|The crowd decide: yes or no? ^^|
Once upon a time, Server reputation meant everything.
The Server you chose wasn't simply your home. It was the ONLY place you could play in: not simply with your Guild, but the PuG. In the days before LFG or LFR, the only way was indeed to stand around in a Capital City (often for hours) in the vain hope someone would shout into Trade 'LFG UBRS Class Run Must have key' and you could automatically get yourself in because you'd done the Key Quest (oh that extra cash from opening the door /nostalgia) If you were a troublemaker, you got ostracised. If you ninja looted, your name was mud, and it pretty much stayed that way. With the advent of the matchmaking system, individual/guild responsibility for policing servers pretty much evaporated overnight.
Being a 'good citizen' was no longer a requirement to be included.
With all the talk on the new policing system Blizzard has admitted to using last week on the blog, a lot of interesting conversations arose as a result. One, with a Guildie who pretty much missed Cataclysm altogether, made me realise that thinking in the old fashioned mindset has a great deal going for it: she's reticent to go into LFR incase she messed up, and people on the Server think she's not capable of doing her job. She still considers us a single entity, and not the huge conglomerate we have become. Her individual reputation still matters. I do wish that this mindset was something everyone I meet in LFR possessed, effectively silencing the loudmouths and the chancers. There was also a discussion on Twitter that considered how someone who has voted to kick people who have needed on green items might actually end up being penalised for what was, in essence, doing the right thing. I have to hope that Blizzard have considered all the consequences of this system, both good and bad.
In essence, the size of the community has both blessed and damned the game's development over the years. LFR was a logical reaction to the number of people not getting to raid, but it has condemned people away from the server 'mentality' and, in most cases, made the notion of a community useless. As numbers have reduced people have been forced to use other methods of social networking to create new 'virtual servers' of their own, and Blizzard were quick to react to this with Real Id raids, but (ironically) are still tied to the the single server model for current content because of the Server/World First. While that still remained, there was always going to be a disparity. However, numbers have finally forced Blizzard to 'group' servers under a single umbrella (notice I deliberately didn't use the word merge there) and the ability to recruit inside that sphere. You'll still have recognisable Guild names, I don't doubt the same 'brand identities' will be prominent when 5.4 hits. However, will the race lose some of it's significance because of the realisation the server 'identity' has finally been compromised?
I really do feel that the moves Blizzard have made in the last couple of weeks will ultimately be positive in the long run. The problems, at least from where I sit, will come with those people like my friend who still believe that 'reputation' is more important than participation, and I have to say I have a measure of sympathy for that position. If I had my way however, we'd have gone with the full-on Server Merge and made people have to change names and play together, and I know full well I'd be on a hiding to nothing from a lot of people I know for believing this would work. My reasoning is very basic: it isn't the character, it's always the person that matters most. You can 'name' yourself whatever you want but it is the actions behind the avatar that matters, not the avatar itself. So many people, not simply playing Warcraft, could do well to remember it is both deeds and words that make a person. Traditions are important however, and I suspect Blizzard are hoping that Flex Raiding will encourage people back to the 'old days' of community policing and individual responsibility.
The opening few weeks of 5.4 look like they'll be very interesting indeed.