I was reading this nice post on Common Sense Gamer, where Darren talks about the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft. He talks about the announcement that Northrend will open just like Outlands, on day one of the expansion, without anything like a gate opening event like Ahn'qiraj (AQ) two years ago. Darren says about that AQ event: "Looking back I honestly think that the whole AQ event, although neat, was a bit of a failed experiment on Blizzard’s part. I have no issue with global events for players to participate in. However, I do think these types of “gating” events to content are a bit ridiculous. It looks like Blizzard is throwing out that model completely. Actually come to think of it, this whole idea of gated content is being phased out industry wide. Most MMOs that I know have gotten rid of that mechanic completely with EQ2 and now WoW being the most recent examples in my memory." I said back in 2006: "I don't really know why these games are called massively multiplayer. Because if ever you assemble a massive number of players on one spot, either the game crashes or at least you get unbearable lag. Which makes world events problematic."
So we all agree, Blizzard has seen the error of their ways, there will be no more world events, and everything is fine? Not quite. Because in his next paragraph Darren starts talking about deathknights, and with the AQ lag disaster fresh in my mind, I immediately start to think "wait a minute!". Because while Wrath of the Lich King does not have a gate opening world event, it has something quite similar: every single deathknight created, regardless of faction or race, will start in the same zone, eastern plaguelands. This being the very first hero class, quite a lot of people will create a deathknight in the first days of the expansion. It is quite likely that more than 1,000 players per server will find themselves simultaneously in the eastern plaguelands! And it was that accumulation of players in the same zone that made the AQ event a failure, not anything with scripting the event. It is highly likely that the eastern plaguelands will be extremely laggy and unplayable. Not to mention that up to now the old Azeroth zones don't have dynamic spawning yet, so finding a mob to kill for your deathknight quests will be rather difficult, unless Blizzard updates the spawning method of that zone.
I perfectly understand the reasoning behind this deathknight starting zone, and it makes perfect sense from a lore point of view, and from the point of view how to teach people fast how to play a new class starting at a higher level. I am just not sure that WoW has the technical possibility to support so many players in the same zone at the same time. If you plan to level up a deathknight early after release, be warned that there might be problems.