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WoWJul 31, 2018 10:00 am CT

Blizzard delivers promised bandaid fixes for leveling

Patch 8.0 brought together several changes to player stats, mob scaling, and sharding (the technical wizardry used to separate players). By themselves these changes work well, but something about mixing them all together on live servers caused leveling to get harder and take longer.  The developers acknowledged the issue and stated they didn’t know the root cause.

Originally Posted by Watcher (Official Post)
So why haven’t we fixed it yet? Honestly, because we genuinely don’t know where exactly the problem lies, and we don’t want to make a blind blanket change that actually misses the real source of the problem. We would prefer a targeted solution versus just applying a bandaid fix that could mask deeper issues that could cause problems down the line, but at some point it’s not fair to give you a degraded experience for the sake of that investigation, so we’ll likely go ahead with a blanket health reduction in the near future while we continue to investigate.

Fortunately, we now have an announcement for the bandaid fix.

Originally Posted by Watcher (Official Post)
We’ve just applied a hotfix that reduces the damage dealt by creatures between level 1 and 100 by up to 16%, and reduces their health by up to 24%. Until a subsequent fix (targeted for next week) to update clients with the new data, unit frames may not reflect the change in creature health, but combat should be faster and a bit less lethal across the board while leveling.

Thank you for your patience – we’ll continue to monitor both logs and feedback closely, and will make further tweaks if needed.

The good news

Leveling should be easier, or at least back to 7.3.5 levels, if not even better. But this didn’t address the 60-80 bracket, identified by the developers as taking longer than intended. However, the WarcraftDevs Twitter account shared some additional information last night addressing the issue further.

This should help with the 60-80 range, and all the way up to 100. I found 100 – 110 went pretty quick with the help of invasions, at least in 7.3.5. Players will need to pick and choose what zones and stories they want to experience while they level, as they’ll likely zoom through zones. Those can be left for other alts. Leveling my Monk, I looked for those zones I didn’t have the meta achievement for and leveled there, even if it wasn’t the fastest path.

The bad news

There’s two options I see. Door number one is the developers are waving the white flag and admitting they couldn’t find the root cause of the problem. It’s still in the code somewhere, waiting like a cranky Old God to rear its ugly head in future patch. Door number two, which would be far better, is the developers have found the problem and have designed a solution, but they needed longer to develop it than the team could wait to get a fix out. In that case, we’ll see a targeted fix in a few weeks or months, once its ready.

World of Warcraft is approaching its fourteenth anniversary and was in development for years before release. While I’m sure large swaths of the code have been rewritten over the years, there’s still some old stuff in there. It’s had dozens of developers alter it. The native language of the WoW code is complex. (I’m assuming C or C++ given the age and type of project). It trades many of the helpful features of more modern languages for pure, raw speed.

Even the best of developers can have memory leaks, overstep an array, or use an uninitialized pointer. It’s scarily easy to create what’s know as spaghetti code that’s almost impossible to debug and maintain, and it rarely works well or consistently. As a professional software developer, I’m shocked these kinds of issues don’t happen more often.

For now, we can return to leveling Allied Races for that sweet Heritage Armor, or finish leveling your new future main for Battle for Azeroth. May the mobs from the Cape of Stranglethorn to the Isle of Quel’Danas quake in their nerfed boots.

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