There was an interesting change slipped into the 4.1 patch notes a few days ago, and players may or may not have noticed it. The dungeon finder, which pulls from the combined battlegroups of all servers, has been tweaked to place players from the same realm together first, and if it can't find players from the same realm, it will move on to a wider pool of players. What does this mean for the dungeon finder? Very little -- you'll still be getting a group. But it's the motives behind the change that are interesting, as posted by Zarhym on the official forums:
It's interesting that Zarhym mentions community, as it's one of those intangibles that many players may be missing without realizing they're missing it. In the early days of Wrath and dating all the way back to vanilla, individual realms were full-fledged communities where everyone knew each other, or at the very least knew of each other. The dungeon finder was a brilliant, innovative change designed to allow players to group without the hassle of sitting in a major city and typing in the looking for group channel endlessly, but it had the odd side effect of taking the realm camaraderie away. But there's also a very different reason this change excites me.
Blizzard has always held a standard on self-policing; if a player is being bothersome or harassing, the option has always been there to file a report on the player. But when groups were formed prior to the existence of the dungeon finder, players always knew what they were getting into; player reputation on realms and the close-knit community on individual realms provided ways for players to monitor the less than savory types like ninjas via the realm forums and simple reputation. With the introduction of the dungeon finder, suddenly that self-policing via reputation disappeared, as players you encountered were from realms that were not your own and you'd likely never see them again.
With this change, we've been given a little of that self-policing action back again. Sure, if you're on a smaller realm or a realm without as many players queued up in that dungeon finder, you're still going to have the off-realm players -- but you're also going to start to see a lot of faces you may not have realized you haven't seen in awhile. So go queue up, and when you see players from your realm, say hello; it's been awhile, but now's the chance for everyone on your realm to get reacquainted. I think it's about time -- what do you think?
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