1.12 Is Official

On my birthday of all days, Blizzard decided to finally give us our first official update on WoW Classic. I would have called it a great birthday gift, except that I was away when the post went up and didn't actually see it until a few days later.

To summarise, three salient points were made in the update linked above:

1) They've been playing on an internal prototype, but the old code caused cashes and things like compatibility issues. (I really liked this quote though: "The team could create characters and do basic questing and leveling—and dying, which we did many times. For testing purposes. Obviously." Bet you didn't remember how tough that vineyard was either, huh?)

2) They decided to settle on patch 1.12 as a baseline to work on.

3) They decided to "modernise" the old code to make sure it works more smoothly, something that's probably more interesting to programmers than to laypeople who just want to play the game, but they did lay it out in pretty simple terms. Once again, you can read the full thing here.

It shouldn't be that much of a surprise that they settled on 1.12 as a baseline, as that's what most Vanilla private servers do - and for good reason. Also, it's going to be the version of Vanilla that most people will be nostalgic for - we mustn't forget that WoW continually grew during its early years, so comparatively few people even saw the original 1.1 simply because that's when the population was at its lowest.

I've seen some take this as confirmation that the experience will be completely static, but I don't think that's a given. It just means that Blizzard won't bother with re-creating all the different balancing patches, and thank god for that - would anyone really want the way Power Word: Shield functions to change three times a month, or to start playing with the knowledge that their class/spec will suck for a year until patch 1.x comes around? However, like various private servers, they could still release certain pieces of content, primarily the raids, in a staggered manner. I'm not saying they will, but neither is the 1.12 baseline confirmation that they won't.

As for what this will mean in terms of gameplay changes, nothing was really confirmed but people have been interpreting what little was said in whichever way suits them best. In particular this line: "this would inherently include classic systems like skill ranks, old quests and terrain, talents, and so on, while later features like Transmog and Achievements would effectively not exist because they were entirely absent from the data". On the one hand we have people going: "Woo, #nochanges confirmed, they said newer features like achievements won't exist!" On the other hand there are those who see Blizzard recoding things in a way that would allow for these things as an open invitation to make changes after all. Some purists are also howling about the mention of Battle.net integration, which - again - I thought was pretty much a given.

We did however have another piece of unofficial news since then that hints at Blizzard definitely going for that truly old-school feel: a WoW Classic job posting that talks about "restor[ing] old models and animations" (here is a video talking about it, in case the actual job listing has expired by the time you read this). I'll continue to watch this development with interest.