Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Public test realms in WoW

Spinks asked in the open Sunday thread whether I was tempted to try out all that new content on the public test realms of World of Warcraft, playing patch 3.1 before it goes live. While I do like to play on the PTR to see the new expansions of WoW before they come out, I usually don't bother to preview the patches. So no, I haven't copied a character to the PTR to have a look at patch 3.1.

One argument against using the PTRs is that whatever you do there isn't copied back to your real character. Thus if you play through content on the PTR, you'll have to do the same content all over again when the patch goes live. There is a risk that you are basically spoiling your fun because of the sneak peak you had. The content of patch 3.1 will have to last us for several months, and I'd rather play through it for real than on the PTR.

The other problem with the public test realms is that they are changing much faster than the regular game. It feels like a waste of virtual ink to me to discuss new features, changes, or nerfs, and then find that Blizzard changed them again a week later. Testing is what the PTR presumably is for, so there is always the possibility that as result of the test things get changed again. Thus I'm not even following the discussion about patch changes on WoWInsider or MMOChampion, unless I know which changes are lasting.

There is one possibly interesting use for the PTRs, which is looking at changes to crafting, and trying to predict what the effect will be on the WoW economy once the patch goes live. I made 10k gold before patch 3.0.2 by hoarding cheap herbs for inscription, which promptly skyrocketed after the patch. But I'm still sitting on some stacks of dream shards, who were supposed to go up in value after patch 3.0.8, and never did. I bought some stacks of Black Diamonds cheap in preparation for patch 3.1, and I'm hoarding the Titansteel bars I transmute every day hoping they will go up in value after the patch. But I don't see any sure-fire business opportunity in this patch, only some general impression that prices might go up when people gear up for Ulduar. They might, or WoW might remain stuck in a deflationary spiral. Anyway, I don't need to play on the PTR myself to read about the changes to crafting.

Of course some people like to play on the PTR to already know about the boss fights in Ulduar, so that their guild will progress faster through it. I don't. I've realized that in Wrath of the Lich King the correct question on raid progression is "progress faster towards what?". I do expect my guild to be able to play through Ulduar before the next raid dungeon after that is released, at least on 10-man mode. The staggered release of raid content makes hurrying up unnecessary.

Are you playing on the PTR? And if yes, what is your motivation to do so? Aren't you afraid that by playing the content already now, you will only get bored faster after the release?

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