campaign mission reportedly took months. The art style was argued over up until release, evident in the game's disjointed mix of cartoony environments and highly detailed units. Reportedly members of the team took on multiple jobs and went through hefty amounts of overtime to get the game to its release state. Revised scripts and re-recorded dialogue were discarded. More and more features, both promised for the remaster and present in the original game were dropped. Developers cited that Bridenbecker and other executives were "totally out of touch," and that several warnings voiced by their department were "ignored".

According to internal sources Blizzard willingly pushed for a premature release due to large pre-order numbers. "We took pre-orders when we knew the game wasn't ready yet," the developers shared, along with citing that Blizzard failed to “resist the urge to ship an unfinished product because of financial pressure.” Despite its state, the game was not delayed out of fears of potential refund requests.

Weeks after the disastrous launch of Reforged, developers promised to return many of the game's now missing features through “a new team dedicated to updating WarCraft III: Reforged with improvements." Eight months later, The Classic Games Team was disbanded. Eighteen months on and few if any of the promised updates have been brought to light.

The modding community has been busy during this time, however, with W3Champions bringing a competitive ladder back to the game, and more recently the Quenching Mod unlocking custom campaigns on the Reforged client. It seems that despite Activision Blizzard's failed remaster, WarCraft III's journey is far from over.

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Yup, exactly what I thought the reasons would be.

It's up to us all to continue the Warcraft legacy.

Big thanks to @Zorrot for bringing custom campaigns, this was (at least for me) the biggest missing thing in Reforged considering it was the only thing preventing us from creating content like we were before.

Fighting everyone, there are still plenty of great things to be done if we wish to continue playing the game (and the various content the creators make).
 
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Cant say i'm surprised it was reeking of just such a mess, but didnt expect Blizzard to be so horrible as a workplace lately(as in last couple years)... On top of the game being ruined we now learn that people had even more horrible time working on it and it was extended to rest of the company because newer menagement and Allen Brack are so incompetent and horrible at being leaders, never willing to take responsibility or actual action...
 
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I think the point "lack of clarity on whether the game is a remaster or a remake" is the one that rings most true for me. They made enough changes that it should have been a totally separate stand-alone product, but they also wanted to just freshen up the existing client and so bring forward the existing player base... So much of this would have gone better if they'd had the confidence to make a clean cut and release it as a separate product (they'd have been able to stop worrying about backwards compatibility, we'd have been able to stick to the old version if we wanted).

Ah well, hindsight is 2020 innit.
 
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As this comes to light, the next would be how they can move on forward or rather they choose to stay on spot and do nothing. I hope for the first but I know chances are low...:sad:
 
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Reforged increased a lot of features for even an old engine, including.. 4k resolutions, real wide-screen support, better shaders, better lighting effects, better pings, support for chinese and korean server connect... In top of that you have no feature to swap out different layout to increase replayability for old campaing.. We have new portaits to collect, and finally get rid of that ear cracking sound flow look sound and stypidly boring bnet ui that we old gamers had look into for decades and was untolerable.. So whats your compaining.. you saying that everything failed but only some things failed but most succeed.
 
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I never thought we'd get this. I thought Acti-Blizzard would sooner photoshop Xi Jinping's face on a pig with the message "HEY CHINA! NEVER SEND US MONEY AGAIN!" before they let a single whisper of transparency about this disaster slip past the NDAs.

I'm really thankful for this. More transparency and clarity about these kinds of things is always good.
 
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Blizzard is a disgusting company, they are thieves and shameless ones who not only cheat and laugh at their customers, but also commit atrocities against their employees, especially the women of the company. Let's not forget the suicide of one of the company's workers after her colleagues distributed photos of her naked. Currently the state of California, after a two-year investigation, has filed a lawsuit against the company, and I hope with all my heart that this company disappears, because they deserve nothing more. And this is said by someone who played, loved and bought all Blizzard products until 2010.
 
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Level 4
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According to internal sources Blizzard willingly pushed for a premature release due to large pre-order numbers.

This is why we must stop pre-ordering.

I'm really upset when people said they didn't want the retcon and the cinematic because they want the same feeling. Some people like me want to experience something new and wow-ish. Fortunately for them, blizzard took advantage of these differences to release an unfinished product.

That being said, I'm so glad there are people that make Quenching Mod and so many versions of the Re-Reforged campaign, it's fresh, have new mechanics, even an achievement system that Blizzard lacks.
 
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Ahh yeah, "the community is to blame for the missing content" statement didn't aged well :/
Remember, not only did they try to blame the community, they tried to gaslight everyone by pretending they publicly announced it by citing an off-hand remark in the fourth line of the eighteenth paragraph of an obscure developer podcast that vaguely hinted at the idea in passing.

Blizzard's management is just as good at direction lies as it is games.
 
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At this point, the only way they can redeem themselves is by restoring the old client, including custom campaigns and the old Battle.Net, and also remove the mandatory download of Reforged models for those who don't plan to use them anyway.
Before, even at my pettiest, I never entertained that as a serious option. Even though I hate this remaster I always thought they should move forward, not backwards, and maybe release a "legacy" version.

Now, knowing the truth behind the development and how people were treated, I'd say this is the only option I'd seriously entertain. Reforged should be completely rolled back and rereleased as a legacy version itself, if not totally overhauled.
 
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Reforged increased a lot of features for even an old engine, including.. 4k resolutions, real wide-screen support, better shaders, better lighting effects, better pings, support for chinese and korean server connect... In top of that you have no feature to swap out different layout to increase replayability for old campaing.. We have new portaits to collect, and finally get rid of that ear cracking sound flow look sound and stypidly boring bnet ui that we old gamers had look into for decades and was untolerable.. So whats your compaining.. you saying that everything failed but only some things failed but most succeed.
I respectfully disagree with everything you just said....
We had real widescreen sans menues before RF(yes i am aware these changes we received were all lead up to RF's release, but it doesnt change the fact that we could've gotten all this on the classic client), "Better shaders" as other parts of hte art i write off on basis that Brian Sousa as fool he was - put completely no effort to understand or care for original's game's artstyle nor he had any respect for it, which only lead to massive waste of effort on part of LemonSky stuff working hard at something inherently wrong and flawed under his "direction", which also caused a rift within Wc3 community that is here to stay forever as due to both personal prefferences and 1-way exclusivity it makes it into split game instead of united and uniform experience for all, that it should've been.

New collectibles are in Starcraft Remastered aswell, its all something we could've gotten independetly of forcing the game to become one unified client.
As for your personal views on the UI, its how most people who played the same game, no matter what that game is feel like, its just fact of being jaded and "bored" by the game from you being overly familiar with it, for other people it isnt the case at all, and i speak from personal experience having felt that for Team Fortress 2 and couple other games i played so much in my life, Wc3 is a bit of an exception as i did take breaks from it on regular basis for half a year or more or focused on nongameplay side like working on the map.

Dont project your unhealthy relationship to game's art or ui as some holy truth for everyone, plus its is a bit of complaint of your end towards it aswell. I do not mean that Wc3 was perfect, but there is difference between improving something and throwing it away in favour of easier or faster option in heat of rushed and completely illconveived development so severly mismenaged that people could agree on anything internally, and had horrible time working on it.

It also should never aspire to be a "triple-A" release in the first place, because a humble approach like with SC:R would reduce the cost and amount of work severly and make it easier both on the team and over all development, to a point where budget cut wouldnt ruin the project entirely while end result would be something we all could enjoy in unison to some extend, instead of being disgruntled and splinterred in it's wake.

At this point, the only way they can redeem themselves is by restoring the old client, including custom campaigns and the old Battle.Net, and also remove the mandatory download of Reforged models for those who don't plan to use them anyway.
It is one of more reasonable option with RF being relegated to side/separate client, atleast in a way WoW Classic and Retail are, would please everyone without removing RF for people who use and play content on it, while classic side of players doesnt suffer from it's flaws. 1.31.1 was perfectly sufficient for release on the launcher with its internal structure supporting multiple languages at once, just minor amout of work to reach similar integration SC1/SC:R has is required.

Combine it with proper price for classic/"Reforged-less version" say 10 or 15$ just like SC:R and we may look into proper future for wc3 one where people are willing to give it a shot more and can afford it if they are less fortunate financially as it historicly been common for lower spec players, which doesnt inherently mean anything bad, other than Blizzard cutting that part of the community off hindering us in general.
 
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This is not the end, there's alot of fanmade projects such as Warsmash and W3Champions and probably more in the future that will do a better job than the "once a year footsteps updates"

The new team in charge of the game are taking their time but maybe it's because they're trying to work on things that the first team didnt have time for thanks to Activison and Rob the bride
 
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Reforged increased a lot of features for even an old engine, including.. 4k resolutions, real wide-screen support, better shaders, better lighting effects, better pings, support for chinese and korean server connect... In top of that you have no feature to swap out different layout to increase replayability for old campaing.. We have new portaits to collect, and finally get rid of that ear cracking sound flow look sound and stypidly boring bnet ui that we old gamers had look into for decades and was untolerable.. So whats your compaining.. you saying that everything failed but only some things failed but most succeed.
Did you even read the article? The people who worked on Reforged openly said it was a failure and not the game they wanted to make. None of the stuff you listed even matters. 4K HD widescreen, lighting and shaders don't mean anything for a game that's 20 years old. The fact this was all piled on top of an ancient engine that could barely handle it is a bad thing, not a good thing.
 
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Cant say i'm surprised it was reeking of just such a mess, but didnt expect Blizzard to be so horrible as a workplace lately(as in last couple years)... On top of the game being ruined we now learn that people had even more horrible time working on it and it was extended to rest of the company because newer menagement and Allen Brack are so incompetent and horrible at being leaders, never willing to take responsibility or actual action...
Seems like them joining up with Activision was essentially the final nail in the coffin, Blizzard is a shadow of its former self.
 
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I suppose it is time to give the support of the Community again, since we know that we are here because although many deny it, we are interested in War 3, if not long ago we would have put this aside, also the game will be suspended due to scandals current and will not give any restoration apparently, or any importance about it in the future. I remember that memory could be activated in 1.31, so there is a way to handle this in the recent version. But people in the community should agree to use that exploit. And what I comment an assumption, but it is not something so crazy.
 
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At this point, the only way they can redeem themselves is by restoring the old client, including custom campaigns and the old Battle.Net, and also remove the mandatory download of Reforged models for those who don't plan to use them anyway.
No joke, if they released a 1.31.2 (i.e. the last non-Reforged version + bug fixes) and opened some servers for it, I'd be really, really happy.
 
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HiveNet when?

For real, though, there's no more reason to keep up appearances with Blizzard anymore, so why not bite the bullet and do the B.Net we always wanted, ourselves?

Would be rad. I'm sure there are people around who are up to the task.

That might be interesting but we need a dedicated server, well other than hive itself, or maybe build around hive
 
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I think the point "lack of clarity on whether the game is a remaster or a remake" is the one that rings most true for me. They made enough changes that it should have been a totally separate stand-alone product, but they also wanted to just freshen up the existing client and so bring forward the existing player base... So much of this would have gone better if they'd had the confidence to make a clean cut and release it as a separate product (they'd have been able to stop worrying about backwards compatibility, we'd have been able to stick to the old version if we wanted).

Ah well, hindsight is 2020 innit.

Yes. I think it would be great if they followed the Age of Empires II Definitive Edition way of doing remakes.
 
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This is why we must stop pre-ordering.

Preach the holy word of not pre-ordering and abstinence BROTHER!!

Because the last time i said that just after the release, i got people defending "supporting my company with pre-sales"

I'm working happy with the campaign editor in 1.26, my biggest regret is that Malfurion Campaign and Dwarf/Gnoll campaign are in this weird limbo of "waiting for 1.32 to get better" Along with Tomo's suffering for how Sylvanas storyline has been going for the last 4 years ,_,
 
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Retera

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I upscaled the game textures with an AI, then rewrote a toy copy game engine and played with my upscaled assets in 4k. That was fun.
Yeah.... Yeah.

I know bad remakes happen but man an I sad it happened to Warcraft 3 of all games.
It's not an accident nor something random. It happened to Warcraft III because of Warcraft III. This is the nature of our game.
It was inevitable.
Because of that, Reforged is beautiful.

Edit: This video's title is a misnomer. It describes how to play "Warcraft III," the concept of being a fan of this game, not how to play the strategy game.
I consider this video to be a work of art. This accurately describes my response to Reforged.
 

Kyrbi0

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It's not an accident nor something random. It happened to Warcraft III because of Warcraft III. This is the nature of our game.
It was inevitable.
Because of that, Reforged is beautiful.
I actually agree with your premise, if not your conclusion. I really do think the way that Warcraft was & how it has grown & the kind of game it is really contributed to how Reforged failed so spectacularly.
 

Ralle

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HiveNet when?

For real, though, there's no more reason to keep up appearances with Blizzard anymore, so why not bite the bullet and do the B.Net we always wanted, ourselves?

Would be rad. I'm sure there are people around who are up to the task.
Go for it. I support you.
 
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Sad. I don't expect anything from Blizzard anymore after all the stuff that happened. They would only patch the game if they could still make any money from it with ingame content or something. I am not sure what happened to other shitty remakes as comparison. Did the community take over? I remember from Gothic III that the community had to create patches and I think they even got access to the source code since it was so bugged and the publisher did not want to pay the developers anymore.

I would love to see some people from the community creating an addon like they did for Age of Empires II and which became part of the HD edition with new races and campaigns. There should be some project like that and they should give the developers some access to the source code, so they could fix the game and add some content. I would have prefered some new addon like Frozen Throne instead of a remake with HD graphics which could have continued the story in a different direction than World of Warcraft did. Frozen Throne added so much. Just remaking the game was lame since the original game was great but needed only some minor fixes and more natives. The HD graphics are okay but do not really improve the game for me.

These things are important to me:
  • Missing custom campaign support: See the mod.
  • Missing hostbots: Let's wait for a tool or does wc3champions support this?
  • Better debugging support for maps (like breakpoints etc. in JASS or more detailed crash reports): Warsmash maybe?
  • Fix the main menu performance and all the minor bugs like logging out automatically, the score screen blocking the game and everything what is listed in the Hive threads.
  • Lower the game price to get more players: won't happen
  • Provide an alternative download in the Blizzard app without HD mode which has a much smaller filesiz: probably won't happen
  • Make the code base Open Source and allow patches from the community: won't happen, I am not sure how well it worked for example with Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (never tried the community maintained version)
The high price of 30 Euros will prevent my friends who are not regular Warcraft III players from buying this game. If it would be like 10 Euros or something then all my friends would just buy it to play some maps with me but for 30 Euros you expect something better than THIS or you are a map maker yourself and love the game. I am not saying that they don't have the money but they see it as an insult to pay that much for a game which is mostly okay for them. Non-Warcraft III players won't try to install the classic version with some workarounds. They just use what is in the Blizzard app :(

Blizzard is a disgusting company, they are thieves and shameless ones who not only cheat and laugh at their customers, but also commit atrocities against their employees, especially the women of the company. Let's not forget the suicide of one of the company's workers after her colleagues distributed photos of her naked. Currently the state of California, after a two-year investigation, has filed a lawsuit against the company, and I hope with all my heart that this company disappears, because they deserve nothing more. And this is said by someone who played, loved and bought all Blizzard products until 2010.
I had never heard of this. Just read some article and this one. Now I want to join the company just to mock some of the male idiots who do this pathetic stuff.
 
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