It looks like Blizzard is warming up to deliver Patch 2.3 some time in the near future. I noticed that a version of it was available for background download last night.
Patch 2.3 includes the somewhat controversial changes to the level 20-60 game that includes a reduction in the experience required to get to level 60, an increase in the amount of experience quests in the level 20-60 range give as a reward, the downgrading of some overland elite bosses, and an adjustment of the 20-60 instances and the drops available in them.
Despite my whine about this being something of a disincentive, like announcing a price cut on a product a month in advance, I think this change is really for the better.
Three years after launch, the hard core players with lots of time to play have already ground their way to the level cap, probably more than once. Now is the chance to soften the curve for the more casual player. Sort of a “friends and relatives” plan to help get them up to the point where they can actually play with some of their hard core friends once in a while and actually have the potential to enjoy the new content offered in The Burning Crusade and the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King.
In fact, and I said this before, I think SOE should take a good, hard look at this idea for EverQuest. With the level cap there stretching up to 80 soon with the Secrets of Faydwer, the value of those first 50 levels is diminished still further. While those levels do have their place as an introduction to the lore and landscape of pre-cataclysm Norrath, they primarily serve as a roadblock to accessing the vast majority of the EverQuest content.
But now I am way off my point, which is the fact that Patch 2.3 is available for pre-deployment background download.
Of course, my machine is already having issues, so I declined to let the download go on while I was playing. Instead I chose the option to download the patch data after I logged off.
The patch itself is sizable, as these minor version number updates tend to be, weighing in at 222 MB. Sure, that is hardly on the scale of downloading the Vanguard Beta, but it was enough for me to just leave the computer on over night to let it download.
So at 11pm last night the Blizzard downloader started. I turned off the monitor after seeing in progress a little bit, then headed off to bed.
12 hours later the downloader is 27% into the job, with only 60 of 222 MB downloaded.
60 MB in 12 hours with no other significant CPU or network activity going on.
What is it with Blizzard and patch delivery? Seriously, three years from launch and this is still an annoyance? I was bitching about this a year ago. But with the pre-deployment, I do not have the File Planet option.
I have the downloader set to not throttle downloading. I have even turned the loathed (by me) peer-to-peer networking on despite its past propensity to randomly kill my network firewall. (And looking at the connection info detail, peer-to-peer has added less than 1 MB to the total downloaded, though my bandwidth has been used to push a lot more data to other people.)
I have the green “no problems detected” indicator showing. This download should have been done hours ago.
So Blizzard still does not get a passing grade for patch delivery in my mind. The pre-deployment background download is a good idea (and something SOE can say they did first), but if all it ends up being is waiting too long for a download before the official patch day rather than on the official patch day, I am not sure they have gotten the point of the whole exercise.
Vivendi just announced spectacular earnings and credited Blizzard and World of Warcraft. Could the spend a little bit of that largess on polishing the patch deployment mechanism?
[Addendum: It looks like November 13th for Patch 2.3.]