New Blizzard Downloader

 By Shamus Aug 5, 2010 81 comments

wow_downloader.jpg

I’ve mentioned before that I’m on the Cataclysm beta. But I haven’t spent much time with it yet. Every time I find I have forty-five minutes to spend on it, I fire up the software and it spends thirty five minutes downloading and patching. The only time I get in is when I plan ahead and launch the program an hour before I actually want to play. Now, this is all part of the deal of being on a beta I’m not really complaining about that.

But this morning was one of those times when I had the foresight to start the program before I needed it. At 6am I fired it up, planning to to play around 7. That would give me a nice hour of playtime before I began work at 8.

But the launcher announced that Blizzard was rolling out a new update system. And get this: It promised that the new system would “stream” content as needed. I wish I’d grabbed a screenshot when it offered me the deal so that I could get the exact wording, but it gave me the impression that I wouldn’t need these annoying forty-five minute patches anymore. It sounded a bit too good to be true, but then it didn’t really give me a lot of choice, either. The game would no longer launch until I’d gotten the new downloader.

Step 1 of getting the new downloader: Uninstall Cataclysm.

WHAT?!?!?!

For those of you who’ve never run World of Warcraft: The game is notoriously time-consuming to install. If you have a store-bought CD, you’ll install the game and then have to download patches in excess of the size of the game you just installed. (My install of the standard game weighs in at 18+ gigs.) It used to be that it would do the download in multiple stages so that you have to click “update” once every couple of hours to keep the process moving. I think they’ve fixed that now and you can leave it run overnight.

Anyway. Why am I removing my entire Cataclysm install if all I need is to update a bit of the software? It is now six hours since I began the process, and the re-download of Cataclysm is 85% complete. I’m not so much annoyed at not getting to play this morning. This is a beta and that’s how things go on a beta. No, what annoys me is how senseless this download is. There is no way in the world that Blizzard changed every single art asset in the game since last Friday. So why make everyone download everything again?

Blizzard. You are misunderstanding the word “patch”. See, “patch” is supposed to mean a localized fix to a particular bit of software or data. The idea behind patching technology is that the user will only download the changed bits. Like, if you move one of the rocks in Durotar three feet to the left, I shouldn’t need to re-download all of Kalimdor. What you’re doing is not patching. You’re just replacing. Remember four years ago when you made your entire update system peer-to-peer based and everyone hated it? But you said it was just completely infeasible for you to just offer the files for proper download? Well, maybe this wouldn’t be such a problem if you didn’t make people download eighteen gigabytes because you changed ten megabytes of data?

Get your heads right.

Addendum: DO NOT HAVE MUSIC PLAY ENDLESSLY DURING AN EIGHT HOUR DOWNLOAD PROCESS. Or at least give us a mute button. Every time I alt-tab over or close another window that music is still playing. Do you really think anyone would want to listen to the menu music for eight hours?

Addendum2: I can’t believe this didn’t dawn on me until now, but… wasn’t the entire point of this new system to give us a better download that did some sort of streaming mumbo-jumbo? This is the opposite of that. Just… what. What are you even doing. You are madmen.

Addendum3: I just noticed that the new downloader really, really sucks. The old one would show you details on the bits you were downloading and how fast. You could bring up this status window and watch it go. The new one just just a progress bar and a STOP button.

UPDATE: The download finished, the launcher launched, and brought up this window:

wow_launcher.jpg

It spent 7 hours downloading 15GB of data. And now the spiffy new launcher is promising to spend another 10 to download everything AGAIN.

I have no words.

202020201There are now 81 comments. Almost a hundred!


  1. Ell Jay says:

    Makes Steam look downright benign.

  2. Deoxy says:

    Unfortunately, you’ve already addressed this in the past. Search for “avalanche insurance in case their pile of money falls over.”

    They are so successful that they don’t have to care about little things like this. And, really, if this is their biggest failing (which, compared to all the other MMOs out there, at least judging by market share, it is), then it’s pretty darn good.

    Still, it is pretty stupid. :-/

    (Please note that I don’t actually play any MMOs of any kind, so I can mostly just enjoy this mess, much like seeing a massive car pileup on the other side of the freeway.)

  3. rofltehcat says:

    I’m just a gaming geek and no informatics/programming geek but for me this sounds like this is such a severe change in the updating/game engine that it requires differently indexed data to work without problems if it is really “updating/downloading” the content while you are playing and exploring new things in the game world. I could be completely wrong, though. I’ve heard too much technobabble and had too little education on such topics so I make things up as I go :D

    Also there is a typo: “No, what annoys me is how senseless this download it.” should be “is” at the end I think. *nitpick*

    • Deoxy says:

      While there may be some truth to this (the concept of “differently indexed” – that is, some kind of systemic change), it could still be done with a complete re-download.

      Such issues could easily make it much more difficult to do without a complete re-download, but it would not remotely make it impossible.

      • Robyrt says:

        I can see the meeting now. The engine guys have a streaming content system ready to go, but it changes the metadata on every single game asset to use the new indexing scheme. Our options are to make every beta user re-download the whole game, or spend a man-month writing a custom installer that patches your existing data.

        The head level designer points out that if you make everyone re-download, it’s a clean test of your streaming system. Your beta testers have most of the world already downloaded, so they may not encounter the new system while playing at all. Sold!

        • Athan says:

          What’s worse is that if this “we just had to do it this way to enable streaming at all” theory is correct then *everyone* playing WoW when Cataclysm is released is going to be faced with this problem (at least for all vanilla + TBC + LK content they already have… even if boxed DVD contains the Cata content in correct new format).

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            But by the time General Release rolls around, they may have the in-place reindexing asset written and debugged.

            And, really, redownloading 18GB for general release has real-world bandwidth costs that probably ARE big enough to be cost effective to write a fix for. A couple hundred beta testers is probably less than 1% of the pool. hundreds of terabytes of bandwidth for GA, that’s-a lotta spicy bandwidth..

            • Haxot says:

              Dear god, listen to you people make excuses for them.

              They had a (to them) great idea, and they implemented it poorly and without thought.

              That is all there is to it

              Index change? Ha, My asthma.
              Index changes are not that hard to do, even drastic index changes.
              It would need to have better than 33% of the actual content changed to increase the feasibility of “having everyone just redownload”.
              (See basic information theory)

              This is an obvious case of stupidity.
              Haxot

              P.S.
              I work with 455k rows spread out over 4k disparate tables of meta data. Converting to a new indexing system is, while non-simplistic, definitely not a man-month. A 8 man-hours to write, and 16 to test. One man’s work week.

        • Aelyn says:

          Bingo.

          In order to test fully, you remove fully and make people do the whole shooting match. If you’ve got a subset of the universe of players, the only way you get even a decent test is to overwhelm the system. The only way to do that… complete download.

          Not a great solution, but I can see some evil logic in it.

    • Valaqil says:

      I think I get what you’re saying, but that’s not quite correct. Every file you download has some data. Art assets, as Shamus points out, aren’t being changed here. Should it be in a new folder? Fine. Download some 10MB program that has a list and moves files around. Should it be re-indexed? Download a new index. You already have quite a bit of game data that isn’t being changed. These files are discrete. Unless everything is packed into one massive file, similar to a ZIP, and the game unpacks the data _every time you play_, you shouldn’t need to re-download the file in its new format. Unless they made some colossal mistake, I cannot _fathom_ how this would come to be. I hope there’s a reason to it, but I don’t see what it would be.

      I was going to post this at the bottom, but I’ll add it here :
      “This is the opposite of that. Just… what. What are you even doing. You are madmen.”
      This was hilarious, Shamus. I literally laughed out loud at that.

      • Deoxy says:

        That’s exactly what I was talking about when I said it was much more difficult. Why have your team spend a lot of time developing something like that ($$$) that might break, anyway, when you can just have people download it?

        Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it still makes good business sense (most of the time, with certain assumptions which they obviously go by).

        • Abnaxis says:

          I think you’re missing another important cost here: time. Beta testing time here is worth much more than development team time. If I read this right, this new streaming update thing lets you play if you have most of the important updates, but are missing a slight update here or there. In this system, I can see a bug potentially shutting down every single client in existence if it isn’t caught before it is released to the general populace. We’re talking mounds upon mounds of millions upon millions of dollars of loss here.

          Writing patching software that doesn’t require a fresh install takes time. Time you could be using your guinea pigs to put your new risky feature through its paces, lowering the chance of a cataclysmic meltdown (so to speak). Forget having a patch system install it–they probably spent bookoo bucks just to get it to the beta testers as soon as possible as it is. The patcher is probably being worked on for later release once they know the base system actually works, but that is most definitely orders of magnitude lower priority than making sure the base program works.

          • wootage says:

            Right, so the correct answer for Blizzard as a company is to put the burden on the person who is volunteering their free time to help test their game.

            I think Shamus is pointing out that the correct answer for all of the testers is for Blizzard to sac up and get the fundamentals right first.

            Just FYI, it is a sad but true fact that once you walk into the confines of a company, you are no longer personally accountable for the effects of your actions on customers. To me, this is the cause of just about all of the corporate mega-evil in the world today, because in that model, you don’t have to actually BE evil to do something that has the exact same effect on your customer base.

            • Peter H. Coffin says:

              Well, if they’re burdening people that signed up to help test the game… Gosh, it’s almost like exactly what they volunteered for, isn’t it?

              • Will says:

                Thinking about it; this does actually make sense. If Blizzard want to test their streaming system to see if it works, they’re not going to get any workable data if everyone testing the system has already downloaded all the files.

  4. Hugo Sanchez says:

    The ol’ Download system worked great. It was a P2P system, which saved blizzard tons, and worked great.

    I never had any problems with it.

    • Ace Calhoon says:

      Early on, the downloader worked extremely poorly (to the point where I could find and download the files from a third party site in a small fraction of the time taken by the patcher). These days, the system works pretty well.

  5. Sagretti says:

    It’s one of those “It’s beta testing, if it frustrates you don’t participate in beta” things, at least in Blizzard’s eyes. I’m guessing that they either wanted to force a mass load test of the new updater, couldn’t get existing Cataclysm beta data to work right with the new downloader, or a combination of both.

  6. Exenz says:

    From what I understand, it won’t be necessary to uninstall the game when Cataclysm is released, only change the launcher. So asking beta testers to redownload everything was probably only done to test the new system. (As annoying as that may be)

    I’ve also heard some good comments about the streaming part, tho I’ll personally probably always wait for the full download to finish before going in-game. (I just don’t like seeing the world appear out of nowhere in front of me)

  7. Duffy says:

    I assume it was a test, since well that’s how I would do it. Seems like the perfect excuse to use the new streaming system with a large number of people hitting it and playing at the same time.

    And while you seem to understand it, I do find it funny that a large number of people don’t actually “test” in the Beta Test, they just play and complain as if it’s the real final release to random blogs or forums, very rarely do they properly try to report issues (I admit this is biased among the people I know with beta experience concerning WoW both in the past and now).

    Even some of the above commentators act as if this is a live game and not a Beta Test that is supposed to find bugs and stability issues missed by internal testing. Such as say the effect of a few thousand people trying to download and play the game from scratch with the new streaming patch system.

    • Mari says:

      I think part of the reason many Beta testers don’t understand the Beta process is because many developers don’t either. For instance, releasing a game on a social networking site for every Tom, Dick, and Mari to play with the word “Beta” stamped on the end and no other sign that it’s a proper Beta and using the defense “It’s ONLY A BETA!” whenever problems are reported properly does not engender understanding of how Beta testing works among users. Leaving that system in place for more than two years is also not a good way to deal with the Beta process. Is it any wonder then that most people don’t understand what a Beta is, don’t participate properly in the process, and generally assume that “Beta” means “don’t blame us”?

      Bear in mind, I’m not accusing Blizzard specifically here. My understanding is that Cataclysm is a closed Beta of the old school variety and being run quite properly. But other developers don’t do that and it confuses things for users who aren’t necessarily all that savvy or knowledgeable. And I’m not just talking about small/indie publishers, here.

  8. Frac says:

    Check your data plan. Make sure downloading 20+ Gig of info isn’t pushing you over and costing you $5/Meg :-)

    • bbot says:

      Almost all American ISPs do “unlimited” plans, where instead of obvious, agreed-upon bandwidth limits, they only start complaining when your saturate your connection for weeks at a time.

      • Hugo Sanchez says:

        Or if you go over the limit, (Which is fairly high, 250Gbs here) They shut you off for a week for “Internet Abuse”.

        • LazerF, says:

          Only 250GB? Ouch… Virgin 50Mbit UK, here, and I downloaded 1.3TB last month (Curse you, Steam Sales! And losing my Steam Hard Disk, so having to download all my games; just after buying a load in the Sales!)

      • Mari says:

        Or if they suspect that you might be on course to go over your limit but you haven’t come close yet. Yes, I’m thinking of a regional provider who does that regularly. Even to business accounts with “unlimited” plans that disclosed up-front what their estimated usage would be and are still way under their estimates.

    • Nyaz says:

      I feel sad for people without unlimited data on their broadband. I don’t think you can get a plan with a cap in Sweden (where I live).

      Mobile intarwebz is a completely different story, though.

      • Will says:

        Yeah, i finally found an internet provider in Australia that gave ADSL2+ with unlimited data, not having to check my little usage bar and do some quick mental arithmatic to determine if i can download X or not still makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

    • I really started laughing about this. I mean seriously, 250GB as a limit! Actually, even 20GB would be nice. We currently have to pay about $10 for each gig. As in, 5 GB costs $50. I keep forgetting that other countries are a little less prohibitive with the whole “let’s be online” thing.

      And @LazerF, yeah, I do mad Steam sales, too, even though Steam screws my cap. However, when I go mad on Steam, I’m buying very specifically small titles (download wise) and it still hurts. It’s not really so much of a sale to me if the item is > 1GB.

  9. Dev Null says:

    This is why I never sign up for betas. The software industry is famous for shipping final products that barely function; why, exactly, do I want to try out the shite that they don’t think is good enough to release yet? I strongly suspect that the only part of the new downloader that has actually been written is the marketing blurb; its just going to make you download that 16 gigs a couple of times to buy time for someone to write some actual code.

    You’re right though of course; I can’t think of any way that what you’ve experienced could even eventually lead to a not-worse download system. Just because its a “beta” release is no excuse for not testing it _at all_ before it rolls out the door…

    • Duffy says:

      You mean testing it across a country through various IPs to various machine and network setups that cannot possibly be duplicated in anything resembling reasonable time in a local lab with all the various nuances of the other systems related to the game triggering borderline randomly? Let’s be realistic here, this is not a demo, this is a closed Beta several months before the game comes out. Which if you are in it, means you technically agreed to test this very type of thing for them.

      Please, think a little bit before you fly off the handle just so you can throw some hate around. It leads to misinformation, just look at the comment below this one to see the effect such comments from above are already having.

  10. bbot says:

    Good thing I don’t play MMOs! This sounds really annoying!

    • Randy Johnson says:

      It is a beta. He is testing a new program. This is not a final product, and no one would be forced to pay for this.

      • The beta testers are paying for it though, aren’t they?

        I mean, I’m presuming you have to have an active WoW account in order to qualify as a beta tester (and while you’re playing Cataclysm, you aren’t playing the WoW that you’re actually paying for).

        It’s quite funny really – I can’t think of many other industries which could get away with charging their customers to find problems with their product prior to release…

        (although I did formerly work for a company which sold sand to Saudi Arabians, so I can’t really talk)

        • Will says:

          The Beta testers volunteered to do this. Not only that, they volunteered to test the system out, that is why it’s called a beta test.

          Seriously guys, what the hell.

          • I wasn’t disputing the voluntary aspect of it.

            I was just pointing out that they’re still paying customers while they’re doing the testing, which is an interesting dynamic (and not one you’d get in (m)any other situations).

        • Randy Johnson says:

          No, the beta testers are paying for WoW and volunteered for the beta. That is like saying you pay the college to let you volunteer at the library.

          • It’s more like saying you pay the college to let you help the lecturer mark your tests, surely?

            It’s work that Blizzard could pay people to do, and instead they’re getting volunteers to do it. Which is fair enough (and there are plenty of good reasons why a semi-public beta is better than employing a QA team). But in order to volunteer, you also have to be a paying customer – and the voluntary work you do (playtesting) typically replaces the game you’ve been paying for.

            Obviously plenty of people are happy with this dynamic. Pointing it out isn’t the same as saying “and so beta testing should be outlawed, and all Blizzard employees should be gaoled!”

  11. Amstrad says:

    This streaming system isn’t exactly new.. they offer the same exact option for trial accounts on the standard game. It’s actually a nice option for people just starting out who don’t need to wait for a full install of content they won’t even have access to at low level.

  12. Heather says:

    Shamus!

    I haven’t been here in ages. :) But…

    Good lord, I want to smite you for being in on the Beta. I’ve been waiting for an invite for forever! But, I guess this means I don’t have to suffer through the Great Launcher Fiasco like you. I guess it evens out? >.>

  13. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Wow, that’s bad.

    No, actually, this is beyond bad.

    Bad was what the downloader was before.

    Now it’s just downright sadistic.

    You know, I want to play WoW again, because for all it’s fault’s it’s still an incredibly fun game, but everytime I consider playing it again, I remember that that’d mean I’d have to reinstall everything then download all the patches, of which none have been removed since the game launched, they’ve just been added onto, and considering the game took up 20 gigs when I uninstalled it, I shudder to think how much bigger it is now.

    Blizzard are genius’s when it comes to gameplay, story, production values, and game balance, but what they’re doing with their online services are borderline sabotage.

    EDIT: I’ve noticed some people saying this is just a test for beta users.

    That’s all well and good, but for something this huge I’d expect, at the very least, an email of some kind saying that’s what’s happening.

    EDIT EDIT: I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but you didn’t say you did, so…

    Send this to Blizzard.

    This is more or less EXACTLY the kind of feedback they want from beta users.

  14. randy says:

    Something broke at Blizzard when they sold their souls to Kotick.

    This is not the Blizzard we knew and loved.

  15. Factoid says:

    I suspect…just SUSPECT that the logical purpose behind this might in fact be that there were tiny changes to every file.

    In order to facilitate the content streaming process they might have had to put new wrappers on each file…something akin to a .torrent descriptor file that enables them to be read in pieces while only partially completed.

    That kind of thing could possibly be applied in a patch, but it might have been easier for them to just deploy it all fresh instead of engineering a solution for a problem that only affects beta players. In fact, regardless of what the real reason for this ridiculousness is, I’m sure that’s the case. Why spend development resources developing unique patches for beta players when you can just do it the quick and dirty way?

    This does NOTHING to describe why it should need to go through the entire process TWICE, however.

    I am thinking that perhaps the reason there is that they did the installation to load this new streaming system…and now they’re testing it by forcing everyone to play while streaming loads of content. I’m sure tha’ts a useful test because it will be a common scenario in the future: loads of players all playing while streaming content simultaneously after a patch.

    Again, however….the entire game? Twice? Inexcusable even for a beta.

    • Nick says:

      I suspect…just SUSPECT that the logical purpose behind this might in fact be that there were tiny changes to every file.

      As Shamus wrote and you pointed out, this is EXACTLY what a patch is for, to search for code in a file and replace it. The patch should be no larger that the amount of CODE (not files) that has changed.

  16. Sam says:

    This sounds awfully familiar to that series of Dilbert comic strips where it was revealed that Dogbert and the Garbageman invented the internet in order to see how long someone would wait for a picture to load on their computer. I think Blizzard is just seeing how long people will spend downloading programs and patches to play a video game. They’ve got nothing better to do, so now they’re just torturing the people who pay money to play the game by making them sit and watch as a download bar slowly fills up forever and ever. It’s a good, sound business solution.

  17. Vekni says:

    It IS ridiculous, but I would like to throw a nugget of useful information out there to anyone thinking of uninstalling WoW but dreading the future reinstall:

    External harddrive. Seriously, WoW doesn’t need to be installed. Just copy the entire folder to your external drive, and then when you want to play again take the five minutes or less to put the folder back on the computer. Naturally you’ll have to download whatever patches have come since then, but it’s a helluva lot faster than CD install or downloading the client, and it works just fine. I’ve done this now with several copies/machines and never hit a snag anywhere.

    • Duffy says:

      I 100% admit that I first try to install WoW by just copying the folder around. I have taken my laptop to a friend’s house just so he could copy my WoW folder as it is generally the fastest way to install. I’m pretty sure the new patching system is partly to address the growing problem.

  18. Hirvox says:

    What makes this debacle ridiculous is that the BitTorrent protocol already supports transmitting only the changed parts of a set of files. Internally, it divides the entire download to 4MB chunks and only downloads those chunks that are either missing or their checksums don’t match the chunks on the server. If they issued a patch, all they would need to do was to modify the master copy on the server and republish the .torrent file itself. The clients would detect the new .torrent file, check whether the users’ existing WoW directories match it and download only the chunks that changed. No matter what version you had when you started the downloader, you would be updated to the latest version with minimal data downloaded. And if you are a newbie that has to download the entire client during patch day, you would have hundreds of thousands of other players acting as seeders, because they already have 99.9% of the chunks. Steam has done this for ages, and CCP recently released a repair tool for Eve Online that does the same thing. But does Blizzard do this? No.

    Also, “streaming” installs might have worked with linear games such as Half-Life 1, but in a MMO you have at least the theoretical freedom to choose the zone you’re playing on. And even if you could save some time by just downloading the core files, the starter zone and the racial capital, you’d still have to wait some more if some low-level quest lead to an another race’s capital. Or if your friend with a level 85 character logged on, or..

    • Duffy says:

      They obviously have something that works somewhat like they claim; I’ll give you that the concept itself sounds a tad bizarre. I wonder if all your points are the reason for the completely new install? Perhaps they found a way, but it requires too much overhead to simply patch it in.

      My guess is the patcher is smart enough to prioritize the zones you are currently in or en route to if you use a flightpath. Only way to not have a ton of model holes or placeholders randomly throughout the world.

      • Hirvox says:

        I have a hunch that the major reason for having to redownload everything is that Blizzard has revamped the organization of the files. The current file structure is an absolute nightmare to patch on the fly.

        The majority of the data is in monolithic files which have their own internal filesystem in them. If you don’t have all parts of the monolithic file, you can’t just extract one particular file from it because one of the missing chunks might contain parts that describe the internal file system. Half a zip file doesn’t do anybody any good. Conversely, it’s also difficult to add or modify files in such monolithic files. That adding/modifying is probably what takes the most of the actual patching time at the moment.

        However, quite a few games that have opted for the monolithic file approach have also left a backdoor: The monolithic files can be overridden by placing the extracted files into proper folders. This has been the case since the original Quake, and WoW is not an exception. The downside is that the monolithic file(s) were usually compressed, and thus the uncompressed files will take more space. But disk space is cheap and continues to become cheaper, and quite a few of the files in those monolithic files are already use compressed file formats. For example, all of WoW’s soundtrack is in plain .mp3 files.

  19. DaMunky89 says:

    The irony of this line bowled me over. Then I couldn’t stop laughing for five minutes:

    “This means less time waiting for patches, and more time playing!”

  20. Exenz says:

    Downloading the game twice is not normal, you should have had the second launcher first, and have been able to get into the game once it reach the first “line” in the download bar. (At least, from the comments I’ve had from other people in the beta)

  21. HeroOfHyla says:

    Re: The music during the downloader issue:
    New versions of windows have a volume mixer so you can choose how loud every program is. You might try that out if your version of Windows has it.

  22. Ben says:

    I assume that when Cataclysm comes out, they will have this fixed so that you are only downloading new stuff, and the patch will include reformatting your existing data so that it is compatible with this new system. Making all 10+million people redownload it would be pretty nuts. I guess that the patch patcher for the beta is in beta :D

  23. Ming says:

    Speaking as someone who is in the Beta and has also been using this launcher, a couple of thoughts:

    The first installer, with the Worgen pictured, is probably actually the WotLK install. While it was running I saw it installing stuff labled “Ulduar”, “the_nexus” and such. I don’t know what “DB_leaves_fall” is, but I don’t think it’s Cata content.

    Secondly, while they might have reorganized WoW data and that’s why everyone needs to redownload the Beta, I think the truth is a lot simpler: that this is a test of how the launcher works once Cataclysm is released and people will download Cataclysm content who have never downloaded it before. Likely, after this, Blizzard can test how the new launcher works on simply patching.

    Thirdly, the new launcher does, in fact, do as it says. Once you get into the yellow bit of the progress bar, you can in fact start playing WoW right then and there.

  24. Gobo says:

    Ahh. WoW has finally admitted that it’s just a more flashy version of ProgressQuest. About time. :)

    • Nidokoenig says:

      100% drop rates? Procedurally generated enemies? Executing girl scouts?

      I think we’ve found the WoW killer.

      • How can it possibly be so addicting? I spent far too much time on that already!

        (Also, if I can say it at the risk of stopping the joke, this would make an amazing Spoiler Warning. Especially for a joke episode or some such, not a whole series, but it would be a wonderful jumping-off point to talk about procedural content and D&D.)

  25. Kennet says:

    And get this: It promised that the new system would “stream” content as needed. I wish I’d grabbed a screenshot when it offered me the deal so that I could get the exact wording, but it gave me the impression that I wouldn’t need these annoying forty-five minute patches anymore. It sounded a bit too good to be true, but then it didn’t really give me a lot of choice, either.

    I am going to be annoying now and mention Guild Wars entirely without provocation, to say that it actually had this technology since before it launched. And it usually works really well. Rarely have I had to not play GW because it was updating something.

    I still remember way back when I tried the beta for the first time. I click download and it’s done. I look at the file and it is 14kb. I think to myself “This can’t be right”, then opens the file. It downloads for maybe 45 seconds and then the game launches and that was the last time in that beta that I had to wait for a download. Everything was downloaded while I played.

    It was amazing.

    I also quite liked the game but that is another story entirely.

    Unfortunate, it doesn’t work that well anymore because there is a lot more gamedata to get but for patches and bugfixes and such, it was still a very nice system when I stopped playing a year ago.

    • Michael says:

      IIRC Guild Wars would take it on the chin whenever you tried to load an instance. So, at launch there was a very clear delineation between players who had installed the client from the CDs who’d enter a mission and pop up, and then the players who’d installed from the site’s 35mb (I think) installer who’d pop in 30+ seconds later.

  26. antsheaven says:

    8GB download.. And I thought my 1Mbps connection was pretty good. Unfortunately, it is here.

  27. ngthagg says:

    Why is it that stories of two seperate overnight downloads makes me want to play even more? I think I have an illness. In the back of my head, my common sense particle is relieved I’m not in the beta.

    • Mari says:

      My former therapist would say that you have insecurity and guilt issues that make you feel as if you deserve punishment and deliberately sabotage any happiness that comes your way to continue self-flagellation. Theoretically you’re the kind of person who dates abusive people over and over and over (the so-called “why do girls only date jerks?” syndrome). :-D

  28. Christine says:

    and…if you have Vista with Norton antivirus it gets worse because the patches won’t download properly. My husband had to uninstall and reinstall the game about 5 times before he deleted Norton and went to Kaspersky.

    And now I don’t feel so bad about not getting that beta invite. I’ve had my beta profile up there forEVER. Or at least the last 6 months.

    One thing as a longtime player though. I don’t actually WANT Cataclysm. (my son does). I don’t want to see the death and destruction. Well, maybe just a little in Stormwind. Something about that city… but not the elf cities.

  29. eri says:

    I really think that you should cancel your subscription and encourage anyone and everyone you meet to do the same. Blizzard make great games but you should not have to suffer through such bullshit to play them. They have a serious ego problem, as well as a seriously depraved fanbase, if they think they can treat their paying customers like shit and get away with it – don’t let them.

    • Malkara says:

      IT’S A BETA. AKA: Openly unfinished software that Shamus -volunteered- to test. This is a test. At any time during this, Shamus could go “screw this!” and close the downloader, and go play the -real- WoW without any of this hassle.

      Is this a difficult concept to comprehend?

      • Shamus says:

        Actually, maybe I should have made that clear in the original post: Standard WoW continues to work as it always has. The vanilla WoW and Cataclysm are two separate installs. (You can even be logged in to both at the same time.)

      • eri says:

        You do realise that a) this stuff is going to be rolled out for all users, and b) the beta is only open to existing subscribers, right? It is optional, and yes, it is a product in development, but I think it’s totally naive to dismiss all problems based on that fact alone. For the record, I wasn’t aware they were separate installs, so does that mitigate the issue somewhat, but not entirely.

        Remember here that for many people, 30 GB is over half of their monthly download limit. Blizzard certainly aren’t going to pay your Internet bill when you go over that limit, yet you’re doing all the grunt work for them. I know MMOs are so large that it’s unreasonable to test everything in a QA department, but at the same time I would expect Blizzard, a company with an incredible pedigree, to at the very least try to make things easy for its testers. Instead, they are convinced they can give their fans a raw deal simply because there are so many of them frothing to play their game. It’s probably true, and it’s extremely disheartening, but it doesn’t really make it okay.

        • Ming says:

          Dude, I don’t think you understand what a Beta means.

          I’ve heard that they’ve done a character wipe on Beta earlier. So all those characters people had made? Gotta start all over again!

          More recently, they made a change to Worgen models which apparently caused any Worgen made previously to not have a face, just an untextured box.

          Just yesterday, they had to perform a pet wipe, which didn’t affect Warlocks much but meant all Hunters had to retame their pets.

          The point of a Beta is to have all this sort of crap done to the volunteering testers so that the problems are fixed when it goes live.

        • Exenz says:

          “You are requiring a reinstall of the beta client. Does this mean I will have to reinstall my WoW retail client when I buy Cataclysm?

          A. No. As with the prior two expansions, there will be a lengthy patching process to migrate users from the prior major version (3.0) to the new major version (4.0). Data for this patch will be downloaded in advance via the background downloader.”

          They’re doing this in the BETA only, it won’t be done like this for retail. So no, it won’t be rolled out for all users, not in it’s current form, at all.

          You’re making out Blizzard as some kind of evil entity who hold their fans by the ball and “give them a raw deal” as you say. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but you should at least do a minimum of research before assuming they do.

  30. [...] I go through the absolute horror of installing it (that link is about the Cataclysm beta installer, but many of the horrors are the same) and [...]

  31. sooraj sudhakaran says:

    hiii it’s cool

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  1. [...] I go through the absolute horror of installing it (that link is about the Cataclysm beta installer, but many of the horrors are the same) and [...]

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