My motivation to blog about Classic is obviously down thanks to the whole Bliz/China issue, which sucks on multiple levels that I’ve already written about. Blogging today because New Blizzard continues to screw up Classic, which at this point is really just incredible when you think about it. We aren’t talking balance decisions, or game design, or anything else that might be ‘hard’ to do with an MMO. Nope. We are talking about maybe don’t bend the knee to China, and hey, could you manage to open the right number of servers in a way that doesn’t clusterfuck the whole thing? New Blizzard says ‘nope’ to both of those questions.
The latest development is that they are turning off layers on most servers. For those unaware, Classic servers today can hold many times more players than Vanilla back in 2004, and since we all have more powerful PCs today than in 2004, we can handle more characters on the screen. The game however isn’t designed to have 100 people in a zone, and you run into issues with mob spawns and all that. Layering was the quick fix for this; it created a copy of an area, so you were still on your server, but it felt like far fewer people were competing for the same mob/resource. Great right?
I’m not one of those people who feel layers bastardize the Classic experience. Yes the tech wasn’t around back in 2004, but for the most part having layers doesn’t change the gameplay feel of Classic. I say for the most part because it DOES impact things like world boss spawns, which were designed to only spawn once and only weekly. If you still have layers, you can kill the same world boss multiple times across multiple layers. That’s bad.
So in order for Blizzard to launch phase 2, which adds world bosses, all server must be down to a single layer. Well last night, Blizzard turned off the layers on Benediction, and not only was the server queue back, but the zones were absolutely swamped with people. We were trying to quest in Tanaris and it was a complete shitshow, with mobs being tagged the instant they spawned, and large roaming groups ganking because of the overloaded population. It was barely playable, and extremely unfun. From some reddit browsing, it seems that even more populated servers had it worse, with multi-hour queues and silly numbers of people in the capitals.
All of these issues are self-inflicted wounds by Blizzard. They did a terrible job initially with server counts, and then responded horribly after that, opening servers and enabling transfers too slow/late. Now they stack removing layers too early on top of it, with no notice or plan beyond “hopefully you are annoyed enough to transfer or quit”. It really is a clownshow.