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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Do You Hate Phasing?

Posted by MikeB Tuesday April 19 2011 at 10:43AM
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This week's Community Spotlight is focused on the thread "Phasing, why the hate?" by Deathofsage. Deathofsage makes the case for the use of phasing and wonders why the feature gets so much hate:

What is it about phasing, when done properly (no bugs/miscalculations), that people hate so thoroughly? I mean sure, it could be used wrong but until we have a game that truly answers to the claim of "living, breathing, evolving", this is the best thing we have to make it feel like our actions are having an impact on the world.

rygard49 dislikes that phasing separates him from other players:

For me a big issue with phasing is the seperation from other players. I can be in the same geographic location as my best friend, but since I'm three steps ahead of him in a quest line I can't see him or help him. It's very limiting in terms of grouping with the people you want to group with.

For world PvP it also becomes an issue when chasing a player through a zone. If you get the upper hand and he runs into a zone where his phase differs from yorus, you all of a sudden lose your PvP encounter.

Phasing is great at what it does creating the illusion that you're affecting the world with your actions, which was sorely lacking in MMOs, but the consequence is that now you're sacrificing the social aspects that you play MMOs for in the first place.

Loke666 feels that when done right phasing is a great tool for developers to use in MMOs, the problem is most developers don't:

Phasing is like instancing and cut scenes a great tool for the devs to add to the story if they use it right, However if you use too much it turns the game into a ghost town just like cut scenes easily turns into a snoorefeast if they overuse it (*cough* Dragon age *cough*).

The problem here is that certain devs who get a new flashy technology uses it in every possible situation and that sucks, MMOs should feel massive. That is the reason for the hate, few people complain about a few well used instances or phasing but it is rarely just that.

Worstluck evaluates the use of phasing in World of Warcraft:

Phasing was done pretty well in WoW's Wrath of the Lich King.  There was a moderate amount of it, and I felt that it added to the overall story of the game.  However, it was massively overdone in Cataclysm, to the point I could barely level to 85.  It just seperates everyone, moreso the instancing.  It was just awful in Cataclysm because it seperated everyone by what part of the quest line they were on.  I played on a very populated PvP server and I hardly saw anyone while leveling up, simply because of phasing.  All my Alliance "enemies" were in different phases of whatever silly quest.  At least with instancing, you can get a group together, regardless of what quests people have, and have at it.  With phasing, everyone needs to be on the same quest/storyline, or they will be in a different world. 

This applies to WoW mainly, as I really don't know of too many other games that do this.  Most just settle for open world or instancing of some sort because those concepts work well.  With WoW's phasing, it's like playing a single player game built into an MMO.

I personally haven't had too much experience with phasing, but I too am not ideologically opposed to the use of the feature. As others (including the OP) noted, phasing done right can be a great addition to an MMO. Star Wars: The Old Republic makes use of phasing in order to tell the player's story and in my brief experience with the game it's worked pretty well.

What do you think about phasing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!