August 30, 2016! Hooray!

Good news everyone!  Our long international nightmare is nearly at an end!

This is even more awesome news for everyone who obviously played on Classic servers because WoD was getting tiresome!  I know I was; I was absolutely forced to seek old content and with Legion coming I look forward to a MAXIMUM of 2 weeks of entertainment that I’ll never forget!  And Blizzard is releasing Legion in just over 4 months!  Just in time for everyone to have gotten back and leveled all their characters to 100 and raid the content for all that wonderful epic gear.  There’s plenty of things to do because everyone has had the raid content on farm since last summer, so get on back there and remember the good times!  (Disclaimer: There were no good times, only the first 2 weeks)

Why did Nostalrius go from 0 to 800k accounts from February 2015 (a full 3 months after release of WoD) through closure?  Of course 500k of them were banned Chinese gold farmers and hackers, but more obviously because WoD had such riveting content and new content never before seen in… oh wait.  Maybe it was the lack of new pet battles?  Garrisons were awesome content, totally optional for everyone because there was so much to do out in the game world.  If you didn’t truly get into them then you just aren’t a true WoW player!  And Ash-can, the “Heart of PvP” was DOA after Blizz saw people were having too much fun with it.  Raid content was totally built for everyone, not a single world guild fell apart this expansion.  At least we can still only count them on 2 hands, haven’t gotten to the toes yet.

This company has been the original Zin’Rokh since 2010.  Name a title in their IP that’s engrossing that’s not RTS.  Cataclysm started us off with an aptly named title, and then they had to go through an expansion to fix Diablo 3.  They listened to the playerbase, and the playerbase said we wanted to pay another $60 to get a game worth playing.  I’m sour grapes, because dammit I liked their video games, but anymore I feel like I’m digging a grave of broken titles $60 at a time.  And then the company has the balls to shut down a popular tribute server without so much as launching a lawyer bomb.  No apologies, censorship everywhere in their forums, and possibly the most heavy-handed-shove-it-up-your-ass-fans move a company can make.  At least we know they don’t invest a dime into PR.

This is probably why the only thing I really enjoy in current WoW is pet battles.  Because it is the last part of the entire game that’s actually somewhat interesting, and FFS it’s turn-based RTS.  Gold making isn’t even enjoyable anymore because it’s basically the metagame within the game for everyone.  I remember when goldmaking was considered the oddest thing you could do in WoW, and now everyone (with more than 2 brain cells) is basically doing it.

The reason people were playing on Nost wasn’t because they were bored with WoD, they were bored with WoW’s new mechanics and gameplay in general.  Some of us actually like long, tedious, meticulously designed games that take months and even years to complete.  Diablo 2 was built around this type of design, you would have to log weeks of play time to get the gear you wanted, and then months to years to perfect it.  Classic Warcraft was especially this way, with 40 man raids designed to take months to gear up in.  PvP grinding that took several hundred hours of play to get your pieces and ranks.  Drop rates and farming that didn’t come fast.  You could spend the next two months leveling a character and still not hit level cap.  No boosts or shortcuts, just that thrill when you could leave one zone and go into another after spending several hours every night for a week getting 40 to 45.  Hell, level 1 to 20 took a full day of play if you were doing it right.  There was a true feeling of accomplishment.  Sort of like being given a 1st place ribbon in a contest of thousands, as opposed to a participation trophy for everyone involved.

Enter today’s WoW:  Level 1-100 in a few days played, build a garrison, raid or PvP.  The only fun part about WoD was the questing experience, which seemed to go splat when you hit 100.  And then content releases that were hardly content releases – new raid tiers and one new daily zone.  Oh, and the boat game.  Tanaan Jungle wasn’t even a good attempt at a Timeless Isle, which was actually about the last time they hit paydirt with some content.

Why did I seem to have more fun in Classic?  Or TBC?  Probably because the carrot was always out there.  You were always collecting something between raids, you were always wanting to get better but there was a clearly defined line between average player and excellent.  You had to be SOCIAL in a MMO to get anywhere, and you know what I enjoyed most on Nost?  Finding groups to do most EVERYTHING and making new friends that weren’t on some server I never heard of and could be counted on to help you with things.  Today everyone is rewarded with purples for showing up, everyone has access to gear, there’s no incentive to really try harder.  You can’t unwind this.  As my daddy used to say, “Son, you just can’t put the shit back in the horse.”  We can never truly go home again, because Blizzard won’t let it happen.

Of course I could go nuts and try to find people to do dungeons, but the only people that do that are people interested in speed running and not enjoying the ride to get to the destination.  And of course, there’s no CC required, which is a huge downer.  CC was great because it required you to think about your pulls vs. your group’s makeup.  One of the first things you learned how to do in an MMO was pull properly, to take your time, and not wipe the fucking group because you could get labeled as a bad and never get invited to any reindeer games in the future.  LFG dominates because hurt feelings are bad, and our new generation of gamers cannot be anything but epic looting heroes.  I hate LFG most of all because I cannot kick people anymore.  I think I’ve been on perma-cooldown for Vote-To-Kick because I used to initiate more kicks than anyone else in the US.  As least the ignore feature still works, but then you end up with a full ignore list after a night of playing.  Thank you crossrealm.

Will Legion offer anything up beyond what we have in play today?  Without the obvious clickbaiter kings and queens whose very narcissistic existence relies upon the anonymous attention of thousands of people, and possibly their incomes as well, is there anything that will make this future release last beyond the shelf life of a jar of mayonnaise in the hot sun?  Maybe, but I’m not going to buy into any hype.  I only know one thing about Legion – it’s made by the same people that brought us Cata, MoP, and WoD.

I’m going to call it – by the time Blizzcon comes out you will hear the grumblings of people tired of Legion.  It’s unfortunate that a world I called home 10-12 years ago has devolved into something I don’t recognize anymore.  I also predict that within a month of release, they will nerf/change everything that people find interesting or wildly overpowered in the game.

Actually, that’s too easy, they do that in every single expansion.  As long as they don’t fuck with pet battles.  Then it’s war.  Because I’ll probably only buy the silly expansion for one reason – weekend pet battles.  I sure as hell am not buying it for the content, because we all know what they do with old content.  They burn it, deny it, and tell us we don’t want it.  And the “legion” of real fans tell us the same.

Thanks for stopping in!  – Zerohour

EDIT:  I’m definitely not alone.  Mark Kern of original WoW commenting on the state of the game.

Wait, this wasn’t legit?

Blizz put the kibosh on Nostalrius.org, and as of this writing we’re just hours from it leaving us forever.  I guess it’s time to take your hats off (or whatever you kids wear) out of respect, this was the best run Classic WoW experience of all the different servers that have arisen over the years, mostly because it was operated by real fans of the game that were intent on giving the public the experience that Blizzard long ago said they would never do, and to paraphrase Blizzard’s official position which went something like this: “Fuck you”, and then a mic was dropped.

And while this was not my only Warcraft, I personally flipped and flopped between Classic and Retail WoW, because I have (or had) that option.  Last July I landed my dream job, so anything beyond 4-5 hours of gaming per week is completely out of the question.  To be honest, 1-2 hours per week is more like it.  I work 70+ hours a week because I can, and I love doing what I do, and my income is getting close to what it was pre-financial-world-meltdown.  Coincidentally, it was Warcraft that helped me get through that mess, back when I wasn’t thinking about walking in front of a speeding bus, I was busy raiding.

But now they’re taking it all away, and now we’re left with the other hundreds of private servers like Feenix and Twilight and other pay-to-win style servers.  Seriously, why would they go after the free one?  Simple: It was too fucking good.

Blizzard has long maintained a laissez-faire attitude with the private servers, provided they don’t do something stupid like host their server here in the United States.  Hell, even the bot makers know you have to do that shit in Germany, or at least go to someplace remote where they don’t give two shits and a doorbell chime about intellectual property like say, China?  I’m pretty sure however the government would storm the place and turn it into something like “Place of Happy Fun Goodtimes” and redo all the artwork and give rights to one of their party leaders who would then become another billionaire in the knockoff community.  But, the gang at Nostalrius made the lethal mistake of believing France wasn’t a friendly country when it came to having one of their employer’s backs – I mean Blizzard has brick and mortar operations in that country, I’m shocked they didn’t nuke it down after it started.

But provided you aren’t going into hiding just to rub out your nostalgia, the Nostalrius server made one HELL of a clone to the original, with scripted raids and even original Alterac-fucking-Valley PvP.  Sure I got 200ms latency on the left coast of the USA, but it was worth every second I had to play it.  I took a mage all the way to 60 in about 3 weeks played – my first character ever in the game when I started playing, why not really relive it except choosing the proper race this time (gnome with Chromie appearance).  And then I began leveling rogues and everything else that I missed.  I finished by getting an undead rogue to Level 22 in 24 hours played with another 13 hours dedicated to professions because that’s just the kind of nostalgia whore I am.  Of course given my schedule, this rogue was started at the beginning of February 2016…

The experience was everything I remembered.

  1. Frustratingly trying to remember where to go to get new quests while visiting about every town/city at random levels or otherwise missing out on a giant chain quest worth thousands of XP.
  2. Getting my shit pushed in by level 60s in STV while trying to collect Nessingwary kills.
  3. Having to run all the way to 40, and then run a little more because mounts are not going to buy themselves when the economy is focused primarily on high end mats.
  4. Running into old Org and SW and just taking in the music and sights.
  5. Freaking elite quests scattered in almost every zone requiring social skills that consist of typing in chat to locate others to help.  Outside dungeons we used to call them.
  6. Thousand trolls event that lasted longer than 10 seconds and one AOE blast.
  7. Running through Barrens to the Great Lift and realizing I forgot to pick up a quest.
  8. Standing on the great dam in Loch Modan and watching water spit from the dwarves.
  9. Checking out what WAS at Karazhan prior to the release of TBC.  Just a hint:  Just a bunch of angry ghosts, though I remember wisps.
  10. Actual weekly PVP ranks given for random battleground action and not having to coordinate Rated Battleground groups.  Anyone could see how high they could get through their own efforts.
  11. Being very fearful of opposing faction mounts with glowing eyes.
  12. Being able to gank someone 12 levels below you and still get honor at 60.  Sigh.
  13. Freaking Un’Goro Tyranosaurs patting around eating you at random.
  14. No flying mounts and gank marathons in questing zones.  I loved being hated.
  15. Being able to charge for level 55 water because you couldn’t buy it anywhere else.  Oh man, the coin.
  16. It exposes retail Warcraft’s evolution in a way that makes me sick to my stomach.

Outside of some of these fun memories, I actually got to see them on other servers however.  Private servers are everywhere.  Just Google them for fucks sakes (a favorite saying of my old Classic GM).  So why was Nostalrius different?

Easy.

  1. Quests weren’t broken in random points making the experience frustrating as shit.  You could expect scripting to work correctly.
  2. They had working raids on par with the original.
  3. Twinking was actually a thing.
  4. They offered a PvP and PvE experience and was entirely on par with the original.
  5. They enforced the ever living shit out of hacking, botting, dual boxing, gold buying, and cheating.  Seriously, they made Blizzard GMs look weak by today’s standards.
  6. They actually cared about the community experience, you could tell it was run by fans who were just helping other fans.
  7. Your leveling experience was exactly how it was in the good ol’ days with no cheats or speed levels.  Drops were 99% accurate to the way it was.  You actually were playing Classic.
  8. Allegiance to immersion and good play.

 

And this is exactly what broke it.

 

They thumbed their noses at retail and offered a place for us fogies who enjoyed 2 month leveling experiences a place to remember home, even if the game was over 10 years ago.  The experience was so good that it became the most popular private server in the history of private servers.  Word spread like wildfire that this was the best place to enjoy the game the way it was, and we can’t have that competing with the piece of shit we currently call Warcraft today.  This was the game that actually put Blizzard on the map and having someone outright copy everything down to the most minute detail is bad for business.  Ultimately they showed that a handful of programmers could emulate something Blizzard has been resisting for a decade now… an awesome experience with bugs and all… for free.

You have to remember 12 years ago that prior to WoW, you had 3 IPs over at Blizz – Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.  Of the 3, 2 were their own brainchildren, with Diablo being designed by a subsidiary that came to them to get published.  Otherwise, they were busy making RTS games.  MMOs were gaining steam, and Blizzard even stated that if they got 1 million subs for WoW they were going to be happy.  They ended up quadrupling that and crashing servers due to lag and bad forecasting.  Blizzcon developed out of this monster.  Licensed merchandise.  And now a big budget film due out this summer.  An entire gaming culture with tens of millions of alumni.  Outside of Wrath, this was the game that really put them on the map of the gaming world.

Now this server is illegal of course (by most First World Intellectual Property laws), but as J. Allan Brack stated several years ago – “You think you want to do that, but you don’t”.  I guess he was wrong, tens of thousands of players joined in on the hype and kept playing daily because his game was out of content and it was getting bigger and bigger.  And competing with him and his crew is not going to happen because they’ll tell you how you’re going to be delivered your WoW fix, not you.  Fine, you don’t care about your own title other than the money, why not license it to someone that cares more than you and might make it work?  I mean, it’s not like it’s Star Wars Galaxies or anything, this is a game beloved by fans (note: JAB oversaw SWG before coming to wreak havoc at Blizzard).  Hell I’m sure crowdfunding it would even work.

J.Allen_Brack

What a sad end for the best tribute to the granddaddy of the franchise – Blizzard sicking their attack dogs on something they’ve really never given a shit about in 10 years.  There’s something in this world called good politics and doing what’s right by your base.  This just made a legion of fans realize that it’s now no longer about the game, it’s about what’s up Blizzard’s ass.  Of course, they should zealously protect their trademarks, but after seeing WHAT IS possible, you would think they would maybe approach these guys and see if they could make it work for everyone…  including the fans.

When the Lich King died, WoW died with him

So sayeth my friend Vargas.  But MMOs are dying in general, they are too big budget, take too much time to develop, and ultimately they cost a fortune to sustain.  Everyone that’s tried after Warcraft hasn’t made it big, they’ve merely kept the servers going and gone the way of microtransactions.  Even Blizzard has gone both ways – a monthly sub and micros.  It’s gotten so grim at Blizz they aren’t releasing sub numbers anymore, and probably because they’ve gotten to sub Classic numbers.  The only thing keeping the lights on and the people employed anymore are the micros which make for nice infusions of cash every other month.

And who are the real fans of the game?  The ones that pay for it all or the ones that play it just to play it regardless?  A gamer is someone who enjoys gaming, not worrying about patches and expansions and new content – these are modern day developments.  I play Classic because this is the game I enjoy.  Since Blizzard won’t do it, I’ll seek it out.  I’ll still support their retail version and keep buying into Diablo 3 (which is now bordering on ridiculous; release another expansion please FFS).  But ultimately, what I want are choices, not a story.  The way they release content today is entirely too fast, and since I really lack any time to get anywhere in my favorite title, I enjoy leveling characters and going through the old backstory.

The story was interesting up until Deathwing came along, and MoP was somewhat whimsical even though I wasn’t invested in the plight of the pandas.  We’re playing Time Warp now, which has been a snoozefest for me since about February 2015.  Legion is probably going to end up being the same.  I guarantee that within 6 months of release nobody is going to care anymore except the hardcores and the no-lifers.  Everyone loves the leaks from MMO Champion and is busy buying the expansion in pre-sales, but I just cannot see myself having the same experience because the story is getting stale.  Stop rebooting content and release the trusted content.

Of course I’m probably wrong in everyone’s eyes and a bad person because I enjoy nostalgia.  Guess what, that’s how I like to play my game, I’ll choose to be left behind…  in Classic, or Vanilla, or Old School, or whatever you want to call it.  Just don’t call me a bad person for wanting something that was fun and enjoyable and would give me hundreds of hours of entertainment.  Hopefully one day Blizzard will realize the error of their ways one day.

Thanks for stopping in!

– Zerohour