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The Queue: Blizzard laying down the law, instability


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky (@adamholisky) will be your host today.

I only answered two questions today, but that's because I think both are good to highlight and talk about. Plus you all don't need me to ramble on for 1,500 words in a Queue.

Unless you want to talk about your favorite kinds of cheese again, then I can go on forever.

Gamer4279 asked:

With all these changes in WoD to raiding and restrictions and stuff, it looks to me that Blizzard is finally taking a strong hand with the community and saying "Hey. Listen. This is what is good for the game, this is what needs to be done." (pushing players from lfr into normal raiding, the pvp changes, removing flying, number squish etc) and essentially trying to bring wow back to what vanilla/bc enthusiasts would call "its former glory". Is this a good stance for Blizzard to take? Is it time for them to lay down the law and do what needs to be done for the extended health of the game?

I don't think there's a popcorn gif that's suitable for this question, but I'll take a stab at it anyways.

I think you're philosophically correct. There's a lot that Blizzard is doing with WoD that's them saying "this enhances gameplay." Part of the problem with this expansion rollout so far is that the definition of "game" has morphed so dramatically over the last ten years.

A game needs to be fun, yes, but that fun is bookended by positive and negative results. If you don't kill a mob before he kills you, you die -- and you feel bad. But if you succeed and kill the mob, you live -- and you feel good. It's a basic binary feeling, and of course it gets more complex, but this positive results / negative consequences paradigm is at the heart of all good games.

WoW has, due to a variety of factors, tilted too far to the "feeling good" side of things. Flying is the best example. It feels great to fly around the world and plop down to do quests and kill exactly the mob you need. But it doesn't give you any sort of negative consequence anywhere along the line. There's no disadvantage to flying, there's nothing to be gained by not doing it. Blizzard has seen this and said "Let's make the game have real choices" -- so they removed flying for the first part of WoD. Now we're forced to pay attention to the surroundings, not just skip over content.

This is all leading to a return to the base definition of what a game is, a fun activity. Now when you can actually complete your quest it's going to be more meaningful when you don't die along the way. When you do die, you're going to learn (quickly) that the path you took isn't any good.

Now is this Blizzard forcing these changes down our throats? No, I don't think it is. I think this is them gently returning the game to its core: being a game. I fully expect this is not the first change the community is going to get up in arms about. There will be others, and I'm quite happy for it.

Bhuta asked:

Okay, so what's with the maintenance and login issues? Generally speaking, wow is incredibly stable (in fact I can only think of a handful of times that I've wanted to play and couldn't--and usually a brief rolling restart would fix it). Don't get me wrong, I bank on Tues mainenance, and never plan to play before 3 eastern... but, Tues night the launcher was all wonky and I couldn't get in (tried for over an hour) and now we're in unannounced maintenance on a Thurs morning? I'm sure the two are related... but it'd be nice to hear from Blizz what's going on. I know it's more timing than anything, but it really stings when you've only got a few hours to play here and there and it just so happens to coincide with such problems.

I wouldn't get too concerned over what's going on with WoW just yet. Blizzard does an absolute ton of behind-the-scenes upgrades to everything that we see and don't see, and often times these upgrades can cause problems. Sometimes it's just a little hiccup, while others it's being down for an extended period, or continued issues like we've seen over the last week.

Keep in mind that Blizzard is on the absolute bleeding edge of mass media and content delivery. The server interactions that take place over their game client's interactions isn't overly complex, but when you have millions upon millions of them happening several times a second, things get absolutely insane. That's why there's issues, and why no matter how much Q&A is done, there is no system in place to simulate that kind of environment, which leads to odd bugs coming up now and then. Just part of the game, so to speak.

Have questions about the World of Warcraft? The WoW Insider crew is here with The Queue, our daily Q&A column. Leave your questions in the comments, and we'll do our best to answer 'em!

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