The beautiful thing about twitter is how it can engender conversations you might never get to have otherwise. Last night (thanks to my perpetual insomnia) I was up and scanning when Bashiok made a series of tweets I just had to respond to.
It's crazy how much more complex and difficult fights are now, and how much better we are as gamers.
What I really took away from this discussion is, frankly, just how difficult it is to compare the difficulty of WoW's vanilla epoch and today's raiding (and raiding to come). There are at least two kinds of difficulty to discuss, when talking about raiding difficulty - the difficulty of putting together and keeping a raiding group going, and the difficulty of actually executing the content. These are wildly disparate.
We all love to go on a nostalgia trip every now and then. And this G4 episode which is doing the rounds is a fine example of just that. Kristin Holt from now-defunct gaming channel G4 takes the would-be WoW player on a voyage of discovery through Classic WoW, talking about resistance auras, the factions, hidden quests, the amazing wealth that you can now get from handing in leveling quests.
Kristin then heads into the game's easter eggs, as well as mentioning hidden quests, pop culture references, and more. She explores book references, a quest relating to the original Zelda, Fight Club, Ghostbusters, and more. She also looks at the shrine left in Classic to a departed illustrator in the Blizzard team.
Next up is "a gamer who dared to dream"... she managed to get a noble steed instead of the mechanochicken, by running through a different questing route, and grinding out the Lost Supplies quest in Swamp of Sorrows to obtain Stormwind reputation. 1,000 deliveries later, the gnome has exalted reputation, and a horse to ride. It's great fun to reminisce, and if you want more old-time WoW to smile at, check out WoW Archivist.
You can never go back -- well, unless it's via the Caverns of Time or unless Blizzard ever decides to open classic-era WoW servers. Of course, Blizzard has already given a thumbs down to the idea. Really. No, seriously. Even so, many players continue to keep the candle burning in hope of rekindling a classic, expansion-locked WoW server.
The question is, do you miss the classic game so much that you'd play on an expansion-locked classic server? Would you perhaps even pay a special fee to unlock or subscribe to that experience? Remember, there would be no new talent systems or gameplay improvements, no new content or leveling curves. You'd start out with nothing but the original World of Warcraft experience, unlocking each expansion in a realmwide effort over time. It would be all old school, all the way, baby. Sound like fun? Sound like a grind? Sound like a fun grind?
Do you ever wonder what you missed by not playing WoW back in the early days? You've seen the classic instances, of course, as you've swatted aside their bosses during mining expeditions for transmogrification gear -- but what were these viragoes like back in the day when conquering them took 40 players at the top of their game hurling themselves against the storm, before modern levels, gear, abilities and game mechanics reduced them to mere echoes of their former fury? Screech "rose-colored glasses!" all you like -- WoW classic and The Burning Crusade were far and away the eras that pinned me most devotedly to my keyboard, smitten by the game. (Others think very differently, as demonstrated below.)
You can't really relive the classic experience today; there's simply been too much water under the bridge. Still, I'd love to be able to give newer players a taste of those old raid instances in a way they just can't get from muscling through the instances today. But if playing through won't do the job, neither will videos from the past. Boss kill and strat videos cast an analytical eye on the proceedings, remaining aloof from the atmosphere and focusing more on the spray of combat text and special effects. On the other end of the spectrum are roleplaying epics that, while entertaining, represent the particular personality and experience of a specific group of players.
If you've got time to burn, though, you might enjoy sinking into these vanilla-era flavor films by Order of Watchers on Ragnaros (EU). WoW Insider reader Karol discovered these old-school gems ("Maybe it just found me in a nostalgic mood, but I think both of them are masterpieces from the old times and worth a mention" -- we agree, Karol, so thanks!), tipping us off to this abstract of one Hungarian guild's march through classic encounters and The Burning Crusade. Somewhere between a guided tour, a roleplaying narrative and guild memory book, these videos attempt to preserve a glimpse of the wonder the guild felt on the path through the earliest endgame content in World of Warcraft.
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I've been watching the clips of people flying about Eastern Kingdoms. I can hardly wait! It got me to thinking about all the mount changes I've witnessed in the course of my gaming time.
I started towards the end of vanilla. The Burning Crusade had been announced. My daughter was in the beta, actually, and telling me that I needed to get into this game before it "expanded," whatever that meant. So I made my character and started to run everywhere. Dun Morogh, Loch Modan, Elwynn Forest, Redridge, Westfall, Wetlands, Arathi Highlands, Hinterlands, Ashenvale, Desolace, Feralas, Felwood were all done on foot. I knew the route from Nijel's Point to Maraudon to the point that I could hit auto run and be pretty certain I'd make it there without too much trouble, just a few swoops and centaur along the way.
I didn't get my first ram until level 45, as I couldn't afford it. I didn't get my epic ram until level 65 because I couldn't afford it. I was four months into level 70 before getting flying because, yup, couldn't afford it. The joke "When I was your level, I ran everywhere, uphill, both ways, in snow, barefoot ..." is semi-serious.
This isn't about Blizzard's changing the levels for mounts. I have low-level alts, and I absolutely love their having mounts to get to the places my main once ran. This is a post about those things you do even when you don't have to anymore.
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The old days are long gone, Gramps; take off the rose-colored glasses and play Wrath, where raiding is better than ever.
So goes conventional wisdom in the comments whenever anyone espouses a little nostalgia for the old days of vanilla WoW. Raiding was a far different animal back then. Players who raided were still considered hardcore -- "casual raiding" wasn't on the radar yet -- and devoted week after week of angling for a 40-man raid slot in hopes of earning the chance at a purple drop. Even though strategy sites for WoW raids blossomed sooner rather than later, videos and the trustworthy guides remained relatively sparse, and many early guilds developed their own tactics and jealously guarded alternative strategies. Standing at the mailbox in Ironforge with a massive, raid-sized weapon on your back meant wielding a badge of achievement that attracted a small crowd; bearers would be flooded with awed whispers asking where it was from.
A thoughtful look back at WoW's 40-man past yields both positives and negatives. It wasn't simply the size of the raids that made them feel so different than today's raids ; it was the interplay of raid size, the inexperience of the raiding player base, the scarcity and difficulty of rewards, the lack of universally accepted tactics and strategies ... A whole host of influences that simply can't be replicated today.
But while the era may long cold and dead, the content is still very much alive. Beyond the bored, pre-expansion players who are fending off burnout by sightseeing in vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade instances lies another layer of players who are attacking old content with level-appropriate characters. These classic raiders aren't fruitlessly attempting to recreate the past; rather, they're enjoying an entirely different pacing for the game.
However, that's not all that turning off XP lets you do. Remember how people have been asking for classic realms with the level cap set at 60 (or 70)? Yeah, here you go. Level a guild of characters to 60, pay 10g to turn off XP gain, and raid the old world to your heart's content.
Nethaera mentioned as much in a blue post yesterday, constituting the first supportive mention of classic only raiding that Blizzard has ever made, as Adam noticed. She does mention that this may change during testing, like everything, but for now: classic content lovers, rejoice! Don't forget to loot your core hound.
That idea's definitely been batted around before, and anyone leveling an alt can definitely see the benefits. But think of what you're giving up with a new rule like that: Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, Scarlet Monastery. All of the epic quests and reputations, all of the great old-world vistas and settings. Plus, new players to the game will find the old world even emptier than it already is -- everyone who has a high level character will already be leveling through Outland or Northrend.
Do we really want to abandon the old world for good? Blizzard doesn't think so -- Palehoof unofficially suggests that Blizzard is happy with the subscription fees for the two weeks it takes you to level your character, and Bornakk officially says that Blizzard is happy with the way things work now, and if they see a problem, they'll fix it. You have to think that they'll eventually allow this kind of "powerleveling" in some way -- as we move closer to level 100, it'll just be silly bothering with the lower levels considering how far ahead the new content is. But for now, you'll have to stick to leveling the old-fashioned way, because vanilla WoW isn't going anywhere.
Here's an interesting idea that's cropped up on the official forums: PvE arenas. In short, the idea is as follows:
Round up four of your friends and form a party.
Talk to the PvE arena master and get dropped into a cage match with a random dungeon boss from classic or BC, tuned up to level 80.
If you win (that is, the boss dies before the last member of your party), your PvE arena rating increases. If you lose, it decreases. Bosses have their own rating, which develops week-by-week similar to players', so beating the harder bosses will do better for your score, and they'll try to match your team up against bosses that are an appropriate level of difficulty for you.
PvE arena points are earned just like PvP arena points, and can be spent on rewards in a similar fashion. An alternate suggestion (also by the OP) is to reward badges based on PvE arena rating, which I think is a better idea, as well as being easier to implement, because it ties into the existing badge system.
Even Tigole thought it was a "cool idea," so there is the ghost of a chance that we will see it in a Wrath content patch. I would definitely enjoy the chance to make a quick pass at a boss or two with four of my friends, and get some extra badges for it at the end of the week. It would also be really fun to get to face some old bosses again, especially given Blizzard's steadfast refusal to implement heroic Deadmines.
Rare mobs are one of my favorite unexpected pleasures in WoW. It's such a thrill to be questing or grinding along and see that silver dragon; it adds a lot of flavor to what could otherwise be some boring runs through out-of-the-way zones. In fact, that's an upside to the current depopulation of Azeroth: I find many more rare mobs, since no-one's been by to kill them in an hour or two. Fun fight, interesting mob, automatic green.
However, when Burning Crusade came out, it was discovered that all the Outland rare mobs were also elite. There was a blue post around the time that defended the decision as allowing them to put better loot on the mobs, making them walking treasure chests (BC also has no world treasure chests, sadlyThanks; I guess there are still new things for me to learn in BC) . But it did make them basically unsoloable, which takes a lot of the excitement out of spotting one, at least for me: by the time I get four more people to come help me out, I don't really care any more.
We've hit on the topic of "classic" servers before, and there are even players already carrying the idea out in game. Not everybody thinks Burning Crusade is the greatest thing since Molten Core, and so there are still quite a few players who wish they could play on servers that didn't go past level 60, where Naxx and AQ were still the main endgame, Bloodfang was the hotness, and Atiesh was more than just a few splinters taped together.
But while people have asked for classic servers before, Drysc repeats what some of them might not already know: that though Blizzard has "seriously" considered the idea before, they eventually determined that it would be too much to run two majorly different versions of the game at a time.
It's worth stating that you can definitely still run vanilla WoW without installing Burning Crusade at all, but even if you do that, you'll still see Blood Elves and Jewelcrafters running around, and people in the battlegrounds at level 60 will probably trounce you with all of their shiny Outland gear. It might be nice to experience the old endgame the way its meant to be experienced, but at least until WoW's population slows down and Blizzard determines they have the resources to do so, you can't go back to Old Azeroth again.
Bob (nice name), like many players, finds himself pining for the days of yore. Sure, we're almost all flying around in Outland now. The loot is nice and the instances are plentiful. But there's something missing-- it's the weekly runs through BWL and AQ and ZG. It's Stratholme and Scholomance and leveling rep with Argent Dawn. It's raiding with 40 people at one time, and it's a world where you can be proud to be a hunter in full Tier 2, not embarrassed that you haven't picked up anything better.
And Bob's solution is an interesting one: he says it "would be awesome" for Blizzard to implement "classic" servers-- that is, servers that don't have the 60+ content. They could still have the Draenei and the Blood Elves (and Shaman and Paladin on both sides, I guess), but 60 would be as high as players could go, and the Dark Portal to Outland wouldn't be open-- Naxxramas would be the current pinnacle of raiding. Just like the old days.
It's not an unprecendented idea-- Dark Age of Camelot has a few "Classic" servers, in which one of the expansions simply isn't included (and the rules are tweaked a little bit to what I think is a previous patch). That was implemented based on player demand, and so if there's a lot of player demand for a non-Burning Crusade server, Blizzard could probably put it together. Drysc answers in the thread that while it's been considered, it's not likely-- Blizz doesn't want to split up players based on what expansions they own.
But I don't think that's all that's going on here-- Bob is 70, so he owns BC. He just wants a simpler time, before Fel Reavers, before Karazhan (whoops-- would Kara be on the classic servers?), and before Shattrath City. I don't know if I'd play there all the time; I might feel kind of silly fighting to finish MC when I knew I could just log out and back in to a character 10 levels higher. But I know where Bob's coming from.