Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Server Merges in WoW Classic

It looks like WoW Classic is actually going to do server merges in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King. Shintar has a good post on the changes. It's a pretty big change for Blizzard, as they've always avoided server merges in the past. 

It will be interesting to see how they handle names, especially for the people still playing on the smaller servers. It's quite likely that their names will already be taken on the larger server that they will be transferred to, possibly by a character who is no longer subscribed.

Hopefully they do something like the subscriber keeps the name if a non-subscriber has it. Still, for the subscriber vs subscriber case, I bet there will be a lot of complaints.

I'm generally in favour of experiments, so good for Blizzard for trying something different.

One experiment I'd like to see--maybe with the next Season of Mastery--is very strong faction and server balance restrictions. If the Horde or Alliance gets more than 1% larger, lock the larger faction, preventing new players to the server from making characters. Similarly keep the server populations in lockstep, and prevent mega-servers from forming. Disallow faction transfers. Have these restrictions be based on the number of accounts that played in the last week or so.

Blizzard has always shied away from things like this, except when a server is truly overloaded. They've felt that it's better to live with unbalanced servers than have friends be unable to play with each other. But I think Classic has shown that the playerbase will actively make balance problems worse. So I think it's worth experimenting and seeing what happens if balance is enforced, and mega-servers are prevented from coming into being.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

First Impressions of Diablo: Immortal

First off, I'm not going to discuss monetization in this post. I've observed before that F2P ends up poisoning the conversation around the game, and I'd like to to discuss the game itself. As well, I'm still pretty low level, and haven't reached a point where the monetization actually impacts me.

Diablo: Immortal is a Free-2-Play mobile phone/tablet game, though it does have a PC version. The PC version is technically a beta, but as character data is shared between mobile and PC, it's live for all intents and purposes.

Now, I don't actually play any games on my phone. But I decided to try D:I on the phone given that it's the native environment. I have an iPhone X, so a couple generations behind the very latest. The game ran pretty well. Controls are fairly straightforward and easy to use. Your left thumb controls a "joystick" for movement, and your right thumb presses the attack and ability buttons.

However, after about 5-10 minutes, my phone got uncomfortably hot. I'm not sure if this is normal, or if it's just a little too old, or if I should have turned down the settings. But in any case, I removed D:I from my phone and installed it on PC. Everything carried over, so I picked up where I left off.

Diablo: Immortal is a somewhat simplified Diablo III. Most of the classes and abilities are very similar to D3 abilities. However, there's only one primary attack, and 4 extra abilities, plus one ultimate ability. No runes modifying abilities so far. Abilities appear to be cooldown-based so far.

I'm playing a Crusader. Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard, and Necromancer are also available.

The story is very Diablo, featuring many characters from the series. It's also rather grim, maybe aiming a little more towards Diablo II. It's pretty standard, you're chasing down and trying to destroy Shards of the Worldstone, which are being used by a variety of bad guys. For now I'm just following the main questline, but there are dungeons, bounties and a couple types of rifts you can also do.

D:I is kind of an MMO, but one where playing with others is very optional (at least so far). For example, you see other people when running around in the world, and you can opt to do dungeons and rifts with others using automated match-making. But if you don't want to play with others, you can do the dungeons and rifts solo.

The UI is interesting. It's obviously meant for mobile. So for example, there's no right-click or drag-and-drop in the UI. Everything is button-based. It does have a nice feature where gear and menu items have a red gem on them if you can do something with them.

You can upgrade rare items and gems. In a nice twist, if you equip a new item, you can automatically "transfer" the upgraded level and gems.

Diablo: Immortal is clearly a mobile game. The graphics are decent enough, but obviously meant for mobile. It's lacking a lot of the bells and whistles that a PC game would have. For example, it doesn't have destructible barrels and jars, which is pretty traditional for Diablo.

If you feel like playing more Diablo, give Diablo:Immortal a whirl.