Interesting Classic Era Developments

Classic era being what it is, I don't really expect it to have any kind of active development. We can have different kinds of servers that try new things (Season of Mastery, hardcore mode) but the era servers are a museum piece in maintenance mode and that's fine.

That said, sometimes even the maintenance (aka bug fixing) can be slow. At some point in autumn last year, a client update that was made primarily for Wrath of the Lich King introduced an odd bug to era when it comes to NPC pathing near water. Basically friend and foe alike would get very confused about where the ground was when near a shoreline, and they'd either evade or randomly disappear underground.

The first time I came across this myself was while doing the chicken escort in the Hinterlands on my druid, because the chicken is stranded on a little island surrounded by water and has to go through a little moat before continuing its journey on land. The first time I started the quest, the chicken walked into the moat and then just disappeared. I ran in circles for a bit, wondering how I'd managed to lose sight of it, and eventually the quest failed as it got too far out of range of me. When it respawned and I tried again, I made sure to put a star marker on the chicken's head to make sure I wouldn't lose it again. Again it traipsed into the little moat, and then I could see its star slowly descend into the abyss under the world until it once again disappeared and the quest failed. I got lucky though, because when I tried for a third time, it just walked through the moat as normal, showing that the bug wasn't 100% consistent. I later learned that people also reported seeing it a lot when fighting mobs near rivers and lakes, such as the turtles in Hillsbrad, crocolisks in Durotar, or water elementals in Eastern Plaguelands.

It was the kind of bug that isn't exactly game-breaking, but still noticeable enough to be encountered regularly and to be quite annoying, and it didn't get fixed for almost a year! Needless to say, we got very excited when Aggrend shared on the Classic era Discord that the dev team had finally deployed a solution to the problem about two weeks ago. He also had this to say about it: "Apologies that this took as long as it did to resolve. Won't bore you with the technical details, but it was a very very unique bug that took a lot of time and testing to untangle and find a safe fix for. I hope we are someday able to write a tech blog about or something as its very interesting if nothing else." So, you know, yay!

Bug fixes are one thing though... what I didn't expect was to get news about the devs planning to actively make a larger change to Classic era at this point. We don't even know what exactly it's going to be yet, but Aggrend also took to the forums two weeks ago to warn players that they are going to make a "large update" to the Vanilla honour system and that this will include a complete honour reset - something that's quite a big deal in a system that requires weeks of furious grinding to work your way up a ladder.

I'll say up front that I have no real horse in this race, as PvP is one aspect of WoW Classic I don't really like. I had fun dabbling in AV but that's at least partially PvE, and any other battlegrounds I tried quickly reminded me of all the things I really don't like about the way PvP works in Classic. That said, I've seen my guildies struggle with the way ranking works on Classic era and have witnessed a fair bit of drama surrounding this system. (Bracket breakers, anyone?)

Basically, your PvP rank determines your access to certain rewards from vendors, and to rank up you need to grind a certain amount of honour for several weeks. You also compete with other players though, and for the highest ranks, only a limited number of spots are available each week. In fact, if the overall population taking part in PvP on your server isn't large enough, the top ranks aren't even available.

This has led to a practice called "pool boosting", where people create an army of low-level alts and kill each other over and over again at the Ratchet or Booty Bay graveyard (for instant reviving and re-killing), just to earn enough honour to count as "PvP participants" and increase the overall PvP pool size. If your server is big enough to have the top ranks available "naturally", this also works to open up additional positions.

Now, we don't really know what exactly Blizzard is planning to do - I've seen some speculate that they could do away with the Vanilla ranking system entirely and replace it with something similar to Burning Crusade's honour grind, but personally I don't think that's likely to happen. Whatever you may think of the state of "progressive" Classic, the dev team has been pretty respectful of keeping things authentic for era's small but dedicated population, so I don't think they'd do anything that drastic.

I do suspect that they'll want to address the issue of pool boosting though - while I'm not sure I would call it cheating exactly, it's definitely a case of degenerate gameplay, with people engaging in a very dull activity that was never intended to be there just to gain full access to the ranking system. So if I had to guess, I'd expect Blizzard to either decouple the ranks from population size somehow, or at least change the ratio so you don't need quite so many characters in the pool for a single person to be allowed to become Grand Marshal/High Warlord.

I'm very curious to see what they've come up with and how it'll be received by the PvP player base. I actually think that a lot of PvPers aren't hugely in love with the way the system works right now and will be quite open to some sort of tweaking as long as Blizzard doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.


  1. There's also a pathing problem in Gnomer in the mid-level area around the planes where the Gnome packs and your pets get confused about pathing when you go through an archway in that ringed mid-level area, and both pets and mobs go around the edge of the wall rather than under the archway to get to you. It happens every time you go under one of those arches or pull a mob through one of those arches.

    1. I know what you mean but I'm not sure that isn't working as intended. I wouldn't swear by it or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if that behaviour was also there in original Vanilla.

    2. You might be right about that, but when I was in Gnomer in original Classic I wasn't with a Warlock or a Hunter, so I can't tell for certain if it was there in 2019, much less 2004-2005.

      Still, when my questing buddy and I were two person running Gnomer as far as we could go at level that pathing issue became a huge headache for us on those pulls.

      (In case you're wondering, the reality is that we got as far as the ramp that eventually led to the Dark Irons, which wasn't too shabby for a Mage/Hunter duo. We didn't take on all of the bosses of course, so no Electric Justice for us, but that was fine. We were there to farm the Boots/Hydrocane from the water boss and engineering mats from all over the place.)