Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 29, 2009
What patch 3.3 really changes

World of Warcraft has been patched quite often in the last 5 years, and even big content patches aren't all that rare. Which is why generally patches aren't exciting me much any more. Sure, adding more dungeons and raid dungeons is nice, but ultimately the new dungeons will play pretty much like the old ones did, just with better rewards. And I'm way past getting all bothered because Blizzard "nerfs" this or that class by changing the effect of some talent from 4.3456% to 3.9876% bonus. Having said that, I'm extremely excited about patch 3.3, not because of all this usual stuff, but because of the major changes to social engineering that are in that patch. The big question is: Will patch 3.3 be the patch in which Blizzard after 5 years of countless attempts finally gets the looking for group functionality right?

To summarize the new system in a short feature list, this is what patch 3.3 does to the LFG system, according to MMO Champion:
  • Join as a Group or Solo
  • Cross-Realm Instances/Grouping
  • Instance Teleporting
  • Smarter Group Matching
  • Daily Random Dungeons
  • Repeat Random Dungeons
  • Choose Multiple Dungeons
  • Vote Kick system
  • Lovin’ the PUG Bonuses
  • Looking For Raid
  • Need Before Greed Updated
  • Group Disenchanting
Plus the LFG chat channel will again be disconnected from the LFG system, so maybe finally people will stop using the Trade chat channel to find groups. All this sounds extremely promising, and way more than I had initially hoped for when Blizzard announced cross-server dungeon functionality. These changes make *sense*, for example rewarding people for joining a PuG is the perfect response to PuGs being unpopular.

Of course we will still have to see how all this works out. But at the very least the changes should make finding a group at the level cap a lot easier, and more rewarding. And if I dare to hope, maybe I might even be able to find level-appropriate groups for level-appropriate dungeons for my lower level alts! As I said, Icecrown and all, nice, but ultimately that's just yet another content patch. But if the new LFG system works well, this will have a profound and long-lasting influence on how World of Warcraft is played. Here's hoping.
I'm also excited. I "pugged" my mage to full T9.5 by now. I like the flexibility of pugging and don't like the constrains of normal raiding. Unfortunately I am unable to get into heroic raids this way.

As a sidenote: I probably prefere pugging nowadays, because my life is already organised enough with all the stuff I do to earn money.

During my studies I liked organised raids much more.

I very much look forward to this feature. For once out of curiosity. But I will also use it.

I am a bit disappointed, however, that you cannot join cross server raids. Even on my relatively small server (9k items on AH on average), I never have a problem to do the daily heroic after work. I get invited using the current LFG system within 15 minutes usually.

Trying to find Ulduar10/25 raids or any heroic raids, however, is completely hopeless - even on weekends.
Don't forget, the system automaticly checks your gear level. Saves people gear checking time and you won't get a new level 80 PUGing Ulduar or whatnot.
I'm guardedly optimistic about this.

On the plus side I think it will simply make it much much easier to hit critical mass and get stuff done.

It doesn't however solve long term problems like healing being dull and frustrating in a crappy group or tanking having a very high gear bar to start tanking heroics at 80.

It also removes the social element from grouping to some extent. I met a lot of friends doing pugs. Under this system if I meet someone and enjoy playing with them I can't talk to them or group with them again in-game.

I think it needs cross-server tells and groups too, maybe eventually an Eve-like shardless universe.
I believe Stabs,(maybe I'm wrong here) that once B-net is up and running that cross server (and even cross game) chat was going to be a feature in our brave new world.
I agree Tobold, it's an amazing change overall. I've avoided PUGs extensively over the years... but I intend to try this.

Sure, I'll run into more bad players again... but heck, I'll have more horror stories to tell and it'll at least give me credit towards achievements! Actually, considering that the new system entices even someone like me to use it, maybe enough good players who also avoided PUGs will do likewise... and the ratio of good players to worthless in the PUG pool will increase, and make the experience overall better.
Blizzard is on it's way to merge the servers into one realm as far as possible.

That's also the reason for why I am not complaining about credibility issues.

This is about overcoming technological limitations.

You want as much indirect interaction as possible (quite a lot is possible in todays MMOs if people don't have to look at each other) and also as much direct interaction as possible.

I very rarely say something good about AoC, but they had the right idea here:

One realm with a lot of players. They can interact indirectly on a massive scale. If they need to have direct interaction the realm is split into onto several servers. You can switch servers at will, but game mechanics make sure that every server is at optimum capacity all the time.

As long as we cannot increase this optimum capacity to a massive scale, this is the only way to go for MMO games.

Now, as for Blizzards new MMO, I really hope and also guess that it is EVE-like in the setting. And as we know, the emtyness of space and the distances between 'players' is vast. Therefore you are indeed not that much dependent on such technologies.

I hope Blizzard continues to merge the auction houses, the mail system, the chat (to a reasonable degree), and finally allows us to transfer to another server of the ream back and forth with a single click in-game.

For a game like WoW that is not really dependent on the 'world' any more, but to 99% takes place in dalaran and instances this is only logical.

As some other commenter on another blog already rejoiced: "YES! I will never have to leave Dalaran again".

For the game WoW has become this is actually not even bad.
I'm excited about the cross server LFG system too. Gonna make leveling up so much more fun and getting groups a breeze (hopefully). My biggest complaint with WoW has always been it's lack of social interactivity and bias toward quest grinding. Hopefully this will change things :)
"As some other commenter on another blog already rejoiced: "YES! I will never have to leave Dalaran again". "

This makes me oddly depressed for some reason.
I'm looking forward to being able to do 5-mans with my rl friends on another server....I hope....

Is there any news about how the "cross server lfg" will interact with battlegroups ?
ie is it limited to battlegroups, or complete cross server ?
What about languages? Now I must learn english to play in an Instance? Or the corss-server is only for servers of the same languages?
@ Askander ah, of course, BNet will bring us some good then.

@ Spinks I know what you mean but being one of the people who flew to instances while the other 4 idled at the auction house was even worse.
This is a step in the right direction, although ofcourse it won't solve everything - nor it should be expected to. A good change though, looking forward to it.
I'm all for all the changes except those to the LFG channel.

I don't see how having the LFG channel disconected from the LFG tool will make any positive difference.

Currently LFG is a worldwide channel, from what I've heard in 3.3 LFG channel will only work in cities. I currently use LFG when I'm at the stone and need 1-2 more players, I form 90% of my groups while already in the field. If you have to go to a city to use LFG why not just use Trade or general? There is no advantage.

I don't expect LFG channel to get any more "valid" use in 3.3 than now. If anything it will become corrupted like the other city only channels. Currently LFG is the only channel in my chat box that doesn't get spammed with trash.

Is it really that hard to use LFG channel today? Open social, LFG, turn auto join off, and mark a dungeon or zone, to enter LFG channel? That is the first thing I do when I log on. Enter LFG for something like Storm Peaks, keep an eye on LFG to see if any groups catch my interest.

Today if you want to make a group

In field - Use zone general or LFG channel

In City - Use city general, Trade, or LFG channel

In 3.3

In field - Use zone general.

In City - Use city general, Trade, or LFG channel

As you can see you are losing options not gaining - in regards stictly to chat channels.
As a ex player with a young family, I find it hard to organize to sit at the computer for 2 hours at a preset time.

I used to love PUGing and was mainly interested in 5 man runs ( more intimate than raids )

this may tempt me back, as if I have a spare hour ot 2 free, I can jump on find a pug, and get it done, rather than spend 45-60 mins trying to get it set up, or a lower level, it's not even an option....

looking forward to reading how this goes...
I'm with Steven. Losing anywhere LFG channel will suck. I like being able to quest or fish or work on achievements out in the wilderness somewhere while monitoring LFG in case something I want to PUG is mentioned. Especially something like an old school raid that doesn't happen very often. Having to park in a city for that makes it nearly worthless.

I do not understand their hatred of a global chat channel. It's INCREDIBLY useful and at least on my (high-pop old) server it never gets misused.
Interesting tweaks.

As for the PuG rewards: that's a neat idea but I really do not see how it will be feasible to actually make this system work in the long run.

I already foresee people kicking randoms they don't want and rolling again until they get their friend who put himself up for a random pick.

I wouldn't even be surprised if someone makes a UI mod to help you make sure you and your buddies all end up in the same PuG.
I've been having the "I want to play WoW again" feeling lately.

Maybe with this patch :)
Sounds as though they're making B.Net closer and closer to a Steam model.

Crossgame and crossrealm communication will be a great paradigm shift for WoW.

I'm looking forward to how they use it with Diablo III as well.
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