Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The misty frontier

So the day has arrived! Deathwing decided to take a tour and create the biggest barbequeue ever seen in Azeroth, ripping the world apart in the process. The foretold End of the World (copyright The Twilight Hammer) is here...the Cataclysm has arrived!
But wait! How come we are in Cata when the Cata expansion hasn't launched yet? It's not december the 7th yet! Well, for the first time Blizzard has changed the way th new expansions are delivered. When Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King were launched we had to wait to get our hands on a copy of the game and install it. You were in vanilla WoW, installed BC and voilà! You can now go through the Dark Portal and visit that strange continent made of different lands stitched together. Same for Wrath... you install the game and then you can take a ship or zeppelin to the frigid lands of the north. But not this time.
Blizzard has taken a progressive approach to the Cataclysm launch. Instead of waiting for release day to deliver all in one shot they've decided to do some major releases before launch date. First we had the new talent trees and abilities in 4.0.1 (note the change in the number version, no longer 3.x.x), then 4.0.3 brought the elemental invasion. Now we have 4.0.3a where the world has gone tits up. But while we're using v4 of the game (the Cataclysm version), we still don't have the Cataclysm game in our hands. We'are not in Wrath anymore, yet we're not fully in Cata. We're in a difuse border between the two expansions, although our foot in Cata land is placed more firmly and the foot in Wrath land is begining to raise and move to join its companion.
In one hand I'm a bit disappointed by this, because I get the feeling it strips a lot of content out of the release. Changing the world entirely is no piece of cake and I think it should have been reserved for that special date. On the other hand I'm happy to see this already without having to wait for december the 7th (even is not that far). The way we get our updates on the world of Azeroth is more dynamic, no more waiting for that milestone that's release day. If things keep going this way we could get patches (specially bugfixes or talents finetuning) on almost everyday, in a smooth way that wouldn't disrupt gameplay (breaking addons, avoiding respeccing, etc), leaving big stuff for special release days, like adding a new dungeon or raid zone. Technically is challenging, but a big software company like Blizzard should be able to cope with it.
I look back to the Burning Crusade release time. A lot of people gathered at the Dark Portal, waiting for midnight. Everybody held his breath when the hands of the clock came together. And then nothing happened. Not even a simple activation effect on the portal. Thinhs have changed a lot nowadays. The elemental invasion has been a good prelude to the Cataclysm launch, amking the content transition smoother.
Come Deathwing! My sword thirsts for your corrupt blood!


  1. Funny enough the switch took me by surprise. I didn't realize that we took the leap into the expansion NOW until yesterday. I should have known, reading all those blogs etc. But I don't think I fully understood the consequences until now. I wonder how the exprience of the "real" release of Cataclysm will feel. Somewhat diluted? I hope not.

  2. This is what I fear with this "progressive" release... the "real" release won't be that awesome as if all content was delivered on that day, since almost all the big changes are already here.
    Still I'm thrilled to see the new areas and races, but I find it will be more satisfactory to level a char from start in the new world with the new quests and gear than leveling my current ones to 85...

  3. Ah, a blue post referring to this pre-launch release, mentioning technical issues and testing times: