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New WoW Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances 342

ajs writes "World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion was staggered into 4 phases. The fourth and final phase, patch 3.3, was released on Tuesday. This patch is significant in that it will be the first introduction of one of the most anticipated new features in the game since PvP arenas: the cross-realm random dungeon, as well as the release of new end-game dungeons for 5, 10 and 25-player groups. The patch notes have been posted, and so has a trailer. The ultimate fight against the expansion's antagonist, the Lich King a.k.a. Arthas, will be gated as each of the four wings of the final dungeon are opened in turn — a process that may take several months. The next major patch after 3.3 (presumably 4.0) will be the release of Cataclysm, the next expansion."
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New WoW Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances

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  • Re:Old (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MORB ( 793798 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:23AM (#30375280)

    Actually what they did in WoW is rather awful.

    See, people aren't really sharing a single universe. They just do instanced content together. instanced content means that your party gets its own private copy of a level and do some dungeon crawling in there.

    To implement that, they made it so that people teleport directly into the instance instead of having to travel in the open game world to the instance's entrance, because you can't see people from other servers in the open world.

    Since there is also generally a very unhealthy focus on instanced content rather than open-world content, what it means in practice is that wow is not really a MMO anymore. People hang out in capital cities, which function as glorified lobbies like you find in non-MMO multiplayer games, they form a party and then teleport inside of a private dungeon.

    You have almost no opportunity to meet random people on your adventures anymore because people of maximum levle have seldom any reason to bother ever going out in the open world. And leveling from 1 to 80 has also been made trivial and is therefore a minor part of the game.

    It means that some interesting gameplay aspects that can normally be found in MMORPGs (such as open world pvp) have been pretty much set aside in WoW to make room for more soulless dungeon crawling and loot whoring. This game has turned from a MMORPG into a glorified dungeon crawling game.

  • by iamapizza ( 1312801 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:27AM (#30375298)
    I really like the cross-server instances feature, it's going to cut down my dungeon wait times from 8 hours to a few minutes, but looking at a few other points on the patch notes, it's like they're just making the game easier and easier.
    • Knockbacks no longer dismount players
    • To use any Meeting Stone, it is only required that the character's minimum level be 15. There is no maximum character level requirement for any Meeting Stone.
    • Creatures attacking a player from behind can no longer cause players level 1-5 to be dazed, and have a reduced chance to cause players level 6-10 to be dazed
    • These regeneration rates have been increased by up to 200% for low level characters.
    • More mana regen, lower mana requirements
    • Any party member may mark targets
    • Etc etc

    So their aim seems to be to get players to level up faster... but I feel that's taking away some of the fun of the game.

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:31AM (#30375308) Journal

    You have a point, but I think there's a little more to it than this. I suspect that they're speeding up the levelling process because they're going to add another five levels onto the top come the next expansion. My impression has always been that Blizzard have a definitive idea how long it should take a player to go from level 1 to the maximum level, and that they try to keep this constant through expansions. So, not long after the release of Burning Crusade, we had a nerf to the 1-60 levelling process (with 60-70 still being a substantial gap). Then 60-70 was nerfed shortly before Lich King hit. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the 70-80 xp grind had a nerf shortly before or after 4.0.

  • by Derosian ( 943622 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:32AM (#30375310) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but after getting 3 characters to 80, leveling just is not fun anymore... I feel most of the fun is at max level now.
  • by Genocaust ( 1031046 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:41AM (#30375582)
    I've actually got 4 characters at 80, another at 73, and the next runner up at about 66. Leveling is what I enjoy.

    The end game gear grind, however, is not fun. Don't get me wrong -- I love to experience new content, I don't, however, like to keep re-experiencing it at the mercy of the RNG hoping I get the item(s) I need. Yes, badges mitigate this, slightly, but in the end you're still grinding the same one or two instances until a new one gets released.
  • Re:Old (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:47AM (#30375598)

    No, but I don't need to pick my friends based on their preferred server.

  • Re:Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dingen ( 958134 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:04AM (#30375670)
    No, I have friends on multiple servers, which means WoW doesn't allow me to interact with them all. Even with two friends this is a problem.
  • Re:Old (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:10AM (#30375700) Journal

    Eve would burn to the ground if even half that number tried to use it.

    I wouldn't count on that. In particular, I'd look into how they've managed (with some success) to support what they have.

    Eve would've burned to the ground a long time ago if they couldn't scale.

    I'm not laying they could become WoW overnight. I'm saying they're at least trying, whereas Blizzard doesn't seem to care.

  • Re:Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by American Terrorist ( 1494195 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:25AM (#30375750)
    The fact is that most people don't actually want to play a "massively" multiplayer online role-playing game. They (and I) want to play a multi-player online game. I loved playing Unreal and BF1942, but if they somehow made servers that could handle 100,000 people I wouldn't want to play on them. It's just too many people. Blizz and other companies try to find a balance between too many players in one place, and not enough. I think they have succeeded in that I can usually find a group to go wherever, and don't lag out when I zone into the capital cities.

    As far as world PVP goes, please, they tried that. It always just devolves into zerging, whoever has the most people always wins. If your server is 75% alliance, world PVP is going to be pretty meaningless/frustrating if you're horde. The only way to make it fun is to try and make sure the same number of people fight each other at the same time, which is what battlegrounds and arenas are for.

    Finally your assertion that WoW is a glorified dungeon crawling game strikes me as baseless, given that I spend ~20% of my time going to dungeons and 80% having fun killing people in battgrounds/arenas. WoW to me is like TFT2, but with swords and magic instead of guns.
  • WoW (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @08:15AM (#30375936)

    There are a lot of people who seem relatively uninformed, are basing their statements in some variety of hearsay, and/or their experiences on a patch day. I've been playing WoW on and off for 3 years. The experience can be a mixed one, it is certain (as all things in life). However, I can assuredly state that this is one of the most well designed games I've played. The changes being made (faster leveling, obtaining gear being made easier) are designed to increase the appeal to casual players (which I don't at all see as a bad thing), and allow them a sense of achievement with relatively little playtime. This in no way prevents one from "min/maxing" their characters with harder modes, etc... The challenge in this game is alive and well for those who chose to go after it (corpse run lol).
    Whether or not any individual thinks WoW is a good game is subjective... however from my personal experience, and the continuing success of a game more than 5 years old, I'm inclined to say that WoW is a quality product (despite patch day bugs: black screen of death anyone?), with huge amounts of appealing content for a variety of different kinds of users.
    That is all.

  • Re:Old (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @08:24AM (#30375974)
    > That is simply not acceptable and thus WoW fails for me as a platform for interacting with my friends, which seems to be it's main purpose.

    Fail. WoW's main purpose is to be an online RPG. If you want to interact with your friends, you use some crap like Facebook.
  • Re:Old (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @08:39AM (#30376028)

    some interesting gameplay aspects that can normally be found in MMORPGs (such as open world pvp)

    Open world PVP is not interesting, and has never been interesting. I played WoW extensively in the early days on a PVP server. 99% of open world PVP consists of one of the two following scenarios:

    1. Higher level person ganks lower level person. Lower level person stands no chance.
    2. Group of people gank smaller group/single person. Smaller group/single person stands no chance.

    I don't know what you consider "interesting," but I prefer scenarios in which the most skilled competitors win, and not the players who have simply spent more time in the game (to get a higher level) or brought more friends along.

  • by blueworm ( 425290 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @09:40AM (#30376336) Homepage

    Patch 3.3 is Blizzard's big squeeze for subscription cash before the next expansion. Each wing past the first wing of the raid dungeon is locked out on a real-time timer such that the dungeon incrementally opens. What's worse, is the final boss of each wing has an attempt count which also increases linearly as more wings open. All this is to forcefully stop well-coordinated teams of players from beating the dungeon quickly, and I don't just mean in one week. There are guilds out there who are capable of beating this thing in a couple months in about the 50th percentile of raiding guilds, but with the harsh attempt count on the bosses of each wing it will most likely lock these guilds out for more than that, keeping the subscription cash flowing longer than it needs to. To top it all off, hard modes won't be accessible until the whole dungeon is cleared, and when that happens, they're granting all players a buff to their statistics to make it easier to beat the dungeon. That last one is to deliver the psychological feeling of accomplishment to players who would have otherwise ended their subscriptions, in order to make it seem like the game is still fun for them to keep their subscription dollars coming in.

    Blizzard has gotten so addicted to the high revenues that they're willing to implement game mechanics based around keeping people subscribing with minimal content updates. As a result, I've cancelled my subscription and I can safely say I won't be returning to Azeroth again -- ever.

  • by blueworm ( 425290 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @09:50AM (#30376426) Homepage

    UIpdate from mmo-champion.com: "The next unlock will happen on January 5th, if each wing is unlocked after a month it means that we won't see Arthas before April but if I had to give my opinion I would say that it will probably be faster than that. The 4 weeks are probably here to let people test the rest of the content without focusing too much on raid instances."

    So there you have it folks, they're giving themselves plenty of time to harvest those delicious greenbacks without updating the content at all. If MMOs are supposed to be constantly evolving persistent worlds, WoW now wins the award for consistently stagnant persistent world.

    The "other content" they're referring to are the 5-player dungeons, but those will just get toasted by the end of the week.

    If you want to remain playing WoW, you might want to consider putting a dent in Blizzard's coffers by cancelling your subscription at least until the new raid zone is fully released on normal difficulty.

  • Re:Old (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xTEMPLARx ( 178099 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:25AM (#30376720) Homepage

    World PVP, imo, is the best, as it's spontaneous and more interesting. It's more "immersive" when you are questing in a zone and you run up on a horde and both of you make that decision of whether or not to attack. Oh, and you left out another scenario: higher level ganks lower level who stood no chance, who then logs out, grabs his higher level toon and perhaps a few of his buddies to come back and wreck shop and seek revenge.

    Keep in mind that, just because something isn't fun to YOU, doesn't mean the very same thing isn't way fun to someone else. That's one of the reasons WoW succeeds even when its not always perfect. There's something for everybody in there to enjoy provided you're not focusing on the finger and missing all the heavenly glory (my apologies to Bruce Lee).

  • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:45AM (#30376858) Homepage

    Making it too easy? It was too easy from day one and they haven't made any strides to really up the difficulty. To WoW developers, adding grind is upping the difficulty...you know, instead of doing something like add strategy to a game that's designed around a bunch of people in a group all hitting their attack button at the same time. That kinda worked with Diablo (and was part of what made it great to some extent), but this is a different beast entirely. In fact, I'd blame the watering down of the entire genre on WoW. The last time I decided to take SoE up on a free month of EverQuest to check up on my old characters, I was kinda disgusted at how much they've tried to dumb down the game to try and draw over people who've gotten bored with WoW.

  • Re:Old (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dingen ( 958134 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:51AM (#30376924)
    Yeah, and with how many of those millions of users can you actually interact while "playing" WoW? Only a fraction of the amount of people online in EVE right now. WoW having a lot of users is of no consequence whatsoever, because you only interact with the folks in your realm, which is never more than a few thousand. In WoW, you are not aware of the millions of other players at all.
  • by Vohar ( 1344259 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:40AM (#30377390)

    This is one of the many, many posts from people who can't separate difficulty from tedium. Nothing in this post has anything to do with difficulty. Or leveling, for that matter. It's all about taking out the boring elements like sitting around waiting on mana before you're high enough in level to have abilities to manage it. Plus, it's only for levels 10 and below. That's only the first day or two of play.

    And marking targets? Seriously? You're complaining about that as a means of leveling players faster? That's a matter of convenience for groups, and really doesn't change gameplay at all.

    People often whine about getting rid of downtime and cutting down on travel times as "dumbing down" the game or making it "easier" but really it's just cutting out the boring parts so we can focus on the fun parts.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:54PM (#30378154)

    Probably not, but with all the work the community has done, Hackintosh's on solid hardware are typically pretty problem free machines (and no, that's not being sarcastic). Generally if a program runs bad on a Hacktinosh that is otherwise behaving then it's because the program itself is buggy, not the machine.

    As someone who actually owns a real Macbook and a G4 Mac but has a hacktinosh to play games because the specs on the other two systems just aren't geared for it, I can honestly say that aside from the Hackintosh showing an AMI BIOS screen at boot followed by a brief Chameleon loader splash you'd literally never know the difference between it and a "real" Mac.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:09PM (#30378306)

    I have to agree sadly. Functional things that make organizing things easier - like cross-realm dungeons for example, are always welcomed changes. However, it seems like Blizzard is constantly dumbing things down over time. Heck IIRC in Cataclysm they're not even going to have any stats aside from your basic STR/SPI/INT/STA on items, which is meant to "Reduce confusion".

    Between the dumbing down of the instances, dumbing down of itemization, CONSTANT gear resets via moving badges so that everyone running dirt easy heroic content can always have gear on equal footing as everyone else, it's just gotten insane.

    And mind you, I'm not being a complete elitist on the "easy badge gear" issue. Yes, I do think that people running harder content should have better gear, but it also works in reverse. I really haven't touched the game much in the last 3-4 months (mostly for the reasons cited above), so all my gear is typically stuff from Naxx25/Maly25/Sarth25 with a smattering of some Ulduar25 gear. Good stuff, but not the current top notch. Result of all this easy badge gear though is that any group expects EVERYONE to be sporting Tier9 equivalent gear for just about anything. You have people literally wanting 2800+ "gearscores" to run into a Naxx10 run.

    Overall, the whole thing has just gotten to the point where I don't care to play anymore. Raiding has gotten boring - I want to raid for a challenge not a weekly "grab my epics and leave" session. Running heroics truly has turned into a treadmill - rather than running instances for strategic upgrades we're stuck running the same stuff over and over as they nudge the badge rewards up just a lil higher again.

    IMHO things like achievements and such were a good idea - something to give everyone things to work towards. I log into WoW now though and it feels more like I'm in a themepark called WoWLand than the game I used to play. It's like an amusement park meant to be just an imitation of Azeroth - let people hang out, get fake toys, and experience "attractions" in the form of instances rather than an actual challenge.

    Oh well. At least Dragon Age was fun to play through (and actually challenging). Here's hoping Bioware will continue to deliver and not fall into the same pit as Blizzard.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:12PM (#30378342)

    Could someone hand that guy an "insightful" mod? He hit the nail so directly that the head is now no longer visible anymore.

    WoW basically "ruined" the MMO world for those of us who wanted an MMO where a success actually meant something. At least more than "you managed to sit down for 5 hours and hit the same buttons over and over, good job!". There is rarely a challinging moment in WoW. Put time in, get reward out. If you're not good at it, all that means is that more time is required and maybe a different approach (e.g. instead of doing the raid you can't get a group for, farm some tokens and buy the gear with them instead).

    And since it's the most successful of all MMOs (at least counting subscriber numbers), it's the role model for MMOs now. Everyone creates basically a copycat version of WoW. Invariably you have easy leveling with a very limited amount of player decision influencing it (try comparing it to the skill decision and implant/outfit system of Anarchy Online to see what I mean), solo playing 'til the end and no penalties for fucking up. And while this surely makes playing a lot more accessable and easier, it makes me wonder... why should I play if I know I already won?

  • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:31PM (#30378616)
    I log into WoW now though and it feels more like I'm in a themepark called WoWLand than the game I used to play. It's like an amusement park meant to be just an imitation of Azeroth - let people hang out, get fake toys, and experience "attractions" in the form of instances rather than an actual challenge.

    That analogy is completely on the mark.

    They're trying to cater more and more towards the ADHD kids, who will immediately jump ship to the next shiny game that comes along, rather then take care of their core base of players who will stick around through thick and thin.

    I swear that all of the "A" talent left the development team right after WotLK was released, and maybe even a month before. The entire WotLK experience has been one of adding "ooh shiny" bolt-ons rather then working within the original concept. I'm waiting for them to add mechwarrior vehicles that can morph from planes to boats to cars to walkers. Huge changes in difficulty of content. Instead of making a balanced change that is subtle and addresses the root cause, they simply nerf the content and slap a fresh coat of paint on it.
  • by Reapy ( 688651 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @04:31PM (#30380438)

    It's a video game... It is supposed to dispense pellets as rapidly as possible. Have you looked at any game developed in the last, what 10 years? When is the last time you actually had to struggle to beat a game and see the content? I had hordes of nintendo games where I never even saw the last few bosses. If it didn't have a cheat code that was pretty much the end. Even something like mike tyson's punch out, I couldn't even get to macho man, let alone tyson, thank god for the cheat code.

    Game design has been refined. Now, you get to play the game and enjoy it. Then, if you want to break your balls trying something hard, they give you the option to do it, either through achievements, alternate game modes opening, or whatever.

    Wow continues this design by having easy and hard modes, and surprise, the hard modes...are HARD. Perfect design IMHO.

    Looking at this list of changes, sounds to me like they are taking steps to remove long waits to play the game. Are you so hung up on EQ that you thought those late night 4am 'get my corpse before it rots or quit the game' runs were fun? Hey, you really should WORK for those jboots, have fun camping the most boring fucking zone in the world for 18 hours for the quest drop.

    Does anybody want that in a game? Why is that even there? We want to get in to a dungeon with people and play the GD game. If you want to play those old instances that most of the player base has been doing over and over for the past 5 years (hence boring, who wants to do that?), congrats, look at the patch notes. Now you can probably queue up for that instance and from a huge pool of players you can find the rare 4 others that want to run the old instance at the proper level. Why is this a bad thing again?

  • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @04:51PM (#30380692)

    Yeah, it is an issue, but it's a short-term issue.

    It's because Blizzard builds their capacity based on normal usage, not on patch-day usage. I think this is just as much an issue with their tendency to bundle up lots of changes into one large content patch rather than stagger them on a more gradual basis.

  • by Thuktun ( 221615 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:12PM (#30380958) Homepage Journal

    They're trying to cater more and more towards the ADHD kids

    Or perhaps adults who have day jobs and can't invest entire days playing the game.

  • Re:Old (Score:3, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:34PM (#30382746)

    I would have been surprised if you had heard a negative comment from participants in a *voluntary* activity.

    You have clearly never played WoW. People with no clue about software design are CONSTANTLY bitching about Blizzard. The point was despite the disparaging remarks above the normally intolerant players were actually enjoying the new system. Believe me, when it breaks people complain.

  • by ahabswhale ( 1189519 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:09PM (#30384516)
    True. EQ was totally brutal but when my guild accomplished something there was real elation there. I never felt anything close to that in WoW. I will say that I never like multi-hour corpse runs cuz the server dropped half your clerics in the middle of a raid but I guess that contributed to the feeling when you were victorious. It's sad to here they nerfed it.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake