Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vanilla Servers, Part II

A lot of replies to the last post felt that I do not understand what attracts people to the idea of vanilla WoW servers. I, of course, disagree with that.

People who clamor for vanilla servers generally want two things:
  1. Vanilla content - the quests, zones, and classes that existed at that time.
  2. Vanilla "feel" - a return to an era where server community was important, where guild and reputation mattered, where the difficulty was slightly higher and required groups to interact more.
Of these two, I think getting the first one is extraordinarily unlikely. Blizzard would essentially be launching and maintaining a completely separate game. I think that the risk is too high. So given that this is basically not going to happen, I don't see much point in expending energy over it.

The second item, however, I believe might be possible. It would be a variant on the current game, and would be a lot easier to maintain. Fixes for the current game would hit both server types. It might even be good for the game by segregating the audience a little bit. The people who insist on increased challenge would have a home.

Of course, even maintaining server variants is more effort. There's already two variants in PvP/PvE. Another orthogonal variant makes four possibilities. But I think it's still less risky and less effort than a full vanilla server.


  1. community and old classes/zones/quests are only 1 part of vanilla, but there are more..Is the Journey. Is the feeling of achievement you get without a flashy pop up in the screen.

    Reaching to level 60 is a great achievement, it makes you feel very good. Skill up your profession to 300 is the same. Pull more than 2 mobs and you are probably dead, makes the world feel more dangerous. Manage to kill 3+ mobs and you feel great.

    Going from Ironforge to scarlet monastery by foot, along with your party and chatting on the way is Vanilla. Getting Fire resistance to fight the lord of Fire is RPG and is Vanilla... I can continue and point many more things..

    1. I agree, and I think that my Legends ruleset will contribute to that feeling of the journey.

  2. Here is what I want. I want a virtual world that feels worth exploring and to live in. I don't want a min/max raiding game.

    I want:

    - Huge dungeons that take a long time to complete, are full of mystery and feel like you explore something. I don't want the Disneyland on rails bullshit created these days. BRD, BRS, Scholo, Strat. Those were awesome. I want them to put as much time, energy and love into 5 man dungeons then they put into their raids.

    - I don't want raiders to have an advantage in 5 man dungeons. In vanilla a lot of the stat budget was absorbed by fire resistance and hit rating, which were useless in 5 player dungeons. That meant you could beat a raider in damage. These days you always have a mystic raider in LFR that does 40% of the raids damage.

    - I don't want enrage timers or timed challenge modes or other such gamey shit. It's a virtual world (or should be). Let me run Scholo with 5 healer, 3 tanks and 2 dd if that's really what I want. I don't like the "this raid is designed for 2 tanks, 3 healer, 5 dd and we ensure that you fail if you try to be creative" concept.

    - Let the world tell a story. Not every mob and every NPC requires a quest associated with it. And I don't give a fuck about these stupid story arcs like the Westfall-arc or the Redridge-arc. But I did love the quest found under the Thandol Span.

    - The challenge in tanking should to... tank the mobs. Collect the, control them, position them. I really hate this fucking mitigation-rotation-bullshit. Tanking Shattered Halls or Shadow Labs on a warrior or druid (pre 2.4) is what tanking should be about.

    - The spell rotations these days are bullshit. Sorry, if I wanted to play Simon says I would play Simon says and not my warlock. I'm perfectly happy with just spamming shadow bolt for damage. That's why I rolled a warlock, shadow bolt is awesome. The challenge should be to keep one mob seduced, one mob feared (and under control with curse of recklessness) and a daemon banished at the same time. The challenge should be to know when an AE fear prevents a wipe, and when it leads to one. Challenge should be to react to a situation, not to follow the dance from a youtube video.

    - Professions and class quests were very well implemented and added to the flair. Nothing was really important, but it was fun. Wearing a robe of power felt much more awesome then wearing some heirloom. These days, professions are basically something you need for the raid benefit (like wear exactly 3 crafted pieces or something). That's boring. Farming for demonic runes for hours to craft an awesome shadow damage piece was fun (to me). Or farming primal fire/primal shadow for the set.

    That's why I'm interested in the vanilla discussion. Because I would like to go back to WORLD of warcraft. (Basically: WoW was dumbed down for the hardcore.)

    1. Good summary!
      (and thanks for the quote :)

    2. Great read.. really spot on!

    3. I agree with a lot of that (except Shadowbolt, warlocks are demons, dots, and drains, imo). But you're essentially asking for a different game, and that's not really going to happen.

      You'd be better off finding a smaller game that had similar elements and playing that.

  3. Blizzard purposefully destroyed the Vanilla "feel" to cater to casuals. They could just add BC, WOTLK... content on the Vanilla systems, instead they redesigned everything to make sure that every drooling faceroller ends up with a legendary. Literally.

    Why would they go back on that?

    1. No to casuals, to bads.. I am a casual myself, yet I totally prefer vanilla (and was playing on nostalrius) instead of retail wow..

      I was never hardcore, never managed to go to top raids.. But I love 3 months leveling, I love when I die if I pull more than 2 mobs, I love grinding for hours, to craft a piece of gear.

      Do not mistake casuals with bads.. casual is someone that does not care for min/max, theorycrafting or trying to be the best at pve/pvp. Not someone that want to be handholded to the epic loot..

    2. That's because a lot of people had issues with the Vanilla feel. Never forget the Cataclysm heroic dungeons fail, when Blizzard tried to stop face-rolling in dungeons. They lost a ton of subscriptions and had to reverse course.

      As for the Legendary, personally I'm okay with rewarding dedication instead of just skill. It takes a long while of steady work to earn that legendary, and I think it's good that the casual player can work on it.

    3. Blizzard changed a lot of parameters for cataclysm heroics.

      - Heroics went from easy, because everyone is overgeared at the end of WotLK, to harder, because everyone is still in leveling gear.
      - Heroics went from rewarding (WotLK heroics rewarded raid tier sets) to non rewarding (Cataclysms dungeon blues were all crap, reputation vendors had better gear.)
      - Heroics went from dropping epics since their introduction in TBC (even vanilla dungeons had rare epics) to only drop blues, ever.
      - Heroics went from dropping a set (even vanilla dungeons dropped sets), to not dropping a set for the first time in WoW.
      - Cataclysm was the first add-on where the LFD was available at the beginning of an expansion. People only knew LFD as this "click for free loot" button. LFD doesn't work with challenging content.
      - Cataclysm was the first add-on where no normal mode was available as fall back.

      I think the difficulty was the smallest problem. And I think Blizzard thinks the same, because they brought difficult dungeons back with mystic dungeons and challenge mode. But they removed LFD (being forced to carry Arthasdklol for difficult content is no fun) and made them somewhat rewarding.

  4. If I played retail WoW, I'd probably check Legends server and maybe even play on one. But for me, Legends servers are not a surrogate for Legacy servers.

    One way for Blizzard to handle the matter would--in my opinion--be: create strong guidelines for quality and perfomance of legacy servers, endorse an open source project for server code, legalise script/WDB projects, create a API for legacy servers to check basic things like active subscription and then just "franchise" them to community on per-case basis. Let the community run the servers themselves and provide everything, from development to hosting and support. Blizzard don't need to "launch and maintain a completely separate game." The community would do that. Just split profit with them (let's not kid ourselves, majority of existing legacy servers are here for the money).

    1. Agreed. But let me add this: I'd prefer a new MMO with new lore in classic Vanilla style. But since this seems impossible I'm happy to replay Vanilla.

      .. And I will do this anyway. I'd just prefer to do it legally and paying for it with a sub.

    2. Nils, check out Pantheon... going to release end of the year or early of next year.

    3. To me something like that "franchise" idea is so far out of the realm of possibility that there's no point in even bringing it up.

      We should deal with the world as it is, not some extra-ordinarily improbable version.

  5. I personally believe that the hardcore raider feel of Vanilla WoW has already sailed. Wildstar demonstrated in spades that sort of game won't succeed.

    But that doesn't mean that the original Old World quest and landscape feel, the story that didn't jump the shark (or require having to read novels in order to keep up with what's going on), and a restoration of some Vanilla elements (the occasional high level or epic boss wandering enemy in a zone --even tho they're BC, Knucklerot and Luzran-- giving an element of dread to your questing) are a good thing.

    WoW has bought totally into the belief that the game begins at endgame, and what a substantial portion of Vanilla players say is "no, it doesn't".

    1. Maybe we should just all agree that classic wow wasn't that successful due to their raids. I mean, I liked them, but the real appeal was the World of Warcraft and the dungeons combined with some PvP.

    2. In some respects SWTOR is doing that now, and I am not thrilled with the results.

      I think people simply consume content too fast now. Such a game as you want would need to be a crazy grind to slow people down.

    3. The irony is that I am really enjoying SWTOR more for what they're doing; they saw what happened to WoW post-Cata and said "we're not blowing everything up just to go in a new direction".

  6. Rohan just look of how much interest came towards wow bloggers with even just a spark of legacy servers mention. Old wow promotes community as a whole in so many ways that it is breathtaking.

    Hell even streamers are extremely interested in old Azeroth. The recent syncaine post is so damn spot on it makes me cry.

    I know that i speak for myself but wow became really just a shadow of it's former self from mid-wrath onward.

    1. Or maybe it's just the controversy of the day, and there's nothing else interesting to talk about at the moment.

      As soon as something new pops up, maybe all the Vanilla server talk will go away.

  7. Hi Rohan
    I'll be honest, until this past week, i didn't even know that there was a pirate server out there. I've stopped playing wow now for quite some time. If i had a choice i would go back to a Vanilla server in an instant. Maybe it's just nostalgia, harking back to the good old days but then that was fun for me. I'm like you from your previous post in that i loved the vanilla Paladin, he was my first main character in wow and i loved him to bits. I remember getting to level 30 which had taken me 2 months to do,these days you can get to 90 in a day.
    I know getting a vanilla server will not happen but boy would i love to relive some of those days. Obtaining my Charger at level 60 was the best experience ever, the entire guild ,hell the server would send congratulations as they new it was a major achievement.
    Of course my favourite style was the old Reckoning bomb spec.
    This is just some of my nostalgia kicking in but i sure do miss those days

    1. Personally, I think nostalgia is not enough. Maybe it's enough to get people to play for 3 months, but eventually it will pale.

      What then, will Blizzard keep Vanilla servers as vanilla for all time? Or should they start unlocking expansions, slowly transforming the game into the form that most Vanilla players don't like.

    2. Hi Rohan
      We can't open expansions, there i agree with you. It's probably more the fact that guys want a sense of community again, wow has become farmville, it's almost a single player game and not an MMO anymore. There is a sense of entitlement within the game. One does not need to work hard to achieve anything.

      The world is not explored, the experience of working together has gone. The game is trying to cater for everyone and by doing so its missing everyone. Blizzard need to decide who they want to target and stick with it. Right now it feels like they are hitting the lowest common denominator.