As you may (or may not) know .. fairly recently there was uproar amongst a certain section of WoW fans when Blizzard caused the closure of an illegal, pirate, private server called Nostalrius.
Personally, I've never used private servers, however in respect of this particular one I understand why people were unhappy - apparently it was a well run server, well liked, well used, highly populated and catered to those who enjoyed "Vanilla" WoW - the cap was level 60, they were releasing (slowly) the various raids that came out during Vanilla, but other than that there was nothing extra - with all the "benefits" and lack thereof associated with it.
There was a call out at the time for Blizzard, if they were going to shut down servers such as this, to perhaps provide something "official" to replace them. Many people have been asking for some time for Vanilla only servers, but Blizzard have always maintained that they would not provide them due to integration problems with their current systems.
It is now possible that Blizzard may be mellowing a bit on this front. There is nothing definite, however, they have made a statement suggesting they're at least considering it:
We wanted to let you know that we’ve been closely following the Nostalrius discussion and we appreciate your constructive thoughts and suggestions.
Our silence on this subject definitely doesn’t reflect our level of engagement and passion around this topic. We hear you. Many of us across Blizzard and the WoW Dev team have been passionate players ever since classic WoW. In fact, I personally work at Blizzard because of my love for classic WoW.
We have been discussing classic servers for years - it’s a topic every BlizzCon - and especially over the past few weeks. From active internal team discussions to after-hours meetings with leadership, this subject has been highly debated. Some of our current thoughts:
Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And while we’ve looked into the possibility – there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard’s IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server.
We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW.
So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a “pristine realm”. In essence that would turn off all leveling acceleration including character transfers, heirloom gear, character boosts, Recruit-A-Friend bonuses, WoW Token, and access to cross realm zones, as well as group finder. We aren’t sure whether this version of a clean slate is something that would appeal to the community and it’s still an open topic of discussion.
One other note - we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.
You, the Blizzard community, are the most dedicated, passionate players out there. We thank you for your constructive thoughts and suggestions. We are listening.
J. Allen Brack
My opinion on the "pristine realm"
The reason i'd be interested in a server like Nostalrius would not necessarily be the exp bonuses but mostly for the changes they made to the game.
In my opinion the game seems to have become very "easy". I feel that they are removing things that i loved about the game and replacing it with things that might be easier to understand for new players, but less engaging for those who spend some more time into the game.
A few examples would be:
Talent trees: I loved the old talent trees more than what they have made them to be today. I feel like (even if it was just a little) you got more customization over your character.
New skills: In a role playing aspect i loved to have to go to the class trainer to learn new abilities. I love the idea of having to learn things rather than just gaining access to them like its my 21th birthday.
Class specific quests: Remember how druids had to go to Moonglade to learn their shapeshift forms? Remember how warlocs and hunters had a quest to learn how to summon demons and tame creatures? I miss this so much. I feel like these little things made you bond so much more with your character
Gear: Back in my day high quality gear was a big deal :P I feel like the game became a MCdonalds that just hands out gear like happy meal toys.
Besides these issues i have some minor annoyances as well. (though i'm sure most of you won't agree with me on these :P)
As i mentioned above i loved some of the role playing aspects of the game. Things like having to go to the dungeon yourself rather than click a button, having to find people to do the instances with rather than click a button.... I know you can still do this today, but due to the group finder its so much harder to find people who will actually do this with you.
Hunter ammo and mage spell reagents.... i think i might be one of the few people who actually liked this :P Again, to me this was something that made me immerse so much more into the game.
I'm curious to see what the opinion of others are on this :P
I was a bit of a fan of consumables, such as ammo. It made you plan ahead (and also led to some fun stories about hunters running out mid-raid!). Sticking with hunters, I also used to love having to hunt down pets to tame, in order to "discover" their talents, so that i could then train other pets the same talents.
Having said that ... I'm not sure how much fun I'd have going back to do it now, when I know I could log onto the normal server and not have to do that. It's fun when you discover it, and everyone else playing the game has to do it (assuming they know about it), but not so much for me when I know there is an easier way and I'm deliberately making it harder on myself.
I guess ... if it was classed as a completely seperate game, with perhaps a free to play or very low subscription price, I'd consider it, but because it's basically WoW, the main reason I'd be doing it would be for the "massive multiplayer" aspect .. if Bizzard created a huge server like this pirate one was, and there were loads of people there, I think that would make a big difference. Because the game itself is enjoyable, but what makes me continue to enjoy it is the social side of things.
Edit .. and I forgot to say .. as far as the "pristine" realm goes .. I don't think that would be really that attractive. People don't just want a pristine realm .. they want one that goes back in time and, as you said, has the original interface and options - not just a cut down, unbuffed version of the current one.
Personally, i would love to play about on a GOOD vanilla server. I miss my ammo, i miss my pet feeding and some more things. There was a lot of stuff that are annoying, don't get me wrong ;)
It would not replace the normal wow game in any way, but spending some time on a vanilla server would be fun.
Naa, i've already run all those raids, i'd rather they give new content, old content will get older fast. I also think they only way they will release "vanilla" servers would be as an added subscription, so the question is more, would you pay extra to play on a vanilla server? They've gotta make money from it somehow.
100% yes to a vanilla server, i wouldn't even bother with the current "cater to the masses" version with its free epics (don't get me started on world drop legendary items). It would be nice to have a challenge again. Pristine however are a meh solution doesn't really offer anything that you couldn't do yourself on the current game and the post Cata world is awful. Anyway some of my thoughts catch you all soon.
I have to say that I was one of the people playing on Nostalrius. After 10 playing days I had managed to get to level 33. It was great. I play with a friend as many of the routine quests were tough to solo. We had to plan what we were doing. We had to take advantage of CC even on "simple" quests. People formed random groups to get jobs done. People spoke to each other in dungeons. I could go on but basically this was the game I fell in love with 11 years ago which had me hooked within the first 10 minutes. I have virtually given up playing the current version. Luckily I am in a really good guild (thank you PE) so there still is that sense of community but I'm not sure it still exists in the game as a whole and for me that iis what Blizzard really destroyed with the repeated dumbing down that has gone on.
If a vanilla option surfaces I for one would jump in
if we'd known about it sooner we totally would have been playing there as well. It's something I've wanted to experience ever since I started playing. Plus the community sounds good, and the dev team were really hot on stuff by the sounds of it.
also talents, I miss you so much. And weapon skills, and going to the dungeons. I could go on..
don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that the game allows me to get great loot etc from a very small number of hours played, but it does seem a little unfair at times that all I have to do is run round my garrison when back in the day there was effort required.
it will be interesting to see what happens.
Just FYI - noticed this linked in my blogroll recently: http://forum.nostalrius.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=44218
(copying main Nostalrius forum post dated 8th June 2016 here, just in case it goes awol):
Last Friday, Blizzard hosted the Nostalrius core team members at their campus in Irvine - California in order to discuss about the petition, the legacy community & realms for World of Warcraft. This all happened because of your engagement through the petition (it did matter whatever some people may think) and the fact that we worked hard for years for you, the community, and not for any financial reward. We wanted to share with you our feedback regarding this meeting.
1. Core team Nostalrius
The following people from our core team had been invited to the Blizzard campus:
- Daemon - Administrator and Dev team manager
- Viper - Administrator and project manager
- Tyrael - GM team manager
- Nano - IsVV (testing) team manager
- Ithlien - Nostalrius assistant manager
2. Meeting preparation
We had worked hard during the previous month, and especially the last week when we were in Irvine, night & day during vacation without really leaving our hotel room. The goal was to provide them with quality feedback from our community and the Nostalrius experience.
We wrote a complete report of several dozen pages (Post Mortem), prepared a presentation, prepared several slides, went through the survey results, analyzed Nostalrius server data, answered journalists questions and kept you updated through social media in addition to our current respective jobs & families: it was a tough month.
3. The meeting
A few Blizzard & World of Warcraft executives were present, as well as people responsible for the WoW community:
- Mike Morhaime - CEO
- J. Allen Brack - Executive Producer for WoW
- Tom Chilton - Game Director for WoW
- Ion Hazzikostas - Assistant Game Director for WoW
- Marco Koegler - Technical Director for WoW
- Saralyn Smith - Global Director of Community Development
- Kester Robison - Manager of WoW Community Development
- Vanessa Vanasin - PR Manager for WoW
- Randy Jordan - Blizzard Community Manager
We went through the following topics:
- Project story, including WoW emulation history
- Community analysis through survey and Nostalrius data
- Internal structure presentation, and how a volunteer-based team could create something like Nostalrius
- Technical details about the server architecture we designed to handle our high population
- Presentation of the GM team organization
- Technical insight on a part of the anti cheat system we conceived
- A quality report of the state of the project, remaining bugs
- Questions and Answers portion
When Blizzard initially proposed this discussion several weeks ago, we were anxious that it would be a simple PR / damage mitigation move. It is now clear to us that this wasn’t the case.
First of all, people at key positions inside Blizzard attended the meeting. They were also all very interested, curious, attentive, and asked a lot of questions about all of the topics we mentioned: the presentation was meant to last less than 2 hours, and we finished after more than 5 hours! Finally, we were very surprised about the deep respect and admiration they all had for what we had accomplished and what the community has built around legacy WoW servers.
We were all World of Warcraft players: a large part of our community had played WoW on retail at some point. This meeting was a first step toward establishing a trustful relationship between the Nostalrius and Blizzard dev teams, a beginning for the reconciliation between legacy players and Blizzard that we are all aiming for. As proof, J. Allen Brack himself made sure that we were not under any NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), contrary to what the case is for all of the campus visitors usually.
A second surprise for us was the amount of dedication these guys have. All of them started playing WoW during Vanilla, they went through the same experience as you and us, did the same mistakes and killed the same bosses. In the last part of the meeting, as we presented in detail the remaining class/raid bugs, they knew exactly about the spells/talents we were mentioning, every quest we spoke about, raid bosses abilities and even remembered vanilla item changes through patches!
In a sense, they are also Vanilla World of Warcraft fans and one of the game developers said at a point that WoW belongs to gaming history and agreed that it should be playable again, at least for the sake of game preservation, and he would definitely enjoy playing again.
After this meeting, we can affirm that these guys WANT to have legacy WoW servers, that is for sure. We did everything we could to make this presentation & discussion as professional as possible, which was something that clearly was a pleasant unexpected surprise for the whole Blizzard team, Mike Morhaime included.
4. Why didn’t they give us a definitive answer?
First of all, don’t forget that, in a big company, nothing can be decided in one meeting and they have the right to announce any official yes or no themselves.
As they shared with us technical details, we would like to give you some information on that topic, as you deserve to know what the “tremendous work” is.
First, they DO have the source code for Vanilla WoW. Code version control systems are not something new, as it has been a standard in the industry for a long time. With these systems, they can retrieve the code at any given previous backup date.
However, in order to generate the server (and the client), a complex build system is being used. It is not just about generating the “WoW.exe” and “Server.exe” files. The build process takes data, models, maps, etc. created by Blizzard and also generates client and server specific files. The client only has the information it needs and the server only has the information that it needs.
This means that before re-launching vanilla realms, all of the data needed for the build processes has to be gathered in one place with the code. Not all of this information was under a version control system. In the end, whichever of these parts were lost at any point, they will have to be recreated: this is likely to take a lot of resources through a long development process.
In addition to the technical aspects of releasing a legacy server Blizzard also needs to provide a very polished game that will be available to their millions of players, something existing unofficial legacy servers cannot provide.
To sum up, the good surprise of the meeting was the level of engagement of all these Blizzard people toward making legacy servers a reality. The down side is the technical difficulty it will take to reach our objective. Blizzard is now well aware of the amount of players willing to play legacy servers, something which wasn’t the case until Nostalrius shutdown.
This meeting with Blizzard was the accomplishment of the petition you signed and of your unexpected level of engagement. We expressed your thoughts and voices the best we could and we saw that Blizzard listened really carefully. We hope that we will hear from them soon, and will keep you updated: this meeting isn’t an end point for us, more like a milestone.
J. Allen expressed his will to keep in touch, and the whole Nostalrius team would be excited to work further in this process that could bring back legacy servers.
We still have things to provide to the community, so stay tuned !
Nostalrius Begins Team.