This one is probably the most popular: https://github.com/TrinityCore/TrinityCore
It's pretty rare for Blizzard to go after these companies in court, but it's happened here and there. Look up "Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. Alyson Reeves" if you're curious what such a lawsuit looks like! Every patch since Lich King, though, has attacked these reverse engineers on the technical front by adding layers upon layers of obfuscation to the protocol. That's had some effect, and many private servers have stuck with the old Burning Crusade or Lich King releases.
Sure I don't think you could get $15/month for it but certainly $5/month or $10 a month. And they already let you "play for free up to level 20" why not just let you play for free on a vanilla server up to level 60?
However, it's worth mentioning that Runescape now officially offers a "classic" version of the game alongside (and separate from) the modern version, which should be an interesting experiment to watch.
I've always thought that level caps in MMOs, particularly the WoW variety slash-and-burn where you basically make a new theme park every two years and throw the last one in the dumpster in terms of player viability, is a destructive cycle not conductive to building real living worlds.
It's pretty simple to avoid the problem of having players scattered across multiple content sets and levelcaps: stop bleeding your players dry. What are subscription fees paying for if not ongoing development of additional content?
IMO you should either charge for expansions or charge subscription fees - but not both.
WoW was, from the outset, designed to railroad players through content theme parks and give a hit of dopamine just often enough to keep them playing.
The Blizzard Warcraft Store:
Information on the "WoW Token" mechanism for turning $ into gold: http://www.tentonhammer.com/guides/guide-to-buying-and-selli...
If existing players who are willing to buy new expansions whenever they are available migrate to vanilla servers, they might as well opt out of buying the expansions, since adding new content in the vanilla servers will make them non-vanilla.
Theme Park/Resort Casino. Basically dazzle your senses while getting you to play a rigged game to massage you with variable schedule of reward. A real, living world is spoiler-proof.
I do not see how they would be splitting the userbase, when many of the players of this server wouldn't even consider returning to Blizzard's current product.
The problem I see is old versions would be unlikely to get updates like new content or dungeons so even those hoping to play long term would get bored eventually.
Games age and taste change too. Blizzard has done an amazing job to see so many millions of players interested. The one surprise to me is how low of level their free play is limited to.
Otherwise, I do see your point. As much as I'd enjoy it if they offered new players/characters the option of playing revised post-Cataclysm content for leveling or "classic" content instead, it might pull away enough of the existing population to make early group quests painful. (Although, that could be mitigated somewhat in the same manner their cross-realm stuff currently works.)
You may be right about the nostalgic effects, although it is a pretty powerful effect and certainly got one particular company's side venture off to a good start . In the times I've toyed around with TrinityCore, I find I'd play it at least 2-3 times a week if I had friends who weren't absolutely terrified of the potential for permanent bans--the old content was that enjoyable to me. Nevertheless, I recently re-subscribed to retail this February, and I enjoy it, but it feels like it's missing something. It doesn't have the same charm, but I do appreciate a few of the improvements (the "spell crunch" is miserable, however).
I'm a sample size of one, though, and that's certainly not enough to make any time investment worthwhile on Blizzard's behalf.
I don't know exactly how well it's working out for them. Now they have two games to support and promote, with about the same number of users. This number might (likely?) be higher than if they had stuck to providing a single game, but I'm not sure. It's hard to tell.
There seems to be some business risk to doing this. Apart from possibly cannibalizing your main product, it also requires two teams to support and run the two games. If you actually want the experience on the old-style server to be at all stable or compelling, you'll have to put some time and energy into them—it's more than just running the server.
Honestly, I have no idea if what RuneScape did was the right move, but it's a really interesting case study.
More importantly, the resources they have are better used developing new things for their existing properties which is what statistically all their paying customers actually want. The most persistent and universal complaint about Blizzard is that they don't produce content as quickly as their audience demands and consumes it. They'd be foolish and negligent to waste their time on anything else.
There are some pretty obvious downsides to that plan but it's an option.
The biggest concern I've had against investing emotions into any MMO's content, is the complete lack of a guarantee that it'll always be officially available. So many quests and such get old pretty fast and eventually forgotten. There's just no way to relive that content.
Maybe a paradigm shift is needed, away from how MMO content has been traditionally designed.
That said, I'm sure maintaining different versions of the servers would actually be a huge pain. The live ops was most likely not a solved problem at the end of an expansion.
It would take a lot of back porting security patches as well as bringing certain things forward like connecting to the current bnet.
Just imagining this small aspect of the overall challenge makes it clear to me that this type of server just would never happen on an official basis - so many cross-linked considerations and it's really hard to make a business case for almost any of them, even if it would be a lot of fun from a player point of view. Which means that allowing a volunteer community like Nostalrius is really the ideal, outside of the reality of the law which requires protecting intellectual property in all cases in order preserve it in the cases where you really want to. Could some kind of official license be made available specifically for Nostalrius?
It's worth noting that Wildstar launched targeting the hardcore WoW raider experience.
It failed miserably since targeting only a single-digit percentage of WoW's playerbase is not a profitable business decision.
I played both Nostalrius and Wildstar extensively and the two were nowhere close in terms of scale, depth of world, community, lore, or any other metric you can think of really. The boss mechanics, housing, and soundtrack were great but the game was incredibly lackluster otherwise. Lore had some potential with the Drusera arc being interesting.
As for the bad: PvP balance was a trainwreck. Quests were meaningless as you'd get 30 at once and blow through each on in a couple minutes. Rep grind rewards were poorly balanced. Instances offered little reason to run them repeatedly and relied too much on the interrupt mechanic. The world was much less atmospheric barring some neat zones like Farside that you had no reason to return to after leveling through. Itemization was dull with no interesting items or stats. No secondary professions. No cosmetic pets. Instanced zones. I could go on and on but that touches on most of the major issues.
Oh, and while I love addons they needed to be more careful with just how powerful they could be within their poorly planned economy. I coded an autocrafter for the Architect profession in the first couple days and basically botted (legally) $1500 worth of currency @CREDD rates in a single week. Fun for me but rather unhealthy for the economy itself.
The problem with Wildstar is rather like the problem with trying to get your highschool band back together. The drummer moved to another country, the lead singer has two kids, the bass player works shift work. Everyone grew up and no-one has the time (or inclination) to raid any more.
I think a lot of people (myself included) loved the idea of Wildstar but just weren't in a position to make the investment of time and effort required to really enjoy a game like that.
Ulduar was the game at its peak. All downhill from there. I still hate how they crippled the hard modes afterwards.
Plenty of people think BC was the peak and LK ruined everything. I personally think ICC was amazing and the peak, because that's when I played.
MMO experiences are always the best when they are novel, there is something really special about the first time you beat a raid boss. Also later expansions will never recapture the innocence of the first time discovering a world. Then you learn how to "beat" the game and minimax your experience. Then an expansion comes out and you just can't view the content without a minimax hat on, and that ruins it.
People often long for the glory of days past, but remember that everyone also has their own frames of reference. For new players WoW is probably still as good now as it has ever been, it's just impossible for you or I to see that when we saw we had it so much better.
The only place I see it failing is figuring out a way to keep communities together over the years. Most people's main experience with the game is social, and if your group can't stay cohesive, and few can for 12 years, you're going to get a diminished experience. It's simply an impossible task to figure out a way to keep gamers together for that long.
Other people will complain about parts of the game being too easy, but I always dismiss those out of hand. The high end parts are more challenging than ever, and the existence of diverse content is nothing against the game design. I love that I can log on for a few minutes here and there and even only play Pokemon if that's what I want in the moment. As an old-school MMO person who never saw WoW through the eyes of novelty, my perspective is that no game has managed to maintain such high quality and consistency while continually reinventing itself over such a long time. The fact that it's still the number one MMO by far and maintains a subscription model while everyone else is going free-to-play is testament to its quality. I think it's a piece of software that any developer should look at for inspiration on how to keep people engaged for a very long time.
By your logic I should be a hardcore "Vanilla was the best" player, but actually, I'd argue that most of the game peaked in TBC (the first expansion) and raiding peaked in Wrath.
I've had enough in Cataclysm, but I can't really say if vanilla, tbc or lk was the best (ignoring my personal achievements in each of those, tbc was the peak of my raiding). All of those bring good memories.
Blizzard is actually the company that set the precedent of going after these companies in court (bnetd ), and I can't think of a single company that has gone after these types of projects (private servers) more than Blizzard.
Bnetd set a horrible prescient IMO. You have the court saying reverse engineering a protocol and creating a clone of it was essentially illegal. The software which, was both free and open source, was now infringing if it was published (even though it was a totally original work).
You can sill find the bnetd source code around here and there for people who made copies. I've been at LAN parties where we cranked one up and ran old copies of Blizzard games.
I was thinking of publishing a legal paper on this a few years back; started some preliminary work with a friend who was a lawyer in NZ, but it kinda all fell through the cracks.
Interestingly, I wonder what would have happened had this project been based in NZ instead. Software patents are illegal there .. but, they did illegally spy on Kim dotcom (then change the laws so it wasn't illegal anymore), impounded his servers on behalf of the US (coughmovieindustrycough) government. He lost his extradition trial, so he now faces extradition...for copyright infringement. They are extraditing a man, for a non-criminal, civil violation. (Don't get me wrong, he's kinda a dick and his CD was terrible, but the whole case is bullshit...plus he's fucking hilarious).
There are allot of WOTLK servers because WOTLK was the most "popular" patch of WoW and allot of work on both the emulation and the database was done for that patch.
However private servers for Cata, MoP, and WoD came out pretty much almost hand in hand with live release, they were and still are utterly garbage but most private servers are.
This is quite big it's the first time for quite a long while that Blizzard went to close an private server, and it's the first time that the server in question was not hosted in the US/CA and was not anywhere close to emulating retail content.
The content that is available on Nostralius is literally not available on any live server any more since Cataclysm which altered all the original "vanilla" content.
This might actually also be interesting to see if this can actually go to court, the server emulation (if done as a clean room) does not infringe on Blizzards actual IP, all the text, sounds, textures models are present on the client side alone the server holds only an itemized database of objects and knows how to communicate with the client.
This isn't entirely true. All the quest text, monster says, NPC interactions and more are sent by the server. Sure, the models and sounds are part of the client, but the server tells your client where to place which mobs, how much health they should have, how they react to you, etc.
>The content that is available on Nostralius is literally not available on any live server any more
Yeah, hosting a game server that is no longer available because the company that used to host them stopped offering that option should probably not be against the law. Even single player games are being created as "multiplayer" nowadays, so it's bound to become an even bigger problem in the future.
It's one thing for a company to shut down an older game's multiplayer-only services when the player base dwindles, but with many single player games now requiring a server connection to even function, what happens to those?
At the very least, companies should have a contingency plan for making a "sunset" patch available to allow those games to keep working - even in reduced capacity - once those servers go away.
There is something of a problem here, but the solution (as ever) is not a simple one.
I haven't seen such obfuscation, personally. Mostly design/implementation inconsistency, which, can happen to any large, old software project.
The biggest nastiness I personally witnessed was the battle.net authentication system upgrade, and it wasn't borne out of anti-RCE efforts.
I submitted RunUO patches to our local forks (I then had no idea how to help with "upstream" stuff), and I also was fan of Sphere based servers.
Also I GMed a couple servers, made maps, scripts, RPG Scenes, researched lore of the series to teach to people...
One thing that happened interestingly, is that several servers over time ended rolling back expansions, even if they already had implemented them, because of how obviously bad they were for the game overall, this also affected the mainstream EA servers, each expansion made people leave instead of grow...
The most popular servers were the "T2A" servers, that emulated the expansion "The Second Age", usually with a few minor features from new expansions (like custom house architecture).
I noticed after I started to study game design formally, that the problem of the expansions was two-fold: 1, power creep, lots of it, each expansion introduced stronger enemies, harder dungeons, and better equipment... and required that you paid for them to get all that, in a obvious cash grab, but that made the game unbalanced.
And 2, and biggest problem: it shifted the genre of the game!
When Ultima Online started, it was a sort of medieval life simulator, it had farming, alchemy, baking, and all sorts of "boring" daily stuff, there was even one interview were Richard Garriot mentioned when he was walking around invisible, and saw a warrior show up near a fisherman, and out of pity drop on the ground for him lots of good equipment, and the fisherman got offended, and explained he was a fisherman, he wanted to fish, not kill, and did not wanted swords and armour near him.
New expansions routinely broke "skills" that did non-combat tasks (example: item identification), or made them irrelevant (blacksmithing... in the original game a blacksmith could make the best equipment possible, after expansions blacksmithing became useless, with the best smithed equipment having only half the power of the stuff you could find in the "end-game" dungeons).
Meanwhile they introduced mostly combat features: new weapons, new offensive magic, new combat-based "classes" (in a game that was supposed to be classless in first place), and so on...
Also expansions gimped some past features that made the game interesting, for example in UO default map, you could attack anyone that you wanted, anywhere, the only protection players had were other players, and the city guards (that were practically invincible).
New expansions instead introduced new maps that had all sorts of shenanigans disabled, and lots of restrictions, also they made LOTS of maps, and after they pissed off players with the genre shifts, it became too much map for too little people, it became easy to wander for hours before ever meeting people.
Thus, if you wanted a "real" UO experience, private servers were the way to go.
I loved T2A so much that I tried all the way up to Samurai Empire to stay with it, but it was hopeless. By that point, they turned what I still believe was the most original MMO out there into a tepid World of Warcraft clone. Only it could never compete on graphics, and everyone just played the same five boss "Doom Gauntlet" on auto-repeat for months on end to get psychotically overpowered gear that lasted forever and couldn't be stolen or lost.
It was so great back in the day. Some of my best memories were playing that game. I get really weird nostalgia in the truest sense just listening to the old MIDI files from the game. The classic servers just don't capture the mood with ~800 people on at most. That world is so huge that even pre-T2A, 800 people would mean maybe you'd see three people at the Britannia bank and that's it.
That's not the case. The bandwidth would be crippling if it were. Most of the game is in the client. Clients know how to do actions, cast spells, count cooldowns, etc. The server has some maps that tell the clients "put this immobile resource here, spawn this mob there" (but the clients know what those resources and mobs look and act like, the server just tells them to instantiate a mob of this id there), and then sanity-checks and synchronizes the clients.
Are you saying the clients decide how a mob moves and behaves?
> sanity-checks and synchronizes the clients
Which in practice means the whole game logic must live on the server as well, right? How else would they validate the client's input?
Talk about synchronicity!
Here's a neat info graphic of what Nostalrius had achieved (found on /r/wow): http://i.imgur.com/jxtOQlu.jpg
This will be interesting. Apparently, there are open source reverse-engineerings of the old WoW code already, but having them release the source code may allow for some interesting applications.
I'd love to play around with that data dump as well.
The problem with most private servers is not character portability, but scripting portability. A quest scripted for a vanilla core probably won't work on a Burning Crusade one because the API used is different.
The WoW private server scene is actually fascinating to read from a code study perspective, because its all entirely hobbyist and often novice software development. Common solutions to problems like delegation or templates are often unused because the people writing the code just didn't know they existed and never formally studied software best practices.
This is more populated than any live server event since the dark portal opened (the first time).
A little sad to seeing an(I assume), open source server like this being taken down.
As an admin we use to run on the premise of, if we weren't told not to run it, we could. Probably not 100% legal but it seemed to work.
It does make me wonder if they take the server down, is it because their subscription dropping so much?
Blizzard is fully in their right to shut it down, but it's unfortunate the current state of things.
This is not about getting around paying for WoW. Vanilla WoW is practically abandoned-ware. Blizzard has been clear they have no plans to launch a Vanilla server, and they don't even seem sympathetic to the idea. There is content and gameplay in Vanilla that you cannot experience in the current version of WoW. There are many old school players who have fond memories of Vanilla (including me), and we have no way to get our nostalgia fix other than a server like Nostalrius.
I have moved on from WoW and have no interest in the current game, but I would enjoy experiencing Vanilla again, just like I enjoy playing old SNES RPGs, listening to 80's music, or reading the same books or watching the same movies over and over. With other forms of media you can do that, but not here. I understand the legal reasons, but still, it's unfortunate.
I see this as another new and lamentable consequence of things moving to the cloud. I find similarities here with the Nest/Google fiasco. It used to be you could buy something and it was yours, completely, forever, to do with whatever you want. Now, not as much.
There are a lot of nuanced stipulations involving the legal distribution of the Wow client:
* The game has always been distributed using peer to peer seeding, such that Blizzard has never been the exclusive provider of game data, they just told users where to get the data from.
* Blizzard has in several cases (mostly early on) recommended users download whole copies of the game from third party websites like fileplanet back in the day when the servers were overloaded with players updating to new versions of the game.
* Blizzard has always made WoW available as freeware, and has never auth-gated the download pages before the Battle.net launcher. Old versions of the game used to have installers hosted on Worldofwarcraft.com that anyone could download with a URL regardless of being signed in or not, and users could make accounts without buying the game anyway.
This isn't some classical "game developer sells copies for money and people were sharing copies without permission". Today, anyone sharing WoW clients through torrents is obviously violating blizzard IP, but the distribution methods of the client in the past, combined with the fact no player needed to have an account or paper trail showing they had a legit "claim" to the game to have the client, means they cannot realistically argue that anyone playing a private server also violated their copyright on the client. They could have easily obtained it legally, and just changed the home server to a private one so it never updated. That is a violation of the ToS in the game, but not an IP violation, and ToS are civil matters that are often not even upheld in court when tested, and WoW has a fairly grandiose ToS if it were ever put in a real trial.
What precedent does it set that you have no legal right to retain access to software in the form that you've paid for it? If Gabe Newell went insane tomorrow and fired all employees then shipped patches making all Valve titles unplayable is there really no legal recourse for the people who bought those games? This is a case of the law being behind the technological realities in my opinion.
(and yes I know there's probably some EULA cop-out about how you don't own the client and merely paid for a temporary license to it or blah blah blah)
In our mind it became quite complicated as we wernt sending them the ultimate files, just responding to their requests. So I think it's safe. But I am not sure how wow servers work.
The silent rule is "don't tarnish the Blizzard trademarks". It's generally the most unethical servers with tons of microtransactions that get taken down first. This is also why plenty of them are left alone.
The real problem that Blizzard seems to have is listening to their users - they're constantly making changes based on the feedback of vocal groups of players or trying to simplify their games to be more appealing. They have some of the most valuable IP in gaming and I feel like they're not making the most of it.
I think a better response would've been to purchase Nostalrius (the organization), and offer it as a value-add for their players. But it seems clear Blizzard is extracting whatever value it can from WoW before it dies, rather than truly serving their customers.
Also, the "trademark means you must sue" myth has been debunked by the EFF: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/trademark-law-does-not...
Even if Blizzard hired Howard Roark himself as their architect, seems to me I should be able to make alterations to the design of my own building in which I wish to park a Howard Roark designed car, no matter how angry it makes Howard, Eugene, and Blizzard.
And a court may rule in my favor even if you seem to think I should take your word on it, from your perspective of the zany libertariangasm you guys get from thinking about the ownership of ideas and not having anybody tell you what you can't do so long as you get to tell other people what they can't do.
I also sense that you are not a native speaker of English: so, just mentioning, what you wrote comes across in English as very "there is only one way, the way I am saying". It sounds like you didn't mean it that way, so sorry it triggered, when I saw that debate blip on my radar screen, I decided to shoot it down :)
That is not true, unfortunately.
Do they? They have the right to profit off of it and are allowed to set the only profit, but others are allowed to create evolutions of the universe in other directions as long as they don't profit. And if any of those are more popular, Blizzard has no recourse.
No, I disagree. It's Blizzard's right to decide, who is allowed to do it. Only Peter Jackson was allowed to create movie about Tolkien's universe - and it was right of the author, without any doubts. It's the same case.
Re-Live the old worlds of warcraft with our legacy servers coming this june!
Starting with vanilla!
Although you have to wonder what sort of impact this is going to have, if any. I'd wager most of the players are unlikely to pay for a retail subscription if they aren't already simply on the merits that they were actively looking for a 1.x vanilla server. Further, it has to be a bit like a game of whack-a-mole: For each server they shut down, one or two reappear to take their place, but it does serve as trademark/copyright protection against dilution and illegal use of game assets.
I've read a few threads on the official forums out of shear curiosity, and it almost reminds me of the discussions that occurred during the height of Napster et al. The primary difference being that the private servers recreate a product that effectively doesn't exist anymore (not justifying the legality of it, but if you ignore the copyright/trademark issues, that's essentially the underpinning issue). Blizzard claims there's insufficient interest in prior expansions to justify re-implementation (and maybe they're right) but the number of private servers surely can't all be populated with freeloaders.
Part of me wishes there was a better resolution to this. WotLK was my favorite expansion, and it'd be nice to play it again with some of the more recent improvements mixed in (minus the spell culling and talent nonsense--it feels far too dumbed down).
I can only speak for myself, but back when I played WoW (2005-2007) I started exploring the private server scene after the first expansion. I liked BC and continued my paid account for it, but I also missed Vanilla so I sought out ways to play it without having to pay for two subs.
Needless to say, it was a whack-a-mole affair back then, with private servers popping up and others disappearing constantly. Fun, but too much work for a game that was already taking too much of my time. I quit playing altogether when my then-girlfriend and I broke up (she was the one who got me into the game and was really the only reason I kept playing).
I don't think there's a good solution, especially without market leaders such as Blizzard, Sony, or NCSoft taking a pro-preservation stance. Legislation to protect the rights of reverse-engineers seems troublesome, and existing copyright law makes any kind of expiration period ineffective.
The argument these players make is that the version of WoW today is not the game they bought or played in 2006 at all, and by every metric you would measure "difference" in besides "is this the game Blizzard entertainment today calls World of Warcraft?" it would be measurably more different than dozens of games we consider independent products.
Linux, C++, SQL, etc...
>popular WoW private server
>popular WoW pirate server
Hundreds, probably thousands of these servers cropped up overnight after the first "core" was created, and many many variations of that core quickly followed. At some point, many of us in the private server community caught wind of Nexon (creators of Maplestory) going after certain kids for their private servers. This was an everyday occurrence. Almost always, it was in the form of a Cease and Desist letter.
Many of these servers had < 10~50 users concurrently and were run on home computers as many of us had non-existent budgets. Most servers were merely carbon copies of each other, as the owner would be able to create the server by using some reputable core and a setup guide. As with anything, a lot of traction was gained by servers that put development effort into adding their own touch into the game (alternative currencies like chickens, alternative bosses like Sonic the Hedgehog, and rebirth systems that let you utilize the skills of multiple character classes at once), and ones who were frequently engaging with their community and hosting in game events/contests.
There were private server rankings. Everyone would be vying for votes to get to the top 3 and gain visibility, which invariably resulted in them receiving letters. Those of us that became significantly more popular and had players actively going out and advertising for us quickly came under the spotlight and received letters with the threat of legal action if not promptly shutdown.
In fact, these shutdown letters were such a big part of the scene at the time, that some popular servers got shutdown by competitors sending fake Cease and Desist letters (don't ask how I know)...the response would typically be a quick and simple shutdown, waving goodbye to the community. Some owners with more skin in the game would deviously "shutdown" their server, then "re-birth" it as a different, smaller server since any communication sent in game was unlikely to be seen by Nexon. Few brave souls would post the Cease and Desist on their website while taunting and berating Nexon, though I never found out what happened to those guys.
Seeing this post brings back so many memories -- Honestly, a lot of time was wasted on that game but I would not be doing what I do today if it weren't for the people I met while doing it (my next major project was with a friend of a dedicated player on my server). It was also lots of fun.
Just two days ago I started my journey as a blood elf hunter :-)
The problem with private servers is that they seem to be addicted to OVH. I get it that it's cheap, has nice routes and usually they don't give a damn about what you host, but it's a single point of failure. I wonder if many of those servers are about to move to Ukraine (Russia) or something like that :-)
Ah, and believe me, some of them make ludicrous amounts of money, have paid employees, etc. It's not just a community. They all forked MaNGOS or TrinityCore and starting piling up their fixes on top of it (which they don't have to share because it's GPL, not AGPL), but some chose to pay their developers!
I'm happy to answer any questions about what it's like to play on private servers or how some stuff works in the technical side, or the community, or whatever!