Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Patch Day. World of Warcraft v4.1

Patch Day.

There isn't a WoW gamer out there who doesn't cringe at those two little words. It isn't that we aren't looking forward to shiny new content. Most of use have exhaustively read the patch notes, are excited or angry about changes to the abilities of our favorite characters, and already know the names and locations of any new monsters or coveted gear weeks in advance of a new content patch release. Heck, more than a few of us may have loaded up the World of Warcraft Public Test Realm and seen the changes in-action (and helped debug them.) Most of us look forward to the next content patch.

If I bought the wife this shirt, she might wear it, but I'd be in trouble first.

There is a downside. Since I know not all of my readers play World of Warcraft, the reasons why patch day is so simultaneously exciting and frustrating might require a little more information. The World of Warcraft “week” is effectively Tuesday to Monday, that is to say that there are a whole lot of things you can only do once a week, and these all reset each Tuesday. The difficult bosses that a guild wants to kill many, many times to get equipment for all of its members in “raid” dungeons stay dead once killed for the rest of that week. Everything resets (unless you change a setting because you don't want it to) on Tuesday. Weekly server maintenance, which can range in scope from a 20 minute rolling server restart to a 20 hour extended maintenance ordeal, happens on Tuesday.

The trolls, featured in this week's new patch.

Those extended maintenance days happen infrequently, but there is one day that you can just about guarantee an extended maintenance. Patch day. Also, the stress once the servers come back online of the majority of subscribers all trying to log on at once frequently crashes them immediately. Everyone is prepared to see the new content and complain about being bored for the entire downtime instead of going outside or spending time with friends and family, they all tend to come into the game where they last logged out. These servers are capable of handling many, many players at once. They just don't handle most of the userbase popping into one of the major cities simultaneously very well.

I think the most accurate metaphor I can craft about a WoW gamer's mixed feelings on Patch Day is one of a very special Holiday. Imagine that Christmas, instead of being a specific time each year, was announced to children a few weeks before. Furthermore, on Christmas Day, not only can these children not play with the new toys, they are not allowed to play with ANY toys for most of the day. And when gift unwrapping starts, there is a very good chance that just as the paper starts to come off the first package, everything will stop suddenly and without warning and you'll have to wait for a few more hours. Oh, and for a few days, not only your new toys, but suddenly some of your old ones won't work quite right. Then the crying starts.

Yeah. Kinda like this.

I hope my fellow gamers will forgive my metaphor comparing us the children, as the “Video Games are not just for kids” thing is one of my hot-buttons too. I use the metaphor because patch day does sort of feel like a geek cultural holiday, just not one that we experience with the attendant stress and responsibilities of being an adult on Christmas or Thanksgiving. I'd also probably feel worse about the comparison if it wasn't for all the tantrums I see in forums every single patch day. This particular subject, and how we express our feelings about it as a group, is perhaps not the best place to make our stand on proving how mature gamers are as a subculture.

This particular content patch, in addition to all of the tweaks and normal changes to races, classes and quests (the “buffs” and “nerfs”) we have a lore-supported advancement of the troll race's story. At the start of this expansion, trolls got an expansion to their lore, as the Darkspear Clan (the playable trolls) participated in the retaking of the Echo Isles from the Witch Doctor Zalazane, one of their own who betrayed them. This line of quests allowed players (Horde only, of course) to participate in the founding of Sen'jin Village, a new starting area for Troll characters. Many of the characters who participated in the Echo Isles event are returning once more for the relaunch of two classic raid instances re-imagined and redesigned at 5-man dungeons. This event was big enough to warrant a cinematic trailer for the patch.

A lot of more cynical players will cite this as the continued recycling of old content at the expense of new design and development. I've heard many times when old environments that no one looks at anymore getting new life how lazy it is of the developers. Personally, I don't care for that argument. I'd rather have something new that did take a little less manpower to prepare get a little polish and then get rolled out while they work on refining and improving the legitimately completely new content coming down the pipe. It won't be too much longer before we see the release of the Firelands raid that will finally cap off the Mount Hyjal zone plot that ended with “and then he got away.”

I'll be turning up tonight, seeing the servers crash and things not working as intended. Actually, now that I think about it, the troll is the PERFECT mascot for patch day.

Best Blogger Tips
  • Stumble This Post
  • Save Tis Post To Delicious
  • Share On Reddit
  • Fave On Technorati
  • Buzz This Post
  • Tweet This Post
  • Digg This Post
  • Share On Facebook
Blog Gadgets


Jay said...

i hope the servers don't crash, troll face. >:(

Alpha said...

I'll stick to D&D.

Living cheap said...

thats why i stopped playing, those god damn patches, having me changing my rotation all the time

DerpFiles said...

WoW, lulz. Nope!

G said...

Wow and I thought patching Oracle apps was bad

Post a Comment