Kael'Thas from Tempest Keep - World of Warcraft

When Blizzard issued a cease and desist notice to Nostalrius, the biggest private World of Warcraft server, the community was sent into an uproar. Ever since then more than 260,000 people signed a petition asking Blizzard to either reconsider their decision, or to create their own Vanilla WoW server.

After it became apparent that this isn't just a passing trend, and that people are truly interested in a playing some oldschool World of Warcraft, Blizzard decided to invite the Nostalrius team to their offices. With the meeting now finally done, the Nostalrius team has returned to the spotlight with a report on their 5-hour long chat with Blizzard. You can read it in its entirety by heading here, but for now here's a couple of the most interesting excerpts:

"When Blizzard initially proposed this discussion several weeks ago, we were anxious that it would be a simple PR / damage mitigation move. It is now clear to us that this wasn’t the case.

First of all, people at key positions inside Blizzard attended the meeting. They were also all very interested, curious, attentive, and asked a lot of questions about all of the topics we mentioned: the presentation was meant to last less than 2 hours, and we finished after more than 5 hours! Finally, we were very surprised about the deep respect and admiration they all had for what we had accomplished and what the community has built around legacy WoW servers.

A second surprise for us was the amount of dedication these guys have. All of them started playing WoW during Vanilla, they went through the same experience as you and us, did the same mistakes and killed the same bosses. In the last part of the meeting, as we presented in detail the remaining class/raid bugs, they knew exactly about the spells/talents we were mentioning, every quest we spoke about, raid bosses abilities and even remembered vanilla item changes through patches!

After this meeting, we can affirm that these guys WANT to have legacy WoW servers, that is for sure. We did everything we could to make this presentation & discussion as professional as possible, which was something that clearly was a pleasant unexpected surprise for the whole Blizzard team, Mike Morhaime included."

While I would love to tell you that Blizzard is right now working on a Vanilla WoW solution, the answer is unfortunately a lot more complicated than that as there are numerous technical issues that will first need to be sorted out. Here's how the Nostalrius team explained the issue:

"However, in order to generate the server (and the client), a complex build system is being used. It is not just about generating the “WoW.exe” and “Server.exe” files. The build process takes data, models, maps, etc. created by Blizzard and also generates client and server specific files. The client only has the information it needs and the server only has the information that it needs.

This means that before re-launching vanilla realms, all of the data needed for the build processes has to be gathered in one place with the code. Not all of this information was under a version control system. In the end, whichever of these parts were lost at any point, they will have to be recreated: this is likely to take a lot of resources through a long development process.

In addition to the technical aspects of releasing a legacy server Blizzard also needs to provide a very polished game that will be available to their millions of players, something existing unofficial legacy servers cannot provide."

I'm almost certain that Vanilla WoW servers will happen at some point in the future, the only real question is when? To put it bluntly, World of Warcraft has been bleeding subscribers ever since Cataclysm, with many citing "over-casualization" as one of the leading causes, so the return to a "hardcore" experience seems to be a sensible business decision as long as the technical aspects can be sorted out first.

Here's to hoping they manage to do just that because Vanilla WoW is one of the defining features of my teenage years, and I would love to be able to experience it once more.

Old World of Warcraft screenshot