Blizzard's back catalogue has had a fantastic year—August saw the release of StarCraft: Remastered, the revamped version of the classic RTS, and in the same month Warcraft 3 finally got its own PTR, 15 years after it first came out. We're all eager to hear what the company's Classic Games team, which works on updating old titles, is doing next.
In an interview with PC Gamer at Blizzcon 2017, the team's lead designer Matt Morris was asked whether he wanted to release some of Blizzard's older games on the company's Battle.net store, such as 1992 platformer Blackthorne.
In response, he said the team often talks about how to "reintroduce [older games] to the current market", specifically mentioning Blackthorne, puzzle-platformer The Lost Vikings, and 1993's Rock n' Roll Racing.
"I talk about Blackthorne quite a bit. Part of what Classic Games is doing is taking some of these games that are a little dinged up and bringing them back up, but there's even games past those [like] Lost Vikings and Rock n' Roll Racing," he said.
"There are some great titles that would be great to somehow reintroduce to the current market. I don’t know if we have any answers for that, but we talk about it quite a bit." Intriguing, although it doesn't sound like anything is imminent.
Morris also discussed some of the challenges of remastering StarCraft, including the fact that the team couldn't even find the original assets for the game at the start of the process. “We actually had to reverse engineer the disk to get the assets off, they weren’t sitting in a digital vault somewhere," he said.
Working with old code was also tricky at times, especially because most of the original developers were working elsewhere in the company. "Ultimately the code base is really old. Most of the guys who worked on the game are doing other things in the company so it’s about looking under the hood and asking 'why did we do it that way?', and resisting making changes. The goal is not to change the game, but to enhance it and bring it up to modern platforms."
Rumours are always swirling about remasters of Diablo 2 and Warcraft 3, but it sounds like the Classic Games team are keeping busy simply making sure those games still work properly. "There’s always the ongoing maintenance. If you try to go on Diablo 2 right now you’re just going to be swamped by bots. So we’re still looking at that kind of stuff," he said.
Which one of Blizzard's old games would you like to see updated?