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News > WoWNov 7, 2017 11:38 am CT

Jeff Kaplan thinks Classic WoW servers are a great idea, but with a caveat

Did you guys hear? Classic servers for World of Warcraft are coming to us sometime in the future, and hoo boy, has it led to a lot of people having strong feelings about all things vanilla. But we regular ol’ players aren’t the only ones with feelings on Classic servers. Case in point, Jeff Kaplan — whom you may know as “Jeff from the Overwatch team” — recently took time to share his thoughts on Classic servers.

The comments themselves are part of a larger interview with both Jeff and Bill Warnecke, Lead Software Engineer for Overwatch. For those that don’t know, Jeff went from a Quest Designer to Game Director before switching to Overwatch (then known as “Project Titan”). In other words, he’s not just being asked about Classic servers out of nowhere.

For starters, yes, he does think Classic servers are a great idea. But the reasoning for that doesn’t have anything to do with “the [crappy] quests” (which, he points out, he wrote). Rather, it’s all about the community. And honestly, anyone who played in vanilla almost always points to the community when they reminisce.

Sure, it’s fun to laugh at those crappy quests, servers crashing, and logging in to piles of bodies — yours included — a mile beneath the ground in Stonetalon. But, as Jeff points out, “…people are going to be in shock at some things that were in classic WoW,” and he’s not just referring to people who hop in to give Classic servers a try for the first time ever.

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Among other things mentioned in the interview, we’re reminded that vanilla WoW featured…

  • Disconnected flight paths that stopped you at every step along the way to your final destination.
  • No server transfers of server coalescing.
  • Auction houses that weren’t linked (“‘I guess it’s Ironforge and Orgrimmar, sorry other cities I guess we’re never going to go to you.'”)
  • No dungeon finder.
  • Servers that couldn’t fit nearly as many people as they can nowadays.

All of the above are consistently pointed out by detractors of Classic servers, and with good reasoning: “There are a lot of systems in place now that I think actually make WoW a better game,” to steal a phrase from the interview. Yes, some of them are fun to think about, but the sum total of all the bugs and “features” is something everyone champing at the bit to play on Classic servers need to be aware of.

“All of game design is a tradeoff. Oftentimes, people look at design decisions in black and white; it’s right or wrong, you’re dumb for not doing this, and why aren’t you listening to us, it should be this way. But it’s actually full of subtlety and nuance in every single design decision. I think it’s less about black and white or what’s right or wrong, people mostly just think about what they’re gaining. But the thing players really need to think about is what asking for certain changes forces them to give up.”

I generally think I’m one of the writers here who is more excited about Classic servers than most, but that doesn’t mean I disagree with anything Jeff’s said here. Vanilla was a different game than what we have now, which is a different game than what we had in Wrath of the Lich King. As he said at the start of the interview, Classic servers are a great thing — but they’re absolutely something people will have to embrace at all levels, crappy quests and all.

Be sure to check out the full interview over on Reddit for both jokes about nuking Azeroth as soon as Jeff left and insight into Overwatch (that other game Jeff has a big say in).

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