The Life and (Slow, Humiliating) Death of oQueue

And now to continue my journey down the tracks of the Warlords of Draenor hype train.

Group finder

Also, frogs.

Last week we had ElvUI drama, wherein which Elv spies on you. This week, it’s oQueue that’s the topic of the latest round of WoW addon gossip.

With the release of World of Warcraft patch 6.0.2 Blizzard introduced a new group finder feature, which functioned (and was more or less intended to replace) the immensely popular addon, oQueue. This isn’t the first time that Blizzard has implemented features that did the exact same thing as popular addons. The logic is that if a majority of the player base is using a certain feature that is only available through addons, then that feature might need to be something included with the game to begin with. The side effect of this is that the addon essentially dies off as it is no longer needed. The same thing happened to Gearscore when Blizzard implemented a veiwable Item Level in Wrath. Sometimes addon developers take their newfound redundancy with grace, but sometimes they don’t.

For a time, oQueue was invaluable to anyone that wanted to get things done. Wanted a premade battleground group but PvP doesn’t seem that popular on your server? oQ. Wanted to find a group to do some world boss at 1am on Tuesday morning, when everyone but you seems to have already killed it? oQ. Want to find a replacement for a raider that hasn’t shown up that week? oQ. It was a fantastic little addon that made up for something that Blizzard had not yet thought to add to the game themselves. That is, until it wasn’t so little anymore.

 

Over the course of the addon’s lifespan, oQueue became more bloated every (real) update with new features that had little to nothing to do with its original function.

The addon also came with a particularly nasty little “feature” that would force a player character to /hail everyone around them if they opened oQueue without having updated it to the latest version and sometimes oQueue wouldn’t work at all unless you updated. Lots of software does this, including World of Warcraft itself. The reason for this is usually to make sure that everyone is running the same versions of the game to minimize issues between both the players and the servers and the players and one-another.

The problem with implementing this kind of system in a Lua addon is that anyone can open up a .lua file and look at the code. If anyone has the ability to look directly at the code of your addon, they have the ability to compare the current and previous versions and identify if you haven’t actually made any changes, which happened quite a lot with oQueue updates.

So why “update” an addon if you don’t have any changes to make? And why break the addon for anyone who didn’t have the absolute latest version if the latest version is no different from the previous? Well, the fact that the addon could only be downloaded from the author’s own website and the fact that that website was monetized might give you an answer.

Well now that Blizzard has offered a viable alternative, players are no longer feeling forced to use oQueue and Tinymasher, oQ’s developer doesn’t seem to be taking to this development kindly. Recent oQ patch notes now include the fact that oQueue now piggybacks off of Blizzard’s new default group finder with a nice new bonus feature: people using oQueue can now create groups that wont allow people without oQueue to join. Because oQueue now uses the Blizzard group finder tool, any of these groups set up with oQueue will be listed with all the rest, forcing people without oQ to gamble on whether or not they’ll be allowed to join groups unless they download a now completely unnecessary addon.

This reeks of a pathetic attempt to stay relevant on the part of Tinymasher and I don’t foresee many people being exactly thrilled to be asked to download a poorly-functioning addon that they don’t need in order to play with people who do have it. Whereas most developers of redundant addons tend to either adjust their addons to keep on doing things that Blizzard’s own implementation doesn’t or just let that particular piece of their own fade away gracefully, Tinymasher’s approach is honestly quite embarrassing. oQueue is on the way out now and, already, far less people are using it than they were before patch 6.0.2.

Let this be a lesson to those who develop addons for any game: don’t be obstinate when your addon’s functions are implemented into the game proper (if you didn’t think they should be in the game then why were you even developing?), don’t rely on your addon being necessary forever and, if your work is made redundant, don’t be an arsehole about it.