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Be brave and embrace legacy servers, says Runescape designer

"I don't think there's anything wrong with people saying, 'I wanna play this game from back in the day', [and] companies should be brave enough to say that [they] think this is worth trying."

Just over a week ago Blizzard leapt into action to shut down one of the biggest private World of Warcraft servers, Nostalrius, by threatening to take the team behind it to court over copyright infringement. 

Facing a legal battle, those running Nostalrius promptly shut down the server, and bid their passion project a fond, if bittersweet, farewell. 

At a glance, it might seem like a non-story. After all, Nostalrius players weren't paying to play Blizzard's subscription driven game, and the team running the server were, legally speaking, in the wrong.

Nostalrius, however, wasn't your run-of-the-mill private server. It was a server running "vanilla" World of Warcraft; a version of the game unaffected by the changes Blizzard has rolled out since WoW launched in 2004. 

In many ways Nostalrius was a time capsule, a way for over 150,000 players to revisit the world they fell in love with all those years ago. That's why, for some, Blizzard's refusal to listen to 150,000 of their fans and heed the petition asking it to rethink company policy relating to volunteer legacy servers, was the wrong decision. 

Once such person is Runescape designer Mark Ogilvie, who, in a recent interview with Polygon, explained that developers shouldn't always be so keen to erase the past. 

"A lot of companies want to look forward, not dwell on the past," said Ogilvie, referring to Blizzard's battle against Nostalrius. "[But] we know a lot of players take a big, long break from MMOs.

"Then they come back to their game that they've invested thousands of hours into, they log in and they don't understand what's going on. They're going to be alienated by it."

Much like World of Warcraft, Jagex's own MMO, Runescape, has changed a lot over the years. Yet, unlike Blizzard, the UK studio is actively helping players preserve their ideal version of the game. 

"It's intelligent to run older versions of the games because if [players] don't want to relearn, if they just want a comfort blanket, they have a version straight away," continued Ogilvie.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with people saying, 'I wanna play this game from back in the day,' [and] companies should be brave enough to say that [they] think this is worth trying."

Fellow Runescape developer Mat Kemp agreed with Ogilvie's sentiment, although, admittedly, he took a more pointed stance. 

"If we keep the players happy, if we make money," said Kemp. "That keeps my bosses happy."

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