The vanilla WoW private server Nostalrius went offline back in April, following the receipt of a cease-and-desist letter from Blizzard. Shortly thereafter, the leaders of the Nostalrius team met with Blizzard honchos including CEO Mike Morhaime and executive producer J. Allen Brack to discuss the whys and wherefores of the shutdown. Despite the seeming finality of the situation, it was clear that enthusiasm and hope for some kind of vanilla WoW experience remained, ideally one officially supported by Blizzard.
In fact, the Nostalrius team said last month that the recently-wrapped BlizzCon "is the golden occasion for them to announce their plan for legacy realms, and potentially fulfil the dreams of millions of fans over the world." But as we now know, that didn't happen: Blizzard revealed some fun ideas for World of Warcraft: Legion, but the fields of vanilla WoW remain fallow. So the Nostalrius team has decided to take matters into its own hands by releasing its source code and additional tools to the community, beginning with another private server that intends to revive Nostalrius in all but name.
"The source code will be first given to an existing Legacy project which we believe to be the most in line with our core values, named Elysium. This server shares the volunteer spirit and passion for the game we had. Furthermore, an important part of Nostalrius volunteers are already working there, some under different names. We wish them all the best, and hope that they will become a new home for the reunited Vanilla community," Nostalrius admin Viper wrote in a forum post. "We will continue collaborating closely with them. This collaboration could include additional 'things' to share with them if necessary to achieve this goal. In exchange, this server promised to not receive any profit from this activity. They will also have to create the documentation required to install, understand and use the work we did."
Elysium developers confirmed the change in a separate post on Reddit, where it announced that all current Elysium characters have been saved and frozen pending a transfer to the new system. "Elysium will now proudly revive and continue what began a year and half ago. We will be gratefully accepting the core and player database of Nostalrius. This means that Nostalrius, exactly as you know it, will be returning," Suzerain_Elysium wrote. "Additionally, as many of you know, we have a very large percentage of the Nostalrius staff that has been part of Elysium. Their positions in the staff reach all possible areas such as Administration, Development, Game Masters and Quality Assurance. As of now we have a total of 16 Nostalrius team members (excluding Nostalrius’ administration whom will remain off of the project) and the number is growing. Together we will bring true Legacy servers to the private server community until Blizzard does."
Blizzard has steadfastly refused to allow itself to be nailed down on the topic of vanilla WoW, however, and my inner legal strategist wonders whether throwing a C&D letter back in its face is really the best approach here. Because that is what's going on, right? The Elysium quote —"Nostalrius, exactly as you know it, will be returning"—says it all, and I don't think a simple name change is going to be quite enough to satisfy Blizzard's demand to knock it off. And even if it was somehow sufficient to satisfy the letter of the law, if Blizzard was prepared to pursue legal action against Nostalrius, why wouldn't it be willing to do the same against Elysium?
I've reached out to Blizzard and Nostalrius for more information and will update when I receive a reply.