Classic AMA With WoW Classic dev

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Today, Blizzard did an AMA on reddit, which we will go through the most interesting ones here. You can read all the questions and answers here.

Don’t forget to tune in for World of Warcraft : Classic which is scheduled for 27 August.

Lets start with questions surrounding restart and downtimes before launch first.

  • Will we see a maintenance downtime the morning after Launch?

We are not currently planning a maintenance downtime for the morning after launch.

Here the answer

Since Blizzard warned people of high population of Herod and Shazzrah realms just a few days ago, let’s take a look at Population questions and answers.

  • Do you have a contingency plan to deal with a larger-than-expected population? Suppose as many people create characters in the 24 hours before and after launch as have done so already — how quickly will you be able to add new servers?

We have contingency plans in place to bring up additional realms quickly if needed. We may also integrate character transfers (this ultimately became a service in original WoW.)

As you can imagine, it’s difficult for us to gauge how many people will come to play Classic and stay on to experience max-level content. Ultimately, we want to see realms with healthy stable populations so we’ll try to match demand without inadvertently creating low population realms in the process.

  • can you provide some rough idea of what you expect the minimum time in queue to be at launch? Can you elaborate in any way on some on the expected queue lengths (preferably in length of time) at launch?

On the most popular servers, such as Herod and Shazzrah, we are currently estimating lengthy queue times – up to several hours or more in certain instances. That is why we strongly encourage players to use the name reservation period to transfer their characters and their guilds to lower pop realms.

Now let’s take a look at how Blizzard wants to manage the high population (based on this answer). For those who don’t know, Layering is an alternate version of Phasing (which causes mobs to disappear at once from your screen). Layering will not merge realms together, it only create another instance of itself, from the beginning of the realm start and people who log in will be placed on one of the layers. You can’t change layers unless you get invited by a person from another layer.

This answer is a lengthy one. If you want a tl;dr, I wrote one at the end ot the answer.

  • Could you reiterate and clarify this and your current intentions and plans with layering, server caps and handling population at launch and in the future now that you’ve had the chance to study and tweak it during the stress test?

We’ve seen some confusion about layering, both about how it helps support our launch, and how it’s supposed to behave while its active, so I’d like to both speak to it and clear up some misconceptions about it.

First, we’re absolutely committed to reducing to one layer per realm before our second content phase goes live, and the sooner we can get there, the better. The reason we can’t do that initially is that on launch day, everybody will be clustered in the starting zones, and having players so close together causes an exponential drain on server resources. In fact, the same number of players cause more server problems crammed into Northshire than they do spread across all of Elwynn Forest. We expect that even after the first couple of days, we’ll need fewer layers than we need for the initial hours of launch, and our stress tests have confirmed that expectation.

A related concern that was raised during our pre-launch test was that capital cities felt empty, but that only occurred because we left the pre-launch test running two days past its original end date, and we didn’t reduce the number of layers at all during that test. During our launch week, as the players spread out across the world, we’ll monitor activity and reduce layers as necessary, so the world continues to feel full.

Some players have suggested using sharding in low level zones to address launch demand, both because we talked about that at Blizzcon, and because it’s what they’re used to from our modern expansions. Unfortunately, while modern WoW has content designed to work with sharding, WoW Classic does not. The most obvious example of incompatible content is Rexxar’s famously long patrol path, but there are lots of other examples throughout WoW Classic. Since we want all that content to work as it was originally designed, we’ve made sure that every layer is a copy of the entire world, so you can kite Anachronos all the way to Orgrimmar, and you can ride the boat from Ratchet to Booty Bay with the same people alongside you the whole way.

Some players have asked us to use realm caps and login queues to handle the demand, and while those are tools we have at our disposal, we don’t want to rely on them exclusively, because they keep people from playing the game.

One of the most frequently reported problems during our tests was players transferring to a layer for what seemed like no reason. There were several bugs that caused this, and we’re confident we’ve fixed them. At this point, the only thing that should cause you to change layers is accepting an invite from a player on another layer. Additionally, it should always transfer the player who was invited to the layer of the player who invited them.

Nonetheless, after accepting an invite, the layer transfer doesn’t always happen immediately, because we don’t want to transfer you in the middle of combat, or before you get a chance to loot. During our pre-launch test, we saw a few reports of what seemed like random layer transfers, but when we investigated, we realized this was due to us making that transfer delay too long. The delay was so long that players could unintentionally chain one delay into another by starting combat immediately after looting. Because of those reports, we’ve fixed the transfer delay to give you enough time to loot, without being so long that you’re left wondering why you can’t join your friend. We’ll keep an eye on that, and we may decide to reduce it further.

We’ve also seen reports of people transferring suddenly at the entrances to capital cities, which was related to the transfer delays. If you’re waiting to transfer to your friend’s layer, and you enter a capital city, we ignore the delay and transfer you immediately. The long delays were making it more likely that you’d enter a capital with a transfer pending, and now that we’ve reduced the transfer delay, it will be a bit more clear that your transfer was the result of accepting a group invitation.

Regarding PvP, we saw many posts from players wondering if getting invited to a party is a good way to escape from PvP combat. I’m pleased to say there’s actually a separate, longer transfer delay following any PvP combat. We know a lot of world PvP enthusiasts are excited for WoW Classic, and we don’t want the additional layers to feel like they’re robbing you of your kills. When the time comes to withdraw from the fight, you’ll have to escape from your enemies and get to a safe place before you’re able to join your friends on another layer.

I’d also like to clarify how multiple layers work with logout. Early in our stress testing, players reported that logging out and back in would let you hop to a new layer to farm the same mineral or herb node on different layers. That was a bug, and we’ve fixed it. Your layer assignment now persists for a few minutes between logouts, long enough that by the time the game would choose a new layer for you, that node would have respawned on its own anyway.

Too long; Didn’t read :

  1. Blizzard wants to reduce the layers to one before phase 2.
  2. at the world won’t feel empty because they will be monitoring layers and removing them if necessary.
  3. Classic can’t support Phasing, as some people suggested using it.
  4. They don’t want to rely on extended queues and higher caps of realms.
  5. the only thing that will change your layer is getting invited from another layer. Everything else is a bug.
  6. There is a delay which after that you will be transferred to another layer to give you chance to complete a fight or loot. Delay after a PvP combat is higher.
  7. You can’t logout and log in to change layer to farm. The delay is high.
  • What are plans for phase 2 if some realms are horrifically overpopulated at 50K+ players? Will layering stay?

We’re absolutely committed to reaching one layer per realm by Phase 2. This is why we need to have upper bounds on the number of players connected to the realm at one time, and queue players past that point. That, of course, is why we’re willing to open new servers if necessary, and we’ve even started doing that in response to the incredibly positive reception we’ve had during the name reservation period!

Now that layering is out of the way, Let’s read about Character Transfers.

  • Will you offer free realm transfers if servers get way overpopulated after launch?

This is definitely one of the options we are considering. But for now, we are encouraging players to use the name reservation period to transfer their characters to lower population realms.

I have to add, although the dev said about free transfers, paid transfers will be coming later. Read it here.

And let’s see if everything stays the same.

  • For the Gates of AQ event, are you guys keeping the resources and amounts the same for turn-ins or can we expect you to have a few tricks up your sleeves to prevent stockpiling prior?

#nochanges

In all seriousness, one of our core pillars is to recreate the original experiences as authentically as possible. This will extend to the required resources of the AQ War Event. We realize there is nothing we can do to unwind the knowledge gained over the years. What we do have control over is ensuring that World of Warcraft Classic matches as closely as possible to the original 1.12. data.

  • Will Mankrik’s wife be moved to recreate an authentic Vanilla experience?

nochanges

Devs are stubborn with this one it seems, don’t ask.

Well it seems there might be some changes after all.

  • What are your plans for server reset days for Classic?
    Will it align with retail reset days? Tuesday NA/Wednesday EU?
    Have you thought of having a separate day for Classic reset to offset a little?

The raid reset points have been restored to their original 1.12 values.
Classic operates as part of our general World of Warcraft infrastructure. Our goals are to minimize service downtime and maximize availability. In some weeks we might not need to take realms down for maintenance.

  • How does that work with the honour calculations? They were always done in downtime.

When restoring the honor calculation code we re-wrote it so it can work while the game is live. Realms do not need downtime for honor to update.

Ohhhh boy

And let’s see bug fixes from Vanilla

  • The only thing I wanna know is, can we still pull Lord Kazzak to Stormwind?

Kazzak has a hard leash in 1.12. But there are other bosses in the world that do not!

  • Could you clarify what the intended limits are and how players will know they’re at the player cap for a certain dungeon?

Hi ZeldenGM, thanks for the question!This was indeed a bug that we have fixed and you should be able to enter most lower-level dungeons with up to 10 players, as was possible in Original WoW 1.12. There are some dungeons that had specific caps by the end of Original WoW however. To be specific, all lower level dungeons available through Maraudon should have a player cap of 10, with Blackrock Depths, Scholomance, Stratholme, and Dire Maul being capped at 5 players.
As was the case in Original WoW 1.12, Blackrock Spire should also have a cap of 10 players.

  • On certain private servers (unsure how this worked back in the day) you would only get locked to an Onyxia ID if you were inside the instance when she died. This meant 30 people could hearth out when she was at .5% HP and the loot would only have to be split between the remaining 10 people. This “trick” allowed you to clear Onyxia multiple times per reset.

This is not possible in Classic. All players who were in the instance when Onyxia is engaged will be locked.

  • There is a bug in classic that exists in retail. Hunter and warlock pets take an absurd amount of time to respond to commands. So far, Blizzard has refused to even acknowledge this bug when people bring it up. Can you please acknowledge it and tell us *when* it will be fixed? Pets should not take ~1 second to respond to commands to attack, switch targets, or back off!

We’ve fixed several bugs with pet commands throughout the WoW Classic beta, thanks to a ton of super detailed reports from the beta and stress tests. As several posters have pointed out, we’ve resolved many of the issues with pet responsiveness already, and I can confirm that several recent bug fixes have brought Hunter and Warlock pet responsiveness well in line with their behavior in the Reference client. If any other issues pop up, we will be quick to investigate them and take action as needed.

  • What are some interesting hiccups or bugs you guys hit in redeveloping vanilla?

There was a bug when two priests mind control each other the mind control itself would cancel out but the camera would still switch to each other. The result is both priests would be stuck watching each other move around which hilarious and very confusing.

To me it seems “Working as intended.”
  • Spell bactching seems to be causing problems with aoe abilities such as people being able to run over hunters traps and it not going off or running through mages blizzard spell and not getting hit or slowed by it and many more aoe abilities.. are there any thoughts about lowering the spell batching delay or another way to fix these issues?

This is actually not related to spell batching. Traps and AoE abilities check for the presence of targets during a heartbeat update. If the target moves through them between two heartbeat updates they will not notice the target. This is how it was in the original 1.12.

  • How are you going to handle world buffs?

World buffs are going to function exactly as they did in 1.12 which is to say that they will remain available and will not be restricted when new phases are rolled out.
Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer will have a cooldown. You will need to wait for the current Onyxia or Nefarian head to despawn before being able to regain the buff from a new turn-in.

And lastly, Let’s end it with a very good question about the future of Classic.

  • What are the plans after Phase 6? More content for classic or moving to TBC?

We’ve done most of the hard work by bringing back 1.12 so progressing to Burning Crusade would be a lot easier for us. Our plan is to identify everything we need to do should we ever decide to go this route. We want to be sensitive to the desires of our players. Some may want BC and some may not. We’ll be following the Classic community closely to help determine what our next steps should be.

Looking forward for other expansions.

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