Virtual Realms ..

I’ve been checking out the new patch notes for the test realm and a couple of things jump out at me straight away – and everyone else, I suspect.

Firstly, flexible raiding, which was “released” into the wild to be talked about prior to the publishing of the notes.  The initial comments about it suggest that it is more to cater for those guilds who wish to raid together as a group, but often have more people wanting to raid than can fit into either a 10 or 25 man team.

There has been a huge amount of chatter about it, and I’m really pleased for those guilds that have that “problem”.

The second item is Virtual Realms.  Not a lot is currently known about this, other than they will be “virtually” smooshing realms together.  This has a lot of potential to both be a pain in the proverbial, and a massive help to those realms/guilds that are perhaps a bit low on numbers.

From a personal point of view, I can see that potentially both of these items could help our guild, and others like it.

We’re a casual guild that was originally set up back in early 2007.  Initially simply as a levelling guild, a place to hang out and have fun.  But as everyone levelled up, we got more and more interest in raiding, so we ended up organising a Guild Alliance with another guild in a similar situation, in order to get enough for 10-man raiding.

That worked successfully for a number of years, through a number of upsets and name changes of our partner guild, until finally their guild dissolved.

Luckily, by about that time, we were able to field our own groups of 10 – we still occasionally had to cancel raids, or twist arms to help out, but generally we did okay.

We had a peak in the last expansion, I reckon, when we had progressed further as a guild than in previous expansions, we had a decent raid team and a decent amount of numbers – we often had to sit people out.

However, to bring the history lesson back to the present, we are now in the situation where we struggle to get a 10-man raid up.  We regularly have 7-8 people sign up virtually straight away, but we struggle for the last couple.  It’s not that we don’t have that many raiders, it is more that we are all about being a casual guild – people have real lives, different work schedules, illnesses, holidays …

IF Blizzard reduce the minimum for flexible raiding, that would be really great for us – it would mean that less raids would be cancelled for a start.  But it doesn’t really address our main problem, which is simply lack of regular raiders.

The potential for Virtual Realms to address this problem is huge.  It does depend on the number of realms, and types of realms, they will be putting together, but the advantages of having a much larger pool of people to draw from is obvious.

Of course, it does bring it’s own problems – for example what happens to cross-realm-zones … is this to replace that?  Will it have the same lagging issues for certain areas?  I’m assuming that once virtual realms are implemented, all areas of the world will be accessible by all realms in the virtual group – even those currently not shared with CRZ.

One of the reasons for creating virtual realms rather than simply combining servers, I would imagine, is the outrage that would happen as many thousands of people log in to discover they can no longer have their current character name, or guild name – with the virtual realms, anyone not from your actual realm would be marked with an extra character (a “#”), yet they would keep their current names.

Virtual realms would also share Auction Houses, and characters in any of the Virtual Realms group would be able to join any guild in the group.  But how will the duplication of names be resolved?  If there is a Sprowt on each of my Virtual Realms, how does someone else contact me?  How will they know it’s the real Sprowt?

There is also the question of character numbers per realm.  Would there be a restriction of 11 per realm still .. or per Virtual Realm?  If they restrict it per realm, then in theory you could have “11 x number of realms” worth of characters on one realm (both an exciting and scary prospect at the same time for those of us with a massive case of altitus!).  If, however, they restrict it to 11 per virtual realm .. some people may end up having to delete characters … which could be a big worry for some.

All in all, I’m curious to see what will happen …

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