on Aug 5, 2010
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.
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:
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.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.