Are you tired of sitting around Ogrimmar or Stormwind, feeling like a kid at a Water Park on the last day or summer, surrounded by a gaggle of others just like you waiting for your Random Battleground or Dungeon queue to fill? Well rejoice y’all! Recently Blizzard has been testing server side code to merge their Battlegroups. According to a recent post by Lylirra on the Blizzard forums, has merged two battlegroups together. Both the Whirlwind and Emberstorm battlegroups have had an infusion of servers to add thousands of players to the pool for players when selecting to enter Random Battlegrounds, and Dungeons. Developers at Blizzard has stated that all servers in a region will be tied together into one large queuing system when Cataclysm launches on December 7th.
These changes should allow World of Warcraft players to get into groups for Battlegrounds and Dungeons, without experiencing the long waits in line that they encounter today. This seems like a lofty goal for World of Warcraft developers Blizzard entertainment, but if accomplished, should quell the cries of the players who feel that they spend too much time waiting in Queue’s, and not enough time actually playing the game. This server side change, will allow the World of Warcraft to mimic the server-less environment already enjoyed by games like Cryptic’s Star Trek Online.
In Star Trek Online, players are not tied to a specific server, or battlegroup, instead, all players are playing in the exact same world. Instead of having several smaller localized copies of the world, each and every player in Star Trek Online can interact with each other. This server-less environment gives Star Trek Online users a unique experience that can’t be matched even by Blizzards new queuing system. A quick look at the Auction Hall in Star Trek online, and you can see that almost every item that can be sold, is for sale. This is because everyone in the game posts to the same Auction Hall (called The Exchange on Star Trek Online), and has to compete directly with everyone else in the game, not just a small number of people from a local server. This element gives traders in Star Trek Online a vast and massive market full of potential buyers that is not limited to any server, but encompasses every player in the game.
Star Trek Online’s server-less environment also makes it easier to get into Quests, Battlegrounds, group missions, and any other multi-player activities. Instead of spending your time standing around using the global chat to or group finding service to find a group, players in Star Trek Online can head directly to the zone or area of their quest. As they enter the zone, the Star Trek server will automatically place them into a zone with other players encountering the same story-line. By handling all quests and missions in this fashion, not just endgame content, Cryptic’s system allows players to spend more time actually playing the game, and less time filling chat with idle banter.
Blizzard’s announcement has drawn mixed reviews from it’s players on the official forums. Some players are heralding the change as the end of wait-times in queues, expecting almost instant gratification when they queue into Battlegrounds and Dungeons. Others however are skeptical that this change will be good for their server. One player from the Destromath server started a post on the forums that sparked a lengthy conversation spawning almost 30 pages of responses. In her message, she said “…one of the fun things about BGs is the “Forrest Gump” nature of them — like that box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get… even when (facing) opposing better-geared players, it also makes for interesting play when the lower-geared team can try to use superior tactics to eek out a win.”
These changes will definitely be an improvement from the current queuing system, but I don’t think that this is the end solution for U.S. Players. Considering that by some reports over half of all WoW subscribers are from China (which in case you didn’t guess is a different “Region” from North America) the idea that this change is going to be a godsend for U.S. players isn’t a strong possibility. We may never see the end of Queues in the World of Warcraft, because the game wasn’t designed to played in a server-less environment. All of the changes we see today are reactive responses, not proactive measures, and can only achieve a limited amount of success.
It seems to me like Blizz Developers are trying to fix a broken ankle with a Band-Aid, and a bag of ice, but what else can they do? They need to pull a few years out of World of Warcraft to support their next gen MMO which is currently in development with Activision, but they will need to be extra careful not to alienate their core audience when doing so. Let’s face it folks keeping 13 million people hooked on anything, let alone a virtual item, isn’t an easy task even for Activision Blizzard corporate executives with billion dollar bank rolls.