Thursday, June 20, 2013

Virtual Flexing



A little bit ago I wrote about my low population server and I listed out a few things that I felt that Blizzard could do to help out not just my server but all low pop servers. Included in that list were the suggestions to merge servers and to open the current tier for cross realm raidability. Two weeks ago Blizzard released not just one but TWO things that I feel will help out all low pop servers when they go live in the 5.4 patch. The two things: Virtual Realms and Flexible Raiding. Do Blizzard developers read my blog and think I have great ideas? Probably not but at the very least they are finally doing something to help low pop servers.

For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about when it comes to Virtual Realms and Flexible Raiding I’ll do my best to explain each. We’ll start with Flexible Raids. Right now if you are level capped and looking to raid you have 2 options: join a raiding guild and do 10/25 person raids or you can do the LFR which are 25 players only. If your guild doesn’t have enough people to run a 25 player raid or even 2 10 person raids, you will have people who are not able to raid with the guild raid team because you can only fit 10 people into a 10 person raid. With Flexible Raids, there will be a new level of raid difficult added. It will be LFR (25 person) > Flexible Raids (10-25 person) > Normal Mode Raids (10/25) > Heroic Raids (10/25). You did in fact read that right, Flex Raids can be raided by anywhere from 10 to 25 people. If you only have 20 people online, you can raid at the Flex Raid difficulty and the raid difficulty will adjust automatically based on the number of people present. This means that if you are in a 25 person flex raid and someone has to leave, the raid difficulty will ease up a little to compensate for having one less person in the raid.

Flex Raids don’t share a raid id with LFR or regular raids so if you wanted to you could do an LFR raid on Tuesday, a regular difficulty raid on Wednesday, and a Flex Raid on Thursday all on the same character each week. Unlike the LFR, Flex Raids will not have a minimum ilvl requirement and more importantly, it is cross realm raidable! This means that you can raid current raid content with guildees and real id friends without having to deal with the headache that is the LFR. The gear is better than what you’d get from the LFR but below regular raid mode gear and it will follow the LFR loot system with each person getting an individual loot roll for each boss killed. This new level of raiding means several things:
1) I can raid current content with friends and guildees.
2) I can avoid the weekly LFR headache if I choose to.
3) I can raid on my protadin as dps and let someone else tank while I set my loot role to tank so I can still get tank gear.

Right now my guild has been hit hard by the attendance bug and we have not been able to field a raid team and enter the Throne of Thunder. Since it is “current” content, we also can’t cross realm raid it. But when 5.4 launches even if my guild is still having a hard time getting a raid team going, I can pull people from my battle tag friend list into a raid and we can clear a current content raid that isn’t the LFR! This is huge for my guild and our raid team! Yes it isn’t a normal raid and the gear is a lower item level than what you’d get in a normal raid but honestly I don’t care. I get to raid with my guildees and btag friends and we get to see non-LFR boss fights! There are a lot of smaller guilds that this will help see the current raid instances. Guilds that otherwise wouldn’t see anything other than the LFR version of the fight, which is not the same.

The second thing that Blizzard is doing to help low pop servers is releasing Virtual Realms. Virtual Realms are what happens when you take several servers and expand Cross Realm Zones to include major cities, auction houses, arena teams, and more importantly guilds! Let’s say for example that you are on server A and it is a low pop server. Blizzard is taking server A and stretching CRZ on Server A to cover Server B and Server C, which are also low pop servers. So people on Server B can join a guild from Server A or Server C. People on Server C will be able to list stuff on the auction house and Server A/B people can buy said items. Currently all you can do with CRZ’ed people is group up to quest and to run old content. You can’t trade anything that isn’t conjured or isn’t an instance boss drop.

This new feature will do a couple of things:
1) Increase the number of people that appear on your “server.”
2) Help low pop server guilds recruit from within their server.
3) Increase auction house activity.
4) Make low pop servers no longer be looked down upon compared to a medium or high pop server.

By increasing the pool of people I can recruit from, I know I'll be able to get people to join my guild. Right now my server has a small handful of people who are looking for a guild to join or want to leave their current guild. Recruitment on server is difficult and recruiting people from other avenues such as forums or twitter is slow going and almost as difficult. I have had a little luck with twitter and a few people have joined as social members on alts which is great but I'd love to have people join my guild on their mains so that they can be on more or participate more in guild activities. *WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE GOOD PEOPLE!* Whether you want to raid or just hang out and chat in guild chat while leveling/farming/questing/etc. I'd love to have you with us!

Now we don’t have a whole lot of information about this new feature compared to Flexible Raids but the fact that it has been announced is a step in the right direction. For years when asked about low pop servers Blizzard has responded with statements like “we’re looking into it and working on solutions” or “it’s something we are aware of.” This feature is proof that Blizzard is actually listening to our concerns. I am looking forward to hearing more about Virtual realms and how it can save my low pop server and more importantly, how it can help my guild continue to thrive.

The future looks bright for low pop servers.

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