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Jun 23, 2006



That looks about right to me, at least on Alliance side. SW and IF are both so close to eachother I never understood why Mages could Teleport/Portal to both. As a haven for those looking to avoid the lag, SW would be a good choice. As mentioned, it is close, and this means easier time at doing direct sales.

Interestingly too, it really does not appear as if many are taking advantage. I wonder how long before the ingrained tradition of IF being the hub of Alliance changes. Really looks like the growth of SW and the decline of IF are starting to plateau already.


"I wonder how long before the ingrained tradition of IF being the hub of Alliance changes."

There's a running joke at the end of our raid when one mage puts up a portal to Darnassus, alongside the customary Ironforge portal, to upset the unwitting raider that clicks thoughtlessly. I doubt that this will change before the long-awaited expansion pack.


I'd like to see what the effect of having global LFG chat (from the last patch) has on the populations of cities, too. Probably too soon to tell.



I started after the shift, and I leveled up in Stormwind because it seemed like a better designed city. But at 60 it was clear that I had to go to IF most of the time, because that's where every group formed in and out of my guild and it's just a lot better for reaching all the usual destinations. The actual good reason to use Stormwind is Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer - if I'm going to be idle or spend a long time in the AH, I'll head over to Stormwind. There's a decent chance I'll get the buff. The bottom line is that the AH might have made IF win by default but it is still the right place for the Alliance.


Obviously it's not possible to say too much about these numbers, but the one that jumps out is the Alliance RP server (the only one where the graph seems to be converging). Seems that people on that server actually take RP somewhat seriously and want to hang out with their own kind. Even if their own kind have goofy bunny ears, and are stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere.


The interesting thing here is that while the Alliance player distribution shifted to SW slightly, the Horde hasn't changed all that much. Before the AHs were added I thought the Undercity would see a bit of a shift due to easier access to the major dungeons. I guess it really is a matter of social inertia, and SW is the exception because of its closeness to IF.

In an earlier comment Dr. Bartle mentioned the global LFG channel as a possible catalyst for change here. I wonder, though, if after over a year's time that such a convenience will make a difference. WoW's social spaces are strongly established at this point, and may remain so even after the expansion unless there are tantalizingly convenient bases in Outland.


Interesting Graphs...

To the poster 3rd above - are you Zvi from MTG?


The discussion on this and the "Petri Dish" thread leaves me wondering: Do players unconsciously (or consciously) gravitate to large open spaces to congregate, LFG, sell buffs/enchants, etc.? Do those spaces become market squares? Are the choices of one city over another architectural as well as cultural? Is "line of sight" important?

Ironforge has a large open area between the bank and the AH; Stormwind has a square but it's broken up by architecture, fountains, what have you. Orgrimmar has a nice large open area in front of the AH, Undercity has no such area. Coronet in SWG has a large open square in front of the starport that none of the other starports on Corellia have. Certainly in SWG line of sight is more important than in WoW, as SWG utilizes word balloons.


The activity area in Orgrimmar and Ironforge consists of the triangle created by the AH, the mailbox and the bank. This area is obviously less well defined in the other cities.

I discussed this in in my paper for the aop conference (http://www.aestheticsofplay.org/ljunstrom.php), scroll down for illustrations of the activity areas.

I believe that adding the new AH locations was more of a way to make the other cities have _some_ population instead of being totally deserted. Orgrimmar and Ironforge are still the main market places, especially for the player to player trade skills.


Nice graphs. I think we will see the numbers converge a little more over time but the inertia of the main cities will always be there. People like to gather in one main spot :)

I think it would be interesting to see these graphs on some of the newer servers where the AH has always been in all the cities. I imagine that we'd find the numbers even closer.


It's interesting to see that the effect has been more pronounced on the Alliance side.

I suspect that, in WoW, this doesn't relate that much to gathering places but relates more closely to simply travel convenience.

Darnassus is awfully placed for travel to any of the high-level zones, particularly end-game instances. I don't even think Dire Maul or Silithus is that much more convenient to reach from Darnassus. That's one long bird ride. And Onyxia is just a boat ride from the Eastern Kingdoms.

Ironforge and Stormwind are more of a push. Ironforge is better if you intend to quest north (Plaguelands, Stratholme, Scholomance) or if you want to get to Kalimdor. Stormwind is better if you intend to quest south (Burning Steppes, Blasted Lands), and the all-important Blackrock Mountain (Blackrock Spire, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair) is pretty much a push either way.


I was quite happy to see this change, seemed a bit of a waste to have the other two capital cities otherwise. People now can judge the cities on their actual merits - lay-out, closeness to important zones etc rather than the Auction House monopoly. This doesn't change the fact that WoW cities seem to exist mainly for the purposes of trade - if they are not convenient for trading then people do not use them - I think that is something that need to be addressed somehow.

My annecdotal observations -

Stormwind has become very popular on my server, the AH/Bank are very close, and the FP is also convenient. A lot of people used to park bank mules in SW in the past, so this not much of a change. After raiding now SW is the portal of choice for a growing number of people in my guild.

Ironforge is still very busy - but not quite as much as it was.

On horde side - Orgrimmer is still #1 but Thunder Bluff and the UC are becoming quite busy. Thunder Bluff for one is a great launch off point for the whole Kalmidor and the bank/AH zone now appears to be rather busy. The Undercity has the convenience of being able to ride mounts everywhere - one can ride from bank to AH in a matter of seconds and a lot of people seem to do that now.


Org wasn't didn't have the same result as IF.

1. Horde traditionally have lesser people on most servers. So the Org lag isn't as bad as IF lag.

2. The trip from SW -> IF is relatively easy once you zone into the deeprun train sub-zone, where as the nearest capital TB is a flight away (and the chances that you need to fly back to Org for something/someone is high).

3. New continous flightpath meant that there's little point to go and stay in TB instead of Org. (the flight from Org/TB to new instances such as AQ20/40 was similar in length to start with).

4. Unlike the alliance - Rallying cry happens in Org. So there's no reason to go to another capital if you just want to idle prior to your raid.


When I first started my toon in WOW I made it a point to visit all of the capital cities for two reasons: I wanted to check out each of the 3 cities -in my case alliance- geographically, and I wanted to see what city would be the best for my hearthstone location of quests ect. At first, SW was the clear winner in both categories; I loved the overall layout, the music, and it was conveniently located next to a great deal of quests. Now that WGD is level 52 I have reluctantly switched my HS over to Iron Forge as it is now the geographically convenient city. I still visit SW because I buy all of my poison mats from the trader in old town, but other than that, I spend most of my planning time in IF.


One advantage of Orgrimmar over Thunder Bluff not covered above is the location of the Battleground queues. While in Orgrimmar all the BG masters are conviniently close together, in Thunderbluff they are at opposite ends of the city. Another obvious advantage is the presence of the Officer's Barracks.

The Undercity, meanwhile, suffers from an extremely annoying to navigate layout.

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