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When Gummy52 build his Felmyst World of Warcraft legacy server, he knew there was a chance that Blizzard would shut it down. In fact, when the company took down the Nostalrius server last year, he felt apprehensive about completing his project. However, Blizzard is all over the place when it comes to choosing one of the many vanilla legacy servers to go after, and Gummy had already poured over three years of work into Felmyst at that time. He did not want to see it all go to waste.
Gummy has muscular dystrophy and as he put it, “Because of my health situation I wasn't in a position to cut losses and start over on something different, at least not something that would take four years to make."
So he worked on his project for another year and it finally went live last week. However, within an hour after going online, there was a knock at his door. Upon answering, he was served with a cease and desist letter from attorneys representing Blizzard. Despite having known that his server could get taken down, he was shocked at how fast it had happened.
“I didn't exactly have time to do anything before getting served, which I can still hardly believe happened within the hour,” Gummy said in a post on Reddit.
It was almost as if Blizzard’s lawyers had just been waiting for him to turn on the server, and they probably were. Gummy’s Felmyst server was running an emulation of the world as it existed during the very popular Burning Crusade expansion. While there are other Burning Crusade servers out there, Felmyst had generated substantial hype because it was going to be better than the rest. Players were already enjoying the beta, and it became so popular that Gummy capped the server at 3,000 to keep it small enough to fly under the radar.
"I didn't exactly have time to do anything before getting served… there's nothing I can do."
Apparently, it didn’t fly low enough under the radar because after only six hours online, Felmyst went down for good. In the time between, receiving the shutdown notice and taking the server offline, Gummy did all he could to verify that the letter was real.
“I was in the process of upgrading the server's upload speed when I answered the door and then basically sat around in disbelief for a few hours. During those hours I, of course, checked if the law firm was a real place, then checked if the number on the paper matched the number on their website, then called them to verify its authenticity.”
Once he was sure the threat was legit, he pulled the plug. Many in the WoW community spoke out in anger.
@BlizzardCS im going to ask that blizzard as a whole fuck themselves for sending gummy a cease and desist. JUST FUCKING MAKE LEGACY SERVERS.— binary (@binary_druid) July 21, 2017
Blizzard you suck, fucking learn what the fucking community wants and make your own fucking legacy servers you cųnts. jesus— Posijdon (@Posijdon) July 27, 2017
Felmyst was not Gummy’s first WoW server. He had built another private server called Scriptcraft in 2011 and operated that one for five years without any problems. His plan for Felmyst was to repeat what he had already done. He'd keep the server small, and if his hosting service told him to take it down, he’d just move it to another service. However, being face-to-face with Blizzard's legal team changed things.
“Blizzard's attorney contacting me, in person no less, is a different story,” he said. “Here we are, and there's nothing I can do.”
He is still considering whether or not he should publicly release his code. He would like to see someone, perhaps in another country, pick up where he left off. He just wants to be sure he will not be facing legal troubles in doing so.
Gummy acknowledges that WoW is Blizzard’s IP, and did not wish to profit from his server or bring harm to the game, the company, or the community. They were certainly within their right in shutting him down, but he feels that all he was doing was filling a void for a small niche of players that are fundamentally ignored by Blizzard. While the company has talked about officially backing vanilla legacy servers on several occasions, it has so far been nothing more than lip service, as no actions in this direction have been taken or further discussed.
In fact, the last time it was brought up was during the Nostalrius takedown, but Nostalrius developers got tired of waiting to hear back from Blizzard and went to work on the Elysium server instead. So far Elysium has been running with no legal hassles, and it typically has around 9,000 logged in users at any given time. It is mind boggling why the company would hassle with a smaller server. The larger communities are the ones that pose a greater threat according to Blizzard's own rationale.