People can spend years and years devoted to a project, something can go awry, and the end result is a big bowl of nothing. It happens in all walks of life. Some people create works of art and figure they'll add just one more thing, but then come to find they hate the finished product after the addition. Others go to school for years to become lawyers, but then fail to pass the bar exam. Still more spend years on building the house of their dreams, only to have it come crashing down thanks to an untimely earthquake. This same sort of thing happened recently with one creator (Gummy52) who was trying to resurrect an old version of World of Warcraft.
All of this happened while Gummy52 was working on Felmyst, a recreation of the Burning Crusade expansion-era of WoW. Even despite the knowledge that Blizzard would continue to take a hard stance against private servers and fan projects, the group continued with their creation. As it turns out, there is more to this story than just one person trying to create something nostalgic. Gummy52 has been unemployed and suffering from muscular dystrophy the entire four years of Felmyst's development. For this fan, this was something valid and constructive to create.
The plan for Felmyst was to contain it to around 3,000 players. Gummy hoped that this would allow the creation to travel just under Blizzard's line of sight. However, the project garnered a reasonable amount of press coverage, which then brought it to the forefront of many people's awareness. Hence, Felmyst was shut down mere hours after it was launched. There are questions of what Gummy will do now, especially with Felmyst's source code, but that remains to be seen. There's a letter on the Felmyst website explaining more what might be done with Felmyst in the future, but nothing conclusive.
Two points of view rear up loud and clear in the wake of this legacy server closure news. First is the questioning of why Gummy would continue the project knowing that it would most likely meet an untimely end. Well, in most cases people do not want to abandon the projects that they have already spent years on. You want to see how far it would get. You may think keeping it small would keep it safe, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Opposingly, yes, it might seem incredibly naive and foolhardy to continue a damned project. Why put more time and effort into it when you know there is a great chance that it will be taken down?
On the other side of the discussion are those who want to know why large developers like Blizzard won't just leave the little guy alone. Blizzard has actually considered working on legacy versions of the game, so why don't they just bring on people who already have experience in the matter? Hire Gummy52 or the creators of Nostalrius! The trouble there is not in the development of such versions of World of Warcraft, but rather in the simple existence of them. Blizzard said that there would be very real and immense difficulties with having many live versions of World of Warcraft running at one time.
This was proven when Nostalrius released their source code. Remember how few people moved to the new server? This could, and most likely would, happen to World of Warcraft as a whole with new legacy server releases. Not just in the manner of many moving to the legacy versions, but also those that want to stay behind. The community would become incredibly divided, and it could spell a downward turn for the popular MMO. Imagine playing World of Warcraft with the same crew of friends for years. Then legacy versions of the game release and half of your friends refuse to play on the regular servers anymore, or vice versa. The group of people you could previously rely on will have gone away, and you might be less inclined to play the game.
It is possible that Blizzard might still change their mind somewhere down the line and create their own official legacy versions of World of Warcraft. It's because of this that unfortunately some toes must be stepped on, and the little guy must be crushed. It's unfortunate to see hard work go to waste, but when the warning signs are there, sometimes it's best just to heed them.
How do you feel about Blizzard's shutdown of Felmyst? Do you think Gummy should have found something else to create after the decision with Nostalrius? Or do you think Blizzard should have just left well enough alone so Felmyst could exist for at least some period of time? Whatever your thoughts may be, let me know in the comments.