Tuesday turned out to be a snow day. Where we live, it doesn’t really snow, so almost any snow causes a general metropolitan shutdown. After the long weekend, I had expected a slow Tuesday, but about midday we all got an email saying that the office wasn’t going to remain closed because of the weather. Of course, I was already in the office.
So, I figured I’d get home early, log on to WoW and see what hijinx were happening with the launch of Burning Crusade since midnight. Rumors of the seas boiling and fire raining from the skies along with 1000 persons server queues, lag and incessant crashes would be something to behold. Feel the wrath of 8 million enraged players all focusing on their mental energies on Irvine, CA. No company could sustain itself in the face of such bad juju.
My wife and I play WoW with a static group of long time friends. We’ve played since release and have some 60s on another server, but we recently formed a new five person group on another server, so we aren’t near BC level yet. We hadn’t really planned on “getting ready for launch day” as we were having too much fun with our little group and, quite frankly, would be more than willing to sit out launch day and all that we feared it would entail. Nonetheless, my wife ordered a couple copies of BC from Amazon last week and assumed we’d get them “whenever.”
As I got home from early snow day, there it was. The brown box. The temptation was just too much to pass up. I had read a few entries from the MMOGosphere on the pessimism surrounding the release and a few regarding the install so I was actually more interested in comparing notes on how the mechanics would work that actually diving into the new content. I didn’t expect to get to BC-proper for a while when our group advanced.
I started the install about 4 p.m. Pacific. Not really prime time, but certainly getting there for east coast servers (and one on which we play). Out of the box, 4 cds. Pop in #1 and we’re off. All installed without a hitch. A few minutes later I see the game launch and voila!, a dialog popsup asking whether I want to upgrade my account for BC. I click yes, enter my cd key and the patcher launches.
As MMO veterans know, “launch” day means “patch” day. In Blizzard’s case, the patcher has been notoriously slow. To Blizzard’s credit, they had warned us that the most recent substantial patch would have to be reapply after the install, so it would be faster if you didn’t delete it. I let it run, it found my 2.0.2 to 2.0.3 patch file, paused at 99% for a minute, then applied the patch. I launched the game again and prepared to wait for the “real” patch I knew was coming. The patcher launched again to download a surprisingly short patch of about 3MB which took a few minutes. This was more Blizzard speed– 5 minutes for a 5 second dl– but I was still pretty impressed so far. It was still only about 25 minutes since I opened the box.
The patcher finished and I clicked “play.”
I watched the cinematic trailer. Nice, but hey, its a trailer. They’ve been nice since Ms. Pac-man. You can’t play a trailer. Password, no queue (!) and boom, I’m at the character screen. Just about 30 minutes from cardboard to Azeroth. Now I’m very impressed.
I quickly logged on to my dwarf priest in Ironforge to see if there were any obvious issues. In game, folks running to a fro outside the bank and auction house, the occasional naked dancing gnome/dwarf/elf/human. No lag, nothing out of the ordinary. Since I didn’t have any high level characters on that server, I thought I’d roll up a Dranei and see how the new starting area looked and how the Dranei played. I’ll post my initial impressions of that separately.
My bottom line. Blizzard 1, pessimism 0. Great job Blizzard.
I’m sure there will be other stories and issues as more folks dive in, but I’ve got to put this up there with the Y2K as one of the greatest nonevents I’ve had the chance to experience.