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On lag and communication: Two interrelated issues


On Thursday, January 8th Nethaera sent out a memo to all the fan sites asking them to announce it, and Eyonix posted on the forums for all the rest of us. Latency and connectivity issues will be fixed in patch 3.0.8. The crowds cheered, babies cried in joy, and dog and cats started to live together. The world would be right again.

Fast forward 15 days later.

The high latency while raiding places like Naxxramas and Malygos is still there. The servers are still packed with queue. The patch was a near disaster. And we're still getting bug reports in every 10 minutes, both in comments and via our tip-line.

Many people want to know why this hasn't been fixed. People are out looking for blood. The whole head on a pike sort of thing.

A better way to approach the situation is to try to come up with contingency plans and other activities to do. If Blizzard cannot get their servers to work, to the point that many consider the game playable, then people will need to focus on other aspects of the game or try to work around the problematic parts.

On the couple servers I play on many of the top guilds have decided to stop raiding for the night if there are any problems with high latency in the raid instances. On Alex's server people raid only for a couple hours after 10pm when the queues and population have dropped off. And still other guilds I know have just said forget it completely and are on hiatus until these issues are fixed.

For me, the latency has encouraged me to pickup my alts and start to power level them through Outland / Northrend. I'm doing about a level every other day for a few alts. It's not particularly hard either, with the rest bonus and how easy it is to get through 58 to 70 now.

However for many the latency and continuous issues present in the game are getting to a point beyond annoying. The lack of communication from Blizzard isn't helping much either. While Ghostcrawler has been very forthcoming about the problems that exist in his department (game design and internal game mechanics), there has been a serious lack of communication from the rest of Blizzard on the other issues.

The communication that I believe we are all looking for goes beyond just the announcements and platitudes about the servers being down for maintenance. The communication I believe we need is something more. Let me pretend I'm Blizzard for a moment. I'll put on my blue makeup, crack my role playing fingers, and write what I think would be good communication from the blues (I give props to Kevin Smith and his constant role playing on Smodcast for this idea):

Dear community,

We've recently found ourselves facing serious latency, connectivity, and in-game problems. This is an unfortunate and very frustrating situation for all of us. We are working day and night to solve these problems, and ask that you are patient while we undertake the development and testing that will be necessary to fix the multitude of issues present.

We are all players too. We go home after work to play the game only to be greeted by hour queues and endless lag as we try to conquer Naxxramas and Malygos. We hate that. Nothing is more disappointing for us in-game than to have to call a raid because the severs are not working. We're there. We understand where you're coming from. We hear you loud and clear.

While we can't promise you a timeframe for the fix to this, we can promise you that everyone in the company is dedicated to bringing you the best experience possible in game. Fixing these things is all we're talking about at work, it's all we're focused on at the moment.

In our years as a company we've grown from a small organization to one of the largest gaming companies in the world. And while we've added countless numbers of personnel to our ranks, and spend millions of dollars developing products, the one thing that has remained consistent is our unending devotion to bring to you a good game to play.

We still have that devotion, and we still want to deliver to you a great time. We ask for your support as we work to make this a reality again.




Okay, now wouldn't that be a bit of better communication than:

" We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your patience while we work to resolve these issues." (source)

Now I've worked high up in a company where communication had to be precise and well thought out, even ran by lawyers to make sure we weren't going to get ourselves in trouble. There is no doubt that a statement like the one I RP-ed would take a day to produce. But in the end it would provide something much better, much more personal, and much more understandable than the current dogma that is coming out of the mouths of the majority of the blues.

No one is asking for the world here. All people want to know is when, and what, is being done to fix this.

I have gotten to know some of the people at Blizzard, both directly and through reporting on what they say. I know that they are good and dedicated individuals. But someone over there needs to come out and start talking with everyone honestly about what is going on and what they are doing to fix it. All this QQ is getting a bit much, and everyone just wants to get back to playing the game and enjoying this great social environment again.

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