It’s now less than 23 hours until World of Warcraft: Classic is live around the world for everyone who has a subscription, and I must admit I am a little bit excited. I’m not one of the people who has been clamoring for Blizzard to bring back the old game, but it will be fun to run around some of the old places again to do some of the questlines which were destroyed in Cataclysm. In these last few hours before launch, I want to take a look at the recent AMA Blizzard did regarding Classic. They answered a few questions which are essential for understanding the experience players will find when the servers open later today.
After the issues some players ran into during the name reservation process, it is worth mentioning Blizzard did confirm they have increased the queue size before players just get disconnected when they try to log in. On the upside, this means more people will be able to get in line to play; however it also means there will be longer wait times. An expected wait time of 2-3 hours might hurt, but it’s better than having to continually log in just for the chance of being able to get into the queue. Of course, the disconnects will still likely happen, especially on the more popular realms, but at least getting into line will be easier. Also, they updated the disconnect message, so players will know if they were disconnected due to too many people in the queue or if there was some other issue.
On the topic of queues, they have also said they will add realms as much as needed to spread everyone out and minimize not only queue times, but also the need for layering. In fact, there are new realms coming online today for this exact reason. They also mentioned during the AMA they would consider offering free realm transfers to help entice players to switch. Keep in mind the free transfers would only be for moving from a high population server to a low population server. I’m curious if people will switch to the smaller population servers though. Since pretty much all MMOs experience a player drop off a few months after launch, fears of being stuck on a dead server might keep people from moving.
They also took some time to clear up a few misconceptions about how layering works. Layering is primarily intended to reduce server strain. For example, “the same number of players cause more server problems crammed into Northshire than they do spread across all of Elwynn Forest.” Which is an interesting concept to think about, but it does make sense. Additionally, rather than a layer being just a local area, each layer will encompass the entire server. The reasoning behind this is to provide a smooth experience for players. For example, if the layers were small, it would be possible to make the run from Mentheil Harbor to Ironfoge with one group of players and arrive with another (or no one). Assuming, of course, you aren’t in a party or raid with those players. Small layers could also cause issues for quests which roam over vast distances.
One of the issues I ran into during the stress tests was randomly transferring between layers. It was peculiar because NPCs and other players would suddenly disappear/appear right in front of me. This behavior was the result of some bugs and when Classic launches the only reason a player should transfer layers is if they accept an invite from a player in another layer. Which should smooth everything out. Additionally, the person who sends the invite is the layer everyone will join. Therefore, if you are out questing and someone starts ganking you invite your friends to a party so they can defend you.
There are, of course, a few things which can cause layer transference to be delayed. Transferring during combat, although occasionally might be convenient, would generally not be a good thing. For example, imagine fighting your way through all the other players in an area, and you are just about to kill the last Grell you need and BAM you transfer to a new layer where all the Grell are dead. This would be hugely frustrating. Additionally, transferring right when combat completes but before you loot would also be frustrating because the postmaster did not send you loot left behind back in Vanilla. As such, the delay has been set such that players have enough time to loot after finishing combat before transferring. Also keep in mind though, if you are trying to get onto a layer with your friends, chain pulling mobs will delay you from doing that. Also using party invites to escape PvP will be tricky because the delay is much longer after exiting PvP combat.
They’ve also taken care of the exploit where logging out and back in would transfer the player to a new layer and thereby farm a mineral or herb node repeatedly. Now the delay in transferring layers on logout is set to the same duration it would take the node to respawn anyway. This may seem like a nit-picky fix, but server economies were much different than they are these days. Mining and herb nodes were scarce, especially when considering everyone was often fighting over the same ones. This type of exploit could have severely impacted the server economy, and not for the better.
For those of us interested in PvP and earning honor, there was an exciting update I wasn’t expecting in the AMA. Back in Vanilla Honor totals for the week, and the calculation to determine who ranked up, was done while the realms were down for maintenance every week. However, they rewrote the honor code for Classic, so the realms do not need downtime for the honor to update. This also indicates we may not see the weekly downtime we did for most of WoW’s history. Although this change does not fit with recreating, the Classic feel it’s a great one. Not being able to play when you want isn’t in anyone’s interests. I mean, if they wanted to recreate the experience, they’d also have to have random servers down for days at a time here and there. Pretty sure no one wants that.
My favorite answer from the AMA is about player corpses. Back in the day, a player left a skeleton behind every time they died. This enabled players to do some fun things to goof off in cities. It also, unfortunately, allowed people to do things like creating advertisements, hate speech, and various other things. As a result, they decided to bring over the code, which makes it so when a player dies their previous corpse disappears. As much fun as the dying to create various things was, this is probably for the best, and not having this ability is really of no consequence to most people.
Those are just the highlights from the AMA, but you should probably give them a full read before the realms go live. Also, I highly recommend the “Not a Bug” list because many things have changed since Vanilla and some of the old ways will seem like bugs. Everyone ready to sit in a queue for hours again?! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!