Most people likely had no idea the Blizzard Classic Games Team existed until the announcement of StarCraft: Remastered, and they are hard at work for a lot of Blizzard's classic games, like Warcraft III. While not announced by Blizzard themselves yet, Warcraft III will be receiving patch 1.29 in the near future, which features some balancing changes.
The news comes through NetEase, a Chinese distributor and tournament organizer. A big part of the patch is revamping all maps including changes like changing the neutral enemy camps, making sure the starting point for each player is on equal terms with things like available wood nearby and other resources, and the general physical makeup of the terrain for purposes of visual clarity and balancing the map so players are on equal footing. Patch 1.29 will also feature three new maps for the game as well. The post from NetEase mentions balance changes to the races as well, which we'll likely hear about when Blizzard puts the official patch notes out there.
Warcraft III has seen a steady stream of patches for years now, but patches that deal with balancing in the game don't come all that often. In fact, Patch 1.29 will be the first one to deal with balancing the game since Patch 1.25, which was released in 2011.
Brazilian gaming website The Enemy recently had an interview with the Blizzard Classic Games Team, talking directly about changes to Warcraft III (the interviewer posted an English version of the interview on reddit). The Classic Games Team state their original goal was to update Warcraft III to work on modern operating systems and hardware and they are just now looking at some balancing changes because they're happy with the state of the game at the moment.
Balancing Warcraft III is something they plan on doing too but in gradual increments. Instead of making a lot of gameplay changes, the Classic Games Team stated they think they can freshen up the game by introducing some new maps that will incentivize certain styles of play, meaning they don't have to tweak many of the core elements of the game, they just have to provide the maps for players to play on. Once they get the new map pools figured out, the team will look at some of those changes to the races themselves with "a focus on maximum optionality between races."
The team says they have learned a lot from working on StarCraft: Remastered, one of the most important things being to pay attention to the core communities still playing some of Blizzard's classic games. So they are paying attention to things like forums and what the fans say and then talk about what they think is the most important feedback with the most potential impact on the game to see if and how they want to act on it.
Talking some more on their approach to patches coming Warcraft III's way, the Classic Games Team had this to say when asked about "crazy ideas":
There are two types of crazy ideas. The first kind: larger control groups, different AI or pathing, and the like would fundamentally break gameplay – and tend to get shouted down by our hardcore players. The second: like convert World Editor from JASS to LUA or add a fifth race are amazing, but would lead to a new game. We have some big ideas that people will be excited about – and we’re excited too – but first we need to get the basics right, and earn the community’s trust to make larger decisions in the future.
Of course, they did not go into details on what changes they are actually working on at the moment, but we should hear about those in the near future. For those worried that the Classic Games Team is out there to fundamentally change the way Warcraft III, or any classic Blizzard game, plays, the response here should likely lessen your fears.
It seems the Blizzard Classic Games Team is getting to be a pretty big department and playing a big role in Blizzard's plans as of late. Many of Blizzard's games are still incredibly popular for their age, so it's no surprise the company would see the value in keeping people playing those games by giving them extra support. And for those of you out there hoping for a Warcraft III: Remastered, the fact that Warcraft III is receiving a good amount of attention right now might be a good sign. Of course, there is no official word on that yet.
What do you think of Warcraft III Patch 1.29? What sorts of changes would you like the Blizzard Classic Games Team to make? To avoid? What do you think of the idea of these Warcraft 3 update plans? Let us know in the comments below!