Vanilla Ice With Hints of Disappointment

I’m just going ignore the conspicuous lack of activity here and shout into the void. Shout with me (or whisper softly in case you’re afraid of waking up your significant others or roommates).

There’s a considerable amount of buzz surrounding the release of classic servers for World of Warcraft. As someone who grew up with the game and ended up quitting in the beginning of the third expansion, only to return to playing on vanilla and TBC private servers years (decades) later, I feel intrigued and compelled to thought. Am I excited about the prospect of reliving vanilla on servers executed by a professional gaming company, accompanied by all the modern media/social buzz we didn’t have in the past? Only as much as my past gaming buddies and real life friends are. They are the driving force, I remain forever the sceptic.

I am sure I am not alone, I am sure the jaded and the bitter remember all the games that promised the world and a return to the glory days only to flop the next month. We, the generation that grew up with the flourishing PC culture and ever-growing global network, the generation that matured along the MMO genre. We long for a climax after all these years of playing games that don’t scratch the itch, games that don’t quite give us the same feeling. We’re waiting for a project that turns the wooden doll of the MMO fairytale into a real game. But that’s all it is, a fairytale.

We are seeing the now-lifeless doll of an MMO of the past through rose-tinted glasses. It is strange that so many of us don’t recognise the effect, as passionate human being of some wisdom we should be able to see past the illusion. The games we used to play were the games of the past, as were we the people of the past. Returning to these games in the present can either cause reminiscing feelings of past glory or disgust at the dyssynchrony between our memories and the reality.

I am afraid the release of classic servers will bring down the hammer of harsh reality and disillusionment to the masses of gamers who have not touched vanilla WoW in the past decade (or ever). The gaming industry and standards have changed, our culture has changed, and even if it’s a lesser contributing factor, we as individuals have changed. The usability and simplicity standards are much higher than they were, the time we are willing to invest is much lower than it was and the energy and focus we are willing to devote to games are a fraction of what they were. The original World of Warcraft was a game of the past. The rose-tinted glasses aren’t nearly enough to engage us past the first few months of the game’s life.

I am sure Blizzard are aware of that. I am sure their plan involves the majority of the playerbase not sticking around and the population going into a sharp decline after the first few months. And I am nearly certain this is an elaborate advertisement (potentially positive ROI if they manage to cash in heavily in the beginning, an amazing feat for an ad) for their World of Warcraft IP. It might give some players who bounce from private project to the next a home. But for the majority of the new and returning playerbase it will be a harsh reality check and a realisation that vanilla World of Warcraft is not a game they long for. The game they long for is a dragon chase, one that BlizzVision is more than happy to promise. And promise only.

As for me, I’ll wait a few months for the hype to die down then join the remainder of the stalwarts to see if we can make a home and build a community of old-scars, that is if Blizzard lets us. Otherwise it’s back to floating from a project to a project, dreaming of the glory days of being one of the 40 near-strangers in a Ventrilo room talking about epics and dragon killing points.

Those are the drunken ramblings of an old fool. Until next time.

Shrug off your victories and cherish your defeats.

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