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:
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…
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:
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?