A word on Private servers. 

I just watched the video circulating. And I wanted to add a thought. 
I run a Facebook group for members of our server both present and past. To the best of my knowledge Borean Tundra is strictly a US based server. There is not an EU counterpart, or other regions. Yet over the years I have had requests from people in European, and Asian countries to join. Some from Dubia, Saudi Arabia, even ones from Reguons in Africa, and South America. I never decline these people. It could be that at one time they may have played in the US or have friends. But I digress. 

One thing that pops up every few months, is that someone will join, and start posting screen shots of achievements. Hey I just got server first Lich King, or some other achievement that had been gotten years ago. When someone asks about it, they go into a spiel about the private server they play on. 

Naturally of course my notifications explode from members reporting someone promoting a private server, and when I have a chance in the morning to ban the account. I do so because, even though I am running a private group for members of my small community, I do try to maintain the rules we have to follow in game. I do not condone people selling accounts or items/gold for real money. 

Initially asked these people, why play on a private server, why not play on the official ones. And the predominant answer was, because it’s free. The servers are all based in countries nearer to them than the official ones, and the kicker, because they can be customized. 

Yes, they can be tweaked and changed to be what those that play on them want. If you want Arthas spawning once a week in Storm Wind, they can make it happen. Want Kil’Jaeden in your raid along side of you? They can probably do that also. They are not playing the original game in its truest form. They are manipulating the game to be something different. 

How many of you have ever played Monopoly. Now how many have played where all the fines and get out of jail payments go into a pile and if you land on Free Parking you get the money. I’m sure a few have. But it’s not part of the game. It is a slight change to the rules to make something extra more interesting. 

To me what is being asked of Blizzard is to turn over exclusive rights to their intellectual property so that some skilled people with programming knowledge can turn it into an ordinary deck of cards. I’m sure some just said wait, what?  Mara are you nuts?  WoW as a deck of cards? What are you smoking there bud. 

Ok. Look at a deck of cards. You can build a house out of them, you can play Bridge, Poker, solitaire, Canasta, any number of games, with just foundation being a deck of cards. Ok so Warcraft is a bit more complex, but they are not only looking for permission to use the core foundation of the game to make alternate servers, ones focused on PvP, one for PvE, and I believe the comment I read that they had posted said, and many others. It’s not just this one group. They are more predominant now because of how big they grew. Legitimizing Legacy servers is opening a Pandora’s box for others to do the same. 

I hope that if It does happen at all Blizzard does it. 

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What would be fantastic?

For someone that has recording and editing skills to put together a welcome to Warcraft guide. I don’t mean a full blown here are your first X levels, but a what do you do when you first install, choosing a server, choosing a faction, a race, a class. And avoiding burning that free 100 on something they may not like. 

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Dear Mr. Morhaime,

Not that I have any thoughts that this will ever cross @MikeMorhaime computer screen, but I wanted to ask something. And Twitter is far to limiting at 140 characters.

Dear sir, 

I have played World of Warcraft for coming up on 7 years. I have enjoyed years of time playing. I have to say that in 40 odd years of gaming, Warcraft has kept me involved far longer than any other game I have ever played. While the game has gone through changes, so too have I. I am no longer as quick with reaction times, have a bit more difficulty keeping track of multiple effects, etc. in short. I’m getting older. I am sure you can relate. We have both seen wondrous advances in our life time, and cannot even guess at what we may see in the next 10 to 20 years. 

I am writing to you today, because that’s what I would like to know from you. Oh, I don’t mean to ask for specifics, or hints at story ideas. But in general, what is in store for Warcraft. Are there plans for the game to continue 10 years from now? 20?  I ask because for me, I would love to continue playing. To see how new technology and innovations will shape how what we see and play today will look like years from now on a game title I have grown to love. 

I am now on my 3rd computer for playing WoW, if I include my wife, we are on our 5th and 6th. It is no small investment to continue to play, and I do appreciate all the effort you put into making a game that can be played for many years, before an upgrade may be needed. 

But at some point there has to be an end. Either for myself, when I can no longer play because of age, or for you, when you may decide hopefully years from now to end the story started all those years ago. I guess sir what I am asking, is if I am willing to keep on playing, will you be there ahead of me thinking of new adventures for me to experience in the World of Warcraft. 

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On Blizzcon tickets

Every year tickets go on sale. Every year there are some issues with ticket sales, people buy them up with not even knowing if they will be able to attend, they buy them up even if they have not played in years, they buy them for themselves, for family, for friends.   Tens of thousands of people jump into a queue in the hops of getting as many tickets as they can get. And a lot of people are not fortunate enough to get one. They may have had a large group of friends all planning on going. May be feeling like the system is not fair. Saying non fans should not be allowed to buy tickets because they are taking away a ticket from a fan is just wrong.

I am not a fan of football, but if I could afford it I most certainly would try to get a Super Bowl ticket. I’m not into tennis, but would not pass up an opportunity to go to Wimbedon. Maybe some of these “non fans” have a life long friend that want to watch them compete in a championship, who knows. People get tickets they have no intention of using, people buy them as give aways for supporting their Sites. Be happy that enough people have an interest in going that it is feasible for Blizzard to put it together.

There are plenty of ways to get a ticket now that the sales are over. And a great many people will be selling them for face value. Saying non fans should not be allowed to go is just wrong. What if you limit it to those that play. Does it then become those that have played the longest get first rights to buy? Those that play more than one game? Where do you draw the line?  Certainly it’s not fair. I would love to go. I could charge it all and pay for it over years. I choose not to. Being mad because people you know missed their chance is fine. Point them to the sites that will have tickets listed soon. Please don’t exclude people from attending because they are not a fan as you see it.

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The gold has to go somewhere. 

I think we can all agree. There is a metric fukton of gold in players hands. I see people every day getting to gold cap. I’m not, but not even trying I have a decent bank roll I can tap into if I really needed to. So what can they do to get it out of our hands, or even getting us to purchase more through the store. 

We it would have to be something that would not give people an unfair advantage obviously. So they could add mounts I suppose. But there are a lot in Draenor that I have looked at and passed on due to the extravagent cost. And not everyone is a mount collector. 

A thought crossed my mind. All of the zones scale to your level. So what if after you have gotten one through all of the quests and to 110 you could boost an alt to 110, for 100,000 gold. You could still go out and do all of the leveling quests, could do all of the world quests. The rewards are all level appropriate. 

I can see a lot of the high level raiding guilds sitting on boat loads of gold easily shelling out for raider Alts they need to fill roles, could see people wanting to do world content on multiple classes. 

You wouldn’t have to. You could still level the normal way. But it would be a way for those that dislike leveling over and over an option to get an alt to cap and play the current end game. 

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On Nostralrius

I think some things have not been looked at closely.  From their own site,

Nostalrius Begins PvP, Nostalrius Begins PvE & Nostalrius TBC and all related servers

That’s a big plural there, 3 plus all related servers.  It is not just a private server that a few dozen, hundreds play on, but multiple servers that had hundreds of thousands of accounts.

And yet I read this also.

We know the time you spent here, the guilds you were part of, and these people with whom you have shared experiences with. We know the strength of these links, and we also know that they do not need a special WoW realm to survive. However, we will still be publicly providing everything needed in order to setup your own “Nostalrius” if you are willing to.

Today is also the day where Nostalrius will start being community-driven in the truest sense of the word, as we will be releasing the source code, and anonymized players data (encrypting personal account data), so the community as a whole will decide the form of the future of Nostalrius. We will still be there in the background if you want us to, but will no longer take the lead.

I get that people want to relive the past.  We all have times in our lives we wish we could go back and do something different.  But this is pirating software.  Plain and simple.  While they may not have been receiving money in direct subscription fees, they were making money somewhere.  When people say they are not hurting anyone by existing, they are.  Those 800,000 accounts they boast of, are 800,000 paying subscriptions that could have been used to make what we pay for monthly to be better, to grow.  Every year we lose people, eventually it will reach a break point where they will close the doors on WoW.  And if you look and see 2.5 million playing on these multiple free servers and wonder what happened.  There will be your answer.

So many people call for respecting game developers every day.  How long do you think companies will keep creating massive games for us to play, if people keep pirating their code with no repercussions.  What if they said sorry, we can no longer operate for free, it’s now $2 a month, or $5, $10.  At what point do we say that yes, they may have initially done it for themselves and friends, but now its for the money too.  That they have openly said, they will continue doing what they have, and will help others too, is just wrong.

And in my personal opinion?  If it is a customized server, if you are altering bosses, or stats, or abilities, then you are not playing the original game, you are making a knock off copy.

 

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Are we choosing the right influencers

There was some hub bub the other day, apparently there were some major issues with the Raid testing on Alpha, which it does state in the notes, there may be problems.  And some people got very upset, and from what I understand made a few none to kind remarks.  One, from what I read someplace was considered an influencer because they had 30,000 subscribers.  And I guess that is a considerable amount.  Surprisingly, I have no clue who they are or what they stream, I presume on Twitch.  I don’t really pay much attention to Twitch.  It’s not what I consider watching when I want to read up on my class, or see how a raid fight works.  But I guess considering a number like 30,000 for one person, it must be a format many enjoy.

And I got to thinking, all of those notice’s I receive several times a day, @soNso has followed you, Oh, wow, they follow thousands of people, ok, I will follow back, which usually results in an automated Direct Message, “Hey, check out my Twitch stream and subscribe, KTHNX”.  Or something to the effect, which quickly gets an Unfollow from me.  But it’s like the old tale, a scammer sends out 10 million emails that you have won a million dollars, send me your personal information to collect.  If only 0.1% do, that is still 10,000 people.  So how many of those 30,000 are active viewers.  I cannot imagine what a Twitch stream chat box would look like with even 500 people online, let alone 30,000.

But is it just raw numbers that make them an Influencer?  Kylie Jenner has 15.3 million followers, and said to the effect people follow her to see what kind of make up she is wearing or her hairstyle of the day, obviously not WoW related, but if she played, would she be considered an influencer.  @FoxVanAllen with over 5500 people following was a huge influence in helping me learn to play Shadow surely he is an influencer?  I could cite quite a few other examples.  But you get the point.

I think we need to ask ourselves, what kind of influencers do we “Need” in Alpha testing, in Beta.  Obviously we need people that are focused on actually testing the systems, trying to break things, to put every aspect of the expansion through its paces.  But why should more value be put on a person that may have the skill to play to a high level, yet has no problem bashing issues with the game, putting down other players, be worth more than a person that is working to build a more friendly community, where helping others is a primary focus.

I’m not sure what point I am trying to make, or if there is some magic solution to how things appear to be in the Alpha testing.  To me, Alpha was always in a barely playable state, full of issues, requiring a great deal of testing on all fronts.  Even Beta is not perfect.  Playable, but requiring fine tuning.  Why so much information is out there, this early in development, is really odd to me.  Maybe a choice was made to try a different approach, maybe things have always been this way, and I am just noticing things more.  One thing for sure, to me at least, just because someone has a great deal of followers in any format, does not make them an influencer to me, if I have never heard of them. I follow people and interact with them, because of the way they treat others.  And how they are making an effort to improve the game.  Not just to be a personality because they fill a niche in playing a video game that appeals to a large group of people.

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