Monday, March 31, 2008

When is a Bug not a Bug?

There was an unexpected bug after patch 2.4 that Blizzard quickly jumped on and had fixed by Thursday. This really wouldn't be worth mentioning except that the bug actually fixed a long standing exploit in the battlegrounds that annoys the hell out of me. While patch 2.4 supposedly made it so that pre-made teams are more often matched against other pre-made teams there's still a handy method for getting around it. Every pre-made uses "scouts" which are single players that enter into a battleground and makes sure they aren't playing against another pre-made team. If everyone on the opposite side is from the same server they assume it's a pre-made team and they tell the leader to queue them up for another battleground.

This is annoying to me for two very good reasons. The first reason is that it makes it so that pre-made teams mostly play against pick up groups and it artificially increases the rate at which they gain honor at the cost of other players. Some would argue that putting the effort to organize a pre-made should grant them an advantage but truthfully it's overkill. The second reason is that it creates a lot of games that start with an unfair advantage between the two factions. If a pre-made queues out of a game then chances are that one side is only going to start with 3-4 players. In games like Arathi Baisin and Eye of the Storm where you have to defend your flags an initial number disadvantage usually allows the other side to increase the score where it's almost impossible to catch up.

The bug in 2.4 that accidentally addressed the scouting exploit was one that caused all the server names to be improperly displayed for players. Players all saw each other's server names replaced by a generic "BG#" tag. As a result scouts couldn't tell if the other side was from the same server and thus a pre-made team. For one glorious day I didn't run into a single pre-made team as most of them got stuck playing each other. All of this was over as soon as the hotfix was applied and this weekend was filled with Arathi Baisin's starting (15 vs 3). As much as the 2.4 changes to the matching system were supposed to force pre-mades to play against one another it still wasn't as effective as a bug in Blizzard's code.

So to answer my question of "When is a bug not a bug?" When it fixes an exploit.

7 comments:

Cow Nose the 50 Pound Cat said...

Ah that was a great blog! I love blogs like this that bring some new info that I didn't know and is interesting a the same time, good stuff.

Viet said...

I really enjoyed this entry. Is there not an outcry over the fixing of this "bug" on the forums? I don't dare go there anymore.

Relmstein said...

Most people didn't even realize it was the reason why they weren't getting stomped by pre-mades on Wednesday. Plus I guess players do like seeing what server the people they are playing come from. Hopefully, the developers will make it so that server information doesn't appear until after a game has started.

tilt said...

That bug does make for an interesting feature, but answer me this -- have you seen a pre-made even since they fixed it? I haven't, and that's because of the real fix they did to deal with pre-mades:

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=5591040181&pageNo=1&sid=1#2

Pre-made queue times have gone up, because they've tightened the matchmaking system.

sid67 said...

I still maintain that the best solution for this problem is to not allow someone to ACCEPT a re-queue if they are already in the Battleground. The problem with the way it exists now is that the SCOUT can go into WSG, then to AB, then back into WSG (by accepting a requeue). If they were never allowed to receive the re-queue to WSG, much of the problem is solved. I know that if I were scouting, I wouldn’t be happy with the rest of my pre-made leaving me stranded.

Relmstein said...

The weekend after the bug fix I ran into a couple pre-mades in Arathi. Since that weekend I've only played a limited amount of battlegrounds but it does seem like all the pre-mades disspeared.

The problem with fixes done through the matching system though is that they tend to not work once the number of battlegrounds starts going down. Right now with the new patch and being able to turn tokens in for honor we are in a upswing of PvP. But as soon as it slows down again I'm not so sure how effective the fix will be. Preventing the "scout" tactic might be a sound precaution for the future.

sid67 said...

Hmm. This thread actually gave me a great idea for an addon I might write. You can grab all the stats provided in the battleground log (that shows damage done/healed, killing blows, flag caps and so forth). It’s simple enough to add that to the game tooltip when you hover over someone. That would provide a nice snapshot of how beneficial or harmful a person is to a particular battleground. If I see someone with lots of flag caps, then that might be a good person to follow. Or if I am a healer, maybe I have an easier time figuring out who to heal. You could also save win/losses against that player in past matches. I’ll have to look if CowTip does this first and if not, maybe I’ll write it.