Shadowlands and the Calm Before the Storm

The expansion lands tomorrow.  Here on the west coast of the US it will arrive at 3pm local time as part of the unified world wide launch.

The world-wide launch plan

So now it is just down to the waiting.  Certainly any planning I had to do is long since done.  While I have increased my characters at level cap count considerably… I had three after the level squish and have a dozen available today… I was always going in first with the usual suspect, Vikund my paladin.  He is my “do all the things” character.

Otherwise I have not paid close enough attention to Shadowlands and the mechanics of the expansion to have anything like a course charted.  It will be a surprise to me.

I do wonder if we will be in for a rocky launch though… rockier than usual.

All the normal stuff will happen, queues and disconnects and lots of crowding.  But the potential for more difficulties seems to be out there as well.

Blizzard seems to be working on changing and tuning the expansion, which was delayed by a month, right up until the last minute.  That means there won’t be much testing done on the final state things.  We’ll be testing live and in person instead.

If the pre-expansion updates are a guide, there is something to worry about on that front.  I follow WoWHead and Icy Veins on Twitter and their accounts have had regular posts about how Blizzard has broken quests and classes and mob drops and even cosmetic looks with the 9.0.x patches so far.

Meanwhile, I have noticed some issues cropping up with server performance.  Simple things, like turning in a quest, seem to get gummed up now and then as you sit and wait for things to catch up.  And I have had a series of what I call “silent disconnects” over the last week or so, where the client keeps running, but clearly isn’t connected to the server, so stops drawing any new mobs.  You get to just fly through an empty world of just the terrain stored locally on your machine… and the client doesn’t seem to ever get the message that it should throw an error.

Of course, before that I was getting lots of disconnects with errors, so perhaps Blizz cranked up the time out on those in the hope they would fix themselves.  And maybe that works some of the time.  I haven’t seen any active disconnect messages.  But when it doesn’t work, you’re left stuck in an empty world.  You cannot even exit the client from the menu.  That apparently needs some confirmation from the server, which it never gets.  I have to bring up the Task Manager and kill the process.

So, to sum up, we’re going to have one of the busiest days possible for the game when the game seems in something of a shaky state.  This could end up being a considerable challenge to the Blizzard crew.  It is a good thing they are launching on a Monday.  They have all week to spend on it before the weekenders show up.

At least WoW Classic will still be available.  And the addon apocalypse has been temporarily averted.

You may have heard that Amazon, which owns Twitch, which in turn owned and integrated the Curse Forge addon service into its client, sold Curse Forge to a company called Overwolf which, so far as I can tell from their web site, only has the Curse Forge stuff as a business model.  The transition from Twitch to Overwolf was slated to take place next week, right in the middle of the expansion launch and was expected to keep addon devs from being able to update their code.

Nothing says you care about gamers like being completely oblivious to things like that.  Not a good opening move for Overwolf.  Yes, they do support other games besides WoW, but I am going to bet that WoW is a pretty big deal to them.  Forcing all of those WoW players who use Curse Forge to look elsewhere during launch week seems like a possibly huge self-inflicted wound, given they’re business model is based on ad revenue.

Anyway, somebody pointed this out to them and they have delayed the transition for a week.  Still not excellent timing, but marginally better that the day of the launch.

We head into the Shadowlands tomorrow.  I just hope that doesn’t turn out to be a metaphor.

6 thoughts on “Shadowlands and the Calm Before the Storm

  1. Archey

    Future me: “that company totally Shadowlanded their launch”. I see what you mean.

    The question I guess is whether when the server dies it goes to Ardenweald to be reborn or to the Maw, never to be heard of again. Stretching the metaphor too much?

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I also wonder how Blizz is going to handle the plague of bot/multi-boxers that are in retail now. I hadn’t been playing much when they announced that multi-broadcast software like ISBoxer was banned. But over the last week I have seen lots of groups, always five druids, obviously being botted or multi-boxed, working the same little areas of mobs on a loop, round and round.

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  3. Archey

    @Wilhelm in Classic a month or so back, I spotted a group of mages doing exactly that. After double checking by seeing if they would answer a “hi” – they didn’t – I reported them (as cheating) and added to friends. Later they stopped being online and got a “Thank You” message from Blizzard saying action had been taken. So they do pay attention to it.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Archey – I’ve seen a couple groups like that over the last year in Classic, but in retail over the last two weeks I see multiple groups every single day. I report them and I have gotten a couple of “action taken” responses, so Blizz is doing something. But I was surprised to see how rampant it had gotten.

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