December’s many article roundups and awards always remind us that it’s hard to remember what happened last month, let alone what happened way back at the beginning, so this year (as in 2015 and 2016), we decided to poke through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we launch into 2018.
If you were still reeling from the devastating loss of EverQuest Next in 2016, the announcement in January of this year that Landmark was being kicked the curb too was salt in the wound. In fact, the beginning of 2017 was a dark spot for MMOs, with Firefall in limbo, Marvel Heroes rolling out an unwelcome patch, The Repopulation being sold to the company that almost snuffed it out, and the Asheron’s Call series on the chopping block. Even Nostalrius had regrets! We did, however, see the launch of Conan Exiles and get our first whisper of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind.
Read on for the whole list from January of this past year.
The driving forces behind Nostalrius, the famous World of Warcraft emulator that caused so much hubbub in 2016, are taking a victory lap this week after hearing the news about the existence of World of Warcraft Classic. Heck, if you read their letter a certain way, they are claiming a good share of the credit for Blizzard’s decision to open a legacy server.
“We are so excited, and want to THANK YOU once again for being part of this incredible journey: we wrote history together!” the admins exclaimed. “They will provide a stable realm, run by the most passionate people, and help unify the World Of Warcraft community.”
Admins Daemon and Viper said that they will “continue to make ourselves available” to Blizzard if needed in order to make WoW Classic happen. The pair said that Nostalrius’ chief goal is “completely achieved” with this announcement. The team hopes that no new Nostalrius-branded servers will be created because of this.
The Nostalrius team famously made a trek out to Blizzard’s headquarters in June 2016 to share the structure behind its legacy server and to answer questions by the WoW team.
As the World of Warcraft community grapples with the surprise BlizzCon announcement of a classic server, one subset of players in particular are feeling the impact of this statement more than anyone else. The WoW emulators that have been the center of the vanilla movement find themselves at a crossroads of what to do now that Blizzard is getting ready to officially deliver what they are already illegally doing.
Overwhelmingly, there was rejoicing among several of the emulator communities at the announcement. The Elysium Project said that it will continue to run its servers even after Classic’s release, saying, “We will continue to provide whatever services the community desires should Blizzard not meet expectations.” On the other hand, the newly formed Light’s Hope team announced that it plans to shut down its server when WoW Classic launches.
I think it’s safe to say, after all the Nostalrius and legacy server drama from last year, that Blizzard has surprised a lot of people by actually keeping its word to build out some form of classic servers, as announced at BlizzCon last weekend. And the English-language WoW world lost its collective minds, if the 10K-word, 54K-upvote thread that rocketed to the top slot across the entirety of Reddit last Friday is any guide.
The thing is, the studio didn’t actually talk much about the servers other than to say they’re happening, they won’t take resources from WoW, and they’re operating under a separate team – there’s not much to talk about, just basic infrastructure. That probably means we’re a long way off. On the other hand, Blizzard seems serious about making a commitment to the community on this one, which makes it really enticing to me at least, way more than I expected.
How about you? Will you be playing World of Warcraft’s Classic servers? Or are you in wait-and-see mode until we know much more?
In the process of picking yourself up off of the floor following Friday’s announcement of World of Warcraft Classic at BlizzCon 2017? As your mind grapples with Blizzard’s surprise revelation of a legacy server project that will take players back to the vanilla era of World of Warcraft, you probably share the same questions and concerns that Eurogamer voiced in an interview at the convention.
Executive Producer J. Allen Brack was reluctant to give the publication any specifics on a timetable, saying that the project was just announced, only basic infrastructure is in place, and that the team is forming. He did confirm that Classic won’t be taking away any people or resources from the main MMO, as Blizzard is treating this as a separate game with its own dedicated team.
“Our goal is to recreate that classic 1-60 gameplay,” Brack said. “Some things changed as time went on, with different patches. How does that get manifested? That’s one of the outstanding questions. But yeah, the goal is to recreate that exact experience, for better or for worse.”
Following a nasty bout of corruption and scandal, the Elysium Project — a World of Warcraft vanilla emulator — has officially disbanded. In its place has arisen yet another emu, this one called Light’s Hope. But is there any reason to think that things will be better this time around? The project leads certainly hope so, which is why they posted a lengthy letter explaining the situation and attempting to calm down a disgruntled community.
In the letter, blame for Elysium’s issues is laid at the feet of two members who participated in gold selling and outright theft of funds. However, the remaining team has asked for no retaliation by the community: “At this time, several key members of the project leadership are stepping down and walking away. We expect most of the staff will follow suit given the information revealed here. What is done has been done — we are moving on and request that you do the same.”
The drawn-out story of Project Elysium, one of the more notable World of Warcraft emulators that rose to prominence in the wake of last year’s Nostalrius saga that saw the legit WoW community agitate unsuccessfully for vanilla servers, has taken a brutal turn this week. No, Blizzard didn’t issue a cease-and-desist takedown, but rather the emulator operators themselves tanked their own project.
The implosion of Elysium was reportedly born from an “environment of mistrust and shadiness” that led to the staff engaging in gold and account sales as well as one staff member outright stealing PayPal funds from the project, or so the caretakers now say. The remaining staff apparently decided that the best course of action would be to disband Elysium and reform as a new emulator called Light’s Hope.
“The Elysium Project as it exists today is no longer a viable project due to the systemic problem of lack of oversight on those with the most access to the servers,” the new team posted. “Due to failures to uphold the projects ideals and integrity, the Elysium Project is being dissolved and relaunched out of the control of those who have abused the trust of the staff, community, and legacy movement as a whole.” So, an emulator, then.
You can listen to the Elysium staff meeting that culminated in this disaster after the break.
Well, what did you think was going to happen?
As they have no legal legs on which to stand, MMORPG emulator projects operate on the hope that they’re under the radar enough that the actual owner of the intellectual property won’t notice or care that such activities are transpiring. Unfortunately for operator Gummy and his team over at Burning Crusade, Blizzard wasn’t about to let this fly on its watch.
The studio issued a cease-and-desist letter to the World of Warcraft emulator just weeks after the game started to become more public with open beta testing. This shutdown echoes the great drama that we saw last year with the closure and fallout of the Nostalrius vanilla WoW emulator.
The muddy waters of emulators and the contentious conversation around World of Warcraft legacy servers is getting a whole lot more crazy this summer, thanks to a new emulator project on the scene.
As the name implies, Burning Crusade doesn’t seek to just replicate the vanilla WoW experience but everything up through the MMO’s first expansion. The emulator promises to take players on a journey to level 70 and the Outlands, complete with raid attunement and factional warfare. The free PvP server that has been in development at least since 2012 and recently went into open beta testing.
“Development for Burning Crusade has spanned years behind closed doors and is designed to emulate a World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade private server up to retail standards,” the dev team posted. “Using publicly available data, we have tackled the fundamental issues that remind players that they aren’t playing on official servers. Our software is the product of closed source development around clean professional programming standards. The goal of the project is to produce a complete and satisfying experience.”
See what this server looks like after the break!
Ahh… smell that? Smells like a new batch of EverQuest nostalgia, served up to us as a fresh progression server. For some of the faithful, the chance to get a hit of that nostalgia is absolutely irresistible.
“I love EverQuest,” blogger Stargrace writes. “I love the excitement that comes with playing on a progression server. I love how busy they are, and watching chat channels fly by. I love the community and the fuzzy feelings I get when I think about that time in my life.”
Kaozz explained why this server was in such high demand: “My son was baffled how many people want to play on this type of server. I’ve been waiting on one for years and keep up with the requests in the forums I have seen for so many years.”
And The Ancient Gaming Noob finds it baffling that Blizzard isn’t cashing in on these kinds of servers with World of Warcraft. “Nostalgia sells, these servers are popular, they offer something people want and, more importantly, something people are willing to pay for,” he said.
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
The Elysium World of Warcraft private server community is in total meltdown, so popcorn at the ready.
Most MMORPG players would probably have never heard of Elysium but for Nostalrius, the WoW emulator that was C&D’d by Blizzard last year and then went on to agitate for official vanilla servers, blowing its momentum after BlizzCon by handing its source code and characters over to Elysium to run from the Ukraine, only to then change its mind last month and ask for the code back.
Elysium agreed to Nostalrius’ requests, but things have gone south for its own game this past week when an emu YouTuber and concomitant agitators accused the top echelons of the Elysium team of everything from manipulating loot tables and unbanning hackers for under-the-table cash to participating in Chinese gold selling and botting schemes and being shadow-run by (former) network partner Crestfall. They probably also did Watergate, I don’t know.
(Incidentally, Crestfall has already cut ties with Elysium as of this afternoon, citing “strong evidence of corruption in high-ranking members of [Elysium’s] staff.”)
One of the downsides of grey-market game emulators for the end-user is that security isn’t always a priority. Case in point? Elysium suffered a database compromise yesterday.
Elysium, you’ll recall, is one of many illegal overseas World of Warcraft emulators, this one in the news of late particularly because the infamous Nostalrius server code and characters were rehomed there following the Nostalrius meltdown after BlizzCon. More recently, Elysium agreed to remove all traces of Nostalrius following the latter group’s expressed desire to put its days of piracy behind it and embrace more legitimate legacy WoW community activism.
Elysium’s devs pulled the game and the official website last night, citing a gold hacking incicent on one of the PvP servers.