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. 🙂

Anduin Wrynn Appreciation Post

Artwork from the Son of the Wolf Digital Comic

It’s time for another installment of Unpopular Opinion Hour with your host, Fussypants! Today we profess our undying love for a character almost as reviled as Thrall himself.  You guessed, it, we’re talking about Anduin Wrynn!

Anduin Wrynn is, hands down, one of my favorite characters in the World of Warcraft.  He’s no badass fighter, walking away all cool-guy like from explosions.  He’s no infallible leader, orchestrating the perfect sequence of events to win the day.  And he’s certainly no wise sage, consulted with for matters of prophecy and the foreseen.  All told, there’s really not much remarkable about Anduin at all, other than the fact that his father is Varian Wrynn. However, despite all this (or perhaps, because of all this), I connect with Anduin much more than any other character in the game.

Prince then king, then prince, and now once again king, Anduin has, in many ways, been thrown to the wolves unprepared.  Not only did young Anduin have to deal with the disappearance and supposed death of his father very early on in his life but he also had to help lead an entire nation.  There was no boyish innocence, no rosy colored childhood allowed, just a load of responsibilities which would have been much for even someone much older to handle.  Anduin grew up in a world where he was expected to grow up quickly and take on his duties as king, without a mother or father to guide him.

Then, when his father did return, life didn’t exactly get much easier.  The Varian Wrynn who returned was not the Varian Wrynn who had left, instead replaced by a grizzled, scarred warrior who struggled to connect with anyone outside of the battlefield.  Varian Wrynn might have come back and resumed his duties as king, but he sure as heck did not resume his duties as a father.  Once Bolvar Fordragon, who’d acted as young Anduin’s father figure during Varian’s absence, disappeared forever in Northrend, Anduin was  left without any sort of support.

Despite Varian now being back, things only got harder for Anduin Wrynn.  While he was no longer acting as the king, now Anduin had to contend with the awesome reputation of Varian.  Varian Wrynn was no simple king, he was more of a force of nature. His prowness in battle and leadership at home elevated him almost to the heights of legends.  Everyone knew the name Varian Wrynn, whether they were Alliance or Horde, and all were in awe of his abilities. Being the son of such a figure, there was an expectation that Anduin would be similarly legendary.

Only, Anduin wasn’t.  He eschewed the sword, choosing instead to wield the Light.  Where Varian was confident, Anduin was unsure.  Where Varian was ruthless, Anduin was compassionate.  Where Varian was a pragmatist, Anduin was an idealist.  To many, the crown prince of Stormwind seemed downright weak.

This is the first major reason why I love Anduin Wrynn as a character.  In a world where everyone is insanely self-assured, Anduin was the kid who wasn’t.  He doubted his actions.  He made mistakes.  He failed.  Try as he might, Anduin Wrynn failed again and again. Not because the enemy’s strategy was better or some force outside of his control got in the way but because he himself made a mistake.  Anduin Wrynn isn’t perfect, and he knows it.

Nevertheless, Anduin Wrynn does not give up.  When something knocks him down, Anduin gets right back up and tries again.  He is determined to a fault, willing to do whatever is necessary to stay true to his ideals.  War and bloodshed have not numbed his sense of compassion; if anything, they have made it stronger.

Anduin Wrynn is an unashamed idealist in a world run by pragmatists.  Even Jaina Proudmoore, the old holdout on peace, has become jaded and bitter.  But not Anduin. While the things he believes in may never come to pass, Anduin Wrynn does not give up hope.  And truly, Azeroth needs someone like that.  Someone who can trust, someone who can hope, someone who can believe.  By believing in something better, Anduin and those like him help to create a world where that is actually the case.

However, it is vital to realize that Anduin Wrynn is no fool. He might be an optimist but even Anduin Wrynn recognizes that peace comes at a price  Even Anduin Wrynn realizes that some enemies can’t be reasoned with.  Even Anduin Wrynn knows that war is sometimes necessary.  His is a character where idealism is in constant conflict with harsh realities.  Over the expansions, Anduin has outgrown his naivety but the kid is far from a realist.  That internal conflict is part of what makes him interesting.

It’s also part of what makes him identifiable.  I won’t lie to you; part of the reason why I love Anduin Wrynn’s character so is because I see a lot of myself it him.  Someone who is young but wanting to change the world.  Someone who is having to balance perfect scenarios with what actually occurs.  Just as I’ve been slowly finding my place and who I want to be, so has Anduin Wrynn, growing up along side of me in the World of Warcraft.

When Varian Wrynn died at the Broken Front, all of these factors that have been building and growing inside the young Wrynn came to a head. His father is now well and truly gone, and Anduin has to fill the enormous mantle left behind. Lead the Alliance.  Fight the Legion.  Become the new Varian Wrynn.

I think that short little cinematic (Alliance side only, I’m afraid) does the perfect job of explaining who Anduin is now.  He’s absolutely still afraid and unsure.  He’s most definitely not prepared.  And he can never be the new Varian Wrynn.

But that doesn’t matter because he doesn’t need to be.  By accepting his father’s old sword and infusing it with the Light, Anduin has demonstrated that he will not be his father.  He will try to emulate his father’s strength and bravery but he will still maintain his own idealism. He will lead the Alliance, not as Varian but as King Anduin Wrynn, Son of the Wolf and Keeper of Peace.

And then maybe, hopefully, become a paladin >:D

Wherein I make a bunch of enemies…

Vanilla Loading screenIt’s time for another installment of Unpopular Opinions with your host, Fussypants! Today, we tackle an exceedingly controversial issue and manage to agree with absolutely no one else! You guessed it, we’re talking about LEGACY SERVERS!

I am not a fan!

First of all, I believe the current iteration, of private servers run by random interwebs programmers, is deplorable.  To take someone elses work, make a few tweaks, and start handing it out for free (or even worse, charging for it) it just plain terrible.  It’s theft, it’s infringement, and its just plain wrong.

And I’m sorry, no amount of ‘large and vibrant community’ is going to make me think otherwise.  Because you know what else can have a large and vibrant community? Black markets.  Cartels.  Gangs.  While their crimes are not nearly as severe, I still consider those who create and those who populate legacy servers to be no better than criminals.  Wrong is wrong, no ifs, ands, or buts.

However, there seems to be a lot of talk about Blizzard hosting their own legacy servers, which would be an entirely different ballpark.  No longer is there an ethical question about the servers, it would be run by those who created the game in the first place.  However, even without the criminal element, I still dislike legacy servers as a concept.

The world is a constantly changing place.  Ideas are born, technology is invented, countries rise and fall, and times change.  I can’t think of a single institution that has remained constant throughout history.  But change also can mean growth whereas stagnation always leads to decay.  Everything evolves.

Change is such a big part of our lives and naturally, is a part of our entertainment. Even video games like Warcraft must change to continue to compete.  Just about everything aside from the very basic controls have changed in Warcraft- the endgame, the class mechanics, the grouping mechanisms, everything.  Heck, every couple of weeks, we have hotfixes to change something else.  Warcraft is a living entity and thus it continually evolves.

And in a game like Warcraft, change is not only a part to the whole, it’s a vital part.  In order to maintain it’s playerbase, new content and quality of life changes must be constantly added.  If they were not, the game would stagnate and people would slowly get bored and leave.  We see the effect of stagnation already- every expansion doldrums the subscriber numbers dip as many people take a break.  Warcraft needs change.

So I just cannot fathom why people would want to go back and play in a static, stagnate, outdated iteration of the game.  Why would you want to purposefully return to a version of the game that will never improve, never progress, never evolve?  It’s like saying ‘oh, I want to go back to the rotary phone because those were the good ole days!’.  It just isn’t logical.

I believe we are blinded by our rose-tinted glasses.  We remember those old expansions not for how they were but rather for who we played with.  We don’t remember all the annoying grindy parts, we just remember the sense of wonder in exploring the world.  We look back fondly onto the people we used to know.  Like a friend of mine astutely put it, you might miss your high school years, but do you really want to go back to that building? Or do you want to go back and meet all the people again? And generally, the people are the pull.

Would it be fun to poke around in a vanilla version of the game? Probably, but only for a little while.  Eventually, you are bound to get bored of something that never changes.  It’s human nature.  There’s only so long you can listen to that one song before you get sick of it.  Even if it did used to be your favorite song.

Legacy servers, in my opinion, are simply not worth the coding they are made of.  With change being such an essential part of life, purposely going backwards and then stagnating there is counter productive.  And I know I’m not alone on this, if this would mean that Blizzard’s limited resources would then get split between developing new content and maintaining the ancient, I would be rather peeved.  Some whiner complaining about legacy servers so much, got their way, and are now slowing down the progress of my game? No way! Warcraft should be moving forwards, not backwards!

Living in the past accomplishes nothing. The only possible way towards the future is through continual adaption and change.