Not so Crazy about Classic Servers

It’s time for another installment of Unpopular Opinion Hour with your host, Fussypants! Today, we discuss a topic that had some responding with cries of joy and others responding with howls of hate. You guessed it, we’re discussing World of Warcraft: Classic!

I’ve avoided the topic thus far, but I think it’s time to finally address one of the larger announcements from Blizzcon – Classic servers. For many, this was the biggest highlight of the Blizzcon weekend, culminating years of impassioned pleas and perhaps even private servers. My opinion on this piece of news, however, is rather… mixed.

Personally, and this is truly a purely personal view that I do not wish to force on anyone else, I don’t really see the point of Classic servers. The game has evolved, changed, and, I would argue, gotten hundreds of times better over the years and I just don’t get the excitement in going back. However, I want to be clear here, what I’m writing about is absolutely and completely my own opinion. You may agree or disagree with me as much as you’d like. I know the Vanilla Warcraft discussion is one that frequently becomes vitriolic, and I want to do my best to avoid that here. This is Unpopular Opinion Hour after all, so I totally realize that not all feel the same way I do.

A lot of my disinterest in Vanilla probably stems from the fact that, despite playing since the Burning Crusade, I don’t have a lot of nostalgic feelings for the older expansions of the games. They were fun while I was playing them, absolutely, but inevitably, whatever came after them was even more fun. Burning Crusade, for example, was fun because it was new to me, not because the game itself was all that fun. I have distinct memories of spending hours trying to find quest locations, selling off gear so I could pay to buy arrows, and struggling to find food that my pet would eat. I loved the world and I loved the atmosphere of the game, but the mechanics themselves were clunky and, at times, frustrating.

However, I will readily admit, I was definitely younger back in the Burning Crusade. A lot younger. Some stuff that found difficult then, I most likely would be able to do with ease now. Not just because of my experience in the game, but because it’s a lot more difficult for a kid to figure out the intricacies of a video game than it is for a young adult to do so. I recognize this. But, I also don’t think that my opinion is any less valid for this. Nostalgia is predominantly based off of emotional impact rather than logic, after all, and the emotional impact that I got from the older expansions in Warcraft was not nearly as rosy-colored.

I strongly believe that every expansion has brought better and better quality of life changes to the game, to the point where I don’t think I could go back to playing without them. Things like dual specialization and the mount tab, cross-account items and the dungeon journal, transmogrification and the new character models, all of that would be gone on a true Vanilla server. That’s like… having a sports car and then going back to your Big Wheel. Sure, there’s a lot of charm and memories to your Big Wheel. But your sports car can go farther, faster, and is arguably more fun to take out for a spin.

Before Blizzard had announced Classic realms, my lack of nostalgia paired with a solidly Lawful Good alignment had meant that I was very much against the use of private vanilla servers. I wrote a rather fiery piece about it many moons ago (which I am not going to link now because it was perhaps a touch too zealous). I stand by what I said then, although I might amend the tone to be less antagonistic. But now that Blizzard themselves is creating a Classic Warcraft expansion, a lot of my earlier concerns about property theft go out the window.

I suppose in that sense, I am actually happy that Blizzard has decided to make an official version. Private servers really, really bothered me on an ethical level, which was only heightened by the way in which people tried to defend them. Now that Vanilla WoW is being made by the company who actually owns the intellectual property, I feel a big part of that problem is immediately gone. Private server membership will undoubtedly shrink. That sort of black market for the Classic WoW experience will be greatly reduced by the presence of a sanctioned version.

One thing still bothers me though. When talking to a friend about the introduction of Classic servers, he mentioned something along the lines that the people who’d produced a major (illegal) Vanilla Legacy server had been brought onto the team to help develop World of Warcraft: Classic (I do not know if this information is factual or not, but the point was compelling enough to bring up now). While it makes sense from a logistical standpoint, it doesn’t sit well with me that the people who knowingly broke the rules to create a private server are now being rewarded by working on this with Blizzard. Their past actions aren’t retroactively in the right.

That, however, is an issue for another day.

All in all, I think one essential question remains: “Will I poke around on Classic Servers at all?” My response is a solid Maybe. I definitely know I won’t end up transferring over full time. Largely due to the reasons given above, but also, I can’t play a draenei in Vanilla WoW! I need mah purple space lady! But I might potentially create a toon just to see the original quests (since I hardly remember any of them). That’s a big ‘If’ though; I haven’t even gotten around to leveling up a Horde character for the past two expansions and a Classic toon would be even lower priority. I’m simply not all that excited for the Vanilla experience.

But hey, if Classic servers are your jam, definitely go wild! Just because I don’t like a thing, doesn’t mean I want to keep everyone else from liking it. And once you either decide to come return or just come visit the world of Draenei, Pandaren, Death Knights, Demon Hunters, and more, I’ll still be here. 🙂

15 thoughts on “Not so Crazy about Classic Servers

  1. I’m an world of warcraft follower and I think that’s a good idea to people who want to play in old times. That’s the time to mention old times while u was younger. I like to go back to old times and games. Classic world of warcraft is not for me cuz I love updates and new things in games. I’m not reay excited about classic release but I can wish good luck to the devs.

  2. I’m with you, with everything you brought up.

    First, on the ethical level, I totally agree on the private servers, but there’s another more pressing issue, which I would like to see Blizzard approach, which really bothers me – People that play the PTR as Live. They buy the new expansion, level a character to max level, copy that character to the PTR and then unsubscribe until the next expansion.

    Now with Classic servers, I started playing with TBC and apart from Barrens Chat, I didn’t miss any Vanilla experience, even the opening of AQ (it was possible to do it on newer realms until Cataclysm). So I played the Vanilla world with a mostly Vanilla community and to many it is remembered as the golden era of the game. However, I think people really miss the community of back then and forget all the clunky mechanics.

    (Not all mechanics were clunky, but many were. One mechanic that I think aged better then others is how mounts worked, looking forward to getting to 40 or 60 to get your mount and the immense joy that followed, especially as a Paladin with the Charger questline)

    Also, the feeling of Nostalgia, is a part of someone’s personality, I think. I have many warm nostalgic memories of the pre-Cataclysm zones and also, some later expansions as well, but my way of dealing with just looking at these memories fondly, instead of wishing to go back and redo it all over again.

    So, While I welcome the option to go back to to old zones and revisit them in their old pre-Cataclysm glory, apart from doing that, I don’t expect to see myself hanging around the Classic servers.

    • I had no idea people were doing that with the PTR! I was under the impression that you had to have an active subscription in order to play on those realms. That is very shady!

      Regarding nostalgia, that is exactly how I feel. For me, Mists of Pandaria was my favorite expansion but I have no desire to go back. It was a wonderful experience while it lasted, but I’m confident that the future will hold just as many wonderful experiences, while going back will hold far, far less. Past memories are best to be fondly looked back on rather than actively pursued.

      And I think you got the crux of the issue; folks miss the people and the ‘newness’ of the game rather than the game itself. A good friend of mine summed it up pretty well: You miss your high school years, but walking around the empty building itself would get you nothing. What you truly miss is all of your friends and teachers and the experience of being young.

  3. I definitely am going to try out the Classic game for purely nostalgia. I know that it won’t be the same and I am prepared for that because what made the game for me was the realms and friends playing. Sure, it won’t be the same but it’s worth the try. I’ll still be playing the retail game more because I am enjoying that too.

    • Makes sense! From what I’ve been hearing around the Internets, it sounds like quite a lot of people feel the same way you do: they want to check it out but they aren’t sure they’ll stay for long periods of time. Are there any highlights that you really want to make sure you see?

      • Almost all of Kalimdor without the devastation – I started out with NE Hunter which has been changed to a BE Hunter (Fnor Morningstar) and have played him as my main for 12+ years. I loved playing WoW back in the day and the grind wasn’t all that bad to me. 😀

  4. I was…to put it mildly, THRILLED to see actual, official, WoW Vanilla servers being brought out again. I never got to see old Thousand Needles, or witness the opening of AQ, or help Mankrik find his wife. This is an enormous part of the history of the game world I’ve come to know and love, and I thought I would never be able to see it again. That, to me, is worth it.

    • I can totally understand that. I wonder for events like the opening of AQ how Blizzard will do that on the Classic servers. Will it be a one and done or will it repeat every so often so lots of folks can take part? In either case, I honestly don’t know if I’d join in but it’d definitely be cool to hear that it’s happening again. Out of curiosity, do you plan on playing on Classic servers semi-permanently or just checking it out for those features you mentioned?

  5. I never hid my unpopular opinion about those private realms, and concerning what I think about the whole “Vanilla was much better”. Everyone has a right to an opinion, and people don’t have to agree everytime. I’m sure a lot of players in the vanilla wow fanbase will give up when they see their characters in a non matching armor being unable to fly or queue for dungeons or BGs, but hey, good for the ones who prefer it that way, I hope they have a lot of fun 🙂

    The people that Blizzard brought on board, which I believe there are only two guys, to create the Classic WoW, were asked to join mainly for all the details that Blizzard not longer has about the game. I agree that someone who broke the rules and essentially stole your intellectual property, shouldn’t be rewarded with working for you. But considering that they could bring some advantage for the company, it was a clever Business decision to get them. Just like a medieval mongol army integrating enemy forces that distinguished themselves in battle to bolster their own strength.

    It will help making a good final result, and it will make a lot of the people who play in private servers migrate to WoW Classic (“it cant be that bad, those two guys helped the “big bad company” do it”).

    One would think people would actively avoid copyright infringement against a 6 billion dollar company (2016), I can only imagine the army of lawyers they have on retainer xD

    • I’ll be very curious to see how many folks stick around in Classic servers long term. Many of the people I know have said that they’re only interested in poking around for a bit, so I kinda wonder if the population will start out strong and then peter out to a small handful of the dedicated. Only time will tell!

      Regarding the people brought onto the company, I totally get the logic why; they know the coding and the mechanics the best so they would be best equipped to create another copy, this one Blizzard sanctioned. The point you made about encouraging folks to transfer from private servers into WoW Classic is also incredibly astute. On a business level, it’s the smart thing to do. But on an ethical level, I still don’t like it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that would keep me from playing Classic Warcraft, but that definitely did put a damper in any enthusiasm I had. I just really hope those guys got, at the very least, a firm talking-to before they were brought onto the team.

  6. An oppinion is never popular or unpopular; it highly depends on the reader as well as on the writer, does it not? 😉 If feedback and thoughts are shared in a constructive manner, we all get along 🙂

    I screamed with excitement over the announcement of Classic servers. Now you know where I stand.

    But, I also know, in order to understand my side, one simply has to have played from the very, very beginning. And not only that, one has to have had a certain age, and been able to run Dungeons, Raids, and have been a big part of the comunity. Back when everybody knew your name 😉

    I won’t be naive. We cannot recreate those times back then. But that we will be able to go back to simpler times…Visit the places, that Deathwing destroyed. See our old characters face again before the updated models…Make use of every drop we get…Find beloved NPCs that are no where around after Cataclysm (Gubber Blump, I am coming to see you!)…Bring back the sense of community.

    This last part for me is the most important. if I could chose ONE thing I want to remove from Current, it’s Cross Realms.

    I am not here to win you over at all. Or debate, really 🙂

    I could write a long response, but instead, just know, that even though I will be playing Classic, I also want to play Current. The game has great things, no matter which year it was released.

    And know that I fully agree with you on the illegal server point of view! I hope, that the staff who will work on Classic will all be “clean”. I guess Blizzard is not in an easy position, knowing that players love their game so much, they will break the law to play it, yet still, there has to be consequences for that.

    Anyway. Classic or Current, I am there, but I sure look forward to Classic in ways that is not possible to fully understand, unless you were around back then, I think 🙂

    • I tend to preface any controversial or less frequently held op-eds with Unpopular Opinion Hour just so folks who feel very strongly against me don’t go too crazy in the comment section. I totally love a good respectful debate but I’m not so keen on arguments and fighting, especially over a digital medium. Unpopular Opinion Hour is a layer of defense to maintain civility, haha

      But yeah, if Classic servers are your thing, totally go for it! In general, I’m not particularly nostalgic about… well… anything, so I honestly don’t think that, even if had played Vanilla at an older age, I’d want to go back. Even for my most favorite expansion, Mists of Pandaria, I’d be totally uninterested in revisiting that again. But I definitely know that I’m an odd duck in this perspective. And it’s probably for the best that Blizzard doesn’t solely cater to folks like me. Classic servers might very well end up being some people’s bread and butter, and I’m down for having people play what they like!

      One last note on the old character models, I believe you can actually turn the new models off somewhere in the settings! I’d heard this being bounced around a lot when the new ones came out but I don’t know exactly where that checkbox is, if it even still exists. But hey, that’s always an option to tide you over until the Classic realms themselves come out!

      • Sweet of you of you to suggest that tip of the old character models, and you are correct; for some races.
        Though, sadly, Night Elves and Blood Elves no longer has access to their old models, since Demon Hunters arrived – they just have the new ones. But hey 🙂

        That is another reason I see Classic servers as a success. Those of us who just want to experience the past from time to time can do so, and stop hoping for the Current version to cater to the nostalgic feel 🙂

        • Aw man, I didn’t know that was the case with those models, darn!

          And yup, that’s a really good point! Blizzard might be freed up to make a lot more sweeping changes to the world because they’ve already got a copy of the original (and I’d assume they could make more copies for other expansions should they want to). If Classic servers gets even more action in the Current servers, I’m totally down for that!

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