Last Friday, Blizzard hosted the Nostalrius core team members at their campus in Irvine - California in order to discuss about the petition, the legacy community & realms for World of Warcraft. This all happened because of your engagement through the petition (it did matter whatever some people may think) and the fact that we worked hard for years for you, the community, and not for any financial reward. We wanted to share with you our feedback regarding this meeting.
1. Core team Nostalrius
The following people from our core team had been invited to the Blizzard campus:
- Daemon - Administrator and Dev team manager
- Viper - Administrator and project manager
- Tyrael - GM team manager
- Nano - IsVV (testing) team manager
- Ithlien - Nostalrius assistant manager
2. Meeting preparation
We had worked hard during the previous month, and especially the last week when we were in Irvine, night & day during vacation without really leaving our hotel room. The goal was to provide them with quality feedback from our community and the Nostalrius experience.
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.
3. The meeting
A few Blizzard & World of Warcraft executives were present, as well as people responsible for the WoW community:
- Mike Morhaime - CEO
- J. Allen Brack - Executive Producer for WoW
- Tom Chilton - Game Director for WoW
- Ion Hazzikostas - Assistant Game Director for WoW
- Marco Koegler - Technical Director for WoW
- Saralyn Smith - Global Director of Community Development
- Kester Robison - Manager of WoW Community Development
- Vanessa Vanasin - PR Manager for WoW
- Randy Jordan - Blizzard Community Manager
We went through the following topics:
- Project story, including WoW emulation history
- Community analysis through survey and Nostalrius data
- Internal structure presentation, and how a volunteer-based team could create something like Nostalrius
- Technical details about the server architecture we designed to handle our high population
- Presentation of the GM team organization
- Technical insight on a part of the anti cheat system we conceived
- A quality report of the state of the project, remaining bugs
- Questions and Answers portion
When Blizzard initially proposed this discussion several weeks ago, we were anxious that it would be a simple PR / damage mitigation move. It is now clear to us that this wasn’t the case.
First of all, people at key positions inside Blizzard attended the meeting. They were also all very interested, curious, attentive, and asked a lot of questions about all of the topics we mentioned: the presentation was meant to last less than 2 hours, and we finished after more than 5 hours! Finally, we were very surprised about the deep respect and admiration they all had for what we had accomplished and what the community has built around legacy WoW servers.
We were all World of Warcraft players: a large part of our community had played WoW on retail at some point. This meeting was a first step toward establishing a trustful relationship between the Nostalrius and Blizzard dev teams, a beginning for the reconciliation between legacy players and Blizzard that we are all aiming for. As proof, J. Allen Brack himself made sure that we were not under any NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), contrary to what the case is for all of the campus visitors usually.
A second surprise for us was the amount of dedication these guys have. All of them started playing WoW during Vanilla, they went through the same experience as you and us, did the same mistakes and killed the same bosses. In the last part of the meeting, as we presented in detail the remaining class/raid bugs, they knew exactly about the spells/talents we were mentioning, every quest we spoke about, raid bosses abilities and even remembered vanilla item changes through patches!
In a sense, they are also Vanilla World of Warcraft fans and one of the game developers said at a point that WoW belongs to gaming history and agreed that it should be playable again, at least for the sake of game preservation, and he would definitely enjoy playing again.
After this meeting, we can affirm that these guys WANT to have legacy WoW servers, that is for sure. We did everything we could to make this presentation & discussion as professional as possible, which was something that clearly was a pleasant unexpected surprise for the whole Blizzard team, Mike Morhaime included.
4. Why didn’t they give us a definitive answer?
First of all, don’t forget that, in a big company, nothing can be decided in one meeting and they have the right to announce any official yes or no themselves.
As they shared with us technical details, we would like to give you some information on that topic, as you deserve to know what the “tremendous work” is.
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.
In addition to the technical aspects of releasing a legacy server Blizzard also needs to provide a very polished game that will be available to their millions of players, something existing unofficial legacy servers cannot provide.
To sum up, the good surprise of the meeting was the level of engagement of all these Blizzard people toward making legacy servers a reality. The down side is the technical difficulty it will take to reach our objective. Blizzard is now well aware of the amount of players willing to play legacy servers, something which wasn’t the case until Nostalrius shutdown.
This meeting with Blizzard was the accomplishment of the petition you signed and of your unexpected level of engagement. We expressed your thoughts and voices the best we could and we saw that Blizzard listened really carefully. We hope that we will hear from them soon, and will keep you updated: this meeting isn’t an end point for us, more like a milestone.
J. Allen expressed his will to keep in touch, and the whole Nostalrius team would be excited to work further in this process that could bring back legacy servers.
We still have things to provide to the community, so stay tuned !
Nostalrius Begins Team.