Average wait time: 59 Mins (Last 10 players)

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, November 18, 2010

One of the biggest complaints that WoW users have are the extremely long queue times for Battlegrounds and Dungeons, and the always present shortage of sufficient Tanks and Healers.

With those most recent changes to Wintergrasp too, things are even worse now (there are heated arguments on the forums at the moment) and Blizzard may just have to revert back to the tenacity method until they can find a more suitable solution.

Note: Speaking of WoW Forums, I've still been monitoring them for Account Hack issues over the past several months and there has been a significant drop. It's absolutely nothing like back in June/July during that explosion of hacked and re-enabled/locked accounts.

Additional Note: Tenacity was pretty awesome actually.. sure the Horde were able to complete all 5 WG quests for a total of ~80 honor points - but I was able to complete 4 of the 5 quests and also one-shot Horde with my Arcane Mage. (Hell, even my Hunter dealt 20k white damage with melee swings.) Horde would get maybe 0.1 to 0.25 honor per kill, but I would get the full 3 honor points every 3 seconds or so. At the end of every match, I would get a minimum of 300 honor points from kills alone plus ~64 honor for the weeklies. Not bad for 15-20 minutes of work!

So yeah.. tenacity was great. In all of my experience over the past couple years, it's clear that WG losses were more attributed to failed organization and strategy then anything else. Much like AV premades, if you have good communication and players listening to you (even with bad gear), a win is very easily obtainable.

There is a SOLUTION however to all of these problems (e.g. tank/healer shortage, long queue times, and BG imbalances):

1. Cross-Faction Dungeons (Horde and Alliance together)
2. Cross-Faction Battlegrounds (Horde and Alliance on the same PVP team)
3. New Dungeon Mechanics

This solution will of course stir up some anger from the hardcore role players, but consider this:

- there are ways of doing this so that it fits in with the "lore" and updates to "historical facts" are made up all of the time
- you can already fight side-by-side with opposite faction players and NPCs
- NPCs from opposing factions also fight side-by-side against common enemies
- Horde & Alliance have worked together many times (hell, their leaders have even met with each other and sipped tea together at peace summits and various events)
- both Horde & Alliance have MANY common enemies and fight them in the same dungeons already
- they have also worked together in major wars and battles
- both Horde & Alliance are both members of the same "neutral" factions so they work together constantly for the same common goal
- both Horde & Alliance worked together (or cannot even attack each other) within the same specific zones/areas even when they're members of different factions
- there are a whole TON of factions that you can belong to where both Horde & Alliance work together
- there are PVE realms where you can't even attack them anyways (even though you should be able to and you're "supposed to")
- and there's so much lore out of whack already.. so who really cares?

Anything can work, you just need a proper justification.

Cross-Faction Dungeons

This one is easy. Allow the Dungeon Finder to group both Horde and Alliance together, and/or create a neutral meeting ground where PUGs can be grouped together for non-Dungeon Finder available instances.

In virtually all dungeons, both Horde & Alliance are already fighting the exact same common enemy anyways - and both factions have worked together many times to fight common enemies or for different goals. So this shouldn't be much of a stretch.

If you want a role-playing excuse to group them together, a series of quests can be created where a player is "magically transformed" visually into a member of of the opposing faction for the purpose of gathering information or completing a side-quest that requires Horde's help without their knowledge. CoT already does this where Horde players are visually changed into Alliance and fight side-by-side with the Alliance.

Also, players wouldn't even be able to tell that they were previously Horde/Alliance unless they actually tell them. (It's that good of a disguise!) =]

Justification: Fighting a common enemy under the banner of a neutral faction's orders.

Cross-Faction Battlegrounds

This one is a little more tricky.

So.. why would opposing factions help each other out in PVP? Why, for Secret Intelligence Gathering Missions of course!

Repeatable Quests or Quest Chains can be created where players are disguised and therefore fight with opposing factions (to blend in and avoid "blowing their cover") during various battles. At the end of a battle (and if certain requirements are met), they can get certain rewards. This would definitely put SI:7 Stormwind Intelligence to some good use! This has also happened (and still does happen) in real life, so it's a very reasonable excuse.

Now if "cheating" is a concern, Blizzard already has several methods in place already to prevent this. AFK Reporting (for those who aren't fighting - but the purpose of joining BGs is for the accumulation of honor points anyways), random cross-realm queuing, chances of joining friends within the same BG is low, and inability to communicate with "opposing factions" in the same BG.

For those that really want to get away with cheating (ie, sending troop movement information), they can already do it anyways under the current approach. That sort of information is pretty useless anyways, especially in the smaller BGs.

As it stands, it would be very difficult and even non-productive for you (ie, no honor) to try and sabotage your own temporary faction. It's almost impossible too, since your real friends won't recognize you and they will attack you on sight! Although, sabotage does open up some interesting possibilities for BG gameplay.. and maybe it could be highly useful for new "Spy Vs Spy" Battleground designs. =]

One other option is just to make Battlegrounds less about Horde vs Alliance and more about Team A vs Team B.. but it's not as fun. =]

This approach is definitely a very smooth way of balancing teams so that you won't have the "10 Alliance versus 6 Horde" problem in WSG preceded by 30-50 minute wait times anymore. Plus, since players would be "in disguise", it allows VOA to be open to both factions after WG ends regardless of the winner. (This was actually one of the original reasons for the WG changes.. one faction would always be losing, and they could hardly ever get into VOA. Big complaints.)

Justification: You're a spy gathering secret intelligence information, so you need to fit in under orders from your King or Warchief. All of their deaths will be a necessary evil so that you can gather information of the utmost importance.

New Dungeon Mechanics for Tank/Healer Shortages

This is a pretty fun approach, but a little more challenging to implement. I'm going to focus on 5-man dungeons (and the Dungeon Finder), but these new methods could certainly be used for raids with some tweaks.

Option 1 is to create new dungeons (or modify existing) that break out of the 6-year old mold (ie, the fixed ratio of DPS/Heals/Tanking) that has obviously been creating a lot of issues related to player availability and time, but has never been solved.

If there were dungeons for example that attract 100% DPS class groups, it would significantly cut down on queue times for other DPS playeres who are queued for normal dungeons. Such examples would include dungeons that require no healing and instead involve puzzles and/or DPS combat alone, or dungeons with very little healing required, no tanking, but a completely timed instance that requires 5 DPS players to complete successfully.

There are many clever ways to build dungeons with these designs in mind, boss AND mob mechanic changes, there could even be NPC Tanks, NPC Healers, dungeons that require no DPS but rather all crowd control in a timed environment to win, or healing "games" where DPS players constantly need to run back and forth to a certain item or area.

This course of action no longer follows the classic Tank & Spank approach and unfortunately Blizzard might be discouraged from doing this since the more time a player waits in queue, the longer they play, and the more money they ultimately make. If they are more concerned about the players themselves however, you should see innovative approaches like this in the future.

Option 2 is pretty cool. Have a fun (and possibly long) quest chain where any class can summon a NPC that "magically transforms" them into a temporary class for (specific?) 5-man dungeons. Or maybe it can be available within the dungeons themselves, where the player temporarily inhabits a body or vehicle with the abilities that are missing from the group.

For example, a DPS class can be converted into a Healing/Tanking class by way of conjured weapons and gear that either meet minimum requirements for the dungeon difficulty OR they match in similarity to the player's existing iLvl gear. It would just be a temporary conversion for that instance only. Another example is to have more "vehicles" in dungeons what have certain purposes (much like the starting Ulduar fight), like support, healing or tanking.

I hate using this term, but Blizzard really needs to start thinking outside the box. There's too little innovation in dungeons and Cataclysm is no different (other than that they're bringing back crowd control.) There are many reasonable ways to combat priest/tank shortages and long wait times, and these are some good examples of changes that can make the game more enjoyable, more optional, more fun, and very different to combat boredom.