Cata Travel Part 2 – Further Contemplations

While getting all of my characters that are 80 out of Dalaran and back to Ironforge or Stormwind in preparation for the release I saw MMO-Champion’s Compilation Post, and while looking through all of the information we already knew it dawned on me another “reason” for the removal of the portals in Dalaran and Shattrath.  One word sums up the reason, Archeology.

Honestly if it is Portals or a new Profession that gives BoA Epics of quality 359 I would chose the Portals any day of the week.  Items can and will be replaced.  Quick Travel from point A to point B is priceless.  So to be able to “justify” to all of the hardcore raiders that have contempt for casual players everyone now has to suffer increased travel times just so the Time/Investment to Reward ratio is higher and will somehow equalize it a little between the different playing groups.

So in the end there is no good justification to the removal of the portals.  It sure as hell will not reduce lag, well maybe in Dalaran and Shattrath but it will become 10-100 times worse in Stormwind and Ogrimmar.  Why is this well that is what I will get into below as we look at why Dalaran and Shattrath were lag fests to begin with.

Lag and Blizzard’s Failure Dealing with It

In my Incentives and Planning post I made in May(09) last year I throw around some theoretical numbers dealing with bandwidth limits at the server end, not to mention processing requirements.  Then if everything is working well at the network layer you still have graphic lag which is usually what everyone experiences.  This previous post dealt with some of the changes that at the time had either just occurred or were going to occur to Wintergrasp.

So in that post one of the issues I mentioned was that Wintergrasp was over incentivized which was lending to some of the really bad lag spikes and in some cases were lending to server stability problems.

This is exactly the same issue that occurred previously with Dalaran and Shattrath in addition to the Graphics upgrade each of these cites were used to showcase in both expansions.  Now we are seeing and will see worse examples of this in Stormwind and Ogrimmar and unlike the previous 2 examples this will not just effect level cap characters, but characters of all levels while leveling through the new Azeroth.

How to fix the Problem

When this is deemed an issue, I hope/bet sometime between now and 4.1 what can be done to solve it or at least alleviate it some.  There are several things that will need to be done in no particular order.

  • Duplicate 2 Auction Houses and Banks in each Capital city, Dalaran and Shattrath can be kept at one now that it is better than none.
  • Instant/Portal travel between Capitols of each Faction, either fully connected or single pass through, preferably fully connected.  Portals can be level restricted but should be available no matter what by 58 same as the short cut to the Dark Portal from each of the Capital cities.
  • Fishing/Cooking and all other profession dailies that are now in Stormwind have equivalents that are not repeatable between cites per day in all of the other capitols.

These last 2 are the keys to spreading the pain and minimizing some of the geometric communication and graphical lag that occurs when you have many many players in one place.  Let the players do what they want/need to do but allow it to be done from many locations and the players will selectively spread themselves out.  If there is fast travel it encourages players to be more mobile and then you don’t have the entire player base setting their heart in one location to travel.  If there are more places with reasons to be there and fast travel to and from those locations, the players will spread themselves out.  If a player is then having issues you can just say go somewhere else because there is some place.  At the moment and with the design of the last 2 capitols in each expansion respectively this was not the case.

You see this happen in LotRO as well.  The city of Man Bree, is a central transportation Hub and has links to many of the far flung zones.  Also since travel is even more of a pain in the ass than it is in WoW you have many players grouping up around the Skirmish vendors for gear because it is the most time/cost effective way to level and get gear.  Skirmishes become extremely repetitive and boring but if it is the best/fastest way to effectively level and get gear that is what the players will do.  The goal/job of the designers which both Turbine and Blizzard have failed to varying degrees over time is creating multiple nearly equivalent ways to progress, it is a bitch but it is necessary otherwise you become a 1 trick pony for content.

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