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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.”
Thanks for reading and feel free to discuss anything (but see edit #2 below).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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…).
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.
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.