Category: Legacy WoW

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Delivering the Nostalrius Petition, My Meeting with Mike

What a strange road its been for legacy WoW servers. On April 15, I joined the Nostalrius movement to bring back vanilla servers for WoW. The petition was already at 100k signatures, and I promised that if it reached 200k signatures that I would personally send it to Mike Morhaime.

I never imagined that you guys would blow past 200k signatures in just a week, leaving me with a promise to fulfill. Well, yesterday, nearly six weeks later, I’m proud to have delivered on that promise, bringing a gigantic three boxes worth of signatures and comments to Blizzard HQ and directly to Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment and my former boss.

Watch the video for more info and check out the pics from my visit.

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Meeting with Blizzard Scheduled and Survey Update

Good news! Not only is the Nostalrius team meeting with Blizzard in early June, but I’ll be having my legacy server meeting with Blizzard CEO, Mike Morhaime, next week on Thursday. Blizzard has also agreed to accept delivery of the printed petition.

You guys did it! Nostalrius’ petition and YOU have made this possible, all 260,000 of you. While we are not guaranteed a vanilla or legacy server by Blizzard, its a very good sign that they have agreed to meet and at least talk about it.

Not to get our hopes up (okay fine, my hopes are up), but if we did get vanilla/legacy servers, a good number of you seem quite happy to help relaunch it by purchasing an optional legacy CE (collector’s edition) of the game:

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The basic idea is that legacy would be included as a bonus for being a WoW subscriber, but that you could optionally purchase a collector’s edition on top of that. I believe this would be an attractive proposition for Blizzard. We’ve seen how well remastered editions of older games have done for Halo, God of War, etc. and it makes sense to offer something that would be profitable for Blizzard and cover the costs of relaunching legacy servers. I don’t *quite* remember how many of the original CE for WoW were made, but I believe it was under 100,000 units. Even at those numbers, it was profitable.

Would this CE be digital of physical?

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Why not both? It seems the demand would be there to have both digital and physical goods available for this hypothetical collector’s edition of legacy WoW. We talked about what to include on Twitter, including a cool sculpted “Dark Portal” statue, skins for mounts, new pets, as well as a jokingly tongue in check “Sword of a Thousand Truths” USB stick, complete with a Randi cover that “brandished” the sword.

In any case, I believe this would be a great and fun optional idea for a vanilla/legacy relaunch. It may also be very attractive to Activision/Blizzard as it seeks new ways to revitalize and maximize profits on WoW. What do you think? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

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Getting a meeting time nailed down. Help remind Blizzard!

[UPDATE: Thank you! You guys sent out hundreds of tweets! Mike and Blizzard now must know this issue is still very much alive. I’m taking down the auto-tweet link below, as I feel its done its job. But you can still tweet on your own. 🙂 I’ll be sending Mike another e-mail tomorrow. Thanks!]

WoW Petition Update:

As you know, I’ve got a tentative meeting set up with Mike Morhaime to discuss legacy server. Our first e-mail exchange below:

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I’ve since sent two followup e-mails to Mike. One last Friday and one again this past Monday. Mike is a busy guy, but I’ve yet to hear back about a definite date for a meeting. Nostalrius is also in contact with Blizzard and is also having some difficultly nailing down a time from Blizzard.

You can help.

I can’t give you Mike’s direct e-mail, and Blizzard no longer publishes a support e-mail address. So, we’ll tweet @Warcaft instead to help get this going. Simply click the link below to tweet out a message to Blizzard to let them know we want these meetings scheduled. Feel free to customize the tweet. TY!

[Auto tweet link removed. We sent a strong message. Rest is up to Bliz!]

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Legacy WoW – Tweak it? Update it? Leave it the hell alone?

[Again, this is about legacy WoW, not about my tabletop game, Crixa. If the WoW posts and MMO posts get popular, I’ll separate them into a second tab on the front page so the posts can have their own section rather than be lumped in with my Tabletop posts.]

First up, petition updates:

We’re waiting.

Nostalrius is waiting on a definitive date for their meeting, and I’m waiting on my date to be booked with Mike. I sent Mike a followup e-mail last Friday and one again today. The last time it took about a week to hear  back from Mike before he agreed to a meeting, so I’m being patient.

Okay, now onto the surveys. Last week’s survey’s were fairly controversial. The first question was about whether or not to update the character models in a legacy server to the new models:

 

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Current WoW has new models for players and some have asked if these models could be included in Legacy WoW. People were VERY split. Comments indicated that many thought that new models would detract from the vanilla purity and point of having legacy servers. Many voted for new models, but it became clear that it was coming from a “nice to have” perspective with only one or two saying they would not play vanilla WoW if the models were not updated. Many were concerned that asking Blizzard for any additional work was just going to make it that much harder to get them to agree to hosting a legacy server.

This lead to a much more interesting question:

 

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When asked if Blizzard should change vanilla/legacy WoW on a relaunch, the clear majority wanted little, if any changes. In followup comments there were a lot of reasons that people gave. They broke down into a few categories:

  • Keep it simple. It’s going to be hard enough to convince Blizzard to do legacy without asking for any additional work.
  • Don’t mess up a good thing. People want vanilla or TBC, etc, just as it is. It’s the old systems that made it what it is and what we want to play again.
  • Bug fixes are fine. Nearly everyone agreed with this. Old exploits, game breaking bugs and such should be addressed.
  • Convenience features are the devil. LFG/Dungeon Finder, LFR, and other systems were seen, nearly universally, as contributing to the decline of WoW gameplay over the expansions and should be avoided in any vanilla/legacy server.

Personally, I would tend to fall into the “leave it alone” camp. Legacy for me is as much about preserving history and a piece of gaming culture as it is about playing the version of the game that we loved. Any changes beyond bug fixes would hamper both those goals. More importantly, designers love to tinker, and once you open the floodgates to “just one more change” you’re down a slippery slope that can cascade into bigger and bigger “improvements.”

A thought about convenience features: these really are the devil. With modern MMO convenience features, your UI starts to become the game. Instead of interacting with the immersive world around you, you are stuck staring at flat UI screen and clicking buttons. This is very convenient and fast, but it also removes a lot of what made MMOs cool in the first place–like an immersive world that felt real and lived in, and a sense of wonder and exploration that made new zones exciting instead of just another item in a UI list box. Once your primary interaction with the game is it’s UI instead of moving around that world and talking to other players and NPCs, you might as well be playing a single player game…and in my opinion not even a very good single player game.

That’s just my opinion. As I said before, I’ll be presenting all options to Mike that we’ve discussed. Blizzard has far more resources than I do to make accurate surveys if they like. My own informal twitter surveys are just there to draw out all the possible topics to discuss.

As usual, post your thoughts below in the comments! I’ll be reading and answering them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WoW Legacy Survey Info

[Note to Crixa RPG readers. I’m doing work to help convince Blizzard to try and restore original vanilla World of Warcraft servers. This blog post is not about the space opera RPG]

To update everyone on the legacy petition status, we have a bit of time. While Nostalrius and I both have separate meetings coming up with Blizzard, a definitive date looks to be at least a week or two away. Current status:

  1. Petition at over 253k signatures – congrats!!!! (can always use more: https://www.change.org/p/mike-morhaime-legacy-server-among-world-of-warcraft-community)
  2. Petition printed – DONE! Will be delivered when I meet Mike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFAadmkAd7g
  3. My meeting with Mike – Awaiting scheduling (Mike ws booked solid for 2 weeks)
  4. Nostalrius’ meeting – Awaiting scheduling (see @Nostalbegins on Twitter for their status)

In the meantime, to prepare to discuss things with Mike, I’ve started collecting some (highly informal) survey data on Twitter. The one we’re talking about today are the surveys on progression servers and moving to new expansions from vanilla. Take a look.

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The first survey on the left was a bit flawed. Since I can’t explain everything in a 140 char tweet, many people who voted for timeline based progression did so by accident, so I posted the second survey to clarify.

Basically what we are looking at here is a big question about how to handle expansions with vanilla or legacy servers. Only 15% wanted vanilla to never be upgraded. Anecdotally, I received many tweets (@Grummz, btw), that said TBC (Burning Crusade) was the sweet spot they would like to play.

It’s pretty clear that the majority of people want some kind of progression from vanilla thru expansion packs. Many pointed out that they would want the progression to stop at Wrath of The Lich King, as those people viewed Cataclysm as the beginning of the end of classic WoW. Cataclysm certainly is from the point of view of content, since they did away with much of the old content by then and reshaped the rest. Clearly if we want to play WoW as it was, we need to preserve servers that are pre-Cat.

Now there were two main ways we discussed moving from vanilla to expansions like TBC and WotLK: automatic and manual. Automatic is when the server you are on upgrades to the next expansion back at a certain interval (say, every 2 years), and brings everyone on the server along with it. Manual is when the vanilla server you are on isn’t going to change. If you want to play the next expansion, you would elect to copy your character to the new expansion server when it became available.

Automatic transition was by far the less popular choice. People pointed out that by automatically progressing the servers, we would a) end up where we are now at WoD and wishing we had vanilla again, and b) wipe out the historical content we were seeking to preserve in the first place (Naxx, etc.). It seems the only way automatically progressing servers could work and still preserve the past, is if we still kept servers around for prior expansions…which is, of course, what the second and more popular choice of “Manual” implies.

A manual expansion upgrade means that the vanilla server you play on would remain the same forever. If you wanted to go on to an expansion, you would need to transfer or copy your character to the next expansion in series. Now, there are open questions here. Are all expansions available at launch of legacy, or do you roll them out every 2 years? What happens to the population of a server when an expansion comes out? What happens to guilds who may find themselves split between servers?

The notion of being able to copy your character, rather than transfer it, is an important one to many people. Many felt that a one-way transfer would leave the prior, originating server, depopulated. By copying your character to the next expansion, you would have the option of playing on both. Your original character would still be tuned for vanilla, and your new character could progress in TBC with new gear etc. If you wanted to play vanilla content, you’d go to the vanilla server. If you wanted TBC content/features, you’d play on a TBC server.

Not many were concerned about guilds being split. Most seemed to think that guilds could self-manage this by either being large enough to maintain a multiple server presence, or by electing to transfer by a guild vote en masse. I tend to agree. I’m not worried about how guilds manage the transition. They will do what’s right for them.

The question of server depopulation is an interesting one. But I think it needs to be viewed in light of legacy not being the actual definitive business of WoW, but as a bonus feature. As a bonus feature, I’d be far less worried about a lack of payers on older expansion servers. The point is to offer it as an option, and only deploy the minimum number of servers needed to meet that demand and also preserve the historical importance of the game as a cultural icon. If vanilla servers start being collapse all the way down to one server when TBC launches, that’s fine. History is preserved, and the legacy option is preserved. The main game and legacy expansions will continue to carry the bulk of payers.

I do think that we should start with vanilla and keep it running for 1-2 years before introducing any expansions. This will give people time to level and appreciate the old content. It’s also a lot easier to convince Blizzard to try, since its just one version of the game to start with. If successful, Blizzard would likely be happy to release additional expansions over time.

I’m looking for thoughts and comments, so please leave them here! Twitter is also good for quick suggestions, and you can reach me @grummz.

Thanks and let’s keep our fingers crossed for legacy servers!