Tag Archives: Burning Crusade Classic

The Second Burning Crusade Classic Load Test and Through the Dark Portal

Round two of the load test saw me at least a bit more prepared for the event based on the first try.  I copied over my level 60 hunter again and this time remembered to use his talent points to spec him up on the flight down to the Blasted Lands.

Arriving at Nethergarde Keep I found a bunch of people hanging around the gates.  They too were no doubt working from their previous experience.  The server was, once again, set to PvP so hanging around the dark portal was an invitation to get yourself ganked.

Those waiting for the word

I followed their lead for a bit, but found myself getting antsy to do something, so I followed the stream of brave souls who were riding out to the dark portal.  I set myself up within sight of it.

The dark portal once more

That image illustrates one of my frustrations with WoW Classic.  It looks like nobody is there at the portal.  In reality there were a a lot of people running around fighting or avoiding fighting around the valley.  The draw distance, which has been really wonky throughout WoW Classic, even in scenarios where it is just our group in an instance, just stubbornly refuses to fill things in until it is damn good and ready.

And, yes, there were a bunch of characters to draw, which might explain it taking its sweet time, but I was down and dead before the client could be bothered to draw the warlock who was dotting me up.

I probably should have stayed back at the keep.

I ran back to my corpse and decided to make a run for the portal.  Information as to what was actually going on was sparse and I was again eager to do something.  I jumped into the portal and once again banged into the rocks behind it.  The portal was not yet open for business.

Dying once more in the scrum at the portal, I managed to revive and retreat to one of the groups of alliance players off to the side of the portal.  I guess I could wait for a bit.

Waiting off to the side

Server performance at that point was about on par with the previous test.  Down there in the valley it took a good ten count for some things to respond and people moving in anything outside of a path that the client draw could predict tended to look like they were blinking about the terrain.  This was not promising.

As I hung about I noticed that the alliance quest giver was up on the main path, so I worked my way around to him and grabbed the quest “Through the Dark Portal.”  But before I could test whether or not this would let me through, a server announcement finally showed up telling everybody to go through the port.

Quest accepted then the server message… many of us were with Crustina

With some clear direction at last, we all rushed the portal.

Everybody to the portal!

That, or course, was the signal for everybody within range of the portal to start dropping as much AOE damage as they could.  I was among the casualties.

Then, as I was running back they pulled the plug on everybody to test the re-log routine again.  I dropped, then logged back in, got through the queue, back into the game, back to my corpse, and then, finally, through the portal… though I did have to drink a health potion to get past the gauntlet of damage being thrown about.

And once through the portal… everything was fine.

Through the portal to the stair of destiny

The far side of the portal is a sanctuary area, so there was no more fighting.  Server performance seemed fine from that point forward.  I got to Honor Hold, picked up a couple of quests, ran off and did them.

Avoided the Fel Reaver for once…

I also joined in on taking one of the conquest points, helped secure that, then got ganked by a pack of Horde, which is how PvP generally goes for me.

Over all, once through the portal, things seemed fine.  The draw distance thing is still there, but it most seemed okay.  I am not sure how to interpret the performance difference in Azeroth versus Outland.  Perhaps they didn’t bother with shards on the Azeroth side… there did seem to be a LOT of characters there… but had the shard tech running on the Outland side of things.

So there we go.

Come next Tuesday the 18th the pre-patch will be in place with the events and what not.  We will have to pick the destinations for our characters.  There is a whole support article up about the cloning process and what your options are what can be undone and what cannot. (Don’t make the wrong choice or you’ll have to pay the $35 to unlock the clone of your character.)

Also, the auction house will be shutting down today and remain closed until after the pre-patch is available.  The character cloning will pick up items you have in your mailbox, but things at the auction house must add a level of complication that Blizz wants to avoid.

WoW Classic Character Clone Unlocks will now be $15

I guess people were furious or rioting or something, because it isn’t often that you get to see Blizzard change course in front of a live studio audience.  They aren’t SOE/Daybreak after all. (Though there is the Holly Longdale connection, so maybe a link?  The Norrath team was prone to making changes based on community feedback.)

Through the Dark Portal

Earlier this week I was on about how the price of a character clone unlock as part of the WoW Classic / Burning Crusade Classic seemed kind of pricey at $35.  It felt, to me at least, like an item that would have price elasticity, meaning a lower price might actually sell enough more that it would end up in greater profit overall for Blizz.

Blizzard seems to have taken to that idea, or responded to customer complaints, or something, because earlier today they announced a reduction in the price in the forums:

Salutations, WoW Classic players! We’d like to inform you about a course correction we’re making.

When you log in to WoW Classic after the patch next week, each of your Classic characters will choose between staying in Classic Era (version 1.13) and progressing to Burning Crusade Classic (version 2.5). For those who want to play a character in both versions, we’re offering a service to purchase a character clone in the other version of the game.

This service – providing a player with a second copy of a character in a different game – is new for us. Our original concept of the value of this service was largely based on how we price other optional items and services. We want players who choose Classic Era realms to feel as though their choice comes with the possibility that they’ll be able to build relationships and guilds with other players they can count on.

However, over the last week or so, we’ve gotten a very large amount of feedback from the community, and we’ve decided to lower the price. A lower price will likely still accomplish our goals with the new service, while allowing many more players to explore the option of playing characters on both Classic Era and Burning Crusade Classic realms.

After careful consideration, we’ve decided to lower the price of a cloned character in WoW Classic to $15.00 USD ($20.00 CAD, $20.00 AUD, $24.00 NZD). You’ll see the lower price in-game when the service becomes available next week.

As always, we deeply appreciate the passion and thoughtfulness of the WoW community. We play WoW alongside you, and we can’t wait to join you next week on Classic Era realms, in the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch, and as we step through the Dark Portal with you in June.

Thank you very much,

– The World of Warcraft Development Team

A course correction indeed!

That still doesn’t mean I will use the service.  I plan to move forward into The Burning Crusade and there are only so many hours in the day.  But it is now far much more likely that I could, as the price isn’t quite the barrier it once was.  I thought the $10-20 range was a better plan, and they landed right in the middle of that range.

Burning Crusade Launch Load Test Round One

As I mentioned in the previous post, Blizzard was planning a server launch load test for Burning Crusade Classic to go along with the flood of beta invites they sent out.  The idea was to roll up a fresh server and get everybody to log in and try to get through the dark portal.

When the hour hit, 11:00 Pacific / 14:00 Eastern / 19:00 UTC, I logged in and picked the new server, it being the only one available, copied over my level 60 hunter again, and logged in.  I was back in Ironforge, where he sits in live WoW Classic, so had to fly on down to the Blasted Lands and the Dark Portal.

Landing there, I rode with a pack of others towards the portal.  The server was setup as a PvP server, so I was determined to ride on through the inevitable crowd at the portal looking to gank.  But when I hit the portal it was apparently out of order, so I ended up in the scrum forming around it.

Traffic control at the gate

Everything was very laggy at that point too.  It was a good ten count to get anything to respond.  And it was only when I was in the thick of that when I realized I had not set my spec, so I opened that up to try and pick… but like everything else, it was 20 clicks behind on anything you wanted to do.  Even dying was slow.  I saw I had zero health for about a minute before I actually got the notification asking if I wanted to release… and it took even longer for me to actually fall over and the screen to go to the dead gray.

Eventually I was back at the graveyard and running to the portal again with the other victims of the fight.

Corpse run time

I got back into my body and tried to rush the portal, but it wasn’t letting anybody pass, so it was just that run through to hit the wall routine.  Comedy gold, except for the fact that I died again.

Corpse pile at the portal

Then, as I was running back they put out a server message saying they were going to disconnect everybody so we could load up the system with a mass login hit.

The dread mass-loing

So offline things went.  I logged back in, got in a short queue… maybe 85 deep when I landed, which amounted to less than a minute of waiting, which made it the most responsive aspect of the test… and then was foundering about trying to get back to my corpse and healed up.  I spotted a bunch of alliance players trying to gather around the edge of the portal, out of line of sight and joined them.

Another line? This reminds me of the WoW Classic launch

However the Horde was wise to this and there were a few players off to the side of the portal on the hill picking people off, myself included.  Again, it was a long wait to die, fall over, and actually be dead.

Then we got another message indicating that the test was over.

All done here

Further announcements went up about the beta servers being up again and the test was pretty much over.  The whole thing ran about 30 minutes.

I must admit that I didn’t go through the dark portal on the day it went live back in 2007.  The instance group, which only kicked off in September of 2006, was around level 40 and still doing Razorfen Downs.  So while I was able to log into WoW on launch day with only a modest queue, I have no feel for how things at the portal were.  Certainly being on a PvP server made the test more chaotic, but the whole thing made me wonder if Blizz is up to a launch like this again.

The battle of the portal

I’ll give tomorrow’s test another try to see how they’re doing, but the laggy behavior in the regular beta and the way things played out at the portal is not inspiring me with a lot of day one confidence.  But at least I will be on a PvE-RP server.  We’ll probably all queue up for the portal for real when the time comes, just like we did before.

Through the Dark Portal Lightly

While I was away on the road north last week I received an invite to the Burning Crusade Classic Beta.

Why thank you

We’re getting close to the launch date, so I suspected that when I saw the email that I was at the head of a group being hauled in for some of the last big load tests, something confirmed in the forums on Monday.

But that is fine.  I wasn’t going to devote a lot of time to a beta in any case.  An early invite would have been wasted on me.

Now, however, with the expansion launch looming, I figured I could spend a bit of time in the beta, take a peek through the dark portal, and see how things were coming along.

The download was quick and the beta just shows up in your launcher like anything else.  It even dumped itself into the already existing WoW Classic beta directory left over from two years back and the ramp up to the original.

Beta available

I got in and had the option to roll a fresh character, spin up a character based on a level 58 template, or copy one of my own characters over.  I chose the latter.

Moving my hunter over

This was quick… and the ease of copying is probably weighing on Blizz when it comes to the $35 price tag they want for a live copy, but that is another story.  I was soon in the Burning Crusade Classic version of Ironforge and headed for the flightmaster to get to the now live Dark Portal.

A Green Portal means “Go!”

Through the portal I was into Hellfire Peninsula and the first quests.  I did stop for a moment to spec myself, remembering that was changed from vanilla.

Actually there

From there I followed the quests to get me to Honor Hold.  The place was crowded.  Not launch day crowded, but still teeming with people running about.

I ran out into the fields to shoot a few mobs and start on the first couple of quests, just to get a feel for things and… they felt kind of wrong.

Yes, there were a few bugs.  I wrote them up, though they seemed obvious enough that somebody probably tagged them already.  But you never know.  That we are about three weeks from launch made the obvious defects a little more disturbing.  But in just playing the game didn’t feel like it was responding like it should.

Here we have to cue Rob Pardo and that long speech he gave way back when about how diligently Blizz worked on little polish details like button responsiveness.  As I ran around there was a noticeable lag between initiating an action and getting a response.  Enough for me to click again or at least wonder if I mis-clicked.

And it wasn’t even constant.  It seemed to come and go.  It was enough though to make me wonder a bit about how things have been going in the beta.  I haven’t really be paying that much mind to it, largely because of how well Blizz seemed to do overall when it came to WoW Classic.  If they can get that right, surely they can get this on.

It is possible, I suppose, that having invited a bunch of new people onto the beta server that we’ve stretched its capability beyond what it was meant to support.

Anyway, I will certainly find some time today to try out the big launch load test that is planned for 11:00 PDT/14:00EDT/19:00UTC, which is a bit less than two hours from when this post goes live.  I’ll have my lunch and help stress the server and maybe get a feel for how ready things are for a June 1st launch. (Though Blizz hasn’t exactly gone overboard in announcing this test, so we’ll see.)

The crazy Outland sky

We’ll be headed there soon.

Blizzard Confirms June 1st for Burning Crusade Classic, May 18th for Pre-Expansion Patch

Of course I’m away from home for the first time in months when the news hits.

Blizzard let slip the June first date for Burning Crusade Classic by accident on Tuesday, but covered it back up again rapidly.

But earlier today they finally let the cat out of the bag, officially confirming both the date for the expansion launch and the rumored May 18th date for the pre-expansion patch.

The Announcement at Last

They even provided the now standard global launch time map.

The World Wide Launch Plan

Come the pre-patch on May 18th we will all have a choice to make, whether or not to go forward into the era of the dark portal or to stay behind and continue on in the classic era.

Choose your path forward

Blizzard has a post up about how to make the choice you want… as well as how to have it both ways should you desire and be willing to part with some real world cash… but it boils down to this set of bullets.

  • On patch day, you’ll be able to open the Battle.net desktop app and choose which game you want to play—Burning Crusade Classic or WoW Classic.
  • Your existing characters will show on both game types under your old realm name/s.
  • Once you’ve chosen a game to play, you’ll select a character to play and confirm your choice.
  • If you decide you’d like to play your character in both game types, you’ll be able to use an optional paid service to gain access to the cloned character in both game types.
  • Then all you need to do is log in as you normally would and play.

So you have until the 18th to consider your path. For me, the dark portal beckons, and Outland will be the next destination.

Blizzard Still Depends on WoW but is Pinning Some Hope on Diablo II

It was time for the Activision Blizzard Q1 2021 fiscal reports, so we can once again see what the company is hyping and what they are mysteriously failing to mentions.  You can find everything I reference on the Activision Blizzard investor relations site.

As usual, it is nice I guess that Activision is doing well with yet another spin of the Call of Duty wheel and that a bazillion people still play Candy Crush Saga, but my interest resides in Blizzard camp where they continue to talk up World of Warcraft and WoW Classic.

Overall revenue was down from Q4 2020, but that was also when Blizzard launched the Shadowlands expansion, which is usually a peak item in their financials.

Activision Blizzard Q1 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 9

Margins are very good, but the only title they mention is WoW, while pointing towards “product timing” as a drag on the overall numbers.  Somebody else isn’t pulling their weight.

Details from the quarter again rely heavily on WoW.

Activision Blizzard Q1 2021 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 7

Shadowlands and the coming of Burning Crusade Classic are up top, followed by another Hearthstone expansion.  But there is always another Hearthstone expansion, isn’t there?  They’ve had so many they’ve got Hearthstone Classic option in the game now.

The only “hope for the future” item on the list that isn’t invested in Azeroth is Diablo II Resurrected, which I will admit I am a bit hyped for myself.  And then there is Diablo Immortal, which continues to take its sweet time getting to a point where it can launch.

After that we have Overwatch League and nothing else.  We heard last report that Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV are not slated for this year.

Meanwhile, the reported MAUs, monthly active users, for Q1 was 27 million which, according to Massively OP, which has been keeping track, down 29% from the Q1 2018 peak of 38 million.  If WoW is still booming… and carrying the company… that means 10 million fewer people are engaged with other Blizz properties.  For those interested, slide 13 defines MAUs as:

Monthly Active Users (“MAUs”) We monitor MAUs as a key measure of the overall size of our user base. MAUs are the number of individuals who accessed a particular game in a given month. We calculate average MAUs in a period by adding the total number of MAUs in each of the months in a given period and dividing that total by the number of months in the period.

An individual who accesses two of our games would be counted as two users. In addition, due to technical limitations, for Activision and King, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would be counted as two users. For Blizzard, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would generally be counted as a single user. In certain instances, we rely on third parties to publish our games. In these instances, MAU data is based on information provided to us by those third parties, or, if final data is not available, reasonable estimates of MAUs for these third-party published games

Since I played WoW and WoW Classic a bit each month over the last quarter I guess I count as two users, which seems to imply that Azeroth is possibly propping up the MAU count even more than I might have suspected.

Massively OP also has some notes from the investor calls including some inconsistencies from the company.

Anyway, that is what we have from Activision Blizzard for Q1 2021.

June 1 Date Leaks as possible Burning Crusade Classic Launch Date

Somebody at Blizzard made an error earlier when, for a brief period of time, the Battle.net launcher indicated that June 1st might very well be the target date for the launch of Burning Crusade Classic.

Image from MMO Champion

Blizzard focused news sites such as MMO Champion , Icy Veins, and WoW Head immediately began reporting on the slip as multiple people posted images of the short lived promo on the web.

The assumption is that this is the launch date for the expansion, which would line up about right with the rumored pre-patch date of May 18th.  But, given the word of issues with the raid testing in the beta, it might be the pre-patch date.

Either way, it is an indication, along with Blizzards highlight in the WoW Classic character select page, which I noted last week, that Burning Crusade Classic may be on us pretty soon.

I had better get to work on leveling up my paladin if I want him to be ready to go when the expansion hits.

The March to Burning Crusade Classic Begins

Blizzard announced this week that the anticipated beta for Burning Crusade Classic has begun.

Beta is now a thing

Of course, it was anticipated… there was a whole panel about it at BlizzCon Online… but while there is information out there, an actual timeline towards launch is just speculation and rumors at this point.  I don’t think we’re on track for that May 3rd/4th rumor from the beginning of the year, but early-to-mid summer still seems like a very viable window for launch.

Meanwhile, I haven’t said much about WoW or WoW Classic around here for a while.

Our group finished up Blackrock Depths back around mid-February and, since then, we have been wrapped up with Valheim, with WoW mostly falling by the wayside as we explored the viking afterlife.

I don’t think that means we’re done with WoW Classic.  But, after a year and a half of slowly working our way through the original content, I think a bit of a break to do something else might have been in order.  Valheim won’t go on forever… or at least not at the level of play time some of us have been putting into it.  We’re about ready for Moder, the fourth boss, and then it will be out into the plains to explore and gear ourselves up for the final challenge.

I suspect that we will wrap that up and still have a bit of time to do a couple more instance runs and get all our mains, and maybe an alt or two, up to level 60 before the Burning Crusade Classic pre-launch events kick-in.

When it does arrive, I think we’re all on board to move forward with the expansion.  I have enjoyed our time in WoW Classic, but I don’t think I need to leave any characters behind just to bum around in the old world.  The old world still exists after the portal to Outland opens, it is just the character classes that get a revamp.  And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For us Burning Crusade Classic will mean a whole series of dungeons to run.  Both it and Wrath of the Lich King were something of a high point for single group content, which is our focus.  The raiding doesn’t mean much to me and the overland quest content doesn’t bring back a ton of fond memories.  Blizz decided to be more forthcoming with quests… so many critical quests in vanilla were on an easily missed NPC or required a drop to activate… by going all-in on the quest hub idea.

But a lot of the quests, especially in the first couple of zones, are just “kill x, collect x, or click on x” that are repeated over and over, simply substituting a new value for x with every iteration.  If it wasn’t for that early bombing run quest… which was so fresh and new at the time, though they have re-used it since multiple times per expansion… and some of the quirky Blizz quests later on, I might despair of the whole thing.  But I can get through Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh one more time.  I’ll be interested to see how much I remember.

As for the beta, I opted in… I was on their site opting in for the Diablo II remaster and it was just another click… but I am content to hang on until they get to the load tests and such.

Anyway, we have some time before the coming of Burning Crusade Classic.  But with beta going live, the reality of it is getting closer.

Are We Going to Get a Level Squish with Every WoW Expansion Now?

The level squish is coming.  Shadowlands may have been delayed, but Blizzard is still giving us the 9.0.1 pre-patch in a matter of days… hell, we’re close enough to start measuring the time comfortably in hours… and so I started thinking about that.

At some point Blizzard recognized that too many levels had become an issue; levels were no longer special and leveling needed help. So they set out to fix the problem.  The level squish is the solution, announced at BlizzCon last year.  With the pre-patch everybody at level cap, currently level 120, will suddenly be level 50.

There is a new starting experience that will cover levels 1-10, after which all of the past expansions, as well as post-Cataclysm vanilla WoW, will run in parallel as level 20-50 experiences, allowing the player to choose which path they want to take to level 50, or swap between them, or whatever.

And then Shadowlands will pick up and be the level 50-60 experience.  We got all of that last year at BlizzCon.

What the new level ranges will be

Blizzard, for whatever reason, will favor Battle for Azeroth for you first run through, but if you already have a character at level cap you will find it easy to choose your route though the game.  Or so we’re told.  I haven’t played with it yet, but we’ll take that as read because that isn’t really the topic today.

Instead, the topic is what happens after Shadowlands?

There will, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, be an expansion after Shadowlands, and probably a few more after that.  World of Warcraft isn’t as lucrative as it was a decade ago, but it is still by far the most lucrative and reliable money maker the company has.  This cow will be milked on schedule so long as it remains profitable.

But if you add another expansion after Shadowlands, another ten level experience, because Blizzard has decided that ten levels is the optimum cap raise for an expansion, we will, with the passage of time, be at level 70 then 80 then 90 and so on and back into the problem that brought about the level squish in the first place.

Blizzard is silly and sometimes seems incapable of spotting the oncoming train of a problem, but they just solved this spiraling level cap issue so I have to think it will remain fresh in their minds long enough to consider the expansion after Shadowlands.

I am pretty sure that at BlizzCon 2021, after they finish celebrating the success of Burning Crusade Classic, and whatever server move solution they have come up with to link it to WoW Classic, during the usual summing up segment that kicks off the keynote, the big reveal for the franchise will be the next expansion for retail WoW.

And I am curious, during the big panel to go over the main details, if they will tell us that, with the launch of this expansion, the level cap will again be 60, that being the optimum level cap since it was where the game started (stop looking over at the level 70 cap on Burning Crusade Classic) and that everybody will be squished back down to level 50 again, that Shadowlands will be made another parallel track on the 20-50 experience, and that the new expansion will occupy the level 50-60 slot.

Are we embarking on an era where levels 50-60 will always be the new expansion and any past expansion will be made yet another option on the way there?  It seems both over-wrought and deceptively simple as a solution.

I suppose the real question is whether or not it will work?  Will players be happy to reset to level 50 every expansion only to earn their way back up to 60 yet again?  If levels lacked meaning before, what meaning would they have in that scenario?

And, finally, can Blizzard stop changing up character classes and specs and whatnot so much with every new expansion? That all trickles down on the parallel 20-50 expansions ever time they do.  That is the reason they need to introduce Burning Crusade Classic.  The content is all still there in game, mostly unaltered since 2008 or so.  But every time they change up classes and specs and talent points and gear and all the other things that work together and dictate how your character plays, they change up how the expansions play.