The Gaming Days of Yore!
Blizzard Entertainment is known for a lot of things – Overwatch, Diablo, Hearthstone, Starcraft – But it is probably most widely known for one of the biggest MMORPGS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) ever. World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft is a cartoony adventure/questing game in which you can join with players across your country and defeat powerful enemies together. The game released in November of 2004 making it almost twelve years old. With five released expansions and one on the way (A wee babe compared to Everquest’s 22 expansions on the original game alone), Blizzard seems to still be going strong.
However, there has always been a large community of people who yearn for the days of “Vanilla” WoW. Vanilla meaning the original World of Warcraft game – without expansions. This community grew so large they created a private server named Nostalrius which is void of all perks and drawbacks of the expansions.
If you are unfamiliar with World of Warcraft, let me shed some light for you. When World of Warcraft first came out it took the average casual player anywhere from 2-5 months to go from level 1 to 60 if they played a few hours per day. Personally it took me 3 years to get from 1-60, but I was more focused on running Deadmines till my eyes bled. The first person to hit level 60 did it in 10 days. Now, with all five expansions, it takes less than a week for a casual player to reach level 60 and less than a day if you’re “hardcore”.
Easy leveling aside, the game is scarcely the game it was before. In Vanilla there was no Group Finder, you had to announce to the city what your class was, what level you were, what specialty and what you were looking for. You had to keep doing that until you found 4 other people who wanted to do the same. Then you all had to hoof it there unless you had a Warlock who had their summoning spell, which they did not learn until their later levels. Once in the dungeon it would take much, much longer to complete. The DPS depended on the tank, the tank depended on the healer and the healer actually needed to sit down and drink. I am leaving out so many other “Character Building” activities from Vanilla, but you get the picture.
Because everything took so long, people actually interacted with one another. Friendships were formed and people actually came back to the game to group with their online friends. People would wait 15-30 minutes for the tank to come back from dinner just to continue a dungeon. Currently, if you leave the keyboard to let the dogs out you will be left behind or kicked if the group decides you are not essential.
It may seem like I’m shitting all over the current version of World of Warcraft (I kind of am) but I’m not completely. Modern WoW has a lot of perks, especially for casual gamers. Getting to the level cap is easier for the gamer who doesn’t have time to spend multiple hours every night grinding quests. The group finder and raid finder allows everyone to have a chance to experience end game content and get the best gear. You no longer have to wait an hour for someone to get the mail that you sent them.
But the people of Nostalrius wanted the Vanilla days. So they made their private server which grew to a huge active player base of 150,000 people. The developers did this at no cost to the player, which means they were putting their own time, money and effort into keep the server afloat. You may be wondering, “Why didn’t Blizzard jump on this?!” They have not, despite countless players calling out for separate servers for Vanilla WoW. Why? I do not know. RuneScape did the exact same thing for a neat price of about $10 a month. Nostalrius was shut down on April 10th of 2016 much to the dismay of its players. It’s understandable, though, because the content is property of Blizzard Entertainment.
Personally, I would probably pay an extra subscription amount (or switch completely over) to play Vanilla WoW. I miss the friendships and the challenge, as well as a myriad of other things!
If you would like to read or watch more on the issue here are a few helpful links:
The Nostalrius website which links to an open letter to Blizzard about the shutting down of their server. There are also helpful links that direct to videos and articles that also add their two cents.
PCGamer’s ‘Inside the WoW Server Blizzard Wants to Shut Down’ article which delves a little more deeply into exactly why people enjoy Vanilla WoW so much.
JonTron’s ‘Blizzard Rant’ which is what prompted me to write this article.
My fingers are crossed – but my hopes are not high – that Blizzard creates a Vanilla server for players to join. It would be so great to be able to go back and have that community again. Maybe they will take a hint from the developers of Nostalrius.
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