Friday, November 14, 2008

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - Lon's Launch Day


Launch day actually started last week by letting my clients know I wouldn't be available on Wednesday and Thursday.

Finished leveling up the tank on Monday. That makes five level 70s.

On Wednesday, the media consumption orgy began in earnest.
A small group of us had a terrific lunch of leftover's from Tuesday's Firefly lunch.
Then off to napping!

G4 TV showed season 21 of Sasuke ("Ninja Warrior"), so that cut into the nap time significantly.

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report filled the last hour before queuing up at Best Buy.

Arrived at the Roseville Best Buy at 11:30. At least 50 cars in the main lot. Twittered about it...
Walking around the building to end of the line, I saw that many cars were in the side lot - these people knew where to park. Less than 150 people in line.

By the time the doors opened, the line had more than doubled. Guessing a few hundred.
Surprisingly, only about 10% women in the line. Apparently, girls can get their significant others to go stand in line in 22-degree weather.

Fun discussions all around. Obviously, this was a more hard-core sample of the WoW population, but interesting to hear about the many alts (alternate characters) and raiding careers of the folks in line.

Collector's Editions packages were available but sold out shortly before I got to the product table.

Dash home for the big install. Installation was underway before 1:00 AM.

The installer flashed a big warning that my machine didn't meet the minimum spec. I knew they had increased the system requirements, but I had logged many hours in the beta program, so I wasn't too worried. My trusty old "mirror door" PowerPC Mac has been more than sufficient for the old WoW client as well as everything I do. I upgraded the video card a few years ago for gaming and video editing, so it's been a good WoW machine.

Last check of the addons, and I was logged in before 2:00 AM.

The main cities were ghost towns. The boats to the new areas were packed with eager adventurerers. The network lag in the new areas was incredible.

A bit of sleep, then back into the fray early Thursday morning.
Network lag was much worse as more players came on.
My computer system's performance was really suffering. Both processors were completely maxxed out. After a few hours of questing, my audio got choppy then completely cut out for about an hour. Framerate dropped to single digits, so I figured it was time to take a break. WoW client hung hard when attempting to exit the game.
Rebooted the system (this system only reboots for system updates, so that was novel), and logged in again. The login queue (on the Whisperwind realm) was 1186!
Used the next couple hours to lookup buff names and other information for an addon I'm working on.

Got back in and hit level 71 before 11:00 PM.


Impressions:
Huge visual upgrade:
The shadows, new spell effects and more detailed models make everything look great.

Performance:

Hard to say yet. I'm assuming most of my issues had to do with the incredible player population. Once I got out of the first zones it was playable.

Gameplay:
Up to Blizzard's high standards. As expected, quests in the starting areas were notably easy, but the stories were good, the area is fun, and you get to ride a dragon pretty early on!

I spent some time documenting quests and items over at wowhead for things people were asking about in general chat.

Oh yeah - General... You may want to turn that off in the first zone. It's really bad since you have the entire population in one zone for awhile. That includes all the dullards, morons, mouth-breathers, antagonists, jerks, needy whiners, and 12-year olds. When they are spread around the world, it's not so bad, but in concentrated form, it's painful. Level up and get your ass outa there!


Disclaimer: I spent most of the last year working with the fine folks at Zam Network (wowhead, thottbot, wowinterface, allakhazam) so I got to see things before the launch.


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