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World of Queuecraft 304

BondGamer writes "Gamespot has an article discussing the ongoing problems with Blizzard's World of Warcraft. It outlines how the same issues have been plaguing the MMORPG for over a year now with no end in sight. From the article, 'If there's an absolutely excellent game, but no one can get online to play it, is it still excellent?'" Anyone have any hellacious queue stories? Update: 03/01 16:06 GMT by Z : Blizzard also announced today that they've hit 6 Million Subscribers.
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World of Queuecraft

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  • There are times on the weekend when there are over 400 people in the queue on my server, and the wait to get in is 40 minutes.

    They need to do some server splits, the way EQ used to do it.
    • Re:Server splits (Score:3, Insightful)

      by doomicon ( 5310 )
      I'm a casual mmo gamer(>10 Hours a week). I couldn't imagine spending 40 mins at a time just waiting to login. While I can put up with occasional bugs and whatnot, being able to login (outside of maint. windows) is a must! I pay a monthly subscription to play, I expect more.

      currently playing MxO, so some may argue my "I expect more." comment ;-)
    • Good idea, but the split somehow has to be voluntary. The reason that crowded servers get more crowded is that a friend invites you to join him on the server he is already on--but he's been playing for a year, so the server is already crowded. Migration by individual choice has to be allowed, so that whole guilds can wander over. For that matter, people should be allowed to migrate to any lightly populated server when theirs gets crowded--and they should be allowed to take all their stuff, because if you do
      • Of course you get to take your stuff, but I can see why they only allow A->B migrations, otherwise people would be creating alts and checking out what the auction prices are on the low-pop servers in order to make the most gold. Essentially it *is* a server split.
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:28AM (#14826518)
    The problem is that a realm can get very busy after you've already levelled a character nice and high, and then you are screwed. I understand Blizzard is trying to deal with an avalanche (yeah, boo hoo) - the only real way to deal with it is to keep adding servers and allow players to transfer their characters between them. Obviously some kind of limit would need to be in place to keep people from hopscotching all over (say, 1 transfer a month or something), but since the service is literally falling down sometimes, it is only fair to allow players to load-balance themselves, and for free, in a reasonable way.
    • In Everquest, the server splits just split one server between two different servers. You kept you character, but you went to half the population.
      • With web servers it's possible to serve the same content up from multiple servers. Couldn't this be done for world of warcraft? You store the data on a central db, and when you lot into a server, it loads up your character, and lets you play. You'd be able to play on any server, with the same character.
        • You'd be able to play on any server, with the same character.

          But unless theres a LOT more backend work than you're talking about, you'll only be playing with whoever logged into your server at that time, which is part of the complaints about server splitting from the player's prospective. Plus, the servers are self-contained worlds, which is part of what makes just letting people transfer at will problematic on Blizzard's side as well. If you slay the King of All Evil (or whatever) and this is supposed to
        • At the moment, they're using multiple servers for a single content: a "game server" is not mapped 1:1 to a physical server, Everquest already needed dozens of machine for each game server, and it trusted the client a lot (far too much, which lead to quite a few client hacks and various data sniffing). Current MMOs trust the client far less, which is sensible but results in an even higher load on the server side.

          There is more than likely heavy load-balancing involved, but no way in hell to merge everything

    • Obviously some kind of limit would need to be in place to keep people from hopscotching all over (say, 1 transfer a month or something), but since the service is literally falling down sometimes, it is only fair to allow players to load-balance themselves, and for free, in a reasonable way.

      I thought the method Square Enix implemented with Final Fantasy XI was pretty decent. When you create your first character, you were randomly assigned to a server. Subsequent character creations under your account defau

    • The problem is guilds. You would want all your buddies to move over too. I am not paying and playing at this time due to these problems. I will wait and I am really busy at this time.
  • Have your guild reschedule your MC/BWL/AQ raids for 6am weekday mornings. I mean, if you're regularly raiding those instances you probably don't have a job anyway.
    • This is such an overexaggerated piece of garbage.

      I work a full time job (with overtime sometimes).
      I take a graduate course at my college.
      I'm married.
      I get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

      I raid three times a week with my guild (MC, BWL, AQ, ZG, though not all in one week), and I'm an officer organizing things in that guild.

      I have tons of free non-game time, though the queues are making things worse. Then again, I just get homework/housework/etc done while in queue.
      • Hehe I agree. My schedule isn't as busy as yours, but I manage to raid pretty regularly with my guild. Onyxia we usually do on Monday or Friday, and then go right to another instance afterwards. ZG is typically a two-night affair with half the bosses Wednesday night, and the rest on Thursday. MC usually we start Friday then wrap up Monday. AQ20 we do pretty much whenever there's a strong interest. I don't go to every raid, I don't play every night, but when you know the strats then it's not too diffic
    • I'll bite but parent should be modded flame bait/troll.

      Here is my week's WoW Schedule:

      Sunday 5pm clear MC, duration about 5 hours.
      Monday 7:30pm kill Onyxia, duration about 20-30 minutes.
      Wednesday 7:30pm learning/killing in BWL, duration about 3 hours.

      If I really feel like, I can hop on a AQ20 raid or a ZG raid. Depending if I have the time. Lately I don't have the time. My guild is a guild made of casual players with jobs, families and there are 2-3 raids max a week, not to mention Onyxia isn't even a raid.
  • Last night I got back home and went to log on, figuring I could catch the end parts of my guild's MC run. I connect to the server and get put in a queue of 303. 10 seconds later, it becomes a queue of 300. Ef that. I canceled it and went to go play an alt on a different server. No phat lewts for me :(. What really takes the cake is that even though there was a queue, apparently the entire server was lagged badly. We get put into queues so we have to wait to play the characters we've spent months and
  • When you're scheduling or participating in raids, a few key members queued up for an hour delays things for everyone. We've had lots of times where we have a scheduled start time of 8PM that becomes 9PM easily with the queues. Even with people trying to login earlier, an hour and a half queue is obscene.

    And as said, there is no end in sight. After 15 months, if there are not only still queue problems, they are getting worse weekly, what hope do we have for getting things fixed?

    But there will still be suc
  • If you cannot get online because the server is full and puts you in the queue, then, apparently, there are people online, a whole lot, obviously. That doesn't relieve Blizzard from being cheap bastards that don't provide enough servers, but, as long as you don't want to infer lying, someone seems to be online, it just doesn't happen to be you.
    • No-one can *get* online to play it because so many people *got* online a couple of hours ago while I was at work!
      • As soon as someone of those already online quits another person can "get". How precise do you want to define the present? I'm all open for whiney word wrangling today! Seriously, to say noone can "get" online, because someone already "got" is like saying you can't "get" because some has been able to "get" before you. Catch my drift?
        • Seriously, to say noone can "get" online, because someone already "got" is like saying you can't "get" because some has been able to "get" before you. Catch my drift?

          Yes, but that doesn't help me. OK, I don't have this problem myself so much nowadays because the queues aren't as bad as they were, but I would regularly get home from work, fire up WoW, and just leave it queueing for an hour while I watched some TV and had my meal. It's fair to say that no-one could get online for that hour unless they had s

          • I prefer accurate to reasonable (A lot of bad things get done because they're called reasonable and noone bothers checking facts these days), but I can accept that explanantion (And I certainly didn't say it would help, Blizzard are cheap bastards after all). Please excuse if I sounded a little hostile, btw, I'm in a particularly foul mood today... gotta go catch some sleep.
  • My server was relatively new when I started on it and now it has the usual primetime que of well over 500+. Compared to other servers this could be rather minor but the fact that it is still causing me headaches shows how severe the problem is.
    My example is probably one that many have experienced. My raid guild was doing its usual round of Onyxia followed by MC and right in the middle of MC, I disconnect. Usually not that big of an issue, as I just do a restart and log back find a que of 780 and
    • I have never had to queue after a disconnect, I think it lets you past the queue under certain circumstances.
      • Re:Ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) *
        You have about 5 minutes to log back in after an involuntary disconnect and you can skip the queue. NB: In this case, "log back in" would be when the character select screen appears.
  • .. that about 400 people are constantly waiting in line bespeaks that yes, the game is worth it. To them, at least. Not to me. It the queue is longer than a few minutes I'm not going to wait around. I'll load up Civ IV. It's perfectly capable wasting a few hours.

    Although, it does suck that servers are filling up as soon as they're created, during the times I play, I don't seem to have too many queue problems... save for Saturdays, but I almost never get a chance to play on Saturdays anyway.

  • by enkafan ( 604078 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:38AM (#14826635)
    Wasn't it Yogi Berra that said "nobody goes there's too crowded"?
  • by BrianRoach ( 614397 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:45AM (#14826707)
    No matter what they (or any MMORPG) does, there is a group of people that will whine.

    The alternative to no queues is ...?

    A) Let everyone in. I've seen that in other games. It's not pretty. Things don't scale infinitely, and the game server would be unusable. People would then bitch that the game server is unusable.

    B) Static cap the server population. They tried that recently. Immediatly there were tons of threads on their forums saying "I can't create a character on world X where my friend is playing! I paid $50 for this game, blah, blah blah".

    Personally, I rarely see a queue, and I've been playing WoW for a year on the same server which has been "full" for some time. About the worst I see is about 30 minutes, and I simply alt-tab and read the news for a few or maybe do a quick chore around the house my wife had been nagging me to do :)

    - Roach
    • j/k

      You have a wife who lets you play games so much you're willing to wait 30 mins to get online? .... ...

      DANG! That's nice. :-)

      • My wife (yes, I know, turn in the slashdot card etc.) is an avid player, and she is on at all times she is not doing something else (sometimes even while she is). I am a casual player, and neither of us has run into this infamous queue problem. What we did do, which was as much for ourselves as other players, was to create all new characters on a small pop server shen we decided to game together. I deleted my characters from Sivler Hand et. al. when we did, and stuck to playing on one set of servers. Our se
      • Two words: WoW Head.
    • A) Let everyone in. I've seen that in other games. It's not pretty. Things don't scale infinitely, and the game server would be unusable. People would then bitch that the game server is unusable.

      Buy enough servers that you can deliver the service you've sold. Don't sell it to n + 1 people if your servers can only take n people.

      B) Static cap the server population. They tried that recently. Immediatly there were tons of threads on their forums saying "I can't create a character on world X where my frie

      • In any case, if it is impossible to deliver the service to the current userbase, then perhaps they shouldn't have sold it to so many people. It smells like fraud when you take the money and then say "sorry, I can't deliver the stuff right now, there's too many people who've bought it

        First, your complaint (like most of them) seems to be based on an assumption that they are not working as hard as they can to improve things, and that they simply sit around all day sipping tea. I, personally, do not see this as
        • First, your complaint (like most of them) seems to be based on an assumption that they are not working as hard as they can to improve things, and that they simply sit around all day sipping tea. I, personally, do not see this as being the case.

          I'm not complaining, actually. I can't complain, since I'm not playing the game. I'm simply answering to your defense of Blizzard, which amounts to "it's hard to deliver what we've sold so give us a break". It doesn't matter how hard Blizzard is working on the pro

      • A WoW server certainly does not run on a single machine.

        However, the dynamically-redistributing system you suggest would be extremely difficult to write and debug. The game would probably still be in beta. It also wouldn't be worthwhile, since after the server population passes a certain point, adding more people degrades the gameplay. It's no fun playing on a server where the mobs you need to kill are always dead already and there's high-level players of the opposite faction everywhere trying to gank yo
      • You assume the problem is the server. It's not. It's the client. A world with too many people, or even just one zone with too many people in it, is sufficient to cause the client to fail.
    • C) Get far more servers.

  • Personally I blame all of Blizzard for using ULTRA-ANCIENT technology in most of their games.
    Ok, it looks all nice and spiffy and polished and runs excellent on most machines, blah blah blah, but still... the most clear-cut case ? Isometric sprites (Starcraft) when 3D rendered RTSs started popping up... eh.

    EVE-ONLINE. They got the right idea. DEATH TO SHARDING.
    Split the world in regions, hold different regions on different physical servers, or just have a freakin' supercomputer running the realm... but have
    • WoW is not designed to have the same amount of concurrent users Eve is. Honestly, WoW would suck with 24k concurrent users on one shard even if the servers could handle the load. Just imagine how crowded the game world would be...
    • my god man, i dont know what your skill levels are like in infrastructure and networking and such... but even 2 million of their 6 million subscribers would level most of the worlds largest supercomputers combined. I cant even begin to imagine the logistics and interconnections and such that would be required to facilitate a potential of 6m people trying to be online at once in that kind of persistant data intensive enviroment. EVE is *tiny*. Ive never seen more than 10-20% of their accounts on at once s
  • On Shadow Moon, we don't have queues. Or at least, not ones that we see.

    At peak hours, we just get "retreiving character list" for 20 minutes when we try to log on. Maybe we'ere queued and they just don't want to say it, or maybe it's just taking that long to get the character list. After we finally get the character list, we get the loading screen. The blue bar fills up... and we wait another 10-20 minutes.

    Sometimes we get to play. Other times we get disconnected after the blue bar (perhaps our connect

  • I used to play WoW, then I played Guild Wars for a while and enjoyed it about as much (and no monthly fee, which was important to me at the time). Recently, my finances improved and I went back to WoW. What followed was 2 weeks of "World Server is Down" server crashes, long waits in queues, sitting around for long periods trying to find someone to raid with me in particular dungeons, etc.

    I cancelled my account after that two weeks and went back to Guild Wars. Why?

    • Guild Wars has a MUCH better server syste
    • The countryside is instanced, so you don't run into other players out just exploring unless you've grouped with them (but, really, how useful is that ANYWAY?).

      Don't misunderstand, Guild War is a great game, but it is not a MMORG. There is no "massive", except in chat. Diablo II would be a more accurate match, not World of Warcraft.
      • It's massive inside the cities, and that's where you do all your group-building, buying and selling, PvP, etc. To my mind, that's little different than WoW. It just limits you to finding other players in the city vs. the countryside. And when is the last time you formed a big raiding party just stumbling across people in the woods?

        But, to each his own. My point was that WoW could easily use the same type of server system instead of rigidly forcing players to stay on a particular server forever with no abili

  • Gameplay wise the first weakness it that of course you can't be the hero. Nor can you alone affect the world.

    Yet that is what 'makes' most RPG's, you the Hero! saves the day, rescues the princess (or prince according to sex and/or preferrence) and slay the evil XXXXX.

    But in an MMORPG you can't do that. In fact 99.99% of the time you are in a que of other people getting the same quest from the same NPC while another que is reporting that they completed the quest. Just how many blue stones does that merchan

    • Gameplay wise the first weakness it that of course you can't be the hero. Nor can you alone affect the world. ...(snip)...

      WoW has shown the world that a huge pile of cash is waiting for he that creates an MMO that is playable at launch. Now all that remains is for someone to make a real MMORPG.

      In single player RPGs you can be a hero. In MMOGs no. Well that's not all true. Guilds have their "heroes", the decked out main tank, the badass DPS rogue, the awesome healer. But, it's nothing skill related.

      No matter
  • Obviously some kind of limit would need to be in place to keep people from hopscotching all over

    Not sure why it's obvious. Disney's Toontown does it this way, and as long as you can maintain a friend list and guildie list that is ABOVE the server level (aha, I have 3 friends on bloodscalp and 15 on eldre-thalas tonight), what's the problem?

    Since the worlds are all identical (ie the Alliance/Horde ownership of Tarren mill doesn't change), what would be the problem. I know I would ALWAYS try to choose the l
  • You would think with the money they are generating from the game ( 6 million customers at 15.99 a month = $3,198,000 a day ) they could upgrade/manage the lag/queue problem better. Sure my figure is a little off because id you pay more up front you per monthly cost is lower but still thats a lotta money coming it with little frustration being reduced to the gamers.
    • It's extremely hard. Basically the networking infrastructure can only be scaled across so many servers before the inter-server communication swamps the lan bandwidth. Further, colo space gets expensive, so you want to keep your server space down as well. Basically they have to try to cram as much game logic as possible into every box, so they are buying up 4 and 8 way opteron boxes very quickly. It's a really tough problem, and they are on the forefront of it. No one has ever tried to scale a game this
  • hey, here's an idea -- if you're on a server that routinely has a queue, and you want to play at 7 pm, why not log in at 6:30 and go do something else in the interim?

    if you get logged in, just tap a key every now and then so you're not AFK
  • My wife, on the other hand, just contributes to the issues that make it worse. She logs on as soon as she gets home from work, and logs my char on too in case I want to play.

    Sometimes I want to, sometimes I don't. It helps that we have multiple machines at home. My wife likes the game way more than I do, and plays my high level priest on occasion. But anytime I've gotten kicked off and couldn't log in fast enough to avoid the queue, I just shut down and walk away. One of these days my wife is going to becom
  • Why new servers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @12:53PM (#14827510)
    To those people who say Blizzard should just add more servers - part of the problem is that people want to play on servers with high populations. Few people want to log onto a server that has a low population - it becomes harder to find a group, harder to get things at the auction house, harder to find good PvP. And certainly there is less fame to being the best player on a server with a low population. Many people also start playing WoW because of friends that they have playing the game, and the higher the population of the server, the more people that have friends that they want to invite and make the population even higher.

    Some people want to play on low-pop servers. These people don't have much of a problem. Some people want to play on high-pop servers. So they go start a character on a high-pop server, raising the population higher in doing so and drawing the queue up even farther. Several people want to play on medium-pop servers to get the best of both worlds, but you can only have so many people join a med-pop server before it become high-pop, and by that point the server's reputation gets to the point that even more people want to join in. Basically, population gain works exponentially - the bigger you are, the faster it gets worse.

    More servers just isn't going to cut it, not unless you can convince people on larger servers to cull themselves into new servers with smaller populations. There are plenty of servers out there that don't have queue lines, but queues just aren't enough justification for people to reroll. Ideally, Blizzard would set limits on population to cut off before queues become a problem in the first place. But then you run the risk of pissing off people who want to play on the same server as their friend does. There is no justice in this matter.

  • Which MMORPG has the biggest world population? That is, which seamless online 3D world has the most people, without "shards" or "instances" to divide up the world?
    • EVE online.

      only one shard (+ a seperate 'test' server) and 24,000 people online at peak. Generally 10-13,000 when I play.

      They've done it right, and there's really not enough love for this game. The majority of the world is player controled, and if the alliance you're part of loses their hold on terretory, the new owners WILL slaughter you and drive you out as well. It's an incredible amount of fun.

    • EVE Online ( []) probably has the largest consistent world. It's not as BIG player-wise as WoW, but we like it that way anyway. And it's in space, not fantasy. But aside from that, there's lots of fun things to do, even though the game does have a bit of a learning curve.

      Players can give out unlimited free 2-week trials to other people too, so if anyone wants one, drop a note to ja!de@cris==tal @t (remove non-letter characters to get a valid address)
  • I played a lot of games (FFXI, Evercrack, UO, Lin) before trying out WoW. In beta I wasnt very impressed with the game so when I decided to buy it later I kept my FFXI account. Needless to say while fun (though easy to the point of boring at some points) soon it became imposible for me to play. Weekends where one thing (and I tended to not play weekends anyway because those where when I had major events in FFXI) but when it became a wednesday and I had to wait 2 hours to get in I got fed up and canciled my
  • I call Shinanigans! Since the last patch, I can count on one finger the amount of times I had to wait in queue for my server. Previous to the patch, there was a nightly queue of 800+ users with sometimes over an hour wait. And the one time I had to wait, I was 400th+ in queue and only waited 7 minutes to get in, compared to 30+ minutes when I was stuck in similar queues before. So Blizzard is tackling the problem and has done some tweaking and fixing to reduce/eliminate queues.

    I also love this little nug
  • It really depends on the server, actually, and when you like to play.

    Reading around a bit, I'm convinced that I'm on the the worst WOW server, Kel'Thuzad. Queue'Thuzad is almost always queued from 4pm-midnight, and at peak times the queue can reach 650-800. Lag'Thuzad has also been down for "emergency maintenence" more times than I can possibly remember.

    The odd thing is, Kel'Thuzad was crap at first (like it is now), became decent 2-3 months after the game shipped, and then regressed now. The only explainat
  • While I can sympathize with some of what the writer is saying (if you're going to design an event for your mmorpg that is so cool that everybody on the server is going to want to see it, hadn't you better make sure your servers can actually handle everybody seeing it?) the c atchphrase he uses at the end is just plain silly.

    "If there's an absolutely excellent game, but no one can get online to play it, is it still excellent?"

    Right, just because you have to wait in a queue to get in must mean that nobody can
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @06:32AM (#14833576) Homepage
    Gamespot spammed me repeatedly despite requests that they stop. They can't even manage a mailing list. Blizzard has provided a game which I have been playing for a couple of months with fairly small login queues except during the peak of prime-time. I've probably spent a TOTAL of two hours in queues, since mid-December 2005.

    So, uhm. I think I am uninclined to believe that Gamespot's either competent or reliable, and I don't think I trust them to fairly evaluate the situation.

    Yeah, the queues are bad. Simplistic analysis of how much money Blizzard ought to have doesn't tell us what resources they really have. Furthermore, it's not obvious which of the many proposed "solutions" would work. More servers? Lag is a question of bandwidth, so more servers might not help. Let more people log in? More overloads and crashes. There are many possible options, but I'm not sure they'd help a whole lot. Furthermore, if the database servers are shared, it's pretty hard to grow database servers effectively; you can't just throw more hardware at it.

    I dunno. I'm okay with things pretty much as is; ongoing attempts to optimize the back-end database may matter more. So maybe we should let the people who built WoW run it, rather than some people at gamespot who haven't done anything of the sort?

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas