Nostalrius emulates World of Warcraft as it was a decade ago, and Blizzard are shutting it down on April 10

World of Warcraft vanilla servers

World of Warcraft has gone through a lot of change in its 12 years of existence, and some people aren’t fans of that evolution. For them, Blizzard’s offerings don’t match up to what they enjoyed about the game in younger days, so they turn to private servers - essentially pirated versions that are run for free by volunteers. Nostalrius is one of the biggest, providing a version of the game that was very close to ‘vanilla’ WoW - difficult to solo, no modern systems, and a level cap of 60. After more than a year online, Blizzard’s legal hammer has come crashing down and the server will discontinue service on April 10.

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The news broke yesterday when the front page of Nostalrius’ website was taken over by a long message from the admin team. In it, they briefly go over the history of the server before saying simply that “Yesterday, we received a letter of formal notice from US and French lawyers, acting on behalf of Blizzard Entertainment, preparing to stand trial against our hosting company OVH and ourselves in less than a week now. This means the de facto end of Nostalrius under its current form.”

They then say that the three servers - Nostalrius PvE, PvP and TBC - will go offline on April 10 at 23:00 server time. They don’t have plans for the future, though do say that they will happily provide everything they used to create Nostalrius so that others can follow if they want to. They’re even going to give out encrypted player data so that characters can be restored on a new server, if the owners so wish.

The community, both Nostalrius’ own and the wider WoW folks, are now mid-debate about it. While their existence is a breakage of TOS at best, illegal at worst, private servers have been used by many. Nostalrius was seen as one of the most friendly and fair, not taking donations for benefits or altering the mechanics of vanilla WoW at all. This infographic reveals it was also quite popular, with 130,000 accounts that played regularly, albeit without having to pay the subscription fee or initial cost that comes with WoW normally.

Nostalrius

Blizzard have said on multiple occasions that not only do they not want to create their own legacy servers, but the demand for them isn’t really there. While some are taking Nostalrius’ popularity as an indication Blizzard have got it wrong, there’s a big difference between Nostalrius’ freely available version of WoW and whatever Blizzard would provide. They also, as you can imagine, would rather look at the present and improve the future than provide a version of their game they left behind 10 years back. 

It’s also a problem of choices - what patch should Blizzard run a legacy server on? Should they have it progress through patches as the original did? Would people like servers based off The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King too? Are any of these cost-efficient to run? Will they be confusing for new players coming into the game? It’s a billion new problems for one of the busiest teams in games to try to deal with.

What is interesting, and perhaps a ray of hope for fans of vanilla WoW, is why now? Nostalrius had been around for a year, and other vanilla private servers have been in development or playable for ages. Make no mistake; Blizzard could have shut this down with legal muscle whenever they wanted - it’s their IP, it’s their game and even if they don’t sell this version of it any more, they still 100% own it. There’s two possibilities: either Nostalrius’ popularity and renown finally got to the point where Blizzard thought it was damaging their brand, or they’re planning their own version.

That’s what these players are hoping for. The Nostalrius team has set up an open letter to Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO, on change.org, allowing it to be signed as a petition by those that agree. It asks that Blizzard rethink their legacy server policy. There’s also an AMA with the Nostalrius team scheduled to take place on the official WoW subreddit today, where the general discussion thread has reached 3533 upvotes and 4701 comments at time of writing. 

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Belimawr avatarxNuke avatarrockman0z avatarFattox avatarBen Barrett avatarJenks avatar+2
Workz Avatar
2
9 Months ago

Nostalrius will reopen its doors after reaching an agreement with the private server FIRESTORM famous , so do not worry it will not be the end for you nostalrius players

https://firestorm-servers.com/us

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xNuke Avatar
395
9 Months ago

I've actually read somewhere that Blizzard is considering opening their own vanilla server so shutting down private servers makes sense (from a money-making perspective)

1
Belimawr Avatar
1146
9 Months ago

they have said several times it would be cost prohibitive, the old code needs the old hardware, so they would have to rebuild the old servers or rewrite the code to change system to run on the way newer hardware, either way setting up the old servers would cost a lot and sourcing them would be quite hard due to obsolete hardware (they actually auction off the old server hardware every so often for charity)

if they rewrote the code they would introduce any number of bugs and other problems leading to even more development costs as they have to start chasing them down.

then after all the cost off getting the servers up and running people playing on those servers will expect continued development and full support incurring even more running costs and extra strain on what is already in place.

sure blizz could run an emulated server but the size of the company they are unlikely to put something out that unstable and put their name on it.

the only rumours that they are making old servers is by the people who don't understand that blizzard goes after these servers due to them using protected materials that blizzard owns the rights to, someone could remake a vanilla server based on the same mechanics and such if they wanted they just can't use any of the story or art from WoW as they are all owned by Blizzard and that is where the infringement comes in. running these servers would be no different to someone changing CoD to run on gamespy (or some other service that isn't dead) then letting anyone connect to that service on the premise that being several patches behind makes the game free to the community.

I'm not trying to make excuses or defend blizzard here, it is just basic common sense that when a company owns an IP they will protect it to the extent they can, more so when the IP is still running and generating income. would anyone here really like to do work then see someone else come along and start taking credit for that work on the assumption they only ask for donations and don't charge, while potentially taking your customers away from you?

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rockman0z Avatar
29
9 Months ago

"I'm not trying to make excuses or defend blizzard here, it is just basic common sense that when a company owns an IP they will protect it to the extent they can"

Which is why they're starting with the first WoW private server ever, Nostalrius

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Ben Barrett Avatar
293
9 Months ago

They've killed off plenty before, and it's more to do with how many people know about individual ones. They can effectively 'ignore' smaller ones, but once something gains notoriety/popularity, it becomes a bigger legal issue.

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Belimawr Avatar
1146
9 Months ago

Blizzard have shut down thousands of private servers, this is just the latest in a long long line dating back over a decade, the reason it got attention from blizzard (assuming they aren't just covering) is because loads of twitch and other users started talking about it all the time bringing it to the mainstream making blizzard very very aware of it meaning they made it a target.

so if you want to pass blame on this you should be looking at all the people advertising the server as if they stay in the shadows they will go unnoticed, as soon as people shine a light on it it will get seen and targeted, so assuming it was blizzard you need to blame everyone who ever talked about or posted about it on twitch or any WoW fan site.

but the shocking truth is if blizzard had been the ones to stop this releasing the code they are using would be included in their order to stop it being reused, in a lot of these cases you are required to give proof all code has been destroyed, so if they can distribute the code still there is something very wrong here, more so when they are doing it openly, meaning it would fly directly against an order to stop what they are doing.

0
Fattox Avatar
458
9 Months ago

"the old code needs the old hardware"

What? Do you really buy that? Did someone tell you this on April 1st, by any chance?

1
Belimawr Avatar
1146
9 Months ago

there has been atleast 3 hardware sales with them selling off the old disused shards and they are only sold when it comes to a large upgrade minor upgrades won't make an entire shard obsolete.

as for the game engine, yes it has been upgraded and not replaced but the game engine has nothing to do with the server code.

the battle net backend is very different to the game client, battlenet is constantly upgrading and evolving, look at it's first iteration, it ran on one single PC, now it runs on multiple server farms all over the world.

this is where your problem comes when blizzard upgrade the hardware they also upgrade the back end, this is something you likely wont notice as it is all done in a way that if it works you should never notice anything has changed.

it's like recently they have just done a upgrade to battle net the thing that runs all the games online, the things they changed and added are unnoticeable to the end user but they make a difference to how the service performs and runs.

it shows a lack of understanding that you think the game client software and the server software are the same thing.

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Fattox Avatar
458
Fattox replied to Belimawr
9 Months ago

Edit - Nevermind, i didn't mention the client, and i can't be bothered explaining the differences between components, middleware, etc. I'm not even sure if you're not just trolling right now. Either way, let's agree to disagree (as usual). :]

2
Belimawr Avatar
1146
9 Months ago

it actually does as it is built around an expected clock and operating structure, it's like if you run some older games on a modern PC they will run insanely fast without placing limiters in place and downgrading the hardware tasked to the game to make it run at a function speed, it's why most older rerelease games employ a frame limiter as it is a quick and dirty fix for the fact modern hardware can't run the old games.

it would be like crushing your exhaust on your car to reduce the flow reducing power output instead of changing the engine and other parts to something made for a lower power.

boot up most pre 2000 games and you will see what I mean unless they already came with a frame limiter built in as some start to due to the rapidly increasing power of PC's.

so believe what you want but if the server originally was designed to run on 20 shards when you put it on a server that uses 2 shards to get the same power you instantly have a massive problem in the processing code that is designed to distribute the game over all those shards, because you need to remember very few few MMO servers are actually a single server, the are a construct of multiple servers running in tandem with precise timings to make sure everything communicates in the right way at the right time to keep a stable connection.

an MMO's back end is way more complex that running a game on your PC and when as I said most old games struggle with modern systems how can you not understand the difficulty in a way more complex system.

0
Fattox Avatar
458
Fattox replied to Belimawr
9 Months ago

I know what you're getting at. But your opinion is steeped in a lot of assumptions on things you can't know unless you were involved with their development process (or are you Mark Kern?).

As far as i recall, the engine has never been changed, only upgraded. Whereas the hardware has been upgraded at least once. If i may also make an assumption, compatibility issues were therefore already taken care of in the original engine/middleware.

I think a more plausible explanation is that Blizzard simply doesn't want to split their playerbase between vanilla and current. Which is a shame, as i think there'd be a lot of interest in some of the older systems and such.

2
AnAuldWolf Avatar
861
9 Months ago

The only things I ever liked about World of Warcraft were the wallwalking and helping others by developing addons. Both were a privilege that I had to pay for. I can get the same with a vanilla private server. Especially considering how wallwalking has been severely crippled on the official servers, along with the API itself (it's so much more limited now that you can't really do anything interesting with it any more).

I wouldn't be surprised if that's why I've seen some old community names developing addons for private servers. I think though that this is a battle that Blizzard is going to have a tough time winning, if ever. All they're going to do with this is help to convince people that a decentralised server system is needed which isn't reliant on one provider, alongside a collaborative approach to coding it through sites like git.

In other words, the more lawyery attack dogs sent after something like this, the stronger and more interesting it's likely to get. And it's not like there's any good alternatives out there, after all. Kronos is quite nice.

I'd never give Blizzard a penny more, anyway. That addict-a-thon isn't a thing for me. I liked wallwalking, I liked making addons, but they don't really serve me as a demographic with either. I'm not an addicted grindmonkey, I suppose. I gather that those with that whole dopamine thing going on get some really good feels out of it, but not so much myself.

Considering how WoW is dying month to month, all this is really doing for them is generating bad PR. Do they really think that people who play private servers are going to start playing WoW? It's silly. WoW today is so different from WoW of yesterday that it'd be like banning people from playing Quake in the hopes they play Call of Duty.

And I'm no fan of the game. I just like playing with the systems and trying to see what I can do by gaming the physics and whatnot rather than actually going for some tiered thingamies. But even I know that this is true.

Silly Blizzard. They're becoming less relevant all the time, and it's no one's fault but their own.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1146
9 Months ago

lots of talk that this is more money related than blizzard related.

apparently they had been struggling to fund the servers changed their donations for the running of the servers so people had to pay the host directly leading to the host not getting paid and ultimately the server going down.

so seems there could be more to this than the people running the server claims and they may just be using blizzard as a scapegoat to cover their own asses.

0
Jenks Avatar
218
9 Months ago

Blizzard has a pretty active disdain for their past games and their response to people talking about how the old was better than the new ranges from passive aggressive to straight out aggressive. Their response to requests for a vanilla server ("you think you want it but you don't") and David Brevik ("fuck that loser") are perfect examples. They hate the fact that the company was much more talented than it is today.

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AnAuldWolf Avatar
861
9 Months ago

This seems startlingly true, unfortunately. I think the reason they don't seem to have any of that creative spark any more is that those people don't work for them, now. The names that came with a lit-up neon sign proclaiming their reputation for imagineering have since left Blizzard. All of them, in fact.

The people replacing them re social engineers. It's funny, I remember in so many job position descriptions for Blizzard, I'd seen wording along the lines of 'it's a bonus if you have experience with marketing or psychology.' Even if the position has nothing to do with that.

Essentially, they want to be a company that tapdances on the edge of the person's will, rather than one that actually makes a good product. I don't want to have to say that because I don't really get off on ragging on people like that, but there's been so many things where WoW has lessened, even destroyed relationships, lives even, and how people just disappear into its void?

I lost a dear friend to WoW. He was having a hard time with life, his job was tough but he was handling it. I was helping him out by playing online games with him. And when the topic of WoW came up? I wasn't sure. I just couldn't get into it for the reasons I mentioned below. I really think that you have to be ruled by dopamine to enjoy it.

Anyway, he quit his job as a programmer and expert in his field of research (being vague on purpose), and I haven't really heard from him since.

His Internet presence pretty much died off, too. And the only one he continues is now a WoW blog, devoted to WoW things.

So even I've been hurt by Blizzard. I miss him.

They're not a company I can respect. All their talent has left, and they're now just doing their best to convince you to give them as much of your money as possible. At this point I can't distinguish between them and the likes of King and Zynga.

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