While I’ve known for some time that Blizzard is going to be putting out Classic World of Warcraft Servers, I never thought much about it until recently – When I listened to the video on Barrens Chat, and thought fondly to myself, living in the nostalgia, of the days when I used to play WoW, back on Gilneas. I dove deep, from then on, into the argument about just what a Classic WoW Server is. I’ve formed my opinion on it. Maybe others have their own version, but this one, this is mine.
When I was a Lad
I started playing in 2005. A bit after the Emerald Dragons patch. I bought my own account by January when AQ40 came out. I remember gathering war supplies while I leveled. I got to 60 right before Naxx came out. I ran Scholomance as a 5 man dungeon with Strathome. I wasn’t interested in 40 man raids, though, Instead, We got a bunch of people ready for ZG, and got a few bosses in. It was a blast. It was good times – but it was hard being a paladin. I was expected to heal all the time, and that meant that my true desire – Tanking – was just a pipe dream, until TBC.
That was when I really started to come into my own as a player, tanking multiple dungeons without problems, understanding tanking abilities, specs and stats. The Guild even took down Karazan more than once. It was really awesome. Then Wrath came out, and Northrend was the king of content. Grizzly Hills, man. The music of this game holds a ton more weight than the gameplay ever did. its one of the reasons that raids were always a problem – I couldn’t listen to music and tank. I did more than a few bosses of Nax 20, and I believe I even – though it was as an added tank – picked up Kel’Thuzad at least once. It was good times. But, then, one day, I realized I was paying $15 a month for a glorified chat server. I Was flying around the crater in Northrend, mining and chatting with friends, doing my dailies. I flew over to the Champions Arena, the part I hated about Northrend, sat on my Purple Protodrake for a few minutes chatting, and then logged off. I don’t remember logging back in again, though I may have. I was done with the game because it was eating too much of my time.
Now, some 8 years later, I look fondly back on the game, including the $15 I paid a month because it gave me some cool friends. I feel bad that I abandoned them – I was partial raid leader of a guild I was in, though it was breaking apart – and I feel a little selfish that I didn’t say anything. Saying goodbye would have been weird to a pile of online people. I look back on that game and then I hear the stories of what the game is now, with all its conveniences and quality of life upgrades. Everything I remember about the game feels wrong, slightly off in a way I don’t really understand. I’ve heard of Raidfinder, LFG interface, questing is dead, leveling is easy… its just a strange world.
How Hate Breeds
Creating the perfect server for me would not be particularly difficult, though it is very different from how I imagine people who have played continuously would create a server. The big things I hear that have “ruined WoW” are fairly consistent:
Flying mounts – People hate flying mounts because they remove players from the world. Instead of traveling through the land and interacting with the game, Flying mounts actively remove players from it, putting them, in a very real sense, above the game”
LFG/LFR – The “looking for” tools help people easily find a group for both riads and dungeons, but they don’t promote a sense of community. Instead of being forced to find a place within the servers population, one can stand outside of it and constantly, anonymously, get groups for raids, dungeons, and other events.
Cross-Realm – Combining the LFG/LFR with the Battleground technology designed to get people into the content quicker, the Cross-Realm LFG/LFG creates even less of an incentive to foster the reputation. When you are simply one among millions of Players, you can be a schmuck and it won’t matter because you will, in a very real likelihood, never see these people again.
Smaller Raids – Going from 40 man raids in Vanilla to 25 player raids in The Burning Crusade created a lot of hiccups and reduced the need for people to group up, form guilds, and take on content much harder than a single small group could take on. You needed an army, and it was pretty epic.
Arena PVP – Along with unbalanced gear and stupid stats on weapons, Arena created an environment where each class had to be moderately equal to the other classes. Without this, classes can be balanced for their role in PVE and raiding, and not in their uses in PvP.
Realm Transfers – When you made a character on a realm, that was your realm. If you didn’t like your characters role or the people you were playing with, you all had to go and start from scratch on another server. Conversely, if people didn’t like you, you had to make the extra effort to become better and improve yourself, because quickly you were going to get a name for yourself.
Achievements – running around getting meta-progress stickers for doing things seems counterintuitive and gives players unnatural reasons to stay logged in and playing the game. Seasonal events are fun, no need to dilute them.
All of these, in the moment, made sense. With Blizzard not wanting to close or shut down realms, and wanting players to be able to experience more and more content, the game became a more and more streamlined experience, with each player existing in their own little bubble, or maybe in the bubble of a single guild.
The Very experience I had chided was the same experience that so many people missed and that I myself reminisce about from time to time. It is a strange world to live in, when the reason you left something in the first place is the reason you want to return to it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Vanilla WoW wasn’t without some huge problems, and it is not a perfect experience no matter what anyone says. Blizzard was groundbreaking, to be sure, but it also was extremely new at this and made some very strange, very dumb decisions around gear, loot, and class roles. If you wanted to off-spec? Too bad. Paladins heal, Warriors tank, and Mages go Ice-Spec. It’s just how it is. There wasn’t any room, even in a 40 man raid, to try and experience things at a different angle, The bosses were too tough, the grind was endless, and the consumables were everywhere. Gold was extremely hard to come by, and it was madness to try and find a “Pickup” raid group. No way were you getting 40 people who could do the content all at once.
Man, that is a long preamble.
I have done a lot of thinking about what I would desire in a server, lately, and this is what I think I would like. It is, more than any other thing, likely impossible, but I can dream, right?
Patch 1.12.1 – This is THE patch for Vanilla. It is the base game at its most refined and stable state, right before the first expansion. It has all the raids, all the class balance patches, and all the modifications to the game that could possibly be made. This is clearly the superior Vanilla experience baseline.
TBC Class Talent Trees and Balance – Prior to TBC, the offspecs weren’t viable. They didn’t have either a well built tree or correctly built and supporting gear. Changing this would be a strong shift from vanilla, but I think it would be good for the long term health of a classic server – Pallys tanking Molten Core and Boomkin DPS should be encouraged, if not celebrated, and allowing the gearing and playing of those offspecs would be marvelous.
Expanded and continued content at a 40man raid level – What would be the coolest to me is if they brought all the Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms content to a vanilla mindset. I don’t want the Cataclysm breaking of the world – that is another thing that people generally dislike – but I do think it would be interesting to see some of the later added bosses, dungeons, raids, etc, built as it would have been if vanilla had continued on a different trajectory. I don’t really want Northrend, Pandaria, Outland, Draenor, or any of the other places that aren’t the first two lands. It would be cool, though, to see some updates as long as they are in the flavor and spirit of the original game. It would be both difficult to do, and likely not worth the time.
Finally, I would like to see the bug fixes and the intended abilities corrected. There have been tons of corrections and fixes to things that were not working as intended, and it would be nice to see the game in what the devs could call a perfectly imperfect state. While they aren’t going to have the expansive and story driven world that they have now, they will have the game as it could have been, and I think that is a good place to strive towards.
While I understand that many players want a very specific experience that is clear in their mind, I don’t think it would be amiss to try to expand that experince and continue the legacy of what might have been. Maybe not on every server, but at least on a few. Maybe just one. Who knows!
Until then, I’m likley as not to log into a private server (Kronos III, likley) and durdle about, re-living the Old Days, and seeing if what is glittering in my mind really is gold.
Until next time!