People Make Games, a YouTube channel founded by former Eurogamer video maker Chris Bratt and animator Anni Sayers, has concluded a year-long investigation into Bachir “Athene” Boumaaza, a YouTuber who got his start with troll-y video game antics but went on to form a pseudo-religion called Neuro-Spinozism and is now the face of an organization called The Singularity Group.
The investigation alleges that Boumaaza is responsible for manipulation, misogyny, emotional abuse, and a lack of accountability at the top of the organization. Anonymous ex-members of the group discussed emotional manipulation and gaslighting behind the scenes, while Boumaaza made statements like “girls have evolved to be emotional manipulation machines” with cameras rolling.
The video culminates with a lengthy conversation between People Make Games and Boumaaza, in which the latter calls the investigation a “hit piece” among other things, denies some of the allegations, and offers his view of others.
The investigation is an extremely compelling piece of reporting. The full video is lengthy, complicated, and at times deeply frustrating, but well worth a watch.
People get excited about Blizzard’s annual fan convention for many reasons. Some look forward to meeting up with friends. Others are eager to hear news about upcoming games and expansions. Me? I’m mainly here for the ridiculous in-game items rolled out for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, StarCraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone every BlizzCon.
It used to be that one had to physically attend BlizzCon in order to reap the in-game rewards. The first three years the show was held, goodie bags included physical cards with codes to enter on the Blizzard website to redeem digital items. Those cards would show up on eBay in large numbers as soon as the show started each year. Sometimes the codes on them wouldn’t even be used.
My first BlizzCon was in 2008. The card included in the swag bag handed out to attendees included a code for one of the game’s silliest mounts, the Big BlizzCon Bear. Nothing breaks immersion like a goggle-wearing polar bear ridden by a murloc holding a BlizzCon pennant. I am ridiculously proud of this stupid thing, even if all I did to receive it was type in a series of characters into a website. I missed out on BlizzCon 2005’s World of Warcraft Murloc vanity pet and 2007’s Murloc suit, but I got my bear, dammit.
In 2009, Blizzard started selling the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, a pay-per-view style package which allowed fans unable to attend the convention to watch remotely. More importantly, the Virtual Ticket came with codes to unlock whichever virtual goods BlizzCon’s physical attendees got in their bags. No longer would Blizzard game lovers feel the gut-twisting anxiety of knowing a select few people were getting a thing they couldn’t acquire without a substantial eBay investment. All they needed was $40 or $50 and a dream. Or just the cash.
Some people would say allowing everyone to pay money to receive in-game items once reserved for a select group of convention attendees makes those items less special. Those people can suck it. Who would deny their fellow fans a chance to own the Diablo III Murkgoblin pet (2015)? Or the Heroes of the Storm Nexus Charger mount (2014)? Would I survive if I didn’t get the Overwatch BlizzCon Winston skin (2017)? Yes, but I would not be happy about it.
Anyway, this is all to say that the BlizzCon 2019 Virtual Ticket was just announced, offering the ability to watch the upcoming convention, from the opening ceremonies the morning of November 1 to the closing concert in the evening of November 2. I’ve already acquired mine, which is how my characters are already sporting the fetching Wooly Wendigo onesie and hanging out with Finduin and Gillvanas, Murloc versions of the leaders of the Alliance and Horde.
And while I am not much of an Overwatch player, the Switch version is coming out soon, and I would look really nice playing it in the Illidan Genji or Tyrande Symmetra skins, based on two of World of Warcraft’s less crispy night elves.
The cross-game mash-ups, the Murloc mayhem—I love it, and I look forward to BlizzCon’s bonuses every year. One day, these games will all be dead and none of these virtual items will exist, but neither will I.
World of Warcraft has its stalwarts, players who’ve been around since the good ol’ days of Onyxia and Ragnaros. It also has its transients. Maybe they were diehard players for a couple years in high school. Maybe they were living that sweet bachelor life. For whatever reason, they left. Now, thanks to the recent release of WoW Classic, many of them are back and reuniting with old friends.
The promise of WoW Classic, which came out on August 26, was not merely a return to gameplay systems and settings from the expansion-free “vanilla” iteration of WoW; it was an attempt to recreate the feeling of the community at the time. Modern World of Warcraft streamlines dungeon-running, raiding, and PVP, but back in 2006, the time period that WoW Classic recreates, players had much more direct interaction. More organic conversations spurred by a need to group up, more chance meetings between strangers destined to become lifelong friends, more getting backstabbed in the jungles of Stranglethorn Valve by rogues who didn’t have anything better to do at the time. Let’s not rewrite history here: Compared to earlier MMOs, WoW has always been a rigidly designed theme park first and a living, breathing world second. But in the vanilla days, many players argue, it felt a little more alive.
This feeling has brought back lapsed players in droves, and many WoW players have been surprised to find that old bonds between pals—the chains rusted thanks to 10 or 15 years of neglect—still hold up.
Chris Price, a player who started a Discord for more than 300 old WoW friends, was worried about possible drama flare ups at first, but has been relieved to find that, so far, everybody’s getting along.
“At first I thought there would be some awkwardness and friction because, let’s be honest, not everyone was on good terms back then,” Price told Kotaku in an email. “Some people rubbed other people the wrong way, old drama, etc. But I’m surprised to see that most people put all of that behind them and have met each other with open arms.”
One thing that might help: Everybody’s grown up now, where many of them were teenagers back in the day. “We often joke about a lot of the drama back then, laughing at how ridiculous things were now that we’re all older and have a bit of perspective,” said Price.
Of course, there are also drawbacks to the maturity that accompanies the unceasing march of time—namely, people now have less time for the game that once consumed most of their waking hours.
“The group I played with back then were full of hardcore raiders,” Price said. “A lot of us were doing server-first raid content with our respective guilds and hitting Grand Marshal/High Warlord and PVPing for 20+ hours a day to do so. Now we’re older and we don’t have that much time. Most people haven’t even hit [level] 60 yet, barring a few outliers (myself included). Even those that have hit it are reluctant to hit up the raiding circuit again because we’ve ‘been there, done that’ and are more in-tune with the social aspect that the game offers.”
Perhaps, though, it’s for the best, said Price. “We often joke about doing the Marshal/Warlord [PVP rank] grind again and usually just laugh off how much time we’d probably have to sink into the game to be able to achieve it, and how little time we all have now that most of us have full-time jobs, families, and kids.”
Another player, who goes by the handle Kroguardious, mourns the old days in which he and his friends used to get together in real life and host late-night LAN parties, but says that WoW Classic has allowed them to split the difference between their raucous, sleep-deprived high school marathons and their more complicated adult lives.
“Now we’re all moved out of our parents’ places and in our own apartments, and all but one of us are cemented in our career fields,” he said in a Twitter DM. “We all moved apart, and our computers have all gotten much bigger, so dragging everything to one spot for a LAN party like we used to is not going to happen. Having an online way to reconnect has been perfect, and its something we all had ties to, as our interests have grown apart slightly over the years and we haven’t all been able to get into and enjoy the same game since we left WoW.”
WoW Classic has allowed some players to rekindle even closer connections. Dusty Braddish, who was 14 when he first started playing World of Warcraft in the vanilla days, has reconnected with someone who he says was like a father to him. At the time, Braddish’s parents had just gotten divorced, and he was going through “a not-so-ideal living situation in the real world.” His mom was suffering from depression, he didn’t get along with his stepdad, and his father, who he loved dearly, was suddenly no longer consistently in his life, he says. His guild master, who was older, gave him a shoulder to lean on.
“My GM had had some life experiences that my father hadn’t that I think prove useful when being a mentor/meaningful figure for a young man,” Braddish told Kotaku in an email. “He had experiences with many groups of people and always treated everyone as equals without hesitation, and showed that you can be serious/professional while still being silly… My GM was the shining example of how to lead in the creation of a warm and welcoming environment.”
Braddish said his guild master mentored and encouraged him, letting him lead raids and organize guild activities “despite knowing I was quite young.” He’d also make sure Braddish got a chance to talk during officer meetings where more brash personalities were dominating. “Considering I went on to become a leader in college/grad school and now in my professional work, I have to think that played a fairly large part in my development and where I am now,” said Braddish.
Now Braddish is playing the game again, and he’s been overjoyed to discover that he and his old guildmates—including his guildmaster—have been able to pick up right where they left off. It’s been an interesting experience for him, given that he now perceives himself as a completely different person.
“I should say nothing has changed in our dynamic within WoW,” Braddish said. “Personally, I am a completely different person these days. I’ve finished high school, gone to college, gone to grad school, and been working in the ‘real world’ for years now. My GM seems to be largely the same, but I would say that’s because he was much older in the vanilla days. Whereas I began playing at 14, he was in his late 20s and already been through his most formative years.”
They’re now making new memories in old haunts, marinating in memories and reforging old bonds. “Oddly enough, many of the new ‘good old times’ are the same as the old ‘good old times’ just because we’re playing the same game as we were back then,” said Braddish. “Running Deadmines and Scarlet Monastery again, getting Dartol’s Rod of Transformation—which turns your character into a furbolg, a sort of ridiculous looking bear—and spamming our warcry while fighting and at the end of battles. It’s just a combination of small moments such as those.”
There is, however, a potential storm cloud hovering over the glow players are currently basking in: This could all be temporary. Many WoW Classic players are now adults with families and other responsibilities, and even if that wasn’t the case, WoW Classic itself is finite. Eventually, everyone will hit level 60 again, or raid until they have all the best possible gear. Some haven’t even stuck around long enough to reach the top of that proverbial mountain.
A player who goes by the handle “WestEschaton” told Kotaku that his old friends only messed around in WoW Classic for a couple weeks. Then they bounced. For all of vanilla WoW’s strengths, its grind often nosedived straight into tedium territory. The same is true of WoW Classic.
“In a couple of cases, the fond nostalgia of leveling in vanilla was replaced by the frustration of killing five dozen goretusks to get eight livers,” WestEschaton said in a Twitter DM. “I think that mostly [my friends] wanted to come back for a couple of weeks and just see how it went.”
WestEschaton said he thinks that even though WoW Classic is like stepping into a time machine, the environment, community, and culture surrounding it is still very much a product of 2019—not 2004. WoW Classic’s plains and wastelands are well-charted territory at this point, with countless guides available via Google and YouTube, and many WoW Classic players pre-formed their own guilds and groups on platforms like Discord (which was not around back in 2004) instead of allowing them to emerge organically in the game. These things do not intrinsically make connections between players any better or worse than they were in WoW’s vanilla days, but they do change the nature of interactions in the world itself.
“Community for me back then was a lot of not knowing anything about what was going on and there not being a lot of help available other than what other players knew,” WestEschaton said. “That’s entirely different now… Video gaming is in a very different place now than it was in 2005, and if you play games at all, it’s very likely that you’ve changed with it. In essence, it’s pretty unlikely that you can take a large group of 2019 gamers, put them down in a 2005 game, and have them be happy. Museums are nice places to visit.”
Then there’s the question of what comes next. At some point, WoW Classic will have to advance beyond the halcyon vanilla days, or else even relatively casual players will eventually run out of things to do. If Blizzard opts to slowly dole out the same old expansions, there’s a good chance that lapsed players will just lapse again, given that many of them burnt out on Burning Crusade and the content that followed.
Kroguardious is concerned for WoW Classic’s future. “My fear is that they will just continue re-releasing each [expansion pack] and eventually we’ll no longer have our common place,” he said.
What he’d prefer, then, is for Blizzard to use WoW Classic as the jumping-off point for a divergent timeline. “I’d love to see a new timeline that follows the Classic style of gameplay,” he said. “No new level cap, or maybe only going up by one with a new expansion. Maybe we chase Kel’Thuzad’s phylactery to Northrend right away and defeat the Lich King before he’s built up such a powerful armory, and an entire new story takes place. That’d be a dream come true.”
For now, though, many players are just trying to savor their present moment of reliving the past.
“For some people, it might be temporary,” said Price. “Some people I know hit their 30s-40s, when the game really starts to hit its grind, and trickled off to play other things, and I totally understand that. I think others may get tired of it and stop playing altogether, but the community has made a lasting impression on most. The amount of expression seen in chat when an old friend or known community member hops in never gets old… I’m happy that it was able to help these people reconnect and hope that those connections continue for a long, long time.”
Last year, in the lead-up to World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion, Horde leader Sylvanas Windrunner went a bit more evil than usual. She set the world tree ablaze, destroying the night elf capital of Teldrassil and murdering countless innocents in the process. It was one of the most horrific events in the online role-playing game’s history. It’s also a delightful papercraft creation in the upcoming <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="194568366X" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1838287009[a|194568366X[au|5724686334600252479[b|kotaku[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'kotaku – World of Warcraft's Greatest Tragedies Look So Much Cuter In A Pop-Up Book‘, ‘194568366X’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘kotaku – World of Warcraft's Greatest Tragedies Look So Much Cuter In A Pop-Up Book‘, ‘194568366X’);” data-amazontag=”kotakuamzn-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/World-Warcraft-Pop-Up-Book/dp/194568366X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=world+of+warcraft+pop-up+book&qid=1568994581&sr=8-1&tag=kotakuamzn-20&ascsubtag=8f9cc87c5444531780a87d2cc290baf0d6d97fa9″>World of Warcraft Pop-Up Book. You can almost smell the roasting night elves.
History, be it real-world history or fantasy MMO history, is full of terror and death and tragedy, but learning about history doesn’t have to be. The pop-up book, one of papercraft’s finest creations, can add depth, whimsy, and fun to even the most heartrending events.
The next major event in the Horde and Alliance war following the burning of Teldrassil was the Battle for Lordaeron. In the heat of the confrontation, Sylvanas ordered the ruins of the ancient Alliance capital that served as the capstone to the undead Undercity to be bombarded with blight, rendering it completely inhospitable for even the living dead. The World of Warcraft Pop-Up book lets children of all ages experience the ruins from a safe distance, preserving history and health at the same time.
As a special bonus, the book includes a fold-out depicting what Stormwind looks like when you’re drunk.
Hopefully next they make the World of Warcraft Classic Pop-Up Book, which is the same thing only with scissors so you can cut out the new bits.
“I couldn’t help it,” said Ash, one of the dedicated World of Warcraft fans who’d helped manage illicit fan servers for years, of his decision to play Blizzard’s official World of Warcraft Classic. “I just wanted to stop working on privately owned projects and focus on myself for once. And that’s what I did… For years, I focused purely on the best experience for the players. Now it’s my own turn.”
World of Warcraft, Blizzard’s mega-popular online role-playing game, has changed drastically in the 15 years since it first came out. Visual upgrades and story overhauls have transformed World of Warcraft into a very different game, and the version you can play in 2019 is wholly changed from its 2004 origins, much to the dismay of players like Ash, who craved an older version they had no official way to play. In the past, players who wanted to stick with old-school World of Warcraft have had no choice but to painstakingly recreate the game on private servers, risking that Blizzard might shut them down, as it did to Nostalrius, which had over 150,000 active accounts when it was shuttered in 2016. Today, there are over two dozen of these servers, some with thousands of active players grinding out levels in a more streamlined yet challenging version of the 15-year-old game.
Now, however, many of those players have another option: World of Warcraft Classic, an officially sanctioned vanilla version of the online game that came out last month. Kotaku spoke to nine people who design, code, and play on communities for private WoW servers, and they say that as expected, there has been an exodus from the illegitimate servers to the legitimate ones. One of the larger fan servers, Light’s Hope, recently shuttered, citing Blizzard’s promise to bring WoW fans home. One person who ran it declared the shutdown a “relief” in DMs with Kotaku.
Player counts on the fan-run servers Kronos and Elysium have dropped significantly, with Elysium’s population going down by 25 percent. “We were expecting close to 50 or 60,” said a player with the handle Rain, who works closely with Elysium. The members lists for legacy servers’ Discord groups are full of people marked as “Playing WoW Classic,” although many of these groups still contain thousands of users. WoW Classic appears to be satisfying legacy server’s players’ desire for a slower, less overwhelming version of the game, one with the feeling of community that many World of Warcraft players say is lacking in the 2019 version. The classic version of WoW has become a phenomenon, popularizing a culture that, until recently, existed mostly underground. In fact, so many people are playing WoW Classic that in its earliest days, there were hours-long queues to log in.
“I figured if Blizzard did it right, there would be no reason for us to continue on with the private server scene, which was just fine in my book,” said a person on Kronos’ game master team who asked to remain anonymous. “Log into any of the major private servers now and you will see a marked drop in player activity, as well as on their forums you will see people talking about leaving for Classic. Blizzard is the original creator of the game and it is only right that people will think they will do a better job with supporting, scripting, and managing the game and its servers.”
Said Skeith, who helped run Light’s Hope, “I absolutely do believe WoW Classic is pulling people away from private servers.” He said he appreciates how well Blizzard has handled some of the trickier aspects of running a large-scale MMO, like players exploiting the in-game economy. “We had quite a difficult time throughout our history dealing with people who could have destroyed our economy when they discovered a bug in our engine. I’d say for this fact alone that WoW Classic definitely scratches that itch.”
The stability of WoW Classic is one big draw, say private server players on WoW’s official forum. “Blizzard managed to get named quest mobs spawning in the right places; unlike [private] servers that had named quest mobs with static spawn locations,” said one. Lots of players are happier with how monsters “aggro,” or aggressively approach, players. Without the polish of a huge, money-backed studio with a full-time staff, legacy servers are full of bugs and exploits. WoW Classic has also drawn in a huge portion of the standard WoW community, making for a healthy, active player base.
Three people who help run private servers said they believe many of the players sticking with those servers either can’t afford to play World of Warcraft Classic or don’t have PCs good enough to run it. Playing World of Warcraft Classic requires an active WoW subscription, which costs $15 a month. Fan servers, meanwhile, are functionally free (although many players choose to donate).
Said one player on the server Dalaran, “I am not currently playing WoW Classic as I cannot afford a subscription. However, I shall be playing in 2 weeks after I get a paycheck in finally and to join many of my friends who have already gone ahead.” The Kronos Game Master says he’s ideologically opposed to paying $15 a month, the same price as retail WoW. “Many in the community (myself included) do not believe we should be charged the same fee for a 15 year old game as for a current game that has literally thousands of additional hours of content in it, and we see it as yet another way of them being able to pad their subscription numbers.”
A deep suspicion of publisher Activision colors lots of remaining private server players’ distaste for WoW Classic. Two told Kotaku they’re not playing the official version in protest of Activision, which in the words of the Kronos Game Master, is “more interested in quarterly profits than actually putting out good games and content for their player base.” DodgyKebaab, a YouTuber making content about private WoW servers, says that while he’s playing the new game, he’s fearful that WoW Classic will be subject to in-game monetization efforts that will ruin the experience for him. “A company that parades loot boxes around like they are the greatest thing to hit gaming is not a company I trust to keep a game like WoW Classic free of extra in-game real money transactions,” he said.
In a video titled “Why I’m not hyped for Warcraft Classic,” DodgyKebaab details the mechanical differences between Blizzard’s fresh take on Vanilla WoW and fans’ private servers. Like others in his community, he is deeply in touch with the intricacies of early WoW mechanics, and has strong opinions on them. In a direct message on Discord, he gave Kotaku the TL;DR version of his biggest complaint against WoW Classic: “They have used a technique called layering so each realm has multiple versions running at the same time,” he explained. “This does mean the player base is split up even though people are playing on the same realm. So you might meet someone one day [and] add them as a friend but the next day you find that you are on two separate layers so you won’t run into each other again.”
The continuing benefit of private servers is that they offer specific, custom features for players with personal preferences. Some have their own seasonal events, like for Valentine’s Day. Some feature hardcore raiding experiences, while others are entirely player-versus-player (PvP), ditching the computer-controlled monsters that populate most versions of World of Warcraft.
Player WhiteKidney, who helped run Light’s Hope, says he’s received over 50 direct messages on Discord from players requesting they bring back the server. “They feel we provided a much better experience than Blizzard has with classic (harder content, no layering for example),” he said.
“I personally don’t think that there will ever be anything ever quite like Light’s Hope or Nostalrius ever again with the advent of WoW Classic,” said the player Skeith, who until recently also helped run Light’s Hope, “but I personally believe we both played an important role in showing Blizzard that going back to your roots is not necessarily a bad thing.”
World of WarcraftClassic is allowing tons of dedicated and longtime fans to relive the early days of their favorite game. For someone like me who never had any experience with World of Warcraft, it’s a different sort of time capsule. It’s strange to be a total newbie to one of the biggest games in history, but there’s also joy to be had in not knowing what to do or where to go next.
I know almost nothing about World of Warcraft. I know the Alliance and the Horde, I know that Tempest Keep was merely a setback, I know Jaina’s done some questionable things recently, and I know “you no take candle.” My knowledge of Warcraft is secondhand. I picked up fragments from things like Hearthstone and that one time I saw the World of Warcraft movie with my girlfriend. WoW Classic is totally alien to me. Ever since my curiosity got the better of me and I started playing two days ago, I’ve bumbled about as a fresh-faced priestess and found myself happily overwhelmed by the game’s scale and design.
MMOs aren’t new to me. I’m an avid Final Fantasy XIV player. I played Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic, Lord of the Rings Online, and more. When I dropped into Azeroth, I had some fundamentals to work on: learning the leveling process, how to get new spells, walking the path to the infamous town village of Goldshire. All of it has been a fascinating peek at a world I’ve never known. There have been surprises—I have never in my life seen a Tauren before, so that was a shock—but they’ve been a lot of fun. And while it feels strange as a games journalist to admit my lack of Warcraft knowledge, I’m content to wander from quest to quest and observe the game’s bustling community.
Last night, I found a green quality bow while slaying a murloc on a quest. Not the highest-quality weapon and also not anything I could use as Priestess. I could have sold it and made a little more money for buying new spells, but instead, I asked in General chat if anyone wanted it. Someone messaged me asking to see the item. I linked it in chat. He passed.
“I hope it goes to a worthy hunter,” the stranger said.
My reply came quickly: “I figure why sell it if I can help someone out.”
“That the spirit of Classic,” they offered in turn. I’m not making this up; that’s just how nice this stranger was.
I’m level 10 right now, and although I don’t plan to power level, I’ll eventually get to 60 even if I only play one or two nights a week here or there. It’ll be a long, relaxing journey. I’m not going to raid in a hardcore fashion; I won’t have multiple characters; and I’m not gonna role play, even though I found a weary traveler on the road last night and struck up a quick chat. Instead, I’ll amble through Classic and finally get a chance to see what the fuss was about all those years ago.
If you watch people play games on Twitch, or you read about them on websites, or you just awoke from a thousand-year slumber and the first thing anybody explained to you was the concept of “video games,” you’re probably aware that everybody’s going bonkers for WoW Classic right now. This has resulted in hours-long queue times on high-population servers. Players are, understandably, tired of dealing with them. Less understandably, some players are skirting the rules to get around the wait times.
WoW Classic players havebeenreporting sightings of people using so-called “auto clicker” programs to automate click and key-press routines so that the game doesn’t log them out when they’re away from their keyboard. That way, they don’t have to leap back into the queue after, say, reassuring their families that they’re alive or ensuring that they stay that way by sleeping. Generally, these players’ characters move in simple, repeating patterns so as to throw off WoW’s detection software. The usage of these sorts of programs to automate multiple actions at once is technically against the rules in both regular WoW and WoW Classic, but these auto clicker programs remain easy to install and use.
The broader community does not like these players because they indirectly contribute to queue times by occupying space on servers. It is, however, impossible to gauge how much these players contribute to those wait times, and they’re likely a minority in the face of the sheer number of regular people who just want to get through the queue and play the ancient MMO the old-fashioned way. Also, it should be noted that Blizzard “substantially” increased the number of players capable of occupying the same server yesterday, which has minimized the queue issue on many servers. Popular ones, however, still have lengthy queues.
Some players have also attempted to useWoW’s built-in auto-run feature to avoid getting the unceremonious boot, which means they end up adventure-sprinting face-first into the same rock or wall for minutes at a time. Unfortunately for them, WoW still counts this as being AFK, so these players mostly just look really funny.
Lastly, special credit goes to longtime mega-guild Method, whose members have realized that cold, mechanical automation is no substitute for determined, red-blooded workers. I’m referring to the fact that, as part of their big “Race To World First” event in Las Vegas, the guild has a guy who runs around and periodically presses the spacebar on AFK players’ keyboards so they don’t get disconnected. This is effective and probably not against the rules. So if you really, really want to stay logged into WoW Classic, there’s your solution: find a guy.
There are a lot of mobile games out there ripping off Blizzard’s characters and series, but Glorious Saga is pretty bad even by those low standards.
As Polygon reports, Blizzard is suing the game’s creator, Sina Games, accusing it of wholesale theft of the characters from its own WarCraft series. “Every monster, creature, animal, and vehicle in the Infringing Game was copied from the Warcraft games,” Blizzard alleges. “Weapons, amulets, and other objects were taken straight from the Warcraft games, without pretense. Audio cues and sound effects from the Warcraft games were reproduced for the Infringing Game.”
If you’re wondering just how infringing an allegation of infringement can be, here’s some footage of Glorious Saga in action:
Overcrowded starting areas, login queues in the tens of thousands, rampant lag, server disconnects—oh yeah, I am feeling that old school MMO vibe in World of Warcraft Classic.
In the video below (mind the hot mic, it’s been a while) I take my first steps 15 years back in time. My gnome rogue, Gerbil, entered the Coldridge Valley starting zone within minutes of the WoW Classic servers going live, along with every other dwarven and gnomish character on the Faerlina server.
The zone’s initial quest, requiring characters to collect meat from wolves, made it a very bad day to be a wolf. It wasn’t a great day to be a rogue either. Every time I got near a wolf, some spellcaster’s bolt or hunter’s arrow would hit it. Since this is vanilla WoW, rolled back to the early days, taking credit for killing a creature means hitting it first, and that’s it. No communal kills.
Eventually, the wholesale wolf slaughter subsided and I was able to progress. Keen on working together to overcome the initial crowding, players started forming lines for creatures and monsters required to finish quests. The neat little queues were like tiny communities. People jumping ahead were shunned. People getting in line were welcomed with open arms. It was kind of beautiful.
There are plus sides to every character on a server being in the same zone at the same time. I chose skinning and leatherworking as my professions. The dwarf and gnome starting areas are filled to the brim with skinnable creatures. Wolves, bears, cats, boars, and even yetis, their abandoned corpses in tidy piles, waiting for me to come along and strip them of their gruesome fruit.
In three hours I made it to level eight on my rogue. On a regular, up-to-date World of Warcraft server, I would be raiding already. OK, not raiding, but at least going through some level 16 dungeons. Anyway, once I hit level eight I logged out for a snack.
Bad move. World of Warcraft Classic differs from regular MMORPG launches in that everyone who already plays World of Warcraft gained access as soon as the servers went live. There was no ramp up to the massive queues. They were immediate. It doesn’t help that the server I picked, player-versus-player realm Faerlina, is apparently a popular streamer server.
Determined to play, I hopped over to one of the newer servers Blizzard opened last night to deal with overflow, PVP role-playing server Deviate Delight, whose name is destined to make it a popular destination for “adult” role-players. I rolled a human mage and set off on a grand adventure.
For those who can’t watch the video, it ends with a server disconnect and me going to bed.
The World of Warcraft Classic server rush should subside quickly. Right now it’s a fascinating new/old thing that’s garnering a lot of attention, but old school WoW is hard, and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone.
After two years of anticipation, WoW Classic is finally live. Top streamers from every corner of Twitch are streaming it right now, resulting in an audience of over one million concurrent viewers—and some seriously congested starter areas.
As of this writing, the slavering horde of Horde (and Alliance) fans topped out at 1.1 million people. That’s a colossal number for a single game on Twitch. For reference, Fortnite has been recently pulling between 100,000 and 200,000 concurrent viewers at any given moment. It’s rare that even big esports events bring this kind of attention to a single game.
Even more impressively, WoW Classic pulled in the majority of these viewers while streamers were waiting to be able to log in. For example, by the time he was able to join a server, popular WoW streamer Asmongold was already at more than 200,000 viewers. Other popular streamers like Sodapoppin and Shroud, the latter of whom hasn’t traditionally been much of a WoW streamer, have attracted similarly gargantuan gaggles of gawking spectators. So too has top WoW guild Method, which is hosting an event where various personalities and high-level players race to be the world’s first players to complete, er, basically everything.
Even individual streamers are racing to level up, and the reason for that is simple: They want to physically separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Servers, especially ones that popular streamers have joined, are absolutely slammed right now, with tangled body piles of players rolling Katamari-like across the landscape and converging on quest-givers and low-level enemies alike.
It is comical to watch, but also frustrating, since enemies are having a hard time spawning quickly enough to keep up with demand, and the game is hitching and lagging in great, heaving bursts. Meanwhile, players who haven’t made it in yet are reporting hours-long server queue times. Granted, this is not entirely streamers’ fault. A lot of people have been waiting a long, long time to return to vanilla WoW’s boar-filled fields.
Still, despite technological improvements that are no doubt keeping the servers from plummeting off the internet altogether, it’s worth noting that the original World of Warcraft—and by extension, WoW Classic—was not designed with streamers and Discord and strictly regimented mega-guilds in mind. Those things, for the most part, didn’t come until later. It’ll be interesting, then, to see how streamers affect the 2004 revival’s delicate leveling ecosystem—not to mention if a relatively barebones MMO can hold people’s attention in the long run.
When WoW first launched, its quest system was a revolutionary streamlining of the MMO formula, but much of the game’s magic came from spontaneity in the absence of structured activity: hours-long world PVP struggles, awkward encounters in The Barrens, factions trying to storm each others’ home cities, blood plagues accidentally killing everybody, and so on. But times have changed, and you can’t just repeat something and have it feel spontaneous again. WoW Classic, much like vanilla WoW before it, will live or die based on what people make of it.