Thursday, April 28, 2016

(Someday?) Serving Pure Vanilla WOW

I'm watching the  War for Vanilla Servers and the blog posts about these "legacy" servers with interest.  One of the fascinating things to me is that there doesn't seem to be a standard for what Vanilla is. 

For me, all MMO experiences are shadows of my first online experience Star Wars Galaxies.  The changes there are precisely dated.    Released June 26, 2003.   April 27, 2005, the Combat Upgrade.   November 1, 2005 The New Game Experience.    Both brought devastating changes to the game, from which the game and its players never recovered.

World of Warcraft was released November 23, 2004.  The first expansion, The Burning Crusade wasn't released until January 16, 2007.   The expansion was well received.   I can't recall anyone ever saying anything negative about it, with the small exception of some who regret the addition of player flight to the game.

Is the Vanilla era from launch to the date of the Burning Crusade?  It seems to be the case. 

From Vanilla     What is VanillaGaming?

VanillaGaming is a 2009 founded World of Warcraft private server project and the oldest still existing classic server. With almost 5 years of experience we can offer you the feeling of the original World of Warcraft as it was back in the days of Patch 1.12. With the same main developer over all those years we have a huge knowledge about how to script (and sometimes even show so with new Wings :P )

From Vanilla WOW Wiki    

WoW patch news

World of Warcraft version — Final "vanilla" patch (1.12.1)
Patch 1.12.1 - Drums of War

The expansion did not bring devastating changes to the game, nor (except for many physical changes to the world in Cataclysm) have any of the changes to the game been abrupt.  From my perspective, having played mostly from 2008, onward, and not in the Vanilla era at all, it has been a reasonable series of developments over the course of a now 11 year old game.

Despite that, I do completely respect the desire of players to play the game as it originally was, before any large changes were made to the world.  Just as I never believed Sony when they said it was "technically impossible" to offer Pre-CU servers, I don't believe Blizzard when they say:

We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW.

Tell me there is no backup of previous versions.

You don't need to integrate classic servers, just fire them up.

You don't need to do "progression servers" just put up the "pristine", "classic" "pure vanilla" version whatever that may be.

To do so takes nothing away from the current game.
You don't need to patch and develop it, just say here it is.

Having it up there with old and new players trying it out could only be a positive thing, and maybe something can be learned from the original by all parties.

One other note – we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.

This is encouraging to me.  Yeah, talk to these guys, bring em' on board, let them help you.  They understand every pixel of the old game and what it takes to bring that beloved older version to life.


  1. I think there's probably some confusion here - they could possibly find the code that was running Vanilla - but the hardware that it ran on would have been upgraded several times by now - how you run a realm is always going to have been many servers running in parallel, and the code by itself would need considerable work to do, well, anything on modern hardware.

    Also of course the chances of them releasing something without bug testing it are zero - they are Blizzard after all.

  2. I'd have to talk with my spouse the Network guy about the server issues.
    My own thoughts are that one of the reasons World of Warcraft has been so successful over the years is because it could be played on an amazingly wide variety of computer configurations. If this is a case of the whole client/server issue, it's over my head.
    I do present to you that the private servers have been able to resolve these issues, so I believe Blizzard can do it as well.

  3. I think an important issue here is that the term 'Vanilla' isn't something everyone agrees on. It does appear that many people speaking about the 'vanilla experience' are actually talking about 'challenging' or an enhanced (some might say enforced) social experience. I wonder if, once Blizzard got involved, how many different expectations they would then need to manage?

    Would this then also open up an expectation that people could have TBC servers, WOTLK servers, Cata servers and so on? It does seem like a potential can of worms for Blizzard.

    1. I agree, there seem to be varying definitions of Vanilla. All I could find were the references to patch 1.12.1
      If there isn't some agreed upon Vanilla time frame, that could be a problem. In Blizzard's recent statement they talk about Pristine Servers. These don't sound anything like what people are reminiscing about. Lots to be worked out there.
      I don't know that there would be a demand for servers featuring the individual expansions. Each of them built upon the last. None were giant game changers which wiped out desirable elements of gameplay, right?
      The long term criticism has been not what was taken away, but what has been added over time to make the game more appealing to casual players who have come and gone in large numbers.


Leave a comment anytime. I love to talk games.