Patch 8.1 and Cross-Faction Roleplay


#1

UPDATE: This issue has been semi-resolved by Blizzard (see end of post).

Last night I learned that Patch 8.1 blocked some addon functionality that roleplayers were using to facilitate cross-faction RP events, which has ruined a lot of fantastic roleplay potential in Battle for Azeroth. :frowning:

I’m the developer of Cross RP, an addon that translates your chat across factions, strictly meant for roleplaying. It has numerous conditions in which it intentionally doesn’t operate to preserve the Warcraft experience for normal players.

  • It disables itself in Battlegrounds and arenas.

  • It disables itself on non-RP realms.

  • It intentionally doesn’t automatically “connect,” meaning that you will never see cross-faction chat without your consent.

  • You need to be in the same community with people you are roleplaying with, meaning that this is meant for groups of friends, or at the very least, like-minded people.

Sounds like a pain in the butt to use, right? Well it kind of is, but it’s way better than what people were struggling with before, such as Battlenet whispers or connecting raid groups through two relay bots. It’s all made possible through the new communities API that Battle for Azeroth added, which is essentially a godsend to roleplayers who like to do cross-faction stuff.

Unfortunately, with Patch 8.1, all addons are now blocked from reading or processing any data from community chat channels, breaking Cross RP (and our sweet hopes and dreams). The way Cross RP worked was simple: it just relayed your chat text (/say, /emote etc) over a community channel so your friends on the other faction could translate. I’m not aware of any other popular addons that use the community channels like this to transfer “data,” so this change does feel a bit targeted at Cross RP. :frowning:

During development, I was VERY careful in regard to not abusing the community channels. As a result, my protocol is super optimized, and each active user only sends around 5-8 bytes per second on average in a very crowded (100+ players), roleplaying event.

On top of this, this isn’t a super popular addon – it probably has well under 5000 active users (with a much smaller fraction actually using it per night) and only impacts roleplayers, so I’m kind of wondering why this change was made.

I want to believe that Blizzard is supportive for cross-faction stories and people roleplaying them out, especially during this expansion, and my guess is that this is an unfortunate side effect from a change simply intended to discourage addons as a whole from abusing the community channels (while my addon is well behaved, others’ might not be) – like maybe they don’t want the possibility of people making malicious software that can scan through your guild chat history for private information.

That being said, there’s no other way currently to have this sort of mass-scale cross-faction RP fun.

Here’s a picture of the Tournament of Ages 2018, a massive cross-faction roleplaying event that heavily used Cross RP: https://imgur.com/ZRKplYG

And here’s the finale from “Drums of War,” another massive, fantastic cross-faction event (the first to test my addon on a huge scale) that took place on Argent Dawn EU during the pre-patch, a prime example of the warcraft potential that cross-faction RP has: https://reddit.com/r/wow/comments/95l87e/the_final_staredown_drums_of_war_campaign_finale/

Here’s also an old forum post if you want to read more of my opinions on the matter (especially why cross-faction chat is important for roleplaying): https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20767577230

To Blizzard: With Battle for Azeroth, for the first time since the launch of WoW, players have been able to do cross-faction roleplay on a large scale via an addon, but that functionality is now blocked. Some of the roleplay community feels a bit discouraged by this change, especially because they feel like they don’t have a say on the matter (due to being only a small fraction of WoW’s millions of players). We’d love to hear your opinions, why the change was made, as well as any possible solutions (like, addon channels added to the Communities API would be terrific) to bring back this cross-faction RP dream. :smiley:

Also, if you’re wondering why we can’t just “make a Battlenet group and roleplay in it,” it’s because it’s too primitive. Firstly, there aren’t character names in Battlenet groups. Secondly, Cross RP also boasted the powerful feature of transferring roleplay profiles (such as how your character looked, what their actual name is, etc.). Thirdly, if you have a hundred players in one spot, you’re not going to be able to read anything in the endless chat scroll.

I feel like there’s been a lot of negativity on the forums lately, so I’d like to apologize if this post seems like yet another complaint. As a roleplayer, and I think I speak for a lot of us with this note, I want to say that World of Warcraft has been an incredible lore-rich environment to play in, and it’s kept me very entertained for the past few years in spite of any “content droughts” or “class problems.” :smile:

Thanks for reading and feel free to discuss anything (but see edit #2 below).
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EDIT – ADDITIONAL NOTE FOR NERDS ONLY

Since this thread has gotten a lot of attention from Cross RP fans, I want to add a bit more to basically cover my butt in the technical department (IF the 8.1 change indeed is targeted at cross-faction chat), since I think some Blizzard devs will probably roll their eyes at a few points due to being smart. :smiley:

With those conditions at the top, the restrictions as to where Cross RP operates, as brought up in a few replies: it’s true, three of them can be easily bypassed if someone else were to make a similar addon with a more malicious design. However, I don’t believe there is an issue still.

  1. It is my opinion that the amount of players that want to chat cross-faction for grief purposes (e.g. in battleground settings) is very small, and there wouldn’t be enough motivation to pull off a project with considerable impact (I know there was BabelFish before, but this is much different, due to the points below).

  2. To create an addon that debilitates the faction barrier where it should stay intact (like pvp environments) be will be a lot of work for little gain. Cross RP is not open source, and, not to boast, but this thing is a bit of an engineering marvel. If someone were to copy my code for malicious purposes, they would not have an easy time distributing it to people because I would definitely declare copyright infringement.

  3. The last condition, “Being in the same community,” cannot be bypassed. This is huge, because with the player limit communities have, it would easily frustrate any design that boasts it can take down the faction wall easily. Cross RP is only easy to use because there is a relatively small community that uses it. If its userbase gets bigger, people would need to start creating more smaller communities for it, and it will become more event-based. That was my plan for Cross RP’s launch – start with one big community, and people branch off once there is a considerable number of players.

  4. It feels like the game itself has done most of the work already to ‘weaken’ the faction wall in Battle for Azeroth. For example, if you’re in a BattleNet community with some friends, you can cooperate with the enemy via voice chat or some such – which is fairly easier than using some sophisticated addon to translate your ingame chat (which is only visible to people using the same addon).

All that said? I also believe that it’s totally not ideal to have to use an addon for cross-faction RP, and this sort of functionality should be (opinion) baseline for RP realms. In my linked post above (which I really encourage reading to better understand the concerns here), I talk a lot about why cross-faction is vital for roleplayers, especially during an expansion that emphasizes the war—although the proposed solutions in there can also apply to normal players (if it is actually a considerable thought to dare to remove the faction barrier, a core principle of World of Warcraft, in some circumstances for normal gameplay).
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ADDITIONAL NOTE FOR PEOPLE COMMENTING

Please keep in mind that we do not know the exact reason the devs have blocked addons from reading community chat, and it could be something else entirely unrelated to Cross RP! So don’t be mad at them (yet…). :smiley:

I’m gonna point out that Blizzard is a passionate company when it comes to the quality of their games—the devs are gamers too—and they don’t want to just “stop fun” without a good reason. Their team isn’t ignorant. Stressed? Absolutely. It’s tough work running a company, and even tougher work keeping up with what a diverse crowd wants, especially when you’ve been working on the same project for such a long time and have loyal players from 14 years ago that compete with the ideals of newer players. It’s a lot to manage!

In the case of “why won’t they reply to us?!” it’s simply because it’s difficult to create a tactful official statement, especially if commenting on something controversial. I always see comments about “Blizzard doesn’t listen!” but I assure you that they do listen and read feedback – it’s just not always so easy to give a response. They’ve got a lot on their plate.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t “bump” threads. If you want the thread to continue, comment or question on something. Don’t just bump; it’s against the forum rules. :ok_hand:
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FINAL UPDATE

Blizzard addressed this issue in their Q&A session today. The changes were made due to security concerns, and Cross RP was broken from a mere side effect. To help out people who want to do cross-faction chat things, they’ve added Elixir of Tongues that you can purchase in Dalaran’s Underbelly that lets you comprehend the opposing faction’s common language.


Why the hell did you break crossrp?
Bad news about Cross RP
Live Developer Q&A Friday, December 14 – Submit Your Questions
Bad news about Cross RP
Best server for cross Rp?
AAMS Service Line - Bnet Community
Live Developer Q&A Friday, December 14 – Submit Your Questions
Live Developer Q&A Friday, December 14 – Submit Your Questions
What if they implemented all the overwhelmingly popular ideas?
(Vynix) #2

Giving my support to this addon creator.
This addon has become as vital to roleplayers as TRP, and is just as safe/passive.
Please hear us out & keep us playing your game. This is so absolutely disappointing to the entire roleplaying community. The guild I run (which is split with identical guilds on either faction to RP as one singular neutral business) thrives on allowing for characters who don’t care one lick about “faction squabbles” (at least where making personal friends/connections is concerned) and disallowing this addon’s functionality puts us back at square one.
I understand you will always cater to PvP/PvE, but PLEASE give this some thought. Some of us are only here subbing because of roleplay.


(Zandrae) #3

(As promised. Here’s a better post.)

The purpose of this post is to communicate the viewpoints of roleplayers regarding a recent API change which protected Battlenet community messages, rendering them unreadable to addons. This change has crippled an addon which greatly enhanced player experience and added value to the game.

Summary
The CrossRP addon has brought added value to the roleplay servers which the software was designed for, thus enhancing players experiences, and keeping them subscribed longer, even during content droughts and uncomfortable narrative. This is a plea from roleplayers to undo these API changes, if only on RP servers, and to find a different—better way to solve whatever problem led to these functions becoming protected.

Discussion
On World of Warcraft we engage in several different activities: We PvE, we PvP, we explore, we collect, we craft, we socialize, and on some servers we roleplay. Roleplay is collaborative multi-person story writing wherein each participant plays one (or more) characters for fun and entertainment. Roleplay happens with consent of all parties involved at the pleasure of all parties involved and players create their own stories within the Warcraft universe, sometimes independent from the narrative. These stories within the world keep people playing even after content dries up because we make our own fun.

We gather on our roleplay servers, in communities and guilds, united by common interests and tastes. We gather in battlenet groups, on forums, discord servers, reddits, wikis, facebook groups, blogs, twitter, you name it. Our communities are worldwide, uniting different people from all walks of life. One community I have the pleasure of engaging with has participants from a many country across five continents. We spend thousands of hours engaging with each other, writing stories, and in some cases, friendships forged through roleplay has resulted in life-long friendships and real-life meetings.

CrossRP has had profound positive effects on our communities. From the Tournament of Ages and its massive fundraising and newsworthy notoriety to simple interaction like two people in the same Cross community serendipity playing between pulls on a world quest and deciding to unite against a powerful mob. It has enabled us to meet more people and broaden our horizons. We have been able to take our friends made on places like discord in game and have fun together despite faction. Players have had positive and helpful encounters with others that have excited them about playing, have experienced boosts in confidence from such interactions and made them more comfortable engaging with other players.

More discussion and alternative solutions to the problem.

Why CrossRP over just using battlenet groups straight?

  • Proximity: While many people may be using CrossRP at once, only those within hearing range will see what someone is saying in the game client. Yeah, they could go read the relay channel and try to pick out what is going on between addon garble. The proximity means that people are not getting information overload from people far away while still having their roleplay fun.
  • Roleplay names: battlenet groups do not display our RP names, or even our character names. This makes interaction difficult because we all have to remember everyones’ battlenet names as well as which character we are talking to. This is a hassle and hassle is the enemy.
  • Roleplay profiles: With CrossRP we can see others profiles regardless of faction or server. This would not be needed if SendAddonMessage(WHISPER) worked across faction and across server without silently failing. That is not the case and until it is the case, we will need to use soft solutions to do things as simple as play with someone who is on another server but in the same zone as us.

With roleplay, the name of the game is community entertainment. We entertain each other, we create and consume our own content. Tools that enable us to entertain more players means more players remained subscribed to the game that otherwise might not with lower levels of engagement when content is lacking and the narrative is unsatisfying.

I cannot really say why this might be the cause of this because I am not an engineer working for Blizzard. I can, however, speculate and make suggestions for alternative implementations.

PvP Concerns: It seems like a far-fetched concern that other addons might use this API to somehow let people in arena or rbg groups somehow coordinate queuing and throw games or something. This is far-fetched because this could just as easily be done with other addon communication methods before the implementation of battlenet communities, it could also be done over voice chat. A better solution would be to disable the API when groups queue for a battleground and not enable it for t time or require a reload of UI for it to start working again. Remember hassle is the enemy.

Harassment concerns: If the concern is harassment of players by other players, then there are some solutions that Blizzard could take to correct the problem without harming communities.

  • Fix Ignore: Ignore in game seems to be bound to GUID even if it blocks all characters on a battlenet. If someone does something to change their GUID, they fall off ignore. This means that players must keep ignoring their harassers or ignore as many alts of their harasser as possible, quickly using up the very limited ignore list space.
  • Increase the ignore cap: Due to the above, it is very easy to cap out and while soft solutions can extend ignore lists, they do not block all forms of communication (like addon communications).
  • Mutuality in ignores: Make ignores mutual unless the ignore is a guild leader/officer/community moderator/whatever of a group the ignorer is in. Example: If Bob’ross of House Happytree and Krunk the Manslayer do not get on, and Bob’ross ignores Krunk, then Krunk cannot see Bob’s text either. This largely stops Krunk from taking any text Bob’ross makes and trying to cause trouble with it.

Privacy concerns: If the concerns are privacy, like channel history being viewed by someone lurking, there are a couple solutions.

  • Mutuality in ignore: See above. If harassers cannot see another persons’ text, they cannot use it for harassment. It is a revocation of consent to having their writing read and it is honestly pretty important.
  • Purge old posts: For all guilds, wow communities, and battlenet communities, in all channels, if a post is older than n days, delete it unless the user specifies otherwise. User may specify on a group or channel basis to not or to clean channels faster. (I personally do not like how guild history remains visible forever. If someone has a bad day there will be forever records of that through so and so’s post is deleted.)
    Note: Those who are using CrossRP are doing so with their own consent when they have turned it on and they are informed that people might be able to read what they say. They have opted in. If an interaction turns negative they can opt out by disconnecting. By making ignores mutual they can assure someone they wish to avoid can not see their posts anymore.

Recommendation
Players of the World of Warcraft roleplaying communities are coming to Blizzard with a plea to both communicate with us undo whatever changes broke one of the best things that has happened to our communities and for roleplay this expansion. We’re all giving our feedback here because, above all else, we love this game and we love writing stories in this universe (even if we get a bit cranky about the narrative or writing at times). We want to keep writing fantastic stories together and wish to keep the tools that best enable us to do so.

People posting here want to know why this happened. If this was an accident or an unintended consequence, please communicate with us. Many of us will patiently wait, support you, and even make suggestions on how else to solve the problem if that’s the case. We cannot make suggestions unless we know precisely what the problem is.

Blizzard is one of the top gaming companies in the world, with a wide array of talented creators and coders. Surely the engineers at Blizzard could find another way to achieve the same goal where both developer and roleplayers who are minding their own business are equally satisfied.

Thank you for reading. :peacock:

Edit: The following post later down in the thread is also exceptionally well-written with very thoughtful feedback so I’m highlighting it:


#4

Honestly, this Addon was one of the better things about this expansion. I don’t find a lot of enjoyment with the content or story anymore. Being able to talk to the other faction was arguably the most exciting thing to happen to WoW for a long time.


#5

As someone who doesn’t rp and is completely unaffected by this change, this still sounds like a really bad decision on Blizzard’s part. Players will still find ways to rp with their friends on the other faction using third party programs to relay messages, Blizzard just put a huge roadblock in the way that they have to navigate around. What exactly is Blizzard’s reasoning for this?


(Greáves) #6

This addon has been immeasurably helpful and frankly game-changing for the roleplay community. Without it, the quality of cross-faction roleplay - and roleplay as a whole - diminishes significantly. I’d very much hope this decision is changed to enable cross-rp to be functional once again.


#7

CrossRP became a huge part of my roleplaying experience and it made me so excited to finally be able to write such expansive stories across faction lines. With it blocked now, that’s a whole lot of fun just sucked out of the overall experience for me. I’d really like to see it come back.


#8

I won’t lie or mince words here: I think this addon was targeted specifically because they saw it as a huge counter to their awful content writing and outdated storytelling. It’s giving players a chance to be player characters and have their own level of invested agency, which the game has struggled to fight against for years.


(Lathander) #9

I heard it was being abused for some exploits. So obviously they are going to fix that.


#10

This has been an amazing add on and I am really hopping that they will be able to work through this and that Blizzard will do their part.


#11

Gameplay > Lore or Roleplay.


(Moranai) #12

This has all of my support as does the creator. The changes made that broke this addon have already caused several RP events to suffer and return to faction-only.

Cross RP has helped facilitate even more RP then before. It has made some amazing connections and stories even better with its help.


(Lüneth) #13

Cross-RP completly revitalized and diversified the RP community. It is a huge disservice and tragedy to the health of RP realms that have positively embraced it.


(Darvol) #14

Cross-faction RP has been some of the best RP I’ve took part in, I really hope Blizzard didn’t intentionally sabotage the addon.


(Khlorós) #15

Adding my post to approve of this, we should get it back, it was one of the best things for the RP community.

We make up a really small amount of the population, but we are hands down the easiest group of people to please, do us a solid blizzard.


(Awkaran) #16

I support anything that increases the communicative abilities of the players in the game. Communication is important, even in between factions, despite the heated war that’s happening. Role playing is fun and is a great activity that fuels imagination. I greatly respect the creator of this add on, he’s a saint. /moo


(Kaceys) #17

Cross RP is the coolest addon around! IT MUST BE FIXED!
When the raid content is done, the item levels on your main are super high, what is there to do while waiting for raid day or more to be added? RP! RP helps keep the game alive and by limiting RP addons, it really hurts it. Hopefully it can be fixed!


(Zatiya) #18

This was really one of the best addons ever.

I made so many new friends and contacts through CrossRP, and have been part of extensive storylines and communities that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the connections I made attending events that used the add-on.

The world of warcraft felt larger, more extensive, more alive when I could communicate with the other half. Something that is canon lorewise anyway since everyone speaks Common.


#19

Like what though? Being able to communicate to player on the other faction is in the game, all you have to do is btag someone, which is more likely to be the case for ‘exploiting’ cross faction talk. The ‘muh exploits’ reason for terminating fun things blizz doesn’t have the foresight or spine to put into the games because they want to dictate this god awful trash story to you is way too overdone and needs to stop.


(Zenrao) #21

My guild RPs as one organization, spread across two guilds, one on Alliance, one on Horde. The RP that we got to participate in, thanks to this addon, was groundbreaking and more fun than a lot of things I’ve been able to do in BfA.

If this was targeted to remove functionality of CrossRP, am I personally pleading with you, Blizzard, to reconsider. So many people were brought so much enjoyment by this addon. It would mean more than you know to our community, which is fairly large, if you restored functionality of CrossRP.