If, If, Wait, Wait

My 10-month-old daughter is sick, coughing, congested. Confused. She doesn't understand why my wife and I don't just fix it. It's impossible to explain that we would use this awesome congestion power on anyone but her. So, lots of soothing, lots of grumpy diaper changes, lots of naps interrupted by vicious choking on mucus. She finally goes to real sleep late in the evening.

Parent freedom time! However, said parents are absolutely exhausted. Need to do something before sleep, though. We're not parent-bots.

"Hey, you know what would be great?"

"No, what's that?"

"Want to do some dailies? Just to relax for a few minutes. Get you closer to that rep sword."

"That sounds good!"

Ok then! Let's log on for fifteen minutes or so and do some dailies.

Position in queue: 429
Estimated time: Calculating...

The calculated time ended up being twenty-four minutes.

Back in the days when we were sitting down for a three or four hour block, a twenty-four-minute delay was just a minor irritation. But now, we're (trying to) log on for a half-hour or even ten-minute session. A twenty-four minute wait? It's the whole thing.

This got me thinking.

Don't get me wrong–I appreciate Blizzard reaching out to us casuals with dailies, shorter instances, and easier raids. The system mechanics and content are the best version of WoW yet. All great fun, and I wish I had more time to play and enjoy this version of WoW.

I was just dropped from my server this morning (3:30am server time), and couldn't log back on. I was fishing in Stormwind. The server was as empty it gets. No notice of server restarts or anything like it, just boot then hang at login screen. (Other WoW game servers were up.) Oh, they'll probably have it worked out in what, fifteen minutes? An hour? I'll be commuting to work by then. For me, it's the same as being offline all day.

Raid instances are just performing poorly overall. A two-second lag when I try to heal someone? I just don't have that time for this kind of experience anymore–I don't have time to block out an evening and then have it be wasted for basic mechanical reasons. For all that people are arguing about class rebalances and whatnot, every spell I try to cast in a raid takes two seconds before it begins. (Imagine if they put that in the tooltip? "Time before cast begins: 2 seconds")

I had time recently to go through a heroic that was new to my guild. The opportunity to learn new content with my friends, woohoo! But then an unannounced, three-hour server maintenance downtime in the middle of the instance. In the middle of Saturday afternoon.

The ability to log in and play a normal session at any time is more important than everything else put together.

I'm shocked as to what the day-to-day reality of playing WoW has become: rolling restarts, patches that break more than they fix, game-effecting lag, server crashes, a frequent event that kills game performance, and so on. It's like we're all playing a mythic version of WoW, hoping that things will get better.

My wife and I are hoping that they'll get it all worked out; that the basic gameplay and performance will soon be more like it was before Wrath came out. But it's been months now. The crush of the holidays is over, and yet basic game performance isn't any better.

WoW has become the high-maintenance boyfriend or girlfriend. Yes, you can get enjoyment out of the relationship, but it takes so much more effort, time, and patience than it should. I can have fun if I can successfully log on. If the server stays up for the time that I play. Just wait for Wintergrasp to finish. Wait for Blizzard to fix raid performance and basic gameplay response time.

If, if. Wait, wait.

In fact, if I were going to describe the game experience to someone who was curious about WoW, I wouldn't recommend it. I would say to hold off and see. I would say it currently sucks and that they're trying to fix it.

And once I realize that the word sucks could be used to describe the game that we're paying how much each month?

Well, there's only one rational piece of advice for someone who is on the wrong side of a high-maintenance relationship, and my wife and I are thinking about it.

More Words!

7 thoughts on “If, If, Wait, Wait”

  1. Thank goodness my realm has opened up free transfers to the new PvE server. As much as I love the people there, I see myself adjusting my lifestyle such that I will need to be able to log on anytime without having to see a huge qeue.

    1. Hey Krizz.

      The funny thing is that for us, the game is inseparable from the social experience. Walking away our friends is even less an alternative than having it be miserable due to server performance. Even when we don't see them because we're not playing. It's a weird, welded experience for us, just like we're mostly welded to our guild.

      Also, don't they charge per character when you move servers? I've got all ten slots full. Granted, I only make use of two (main/bank), but it would still be leaving some things behind.

  2. It must be terrible. At my server we rarely have queues – only at peak time for raids to start (7 pm-8pm) you can run into one from time to time that will take up to 20 minutes. So I must be lucky. On the other hand I suffer badly from the lag in the game. And I'm not alone. Check the forums for technical support… The system requirements they market seem to be way too low to cope with the game as it is nowadays. And I agree with you completely: the ability to play the game at all must be prio 1, thand is way more important than the lack of challenges for the 1 percent top players.
    I wonder why they don't do anything about it. Is it as Tobold suggested the other day, that Blizzard has turned its eyes away from WoW, heading for their next MMO?

    1. Hey Larisa.

      I read an article recently that WoW is 50% of Blizzard-Activision's profit for last year (sorry, can't find the link). They'd be insane to not keep the product quality high.

      I strongly suspect that the people making and balancing class mechanics, designing raid encounters, and creating art assets can't help the people who are ironing out server performance. I think the gearheads have to just do their gearhead thing.

  3. Sorry to hear that the queues and lag are creating an issue for your available playtime. My server rarely has a queue, and if it does, it's less than 15 minutes. And I have not noticed or heard much about lag issues.

    I'm not sure that it's so much about them NOT doing anything – but there are A LOT of things they need to work on right now that spans across multiple areas.

    I know queues and bugs and lag can really put a damper on enjoyment… but all things considered, I think it's a bit extreme to think of canceling at this point. Of course, that is always an option /shrug …even if it's just for a short period of time. But, bugs, lag and queues aren't the kind of issues that "are there and will always be there" for WoW, anyway.

    1. Hey Syrana.

      I wish we were on your server!!

      It's funny because when we had more free time (responsibility-free time, I mean), we needed less minute-to-minute performance from the game. Because "hey, we'll be on tomorrow, let's watch a movie instead" Now that we're parents, with a growing family, we simply have less available minutes per month to play… and yet the monthly fee for both of us is the same. Now that our time available to play is smaller, the servers have to be accessible, the experience has to be good, each and every time we try to log in.

  4. Yeah, not having queue or lag issues very much at all. Dalaran's laggy, but no worse than LagForge or Laggrimmar back in the day. I'm even on launch-day servers (one Horde, one Alliance) and not seeing queues and stuff.

    Hope yours gets settled out.

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