This Is What We Wanted All Along

Today I’m just going to leave the text of this SUPER-LONG post by Community Manager Lore here. This is what I’ve been soapboxing about lately. This is EXACTLY the kind of communication we’ve needed to see during this expansion: transparent and honest. As they say, bad news doesn’t get better with time, so it would behoove Blizzard to be honest about delays and what is causing them in a timely manner.

Kudos to CM Lore for posting this, even if it was late. This is what we want. Please, please give us more of this as it happens and I think you’ll find that the players will be more receptive and forgiving.

I’ll start with this: we’re a software development company. More precisely, we’re a video game developer. Anything and everything can change in the software development world, for reasons that are often impossible to predict ahead of time. As a result, we’re hesitant to 100% commit to anything. We’ve learned that, no matter how confident we are at any given point, there’s always a very real chance that there’s something we haven’t thought of that makes what we want to do impossible.

The whole “weeks, not months” thing makes an easy example. At the time that was said, we firmly believed that it would only take us a few weeks to polish off Tanaan and fix a few areas we knew were likely to have some bugs, and then we’d roll out the flying patch. It’s easy enough, right? We just change a few 0’s to 1’s and it’s all done.

Then we started finding a lot more bugs and glitches than we expected. We found tiny pockets of the world that weren’t properly obeying the flight rules, and would drop players to their deaths if you happened to fly through them. We found issues with certain mounts and class abilities that were caused by hotfixes to resolve exploits, which resulted in those mounts and abilities not working. We found situations in which if you fly into your Garrison at juuuuust the right angle, you get disconnected and can’t get back onto your character for a good half hour or so.

Finding those bugs, implementing fixes, testing those fixes, finding more bugs (sometimes caused by those fixes)… it all added up to a lot more work being needed to actually enable flying than we had originally expected. And as a result, what we originally thought would only take a few weeks ended up taking a couple months.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not making excuses here. And I don’t at all blame the players who are frustrated and upset that we didn’t hit the timeline we originally stated. Honestly, we probably should never have said that it would only take a few weeks. That was clearly a mistake, and I apologize for it.

But that should hopefully give you an idea of why — ESPECIALLY given the missteps we’ve made in the recent past — we simply can’t 100% guarantee that nothing will go wrong between now and September 1st. Truth is, we’re more confident in this release date than we usually are this far in advance of a patch. That’s why we felt that we could give a date at all.

There’s just always — ALWAYS — a chance that something can go wrong at the last minute. We could, say, be finishing the fixes for the last couple of dismount bugs on the Saturday before release, and when we compile the final build, all of a sudden activating your flying mount teleports you to the graveyard in Westfall and deletes the contents of your inventory. Is that likely? Not really, no. But it’s possible, so we need to make sure you’re aware that things can change, just in case something like that does happen.

There are alternatives, of course. We could just not give a date until we know for 100% certain, which is our usual strategy. Like I said, we feel a little more confident in this date than usual, so we thought it was okay to share it.

The other option would have been to try to have the patch ready to go by the 1st, but not actually plan to release it until a week or so later. That would let us announce a date we’d be extremely confident in, but we’d essentially be delaying the release of flight even further, and we definitely don’t want to do that. So, we gave a date that we feel pretty good about, with the reminder that we won’t be able to release if something catastrophic happens.

This ended up being a giant wall of text, but I’ll leave it with this: I know it’s super frustrating when it feels like we’re not being as open as we possibly could be. And I know it’s equally frustrating when it seems like we’re completely unwilling to commit to anything concrete. I spent 8 years as a player before I became an employee. I know exactly how it feels.

I just also know that it’s better to not expect much and be pleasantly surprised, than to feel like a promise was broken. At least that’s my opinion.

Regarding the transition from 6.2.1 to 6.2.2: we actually had two potential plans that were dependent on how things fell in terms of development timelines, which is why some of what we’ve said seems contradictory.

The core of it comes from our PTR testing process, and the fact that we are blessed with some extremely savvy fansite operators who are capable of combing through patch data, finding nuggets of information, and drawing educated conclusions based on that information. If we’d put, say, the Illidan-themed Murloc pet into the PTR data before Legion was announced, that would have been a pretty big tip-off. At the same time, we needed to get PTR testing for flight underway as quickly as possible, so that we could make sure we found all those silly obnoxious bugs I mentioned in my earlier post.

So, our strategy was to create two separate versions of the patch. 6.2.1 would have all of the relevant patch features (including flight), and 6.2.2 would have everything in 6.2.1 plus the upcoming stuff that the art team has been working on. In the unlikely event that everything went EXTREMELY smoothly with flight, we’d have the option to go ahead and push out 6.2.1, and 6.2.2 would come separately. If not, we’d just carry on with 6.2.2, which was basically the same patch plus some stuff that other parts of the WoW development team had been working on. As you’re all aware, things did not go extremely smoothly with flight, so the latter option was what ended up happening.

I’ll make a silly analogy. Think of the patch like a bus. This bus is waiting for a high-profile dignitary (flying) to finish up some negotiations, and as soon as she’s done with those, she needs to leave to get to another conference. That bus will not leave without the dignitary, and it will leave immediately once she’s on board.

That said, the bus is also capable of taking on other passengers (who for the sake of the analogy we’ll assume are headed to the same place). The longer the dignitary’s negotiations take, the more opportunity there is for other passengers to hitch a ride. The other passengers, in this case, are things like Mercenary Mode or the new pets and mounts. If the dignitary had finished unexpectedly quickly, there would be another bus coming by later that could take those passengers, but since she hasn’t, the bus company decides to just take one trip instead of two. Make sense?

One other note: 6.2.1 was briefly labelled as a “Release Candidate” on the PTR prior to the switch to 6.2.2. “Release Candidate” is an internal term we use to basically mean “we think we might have fixed everything.” As it turns out, we hadn’t. In this case, if we hadn’t had the transition to 6.2.2, 6.2.1 would have just stayed as “Release Candidate” until September 1st. But since we had this weird extra “hide your kids” strategy going on with the Legion stuff, the title was switched back as part of the changeover. I completely understand why that looks like “Blizzard delayed the patch to add some pets” to those who aren’t familiar with our internal workings.

Regarding “you should have designed the world with flight from the beginning!” We actually did, we just had to do a lot more development after that, and some of that stuff broke flying in ways we didn’t fully anticipate.

For example, when Warlords released, our servers were unable to handle the massive numbers of players trying to log into the game. Our server technicians pulled some absolutely crazy magic to dramatically increase the number of players who could be on a given server at one time. That solved the load issues, but ended up creating a large number of the dismount/de-instancing issues that players who have been testing flight on the PTR will have noticed.

Another example: a few weeks later, some exploits surfaced that were allowing certain players to fly in clearly unintended ways (such as Druids being able to leave Ashran with the Flight Form book still active). We hotfixed those exploits as they came up, but some of those hotfixes broke flying in Draenor in ways that continued even with flying properly enabled.

Obviously, we knew that both of those things were likely to cause some issues, we just severely underestimated how widespread (and difficult to resolve) those issues would be. And we didn’t want to delay rolling out those fixes, because they had major implications for the live game (especially the server stuff), where no one was supposed to be able to fly at the time anyway.

Given the choice between letting thousands more people actually play the game and potentially breaking something that (at the time) we weren’t sure was even going to matter later, it was an easy decision. But even easy decisions have consequences, and now we’re having to deal with those in 6.2.1/6.2.2.

So, again: if you suspected that the new content would cause problems with flight, then why did you choose to heap MORE features on top of flying in his patch, knowing that would cause delays and thus upset people?
Because we knew it wouldn’t, and it hasn’t. None of the other content in 6.2.1/6.2.2 has delayed flying in any way.

There are multiple teams of people here working on multiple things. The people working on fixing up Draenor for flight are not the same people working on Mercenary Mode, or the class tuning changes, or the pets and mounts, etc.

Roleplay: It’s for Everyone.

More thoughts on roleplay today.🙂

There’s been an interesting debate on our server regarding roleplay. Traditionally, and perhaps ideally, roleplay would adhere completely to the lore. So I wouldn’t, for example, play a character that is Thrall and Jaina’s half-orc/half-human love child that has been touched by magic and can turn into a dragon… at least I wouldn’t go around telling everybody that. In the roleplay world that’s called being a Mary Sue, a character that is so unique and powerful that it becomes near impossible to develop any kind of interesting story or back-and-forth with other characters.

There’s also roleplay that extends beyond the boundaries of the Warcraft universe, so for example, roleplaying as StarCraft characters stuck in Azeroth, or roleplay that’s so silly that it becomes a joke. What ends up happening is an inevitable clash between those who prefer their roleplay to be adherent to the lore and who want everyone else’s roleplay to be the same, and those who prefer their roleplay to be sillier and looser. Thing is: there’s room for all types of roleplay. If a group is roleplaying in a way that you personally find distasteful, there’s a very simple solution. Don’t roleplay with them. It’s not rocket science. Nobody is allowed to force their playstyle on another person, but that doesn’t mean that two or more playstyles cannot peacefully coexist side-by-side. This Blizz post from Goroxxigamm on our realm forums confirms this:

Normally we would stay out of this but there continues to be a trend where the environment in a realm forum, which is intended to be a place for players to BUILD community, serves only to do the opposite. So, I am posting here in the hopes that it will do some good.

So to start, the first negative post in this thread seems to have started a lengthy back and forth that likely could have been avoided entirely. Instead of responding to the post it would have been a great deal better simply to ignore it, or even ignore the user that posted it. By responding it adds fuel to the fire and detracts from the original purpose of the thread.

If you believe a post violates the Code of Conduct report it, ignore the person and do not engage.

08/18/2015 04:06 PMPosted by Xeer

I refuse to hold everyone’s hand on #edream.🙂

That would be fine, but actively going out of your way to smash that hand with a mallet, probably something that we can do without.

This is a general statement and not specific to Xeer… The fact of the matter is, regardless of if you approve of someone’s RP or not, there are more appropriate ways to participate in a dialog where you can share you opinion. Let’s not confuse the issue either, it is your opinion and it is no more or less valid than anyone else. That you have it does not give you or anyone else the right to harass, berate or attempt to intimidate others for theirs.

No one serves as grand arbiter of what is or is not RP. Not here and not in the game.


So yesterday I shared about how I came to play on the Emerald Dream RP-PvP server – but I didn’t go into what exactly I consider RP. Roleplay is one of those things that I love the idea of more than I probably enjoy doing it, to an extent. Sitting in a tavern and listening to characters have a in-character conversation is great, and I love being on a server where that is welcomed and available. But when it comes to participating, I sometimes have a difficult time. That same sitting around and having in-character conversations feels weird because in real life I’m not that social either. It feels like I’m always trying to think of things to say and how to word them so as not to offend and keep things fun and interesting, and that’s more like work than anything else. Why yes, I am an introvert, thank you very much.

This changes somewhat though if we’re doing a roleplay event. We’re going to march through the Eastern Kingdoms on our way to pay tribute to Uther’s Tomb? YES. Going to have a Horde vs. Alliance roleplay event with some PvP action. Oh yeah. Costume contests, beach parties, in-character dungeons and raids. Sign me up! I prefer activities where there is action and the subject of conversation isn’t dependent on me, but on whatever we’re doing at the time.

The other aspect of roleplay that I think you don’t hear a lot about is just old-fashioned game immersion. When I play, I do try to get into the mindset of my character and play as her in my head. That doesn’t mean I yell GLORY TO THE ALLIANCE before every pull or speak in archaic dialect. It’s just when I’m killing those 20 muckgoblins, it’s not me playing a video game killing muckgoblins for 13,000 xp and 2 gold. It’s Teaghan Rose Stoutheart of Thelsamar, Initiate of the Argent Crusade and Harbinger of the Light killing those muckgoblins for GREAT JUSTICE and to collect their livers so that this sweet family can have dinner tonight. And sometimes if somebody is questing in the same area and asks me a question, I’ll answer in a dwarvish accent (which isn’t so far from my normal southern accent) so as not to ruin the immersion for them.

I think there’s room for lots of different types and levels of roleplay as well… more on that tomorrow.🙂

The OTHER Emerald Dream

In World of Warcraft, I’ve played on a handful of regular PvE servers (Garona, Terenas, Runetotem) for short periods of time. The far greater amount of time has been spent on Roleplay servers: Feathermoon (first RP server), Steamwheedle Cartel (the one I’ve spent the most time on), The Scryers, Wyrmrest Accord and finally Emerald Dream. Steamwheedle Cartel (SwC) holds such fond memories for me – at the time it was a new, bustling server with an amazing roleplay community, tons of community events, and an active raiding and PvP scene. As it always does on RP realms, drama happened, and when Moon Guard and Wyrmrest Accord came online, most RPers gradually left for a new RP promised land. Over the past several years, SwC’s population has dwindled, with only maybe a handful of RPers left on the server. It’s a sad commentary on the WoW RP community that SwC and so many of the other RP realms are in the same situation – but then again I’m part of the problem.

Sometime during Cataclysm I transferred most of my characters to Wyrmrest Accord. Wyrmrest is GREAT for roleplay, but I found a weird problem there as well: there were SO MANY roleplay guilds, but very few casual, friendly, fun, RP-lite guilds that are my ideal atmosphere. It was almost too much roleplay, with a whole lot of strongly-themed guilds and little room for out-of-character banter. While it’s a great server if you’re a hardcore roleplayer, it just wasn’t a good fit in the long run for me.

Eventually I started researching realms again. I was tired of transferring between realms and drifting. I had a few requirements:

  • RP Server preferred.
  • Room for all playstyles: RP, World Events, Casual, Raiding, PvP.
  • At least a couple interesting looking guilds that I would want to look into joining.
  • POPULATED. I didn’t want to be on a dead server.
  • A good number of my preferred character names available.
  • A sense of community, whatever that was.
  • Active official forums & Facebook. I know, I know, it’s the OFFICIAL FORUMS. But still, that’s a pretty good indicator of population and community.

While researching, an option came up that I had never considered before:

Emerald Dream RP-PvP… PVP

I’m not really a PvPer, I fully admit it. While I have fond memories of running Alterac Valley and the old Southshore/Tarren Mill world PvP zerg battles, I considered PvP servers to be that place where those players go, where you can’t level because everybody is out to gank you and the e-peen reigns supreme. But other than that, it hit all the requirements. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to roll a lowbie there and check it out. And of course, I got ganked in Elwynn Forest.🙂

But I was pleased with what I saw. I contacted the awesome people in <Meddle> and spoke to them about what I was looking for and what it was like being on a PvP server. “Jump on in!” they said. “It’s not so bad, it can actually be fun!”. So I transferred one character over and I’ve been there happily ever since. I do get ganked pretty much every night, sometimes multiple times a night, but it’s important to have the right mindset for it. Just accept that it’s going to happen, and that if you get camped, you’ll just need to move to another area for a little bit. It’s no big deal really, it just adds to the Alliance vs. Horde atmosphere and yes, it does actually add to the immersion and roleplay.

So I’ve been a happy Dreamer ever since. ED like any PvP server has a reputation of being full of drama and rivalries, and it can be a volatile environment at times. But it’s incredibly active and full of life and fun times, and that’s all I really need.

Player Housing? Yes. No. Maybe.

I love player housing. Almost all of my favorite games include it in some form or fashion: Animal Crossing. Wurm Online. World of Warcraft. LotRO. Of course the World of Warcraft version right now is the garrison, but it just isn’t the same. When I think of player housing in a theme park MMO, I think of an actual “house” somewhere in the world, instanced if necessary. It should be customizable, with lots of decorations, exterior and interior options, and music. It’s a place to show off items from the gameplay that you’ve done, plus get a little creative. It’s NOT a place to send followers out on missions, do major crafting, farm profession materials, do defense missions, or sit around all day.

I’m going to say something here that might get me cast out of the MMO blogger community altogether, but here goes: I really don’t care for the EQ2/Rift/Wildstar format of player housing. I know, it’s incredibly customizable! You can build your own crazy thing! But something about that in a highly story-driven and thematic MMO just seems slightly off to me. You may be in a medieval world, but you can build the Starship Enterprise in your personal instance. Or you might be in a futuristic sci-fi game, but you can build a giant medieval castle. That doesn’t seem so crazy to me in a purely sandbox game such as Minecraft, which is for all intents and purposes a blank slate that can be medieval, sci-fi, futuristic, wild west, or any combination of the above, and tells no specific story line. But in a game like EQ2, or Rift, or Wildstar, or even WoW if they were to attempt it, it just seems out of place.

“I’m going to go over to Samurai Jack’s medieval castle and we’re going to play his asteroid platformer jumping puzzle”.

No. Please no.


All The Things!

LotRO’s housing gets a lot of guff from the big boys because it’s not as customizable and comparatively there’s really not a lot going on there, but honestly, I like their housing model the best. It’s a house, themed by race, that you can decorate as you like and show off trophies and items that you’ve crafted, won in seasonal events, or gotten during raids, and it has a modest storage area. That’s about it. There’s no stables, no crafting facilities, no auction house… it’s basically just an extra milestone/hearth. I’m okay with that, because people in LotRO generally don’t hang out at their house all day long. They may stop by once a day to grab something from storage or update a decoration slot, but other than that they’re out in the world. The only thing I would add is the ability to see where your guildmate’s and friend’s housing is, and the ability to quick-port there to check it out.

If they were to implement this in WoW, I would be ecstatic. Instead of Garrisons, this is my concept:

  • Instanced housing zones for all the different races, plus a few neutral options.
  • House locations that you “buy” with weekly or monthly upkeep (gold).
  • The ability to change the color of the exterior walls, doors, and roofs, as well as interior walls, ceilings, and flooring by room.
  • The ability to place any trophy anywhere, interior or exterior. To reduce lag, a limit on how many items you can have in your instance… maybe 100? 200?
  • A jukebox so that you can change your housing theme music.
  • If you kill Onyxia, you get her head to place in your home or yard as you see fit. You could take a shard of Frostmourne from the Lich King, or Garrosh Hellscream’s tusk, or… well, the possibilities are endless.
  • Crafted decorations from each profession. Tailors make carpets, pillows, and drapes. Leatherworkers make nice chairs, rugs, and upholstered items. Smiths get to make candelabras and rod iron furniture. Scribes could make paintings for the walls. Alchemists can make paints and dyes for the interior/exterior. And so on.
  • The ability to have a little for-looks-only stable with some of your favorite mounts and pets.
  • Plaques that can be made from any achievement that you currently have. Did you get Insane in the Membrane in 2010 when it was super-hard? Make a plaque, hang it on your wall, and show it off.
  • The ability to set up “home tours”, basically a set of linked housing instances either between guildmates or friends. People could then go from house to house easily on a tour of sorts.

It honestly isn’t the biggest or most ambitious housing system, but I think it would scratch the player housing itch that so many players have, it wouldn’t be so high-maintenance and indispensable as garrisons are, and players would still be out in the world rather than rotting inside a private instance 24-7.

Stop! It’s Liebster Time!

Liebster-AwardI’m not usually one to participate in chain letters or “random things about you” memes in social media, but I really like the Liebster Award meme that is going around in blog circles, because it does allow us to learn a little more about people in our community. Zyngor recently got his Liebster nomination from Fredelas, and Zyngor in turn nominated Tomeoric and anybody else that wants to join in the Liebster fun. So I’m going to nominate a handful of blogs at the end of this post – read on to see if you were nominated!

First, 10 Factoids about me:

  1. I love animals of all sorts. Growing up our family had 2 dogs, a cat, hamsters, and a rabbit, but I was always catching other critters in the woods behind our house: turtles, snakes, bugs, etc. The snakes were always fun, my mother wouldn’t let them in the house for obvious reasons. The biggest one that I ever handled was a black snake about 2 inches in diameter and 7 feet long. I was 9.
  2. However, I’m deathly afraid of spiders. I will not touch a spider ever. Ever. I prefer to use blowtorches on them if at all possible. Or 2x4s.😉
  3. I was homeschooled for 12 years. The first day that I ever stepped foot in an actual classroom was my first day of college.
  4. When I was 5 I won a bubble-gum blowing contest on-stage with Dolly Parton at Dollywood in East Tennessee. 15 years later I met Dolly Parton again while interning at Dollywood’s business office. She was a doll – she’s exactly as she comes across in the media. I still love blowing the biggest bubbles possible and popping them loud enough to rattle my brain.
  5. The scariest movie I remember was Return to Oz. That was a freaky movie for a little kid. Seriously. A witch that can change heads and those crazy wheelers? I had nightmares for weeks. I love watching it for nostalgia purposes now.
  6. Hidden Talents: Sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, floral design. My first job was at a fabric/craft store. I learned how to do pretty much everything and taught classes. My current retirement plan is to go back to teaching classes again.
  7. I first learned to game when I was 3 and my aunt taught me how to play Pole Position on the Atari 2600 with a joystick. There are a LOT of girl gamers in our family, starting with my aunt and on to myself and several of my cousins. We’re already teaching the next generation of girls.😉
  8. I play the fiddle (badly) and the piano (badly). I tried to learn percussion for a while as well, at this point I’m pretty sure that I have zero instrumental talent.
  9. But I can sing. My voice is a deep alto with a “blue-eyed soul” flair, like Adele or Joss Stone. Throw on some old-school bluesy or jazzy soul music and I can rock it. I’m painfully shy though, so I only ever sing to myself. Such is life.
  10. I’m too sweet and nice and people tend to take advantage of that. I also have a wicked and sarcastic sense of humor that I usually keep a lid on. It always surprises people when I let it out because they have no idea that I think that way.

Now on to the questions that Zyngor posed!

1. Tell us a game (computer, console, board, outdoor) that almost always makes you happy while playing, regardless of outcome.

Animal Crossing. I’ve played each one since the original came out for the Nintendo Game Cube years ago. The gameplay isn’t super-deep, but it’s incredibly happy and the music is sooo relaxing. It always makes me happy to see all the little townsfolk trading shirts, catching bugs, and fishing.

2) If you had one choice of food to solely eat for the rest of your life, regardless of normal dietary needs, what would it be?

Good homemade lasagna. It’s my favorite thing ever.

3) Which piece of gaming equipment started off your hobby?

Technically my aunt’s Atari, but I think it’s also worth mentioning that about a year or so later, my parents bought a Commodore 64. We played games on that and I even started doing some rudimentary programming on that old system. Then another year or two later, we got an NES and that was my first “real” gaming system.


4) What is your favorite soda? Or, other drink?

For soda, I like a 50/50 mix of Coke and Diet Coke. My favorite drink though is a Starbucks Raspberry Mocha Frappucino.

5) If you were to travel across country, would you prefer to go by plane, train, or automobile? Steve Martin or John Candy?

I’d be open to any of the above, but train would be awesome. You’d get to see some of the country while relaxing the whole way. Steve Martin is funnier as far as stand up goes, but I bet John Candy would provide better conversation, so John Candy.

6) Right or left Twix?

Right. Always right.

7) Name a strength of yours that helps define your online persona.

Probably the aforementioned niceness with the wicked sense of humor. I’m typically looser with my thoughts (and tongue) on Twitter than I am in real life, so I guess who I am online is closer than the “real life” me, oddly enough.

8) Which two combined gaming genres strikes your fancy the most? Ie Action & RPG, FPS & Strategy… go wild.

Sandbox Survival and MMO. Now wait, I know you’re thinking that Sandbox Survival MMOs exist. And they do to an extent, but what I’m thinking of has only ever come to actual fruition in Wurm Online. A massively multiplayer persistent world where players get to stake their claim on an area and have to build/create everything needed to survive, but with far more depth than Minecraft. It’s a combo that doesn’t currently have a lot of options – either theoverly simplistic Minecraft or the overly punishing Wurm Online. I’d like something in the middle.
9) Do you even ranch, bro?

Ranch dressing? Sure. I guess?
10) If your life were a meme, what would the tagline read?

“Just be you. Everybody else is taken.”

11) Which movie character/hero would you like to be, and why?

Oh man… definitely Dylan Sanders from the 2000 movie Charlie’s Angels. This is why:

Now as for my nominations, I nominate Aywren, Gryph, Ysharros, and YOU! If you haven’t been specifically nominated but want to participate, absolutely go for it! My questions to you are:

  1. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think?
  2. What would you change about yourself if you could?
  3. What would you sing at Karaoke night?
  4. Who is your favorite author?
  5. List two pet peeves.
  6. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
  7. What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
  8. What song would you say best sums you up?
  9. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  10. What is the best gift you have been given?