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Disclaimer: This post isn’t news but rather an opinion that I feel that needs to be stated.

With the shut down of Nostralius, Blizzard Entertainment finally understands and comprehends just how massive the want is for legacy servers. As with any big online game, especially one with a 12 year old game engine, change is inevitable as the game becomes matured and progresses through its life. Coming from a person whose had quite a history with World of Warcraft, I can see both sides of the story and why this topic is so controversial. However, this doesn’t sway my opinion; I believe Blizzard should start legacy servers, but not to just satisfy a percentage of their fan base, but for historical game preservation and other various, more personal reasons.

World of Warcraft is undoubtedly one of the best selling games of all time along with Warcraft being a very popular franchise of our generation and among older generations too. At its peak, World of Warcraft had 12 million subscribers in late 2010, right before the release of it’s 3rd expansion, Cataclysm. Despite being 12 years old, World of Warcraft remains the world’s most subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for most popular MMORPG by subscribers. The game has sparked interest and has captured the imagination of many in this online, fantasy world.

YAS

World of Warcraft is not just a game, its a historical piece of work in the gaming industry.

As with many other historical pieces, whether it be literature and art to miscellaneous items that correlate with certain events in history, the act of preserving these historical pieces is always there. Why is it that we fund preservation projects for these, but not for our very own digital cultural heritage? We live in an age of information, it’s becoming obvious that the field of digital preservation presents a big challenge and is a great responsibility to the whole community. On a daily basis, huge amounts of computer data is generated, all of which is subject to the risk of being lost forever because of the fleeting nature of data, hardware and software. Video and computer games are an important part of our common digital cultural heritage and is one of the most significant cultural products of the past few decades. Digital decay is already settling in; we can’t afford to wait any longer cause this data could be lost indefinitely; this is a huge challenge, it requires a whole array of strategies and solutions, both from the scientific and cultural sectors. World of Warcraft is no exception of this as it has embedded itself into the fabric of online gaming culture.

To combat these issues and the loss of our video gaming heritage, people need to be active in the field of digital preservation which there isn’t that many to begin with.  This is why I personally feel as if Blizzard should take the first step and preserve their own piece of art that they made for the public’s entertainment. Blizzard itself has the resources to start theorizing strategies and cultivating ways to combat digital decay, with World of Warcraft being the first project. We should entrust Blizzard with this project, it’s their product, they created it and its a wonderful piece of work they should want to preserve World of Warcraft.

“The cost of running legacy servers is just not profitable, its not what the company itself should be investing money in – but rather new games and the current World of Warcraft.” – Josabel, a fellow WoW player.

This is true, in the end it’s all about money and consistently running legacy servers will require resources. This is again, why we should entrust Blizzard with doing this kind of research and WoW being the pioneer project for preserving MMO’s or any online game for that matter. They have the money, they have the developers, they have the fan-base. The act of preserving these games, more specifically WoW could be funded through donations and volunteers much like museums and preservation societies. All the funds required for legacy servers does not have to come just from Blizzard but from donations and volunteer work. This has been shown by the Nostralius team members telling Blizzard Entertainment that they will volunteer to help with these servers. If Blizzard doesn’t want to invest in a project like this as they are clearly trying to sway away from the Warcraft franchise, they need to find an applicable (and legal) way of allowing licensing to have servers such as Nostralius be ran independently from them.

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Image Copyrights of Blizzard Entertainment

“You just need to take off your rose-tinted glasses, WoW is better today than it was back then. WoW was buggy, how is that good not to mention all the convenient updates like mass loot?”

I see a lot of these statements, often littered on Reddit, 4chan, and even on World of Warcraft itself. While I do agree the convenient updates such as mass looting and even “group-finder” are great, some other updates and changes to the game have completely changed the dynamic of World of Warcraft. But, in all honesty this has nothing to do with reverting WoW back into its original state. It has to do with having an optional, alternative server to let people who have the right to be entertained by the product they have previously bought and to encourage new players to experience the adventure they haven’t experienced yet. While yes, WoW was buggy back then as with every new game it’s important to remember that the game was appreciated for how it was. The community continued to grow and people still loved World of Warcraft despite its errors, despite its bugs, and despite it being incredibly unbalanced.

I have watched the dynamic of the game change over the course of 12 years, playing on Nostralius was taking a giant leap backward straight into my childhood. For those who are unaware of what was classic World of Warcraft was like, here you go:

“To get by in the game, it was not necessary to have an in-depth understanding of, nor even any interest in, game mechanics, itemization, or weird and intrusive design elements like difficulty settings or LFD or stat weighting or the hit/crit/defense caps. There was not a feeding frenzy whenever new content was implemented. There was no rush to the top or to the end of the game.

WoW as a whole moved much more slowly in Vanilla. Gear never really became obsolete. Class balance changed very gradually. You could log off for a year of Vanilla and pick up where you left off.

The outdoor environment was more significant than instances, to a dramatic extent players who did not play then cannot comprehend. Content in general seemed to meander, and was sprawling, rather than linear, or having what I call “Disneyland syndrome”, where you travel between discrete, surreal vignettes – Borean Tundra and Grizzly Hills are acute examples of this.

Most importantly – and I think this will be the most common sentiment in the thread – Vanilla was more of an adventure. It was about discovery, interacting with a diverse playerbase, finding interesting things like the sharks off the coast of Silverpine or Purgation Isle or the countless rare spawns or weird quest chains.

Some will say this was merely because it was “new”, and I don’t buy that. Vanilla followed a very different design philosophy that emphasized the experience of the game over the game itself, that put heavy emphasis on the journey rather than the goal, that fundamentally treated instances as a diversion from the outdoor environment and the interface as something to be marginalized as much as possible, except to the extent desired by individual players.

Vanilla had many grave design flaws – most of them directly attributable to its being made in the long shadow of Everquest – but I think players and developers tend to overlook the many things that were done so right in Vanilla and have been neglected since.” – Aestu

You shouldn’t have to have a rag-tag team of small, self-learned developers preserve a game because the only justifiable reason as to why the game designer itself isn’t preserving it is profitability. Blizzard already stated they want legacy servers in the meeting with Nostralius, now there’s a point of having to meet with Activision to persuade and make them realize that legacy servers are profitable. When in reality, Activision, with all due respect, should just keep their nose out and just let this happen before another great game is lost.

 

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Players gather together moments before Nostralius, the massive private server gets shut down permanently.

 

I want to include a brief summary of my own person history with the massive MMORPG, World of Warcraft. I was an avid player of the Warcraft real-time strategy game, I learned the lore through the campaign and instantly fell in love with the fantasy and excitement of the stories. Between and within each of the factions and characters, the stories and lore captivated my imagination, as the more I progress into the lore the more enthralled I became with the game.

I began my adventure on November 24th, 2004 the day after launch. I started out as a Warlock on US – Garona then quickly began to main a Priest, Continuar. I raided heavily during this time and progressed up to the Four Horseman before the release of The Burning Crusade expansion. During The Burning Crusade I cleared all content up to Muru then finally downed Kil’jaeden after patch 3.0.2. I raided a lot during Wrath of the Lich King, often perceived as the pinnacle of my World Of Warcraft raiding career. I was raiding with a US top 20 guild and during that time, I was a main contributor and a leading ‘theorycrafter’ to Holy and Discipline Priest theory crafting compendiums on various websites. After WoTLK I hung up my shoes for a bit and played very casually, taking a leave during Cataclysm to return to semi-hardcore raiding during Mists of Pandaria. Now during Warlords of Draenor I have a wonderful home, Sovereign Imperium on US-Kel’Thuzad. I’ve posted some of my achievement in-game below.

 

World of Warcraft Achievements:

  • Vanilla: Cleared everything up to Four horseman before TBC.
  • TBC: Pre 3.0 everything up to Mu’ru, Kiljaeden post 3.0
  • Heroic: Observed (Algalon) – US 58th
  • Heroic He Feeds On Your Tears (Algalon, No Deaths) – World 13th, U.S. 7th
  • Heroic: Alone in the Darkness – US 46th
  • Heroic: A Tribute to Insanity – US 53rd
  • Heroic: Iron Council – World 8th, US 4th
  • 10 Man Heroic Lich King – US 14th
  • 25 Man Heroic Lich King – US 27th
  • ICC HM 25 Time Attack during 3.3.3 – US 1st
  • RBG Season 9 – 23rd US, 2nd on Rampage
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