Pandashan – the first MoP supported private server

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It seems as though the first private server to fully support the 5.0.5 patch of Mists of Pandaria is Pandashan. After 4 months of the release of Mists of Pandaria, it seems as though the private server Pandashan has released it’s server on the 2nd of Janurary 2013. The private server already has a booming 31k likes (compared to the lifetime 128k likes of Molten) and they have recently made a facebook event that have noted that the server has had over 4000 players online at a time.

I haven’t really researched much into the private server, but it does seem very promising, considering it’s the first private server, and the amount of players the server has been holding (although I do admit after skimming through the facebook page and forum posts about the game, players have been having lag). Currently as I’m typing up this article, I can see 1k players logged in to the US realm and 600 players logged into the French realm.

http://www.pandashan.com/

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Molten/WoW-Freakz/Monster WoW Private Server Updates – January 2013

Well January has come, and this is what has been happening in the private server scene lately.

Let’s start off with news from Monster WoW.

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Following the launch of their 4.3.4 realm and the release of Baleroc on Ragnaros, the development team has been focusing on class specific bugs. Monster-WoW seems to usually focus on fixing class bugs, seeing as though they used to do weekly class specific fixes. Monster has just released a changelog on their main site for everyone to see the new fixes. Monster-WoW has also re-added realm population statistics on their main site, and it seems as though their 4.3.4 realm, Ragnaros has about 40% of the total playerbase which isn’t that bad.

WoW-Freakz updates:

Capture

Following the (rather successful) upgrade of their Genesis and Exodus realms to 4.3.4 on the 19th of Janurary, another huge changelog has released on the 10th of Janurary. Today, WoW-Freakz seems to have made numerous important fixes to the game, such as implementing vehicle mechanics, talent inspect, calender system and the new boss Alizabal at Baradin Hold. Unfortunately they had to roll back a day due to a glitch in the achievement counter system. They have now closed their Public Test Realm as it’s no longer needed, and I’m sure it may have helped them a lot to fix exploits and major bugs.

Molten-WoW updates:

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Molten has been focusing on their Clustered Load Balancing system which is an extremely huge feat that no other private server has attempted, which has been in development for about half a year now, which is now approximately 70% complete. Clustered Load Balancing system makes cross-realm battlegrounds and cross-realm raiding a possibility, among many other useful things such as decreased server loads, and a major stability improvement by changing realm crashes into separate instance or continent crashes. Molten has upgraded all of their realms to more powerful servers, and from the “Thank you” threads on Molten, I can see that players seem to be very grateful.

Molten has also delayed their 4.3.4 release to the end of February  mainly because of the development of the Clustered Load Balancing system, and to conclude the end of the seasonal arena season.  Developers will be focused on porting 4.0.6a scripts over to 4.3.4 during this time. More updates will come to the Wrath of the Lich King realms after the 4.3.4 upgrade on their Cataclysm realms.

Molten/WoW-Freakz/Monster WoW Private Server Updates – December 2012

Well it’s nearly the end of the year. Monster WoW has a 4.3.4 realm, WoW-Freakz is upgrading very soon, and Molten is upgrading Next year Feburary.

Let’s start off with news from Monster WoW.

baleroc

Monster WoW has released Baleroc and Lord Rhyolit from the Firelands raid on their 4.3.4 realm, however they are still focusing on development of their 4.0.6a realm since most players seem to be staying on there. This also has happened again when Monster decided to create a 4.2 realm, which turned out to be not popular at all, but now since 4.3.4 is the last Cataclysm patch, development is now active, both on private servers and on open source cores. I have also noticed that they’ve removed their population counters. Their population peaked at about 3000 last time I saw it, so it’s definitely worth to check out.

WoW-Freakz updates:

cata

WoW-Freakz has made tremendous work on their 4.3.4 core. They have recently posted a huge changelog containing fixes for the new 4.3.4 patch. They also have opened a PTR (public test realm) where players can play on 4.3.4 and start off with 500 gold. The rates seem to be about 30x on the PTR so it won’t take a long time at all hitting level cap. For more information on joining their public test realm, read this thread

Molten-WoW updates:

29381p0

Molten recently has focused more on the community. As a tradition, Molten has end of the year events and a promotion week for donating and voting. Molten has announced an event schedule that includes over 3000 coins in prizes. Coins are a currency that Molten uses for premium donated items. To view the events and the schedule, visit this thread.

mit

Molten also has created an International Torunament subforum regarding the new arena season for all realms. The arena season has started on the 1st of December and will end on the 28th of Feburary next year. The prize pool will include over 2000 coins, 3000 points, unique and honorable in-game PvP titles, seasonal premium statuses, as well as in-game mounts such as Invincible’s Reins and Magic Rooster Egg. To view more information on this, visit the thread

Molten has also been focusing lately on it’s Wrath of The Lich King realms, as they have recently released the Gunship Battle, a rescripted Line of Sight system, and the rescripting of the Ulduar raid.

Molten has also given the site a revamp yet again. There’s no more 3-column or 2 column design, but now there’s just the main page and the menu on top. It looks a lot better in my opinion than what it was.

Molten/WoW-Freakz updates – November 1st 2012

With 4.3.4 development on both Molten and WoW-Freakz, there has somewhat been a lack in updates lately regarding Cataclysm servers. Molten has also been focusing on their Wrath of the Lich King realms as they have been scripting Ulduar, developing a cross realm/clustered load balancing system (see below), and the recent release of the Icecrown Citadel Gunship Battle. This is most likely why Molten has given their release date expectations of patch 4.3.4 in 3 months (Feburary 1st), compared to the 3-5 weeks release date expectation on WoW-Freakz.

Announcements on WoW Freakz:

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News post on WoW Freakz – post link

You probably noticed that lately we haven’t done any work on 4.0.6a and realised why… We have started working on 4.3.4 for a while and I can say the progress is quite amazing, many core mechanisms are functional, even some of the new ones (void storage, transmogrification, guild finder, etc).
At first, we will open a test realm, probably in 2 weeks, we still want to fix various stuffs before that. Don’t forget, like any other new version launch, there will be a lot of problems and we will dedicate in fixing them as soon as possible.

Yes, we know there are still things to be fixed on 4.0.6a, but no private server will ever be 100% functional like retail, you know the story: it’s free, we’re short on manpower and working as much as we can, but we’ll never have EVERYTHING working and we think it’s time for a change, everyone wants that.

Few info:
– Nobody will lose their character, there will NOT be any wipe
– The test realm will be launched in 2 weeks and depending on the problems we encounter the official launch will be after another 3-5 weeks. Until new year we will have 4.3.4
– Those with donations made recently before the 4.3.4 launch will get new items on the new version (only those who haven’t gotten to play a reasonable time with the donated items, we’ll define later what “reasonable time” means)
– We will add a damage boost buff in current PVE raids so anyone can get to see all current content until new patch

Announcements on Molten

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News post on Molten – post link

Focus on 4.3.4 development
As of today we are focusing on 4.3.4 development. Estimated date of launch is February 1, 2013. Below are highlights and objectives for Cataclysm 4.3.4 launch:

  • Launch Clustered Load Balancing (explained below)
  • All characters will be upgraded from 4.0.6a to 4.3.4
  • Over 5300 commits (everything from changelog and more) will be present on 4.3.4
  • Froswolf, Neltharion, Sargeras and Warsong will be upgraded from 4.0.6a to 4.3.4

What is the status of 4.3.4?
Support for 4.3.4 is ready and can be upgraded even now. However we want to make sure that 4.3.4 really is an upgrade, and not a step backwards in terms of quality. Post-launch development of 4.3.4 will be same as 4.0.6a was – content will be available gradually and scripted with respect to progression.

Special attention will be paid to exploits, which are the most underrated but most important factor in determining long-term health of realms. Unfortunately, many community members are eager to demonstrate exaggerated reactions to minor bugs which affect them, while some major exploits remained widely abused for months until being reported.

Clustered Load Balancing
Clustered Load Balancing is the most complex and difficult system we have been working on for several months now and is expected to be a drastic infrastructure and performance upgrade. It is expected to give major performance improvements on fundamental core bottlenecks by spreading load across multiple servers, major stability improvement by changing realm crashes into separate instance or continent crashes, providing a ground for cross-realm features and introducing new useful features such as allowing time for disconnected players log back in game without waiting in queue. Foundation of Clustered Load Balancing is already powering our realms and is approximately 40% complete.

Wrath of the Lich King
Wrath of the Lich King development will continue. Following the successful launch of Gunship Battle we have started re-scripting Ulduar. Ulduar is known to be the most difficult instance from a scripting perspective. Currently Ignis the Furnace Master, Razorscale, XT-002 Deconstructor, Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Auriaya, Freya and Hodir are undergoing internal testing. We expect to launch them in the upcoming days and continue scripting remaining bosses. Highest attention is given to quality of encounters, therefore some bosses (such as Flame Leviathan) are taking longer to resolve exploits and issues due to complexity of the encounter. The few disabled content, such as Wintergrasp, will continue being worked with respect to our work load and focus and and launched when it meets our expected standard of playability.

Armory
New armory is ready. However we are delaying its launch because we want to integrate it to be in line with our new website and forum theme, by providing extensive information in a user friendly interface.

Molten International Tournament: Series 2
To be announced.

3 Year Anniversary
To be announced.

Molten WoW releasing ICC Gunship soon

UPDATE: Feedback topic regarding Gunship release is here

After the release of the Greymane and Deepholm realms in the beginning of the year, Molten seems to have somewhat neglected their Wrath of The Lich King realms due to the mere fact that their Cataclysm realms needed a lot of work done (mainly 1-60 and 80-85 content). Things have somewhat slowed down regarding Cataclysm updates as all the dungeons have been scripted to blizzlike conditions and most raid bosses are released from patch 4.0.6a. This doesn’t dismiss the fact that Molten still has a lot on their plate with upgrading their website and forum design, the possibility of the release of cross realm battlegrounds, and upgrading their Cataclysm realms to patch 4.3.4.

Anyways, for the WoTLK lovers and raiders, it seems as though Molten hasn’t forgotten about us, and is planning it’s release of the Gunship Battle, something no other private server has perfected. There has been other popular private servers that have attempted to script the battle and haven’t been able to release it due to it’s complexity, and yes it is extremely complex. Hopefully Molten will get this right, and it will continue to be the most popular private server, both Wrath of The Lich King and Cataclysm.

Enjoy! See you ingame.

Blizzard watermarking WoW screenshots with account, character and realm information

Originally posted on Ownedcore

Updated 11/09:

Dear everyone

This post may have been moved to WoW General, but it still remains an exploit – one which is used against us…

1) Go somewhere where there aren’t any (or a lot) of textures. I used the druid blink bug to go to the north end of the world but you should go below Dalaran in Crystalsong Forest, as bluesius suggested, because you will get a better screenshot if you stick your face in the pure white trees.

2) Type:

/console SET screenshotQuality “9”

Make sure you use 9, not 10.

3) Take a few screenshots of the clear, no textures, white area by zooming into a tree and hitting ALT Z, so that your entire screen is white.

4) Open this image in an image editing program like IrfanView (it’s freeware), click CTRL+E, select the Sharpening filter, use the highest possible sharpening value (99) and click OK. Now do this two more times, again: CTRL+E, Sharpen 99, OK.

5) You are now looking at your character’s WoW watermark / custom bar-code / qr code look-a-like / call it what you will:

Apparently, each character has a different set of these repeatable patterns, which contain account and realm information, and it looks like if they are scanned by software that recognizes them, they can reveal our character’s account name/id, the time of the screenshot and the the full information of the realm, including its IP address (think “private servers”).

The pattern, which consists of approximately 88 bytes of data, repeats itself many times depending on the resolution of your screen. See below for a colored representation: the account id and realm information are depicted in red and the current time (seconds not included) is depicted in blue:

IMPORTANT NOTE: IF YOU CAN’T BOTHER READING ANYTHING ELSE, READ THIS:

The secret watermark which is being intentionally embedded inside WoW generated screenshots below top quality,DOES NOT CONTAIN the account password, the IP address of the user or any personal information like name/surname etc. It does contain the account ID, a timestamp and the IP address of the current realm. It can be used by hackers to link alt. characters to accounts and target specific spam or scam attacks, and it can be used by Blizzard to track down private WoW servers.

Based on Blizzard’s ToS (http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/legal/wow_tou.html), Blizzard is allowed tocommunicate information about our hard drive, CPU, operating systems, IP addresses, running tasks, account name and current time and date. It never mentions anything though about embedding some of these data into every screenshot we capture using the WoW printscreen tool. The users assume that Blizzard will use a safe channel via battle.netnot our public screenshots that we share with the world, unaware of their secret contents. This unencrypted watermarking mechanism fails to protect our privacy, not from Activision employees (they already know everything about our computer systems), but from malicious hackers looking for something or someone to take advantage of.

The contained information can be easily recovered and decrypted by hackers (if we did it, so can they). For example,someone could use this to identify which account holds which characters and perhaps stalk and annoy its user, or help perpetrators choose their phishing victims with a more targeted approach. They could unleash Web spider bots scanning for WoW screenshots, decode their hidden watermark data and quickly create a comprehensive database of which account has which alts in it, that they can then sell to anyone interested (information is power). Perhaps someone is already using this since the watermark has been around for at least two to four years already.

It looks like Activision Blizzard has teamed up with Digimarc (http://www.digimarc.com) to provide us this wonderfulservice of secretly tagging our in-game screenshots with our account and realm information. Although it has not yet been verified, it is possible that Blizzard is using an automated monitoring service which downloads image files from various Internet sites and checks them for the presence of their embedded digital watermark data, kindly provided by Digimarc: http://www.google.co.uk/patents/US7653210

_Mike, schlumpf and Master674 have managed to disassemble the watermark data and help us verify which pieces of information are contained inside. Do note that this covert watermarking has been confirmed, by multiple sources, to have started some time between 2008 (Patch 3+) and 2010 (Patch 4+), which is after Blizzard was acquired by Activision, so you may want to delete/remove from the public domain all your post-WotLK screenshots captured by WoW.

Also note that if your screen resolution is too high, the pattern will look something like this:

 (larger footprint)

I must repeat, once more, that these patterns are not “random artifacts”, because random artifacts don’t produce account IDs: http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/worl…ml#post2493377 (Looking inside your screenshots)

Thanks to _Mike, we also verified that there is no pattern included in high quality screenshots like TGA and JPG/10. So, in order to avoid any further watermarking, type: /console SET screenshotQuality “10” which will set the quality of your screenshots to the maximum and create screenshots that do not include the watermark.

l0l1dk has developed a tool to disable the addition of watermarks in the lower quality screenshots but use it at your own risk/responsibility because it could corrupt the WoW client, which could then require a clean re-installation of the game (it’s also against the ToS). It is much simpler to just set the JPG quality to max.

Update: A lot of people are asking how we managed to decode the watermark pattern. Well it took a lot of teamwork, which you can find in the next pages here, and we came up with two source codes which successfully read the pattern data:

Java: http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/worl…ml#post2492716

C#: http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/worl…ml#post2493450

Try it yourselves. Read the rest of the thread for more information. If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions please share. Politeness is appreciated.

Molten International Tournament Prizes announced

Original post at http://adf.ly/CjLFP

Hello,

We would like to officially welcome everyone to the new Molten International Tournament series. After weeks of preparation, with the collaboration of Deathwing’s Tournament creators and Molten’s staff we have formed the new tradition of a cross-realm arena tournament series hosted on both Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. Players will have the chance prove their worth and skill while fighting for valuable prizes and rewards. Application forms will be available soon for players who are interested!

For each expansion, teams will be able to submit applications. A separate dedicated server will host the tournament and players who qualify from each realm will have the specified characters copied over to the Tournament Realm. The events will be streamed live so other people will be able to watch it in real time! Teams will be randomly sorted in a single-elimination bracket. Each match will consist of three games. The team with the best out of three will advance. Prizes consist of 6x ATI Radeon HD 7870 Graphics Card, 6x Razer Naga Molten Edition Gaming Mouse, and over 1000 Coins with an estimated total value of $3600!

Tournament Prizes

First Place Rewards

Second Place Rewards

  • 170 Coins for each team member.


Third Place Rewards

  • A mount of choice for each team member.
  • An item of choice for each team member. (Except Legendaries.)


For Cataclysm players:

  • Seven teams from the Warsong realm and three teams from each other realm be chosen to compete.
    (Team captains will be notified.)
  • Teams must have a minimum rating of 1800 in the 3v3 ladder to apply.
    (The personal and team rating must be within 100 to be eligible.)
  • Team composition must consist of two DPS and one healer.
    (Triple DPS and multi-healer comps are not allowed.)
  • Matches will consist of three games.
    (The team who wins two out of three will proceed to the next round.)
  • Disconnections during the match will result in a loss.
    (Preventing any possible purposeful disconnections.)
  • Disconnections while in queue or the arena starting room prior to the gates opening will constitute a five minute wait period.
    (If not connected after five minutes, the team will be disqualified.)
  • The Grand Finals will be best of five games.
    (The winners will be crowned and rewarded!)


For WotLK players:

  • Five teams from each realm will be chosen to compete. One team will be picked randomly from one of the realms.
    (Team captains will be notified.)
  • Teams must have a minimum rating of 1700 in the 3v3 ladder to apply.
    (The personal and team rating must be within 100 to be eligible.)
  • Team composition must consist of two DPS and one healer.
    (Triple DPS and multi-healer comps are not allowed.)
  • Matches will consist of three games.
    (The team who wins two out of three will proceed to the next round.)
  • Disconnections during the match will result in a loss.
    (Preventing any possible purposeful disconnections.)
  • Disconnections while in queue or the arena starting room prior to the gates opening will constitute a five minute wait period.
    (If not connected after five minutes, the team will be disqualified.)
  • The Grand Finals will be best of five games.
    (The winners will be crowned and rewarded!)


Gear Restrictions

Cataclysm:

  • Gear restrictions for Cataclysm players will be PvP gear only! PvE items will not be permitted.

WotLK:

  • Gear restrictions for WotLK players will be i270 gear and below only! Any items above i270 will not be permitted.
    (Ashen rings and Tier 2 Wrathful Weapons are an exception.)

Important:

  • It has been confirmed that we will NOT be supplying gear vendors for participating teams due to unforeseen complications. Players will need to provide their own gear within the restrictions. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Tournament Dates

  • The tournament for the WotLK realms will be hosted on Friday, September 21st.
    (Deadline for applications is Friday, September 14th.)
  • The tournament for the Cataclysm realms will be hosted on Friday, September 28th.
    (Deadline for applications is Friday, September 21st.)

How to Apply

  • Application Forms for Cataclysm players are located here. Application Forms for WotLK players are located here.
  • Be sure you have read and meet the requirements for your expansion before applying.
  • Answer each question to the best of your ability. Make sure it’s legible.
  • When asked for a screenshot of your 3v3 team statistics be sure to show each member’s personal rating by clicking on the 3v3 team.
    (If you have questions about how to upload a screenshot, please visit this guide here.)
  • Once you’ve submitted an application, be patient, it will be answered.
    (If your team is accepted, the person who submitted the application will be notified.)

Warning:

  • Do not, under any circumstance, contact any staff member prior to the team selection asking about your application’s status. It will be immediately declined.
  • This thread is subject to change at any time. Be sure to check back in on occasion for any possible updates.

Don’t feel intimidated; it may seem scary at first. But if you enjoy playing arenas and meet the requirements, don’t hesitate to apply! All applications will be looked at! 

We wish you all the best of luck!

Scriptcraft 2 moving to Valkyrie

Updates:

  • All characters from Scriptcraft 1&2 have now been migrated to Valkyrie
  • Gummy has now joined the Valkyrie team

It’s confirmed, Scriptcraft is now moving to Valkyrie after the server had declined in population.

Scriptcraft is a private server that was maintained by Gummy. He had spent about a year developing on the server and it had risen to popularity and fame on Reddit. Soon, it was the most popular vanilla private server around, however with the server owner, Gummy found that maintaining the server, advertising, moderating, and finishing school a bit too much. Gummy decided to close the server. However, recently after players had played on a hyped server, Q-Gaming, they found that it just didn’t cut it, and they had managed to accumulate $1500 in donations for Scriptcraft. Gummy said himself that he felt obliged to host the server, so he did. Soon after the second release which was pretty successful, players just didn’t join, guilds disbanded, notably Grizzly which left for Guild Wars 2, and Quality that disbanded. In Gummy’s latest update, he mentioned the possibility of moving to Valkyrie, due to his college attendance.

Today, Scriptcraft has taken down it’s front page and redirected the main site to the forum, where the only post now is the title: “All Aboard! Next stop Valkyrie!

Gummy had also posted the zip for the database of all the Scriptcraft 1 characters, and it seems like Valkyrie is merging the database with the older character database.

Arena-Tournament’s second round of DDOS

It seems like people won’t give up on competition. Since August 25, Arena-Tournament has suffered DDOS attacks and has recently come back up, following an update on Wednesday, however it has went down again a day later till present.

Arena-Tournament is a well known PvP server that offers a lot to its playerbase. With well known glads from retail such as the Hydra team, Arena-Tournament has proven to be successful in drawing a good and skilled playerbase. It offers transmogrification, linking queuing for battlegrounds with random battlegrounds, and a very impressive arena spectator feature. The arena spectator lets users see from the players perspective, aswell as navigate around the arena, see CCs, buffs and cooldowns.

Q-Gaming shuts down, Scriptcraft dead.

Following the rather successful launches of Q-Gaming and Scriptcraft, it looks like players just didn’t continue playing. In my opinion, this is more of a server issue in my opinion than anything else. Q-Gaming released their statement today:

As you have probably noticed, some people really just can not stand this server and attacked us continuously over the past two weeks with a heavy form of Denial of Service attacks. That combined with our host not cooperating as well as the head of the administration being busy with real life matters and no longer has time to look after the server, did not work out for the server. We had come to a stage where the damage was no longer repairable and another relaunch would simply not work. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross again. Maybe we’ll keep working on it in secret, and one day a server will be forged. One server to rule them all. But that’s just speculating.

As for the donations, you guys donated for a server and all costs related to it. This included the website, server, security tweaks and attempts at DDoS protection.

This has been a hobby for the entire staff and we were all working on the server with one goal in mind, creating a great vanilla World of Warcraft experience for everyone to enjoy.

Any questions can be sent to qualitygaming.vanilla@gmail.com however we can not promise to answer them all.

It was quite a ride guys.

Goodbye and good luck.

~ Quality Gaming staff

Q-Gaming’s second launch of their private server had proven successful in the start, I was part of the queue to experience their realm, hit level 60, but it had gotten drastically out of hand and they had neglected to fix severe issues such as Duping, anti-cheating system, Molten Core bosses, the drop rate of the Deathbone set, as players had gotten the full set in a day. And then came the DDOS, the server was fine for the first day or two, but a DDOS came, and it was unbearable to play. That, paired with a distinct lack of communication with the player base, the server was down for nearly 2 days without any news posted on the website. That immediately set a red flag for me. Most of the playerbase had left after these DDOS attacks, and players flying all around Ironforge and Orgrimmar, paired with a single player buying everything off the auction house, and duping.

Then came Scriptcraft. Orgrinally Gummy (the owner) felt obliged since players were begging him to put it back up. Players had raised $1500 USD for him to put the server back on track. And yes, it did work, the population boomed. Gummy did what Q-Gaming didn’t do, and that was communicate. The problem with this was that the sources of the  population only came from a few select places, notably Q-Gaming, Something Awful and 4chan. The problem with this was that Scriptcraft didn’t get another boom of population like it did from first release of Scriptcraft. His post to Reddit had over a thousand upvotes and managed to come onto the Reddit front page, it overflowed the site with visitors.

The problem with Scriptcraft was that it just didn’t manage to uphold it’s population. The population was dwindling and the few remaining guilds were upholding the server to an extent. When Guild Wars 2 had released, The biggest horde raiding guild, GRIZZLY, had left to play it. QUALITY, the biggest alliance guild stayed on, however the leader left with the core 20 of that guild to join another guild. The remaining members of QUALITY had either quit or joined small guilds. Both of the guilds brought up about half of the servers online population, and from that, people stopped posting on sites such as 4chan for recruitment for the guilds because there was no point now. There is no source of population income since people won’t join Scriptcraft since it shut down last time, and it looks like it’s shutting down now too.

The current playerbase of Scriptcraft is now merging with the server known as valkyrie-wow I believe that their characters database is going to be pushed over to their server. There doesn’t seem to be much of a playerbase however on both servers. At the time I am writing this, there is only 25 players online on Scriptcraft and 41 on Valkyrie.