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World of Warcraft Classic – For Love of the Game

Review by, William Griston, For Love of the Game – Gigamax Games Contributor

World of Warcraft: Classic launch is about a month away as of the time of this writing, and I haven’t been this excited for a game to release since Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced. The hype is, in fact, real. It makes me think about where I was in my life when Vanilla WoW first released. I first played WoW New Years Eve/Day of 2004, I didn’t get my own copy of it until April or May of 2005, just after Maraudon was added. WoW was in its’ infancy. There were no Battlegrounds, no arena, no Honor System. Nobody knew anything. If you wanted to PVP, you went and found it and it felt more visceral for it. 

First Time With an MMORPG

At the behest of one of my friends I started playing on a PVP server, I hadn’t played an MMORPG(not including betas or alphas) since the first Asheron’s call, which I’d only played for a month. I was still relatively new to the whole “pc gaming” thing, never having a powerful PC, or at least one powerful enough to run the games that I wanted to play. I played Vanilla WoW on a  PIII 800 with 384MB of RAM. Beastly, my rig was not, it struggled to reach 15 FPS in the cities, it was in short a piece of shit and I was lucky to see 40 FPS in the middle of somewhere suitably empty like Arathi Highlands. 

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I rolled a Dwarf Priest, even though I had really wanted to play a Warrior and play as the Horde. Real-life friends sometimes choose games/factions for you, plus my friend was already preparing to do raids and I was told I could probably have a spot if I played as a Dwarf priest. In that era each priest’s racial spell was affected by race, so only dwarf priests could learn Fear Ward making them slightly more valuable for a specific raid boss, which meant absolutely nothing to me. I just wanted to play the game. Being a complete noob, as well as bull-headedly against both my friend’s and my guild’s suggestion that I level with shadow, I said: “I’m gonna be Holy at 60, I should learn how to play it.”.

35 horrific levels later, I switched to Shadow and got so mad that I had wasted so much time struggling to do much of anything as Holy. At the time Holy was the worst of the three talent trees for priests, Disc/Holy was the build used for dungeons/raiding. I want to say it was because of mana-regeneration, but I can’t say for sure. I eventually relented and switched to Shadow and it was so much easier/faster to kill things that I got so mad that I switched to leveling another warrior on a different server and quit the priest for a good six months. 

Early Issues and Discoveries

At this point I had managed to anger the self-proclaimed “Best EverQuest 2 guild in the world” declaring that my server “belonged to them” and that “anyone who dared kill one of their guild members would be camped until they stopped playing that character.”, so I posted a screenshot of me killing one of their members in Stranglethorn Vale(we were both level 28-34ish.). I was immediately hunted down, and ganked by one of their similarly leveled characters a rogue. KIlled him pretty much every time he tried to jump me, sometimes the mob I was fighting would get me, sometimes it wouldn’t. Eventually, he called in one of his higher level guildmates and he managed to kill me, they got about 20 people to sit around my corpse while I sat there in spirit form waiting for a chance to make a break for Grom’Gol, my heart was pounding. I had gotten away, I posted a really shity AVI of the whole thing set to some really shitty metal. They ended up getting so so mad that they made a second account just to talk shit to me(and track my location), which was hilarious at the time. After a week or so, I bitched out and went to the GMs and asked them for a name change.

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They left me alone after that, but it killed the fun for me on that server. I guess they held true on their threat, even though I stopped playing the character after the camping had already stopped. 

With the release of World of Warcraft Classic looming over the gaming world,  I sincerely hope that many people are able to make memories like that which I’m dubious about due to the sizes of the realms that were used then, compared to now. They said they weren’t going to have phasing, but there is going to be “layers” or something to stop an area from being overpopulated. Which you know, was part of the experience. In that era, there was more of a sense of community than there is in modern WoW, especially in early Vanilla when there was only one city that had an auction house per faction, which put a sizable part of the server in the same place at the same time. In this era of the game, once you got known you didn’t get away with anything. If you were an asshat in trade chat, people noticed and blacklisted you. If you were a ninja, you got blacklisted. Guild jumper? Blacklisted. I think that was a big part of the appeal to me back in the day.

What We Want from Blizzard

I really hope Blizzard doesn’t fuck it up and I’m hoping that the popularity of classic causes them to release expansions on-top of it, taking the story in a completely different direction. Think about that for a second. Two different chains of WoW going, one with Modern’s gameplay and one modeled after Classic with entirely different storylines. Thoughts like that excite me to my core, but I know it’s just my imagination carrying me away. At best, we’ll see Burning Crusade: Classic with an option for a paid transfer from Vanilla to Burning Crusade.

The sad part is that the era of WoW is dead. We’re in the era of Twitch*, Memes**, and eSports***, we’ll see servers of popular streamers get flooded with hordes of fans. Maybe the Twitch community will all choose the same servers and leave the rest alone, unimpeded. 

All in all, I guess I’m pretty excited about the launch/release of Classic WoW, but a part of me doubts that they’re going to manage to rekindle that magic. It’s been almost 15 years since the release of the game and modern MMOs are a different breed of game than Classic is going to be. I expect a lot of the younger crowd that wasn’t around before Blizzard changed everything will like the game as much as we did, or as much as most of us will when it goes live at the end of August.

 

*Woe be unto us all for the end times have come! Repent! Repent! The streamers are coming! The end is nigh!

** Memes have been around since the 90s, if not earlier, but they didn’t have the reach they do now.

*** eSports have been around since the birth of gaming, but they didn’t really enter the mainstream until the last few years.

Blizzard Cuts Back Heroes of the Storm Development

Things are not looking good for Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, a title that blended together all of the company's games like Overwatch, Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. The president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, and chief development officer, Ray Gresko, announced today that developers are being pulled from the game and being transferred to different projects within the company. 

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In a press release that was made public today, Brack and Gresko said that it was a difficult decision to make and it will ultimately impact the future of the game. 

“Over the past several years, the work of evaluating our development processes and making hard decisions has led to new games and other products that we’re proud of,” Blizzard said. “We now have more live games and unannounced projects than at any point in the company’s history. We’re also at a point where we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams, and we’re excited to see the passion, knowledge, and experience that they’ll bring to those projects. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to make tough choices like this. Games like Diablo II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, and more would not exist had we not made similar decisions in the past.” 

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This Isn't the End for Heroes of the Storm

The company assured they will continue development of the title, supporting the game with new characters and events, but the time between these updates will increase. According to the two executives, this is to set up Heroes of the Storm for long-term sustainability. 

Unfortunately, this news also means that Blizzard had to cancel both of their planned eSports events for Heroes of the Storm. The pro-level tournament, Heroes Global Championship, and the collegiate level contest, Heroes of the Dorm will get the axe. 

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Tough Call for Blizzard

“[A]fter looking at all of our priorities and options in light of the change with the game, the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm will not return in 2019,” the press release read. “This was another very difficult decision for us to make. The love that the community has for these programs is deeply felt by everyone who works on them, but we ultimately feel this is the right decision versus moving forward in a way that would not meet the standards that players and fans have come to expect.” 

It is a shame that this is the beginning of the end for a game that many enjoyed so much. Blizzard is making a responsible move by reallocating employees internally rather than laying people off. The MOBA space has plenty of competition in today's market and it looks like Heroes of the Storm couldn't keep up with games like League of Legends and DOTA. We here at Gigamax will keep a close eye on these deveopments, so be sure to check back here at GigamaxGames.com for all the latest details. 

Source: news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news

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Blizzard Shares New World of Warcraft Classic Details

Brand New Info on World of Warcraft Classic

Although a release date has not been announced, Blizzard confirmed it is remaking the vanilla version of World of Warcraft. As time passes, it becomes increasingly evident that the development team behind World of Warcraft Classic is very passionate about the long-awaited project. In a recent "Dev Watercooler" blog post, Blizzard unveiled new details about their experience prototyping the game. They also went on to reassure fans that they would do the original version of the WoW justice.

"The process of restoring the classic game is not straightforward, and it's important to us to take the time and effort to get it right--this includes poring over numerous game versions, data, and code; meticulously scrutinizing all the changes we've made over the years," Blizzard's dev team wrote.

"All the work we're doing will ultimately allow us to recreate an authentic classic experience on a platform that is much more optimized and stable, helping us avoid latency and stability issues. Additional improvements will include modern anti-cheat/botting detection, customer service and Battle.net integration, and similar conveniences that do not affect the core gameplay experience." (https://bit.ly/2t2S726)

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Back To Where It All Began

World of Warcraft Classic Rebuild

Blizzard detailed that the initial World of Warcraft Classic prototype is a rebuild of Patch 1.12: Drums of War using various archives and source code. Unfortunately for the team, this revealed some pretty big problems including game crashes, issues with modern video cards, incompatibility with Blizzard's latest login system, and a host of other concerns. Using this initial prototype the development team was able to create another test version using the game's modern code and all the infrastructure enhancements it has received over the years. This build of the 1.12 patch is compatible with the latest technology available for PC's and Blizzard's current systems.

World of Warcraft Classic was initially announced at Blizzcon 2017 with a surprise trailer that delighted fans that have been requesting it for years. Hopefully, dedicated WoW players won't have to wait long to play the experience that started their journey through Azeroth. Be sure to check back with GigamaxGames.com for more information on World of Warcraft Classic when it becomes available!

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Blizzard Confirms WoW: Battle For Azeroth Release Date

The Battle For Azeroth Grind Begins

The launch date for the next World of Warcraft expansion known as, Battle for Azeroth, remained quite a mystery since the game was first announced. Fans speculated that it would most likely come out around the middle of September but now Blizzard has confirmed an exact date, August 14, 2018.

Battle for Azeroth is heavily influenced by the early Warcraft games, bringing a new focus on the Alliance vs. Horde conflict that the game has long ignored. Players will visit various areas around the world where the warring factions will struggle to collect naval resources from their respective islands which are, Zandalar for the Horde and Kul Tiras for the Alliance, as they complete a host of new quests and make their way through the story.

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So Much New Content!

The expansion will also see the addition of 10 brand new dungeons, new Raid zones, and new world quests. Blizzard is also adding a new event called Warfronts, which is a 20-player co-op PvE mode meant to simulate classic RTS games. Players will attempt to build up an army filled with unique troops and then attack objectives and take out enemy commanders.

As for personal character progression, the level cap is being increased to 120, and just purchasing the expansion will grant players one level 110 boost for use with a new or existing character. Fans can also look forward to new playable allied races; Alliance will receive the Lightforged Draenei and Void Elves, while Horde will get Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne.

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Blizzard also confirmed that, on top of both the standard and Digital Deluxe editions, there will be a Collector's edition for the Battle of Azeroth expansion. This will include a hardcover novella, soundtrack, and other goodies fans are sure to enjoy. Be sure to stick around for even more updates surrounding Battle of Azeroth. World of Warcraft has a long history in the gaming world and it'll be extremely interesting to see how it continues to progress.

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