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Official Vanilla World of Warcraft Servers Announced During BlizzCon 2017

Official Classic WoW Announced

Yes, you did read the title of my article right. It’s no joke, Blizzard did officially announce that they will host their own vanilla/classic servers in the future. In other words, you will be able to go home, to experience the good old days of World of Warcraft. Do you want to go home? Yeah, “You think you do, but you don’t!” is the Blizzard motto of the past. The new motto is “Your favorite flavour is vanilla!“. Yep, I repeat myself, but how can you not with such a news. Blizzard will do it, vanilla officially gets a come back! The legacy WoW community did it, we showed demand, and now it’s happening.

Ok, now we know that Blizzard will create official vanilla World of Warcraft servers, but how will they do it and how much is known so far? It’s currently not known when it will happen, and there are also not much many other details. But why is it happening now? According to pcgamer, Blizzard’s senior vice president and executive producer, J. Allen Brack said:

“This is something that we have just continued to hear from the community. This is something that we’ve continued to hear from current players, from former players, from people who work on World of Warcraft, even people working at Blizzard who are like, hey, you should find a way.”

Brack also said that they have been aware of the desire, but that they simply couldn’t find a way to do it. It was a technical problem, because they would have to run two version of World of Warcraft, the modern and the classic version. He mentioned the modern WoW is very different to the classic WoW also from a technical perspective. The problem goes deeper to the surface, down to the very base-level programming and hardware that Vanilla World of Warcraft used back in 2003. To run alternative classic servers, they would need an entirely separate server and client architecture, both different to the modern version of WoW. Brack  also said that they made a breakthrough:

“We think we have a way to run the Classic servers on the modern technical infrastructure. The infrastructure is how we spin up instances and continents, how the database works. It’s those core fundamental pieces, and running two MMOs of that size is a daunting problem. But now we think we have a way to have the old WoW version work on the modern infrastructure and feel really good.”

But using the modern infrastucture doesn’t mean that the classic servers will have the same features as the modern version. There won’t be a cross-realm feature, also no LFR, dungeon finder or automatic party matchmaking. Brack says they are committed to recreat an authentic Vanilla World of Warcraft experience without all the modern features that the legacy community dislikes.

“One of the tenets of Classic WoW is none of the cross-server realms and different [server] sharding options that we have available to us today. There’s a lot of desire on part of the community that this is something that they don’t want.”

There will be an entirely separate team at Blizzard that only works on the classic realms. They work separately to the teams that work on the current game and its coming expansions. They didn’t announce when it will happen nor are there any more details about it. But Brack said:

“What we’re announcing is actually extremely limited. We’re only saying that we’re doing it, that we’re committed to creating and releasing Classic servers. It’s a larger endeavor than people might imagine, but that we’re committed to doing it and we’re excited.”

It’s somehow funny that Brack did announce the news about the classic servers, because when a fan asked the question in the past if they ever thought about running classic servers, Brack said back then, “You think you do, but you don’t” and everyone thought he meant that people just don’t want to play classic again even if they think so. Of course that would be wrong, there is a really large fanbase that prefers the good old WoW, and they don’t like the modern version as much. Including me. Now Brack said to pcgamer:

“The sentiment of what I was trying to express, very poorly back in that day, was that there is a thing called rose-colored glasses. There is a memory of this place, the time, and the stage of life that you were in that contribute to that nostalgia people feel [towards Classic World of Warcraft]. If you look back at all the things you have deep love for, you have to look at, OK, that was the thing, but what contributed to that being a thing?”

It’s interesting, with this news everyone will now probably wonder how this will turn out for Blizzard. Will millions of former World of Warcraft players come back? Or will many people try the classic server to eventually go back to the modern version because they realize it was much more hardcore back then? You could think that they will shut the classic servers down again in case the classic severs will have a low population after a while. But as it seems, this might not happen because it looks more like a prestige project, they want to preserve gaming history. They really want to have the old WoW online again as it seems, no matter if millions or just ten people will make use of it. They are aware that some people will love it and stay, and others will be like “tourists” to experience the old WoW again for some days to eventually go back to the modern WoW again. Brack has an answer here too:

“I think there will be a lot of tourists. But it doesn’t matter what I think because once we’re committed to doing this at a Blizzard level, which we are, whatever happens is going to happen. If millions of people show up and play for years, that’s awesome. And if just tens of people show up and play for years, we’re fine either way. What’s important to us is that we have this Classic experience people can enjoy, that people do have the opportunity to go back to. This is an important game in videogame history and there’s not a way to go back and experience that today. This is also about preserving something that we think is really important.”

So, yeah, they are pretty serious about it as it seems. It’s finally happening. It’s a bit ironic, because a friend and me got this idea years ago. We didn’t saw it coming, but it was more that we said “Imagine Blizzard would create alternative realms where you could experience classic, maybe even Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King?”. As said, we didn’t saw it coming, it was just one idea we had in our mind too. It’s not the first time we got some ideas that actually came true years later. When that happened, we often laughted and said “They should hire us as game development consultant!”.

Now let me set something in stone, maybe I can laugh about it in a few years too. I stay with the idea. Classic servers are already a great news, but it’s not just about classic. The journey from classic through the Burning Crusade expansion to Wrath of Lich King was awesome too. The early expansions were all great. The direction was so different, the whole experience was in my opinion so much better. There was a point where they completely changed the direction, the point where everyone I knew slowly stopped to play the game. It would be fun if Blizzard would set up a server where they let you experience classic World of Warcraft, but where they also enable the Burdning Crusade expansion after one or two years, and then Wrath of the Lich King and so on. Basically a server that repeats the whole story, a progression classic server. Now let me publish my post, but it would be funny if I come back in a few years and this idea came true. That would be awesome.

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15 Comments »

  1. ohhh this is wonderful. I might just save my money and come back, if this happens. I was actually thinking about WoW today, and missing the heck out of it.
    The game was less forgiving, and I don’t ever remember being able to one-shot monsters alone. Dungeons, instances, raids. The old pre Cata, maybe, before
    they destroyed half the continent? I think it was the PUGs and the CRZ that finally pushed me out, even if I had wanted to run dungeons, no way would I
    attempt a PUG, even in the old days. Why, I might even join a guild again.

    It may be that they realize those of us who leave are not leaving the game that we remember, but the game that this turned into. If that makes sense.

    • Yep, and letting J. Allen Brack announce the classic news, that’s really a classy excuse to the classic fanbase.

      Back then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsrMLDPP2MY

      Now: https://clips.twitch.tv/EagerSmokyHumanEleGiggle

      Very funny, but it seems that’s their way to say sorry.

      Anyway, at the end it’s business, I think they got told to get the subscriber numbers up again. But if that works, and as long as I can get what I enjoyed back then, I am fine with it and will pay. 🙂

      But as I mentioned at the end of my post, I would be even more excited if it’s some kind of a progression classic server. They could repeat the whole story, they could let us go through all expansion again, or at least the early expansions. There would be different ways to switch through expansions… by player votes, by progression (majority of players is through content) or by shedule like every one or two years. It would be cool, because I liked Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King too.

  2. i would like to revisit certain places, ‘before’ they became Horde driven, or before they became Goblin building sites. Or Sights. Possibly even the harbor at Stormwind when it was less magnificent and far more interesting.

    • My very first character was alliance, and I played that during classic. Around Burning Crusade several of my friends wanted to try out Horde and we liked it. So, we played the remaining time until today for the Horde.

      But I mention this because I agree with you. Even if I played horde, I still remember the first steps of my first character, leveling a human mage through the Forest of Elwynn, uhh the relaxing melodies, the relaxing atmosphere in general. Or my first steps into Stormwind and the epic melody that popped up when I entered the gates. So many memories. I still remember how I got help from strangers, not just from friends. The whole community was so awesome 🙂

      Yep, I second this. I’d like to revisit old places, quests and so on too 🙂 I actually did this already on a private classic server, but I trust Blizzard more than some strangers who did set up an old WoW server. So, this news is really big.

  3. And in addition to pulling in older players who remember Vanilla, it might very well pull in younger players who view Stormwind and IronForge and all of that as just so much busywork, hardly worth the effort. I was just over in YouTube reading this last year’s efforts on this, and it’s fascinating to see. And that someone actually listened.

    Like you, I’ve played a lot of games over time, and this is almost the only one I can think of that has actually listened (and money speaks very loudly, doesn’t it) to what it’s customers and former customers are saying, enough to actually attempt to implement this entire process.

    I played exclusively Alliance until this last year, and then switched over to Horde; the story line is far more intimate, far more one-to-one, and if this fires up again, I might try Horde this time, and see what happens. Maybe one of each.

    • Yes, with this step they do definitely gain trust again. Also as you said, it’s very rare, especially to dig out old versions. I can’t remember if any developer ever did that except for HD remakes of old games maybe. I hope it becomes a trend, I’d like to see this happening more often. 🙂 As they said, the old version is gaming history, and it’s cool to preserve it.

      We will most likely play horde again, after so many years we do indentify with this faction (laugh). I talked about this with a friend yesterday, we’re just used play for horde and we liked it.

      • I jusr sat through the last two versions of the last hours of Nostralius (sp). First the Horde mass suicide, the entire version of which had me in tears, and the Alliance side, which consisted mostly of marching around IronForge and shouting obscenities at the screen. There is something about people who play Horde, they seem more together, more united, more careful. But what interests me the most, is the now familiar phrase “you think you do, but you really don’t” which is going to deservedly dog that fellow’s footsteps forever.

        No matter what happens, that phrase will live for a very long time.

        I can’t remember when I have been so moved by a video game’s ending with those Horde players jumping off a cliff.

        My first memory was of my female alliance mage, walking to Menethil. In those days there were no maps that showed anything unless you had been there, and if you were new, you got no clues. I was about halfway through the WetLands, totally lost, a lvl 9 player who had discovered that if you died, you might get autotransported further down the road rather than back–and I happened on a player sitting in the middle of the road. He said, ‘where you headed?” and I asked him if this was the road to Menethil, and he said “yes, but you will have to cross a broken bridge to get there–when you cross you’ll be attacked by a giant Crocolisk–don’t fight him, just run like hell and youll be fine.” And I thanked him, and outran the crocolisk and found Menethil. And ships. Looking back, he might well have been part of the Blizzard team, playing his own game. They did, in those days, and you never really knew when one would appear or help you.

        • I once met a Blizzard GM in-game too. A friend and me had issues to complete a quest in the un’goro crater, the quest seemed to be broken. We wrote a ticket in the game and then a game master of Blizzard appeared next to us. He said something like “Before I can fix your issues, I need to show you magic” and we said “Yeah, sure!”. He then did let us fight some special NPC’s. Always if we won, he did let appear stronger ones. We did beat them all 🙂 At the end he showed us a comet rain and told us that this would definitely kill us, which is why he did let it rain in the distance. After that he fixed out broken quest and then he did fly away (during vanilla, where there was no flying). We were totally amazed, it was so funny 🙂

  4. That is funny. He was having a good time, wasn’t he. I often wonder about some of the players I’ve met who seem unusually helpful, and wonder if this is a GM on his time off, playing his own game.

    I miss encounters like that, they did make you feel that this was a game they played, too. I think the anger we see on the community boards is as much about the distance now between GMs and the players.

    If and when I do go back, I will be steering clear of the Discussion groups. Im sure half of them will be sneering and half of them will be totally against the poor quality of the play, and the other half will be finding nits everywhere. Best to stay away.

    Im wondering what happens to our former characters. Do we start them over at level 1 and broke, or can we transfer money to them? I do recall that Vanilla was not a cheap game to play, everything cost a huge amount of money and we did live in the AH gearing up.

    • one other thought. J. Allen Breck. I have taken a dislike to this man, not sure why: he is, to be fair, the one they tied to the masthead (paying for his stupid comments) of this thing, and he handles it well. However, watching it again at various times, I’m struck by his eyes, that don’t really smile, do they. Little dead orbs above that strange wide smile. And in watching it again, there is no energy from him, no sense of any kind of “how COOL this is” and maybe he really doesn’t care. He also walks like Bob Hope which is not a plus in my books, either.

      • I noticed it too. I think it was just courtesy from Blizzard to send him on stage to tout the news. On several communities everyone noticed that this is basically now a “meme”. He probably agreed to go on stage with this because backthen it backfired so hard on him. I think it was fair from Blizzard, because otherwise he would have been the laughingstock for the fans and probably also at the company. For him it was just a “Yeah, I’ll do it, I don’t want to be that guy in the web that everyone laughs about”. So I guess, he went on stage to just close this up.

        I spoke with a friend yesterday while we played PvP matches in WoW…. we both think they are divided, it’s not just the community that has different tastes, Blizzard is probably divided internally too. That’s what we take from the quote that even internally some people demanded that there should be a solution to be able to play the classic version of WoW again. I think Breck was on the other side, and he became the punchbag of the community. That’s probably why he didn’t show emotions, it’s not his thing, he just wanted to close “hate-train” that was caused by his older comments.

  5. From his slightly sardonic comments “thanks a lot, guys” I got the impression that he hay not have wanted to to this, but had to. I suspect he will be the laughing stock of Blizzard fans for quite some time, in any event.

    I think it’s understandable if people are divided on this new step, And going this route will involve a great deal of playing down special effects and figuring out how to tell people who expect it, that Vanilla is not a flight path. And there is no hurry.

    Damn if this works, I may even try on a guild again.

    • I am curious when they will release those servers. A friend and me, we think it’s probably not before the next expansion. I am very interested to get more news on this in the future. 🙂 Back then I had a lot of time to play games, today it’s less so which means it will probably take me quite some time to just become 60. We will take our time too, no stress.. just enjoying the classic gameplay.

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