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.
I continue to wonder if Classic is suffering from some designer or executive at Blizzard being pissed off at being totally wrong about the demand for Classic and subtly sabotaging it ever since. If it goes on to fail they can say “see, I was right”. Plus is makes retail look like complete garbage.
That sounds like a completely crazy conspiracy theory, but then you look at what Bliz is actually doing with Classic and… well it’s looking less and less crazy with each passing day.
Playing on a non-pvp RP server I’ve almost completely avoided any of the population issues. We’ve been running at a comfortable “Medium” population, which feels pretty busy even out of peak and very busy in peak, so I dread to think what a “Full” server must be like. Even then I can’t reliably go to popular zones in the evening or at weekends because of overcrowding.
Bloodsail Buccaneers was on the list as well. There was no queue last night, but it never had a big queue even at launch and Tuesday night isn’t exactly peak play time. But the zones I was playing in felt “Sunday afternoon with layering in place” crowded. I was thinking it was oddly more crowded than I would have expected before I read the update about layering.
I would have, of course, assumed that they wouldn’t just shove 17 servers into the no layering state without exploring the idea that there might be a problem with queues. I mean, they know they still have some crowding problems. They are adding a new German language server in Europe on Friday because the German servers are still too crowded.
But they haven’t published a list of additional servers taken off of layering for Europe yet. Maybe they just haven’t posted it yet, or maybe the Euro server admin team is just better at math.
I just checked (mid-afternoon, Thursday) and the majority of EU English-language servers are still Layered. All those that aren’t are showing “Medium”, which is pretty busy for a mid-week afternoon, I’d say.
They just published the EU list. They are only locking 4 additional servers into non-layered mode, for a total of ten. Not in a hurry there.
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