Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Telegraph Road

Last night I was plagued by high level of lag, in the region of 1000 plus. I have a superfast broadband at home and doubted that the network was the problem in this case. You know there is a problem when you almost get killed by a Hozen on his own.

Since patch 5.1 dropped there seems to be an endless supply of hotfixes. A quick search on the WoW Insider site suggests that we had hotfixes on the following days:

  1. 27th November
  2. 5th December
  3. 10th December
  4. 11th December
There may be more but they are coming think and fast. I seem to be endlessly accepting the ToS and EULA. I am not complaining about these bug fixes or having to accept the Terms of Service (why we can't accept it once per expansion and have it is automatically applied to all hotfixes and patches).

The problem for me is the breaking of add-ons on a regular basis. Some people might argue that addons are my choice and that is price I pay for customisation and they may be right. In response to that I find the loss of addons, make the game practically unplayable.

My list of addons can mostly be obtained from Curse, and are featured in their Top 100, and look like this:

  1. Auctioneer
  2. Trade Skill Master
  3. DBM
  4. Recount
  5. Bagnon
  6. Healbot continued
  7. Ace3
  8. Decursive
  9. Titan Panel
  10. GatherMate2
  11. Altoholic
The reasons for using these addons are as follows:

Auctioneer - This is the Big Daddy of the AH, it has been overtaken by many of the smaller lighter versions, but I still favour some of its functionality

Trade Skill Master - Is the tool that allows Glyphs to be posted in anything like a sensible amount of time. I only use about 5% of its total capabilities.

Deadly Boss Mobs - The tool that allows all Raiders to cheat. I have a love/hate relationship with this add-on, but ultimately I need it because everybody else uses it.

Recount - More grief is centred around this tool. I sometimes think that the game would be better without it. Also it is the tool that lets us know if we are improving and can help with rotations and priorities.

Bagnon - Is purely a visual improvement on having to deal with separate bags.

Healbot - Is the add-on I learned to heal with. Without Healbot and its alternatives, Raid and Instance healing is incredibly difficult.

Ace3 - Does nothing on its own and is platform for some of the other addons.

Decursive - This is a tool that I never dispatched with, even though I use it less now, than previously.

Titan Panel - Is a purely a visual enhancement, allowing me to see the Total Amount of money across all my characters, how many Guild Members are online, and it also provides co-ordinates on the map screen.

Gathermate 2 - Records all the mining, herb and fishing nodes. It also provides the location of any archaeology fragment that I find. It also comes with a database of all the nodes to be found in game.

There are other addons that have come and gone over time, which include:

  1. EPGP - Former Guild requirement
  2. Gatherer - Replaced by GatherMate2
  3. QuestHelper - Incorporated into standard UI
  4. Postal - Clashes with TSM
  5. WoW Instant Messenger (WIM) - Not enough usage to justify upgrading
  6. Ackis Recipe List - Used for recipe hunting
  7. Healers Have To Die - Not currently PvPing
  8. GTFO - Not enough usage to justify upgrading
  9. Archy - Didn't provide the correct usability
  10. Big Wigs - Using DBM
  11. Gear Score - Epreen from another age
  12. Power Auras - Incorporated into standard UI
Throughout Cataclysm my add-ons were relatively stable, but with the last patch of Cataclysm which contained the code for Mist of Pandaria, everything was broken and it took weeks of checking for patches on a very regular basis. Then one day it stopped being a problem, and to be honest I don't think it was an add-on upgrade that fixed it, I think it was a hotfix that cured all the LUA errors.

Since that date the addons have all been stable until patch 5.1 dropped. I have already stated that I think there have been a high number of hotfixes since that patch. Patch 5.1 was released by Blizzard faster than anybody anticipated, and I am just curious if they are being slightly more cavalier in their approach than usual.

I am not saying this is a bad thing, but previously Blizzard has had a reputation for testing the crap out of everything prior to release. Maybe release and hotfix is the new way forward.

When I think about software and hardware and operating systems, I am amazed that any new technology ever gets out of testing phase.

Microsoft and Apple are not direct competitors in everything they do, but in my opinion Apple have a far easier job than Microsoft. Apple controls the Hardware, the Operating System and most if not all the peripheral devices, this lends itself to high level of integration and equates to the high levels of reliability associated with Apple Macs. Microsoft on the other hand is famed for their Operating systems which sit on top of everybody else's hardware. They have no control of peripheral devices and it is no wonder that everybody has witnessed the Blue Screen of Death at some time or other

Addons use Blizzard code but are limited in their impact of the game. Anything deemed to cause an adverse effect will be quickly stopped, and I get the feeling that Blizzard is currently unhappy with the level of datamining on the PTR.

Blizzard does not owe a duty of care to the add-on makers, who are mostly unpaid programmers. These people are doing it for the love of the game, and they get my upmost respect for doing what they do. On the other hand I believe that Blizzard is also aware of the importance of Addons and will have a good understanding of which addons are most important and most widely used.

In recent years we have seen some huge changes to the Blizzard UI. They have readily used iLevel since Cataclysm for gating content, and the iLevel of all gear is easily identified with the new layout. This move was the end for addons like gearscore, which caused havoc in raids, running gear checks on 25 people in a perpetual loop. Quest Helper is another add-on that was added to the standard UI and a click switch to the map screen will show all your current quests in the area. There are now maps of every instance, Boss notes, and loot tables in the standard UI.

Last night I was unable to play due to the lag, so I decided to run the Curse client. I have always done this manually, just because I considered it to be a safer option with backups of the interface folder, but at the end of the day you can always delete this folder and start again.

I am yet again on the hunt for add-on updates, not to improve my overall game play, but merely to tread water and stay in the same place. Hopefully soon the LUA errors will go away and the lag will disappear, allowing me to start playing again.

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