Lag Free WoW in 6.0?

Another recently announced featurette to add to the list of things that don’t quite jump off the page but essentially change the game in a massive way for the better is the retooling of actions per millisecond and how the World of Warcraft servers process them.

Let’s break down three situations where this is arguably as big of a change as anything added in any expansion.

1. Late External Cooldowns.
This is number one, without any question, especially if you have ever played a healer class and spec. Blizzard does a good job of explaining a situation in their announcement of this server based change, but I’ll give my own experience to couple with it and solidify why this is so important.

As a Holy Paladin, this can be a HUGE concern for us, and has been for many many years. The culprit is the famed Lay on Hands, which for those of you do not know, is essentially a full health bar for some one, once an encounter. It is currently a ten minute CD, but has seen 15, 20, 30, and 60 minute CDs through out the year. It also used to drain 100 percent of your mana between Classic and TBC, attempting to niche it into a “last stand” type heal. Of course, no one used it this way so that was eventually removed. Anyway, knowing the CD you realize that this is a once in a life time situational ability. The moment that this is used for is so obvious it might as well come with a written invitation. You know it when you see it; some important player, likely the tank, gets hit for an irrevocable amount of damage per second, and there is absolutely no time to cast anything before his death. These situations occur more often than you think, especially because of the random number generator that controls both white swings from bosses and defensive strength from tanks.

So imagine this with me if you will. 10 percent left on Heroic HARDBOSS, after 250 some wipes on it for the last few weeks. This is the one guys, you might finally down it! Oh lord, Maintank Jr. just got hit crazy hard. Two paladins though, here we go boys, time to shine. BOOM look at that lay on… Wait what happened? He’s DEAD!? BUT ITS ON COOLDOWN.

Welcome to 400ms batch processing.

Blizzard openly admitted this, which is honestly unacceptable if you ask me, but at least they are addressing it. If you have never had this happen to you, you are lucky. It happens to us pretty often. I’d say 1/10 times I cast Lay on Hands on a tank. It just goes on cooldown and he dies before the heal reaches him. What a joke. Thank god this will never happen again.

2. Late Interrupts.
Number two, mostly because of Heroic Nefarian and just that first tier of Cataclysm in general. It also happens a LOT on Heroic Garrosh transition 1, so lets once again relive the agony.

Once again, prime time bug for Holy Paladins, but just as prevalent for anyone. Essentially, if you don’t interrupt in the first 2/3s of the visual cast bar, you are playing a gamble that you will often lose. Its a combination of this issue, and individual lag that spells disaster on any encounter that has forced interrupts, like Nefarian and Garrosh Heroic. Realistically, this has just been a fact for so long that if you have a stand-up interupt and are using it this late you are asking for trouble any way, but the real issue is for me on the Temple of the Jade Serpent transition within the Garrosh encounter.

Walk through this with me if you can. I am a Blood Elf Holy Paladin, and have been designated to interrupt the first two sets of casts on the trio of sha adds to the front right as I enter. I do so by using Blinding Light, and then Arcane Torrent for the second set. Why there is any issue is more a problem with the joke of a spell this has become, but I suppose PVP has too much import now-a-days. Its like a 12 second cast, or it feels like it when this happens, but I first have to rush over there as quickly as possible, and then begin the cast to stun the three adds at the same time to sync up their cast bars. If I hesitate at all, a hilarious looking moment occurs where the stun goes on CD as the bar is near completion, the stun goes out before it is completed, but the server doesn’t register it with enough window, and the adds shoot sha blasts out of their stunned heads, with their arms down at their sides.

I wish I had some footage of it, because its funny to behold. This essentially happens once an evening of progression, but its more a secondary issue with this 400ms batch processing, and a primary issue with the length of the damn cast. Anyway, good riddance.

3. Player Lag and Responsiveness.
Besides all these technical issues, there is the basic principle that makes this all worth doing. I am still shaking my head and fist at Blizzard for admitting this, but essentially prior to this change every single player, no matter their latency, had a lab cycle of up to 400ms. It wouldn’t happen often, and its likely not very noticeable with great connection, but the people this is a major saving grace for people like myself, with slow connection, or people like Meoni and Syiler, who connect from half way across the world to US servers.

Honestly, before I even knew this change, I was raving about how this game looks and feels like an entirely new game, and not just another expansion to the previous. This change was a huge part of it, especially in dungeons. It felt like my abilities were far more accurate and responsive, and just made the game a lot more enjoyable, especially as a tank.

Typically, something I like to do as a Monk tank is pull from ranged with Crackling Jade Lightning, and then cancel it the second I use it just for grins. Now, on the alpha, I do this and you don’t even see the animation. This is a direct result of the change we have discussed here, and I couldn’t be happier. It really makes each keystroke feel more meaningful and have more impact, if that makes any sense.

Regardless, I for one am really enjoying this slight change, and will do my best to remember it in 2 years time when people are saying Warlords of Draenor was a bad expansion with no features other than taking away flying and spells or whatever the new trend will be.
Can’t wait like Bart Scott.