WoW Classic: Permadeath and Hardcore Server? This is how it could work
The foothills of Hillsbrad lie in early dawn. Dew-covered grasses and branches are slowly warmed by the sun, and both Süderstade and Tarren's Mill are just waking up from a deep, peaceful slumber. Instead of an eternal PvP battle, all you see is the odd NPC wandering through the villages. Every now and then you hear from afar that a wolf is being killed for its fur or a wild boar is being hunted. Otherwise peace reigns.
Table of Contents1. What exactly is a hardcore server?2. permanent death3. The theory of the dark forest4. Hunter or prey?5. chronicles of the apocalypse6. Rules for the Armageddon. Today: corpse shopping7. Guns for all - if you can take them!8. The great equalizer9. The doomed salute you
Meanwhile, beads of sweat stand on the brow of the young night elf rogue: he knows that somewhere between him and Süderstade, a high-level Forsaken is prowling. The night elf can already see the village, but it might as well be a continent away. He is not yet visible to his enemy, but due to the high level difference, the undead will most likely spot him should he attempt to cross the open field to escape to the safety of the village guards. In front of the PC, even the player's forehead is dripping with sweat. What now? After a few interminable seconds, he decides to beat a path into the bushes and put the old watchtower between himself and the village. Only at the last moment, with the help of his Sprint ability, will he make a final, desperate sprint back. The two-minute sneak interlude tugs at the rogue's nerves - was that another player back there? Was it an NPC? Was he just imagining the movement? The moment you encounter someone in the wild, a deadly staredown ensues on a potentially hardcore server. Source: buffed Task Failed: Player Dead Some tasks would need to be adjusted on a hardcore server - Linken's quest, collecting the Key to the Blackrock Depths, and fighting Vaelastrasz, for example, won't work if you can only die once!Finally, it's time. The player takes a deep breath... And fires up his sprint ability. After what feels like a millisecond, a gray shadow dashes out of the nearest bush and into the rogue's side with a brute interception. The Forsaken Warrior has found him. In front of the computer, the poor player goes into complete panic: He tries to run to safety with trembling fingers, but his disappearance is countered by the warrior's demoralizing shout. The "fight" lasts just three heartbeats, then the player sees his character hit the ground. His screen goes black. And he lands in character select. His beloved villain is gone forever; in his place, he sees a tombstone next to his name on the right, as well as a date, location, and the name of his killer. Bad news, as the undead warrior "Misery" is known server-wide and has already ended the lives of countless adventurers. It's time to create a new character and call for retribution in guild chat. Classic WoW's hardcore servers have claimed another victim.
What exactly is a hardcore server?
There comes a time in every player's life when they think outside the box. Outside of the comfortable progression, respawns, and ever-increasing itemization of good old Classic WoW is a delightful and dangerous no man's land. Roleplayers are rubbing their hands together, but can't shake a sense of impending doom. Raid and progression guilds turn pale and rattle off a quick shove prayer. Even players who hang out on PvP servers without giving it a second thought turn away nervously. We're talking about Classic WoW servers with a truly hardcore rulebook. For those to whom the term "hardcore server" means nothing, we're talking Permadeath. Final Death. Once your character dies their first on-screen death, they're automatically deleted and you're back at the very beginning of your journey. Starting areas like Tirisfal are a dangerous place on Permadeath servers because of popular dungeons like the Scarlet Monastery. Source: buffed This idea has been circulating through the community since the announcement of the Classic servers, and it's getting louder and louder as the "end" of the Classic WoW storyline approaches, because hardcore servers would be a way to breathe new life into the game over a very long period of time. In this article, we therefore examine whether and how a Classic WoW hardcore server could work. To do this, we first clarify the term "hardcore" as well as its origin and give examples from the MMORPG sector. We also explain why the permadeath phenomenon works so brilliantly and why Classic WoW would be well suited for it. To top it off, we examine how the Classic WoW rulebook would have to change on a hardcore server. So follow us into the darkness. And pack your now well worn bitewood, because the ride is about to get very, very rough.
The concept of permanent death is practically as old as video games themselves. The feature first came to involuntary fame in the 1980 role-playing game Rogue, which at the time was best known for its versions on the Amiga, Atari, and Commodore. In the beginning, the reason for permanent player death was quite simple: the developers didn't yet have a way to include a save feature, so Rogue had to be played through in one sitting. Upon a character death, the game restarted, without the hero, of course. After the game gained a save feature in a later iteration, the developers were horrified when players began using what was called "save-scumming" - a constant reloading of the save game until they achieved the desired result. The solution to this problem was simple, as a character death would simply erase the save-scumming. Rogue is still notorious in the gaming community today for creating the genre of so-called "roguelikes": games that have a certain role-playing element to them, and in which the permanent death of one's character is an important part of the gameplay. Even low level jobs are not safe on our desired hardcore servers and should definitely be patrolled by high level players. Source: buffed
These days, a lot of games make use of the concept of permadeath and the infamous hardcore mode. Even though Blizzard's designers have earned a reputation over the years for "taking inspiration" rather than coming up with new concepts from scratch, you have to hand it to the guys and gals: Diablo 2 really made the hardcore concept respectable. Blizzard North founder David Brevik even wanted the first Diablo to be hardcore-only, but the rest of the team shrugged it off in horror - probably rightly so. It wasn't until Diablo 2 that special hardcore characters made an appearance, and even here it took some convincing before the concept was even considered. That's why an amusing warning was left in the Diablo 2 manual: "Blizzard Entertainment is in no way responsible for your hardcore character. If you create and play a hardcore character, you do so at your own risk. Blizzard Entertainment is in no way responsible for the death or loss of your hardcore character, including internet lag, bugs, divine intervention, little sisters, or any other reason. Take a look at the end user license agreement. Blizzard has neither the capacity nor the will to bring back dead hardcore characters. Don't even ask us. La-la-la-la, we can't hear you." (Diablo 2, Guide, page 38)
Quest for your life! A sensible consideration would be to adjust the leveling speed on a hardcore server. Leveling up a little faster (but definitely not TOO fast) makes sense when death can hide around every corner.That was pretty clear! Despite management's concerns, however, hardcore characters and hardcore leagues became a real hit and are still hugely popular in Diablo 3. Other developers followed suit. Despite the sometimes draconian penalties of Ultima Online and EverQuest, however, few online role-playing games dared to offer their players the option of permanent death. Today, for example, the MMORPGs Dungeons & Dragons Online, Runescape, Dofus, Wurm Online, and Shaiya include the ability to create a hardcore character or play on a hardcore server, including permanent character death. That's all well and good, but the casual gamer per se reading this will only be asking themselves one question: Why? Why the Nether would Classic WoW launch a server where your character is lost without salvation if you make a single mistake? That can't be any fun ... can it?
The theory of the dark forest
We often hear that something like the Iron Man Challenge already exists in World of Warcraft: If you absolutely want to die a permanent death, all you have to do is create a new character and follow the rules of the challenge. This also means that the character would actually have to be deleted afterwards. The important word in that sentence is "actually," because many players simply keep the character afterward and play it up as a normal twink after the challenge ends. However, for the true hardcore experience, the game may not give you a choice. Your character's death is no longer your choice, but part of the game's mechanics. Even during normal level grinding, you should always be looking over your shoulder. You never know who else is in the area. Source: buffed
The moment the game kills you if you make a mistake, something magical happens: you suddenly become truly invested in your old MMORPG again! Every step needs to be well thought out and every battle becomes a real risk. The immersion increases immeasurably, because suddenly you really feel like a small warrior in a big, wild world. Trips into dungeons will make your heart beat faster, because every move has to be perfect. The four strangers with whom you explore the dark depths of Blackrock are literally responsible for your survival. Well-equipped healers become a precious commodity in such an Azeroth; benefactors who can save strangers from ultimate death in the wild and enable exploration of deep dungeons. High-level tanks, meanwhile, are practically legendary figures, regularly putting themselves on the front lines at the risk of their own lives. The moment your tank dies a final death to allow you to escape will be unforgettable. Raid guilds, in a hardcore classic WoW, resemble well-organized paramilitary organizations more often seen in EVE Online - because the alternative would be losing an old and powerful character. The open world becomes a dangerous place even for a high-level paladin, because if you die unnoticed by your fellow players, you go from being a living hero to just another unknown skeleton in the wilderness.
Table of Contents1. What exactly is a hardcore server?2. Permanent Death3. The theory of the dark forest4. Hunter or prey?5. the chronicles of the apocalypse6. Rules for the Armageddon. Today: corpse shopping7. Guns for all - if you can take them!8. The great equalizer9. The doomed salute you
However, the whole thing only gets really interesting when you add in the concept of PvP. We'll even go so far as to say: no hardcore servers without open PvP. Readers who are now imagining a PvP server where your character dies for good and then cringes in horror have understood what we're getting at. Every trip into the wilderness on a hardcore server is like stepping into a jungle full of predators. The reason for this hides in game theory. 1.) Each player has only one life. He wants his character to survive. 2.) There is no way to know for sure if another player will kill you if given the opportunity. 3.) Without such certainty, the best way to deal with a player encounter in the wild is to attack immediately and eliminate the potential threat. Anyone who enters the dark forest is both a hunter and a victim, whether they like it or not. If this all sounds familiar, you'd be right, of course, as Chinese author Liu Cixin put forth this theory in his book, The Dark Forest - and it does an excellent job of describing the feeling that a PvP permadeath environment brings.
Hunter or prey?
If you're nodding sagely at this point, you've played sandbox games like EVE Online, DayZ, or Ark: Survival Evolved. Again, every player you encounter will be categorized by your brain as "victim" or "killer" quite automatically. However, what is already a thrill in a game with fifty players on a server, creates a very unique society in an MMORPG with eight thousand players and a sophisticated level and item system. High-level "player killers" will achieve grim fame on a server, often triggering outright hunts from righteous players - who, of course, go off in a big mob, because there's safety in numbers. An "elite" may even form, claiming certain zones for themselves and either collecting protection money for low-level characters or killing them on sight. After all, only those who take out their competition early on will retain their throne in the long run.
Also possible is the creation of raid guilds, which for example have to send scouts to Blackrock on a regular basis to prevent an ambush on the riding masters. The effort is worth it, however, as whoever has the better items in this world not only buys gameplay advantages with their time investment, but also security. Without a way to transmogrify, other players instantly recognize your Tier 1 armor as a warning: "I've been playing a long time and I'm capable of fighting back, so attack me at your own peril." Such an environment represents hell for casual players and dedicated raid and progression guilds, of course. But it's this unforgiving rule that crystallizes a player base that breathes real life into a war-torn and dangerous world. Anyone strutting around in expensive armor on a hardcore server with a full-loot rule should be very confident in their combat abilities. Source: buffed
Chronicles of the Apocalypse
First things first: we need a graveyard. Imagine logging in and, after server selection, immediately seeing four dead characters with a gravestone emblazoned in their place. The gravestone will record the fallen hero's name, level, and date and place of death. You will also be shown the reason for your death. This can be anything from "Gravity" to "Stranglethorn Tiger" to a player name. Don't get us wrong: the permanent death of your character is always a punishment, of course. However, to turn the punishment from a frustration factor to a feature, and to make sure you remember your character fondly, it makes sense to link memories to his death.
A graveyard in the character selector may sound depressing at first; however, after a while, the graveyard will seem like a photo album to you. You'll remember the epic battle you fought with another player in the Red Ridge Mountains, and how the dwarf bowed honorably to your fallen body afterwards. Another gravestone is for a mage who became Furbolg fodder due to a stupid decision. The third tombstone commemorates a slip-up that sent your rogue flying off a bridge. And the fourth tombstone is a memorial: you were taken down in your prime by a superior player known server-wide as the Player Killer. Your grudge is as fresh as ever, and you log on - this time you'll make it to level sixty and exact bloody revenge! What Permadeath creates for its lovers above all else is stories. And it's immensely important for hardcore mechanics to accept this fact and integrate it into the game with open arms.
Solving the Bot Problem?As we know by now, the Classic servers have a massive bot problem that can hardly be solved by the basic structure of Classic WoW. The WoW brand of taking away farmers' livelihoods is (rightfully) nowhere in sight, and Blizzard can't put out the fires as quickly as they start. Due to the absolute tirelessness and ease of use of the bots, the situation is optimal for the botters: even if their account gets banned, the bot will pull up a new character in no time. Options like killing the bots or luring them into instances are good, but ultimately just a drop in the bucket.But what if a bot, once killed, simply died? Keep in mind, most bots are absolutely grotty PvP players - if they are even scripted for that eventuality. On the Classic servers, the bots just respawn, repair their gear, and keep grinding. But that doesn't work when it only takes a single screen death to take the bot out of the game for good. Even the most hidden grind spots will sooner or later be visited by players for whom the bots are simply a pile of free gear. Bot boosting services, as currently offered on the servers, on the other hand, mainly work in instances and via the use of hacks - this is where Blizzard itself has to lend a hand, because even on a hardcore server we can't break into instances to kill bots. However, the open world would almost certainly be a very dangerous place for bots.
Rules for Armageddon. Today: Corpse Shopping
One thing is clear: as enticing as the concept of a Classic WoW hardcore server may be, it doesn't come without a well-thought-out set of rules, and most importantly, a set of rules adapted to the situation from the ground up. Taking the existing basic rules of Classic WoW and simply tacking permanent player death onto the end would also be appealing - but with a few tweaks, you avoid frustration and add immersive and meaningful features to the experience. Beginners should definitely seek out friends in a permadeath environment. Only in a crowd will you find real security. Source: buffed One of the most discussed rule changes is the itemization of the game. Classic WoW, despite its higher difficulty, still has the rules of a typical theme park MMORPG: Items divide into various rarities, can only be worn once a certain level is reached, and are permanently tied to a particular character the moment they put on their gear for the first time. This is where things get interesting, as this is the first time we drastically move away from the old familiar Ironman Challenge, which is commonly considered "hardcore light". During the challenge, you are only allowed to carry common items and not accept help from other players. On a hardcore server, however, the exact opposite happens: cooperation becomes hugely important when any mistake could be your last.
Now imagine winning in battle against a well-equipped enemy; be it through a chain of favorable circumstances, better play, or the help of your friends. The moment the enemy player's character dies, their items are usually permanently removed from the cycle. But what if that didn't happen? What if the dead character dropped his items and some of his gold - and you could help yourself to them? It would be handled by simply clicking on your enemy's skeleton and then selecting from the items created at death and in the dead person's inventory. This would make player vs. player combat much more rewarding and realistic. A side effect of the corpse tearing would be a large crosshair appearing on the forehead of high-level and well-equipped characters. Wearers of a T1 or T2 set would of course have the deterrent effect on their side, for one thing. For another, wearing strong armor would attract the wrong people, who might ambush the supposedly superior player in a mob of poorly equipped raiders.
Weapons for all - if you can take them!
A second, more far-reaching consideration would be to remove the level restriction on items on the hardcore servers. Before you set our email inbox on fire, let us explain: If you play on a hardcore server, you log in anyway with the premise that any play session could be your last. Should you actually manage to kill a superior player or complete a difficult dungeon, it should be well worth it. Killing the player killer "F4cem3lt3r" in a mob of small players, taking high casualties, and pulling a useless weapon out of the corpse afterwards isn't particularly motivating. However, as a small level twenty warrior, looting a level thirty two hander from another player will make your heart skip a beat when you get to put it on afterwards!
We know what (legitimate) objection you're going to raise: in a world like this, high level players may simply drag weak players through dungeons and hand them the fattest items. Keep in mind, however, that the high level character's life is a very, very valuable resource. Dungeon runs for the purpose of boosting would thus hardly be affordable, as the journey to the entrance of the Scarlet Monastery involves a huge amount of risk for everyone involved: the high-level player has to watch out for Player Killers, for whom he represents a walking treasure chest, while the newbie is a worthwhile target due to his comparative weakness alone. In addition, as a newbie, you should only follow high-level players that you trust unreservedly. Because there's nothing stopping your supposed benefactor from stabbing you along the way and pocketing your wallet. Well-organized dungeon run vendors would have to offer escort, go out in a large group, and be meticulous about their reputation to boot. After all, if you're known for killing off your business partners, you're not going to get a lot of customers in the future. All this makes the boosting business on hardcore servers an old-fashioned tiger safari: you never know whether the expensively bought experience will end with you coming home with a rare trophy - or your own corpse rotting away in front of a dark cave.
Master of the Chisel, Ruler of the HearthOn a hardcore Classic server with our aforementioned modifications to the game's rulebook, professions become a very lucrative main job. For example, if you manage to reach level 35 and bring one of your professions to master level 300, you'd better not leave the capital with this character. At that moment, you will become a valued and sought-after master of your profession, who will probably be able to demand horrendous prices from other players for his work. Not only can you equip your own characters cheaply, but you can also rake in masses of gold at the auction house or even have a lasting influence on the political guild landscape. Should you join a guild with your crafting power, they will benefit greatly from your skill and be able to produce equipment for their main characters as well as their "foot troops" quickly and efficiently.
Not to mention cooking and alchemy: if you only have a single life, you'll be sure to snag all the buffs you can activate before a trip into the Dark Forest. Buff food and vials thus become almost priceless, and represent a way to ensure your character's survival before an important battle. Healing potions practically become a second currency on such a server.
The great equalizer
Water is Life One final, extremely controversial feature of a potential hardcore server is the compulsion to consume food and liquid. Read that correctly: You must eat or your character will die. We really hope you have a good mage friend! Lastly, let's take a look at the leveling system itself. As a reminder, no, we're not doing away with levels. Classic WoW should be recognizable to some degree even on a hardcore server, otherwise Blizzard might as well commission a new game. We're just taking a look at level scaling in PvP, which wouldn't be applicable on hardcore servers in its current form. Currently, Classic WoW would like you to fight exclusively with players in your level range. The reason: if you have a difference of three levels or more, your hit chance will be dramatically reduced. Where melee classes generally compare their attack ability to the enemy's defense ability, spellcasting classes receive a flat seven percent hit chance penalty per level. This means that if you attack a level 60 player with your level 50 character, you subtract a whopping 21 percent from your ability to hit the PvP opponent at all - and that's after taking into account the player's already better armor and abilities! Imagine a horde of ten players around level 40 to 45 who can't even scratch a level 60 player, and you know why this would be problematic in a permadeath environment. Our solution: just remove the percentage deduction and go for it! The moment it's a hardcore server, a group of small players must be able to defend themselves against a high-level invader. This in no way means that veteran and well-equipped players lose danger. It just means that they can't hold a zone single-handedly if a large group of players willing to sacrifice join forces.
Table of Contents1. What exactly is a hardcore server?2. Permanent Death3. The theory of the dark forest4. Hunter or Prey?5. Chronicles of the Apocalypse6. Rules for the Armageddon. Today: corpse shopping7. Guns for all - if you can take them!8. The great equalizer9. The doomed salute you
Incidentally, a side effect of this rule is that large-scale battles will once again be possible in the open world. Battles like the one between Tarren's Mill and Süderstade are catastrophic slaughterhouses on a hardcore server, where even well-equipped players drop like flies - war is once again something terrifying that even the mightiest warriors don't want to expose themselves to voluntarily. However, the moment low-level players have a chance to make a difference in world PvP, classic armies will form on hardcore servers: Elite troops are valuable and will only be used by PvP guilds in emergencies, while foot troops can be scooped up quickly. Playing a character at level ten to twenty is not a huge effort. And well-equipped level twenty hunters or warriors could bring the difference between victory and defeat here, in large formations. A nice side effect (of the side effect) is that professions would again be immensely important: As a large guild, having a competent blacksmith, healer or alchemist makes equipping and deploying such troop formations much easier. So we wholeheartedly advocate the removal of the scaling curve on hardcore servers! On Classic WoW hardcore servers, crafting skills become one of the game's centerpieces: If you know a good Master Blacksmith, you win! Source: buffed
The doomed greet you
If reading these lines makes your heart pound and your imagination run away with you, then congratulations: You are a WoW masochist! The idea of actually "living" a character's existence to its end is extremely appealing, rather than practically playing on autopilot while you stare demotivatedly at a Netflix series on the second monitor. Every step would be important, every fight a challenge to death itself. Your first defeat in PvP will be bitter, while your first victory in combat against another player will have the primordial lump at the bottom of your spine singing to you in its lizard voice, "Eat or be eaten!"
We eagerly await your feedback: are you interested in Classic WoW hardcore servers, or does your stress level rise at the very idea? How would you adapt the rules system of such a server? And most importantly, which path would you take? Would you dress in your principles like a tank or would you be a highwayman looking for a juicy victim in a pack of like-minded wolves? We're eager to hear what you think. And don't forget one thing: you only have one life, so make something of it. Whether you're a blacksmith, a warrior, or a healer, it's your dedication and your will that counts. We salute you, doomed ones. Grip the handle of your axe with a strong fist. And die a good death.
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