Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Stranger In A Strange Land



January 2011, HQ Blizzard, Anaheim, California, United States of America.

A meeting is taking place in the board room at Blizzard HQ. The team present are the senior members of Blizzard and the World of Warcraft Team. News had just come through that subscriber numbers were plummeting after Cataclysm had been badly received.

Senior Management - "So Guys it looks like we need to pull out all the stops on the next expansion. Cataclysm is bombing badly, and we really need a return back to form. How is Mists of Pandaria shaping up?"

Lead Developer - "The plotline is coming on great. So far we got some great fighting between the Horde and Alliance on the shores of Pandaria. Anduin Wyrnn is missing in action, King Varian Wyrnn is fuming as always, and sends in a crack team of his finest mercenaries to find the boy before the Horde get hold of him."

Senior Management - "Sounds good so far, How do they get there?"

Lead Developer - "At the moment we are thinking we can use one of the Aerial Gunship that we keep using in all the expansion since Wrath."

Senior Management - "So, how are you going to get all the players off the ship?"

Quest Designer - "I have a great idea, everybody loves the ROFLcopters right? Lets use them to attack the Horde drop bombs, and shoot up the Horde on the beach."

Senior Management - "Dave, last time we tried ROFLcopters in Wrath at Steel Gate they were terribly buggy right?"

Quest Designer - "Yes, but we fixed, by the end of the expansion the daily Steel Gate Patrol, nearly worked every time."

Senior Management - "If you can pull this off, I like the storyline, bombs and explosions, its what every fantasy MMO needs. Is there any other news?"

Lead Developer - "We have a great idea for squeezing the profit from the retailers, by downloading the game and running the upgrades through Battle.Net accounts. It means everybody will be ready to play at Midnight on launch day."

Senior Management - "That is great news, extra profits and happier customers. Are you sure we can handle Millions of people storming out of Stormwind and Ogrimmar at the same time?"

Lead Developer - "No Problem, just as long as we don't create any bottlenecks in the levelling process early on in the expansion. By The Way, after this expansion can I move onto the Titan project?"

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Midnight -  25th September 2012, Europe

Millions of people across Europe are streaming out the Capital cities that they have been caged in for nearly 2 years. There appears to be a large gathering of people all trying to get on one ROFLcopter. You see Sky Admiral Rogers, standing with a swarm of people around her. You attempt to run towards her, but your controls are not working. You notice that you have no lag but the Framerate is stuck at 4 FPS, every press of the button takes 30-60 seconds to register with the server and sometimes it does not register at all. You crawl your way to the quest giver, but you cannot complete the quest, that would take several clicks to do.

After several minutes you have handed in a quest and picked up the next. You crawl yet again to where everybody is stood. It is as if Blizzard has rewarded all the people who like to block mailboxes and NPC's with their oversized flying mounts and hairy mammoths. There is no way to beat the masses and win a coveted ROFLcopter. At last you see the green arrow and realise that all the thousands of previous clicks were for nothing. Several minutes later you start swaying and you realise that you have snagged a ROFLcopter. Problem is that it does not move, there are no controls except the disembark button sat next to your aspect buttons. Once more Blizzard cannot design a vehicle that likes Hunters. It took me back to WotLK Icecrown Citadel and sitting in baulked cannons, because it did not like the aspects or the fact that hunters have pets.

After half an hour of trying again and again, reloading the UI, restarting the game, I tried another cunning plan. Jumping off the gunship to my certain demise, my body several minutes later when it realised I was actually dead returned to the Gunship. I jumped off the Gunship and tried to find my body, the two things did not want to be reunited. I ran around Jade Forest looking for a graveyard, without any success. There appeared no way forward without waiting for a fix or trying another character. I was ultimately running out of time.

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01:20 - 25th September 2012, Europe

In an attempt to achieve something from the night, I logged onto my newly created Panda. I wanted to call my latest stable buddy Bamboobob, to my surprise it stated that there was a rude word in my chosen name. I thought Blizzard must be having a laugh after all the complaints I have made about names in the last 6 months. Bam-boob-ob, so there it is, that softest of words was going to prevent me from having my name. I then went for my backup Eatshootslea - unfortunately I ran of letters but I did know this already from the Beta.

The Panda/Monk starting area is very quiet with no lag and I was able to motor through the quests that I had already done on the Beta. I arrived at the farm which is further than I managed in the Beta version and then jumped into bed.

80 minutes of utter frustration and 40 minutes of lighthearted adventuring. This is not what Blizzard needed, and after the buggy scenario I am really not surprised. Hoping for a better 2nd night.

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