Blizzard kills classic WoW private server, “Nostalrius Begins”

It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul

Gerry Rafferty sang this about the nature of London – but these days, it’s clear that various video game companies fit that criticism just as well.

In a bittersweet post on their front page, World of Warcraft private realm-providers Nostalrius Begins have revealed that Blizzard Entertainment have begun legal proceedings to shut them down.

I have supped from the cup of nostalgia and played on Nostalrius’s server. Unlike other private realms, Nostalrius Begins spurned the idea of faster levelling, increased gold gain, and purchased bonuses in favour of delivering the only thing that mattered to a lot of people. The original World of Warcraft experience. Gone were the heirlooms, hastened levelling curve, and the ridiculously easy early dungeons that now pollute the WoW experience – and back was the pure MMORPG experience that so many of us knew and loved.

Classic Orgrimmar
Many an hour was spent here, waiting for raids

And now it’s gone – killed by the very company that originally created it.

I’m being melodramatic – Blizzard has the right to close down anything that infringes on their copyright. Technically, Nostalrius Begins does this, and it’s Blizzard’s duty to see that World of Warcraft’s rights are upheld.

The thing is, “Old Azeroth” no longer exists. Every piece of content that was present when World of Warcraft originally launched in 2004 was completely remade in the 2010 Cataclysm expansion that famously “broke” the old world and allowed Blizzard to re-envision Azeroth as a more modern MMO experience. And despite my past insistence that Cataclysm cured me of my Warcraft addiction, there’s little merit to the idea that this was a bad thing. It needed an update. But this means that everything Nostalrius Begins recreates is no longer available. It’s not provided by Blizzard. It’s not abandonware, but only by a technicality.

So why haven’t Blizzard created classic servers of their own? Because they firmly believe that people don’t really want it. Patronisingly, Blizzard sees us as children, expecting us to drop the mode after a few weeks. It’s not hard to believe that they see classic WoW as outdated, archaic – a product of its time, now regarded with disdain by its creators.

What it must be to have such faith in your product. A product that near single-handedly brought Blizzard to the prominence it enjoys today.

But, Blizzard believes that we don’t really want this. Nostalrius boasted nearly a million registered accounts, with usual active server populations of eight thousand people. At peak times, that number would almost double to fifteen thousand; three times the usual capacity of official Blizzard servers. That’s the number of people who “don’t want this”.

At one time, those numbers would have been a drop in the ocean. And it still is, but that ocean is shrinking fast; World of Warcraft subscription numbers are dwindling. From a peak of 12 million in late 2010, subscribed accounts are now suspected to be around 5.5 million. Still an incredible number for a subscription-based MMO, but clearly not what it used to be. How long can Blizzard afford to ignore money on the table?

Why do people want this? It’s in the name: “Nostalrius”. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. It was powerful enough that, thanks to Nostalrius, I was able to go back and play vanilla WoW. And I loved every moment of it. The original World of Warcraft is a part of my childhood; a treasured memory. And yet Blizzard tells me that I “don’t want this”.

Well I do. And so did almost a million other people, just like me.

Get with the times, Blizzard. Build it, and we will come. And we will throw money at you for it. But until you do, you won’t be able to stop the private servers from giving us what you haven’t.

Today is also the day where Nostalrius will start being community-driven in the truest sense of the word, as we will be releasing the source code, and anonymized players data (encrypting personal account data), so the community as a whole will decide the form of the future of Nostalrius. We will still be there in the background if you want us to, but will no longer take the lead.

To sign the petition asking Blizzard to create a “Legacy” server, go here.

Video game sites give own audience a bad “Rapp”

These days, I only seem to post if I’m angry about something. My “buggery of the highest regard” tag is getting one hell of a workout of late, and mostly because there’s a lot to get angry about.

Nintendo staffer Alison Rapp has under a sustained smear campaign ever since she was accused of being behind the supposed censorship of Nintendo’s games. And because this is the Internet, this led to a bunch of fuckwits digging into her past, her university papers – and most shockingly of all – her Amazon wishlist in search of dirt to tarnish her name. And unfortunately, they succeeded. On Wednesday, Rapp announced her dismissal from Nintendo via Twitter.

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The real reason 2GD was fired – and how Valve can fix it

A week or so ago, I wrote a piece on James “2GD” Harding being fired from the Dota 2 tournament, the Shanghai Major, and I was at as much of a loss as everyone else to explain why it happened. GabeN knew, but obviously wasn’t telling anyone, choosing to limit his explaination to “James is an ass”. James himself wrote a rather lengthy post speculating everything from the last few years involvement with Valve, from a rogue Valve employee, to his demeanour on the show, to alien involvement.

Alright, he didn’t really blame aliens. But he might as well have done, because there were no real answers to be had. James’ hosting had been tamer than some of his past performances, and seemed well within the acceptable lines for e-sports presenters – so what gives, man?

According to Redditor /u/BalboaBaggins, it may have less to do with a salty Valve employee, and more to do with the fact that the Shanghai Major is – somewhat obviously – based in China.

Continue reading “The real reason 2GD was fired – and how Valve can fix it”

Top Dota 2 presenter fired by Valve during Shanghai Major

Oh dear.

Valve seem to have pulled something of a Sochi 2014 on us. Like the infamous Russian-hosted Winter Olympics, the Shanghai Major was supposed to be one of Dota 2‘s biggest events. Instead, it’s been a technical shambles, with dropped streams, commentary going MIA, and a myriad of other technical issues. What was meant to be a poster child of the rapidly growing e-sports scene has become a veritable comedy of errors.

And since this clearly wasn’t enough, Valve pulled a leaf from the React Bros playbook, and decided to turn the community against them. How? By sacking James “2GD” Harding, one of the most prominent personalities in the Dota 2 world.

James has always been a divisive figure in the community, with off-colour remarks and common usage of curses, including das ist verboten itself – “cunt”. He’s as reviled as he is supported, and calling him the marmite of Dota 2 wouldn’t be an awful analogy. But Valve knew this, and if they’re going to get upset at a presenter for doing what he’s known for – especially after allegedly being told to “be himself” – then they’re fully deserving of the ire coming their way.

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A Russian man is suing Bethesda because Fallout 4 is "addictive"

So, some Russian bloke is suing Bethesda for 500,000 Rubles because of how addictive Fallout 4 is. According to various gaming news websites, he lost his job and his wife because of it, and believes that Fallout 4 should carry a warning about how addictive it is, and that if he had known, he wouldn’t have started playing it until he had the free time.

We’ve seen these stories before – “tragic teen gamer dies after playing computer for 22 days in a row“, “man dies in Taiwan after 3-day online gaming binge” – there was even an episode of Boston Legal about a gaming publisher being sued for a game being too addictive.
So does this mean it’s time to really start looking at the very real dangers of video games, and to crack down on a dangerous sub-culture? Is it time for Obama to declare The War on Games?

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Kotaku Being Blacklisted Was a Good Thing

“News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.” ~ William Randolph Hearst

Boy, am I a little late to this party.

It’s been almost a month now since Stephen Totilo wrote his piece on the blacklist, and it seemed that almost as soon as “A Price of Games Journalism” was published, everyone had an opinion. Some sided with Kotaku, saying that real, true journalism was something relatively unknown in the gaming press, and that coverage of the problems developing Doom 4, the leaking of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (then called Victory) and Fallout 4 were all acts that should be celebrated, not punished.

This was the first image on Pixabay for “blacklist”. I don’t know why.

Others took the side of the publishers, arguing that there was no real public good in revealing those secrets that people had worked hard to keep. They claimed that by going behind the publishers’ backs, Kotaku were betraying a trust, and that they were simply using this as sensationalist news to garner clicks and attention. And what was the point of releasing them early anyway? Why not just wait for each publishers’ PR department to reveal them? That was their job, after all.

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School shooting leads to inevitable backlash against video games

If you haven’t heard, a school shooting in Connecticut has lead to the deaths of 27 people, 20 of them small children.

And of course, the mass media has been unable to resist turning this awful tragedy into a mass panic concerning parts of society and culture that are considered ‘scary’ by people over the age of sixty, and so Fox News have already started to attack video games and the social network Facebook. Check out the link to see the spin that the ultra-reliable and always-accurate Fox News have put onto the story.

And the worst part? It’s all backfired massively.

Ryan Lanza, the brother of the accused killer Adam Lanza was accidentally named on the media as being the killer himself. Later, news outlets Tweeted his name and Facebook profile, resulting in torrents of abuse being directed at the wrong man. Hell, sometimes it wasn’t even the right Ryan Lanza that got the blame.

This is fucking awful, I think you can all agree. But how do video games link into this? Well hold your pants, because this ride is about to take a zany twist.

It was noticed that Ryan Lanza – NOT the killer, as already covered – had liked the Facebook page of popular game, Mass Effect. And this prompted the media to point to this as the major reason for the school shootings, since obviously playing the blame game like this has never turned out to be a stupid move. This has lead to the Mass Effect page coming under a significant attack by various gullible wankers who wouldn’t know how to categorise a game if it sodomised their partner. Especially if it sodomised their partner.

So now Mass Effect is a bad media influence, despite the guys who fingered it as such getting the wrong guy and pointing out the wrong game. A game who is owned by one of the most powerful gaming companies in the world. Why don’t they just wipe their arse on a copy of World of Warcraft whilst they’re at it? I’m sure that wouldn’t lead to any bad repurcussions either. EA may be bastards, but they’re our bastards, and if there’s one way for EA to make themselves popular again, standing up for themselves and gaming to various news outlets would be a good start. But that’s unlikely, since they’ll likely just roll over and beg like a good boy, much like we’ve seen before.

Seriously, fuck EA and fuck Fox.

Gabe Newell will save us.