Nostalrius: Goodbye, Classic WoW

We interrupt these fictional proceedings with a hefty dose of reality: the popular private classic World of Warcraft server Nostalrius is shutting down after having received a very real legal threat from Blizzard. Nostalrius is based in France and therefore ostensibly outside the realm of Blizzard’s operating interests; not so, in this case, as lawyers in the US and France have been enlisted to combat this unsanctioned phantom blow to Blizzard’s coin purse:

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.

As soon as we received this letter, we decided to inform the team and players about the future of Nostalrius, where we have all passionately committed our time and energy as volunteers.

Nostalrius Begins PvP, Nostalrius Begins PvE & Nostalrius TBC and all related servers will be definitively shutdown at 23:00 server time on the 10th of April 2016, if our hosting company keeps the server online for that long. It feels kind of unreal, but we want to continue to serve our players as we did, and the best we can in the remaining time.

Source: Nostalrius Forums via Massively OP

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I was playing on their PvE server – you know, that thing I’ve said I’m going to stop doing a million times and then continue to do. Sometimes I tell you, sometimes I don’t. Just kidding. I always confess my sins, eventually.

In this case I was playing a Night Elf Priest and had reached level 32. She’s sitting in Southshore in the inn right now, waiting to regenerate full rested experience for another go-round through the next section of VanillaGuide, an in-game browser-style addon which is nothing more than a bunch of LUA strings that tell you what to do and where to go. You can link this up with the MetaMap addon and get functional if somewhat crude arrows that will point you in the direction of your next objective. It’s a nice way of swimming in nostalgia without having to be quite so nostalgic when you don’t want to be.

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The main draw for me was that they offered a PvE server. Finally, I could stroll through Stranglethorn Vale, my favorite zone, along with Hillsbrad, Arathi Highlands, and other familiar environs without the threat of being randomly corpse-flopped onto the ground by an undead rogue whose sole purpose in life was to find and waylay Holy Priests such as myself. Any emulated server I had ever found that was worth playing for any length of time was always PvP – Nostalrius was the one exception in probably five or so years of my love-it-and-leave-it relationship with Azeroth in its first three iterations. Unlike Rebirth or Valkyrie, it had an active population in the thousands – 2,500 at its peak, which meant that 1) it reached the classic-era server cap and 2) finding dungeon groups was much, much easier.

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The PvP server, on the other hand, was for people who wanted to be really nostalgic about things: with 13,000 players online, your first step off the flight path into a contested zone would be into a sea of corpses and your second step would see you join that sea of corpses. I don’t have the patience for open world ganking in my alone-together MMOs. They were working on sharding which would have allowed chunks of the player population to occupy their own map instances while still able to send tells to each other and so forth.

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All for naught it is, now. I have no regrets, though. Those 32 levels took me places I wanted to go and I was fully aware that it could all come crashing down at any time whether it was due to the abovementioned legal threat or otherwise. It’s not about the pixels or the numbers, but about the experience of having played and remembered. Whether I look for a replacement is still up in the air; if I find one, you’ll hear about it eventually.

So long, Nostalrius, and thanks for the good times.

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4 thoughts on “Nostalrius: Goodbye, Classic WoW

  1. While I understand the business imperative to protect intellectual assets, the way Blizzard handles these things does seem counter-productive. While it’s clear from the figures you quote that the numbers playing these iterations of WoW are non-trivial, it must also be self-evident that if their private playgrounds were shuttered, few, if any, of these players would move back to the official offer and start paying Blizzard money.

    Neither does it seem likely that, by existing, these servers pull active players away from the Live game. They are most likely populated almost entirely by ex-players who have no interest or intention in going back, while the subset that does retain an interest will in any case express it by re-subbing periodically as and when they feel the desire to do so.

    So long as these servers remain non-profit, non-commercial operations it’s hard to see what benefit accrues to Blizzard by losing them down. Conversely, every time they do so it creates bad publicity for them. Even Smed, one of the most reviled individuals in the industry, whether that reputation is deserved or not, gained a substantial measure of goodwill by openly endorsing the P99 project.

    It just feels like an astute PR department could make a win out of these situations for everyone. Or Blizzard could go down the Nostalgia Server route for themselves. This, however, is what you get from massive corporations, sadly.

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    1. The sense I get from the people that played Nostalrius was that they were looking for an experience akin to the EQ2 progression servers minus the progression; most of them had little interest in the retail version of a game that bears scant resemblance to the landscapes that served as the backdrop for their formative experiences in a world where pigeonholed class roles, poor itemization, and statistical imbalances were the norm.

      One would think that Blizzard would stand to make some pocket change and generate goodwill by offering legacy servers. Blizzard is of the opinion that players do not want legacy servers. Therefore, players do not want legacy servers. Despite having a reputation among a non-trivial set of players for being a “mergers and acquisitions” sort of company, Daybreak at least had the decency to enter into an agreement with Project 1999 and has since suffered neither financially nor legally. It was a very David Georgeson sort of move on their part; it’s unfortunate that their visionary capacity did also not extend to the domain of keeping him on the payroll.

      Blizzard has a history of pursuing the little guys, even those that pose absolutely no threat to them. If you are within the legal-geographical scope of their influence, they will come after you.

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