Fans of World of Warcraft, especially its original incarnation of Azeroth, have no doubt followed the story behind the private server Nostalrius. Not too long ago, we covered a brief of the story and summarized events while they were still coming out. Recently, the development team behind Nostalrius met with the World of Warcraft development team; the meeting was significant because Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime and World of Warcraft Director Tom Clinton were both in attendance. It’s a small gesture, really, but one that points at the fact that Blizzard was not just blowing smoke at this team.
The meeting was held at the Blizzard Headquarters located in Irvine, California. After five hours of deliberations, one of the Nostalrius developers, named Viper, posted earlier a post-mortem summary on the Nostalrius official forums. The generalization of the summary: legacy servers at this time are not feasible.
From the mouth of Viper himself:
“We wrote a complete report of several dozen pages (Post Mortem), prepared a presentation, prepared several slides, went through the survey results, analyzed Nostalrius server data, answered journalists questions and kept you updated through social media in addition to our current respective jobs & families: it was a tough month.”
To say the team was busy was an understatement; the move turned out much bigger than a public relations gesture as key people had attended. In addition, the team were not held under any kind of non-disclosure agreement; something that all Blizzard visitors sign. A starting ground of the conference was to establish a positive relations with the members present, starting with how the team at Nostalrius started out on World of Warcraft long ago. The team built camaraderie with the developers as they sat and remembered key points from the vanilla game, from item drops, bosses, to raid encounters.
All of this, though, led to an inconclusive final answer. As Viper put it:
“First, they DO have the source code for Vanilla WoW. Code version control systems are not something new, as it has been a standard in the industry for a long time. With these systems, they can retrieve the code at any given previous backup date.
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.”
One concerning point mentioned thereafter, and picked up by fans and media outlets alike, was the mention of providing a polished game that would cater to the millions of Blizzard fans out there. In my thoughts, it’s an understandable move. Both myself and the team realize that it’s not as simple as a snap of the fingers before actions take place. A lot goes into the process, and the team sees it as a powerful milestone in the discussion to open an official legacy server.
A question that comes from my own lips, however, is that this software exists as the Nostalrius team has already been doing it for ages, only without the blessings of Blizzard. From Blizzard as well, brute-forcing won’t suffice. At this point, though, would it be that damaging to turn back the clock, figuratively speaking? The demand for a legacy server clearly exists with hundreds of thousands of fans backing it. Is there hope for the future? Or is it indeed stuck in limbo?
It should indeed be stated that the meeting went well. Even with an inconclusive finish at the moment, it’s entirely up in the air whether or not the plans to launch the legacy servers will go live. Come on, Blizzard, do the right thing!