Category Archives: World of Warcraft

April in Review

The Site

Well, the MMO Bloggers Feed in my side bar got a last minute reprieve when IFTTT decided not to cut off Pinboard support on April 4th.

FeedlyPinboard

Pretty much the synopsis…

That was probably a good thing as my experiments with Delicious created RSS feeds have been a complete flop.  Not only do they have ads injected into the feed… which I get, they have to make money somehow… but something between Delicious and WordPress.com isn’t picking up the feed as it updates.  So while I look at the raw RSS and see new things being added, the feed just sits with the first couple of items.  Bleh.

Meanwhile, nobody has suggested anything about the Google+ syndication issue I mentioned last month, which I am going to take as a sign that either nobody really cares about Google+ syndication or nobody noticed that my posts stopped appearing there.  Probably the latter.

In addition, because I have a Google login that I use to comment on Blogger sites, I made a blog over there to point to this one since my Google profile only likes blogs they host.  But as I was tinkering with various RSS and feed options, I thought I figured out how to get anything that posted here to also post straight to that site as well.  I put that in place but never actually tested it.

Imagine my surprise when I passed by the blog half way into the month and found that it worked.  So I renamed the site The Redundant Ancient Gaming Noob.  The only problem is that it takes the post as published and never picks up any revisions, so all my original typos are there. (And I am too lazy to go fix them… though it takes a while to poll, so if I fix them right after I hit the “Publish” button… which, due to some lesser known physical property of the universe,  is the only time I can actually see my own typos… then I can catch them in time.)  Still, it seems to work.  Not sure it is much use and I figured the whole thing our about nine and a half years too late for me to jump ship to the Blogger platform.

And, finally, I thought I might not have anything to complain about when it came to WordPress.com this month, and then they decided to change the interface for doing inline links in such a way that they are more annoying AND you can easily delete them by accident.  Since that is a feature I use constantly… just look at them all in this post… that bit of nonsense has had me fuming for days.  It is like they never think things through.

One Year Ago

As ever, it was April Fools at Blizzard and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, EA was still selling lots of Sims titles, but were cutting online games like Need for Speed: World.

In what I thought must be an April Fools joke, Daybreak said they were not going to do any more expansions for EverQuest II.  Instead it was going to be DLC like the Rum Cellar.  A rum idea if ever there was one.  Likewise, though EverQuest was getting a new progression server, it seemed like it was the end of the road for expansions in old Norrath.  Also, that logo, totally not stolen.

Of course, why would you even need an official progression server, since Daybreak declared Project 1999 totally legit.

And speaking of rum ideas from Daybreak, they were also pushing people off of their forums and on to Reddit.  How were they going to lock threads and delete posts there?

CCP was talking about ship skins in EVE Online, in hopes of finally finding the right formula for the Mosaic expansion.

In New Eden the war was still going in Delve, including a big fight at ZXB-VC, while the Reavers were doing their work in Querious.  Not only that, but we were also decked out in our spiffy new jackets… well, some of us were.  I was trying to be in both fronts of the war. The Reavers front was the place to be though.

The Imperium was declared, with Max Singularity VI as our spiritual leader.  Also, Karma Fleet was launched and Xenuria got in and was a Goon for like ten minutes!  How crazy was that?   I’m sure that will never happen again.  Right?

Blizzard’s WoW Token idea went live, and the US regional version immediately dropped below the opening price.  They also had a beta for the Legacy of the Void expansion for which I was not prepared.

The instance group was doing Auchindoun and Skyreach in Draenor… after which we were fresh out of dungeons until we all hit 100.  After that I was leveling up some characters and complaining about little things in WoW.

Meanwhile, the war of the rings in Lord of the Rings Online was dragging out into its eighth year.  Is this Mordor or Afghanistan?

While we’re there, Guild Wars turned ten.

And there was this Liebster thing, which feels like it happened a lot longer than just a year ago.

Five Years Ago

Of course, there was some April foolery both here and at Blizzard.

I also wrote something about magic quadrants.

Sanya Weathers had one of the best quotes about MMO gamers ever, made all the more amusing by its truth.

Battlefront.com released a completely new version of their original WWII Combat Mission series.

Wargaming.net released World of Tanks.

SOE’s spy themed MMO, The Agency, was officially cancelled.

We got a PlayStation 3.  And then the PlayStation Network got hacked.  At least I could still play Blu-Ray disks and stream Netflix.

The instance group got together and decided to try out EverQuest II Extended, the one-time separate free to play version of EverQuest II.  However, the game immediately began to kick us in the teeth for daring to do solo content as a group.

Being there in EQIIx also meant looking at what the cash store had to offer.  Some of this stuff is gone now in the post merger era of EQIIFlying mounts are still around.  And some idea, like selling max-level characters, would have to wait a while to come back.

And Potshot and I were still playing EverQuest.  We moved on from Unrest to Lake Rathetear and spent an evening there.  Then it was on to Kerra Island and finally we made it to Runnyeye, at which point SOE also went down due to the PSN hacking.  That pretty much ended our EverQuest adventures for 2011.

I did have to explain EverQuest to my daughter.  Her foundation in MMOs is World of Warcraft.

Ten Years Ago

ANet releases its first post-launch Guild Wars expansion, Guild Wars: Factions. It only took them a year, too.  Right, Blizzard?  See?

Auto Assault went live, perhaps the first “troubled at launch” MMO I am personally aware of that fails to get past its issues.  The game ends up being shuttered by NCsoft 19 months down the road.  It is, for a while, the poster child for MMO launch failures.

Nintendo announced the name of their new console, slated to replace the GameCube.  Known up to that point only by its code name “Revolution,” Nintendo said it was going to call it the “Wii.”

Viacom spent $102 million to purchase Xfire.  According to Viacom: “Xfire and its users fit squarely into the Company’s multiplatform strategy to build an engaging universe of music, gaming, entertainment, news, networking and interactivity for focused audiences.”  They also thought NeoPets were worth splurging on as well.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Kirith Kodachi has been plugging away for more than a decade at his blog.  While not initially about MMOs, he fell into EVE Online at about the same time I did (I beat him by 10 days), at which point it began to take over his blog, a situation that persists through to today.  EVE is just a crazy game that is fun to write about, and it has been interesting to watch our parallel, yet very different, trajectories through New Eden.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

While zKillboard now gives you something of a battle report with its related kills option, I much prefer the output from the Battle Report Tool.  It draws data from zKillboard to piece together the raw details about who shot whom and which ships got blown up and how much ISK it was all worth.  While I am not all about the kill mails, I do like looking at battle reports this site generates in order to understand what happened.  I often have a sense in a battle if we’re doing well or not, but this helps quantify what just happened.

Most Viewed Posts in April

Well, I can write every day of the week about EVE Online, but nothing brings in traffic like a World of Warcraft post.

  1. April Fools at Blizzard – 2016
  2. Blizzard, Nostalrius, and the Classic Server Question
  3. Will Nostalrius Drama Shift the Sleeping WoW Giant?
  4. War Footing, War Fever
  5. FCON Leaves The Imperium
  6. SMA Leaves The Imperium
  7. World War Bee – What’s in a Name?
  8. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  9. Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead
  10. The Russian Complication
  11. FCON Shows Up in Immensea
  12. CSM 11 Announced – Xenuria Wins at Last

Search Terms of the Month

Claude Ring
[Once I saw that, I made an alt with that name]

origin unifies your gaming life
[The way your mom organizes your trading cards]

legion gonna suck
[And haters gonna hate]

if you change world of warcraft payment plan do you get a refund
[no]

lotro level store
[I don’t think the cash shop is quite there yet]

what do you get after you complete the national pokedex
[Your life back?]

Diablo III

I haven’t really played much Diablo III this past month, except to go in once Season 5 ended to clean up my storage situation.  It is nice to have everything combined into the common storage, but the fact that the game mails you all of your seasonal stuff was kind of a pain.  Okay, maybe I should have recycled some of those legendary items I held onto, because it took a while to collect all the items and then sort them out into different boxes.

EVE Online

The war goes on.  On the down side, we’ve lost almost all our sovereignty.  On the up side, we don’t have to go very far to find fun.  There has been an almost continuous supply of fleet ops from Saranen for the last few weeks.  I am starting to think the war effort depends mostly on Boat holding out.  He has been running fleets every day for hours at a stretch.  Best fleets to be on though.

Oh, and there was the Citadel expansion that has the potential to change everything in New Eden.

EverQuest II

I have pottered around on the Stormhold nostalgia server off and on this month.  EQII is less of a solo game for me than others.  I don’t think I have ever played for more than a week or so without ending up in a guild with at least a few people I know.  But it is fun.  The pace is slow and it is relaxing if I have a couple of free hours.  My shadow knight is level 22 and fumbling around between Nek forest and Butcherblock.

Minecraft

I swear I meant to do a Minecraft post this month.  Actually I have a few.  But I never quite got there.  News of the moment from the war in New Eden and Blizzard managed to preempt tales of building.  Still, if I look at Raptr, I spent more time in Minecraft than any other game in April… though that might be because Raptr stopped tracking EVE Online when I upgraded to the new launcher.  Doh!  I have to remember to manually enter that time, and I forget more often than I remember.

Pokemon

I have been carrying on with Pokemon Blue.  Another gym badge down.  Progress has been slow in part because it remains the fourth item on my list of things to play of late, and because it is a game I don’t play sitting at my desk in front of my computer.  As such, I never launch Pokemon by default, I have to actively want to play it.  Still, I have time to finish.  Pokemon Sun & Moon are not due until winter.

World of Warcraft

I did not actually PLAY WoW in April, aside from logging in to check something out on a level 20 character.  But I did write about it.  I didn’t even write that much, but if you look at the top posts for the month, WoW was definitely a big topic.  The whole vanilla/classic/special server thing opened up a lot of emotions and I am sure we are not done with it yet.  I know I am not.

Coming Up

Summer is coming, and May is its harbinger… at least out here in Silicon Valley where despite what the calendar says it can feel like Summer from some point in April through until November.  Not sure that means much for the blog, aside from the fact that I might write more with the window open in the evenings.

The war in New Eden will carry on and we shall see who has the greater endurance.  CCP though, I am going to bet we are going to see a lot of post-Citadel patches in May.

The Warcraft movie is just a month and ten days away, so I expect to see Blizzard ramping up on that pretty strongly while trying to go back to ignoring the whole vanilla server drama it stirred up by shutting down Nostalrius.

Speaking of Blizzard, their latest title, Overwatch, will go live this month.  I am not really interested in playing myself… and my daughter, who wants to play, is fuming about the lack of MacOS support… but another game from Anaheim means that much less focus on WoW.  It isn’t a zero sum thing, but a company can only put out so much PR before it is trying to talk over itself.

Also, isn’t Daybreak supposed to ship Landmark this spring?  May is the last full month of spring left this year… well, that and 20 days of June.  That will be a thing.

I will write something… or finish writing something… about Minecraft.

And… what else is coming up in May?

Will Nostalrius Drama Shift the Sleeping WoW Giant?

The developers however prefer to see the game continuously evolve and progress, and as such we have no plans to open classic realms or limited expansion content realms.

February 2011 repost of an earlier Blizzard response

People have been asking for a Vanilla server for a long time now.  That quote is from the old forums, which are no longer available.  When Tom Chilton stands up and loudly declares a vanilla server can’t be done and, even if it could be, that nobody would really want it, I believe his real motivation is encapsulated above. That has always been the sense of things that I have taken from the company and its statements.  They want to move forward, that today is always better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be better still.

That quote at the top was posted less than three months after the Cataclysm expansion removed the original 1-60 game content of Azeroth.  But it was brought forward from the old forums, so it certainly pre-dates Cataclysm.  The whole vanilla server idea isn’t new.  It didn’t just come up this month.  Customers asking for it isn’t new.  Blizzard saying “no” isn’t new.  Even this reminder that Blizzard knew people wanted the old world back when it was still current and available, yet decided to do nothing with it until enough time passed to allow Tom Chilton to say it is too hard isn’t even that new.

A day that will live in infamy...

A day that will live in infamy…

What is new, what has sparked this constant smoldering hum of people asking for some sort of classic server… probably since The Burning Crusade launched… into an actual conflagration was Blizzard going after a private/pirate vanilla server that was an outlet for 150K players looking for that old school experience.

Serving the Nostalrius server with a cease and desist notice got people stirred up and brought the question of classic servers, long simmering, to a full boil.  We got a few choice blog posts in our corner of the internet when this kicked off:

Blizzard immediately tried to dismiss the whole thing in the way they always have.  However, the tide was already rushing in and, in a world where 5 million subscriptions, down from 10 million a little over a year ago, is the new normal somebody, and the game missed bringing in a billion dollars in revenue for the first time in a long stretch, somebody at Blizzard apparently decided that they might want to listen to that increasingly loud segment of the World of Warcraft fan base.

And so there was a blue post in the forums this morning, which I will quote in full at the end of the post.

It starts out with a statement that Blizzard’s silence on the subject shouldn’t be taken as a lack of attention on their part.  After years of silence, punctuated by terse and glib dismissals of the idea, that seems a bit disingenuous.  I mean, I have your pre-Cataclysm quotes handy if you want them.  So I will take it as read that there has suddenly been enough noise of late that they are actually taking the idea seriously for the first time.

That is followed up by a statement that Blizzard has to protect its IP and doesn’t know how to grant Nostalrius any sort of license to operate that would also protect the World of Warcraft brand.  I might suggest they check out what SOE did with Project 1999, but Blizzard hasn’t been interested in copying EverQuest since 2005 or so.  So Nostalrius will likely remain dead.

Then there is the return to why Blizzard won’t do a classic server; because it is hard.  If it were easy, of course they would do it, but it isn’t, so they won’t.  Pre-Cataclysm Azeroth is forever gone from Blizzard servers.

The post then offers up the idea of some sort of special, fresh start server that sounds remarkably like something I outlined in a comment over at SynCaine’s blog and what Rohan wrote about at Blessing of Kings. (And refined in a follow up post.) My own statement from about two weeks back:

Blizz has never been a company to take a step in a direction that hasn’t been well trod or to take big steps when little steps would do. So them jumping to a Vanilla server, even if they could get past the mental block and do it without too much cost, seems unlikely.

I think they would first venture into an alternate rules server test, something like a “hard mode” server. Crank up MOB damage and hit points, tone down exp gain, normal mode dungeons tuned up to not be face rolls, no transfers or insta-level characters, no heirlooms, flying restricted to only in Outland after 60 70 and Northrend after 68, 78 and some bits and pieces like that. Throw in some special achievements… or maybe just a gold border on current achievements that you get when you do them in hard mode, and I bet that would be a draw.

That is, after all, pretty much all SOE is doing with their nostalgia servers.

I think there is some merit in that option.  A fresh server experience with some differences and greater difficulty with everybody starting off at level 1 would be a draw for some.  Bhagpuss has said in the past that he wouldn’t want to play what would be simply a more difficult version of the same content available on live servers.  And that is a legitimate point of view, certainly.  But some people would.  I bet a lot of people would.

Yes, I know, that isn’t vanilla.  While I actually like some of the 1-60 Cataclysm content myself, having run through every zone now for my attempt at the Loremaster achievement, it still isn’t the same.  It isn’t old Westfall, old Deadmines, old Stranglethorn Vale with its myriad of pages to collect, or old Sunken Temple with its long series of challenges.

But it might be a start, a step in the right direction, an admission by Blizzard that their same old routine of the last eleven years of an expansion every two years with a one year content drought can’t just go on indefinitely.  Maybe they are finally feeling the need to do something different, to offer up a server that isn’t PvE, PvP, PvE-RP, or PvP-RP.

World of Warcraft is still the cash cow at Blizzard.  It still has a big team.  It still could make a billion dollars a year in revenue if it could attract back some of the lapsed player base with something a little different.  Maybe this is the first step to vanilla.

I doubt it.  I think that so long as Tom Chilton is calling the shots, Blizzard will continue down its standard path. (He is becoming the Blizzard version of Smed when it comes to quotes, especially after calling Garrisons the WoW version of housing.)  But it could happen.

Is today’s post a sign of a shift at Blizzard, or an attempt to calm people down and hope the whole issue goes away once the Warcraft movie premiers and the WoW Legion expansion launches?

Others writing on the topic, updated as they pop up:

Today’s blue post quoted in full after the cut:

Continue reading

Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead

There is a game you can play with Google… well, there are probably many, but this is one of them… where you enter the name of something, followed by “is” to see what pre-filled search suggestions come up.  These results are driven by what people have searched for previously.

As I was playing this game the other night instead of doing something important, I began to notice a trend in my searches.  It seemed like Google was declaring most everything dead.

Sure, sometimes that was apt.

GSAbeVigodais

Abe Vigoda, after being reported dead by mistake on multiple occasions over the years, does indeed now sleep with the fishes, having passed earlier this year.

And sometimes the result wasn’t so spot on:

GSObamais

I’m pretty sure somebody would have mentioned if he was dead… or a mack daddy.

I decided to see if that trend held for video games on my side bar.  First on the list was, of course, EVE Online:

GSEVEis

Given that “EVE is dying…” is practically an meme at this point, that wasn’t too surprising.

Likewise, EverQuest, at 17 years of age got a similar result:

GSEQis

At least it wasn’t both “dead” and “dying” I suppose.  Of course, that last item lead me to World of Warcraft:

GSWoWis

Three of those aren’t so good, “dead,” “dying,” and “boring.”  Even EVE Online didn’t get “boring” as a top result.  That lead to a series of other titles, all of which at least got dead as a result:

GSGW2is

GSLOTROis

GSRiftis

GSWildStaris

I had a whole run there where “dead” wasn’t just a result, but the top result.  Then I started branching out from MMOs:

GSSCis

GSTF2is

I finally hit a game where “dead” wasn’t the top result, though I am not sure that was a good thing:

GSStarCis

Even Minecraft got “dead” as a result, though at least it was in fourth position, which was practically an endorsement at this point:

GSMinecraftIs

Hey, “awesome” came before “dead!”

Landmark was odd, but I think it suffers from having a generic name:

GSLandmarkis

Still, I think “dead” might be in there just for it.

Then, finally, I hit a game that wasn’t dead:

GSLOLis

League of Legends is only “dying,” not “dead.”  Also, it is “gay,” which I think says more about the demographic that is searching for things about it.  Still, it is doing better than Heroes of the Storm:

GSHotSis

“Dead,” “dying,” “bad,” and “free!”

Then at last, I hit a search where “dead” wasn’t even a result:

GSHearthis

I’m not sure Hearthstone was really winning with that draw.  I mean sure, “dead” wasn’t on the list, but the rest was hardly an endorsement.

The Last Good Day

There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is “Your Last Good Day.”  At the time, it is just another good day.

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

Yes, I am going to take a quote from a movie based on a book about teens with cancer and try and apply it to video games.  I will take it as read that this makes me a horrible person and probably guilty of cultural appropriation or some other first world thought crime.  I even have a graphic just to seal the deal on my horrible nature.

Serious business...

Serious business…

Anyway, my daughter, who had read the book, insisted that the whole family go see the movie back when it was in the theater despite the fact that she knows that my wife will cry at anything sad or emotional on screen.  And tears were indeed shed as this sad and emotionally manipulative film ran on before us.

But what stuck with me, aside from the abuse of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and how much seeing this movie made watching Divergent difficult/amusing/distracting (Augustus is her brother! It is Luke and Leia all over again!), was the whole concept of there being a “last good day,” a high point in any endeavor, after which things are never quite that good again.

So, yeah, of course this applies to video games.

Well, at least to MMORPGs.  So maybe I can change that graphic.

A more general statement

A more general statement

I suppose I could make it more specific, or a version for each MMO I might play, but I think that is sufficient.  If you are dying to have one of your own, I made a background template, you just have to provide the text.  You’re on your own for the font.  I used one called “eraser dust” I found on the internet.

Anyway, that is all off the subject at hand, which is that of a last good day in an MMORPG.

There are MMOs where I can identify that last good day.  In Warhammer Online it was probably that one great keep battle we had before things went south for our group as the game emptied out.

In Rift it was no doubt some date not too long before the first expansion came out.  Everything was good, I played a character from each of the four base roles up to level cap, and then Storm Legion hit and changed the nature of the game for me.

For EverQuest it was likely to initial stages of the Fippy Darkpaw server, when Skronk and I were playing, the game was active with lots of low level players, and the whole thing felt… if not as good as day one back in 1999, then a reasonable facsimile of that time.  Certainly there was less crashing.

But those are all games I stopped playing.  Even EverQuest, for which I bubble with nostalgia, hasn’t really been a destination for me since Fippy Darkpaw.

And, in having stopped, I can pick out the high point.  I can find that theoretical last good day… or week… or era… or event.  But that might change if I would… or, in some cases, could… go back and pick up the game again.  Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance of good days ahead.

This all came to mind because of a more current game.  Not EVE Online.  I made that graphic at the top for Rixx Javix a while back.  No, this all came about due to the the Legion expansion for World of Warcraft getting a ship date.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

Just in case your forgot that since yesterday

August 30, 2016 and the whole thing goes live, while at some date a couple weeks in advance of that there will be the pre-expansion patch that will have the warm-ups for the whole thing.

I am coming up on a year of not having been subscribed to WoW.  I have a two copies of the expansion pre-ordered for my daughter and I via Amazon.  But now that there is a date set and a timeline out before me.  I won’t be resubscribing today or tomorrow or next week, but at some point over the course of that timeline, between now and August 30th, there is a date at which I probably should subscribe and get back in the game and start getting warmed up to fight the Legion.

But the announcement of the date also made me question whether or not I really want to go back.  I do not feel a lot of enthusiasm for the expansion.  In large part that lack of enthusiasm is due to how Warlords of Draenor played out for me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was dissatisfying, and garrisons carry the lions share of the burden on that front.  Dungeons were mediocre, mostly in how sparse they were, and the story line was mostly just okay, but garrisons were the anchor.

Garrisons failed to be the right thing for me on all fronts.  They were not optional, you had to do some garrison stuff if you wanted to play through the expansion.  And they were not housing, or at least did not have any aspect of housing that I wanted.  There was no way you could make the garrison really your own.  Meanwhile, they did exactly what Tom Chilton told us housing would do, back when he was saying they would never do housing, it took people out of the world and hid them away.

In my view, garrisons were basically the worst possible set of features, doing what Blizz said housing would do without any of the beneficial “sticky” features of housing that make people feel like they have a spot in the game that is uniquely their own.  I guess if I were to make a prediction now that Tom Chilton is saying that Blizz will never do a vanilla server, I might guess that they will end up doing some sort of special rules server that will satisfy neither fans of vanilla nor more recent lapsed players, at which point Tom can say, “I told you so.”

That is all my view of the expansion.  So when I think back in search of a “last good day,” which at this point I am likely conflating with a peak of enjoyment as opposed to saying every day thereafter was “bad,” I have to go back to Mists of Pandaria to find a real happy time… which is odd because I was pretty dismissive of MoP when it was announced and didn’t buy the expansion until nearly a year after it went live.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor, with orcs as the bad guys yet again, that I was up for.

So perhaps missed or misplaced expectations were the real problem?

Nah, garrisons just sucked.

Anyway, as the quote at the top says, you can never know if that last good day is happening as it happens.  You can only identifying it in comparison to the days that come later.  The question is whether or not there is a peak of enjoyment waiting for me in WoW Legion or if I have simply had that last good day already.  I guess I have a few months to consider that, but I am feeling doubtful right now.

WoW Legion to Ship 22 Days Before Summer Ends

It looks like August 30, 2016 will be the ship date for the WoW Legion Expansion.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

WoW Legion; coming to a server near you

People have been asking the “when” question about the expansion since it was announced, myself included.  Look at the poll on that post.  I thought dates past July 2016 were not even worth mentioning.  Eventually we got the target window of summer, which using the calendar they have on the wall down in Anaheim, meant as late as September 21, 2016.

(Cue the inevitable comment about the dates for summer between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer.)

Optimists felt that this left open the ability for Blizzard to ship the expansion with the Warcraft movie, which is set to hit theaters on June 10, 2016.  Others, myself included, were more inclined to believe that the release would come much closer to the end of summer.   Maybe not on the last day, but within a month would be about the norm for Blizz.

And now we have the date.  On the scale of between-expansion gaps, that puts WoW Legion at the faster end of things, with the average being about 719 days.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days

Of course, it isn’t the gap between expansions that hurts Blizz so much as the inevitable year long dry spell when no new content is introduced before the next expansion hits.

With the expansion date now out and about there are two additional things I am waiting to hear about.

The first is when the pre-launch patch is going to hit, as that usually ushers in the story and often includes limited time events.  True believers will resubscribe for that.

And the second is somebody complaining that Blizzard has deliberately chosen the date to mess up some other game’s launch.  It really isn’t a WoW expansion without that.

Blizzard, Nostalrius, and the Classic Server Question

I spent yesterday hiking in Muir Woods where, among the giant redwoods, there is no WiFi service.  I didn’t bring my iPad with me in any case, but it was a day away from the internet.

Still, the last story I saw in Feedly before my wife and I headed out stuck with me.  As you may have guessed from the title, it was about Blizzard sending its legal team after Nostalrius.

Nostalrius is/was hosting a private/pirate World of Warcraft server that was offering a classic/vanilla WoW experience, along with a classic Burning Crusade focused experience.

That is not a new thing.  A simple Google search will turn up some alternatives offering various WoW experiences.  Such servers come and go.  I spent a bit of time poking about on the now defunct Emerald Dream server.  Posts from that interlude can be found by following the right tag.

You no take catch phrase!

You no take catch phrase! Also, a metaphor!

It has been a while since Blizzard has bothered to go after such a server.  The last I recall was the case against Alyson Reeves and Scape Gaming.  However, that case was special because the Scape Gaming server was bringing in real money from players, to the tune of 3 million dollars.

That one appeared to be about the money, with Blizzard getting a life-ruining 88.6 million dollar judgement at the end of the trial.

If Nostalrius was in it for the money, then this is probably about that.  Running some alternative experience for free is one thing, but making money off of a Blizzard trademark won’t stand.

Nostalrius, on their site and in their open letter/petition at Change.org, doesn’t mention money.

So let us assume for the moment that money wasn’t the issue, if only because the whole thing isn’t very interesting unless money was not a factor.

Why go after Nostalrius if they are not making money off of Blizzards works?

While it may not be about money, I imagine it is still about numbers.  Nostalrius claims to have had over 800,000 registered users and as many as 150,000 active users on its classic experience servers.

150K, if true, is a pretty respectable user count, and doubly so for such a server that must, by necessity, keep a low profile.  That is a big enough number to attract attention.  I’d bet there are some live MMORPGs out there that wouldn’t mind being able to claim 150K active users.

In that scenario, if it isn’t about the money, is Blizzard flexing its legal muscles just to smack down somebody who has gotten a bit too popular, a bit too brazen?  Is this like being the most popular speakeasy in town during prohibition, something that expanded to far to allow the authorities to pretend isn’t there?

Or is this more of a reaction to the discontent many players… or many former players… feel for World of Warcraft these days?  Because you cannot deny that there is some level of discontent.  Having nearly half your player base unsubscribe… and maybe more than half by now, but we’ll never know because the news was so bad that Blizzard stopped reporting it… is not an endorsement for staying the current course.

And, if it is a reaction, will there be any upside?

Because there is a sliver of hope that this might mean Blizzard has seen the light when it comes to the retro experience.  With multiple classic servers having popped up over the years, with 150K users on the one they just effectively shut down, and with the success of retro servers for EverQuest, EverQuest II, and RuneScape, that maybe, just maybe, somewhere down in Anaheim the ball may have started rolling that will eventually give players some sort of official vanilla WoW experience despite past statements that they would never go that route.

Blizzard has the money, they have the staff, and they have a huge number of former players who would resubscribed just to try something like that out, enough that costs would likely be covered very quickly, leading to profits.

I know it isn’t as easy as just pulling some old code out of source control and throwing it out there.  To do this right, and Blizzard couldn’t bring themselves to do this in a half-assed way I am sure, it would likely have to be played as a separate game with its own version of the client.  No transfers from current WoW, no cash shop, no flying mounts, no WoW Tokens… basically a bunch of the extra-cost addons that Blizzard has attached to the game over the years to boost revenue.  So an official WoW classic server done right would not have the same revenue potential as any of the current servers.

However, the cynic in me doesn’t think that even enters into it.  That part of me doesn’t believe for a second that Blizzard even sees the distinction between a WoW classic server and the current state of the game.  That part of me strongly suspects that somebody down in Anaheim thinks that 150K… or maybe 800K… people were playing WoW for free and that they needed to put a stop to that right now.  If people want to play WoW, they can pay the $15 a month like everybody else.

Which is fully within Blizzard’s rights.  They can, and one might argue must, step in and defend their intellectual property.

But in that scenario, there is no official WoW classic server, or even an acknowledgement that such a thing could even be.  Unfortunately, the cynic in me is right more often than not.

So what is the real reason and the view towards the future with WoW?

Others on this topic:

April Fools at Blizzard – 2016

The day has come again.  April Fools is a thing down in Anaheim.

Past years fun, for those who want to catch up:

However, this year all the humor at Blizzard seems to be focused on the World of Warcraft side of things.  Heroes of the Storm is in the midst of a tournament, Hearthstone announced a new ranked play season, StarCraft II is pushing mission packs, Diablo III only mentions that Season 5 is ending soon, and Overwatch is focused on its upcoming launch.

I am sure some conspiracy theory can be thrown together that this indicates that somehow Blizzard may not be serious about WoW any more, at least relative to its other titles.  Or maybe the other jokes just haven’t been published as yet.  Anyway, we go with what we have to hand:

World of Warcraft

In Azeroth, there was the introduction of the Frostdoge Clan.

Such Faction! Very Expansion!

Such Faction! Very Expansion!

There was concern from flight masters around Azeroth as a new service called Flyt arrived.

Because we couldn't figure out anything with Uber

Because we couldn’t figure out anything with Uber

Then there was Azeroth TV, featuring shows like Void Storage Wars and Keeping Up with the Barovs.

As with real life, nobody can explain why we watch, we just do...

As with real life, nobody can explain why we watch, we just do…

This was on the WoW page, but is focused on the collectible card game front; the announcement of Hearthstone: The MMO in a video.

And no April Fools day would be complete without some release note fun, so here are the latest updates for the WoW Legion Alpha.

And that is all I have seen so far, though I am sure I missed something.  The forums are often a source as well.  I will update this post if I find anything new.

Meanwhile, what other games have something good for April Fools?

Some items of note:

  • Psychochild’s new venture is RetroVR