Connected Realms: So it Begins…

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Update: In order to implement our first Connected Realms, Boulderfist and Bloodscalp will be taken down for an extended maintenance beginning Wednesday, September 25, at 3:00 a.m. PDT until approximately 11:00 a.m. PDT. During this time these realms will be unavailable for play. Additional realm connections are planned for the near future, and we’ll be posting a full list at WorldofWarcraft.com as soon as we’ve finalized the details.

Nethaera posted on the forums yesterday to give us a brief update on the status of connected realms, letting us know that the first two connected realms will happen today! For those that haven’t been on the internet anywhere regarding WoW recently, connected realms are a new feature coming into WoW that will (as the name says on the tin) connect realms. This is to combat the crippling decline of server populations, and hopefully bring the life back into the game again, with regards to capital cities, the auction house and PUG runs in /2. It’s basically an improved version of CRZ’s that we have at the moment, apart from it will always be the same realm you’re linked with, so you can do things with these realms that CRZ’s are limited toward.

First and foremost, this includes being able to see each other in Stormwind, Orgrimmar and Pandaria without having to get them to group with someone from your realm to get there. It also links the Auction Houses so that the supply of items should go up, which is a huge bane for some of us on quieter realms when suddenly you can’t find any Vermilion Onyx’s or other items to buy. Of course, demand will also go up, so the moneymakers among you will also be able to swindle some poor player out of far too much money than what they should have had in the first place. People on Connected Realms are also able to raid current content, and even join guilds without having to pay for a server transfer (but you have to be on the same realm list).

Overall, I think it’s a pretty good idea with little to no bad points about it. Having only moved to Nagrand recently, I can’t say I’m as close to the server community as I was to Doomhammer, so my initial backlash has all but become moot in my point of view – though there may be others who do share that point of view that I did. As mentioned above, the first two realms to receive this treatment will be Boulderfist and Bloodscalp on the US realms, to be used as guinea pigs for the rest of us. If they make it work smoothly and efficiently, we should find out more realms that will be connected in the near future afterwards. From what I’ve heard and read, the things that will be taken into consideration for which realms you will be merged with are things such as:

  • PvE realms will always be linked with PvE realms, same with PvP link with PvP, RP with RP and RPPVP with RPPVP
  • Same data centers – so for us EU players realms on one of the Frankfurt data centers won’t be paired up with realms on one of the Paris centers.
  • Faction balance will be taken into account, but we won’t see a 1:1 split A:H – Blizzard have purposefully allowed CR’s to be delayed into 5.4 to see what server populations are like when the new patch dropped, considering many people likely quit playing toward the end of ToT, and will try to balance things out slightly.

All extremely exciting times for those of us on smaller realms. For the larger realms, I believe that they’re not going to be touched by this feature, so they have nothing to worry about. What do you guys think? Looking forward to the Connected Realms, or would you prefer to be hidden away on your own realm where you know everybody already? Is there any part of the CR’s that you’re especially looking forward to, or even ones that you’re not looking forward to?

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Bringing WoW to Your Pocket

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Pet Battles. WoWkémon. Waste of time. Whatever you want to call it, it’s taken a good portion of the WoW community by storm. Either by an additional source of Lesser Charms when dailies and killing mobs just isn’t your cup of tea any longer, extra achievement points, or an actual mini-game within WoW to spend time on, there’s something missing…

Don’t get me wrong, I do love pet battles myself, but I don’t really find the time for it as much as I did when it first came out. I haven’t even completed the Beasts of Fable quest line in order to finish off The Longest Day achievement. I loved Pokémon, but I feel that it’s largely because of the portability of it that still makes it attractive to me. What if Pet Battles could extend from our desktops to our mobiles? Blizzard are already entering the mobile platform market – easily the largest segment for games today – with Hearthstone. Although it’s another WoW-related product to enter that platform, I don’t see anything from the Starcraft and Diablo universes hitting there any time soon (and Lost Vikings is certainly a no-no).

What could the limitations be? Obviously we won’t be able to go out into the world (of Warcraft) and find wild pets to fight, but then the opposite end of the spectrum would be to limit it to PvP Battles, and make it a pure mini-game to battle against other people’s teams. If it were to be implemented, knowing Blizzard to always try to make an extremely high quality product, we probably wouldn’t see the latter.

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There could be both a PvP and a PvE side to the app, of course, ideal candidates for the PvP side of things would merely be an extension to the PvP Pet Battles we already see ingame. Rewards could get sent to our characters’ mailbox from the Postmaster or something, to ensure we don’t miss out there. For PvE, it gets a little more challenging – as I said we can’t go out to the Wild Pets on a mobile app, so how else can we implement PvE into it? Grandmasters, perhaps? Maybe the Beasts of Fable, and the Spirits of Pandaria? Probably the Celestial Tournament of next patch would be ideal content for it? What if there was a simple “Find Battle” button, and it would get random 3 pets of similar level to your team, and you could include capturing new pets through it?

Plenty of things to consider, but it’s certainly content that could easily be played on the porcelain throne or during a lunch break – AND Blizzard gets to expand further onto gaming platforms outside of PCs, which seems to be their business plan lately. All I know is that it would certainly peak my interest to turn WoWkémon back into the platform I originally fell in love with: mobile platforms I can take anywhere with me. Having said that – an offline/airplane mode would have to happen. But the demand is there! Ever since their implementation bloggers, podcasters and forum posters have been asking for this to happen!

What are your views? Would you be more inclined to take part in Pet Battles, if you could sit on the bus and earn a few extra Lesser Charms in a random pet fight? Would you pay to install it? Or prefer a free version that has no impact on your own pets – with the paid version to link it up to your account? Maybe have it free as an absolute, considering we already have our own accounts to pay for, with micro-transactions for extra pet battles, or to unlock certain tournaments, etc?

Also, unrelated: Morning post or afternoon post? I’m going to try and finish these posts early and have them scheduled to post, would just like to know if you prefer to read these during the day or when you’re home from work. So while this one is a morning post, if you guys prefer afternoon posts I’ll revert to the old format.