Welcome to this week's Spotlight Saturday!
Every Saturday we will look to spotlight a different gaming company or organization. The style of these Daily Drops will be slightly different than our standard as they will focus more on connecting Quick Droppers (you all) with the organization we are covering. DM us on Discord or Twitter if you have any other groups you would like us to cover!
Today, we will cover - Classic WoW
#No Changes. This, the promise to a nostalgic player base, Blizzard's attempt to recreate our youth was a smashing success. And yet, 550 days later, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our time in Classic WoW is drawing to a close, and it's giving us pause to look back at the fleeting experience, the friends we made along the way, and the Crusade set to begin.
When Classic was first announced, I was pumped. I thought back to all the fun I had on my Compaq computer running Windows 98, talking with my friends and guildies over Ventrilo , and all the little shenanigans we all used to get into.
When Blizzard first announced Classic was being developed as close to the original WoW release, like a lot of people, I thought it was a great idea, but it didn't take long to realize "no changes" meant more than the opportunity to relive my golden years of ignorance and bliss. It also meant there was nothing to discover. Over the last 15 years, no stone was left unturned; there would be no surprises to be had. And I was wrong again! Since the conclusion of WoW Classic, private servers running the original version of the game had been created and populated by Vanilla's most adamant players. In that time, the game had been farmed, and a new meta arose. One I like to call the BiS Meta (Best in Slot), where every class had been figured out. When the 6 phase content release was announced, the fluctuations of that meta were then concrete. And so was the beginning of a new game, one I don't remember. WoW on steroids.
See, we seem to forget how bad most of us were back at the Vanilla release, playing on our systems now so obsolete it's hard to even remember how long it took to connect to a server, where min-maxing was just an idea that got tossed out the window. Where consumables were looked at as a luxury for try-hard-sweaties. This time around, Classic wasn't just the opportunity to steal some nostalgia from a game I knew and loved. It was an opportunity to get it right; to get a second chance to accomplish everything I didn't before. I wasn't alone.
Right out of the gate, we saw mafias arise. No, not real bust-ya-kneecaps mafias, but organized groups of individuals hell bent on isolating and monopolizing resources. From Devilsaur Hide tolling Un'goro to Black Lotus bots dominating spawns, prices skyrocketed on the auction house as supplies were choked. Gold, the precious resource it was in Vanilla, became strained. That's when the mages took to the streets.
Everyone found their favorite methods. From coffer runs to raw gold farms, every method was tested. AOE farming isn't exactly a novel concept, but when everybody and their mother is doing it, you either join in or you're left behind. The influx of gold into the financials system caused inflation, furthering the issue for anyone not in-the-know. Gold sellers took the opportunity to cash in (surprise!).
Mechanics were abused, bots were literally flying in Zul'Gurub, the economy was effectively ruined, and all I wanted to do was kill Rag! Thank god I had a solid guild at my back.
In all honesty, I wasn't expecting to be an active community member. I was looking forward to playing for a couple months, getting my jollies, and possibly sneaking into a raid. What I didn't expect is to find an awesome group of people like me and how strong that glue was to keep us all together.
My guild was able to field 2 "okay" raid groups. We watched the speedrunning streams and VODs, trying to steal some strategies for ourselves, only to realize we're nowhere near as good as those dudes. In truth, the raids weren't hard; it's just difficult to get 40 strangers to do anything in unison. We had successes and failures, celebrations and in-fighting. I made so many new friends, and I want to stress this, I had zero intention of doing so. Now here we are near the end-of-games and I'm truly sad.
As the content phases progressed, and the player base began to shrink. The inevitable became reality as new friends slowly began disappearing. Roster woes led to guild and raid mergers. The once expansive population became smaller, but tight knit. The cream was rising to the top as super groups were being formed. Our early phase struggles led to late phase success. And what was once a sea of forgettable names in Trade chat, became familiar faces that had meaning. We had a real tribal community.
At this point in time, comfortably deep into the final phase of classic, our roster has been steady. I'm nearing a full set of tier 3 gear, far beyond my middle-school aspirations, and further than I thought I would ever care to invest myself. But we can feel the other shoe about to drop, and wonder what that means for us as a guild.
This past week, Blizzard announced the next expansion in it's WoW Classic series, The Burning Crusade, is set to release on May 4th, 2021, effectively starting the doomsday clock for the Classic WoW experience. TBC brought about many changes to Vanilla, but this time, Blizzard is leading with #SomeChanges. Without diving into the details, they aim to fix many of the issues of Classic that came about from holding to the original.
New classes and content aside, one massive change in TBC is the advent of 25-man raid groups. Standing here with a consistent group of 40 heads not missing a week of raiding in 18 months, it's hard to say how we're going to handle the adjustment. I'd like to think we're going to split into 2 groups again, maybe some returning familiar faces to backfill, maybe some new faces. But one thing is for certain, the fleeting experience that was Classic WoW is coming to an end. And while I'm excited to see what TBC and "some changes" has to offer, I'm thinking back to my Classic experience and realizing it wasn't perfect; it wasn't what I wanted it to be. It was different by virtue of being the same, and the community aspect I was dreading became the core reason I stayed with it. It wasn't the game I thought i was buying, and I loved every second of it.
More evidence that we don't always know what we want, and even sometimes, what we need. If this has taught me nothing else, it's to jump into new experiences with both feet. And although, I'm sad at the end of my Classic experience, I'm looking forward to all of the undiscovered road in front of me, and what surprises it may bring.