Thursday, December 12, 2013

WoW Analysis: Realm Coalescing Frustrations

Cross realm grouping has been a feature that has met both praise and scorn. Whether it's because players that have been realms away can now play together or were on the receiving end of a rather nasty cross realm raiding party that just killed them in PvP, given the direction of implemented features in World of Warcraft, cross realm grouping was inevitable and is now more or less a staple of the gameplay today. However, this doesn't mean it's not without its problems. While smaller scale groups usually don't suffer from this issue, larger groups, such as raid groups made through the OQueue addon or the more recent (and frustratingly obscure) Cross Realm Raid Browser have a tendency to suffer from realm coalescing issues.

When in a group with players from multiple realms, the realm the group coalesces into tends to be one that the majority of the group is from. For smaller groups this usually doesn't happen because since there are so few people, there are often an equal amount of players from each given realm, making the leader's realm the default realm of choice since he or she serves as a tiebreaker of sorts. However, for larger groups, especially ones that are growing or shrinking at a rapid rate, the realm changes multiple times as the coalescing system continues to recalculate the priority realm based on the group composition.

In addition, players in world raid combat (at the very least) do not coalesce until the encounter is done, causing group splits, which are situations where some of the group is fighting a world boss but others are denied the ability to join the pull due to realm coalescing, a very real possibility. Furthermore, since the coalescing can happen any time the group changes, players can also be denied loot from mobs including ones they are rolling on if a realm coalescence happens during the action of looting (one bit of solace to take from this is that world bosses are exempt from this particular issue because the system distributes the loot automatically). Another issue worth noting is objects summoned onto the world do not jump between realms with the players, so warlock summon stones, mage tables, and the like need to be recreated again every time a realm coalescence happens, which can rapidly become an unnecessary inconvenience.

The solution for this issue is very simple: always prioritize the realm the leader was from for realm coalescing. This would prevent a lot of swapping issues and give groups more control over which realm they are on.

As a final note: this phenomenon is very easy to emulate. Try using the OQueue addon or the Cross Realm Raid Browser (this can be found in the Social Pane, which is opened by pressing O, going to the Raid tab, clicking on "Other Raids" at the top of that window, then listing your name for world bosses like the Celestials or Ordos) and observe how often the realm changes as your group fills up and shrinks. You'll know when the realm changes when your game suffers something akin to a lagspike and NPCs vanish and reappear.

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