It’s no secret that I, like many others, believed WoW v1.0 to have been the pinnacle of the MMORPG genre. It greatly improved on what came before it, and nothing innovative has happened since. It’s time to examine the truths, and lay to rest claims people have of nostalgic misrememberings, rose-tinted spectacles, memory bias and the like.
Happy 4th to the Americans out there. On this day of independence, perhaps it is fitting to free ourselves from the current slosh of MMO offerings and remember a time when freeform gaming reigned supreme.
Around the ‘sphere
There has been plenty of clamoring in this ring of the blogosphere about those who have lost hope, or view the future of the genre as looking bleak. Myself, after having blogged about the genre as a way to keep my interest alive, ended up realizing that what I enjoy(ed) about it is gone in the games today. Nothing in its current iteration fills the gaming whims that I have. The call for relaxing but challenging gameplay, flexibility in freeform combat, open and organic world aren’t tall orders, but orders nonetheless that no studio is catering to.
Syl, with all her great insight, asked everyone how WoW changed us. I didn’t respond, despite it being a great question, because I feel everything we come in contact with leaves a mark on us, and us on it. WoW is no different, nothing special, in this regard. The question to me is, just how much has WoW changed itself?
I’m blessed with a very acute memory, able to remember the most random details about meaningless settings in life. But my memory won’t always be this way, surely. Additionally, my memory helps only myself in understanding: I cannot pass my unique insight, my unique perspective and understanding of how all the remembered details work in concert to form an experience of days gone by. This is where the age of media steps in.
I prefer to remember WoW as it used to be, not the abomination it has become… And it’s time to immortalize that part of WoW.
Are You Motivated?
I think it’s no lie every gamer has a couple game design documents sitting on their desktop. I’m no different, having made pnp mock ups my whole life, laced some basic code here and there. In my spare time, I try to collect accurate illustrations of the games I enjoy(ed) with the most organic feel, the least amount of editing possible. No ‘best hits’ collection showing the highs and ignoring the lows. I’ve many YouTube subscriptions for classic WoW content, along with various other great games from the past.
The trouble is finding an all-inclusive view of what makes a game what it is/was. Even if we can find raw footage, it is only ever a snippet of an all inclusive reel that no one ever has.
I frequent Twitch as well, and chanced across a stream of a guy who organized a small band o merry men to level fresh characters, locking at level and farming endgame raids for a handful of weeks before leveling to the next level cap iteration and doing the exercise again. With 23 people, 40man content, at level, was devoured from MC, through BWL, to AQ40 with no wipes until Twin Emps. Taking all of 1h30, mind you. All the nerfs applied to content through years of patches completely ruined the experience. Then I found another guy who was doing the whole private server thing, and it didn’t look like GMs were handing out gear, looked like a stable gaming experience etc. The cogs were set in motion.
Monumental. Where to Begin?
Suffice to say, Blizzard no longer offers the service that is WoW v1.0. And at iteration 5.0 on the horizon, I think any hopes that any Blizzard might pull a SOE are gone. It will lie to player movements to make this documentary happen. Most of these are extremely poorly done with shoddy server performance, pathing issues, and not to mention the monetary gains that make them susceptible to lawsuits and shutting down. It was important to find something solid and proper before considering proceeding.
The Classic Experience
So what was classic? It was more than just the game. It was the community, it was the mods, it was the forums… most all of which are gone, or if they are still around, it is in name only. Finding the tools I’d need would require research, as every popular site that was once used has only ‘updated’ listings, void of the true classic feel we’re after.
Getting out into the community, I found people floating amidst the [WoW v1.0] wreckage like myself! They had the tools I was after, or were able to send me in the right direction to find what I was looking for.
We all played with our talent trees in classic. We wanted to see how we could spend our points in the way WE wanted, testing this or that on paper before locked in ingame. 50g respec costs broke the bank for the average player. Presenting: WoWProvider 1.12.1 Talent Calculator.
We also would look for items or quest help. Where was this NPC? Who drops my next upgrade? What is the name of that weapon I just saw that I was beheaded with ingame? Presenting: Wayback Machine Thottbot.
We can’t forget how integral professions were too. Farming all those enchanting mats and not knowing how to advance further would bring us to professions guides, easing those troubles. Presenting: VanillaBox Professions Guide.
Well, after all this success, it was time to dust off the ol’ fraps and see if all these efforts could be worth something.
Everyone who plays or has played WoW knows of private servers. Hell, any ‘gamer’ knows about the emu scene regardless of genre. The key would be to find one that was as legitimate as possible, across all possible metrics. After frequenting many sites, performing many inquiries, meeting with anonymous informants in back alleyways, I found the perfect one.
Legally, private servers are found to be in fault because of the money transactions which then are claimed to be profit losses for Blizz. This is a server that is 100% supported by the owner, nullifying donations of any kind for any reason.
Gameplaywise, this is a server that has had a very dedicated dev team that has fixed most if not all bugs concurrent with the game, both present and past retail. For example, Warrior Charge (like Mage Blink), to this day, is crappy and bugged on retail, but yet the dev team here makes it so smooth and effortless.
The project’s stage is set. Let the preservation of the vanilla game begin.
Series: Vanilla Preservation Project