Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you probably heard that World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launched yesterday at 3am. It has been hyped up for months, advertised on TV and much discussed on the internet. I knew it was going to be a big deal but… I didn’t expect their servers to buckle under the load.

You see Blizzard was slowly phasing in the new content for weeks now. Last several patches introduced the new rules, nerfs and upgrades as well as re-shaped the familiar areas of the world. A large portion of the brand new content was already in game, for everyone to explore. The only things that would get unlocked at 3am were the brand new zones for level 80-85 players, the two new races and few dozen new skills. One of which would allow you to use your flying mounts in vanilla WoW world (up until now, flying was only allowed in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King zones which were on different continents/planes of existence from the main game world). This was exciting but I sort of figured that my medium population server would be just fine on the launch day.

What happened yesterday was actually kinda silly. When the content got unlocked at 3am Blizzard forced everyone to log out and log back in. As you can imagine the synchronized log out and log back in maneuver conducted by a five million players effectively bitch slapped their activation servers into oblivion. For all intents and purposes this was a massive scale DDOS. So for about 20-30 minutes most people could not get into the game.

When I finally got in, I saw this:

Crowd around the flight trainer

Yes, this is a large group of people crowding around the flight trainer. Can you spot the NPC trainer in that mob? Neither could I. Neither could anyone really. Everyone seemed to want to get this new flight skill, but no one was willing to step away from the trainer. There was lot’s of yelling, lot’s of name calling as well as laughter. I was mostly laughing at how ridiculous the situation was. I mean, if enough people would just step back, or go do something else for a few minutes, this gigantic traffic jam would dissipate within minutes. But, this is the internet so no such luck…

Another angle

And yes, I was part of the problem. As soon as I logged in, I made a bee line for the trainer, and after taking few screenshots I squeezed myself into the middle of that crowd. Fortunately for me, I grew up playing old school point and click adventure games. I did enough pixel hunting in my younger years to know exactly how to approach this problem. It was all about careful maneuvering, adjusting the camera angle and then just aiming your cursor in the exact spot at the exact time. It took me several minutes but I managed to get my mount:


Of course seeing me mount up, and rise above the mob prompted several people to question my sexuality using the yell feature, but I guess that was to be expected. All in all, the whole experience was quite amusing.

What is not amusing is that my server suddenly went from medium population to “you must wait at least 20 minutes in a queue before logging in” population:

I took this screenshot after about 15 minutes of waiting

It’s almost like everyone and their mom reactivated their WoW accounts and came to my server. A server I picked specifically because I did not want to wait in queues. Sigh… Hopefully in a week or two, all the new players who just came to check things out will leave and I won’t have to plan 20 minutes ahead to log into the game.

Did any of you go back into the game to see what the new expansion is going to be all about? How do you like it so far?

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11 Responses to Cataclysm

  1. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Been waiting for Cataclysm before resurrecting my WoW career (yet again).

    The Worgen sounds more interesting to play than the Goblins. But I’ll probably check which side my brother will be playing (he’s my WoW sugar daddy). I’ll wait for a couple of weeks more for the hype to die down a bit before getting it.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Mart:

    Yeah, Worgen seem kinda cool but I hate the idea of playing Alliance. It just feels wrong. Then again maybe this is because most of people I know in WoW are Hordies. I might roll a Worgen just to see how their starting experience is like.

    I think someone was telling me that the starting areas for the two new races are actually phased like the Death Knight zone, and that they have similar story feel to them but that was prior to cataclysm release so it might have been just rumors / wishful thinking.

    Btw, do you play on US servers or local? My main is on Fethermoon. :)

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  3. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    No way I’m playing that abomination.
    Good old EVE online for me, please.

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  4. Mart SINGAPORE Safari Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    The Singaporean version of WoW is the same as the US version. But I mainly play on Nagrand which is an “oceanic” realm. Maybe i could reroll on Feathermoon.

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  5. Adrian BELGIUM Google Chrome Linux says:

    Completely offtopic, but are you going to write anything about WikiLeaks?
    I’m really curious as to what your stance is, and why, as a computer/internet guru.

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  6. David UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I really think they should let this game die and get their asses working on diablo3

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  7. Phil UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    > No way I’m playing that entertaining game.

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    See, I tried EVE and couldn’t get into it…

    That said, I saw videos their new character design UI and I must say I’m impressed. When they get the “walk around on the space stations” feature working, I might actually consider giving it another shot. :)

    @ Mart:

    Oh, I’m sure it’s the same version. I just know that there are EU and Asian servers out there, and I also know that people from Europe and Asia frequently play on US servers for all kinds of different reasons.

    @ Adrian:

    Well, I haven’t actually planned on writing anything about it. I sort of try to stay away from political topics here these days to keep things civil and not to alienate potential readers. The focus of this blog is for the most part technology, SF and video games, not liberal banter and I try to keep it that way.

    That said, I am sympathetic to Wikileaks cause. At the end of the day I am a bit of a crypto-anarchist, I like the idea of setting information free (for better or for worse) and I think the service they provide is valuable. I sort of have this idea that this is what journalism should be all about: publishing truth, no matter how embarrassing, damaging or dangerous it may be – even if (or especially if) doing it may land you in jail.

    On the other hand, what Anon is doing right now (DDOS every company that drops support for Wikileaks) is definitely not helping.

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  9. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    Well I couldn’t get into WOW.

    New character creator is awesome and walking in stations should be released 2011 summer.
    It’s hard game to start playing, but when you find some friends it gets fun.
    I just love the idea that someone could scam you out of everything, possibly worth thousand of dollars, then murder you, and to finish it off scoop your corpse for some private time ;) Thats just the way all MMO should be, not the way of WOW, when dying means nothing, you just have to repair a little.

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Liudvikas wrote:

    I just love the idea that someone could scam you out of everything, possibly worth thousand of dollars, then murder you, and to finish it off scoop your corpse for some private time ;) Thats just the way all MMO should be, not the way of WOW, when dying means nothing, you just have to repair a little.

    I love reading about the crazy Eve hijinks but I’m not sure if I would want to be a victim of one of them. But yeah, that’s actually an interesting aspect of the game. I think it was the other parts of the game that bored me:

    Mining was super slow and super boring.

    Quests from NPC’s had real world time limits and failing them would give you negative rep with a given faction. I felt this was like playing a game you cannot save, and which has no pause button.

    Oh, and combat felt a bit boring too – at least at the newbie levels where you would just orbit your target and auto-shoot at them.

    But these stories about corporations swindling each other, infiltrating and doing all kinds of crazy stuff are great.

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  11. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    You don’t have to be victim of those, even regular ship explosion is costly. Blowing up or being blown up in rather expensive ship is common thing.

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