Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cross-Realm Zones

I love Blizzard. Their playerbase is busy arguing about pandas and their dances. Then out of left field, Blizzard goes, "Hey guys, cross-realm zones. And they're seamless."

Ahh, Blizz, raising the bar for everyone else. Never stop.

I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of sharded servers. An end to the time when specific servers corresponded to specific pieces of hardware. Rumor has it that Blizzard basically operates a cloud of servers now, like Google, and the servers are all virtual.

I was wondering how they managed to put a million people in the Pandaria Beta with only four Beta servers.

I strongly suspect that Titan, Blizzard's next generation MMO, will be a single world for all players. Or possibly a world for each language and ruleset combination. And if Blizzard makes that truly seamless, with minimal or zero load screens, it will be an impressive feat.


  1. So they rediscovered Guild Wars 1? The fixed shards have always been a bad idea made real mostly for technical reasons.

  2. If they have a cloud of servers and make it work across servers, I'm just shuddering at what that'll do to Org and SW on a busy day. It'll make Dal and Shat on Patch Day look like a stroll in the park.

  3. Right now it is only for lowbie zones, it's intended to try and increase the apparent population in places that are otherwise dead (WoW might as well be single-player until you reach max level at this point). I would imagine the system is build around ensuring that they don't overload any specific locations.

    I have mixed would kind of kill "server community" but at the same time it would make the entire population a single community.

  4. LOL. WoW.... when it's not 5 year ahead of the competition, it's always up to taking good ideas and implementing them, usually BETTER.
    I hope they manage to have something similar to LotRO's dynamic layers (or STO zone instances), but done more seamlessly and, more important, as a step towards the end of servers.

  5. So, when this gets implemented, if you're in a lowbie zone and you're alone, you can be satisfied in the knowledge that across all of WoW you're the only one in the Ghostlands.

  6. Do you think this is really going to change the playing experience much? I mean most people level solo these days and there aren't many group quests in the levelling zones anyway.

  7. I think the aim is twofold:
    - give the illusion that the world is less empty (there's nothing saying "leave now" more than a deserted newbie zone)
    - save server power: why keep a zone allocated somewhere with 1 player when you can just send the player in another instance which is already populated? Even with a single player, the NPCs are still walking around... wasted resources!

  8. > Even with a single player, the NPCs are still walking
    > around... wasted resources!

    I wonder if they are. It's not uncommon, in low level zones, to approach a camp of mobs and you see (and hear) them all buff themselves with their selfbuff right at the moment they start to appear on your screen. I would assume mobs go into some kind of "sleep mode" if no player is around for some time.

  9. Probably focusing on the Lowbie zones because they've stated several times that most of the players that stop playing never make it to level 20. The biggest complaint they have from new players is that the MMO has no people to play with.

    If they can increase the number of people that make it past 20 then they keep subs stable longer.

  10. Only thing I am not completely sold on is the resource sharing part of the FAQ. Going to zones to farm old mats is easy now - no one there, and that's the way I like it. But with cross realm zones, might be a bit harder to get mats if there are 15 servers of people grouped together in one zone.

    Otherwise, woot!

  11. @sam-- If that's right, then combining the lowbie zones may seem at first a good idea. However, what happens if a new player starts playing and hooks up with some other fellow newbies, only to discover that they can't create a guild because they're cross server?

    This seems like a clever way around the newbie issue, until people migrate past that and into zones that are suddenly empty.