This is a bit off-topic here as it isn’t exactly about MUD games, but it is the best place I can find to post it.
I started playing World of Warcraft (which I will refer to as WoW from now on) in January 2005, after being introduced to it my my friend Michael. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it had only been released a couple of months earlier (November 20041) so I was really playing with the first release (probably patch 1.2.12 which was released on 21 December 2004, and before patch 1.2.23 which was released on 15 February 2005).
These are my memories of those days. Because “Vanilla WoW” went for a couple of years (up to January 20074) the game underwent quite a few changes (patches) whilst still being “Vanilla”. If you play on a private server you are probably playing on one of the latest patches in Vanilla (say, 1.12.1) so some of the things I describe will have changed by then. Also I don’t know at this stage exactly what Blizzard will incorporate into “Classic WoW” when it is released.
Most NPCs were hostile
Apart from the first couple of quests you got when making a new character, almost all of the other mobs were hostile. For example, in Aldrassil (the Night Elf starting zone) the initial quest mobs (Young Thistle Boars and Young Nightsabers) were passive, however once you finished those first couple of quests the other mobs were hostile (for example, Thistle Boars, Grelkin and so on).
This meant that questing (or travelling in general) was something you had to plan, because inbetween you and the mobs you needed to reach for a quest would often be hostile mobs that you didn’t need, but either had to kill anyway, or plan a path around them.
Quests and the minimap
The minimap (small map in the corner) did not show where quest mobs were. You had to actually read the quest description, and work out where you had to go. Often the quest description would give a hint like “near a cave to the north” or “southwest of Aldrassil”.
You did not get a “quest list” on the screen on the right, like you do today. You had to remember what quests you had, or look them up by pressing “L” for the quest log.
Nowadays a “quest mob” will automatically have a name over it, whilst a non-quest mob won’t. That makes it easy to spot which mob you are supposed to kill. In Vanilla WoW you had to mouse-over a mob to see what type it was. Even then the mouse-over text did not tell you if that mob was in your current quest or not.
Mana cost and healing
Mana costs were high and regeneration low. I can recall playing a mage and after practically every fight I had to sit down and drink some water (or whatever the reagant was at that level) to get enough mana to do one more fight! Luckily mages learned at a fairly early level how to “conjure” their own food and water.
Ease of fighting
After making new characters recently (on the current WoW, not Vanilla WoW) I found that you could easily get up to level 20 or 30 without dying once, because your attacks were strong, your mana and health regenerated quickly, and you could wear heirloom items. Under Vanilla WoW you would be likely to die multiple times before reaching level 10.
In Vanilla WoW, the Crowd Control (CC) spells or actions were very useful. For a solo player, coming up to a building with a guard on each side of the door, you often had to consider whether you were able to defeat both of them (as they were often linked, attacking one would engage the other as well). A frequent tactic was to sap, stun or sheep one of them, putting them out of commission whilst you defeated the other. In the case of sheeping, you might find that they recovered just as you defeated the first guard, but your health was still low. Then you might sheep them a second time while you bandaged up, ready to take on the second guard (or maybe even just run away and come back 30 seconds later).
In dungeons in particular, the group leader would often get members of the group to CC two or three of the mobs you were facing, particularly if you were about to take on a large group. Careful use of CC was a feature of running dungeons, and everyone was expected to know how to do it. Even if you didn’t cast the sheep spell yourself, if a sheeped mob was attacked it usually immediately recovered, so other members of the group had to know to not attack a sheeped mob.
Experience gain, skills, professions
Experience was gained quite slowly. It was typical to spend days just reaching level 10, partly because of the need to dodge around aggressive mobs, and partly because of the low rewards for questing.
As you gained experience you would “level up” from time to time. Every second level (ie. 2, 4, 6, 8 etc.) you would be allowed to train new skills (eg. learn a new spell or new method of attack, or a higher level of an existing spell or skill). However these were not automatically given to you. You had to return to your “class trainer” (if you could find him or her) and then pay to learn the skill.
Multiple spell levels
When you learned a new spell or skill it would be added to your spell book, rather than replacing the earlier (lower-level) one. This meant you had to remember to update the spell on your action bar. The lower-level spells were useful at times when you wanted to get a quick spell of, as they would be faster to cast and have a lower mana cost.
Weapon skills and trainers
You would start knowing only how to use one or two weapons. To learn more (like polearms) you would visit a weapon trainer in a capital city. They spread the weapon trainers around so you would probably need to visit both Stormwind and Ironforge if you wanted to learn all possible weapon types for your class.
Notice the humorous name “Woo Ping”. Presumably he will teach you how to give your opponents a whooping!
Each different weapon type needed you to skill up before the weapon was useful. For example, if you started with a two-handed sword and switched to a two-handed axe, the axe did very little damage (mainly missing) until you got skilled at using it. That meant that after switching weapon types you typically had to go outside the local village and practice your weapon on lower-level mobs, lest you die attacking a “normal” level mob with a weapon that was virtually useless. This included wands, which mages used. Spells, however, did not require skills to use. In the screenshot below, this character needs to work on her Maces and Daggers skills, and even the Swords skill needs work too.
You could learn two main professions (eg. skinning and leatherworking) plus three minor ones (first aid, cooking and fishing)
Some recipes for professions were in obscure places. For example, for level 125+ of First Aid there was from a book you purchased in Stromgarde Keep (Alliance) or Brackenwall Village (Horde). Later (240+) you had to find the Trauma Surgeon in Theramore Isle (Alliance) or Hammerfall (Horde) to do a triage quest.5
Some trainers were actually inside dungeons (instances), for example an Enchanting trainer was inside Uldaman.6
Reagents required for quite a lot of things
A lot of the more powerful spells required a “reagent”, that is, a thing you usually purchased, like a Maple Seed for a Druid to use the Rebirth spell:
Shaman needed an Ankh in order to use the Reincarnate spell:
Vanish for rogues
Rogues needed Flash Powder so they could disappear in battle:
Rogues and poisons
Rogues would need to first do a quest to learn Poisons level 1, then go to their trainer to learn poison recipies, then go and buy poison supplies:
Next they make the poisons:
Finally, they apply the poison to their weapons:
Phasing and scripting
In Vanilla WoW there were no phased area. A phased area is a place which looks different once you complete a quest. For example, a village which is occupied by unfriendly mobs becomes friendly once the mobs are defeated. This is used extensively in recent expansions, where you are frequently given quests to unlock quest hubs.
No scripted starting zones like goblins and worgen
The goblin starting zone (Kezan) and the worgen starting zone (Gilneas) in modern WoW are highly scripted. In both cases you follow a scripted story-line before you can leave the zone. In the case of Kezan you can never return because as part of the story the island is destroyed (another example of phasing).
This just didn’t happen in Vanilla WoW. You could always go back to the starting zones (perhaps to help a friend level up) and everything looks the same as it always did.
No scripted quest lines like Hyjal
Many of the modern zones are highly-scripted. That is, quests have to be done in sequence, and if you miss one of them the rest of the quest chain is locked. In Vanilla, whilst certainly some quests depended on others to be completed first, you could skip entire chains of quests and still find other ones elsewhere which you could do.
Bag slots, ammo pouches, soul shards
Having enough inventory was always a problem in Vanilla. You would start off with one backpack of 16 slots, and very rarely find more bags which dropped from mobs. You could buy 6-slot bags fairly early on for a modest price (5 silver, I think), however even that price was probably more than you could afford in the early levels. If you were lucky you would find larger bags for sale at the Auction House, or a guild member might make them for you.
Need ammo slots, soul shards, pet food, drink for mages
Hunters need to carry ammo (bullets or arrows) which only stacked a modest amount (200 per slot). Considering you would use a handful of arrows or bullets per fight this wasn’t much. Hunters had to constantly check they had enough ammo in their bags before venturing from a town (and remember who sold it). Of course, the more ammo you took the less room you had for taking loot back to town for sale.
The hunter shown here has 890 arrows available:
Similarly, warlocks needed soul shards for various of their more powerful spells (like summoning a minion) and these took a bag slot each! Thus, warlocks also needed to manage their soul shards/inventory closely.
Mages, who were constantly eating and drinking to maintain their health and mana, also needed to set some bag slots aside for that, although in their case it wasn’t quite as bad, because they could make more “in the field”.
Quivers and ammo pouches gave a bonus
Hunters could buy quivers or ammo pouches, which had a higher capacity than cheap general-purpose bags, and also gave a DPS boost to their weapon.
Hunter pets needed extra attention, for example they needed to be fed from time to time, so hunters needed to take a stack of suitable food for their pet with them, otherwise the pet would become “unhappy”. A happy pet did extra damage. Different types of pets would eat different types of food:
Hunters’ pets also had trainers, to learn extra abilities.
Warlock pets also learned extra skills but that was by purchasing Grimoires from Warlock Demon trainers.
You could have multiple pets, but only one was active at a time. The others were “stabled” and could be swapped over at a stable master. The idea would be to have (say) a DPS pet and a tanking pet, and swap over as required.
Looting drops and quest rewards
Quite often you would complete a quest (or a dungeon even) and find that the quest rewards were useless for you. For example, plate armour for a mage (which couldn’t be worn) or cloth armour for a warrior (which could be worn, but had completely the wrong stats for a warrior).
If the item wasn’t bind on pickup then you could at least try to sell it at the auction house, and buy something more appropriate with the gold you received.
No buyback from the vendor
The “buyback” option for the last 12 items you sold was added in patch 1.8.0. Prior to that, if you accidentally sold a good item to a vendor, you could only buy it back if you immediately realized it.
Flight paths and fast travel
Flight paths not known until you got there
With the possible exception of the first city you reach (which you were already at anyway, eventually) you did not “pre-learn” any flight paths. In every case, you had to travel to another zone or town on foot in order to “unlock” the flight path.
Recent expansions have incorporated various “fast travel” options into quests. Something like “we need your help in a nearby town, and the person standing next to you will take you there”. There was none of that in Vanilla. Every quest meant travelling there on foot (or possibly first to the nearest flight path point).
Multiple FPs on one flight
In early Vanilla, if you wanted to take a long flight (spanning multiple flight points) then you had to do each one, and then jump back onto the gryphon/bat for the next leg. This was changed in patch 1.10.0 to allow you to specify a destination and it would automatically take you there (you still went via the intermediate towns, but at least you didn’t have to hover around the keyboard to take the next leg).7
Rare and elite mobs
Some mobs were designated “rare”. That is, they had a silver dragon around their portrait, usually had a name (eg. “Ghost Howl”) rather than a generic name like “Prairie Stalker”. In Vanilla, rare mobs were actually rare, that is, they were hard to find because the spawned rarely, hence the name. In later expansions the word “rare” was repurposed to just mean “a mob with better loot that is easily found and respawns quickly”.
Elite mobs had a golden dragon around their portrait. They had both more hit points than a usual mob, and more health.
In Vanilla, elite mobs were usually almost impossible to kill by a solo player, possibly excepting some classes like hunters who could use their pet to tank the mob, or if you had very good gear. Also there were almost no “deus ex machina” quests where a solo player had to kill an elite “but just use this wand and it will be much easier to kill”.
As a general rule, elite mobs were only tackled by groups. Of course, inside dungeons (instances) a lot of mobs were elite, because you took a group in, in the first place. This meant that it wasn’t a good idea to solo an instance, and also slowed the group down, as they had to spend time killing the elites placed between you and the boss mobs.
Keys were in inventory
In early Vanilla if you picked up a key to open a cage or door, that key actually took up an inventory slot. Thus, the more keys you carried around (such as keys to part of the Scarlet Monastery) then the less other things you could carry. This was later changed in patch 1.1.10 to move keys into a “keyring” thus freeing up inventory space.8
Player versus Player (PvP)
I didn’t personally do a lot of PvP but I know there were various differences to now:
You couldn’t have a Horde and Alliance player on the same PvP server. This was to help stop ganking by using one character (eg. an Alliance one) to locate another one by offering to group with them, and once their location is known switching to a character on the other side and killing them. Also, you couldn’t use a low-level character to spy on planned PvP activity by hanging around in a major city and listening to chat.
You couldn’t transfer a character from a PvE server to a PvP server. This was to stop players levelling up without fear of being attacked, transfer to a PvP realm, and then attack low-level players for fun.
There was a Local Defence chat channel. You would listen to that for reports (some automatically generated by the server, plus ones by players) about PvP activity locally (eg. the current city or zone).
There was a World Defence chat channel. This was for people who wanted to help with PvP in general (and were prepared to travel) to find out where the PvP hotspots were.
Typically players wanting to do PvP would wait outside instances hoping that players of the opposite side would arrive, waiting to meet their group, and attack them there.
In early Vanilla the only PvP (player versus player) fighting you did was in the open world. Some towns were popular places for players of opposite factions to gather, such as Tarren Mill, or the CrossRoads. You would usually hear through chat that a fight was on, and take the closest transport to those places so you could join in. In patch 1.5.0 Blizzard introduced Battlegrounds, which were instanced areas specifically designed for fairly balanced PvP.9 They were balanced in the sense that they were divided into level ranges (eg. 20 to 29) and had roughly the same number of players on each side, before the battle started.
Battlegrounds weren’t totally balanced, for example if you went in at level 20 you would find a level 29 player on the opposite faction almost impossible to kill, and even your own side would start yelling at you to leave so that a higher level player could replace you.
After spending the first 40 levels running around the map, getting a mount at level 40 was seen as a huge achievement. Unfortunately you were likely to be short of gold when you reached level 40, and the cost of doing your level 40 training was usually high as well. Thus you would usually farm for gold for a couple of levels, and maybe afford your mount at level 42 or so.
The level 40 mount was 100 gold, and when you eventually reached level 60 the cost was 1000 gold for a faster mount.
As I recall, the cost was for the mount itself (so if you wanted two different mounts you would have to pay twice that much). This was later changed to be a one-off cost for riding training and a somewhat lower cost for the actual mount, so that buying multiple mounts was more practical.
Quite a few classes had quests which you had to do in order to get your “signature” abilities. For example:
Pets for hunters
Pets for warlocks
Totems for shamen
Poisons for rogues
Stances for warriors
Swim/cat/bear forms for druids
These added excitement (and frustration) to playing a class as those abilities weren’t just given to you. They often were obtained at a “round” level number (eg. level 10 for hunter pets, level 20 for druid cat form).
Ridiculously easy, and ridiculously hard quests
Easy: Whiskey Slim’s Lost Grog
This was a quest obtained in Booty Bay from Whiskey Slim. You had to find 12 bottles of Pupellyverbos Port from the coast in the Hinterlands. This was obtainable at level 40. When you got it, it was “red” in the quest log, because it was very hard to do originally. The bottles of port were surrounded by aggressive level 49 to 50 Saltwater Snapjaw turtles, which were almost impossible to kill at level 40. Plus there was an elite turtle called Gammerita which wandered around. The Hinterlands was a level 40 to 50 zone, with the higher level mobs being near the coast.
Suddenly, however, in patch 1.5.0 Blizzard added the Horde village of Revantusk Village, and made all of the turtles (except Gammerita) passive!10 Now the quest was an absolute doddle. You could easily do it at level 40, once you got your mount, because you just ran along the road, down the path to where the turtles were, avoided Gammerita, and collected your 12 bottles of port without having to fight anything! This could be turned in (back at Booty Bay) for a substantial amount of XP because it was so “difficult”.
The Bloodsail Buccaneers
This quest was the end of a fairly long quest chain. You had to kill Captain Stillwater (level 46), Captain Keelhaul (level 46) and Fleet Master Firallon (level 48) who were on three boats (one per boat) in the water near Booty Bay. The quest was green (supposedly easy) at level 45, however it was almost impossible. Before you even reached the boats you had to fight past various casters (warlocks) and others who were level 41 to 43. Once on board a boat there were three or four level 43 (or thereabouts) sailors. Once you got past them there were more just inside the boat. Once you got down the stairs to the first deck below you were likely to aggro four more. The captains had someone in the room with them, and often in the adjacent room, so it was almost impossible to get them alone.
If you wasted too much time eating and drinking to restore health the mobs you killed a few minutes ago would start respawning and you would be likely to have to fight them a second time.
I had even done that in a group of three with a level 50 mage helping us, and we still died doing it. I think about the only time I could solo the quest was by getting in as a druid in stealth form, past all the guards, kill the person in the same room as the captain before I died, return and get back to the room with the captain, resurrect, and try to kill the captain from a position of starting with half health after resurrecting. It was very frustrating. Amusingly, patch 1.3.0 notes “Reduced the number of pirates on the boats in Stranglethorn Vale”.
Another almost impossible quest, this one required you to set fire to a tent northeast of Felstone Field in the Western Plaguelands. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately the tent was surrounded by about 9 Scarlet Hunters, Scarlet Medics, and Scarlet Invokers. The Medics would heal one of their own if they could, the Invokers would cast ranged spells, and the Hunters had Scarlet Hounds as pets, bringing the total number you needed to kill, to get to the tent, up to 15. Sure, you could pull some of them and deal with them, but they stood so close to each other you probably had to kill four or five at once. Then you would bandage, eat and drink, to get health back, and tackle the next lot. Setting fire to the tent without killing them was impossible because they would attack you and interrupt your attempts to set it on fire.
Then once you had killed 8 or 9 and your objective was in sight, and you set about getting rid of the last lot, the first ones would respawn, and you were back where you started! I think I managed to do it some of the time, a bit depended on the exact mix of mobs that spawned, and if you were lucky someone else would be around and help you, or you would arrive just after someone else had already done the quest.
Modern WoW forces you to choose a specialization and then you added extra features ever 15 levels or so. Vanilla WoW had a talent tree system which let you point a point into a chosen talent every level once you reached level 10. You could even cross specializations (for example some points into Arms and some into Fury for warriors). As you can see from the screenshot, some talents were prerequisites to obtaining others.
However for raiding there tended to be “expected” specs because a certain spell or skill would be absolutely required. As an example, the Arcane Explosion spell used by mages would only be instant cast once you put 5 points into that talent, and Arcane Explosion was very useful for obliterating dozens of low-health (but otherwise dangerous) trash mobs.
When I first started playing I was very impressed. Having played other (single-player) games where the game world seemed quite small, and there were loading screens everywhere, the game world seemed very open and engrossing. Other contributing factors:
Ambient background sounds (forest noises, for example)
Sounds from things like gas lamps, fires, as you passed them, usually from one speaker only (the one on the side where the sound was coming from)
Great music, which was different in every zone, plus different in cities
A continuous, open, world. You virtually never had to wait for a loading screen. You could go in and out of shops or buildings, and go from zone to zone, without pausing. About the only time you had a loading screen was when you changed continents, and went on the ship or zepplin, however this seemed reasonable.
Mob behaviour was very believable. For example, a wounded mob might run away, possibly returning with help.
Small / larger / big rewards
Virtually everything you did rewarded you in some way.
Every mob you killed would give you XP (unless they were much lower level than you), and virtually every mob dropped some loot.
Exploring new parts of the world gave you XP.
Completing quests gave you XP.
When you died you didn’t lose any XP (you lost some durability on your equipment which was really just a financial penalty).
Once you “levelled” you got better stats.
Every second time you levelled you would get the chance to train a new skill.
Once you reached level 10 you got a “talent point” every level. Talents were extra stats you could choose, from a range of available ones, to customize your character as you saw fit.
At major levels (eg. 10, 20, 30) you would learn a major new skill.
At level 40 you could learn to ride (60% faster travel speed).
At level 60 you could learn to ride a faster mount (100% faster travel speed).
Combat that made you think
In the early days combat was something that needed planning. You would need to work out what mobs stood between you and some objective. You needed to decide whether to CC one of them (eg. sheep them) or maybe “pull” a solitary mob closer to you so that you could deal with it without worrying about aggroing nearby mobs.
It might sound tedious, but the fact that you had to plan at it made you feel rewarded when you succeeded.
Social activities were more important
Many quests were difficult, impossible even, without help. Thus it was common to either group up with one or two people for hours, or at least form a temporary group with someone you spot outside a cave you are planning to enter.
Before the days of cross-realm groups you got to know people on your server, learned who the nice ones were, and which ones to stay away from.
The “open world” design made it feel real
Since you could wander around from one end of the continent to another without hitting a loading screen, it was easy to forget it was “just a game”. It felt immersive.
There was always “just one more thing” to do
It was hard to walk away, because you would be thinking:
Just a couple more mobs and this quest will be done
Just a few more quests and this level will be done
Just keep running down this road for a bit and I’ll find a new town (and maybe flight point)
Just mine a few more pieces of ore and I can skill up and learn to mine a more difficult type of ore
Just a couple more levels and I’ll be able to learn this great new ability
You got to know where things are
After playing the game for a year the game world became a place you “knew”. You knew, for example, where Mankrik’s wife was, or where Theldurin the Lost was to be found. You also learned where the more obscure trainers were, or were recipes such as Frost Oil could be found.
You also learned some tricks, like in some escort quests you could avoid being ambushed by three or four mobs by taking the mob you were escorting down an alternate route to the obvious one.
We will never get the same experience back
Even if Blizzard release a server that replicates patch 1.1.0, it still won’t be the same experience, because we have changed.
We know where things like Mankriks’s wife, and Frost Oil, are to be found
We know where the zones are and what they are like
We know where the flight points are
We know where the towns are
We know the quests, and how to best solve them
We know what items are useful to buy from vendors, and what to look out for at the auction house
We know various shortcuts, like how to get from Ashenvale to Ratchet without being killed by the Orgrimmar guards
This basically means that the sense of discovery, of wonder, of exploration, is lost and cannot ever be experienced again. However, we can still have the fun of seeing what it was like to play the game in the early days.
By August 2006 Blizzard had sold 1.4 million copies and by January 2008 they had 10 million subscribers11. It is interesting to see what they did right, to achieve that.
Changes during Vanilla
0.6 (13 April 2004)
Added “rest state” which gave you an XP boost if you logged out an an inn.
Added “tapping” mobs
0.7 (15 June 2004)
Major cities were considered “rest zones” without actually having to visit an inn.
Mail system introduced
Gnomeregan and Uldaman dungeons added
0.8 (7 July 2004)
Added auction houses
Azshara, The Blasted Lands and Searing Gorge zones opened
The Sunken Temple and Razorfen Downs instances opened
Polymorph spell added for mages
0.9 (17 August 2004)
A boat has been added between Booty Bay and Ratchet, and a Zeppelin has been added between Orgrimmar and Tirisfal. A second zeppelin has also been added between Grom’gol and Orgrimmar.
Level cap increased to 55
Can now share quests.
Ammo slots added.
Automatically flagged for PvP when you enter enemy cities
Added Blackrock Depths dungeon.
Taxi NPCs are now lvl 55+ and will summon guardians.
0.10 (18 September 2004)
Buyback from vendors has been implemented (one item)
Stratholme and Blackrock Spire instances added.
Winterspring, Western Plaguelands, and Eastern Plaguelands zones opened.
Raid group functionality now available
Deeprun Tram opens
Level cap has been increased to 60
The Horde and Alliance are each considered a team, and the four races comprising each team are considered factions.
New flight paths, and new boat paths
Faster level-60 mounts have been added
0.11 (29 September 2004)
New looting (group loot, need before greed, etc.)
You can’t log out while in combat.
0.12 (11 October 2004)
Added item durability
Scholomance and Ragefire Chasm instances opened
1.1.0 (7 November 2004)
Added racial traits
Onyxia raid added
New graveyards added to many zones
1.1.1 (17 November 2004)
Using the Spirit Healer now results in a 25% loss in durability for a player’s equipped gear and items in inventory, instead of the previous 100% loss.
1.2.0 (18 December 2004)
Maraudon instance added.
LFG channel added
1.3.0 (7 March 2005)
Dire Maul instance added.
Azuregos and Lord Kazzak outdoor raid bosses added
Meeting Stones added
All dungeons now have a cap on group size to limit the number of players that may enter the dungeon
1.4.0 (5 May 2005)
PvP Honor System added
Children’s Week added
Gurubashi Arena event added
Party quest share information is now working
Patrolling scouts that can see through stealth and invisibility have been added to Darnassus, Stormwind City, Undercity and Thunder Bluff
1.4.1 (5 May 2005)
Honorless Target - Players who just land from a gryphon/wyvern, or step out of an instance will gain this buff for 30 seconds during which this target will give no contribution points if killed.
Added minimum level requirements to all instances to prevent exploitive behavior
1.5.0 (7 June 2005)
Searing Gorge has a new quest hub for both Alliance and Horde players called Thorium Point.
The Hinterlands has a new Horde quest hub known as Revantusk Village
New Horde Flight Paths
Valormok in Azshara - Bloodvenom Post in Felwood
Kargath in Badlands - Thorium Point in Searing Gorge
Flame Crest in Burning Steppes - Thorium Point in Searing Gorge
Tarren Mill in Hillsbrad - Revantusk Village in Hinterlands
Undercity - Revantusk Village in Hinterlands
New Alliance Flight Paths
Ironforge - Thorium Point in Searing Gorge
Morgan’s Vigil in the Burning Steppes
Thorium Point in Searing Gorge
1.6.0 (12 July 2005)
Blackwing Lair instance added
Darkmoon Faire added
Added a Wind Rider Master to Camp Taurajo in The Barrens.
New Horde Flight Paths
Camp Taurajo in The Barrens <-> Crossroads in The Barrens
Camp Taurajo in The Barrens <-> Thunder Bluff in Mulgore
Camp Taurajo in The Barrens <-> Freewind Post in Thousand Needles
1.7.0 (13 September 2005)
Zul’Gurub instance added
Arathi Basin battleground added
Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza added
The debuff limit has been increased to 16 (from 8)
1.8.0 (10 October 2005)
Disturbance at the Great Trees added
More quests in Silithus
Hallow’s End added
The flight paths in Silithus have been moved from Valor’s Rest to the new Cenarion Hold.
A Graveyard has been added to Duskwood at Raven Hill Cemetery.
You can now repurchase up to 12 items that you have sold to a vendor.
1.8.3 (15 November 2005)
Blizzard Launcher added
1.9.0 (3 January 2006)
The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj world event added
Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj and Temple of Ahn’Qiraj instances added.
Linked Auction Houses
Multiple Battlegrounds Queues (you can queue for more than one battleground)
Soul Shard Bags added
1.9.3 (7 February 2006)
Love is in the Air! added
1.10.0 (28 March 2006)
Quest Experience for Gold at Level 60 added
New Final Destination Flight Paths added (fly through multiple flight points)
1.11.0 (20 June 2006)
Shadow of the Necropolis instance added
Key rings added
Stack sizes updated
Light’s Hope Chapel has been revamped to be a fully functional quest hub
New flight points can be found at Ratchet and Marshall’s Refuge, Un’Goro Crater. Flight paths added between:
Morgan’s Vigil - Lakeshire
Revantusk Village - Light’s Hope Chapel
Aerie Peak - Chillwind Point
Stonetalon Peak - Nijel’s Point
Cenarion Hold - Feathermoon Stronghold
Cenarion Hold - Camp Mojache
Cenarion Hold - Un’Goro Crater
Gadgetzan - Un’Goro Crater
Crossroads - Ratchet
Theramore - Ratchet
Ratchet - Talendris Point
Moonglade - Talonbranch
Splintertree - Valormok
Hammerfall - Revantusk Village
Camp Mojache - Freewind Post
1.12.0 (22 August 2006)
Cross-Realm Battlegrounds added
PvE / PvP
PvE - Player vs Environment. This was a server type where players battled the environment (monsters) but not each other.
PvP - Player vs Player. This was a server type where players battled other players (from the opposite faction) in addition to the environment.
Alliance - One of the player factions.
Horde - The other player faction.
Ganking - When a high-level player kills a low-level player in a PvP encounter, with the level difference being such that the lower-level player has no reasonable chance of winning.
Realm / Server
In order to handle tens of thousands of players playing at once the player base was split between different servers (called “realms”). Other MMORPG games calls these “shards”. Each server has an exact copy of the world, the only difference being the player popluation. Therefore you could level up on one realm, make a new character on another one, and know where everything is.
Realms were divided into different types:
PvP RPG (PvP with role-playing)
PvE RPG (PvE with role-playing)
On the RPG realms you were expected to make an effort to play “in character” - that is, to role-play.
On the PvP realms you were always flagged for PvP combat in all but the starting zones. This couldn’t be turned off, so you were always at risk of randomly being attacked by enemy players.
On the PvE realms you could self-flag for PvP if you wanted to experience some PvP. Attacking enemy guards, or players flagged for PvP would automatically turn on your PvP flag.
Players / Non-players
NPC - Non-player character (otherwise known as a mob). NPCs are characters, monsters, animals, slime, etc. which are not controlled by players. They are controlled by the central game server. Friendly NPCs may buy or sell goods, repair armour, and give out quests. Unfriendly NPCs are often hostile and will attack player characters (PCs). In many cases players are given quests to kill NPCS.
Mob - Mobile, otherwise known as an NPC. Named because in the older computer adventure games “mobiles” often followed you around.
PC - Player character. This is a character that actually has a person controlling it, somewhere in the world. The name-bar for player characters was blue on PVE realms, so you could tell them from friendly mobs.
Alt - Alternate character. A player may make an alt, possibly to do housekeeping things like collecting mail and auctioning things, or possibly just levelling up a new character of a different class. Usually the highest level character a player has is called their “main”. It was quite common for players to control multiple high-level characters after a while, and so in guild chat they might say “I’ll just change over to my Priest so you can do this dungeon”.
AoE - Area of Effect spell. This is a spell or ability that can “hit” multiple characters (often NPCs) at a time, thus allowing you to damage or immobilize more than one NPC at a time.
DoT - Damage over Time spell. This is a spell that causes progressive damage every couple of seconds until the spell elapses. Some classes, like warlocks, use these extensively.
HOT - Heal Over Time spell. This is a spell that causes progressive healing every couple of seconds until the spell elapses. Some classes, like priests, use these extensively.
Instant spell - a spell or action that does its damage immediately.
Channeled spell - a spell or action that does its action progressively (for example over 10 seconds, do x points of damage per second)
Cast spell - a spell that takes time to cast (and until it is fully cast does nothing). Once cast it immediately does the action, possibly damaging an opponent or healing an ally.
DPS - Damage Per Second. To compare spells or weapons you would typically compare how much damage it did, per second. For example, a weapon that did 10 points of damage every 2 seconds would have 5 DPS, the same as a weapon which did 5 points of damage every second.
CC - Crowd Control. A spell or action that temporarily disables another player or NPC. For example, the mage Polymorph (“sheep”) spell makes the target look like a sheep and wander around, doing nothing useful. Similarly the rogue Sap action stuns the target for a while. There were different types of crowd control:
Fear effects - the target wanders around randomly in fear, possibly aggroing its friends which might return with it. This was dangerous to use in dungeons.
Stun - the target is stunned and cannot move or cast spells (variations: Sap or Sleep)
Polymorph - the target is turned into a sheep or similar, and wanders around in a small area, unable to take any actions, however it regains health quickly
Root - the target cannot move, however it can still cast spells. Useful against a melee target.
Slow - the target has its movements slowed. Useful for running away from a too-powerful mob.
Mind-control - take over control of the target’s actions. Useful for forcing a mob to attack its friends, or possibly making it jump off a cliff.
Loot - the items you gain by searching a dead NPC.
Tap - generally only the player who gets the first damaging blow onto an NPC gets to “own” the loot and experience gained from killing it. This first blow which does damage is called “tapping” the target.
Heirloom items - in modern WoW players with a high-level “alt” can make use of Heirloom items. These are powerful weapons or armour which, once purchased, can be used on all characters on that account.
Binding - a lot of higher-end quest rewards were “bound” to you (so-called “soulbound”). That meant that they could not be traded with other players. You used them yourself, disenchanted them, or sold them to a vendor.
BoP - Bind on pickup - an item that immediately is bound to you when you loot or receive it.
BoE - Bind on equip - an item that is bound to you when you equip (wear) it. This sort of item was typically something you might craft (like a sword) but you could still trade it to another player. Once that player equipped it, however, it was then bound to them.
BoA - Bind on account - later patches allowed certain items to be bound to the account (player) rather than the character. This let a player send such an item from one of their characters to another via the mail system.
Experience and levels
XP - Experience. Most actions in the game (including exploring) grant some experience points (XP).
Level - once you gain enough experience points you “level”, thus gaining more stats, and possibly being able to learn new spells.
NPC attitude towards you
Hostile - hostile NPCs attack on sight (once you are close enough). They have a red name-bar if you click on them.
Passive - passive NPCs do not attack you, however if you attack them they will fight back. They have an orange name-bar.
Friendly - friendly NPCs do not attack you, and cannot be attacked. They are usually found in towns or villages, and often offer services like food and drink, repairs, and quests. They have a green name-bar.
Classes and races
Class - you chose a class when making a character. In general you could choose from:
Tank - intended for taking damage during a group fight. A Warrior would be a typical tank.
DPS - damage dealer, intended to deal damage to the enemy. A Mage or Rogue would be typical DPS classes.
Healer - intended to heal the tank, and other players when possible. A Priest would be a typical healer.
Utility - a more general-purpose class, capable of doing tanking, DPS or healing, generally not as effectively as a “real” tank or healer, but often with other useful abilities, like the ability to dispell harmful effects.
Race - you chose a race when making a character. Not every race could be a member of every class, so your choice of race influenced what class you could choose. Your race also placed you into one of the two factions (Horde or Alliance) and also affected where your starting zone would be.
Higher-level fights were inside instances, so-called because each group would get its own instance (copy) of the dungeon. Once you are inside the only players you see are you own group (or raid) and all the mobs are created from scratch. That way you know that every mob and boss will be present and not previously killed by a group just in front of you.
Most of this is drawn from my recollections, supplemented by the patch notes and quest notes I could find. There may be errors in it, but the general flavour should be right.
Personally I didn’t go into any raids, and tended to solo quests rather than run dungeons, so the information is slanted towards what a solo player would experience. In the early days of Vanilla WoW I did indeed join guilds, and form or join groups in order to get some of the harder content done.
The screen shots are taken from a private server running patch 1.12.1, so some of the things shown won’t be correct for early Vanilla (like 1.1.0).
Ah, the good ole days. I never hit top level back then because it could take a couple months just to get to level 40 and the Scarlet Monastery was this really nasty scary dungeon where the best gear was. It's so different today.