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Blizzard Addressed Layering Concerns

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Blizzard today provided more information about, layering, the new technology invented specifically for WoW Classic, to clear up some common misconceptions surrounding it.

Check out our WoW Classic Hub for the latest Classic news!

We posted about the downsides to layering a while ago, and during the latest Reddit AMA, Blizzard provided more details about how the technology is going to work and it seems they've fixed plenty of bugs that we previously saw on Beta. 

  • The team is committed to reducing to one layer per realm before the second content phase goes live.
  • The reason why they're implementing layering is because of overcrowded starting zones. They expect things to get better a few days after launch and will reduce the number of layers that will be needed for the initial hours of launch.
  • There were bugs that caused players to switch to a layer for no apparent reason, but those were fixed on Beta.
  • After accepting an invite, the layer transfer won't happen automatically. They don't want you to transfer in the middle of combat before you receive loot.
  • This transfer delay is non-existent at entrances to capital cities.
  • They've implemented a separate and longer transfer delay following any PvP combat, so as to avoid switching between layers while PvPing.
  • Your layer assignment will persist for a few minutes between logouts.

Click here to read our Reddit AMA Recap!

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source )

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?

I'm so glad you asked this question.

We’ve seen some confusion about layering, both about how it helps support our launch, and how it’s supposed to behave while it's 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.

I hope that all makes things a bit more clear.

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One of the significant differences between Vanilla and present was being in an open chaotic  world where everyone was climbing over everyone else. Yes, waiting for mob drops was annoying, but it was part of the experience. I understand why they are using layering, but it detracts from the World experience. Players are motivated by seeing other players around them attempting the same task.

BFA's phasing ruined the leveling experience for me. Most importantly, server identity is critical in a classic environment. Seeing the same player names over and over as you explore can foster relationships.

Edited by Abom
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29 minutes ago, Abom said:

One of the significant differences between Vanilla and present was being in an open chaotic  world where everyone was climbing over everyone else. Yes, waiting for mob drops was annoying, but it was part of the experience. I understand why they are using layering, but it detracts from the World experience. Players are motivated by seeing other players around them attempting the same task.

BFA's phasing ruined the leveling experience for me. Most importantly, server identity is critical in a classic environment. Seeing the same player names over and over as you explore can foster relationships.

Layering doesn't prevent any of that. Even with layering, zones are gonna be absolutely packed, especially early on. And if those people stick around, you will be able to see them again once layering is gone.

Waiting for spawns is one thing, the game being even remotely playable is another. If the stress test is anything to go by, than it will be impossible to get anything done as a solo player for the first few days. There is a limit not just in terms of hardware but just in overall game design to how many people can play at the same time. The game is designed for 2-3k people. You can't have 30k play at the same time and still have everything work, especially if all of them are in the starting zones.

So the only alternative to layering are either endless queues or more servers. More servers means some of them will become underpopulated, which means they have to be merged, which is the exact same thing as turning off layering, only now, instead of having one community that isn't always 100% in the same layer, you have two seperate communities forced together. I have experienced a merger on retail, and it made me transfer all my chars somewhere else. And Blizz knows that mergers are garbage, that's why they don't do them anymore.

 

I don't like layering either, but the alternatives are just worse.

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I imagine there will probably be a few complications on the heavily congested servers once the launch of Classic goes live.  Most likely a queue time, random disconnects, or severe congestion of a populated singular area. If you are expecting everything to be just peachy and run smooth with over 30k players in one area then you are in for a rude awakening.

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I remember when I first read this!  Such great news, it seems like Blizz has really listened to the playerbase!  Reducing layers ASAP, they even hinted that the need for layers would be much less after the first few days O_O  maybe we'll get what we hoped for and have layers out very soon after launch!  In addition, the fact that layering persists over certain periods rather than instantly transfering when logging out / joining groups. 

Blizz, it's almost like you're trying to make us love you again.  What's the deal?  *filtered*

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