Last year I discussed nostalgia servers on world of warcraft. These allow people to revisit the game in its original state, before over a decade’s worth of updates and expansions were applied. For a few years now unofficial nostalgia servers have been popping up, and sometimes getting shut down by Blizzard lawyers. Now however it looks like Blizzard are going to do it themselves with World of Warcraft: Classic.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t actually around for Vanilla, which is how we refer to pre-expansion warcraft, from 2004 to 2007. However I started during the first expansion (Burning Crusade), when much of the Vanilla content was still intact. So I think I can still call myself an old-timer, and I certainly understand the demand for the warcraft of yesteryear. We miss those days.

Sure the game was rather more rough around the edges then. Questing zones were unfinished. Classes were unbalanced. You had to grind for days killing the same animal over and over for skins to raise a trade skill. Paladins were deathly dull. Hunter pet-levelling mechanics were a ridiculous chore. Desolace was the most boring place in gaming history.

Yet there was something more positive about that era that has been lost. Maybe the sense of community, back when servers each had their own separate population. Now it’s all mushed together and you’ll probably never see the same person twice unless you share a guild. You could also argue that people had to work harder for high-level gear back then, granting a greater sense of achievement. Epic swords and armour were a sign of dedication beyond the efforts of the average casual player. You even had to put in more effort just to get around the world, no zipping around on flying mounts or free portals to any city.

Also there’s plain old nostalgia. I remember first stepping into the Barrens for the first time; the vast plains stretching out before me. That was just one zone of Azeroth, a huge world that seemed full of potential for explroation and adventure. I also look back fondly one of my first dungeon runs, a haphazard chase around Uldum with a group entirely unable to beat the final boss. Then there was the times I found myself defending the crossroads from Alliance players; I always sucked at PVP yet there was a satisfaction in throwing in my efforts to defend Horde territory. That’s the sort of thing memories are made of, the experience we naturally want to try and recapture.

So here’s my prediction: a widespread surge of support for Warcraft Classic. Followed by a decline as players realise they’re not 25 anymore. They don’t have time to play for three hours every evening, farming some stupid herb for a potion they need for a boss fight.  They can’t run dungeons this weekend, they have to paint the spare bedroom. Their guild can’t get forty(!) members together at the same time for a raid. There are limits on just how much we can return to the past, and modern Warcraft is better suited to players with only small packets of gaming time available.

That’s assuming that Blizzard do a straight re-release of the Vanilla game, of course. Details of how Warcraft Classic will be implemented are still thin on the ground. So there may yet be some concessions to modern gamers. Myself I have no illusions of ever raiding the Molten Core.  If I can just play for a week or two, make it to level 20 and wander around the Barrens fighting Quillboar, that will satisfy my nostalgia requirements.