We’re at a fun point in the game right now, in terms of planning.

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that this huge decision is actually in OUR hands.

The date for the release of the Cataclysm expansion is set, and it’s about two weeks away.

In the United States, one of the biggest family events of the year, Thanksgiving, is set for less than one week away.

You’ve been increasing the pressure in the prelude to Cataclysm every week up to this point.

You’ve got one BIG game change coming that you’ve said you will do before the actual expansion release date; the literal breaking of the world.

You are more than a group of brilliant game designers. You are also one of the biggest game companies in the world, and you have to take into account the realities of supporting massive patch releases with physical support to anticipate and correct any problems that may occur.

Historically, every big patch, no matter how well tested, has had some unforeseen problem crop up. You’re too smart to think this one would be different.

What would YOU do?

Regardless of what actually happens, how would you handle it?

Would you release the big world breaking event this week, giving you two weeks to work through problems and get things settled before the expansion… but knowing that if there ARE problems, it will cause a lot of grumpiness from the United States’ customers that will, most of them, have a four day weekend for playing nothing but WoW… err, I mean spend time with their families?

Or do you wait until next week? Do you give things a chance to build some more, maybe have one more ramp up to the final world breaking, and let the big crash come after Thanksgiving, trusting that any last minute problems will be corrected in that last week prior to the box expansion going out there into the world? 

How do YOU play the timing?

29 Responses to “How would YOU schedule the event?”
  1. Grimmtooth says:

    Bah, push it back to January! Who wants to debug broken servers over the holidays? Let Ghostcrawler go visit Mamma Ghostcrawler for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    • Tesh says:

      Agreed. Yes, you miss the holidays, but you get all the players with gift certificates, and you have time to make sure the servers are OK and roll out incremental changes to the underlying code.

      Might it be worth noting that Cataclysm is targeted not at the new player but at the veteran? Yes, it’s a revamp of the whole world, but you still need the original game, TBC, Wrath *and* the CAT box just to play as a Worgen or Goblin. Yes, the world is being reworked for everyone, but the CAT stuff isn’t really for new players, who would have to get through a massive paywall, *and* realize that they would be paying a subscription. With the market as it is, there are viable alternatives that don’t have that startup cost.

      If new players could jump in as Worgen and Goblins with a CAT purchase alone, I’d be much more inclined to believe that newbies would have a reason to purchase the box. As it is, I believe the new races are for veterans looking for a new alt to take for a spin.

      Bigger point being, veterans are already invested, and can wait for stable servers with solid patches. Sure, there are those who fuss about having nothing to do (rightly or no), but give those players a break and let them play with their Black Friday and Christmas non-WoW games. Have a nice, shiny, stable game ready for play after the post-Christmas buzz has worn off.

      …but that’s not likely now. That’s just what I’d have done six months ago.

  2. Kirk says:

    I go back and shoot fire the planners that made the roll out date the week after Thanksgiving.

    I say that knowing in my heart of hearts that they really planned to roll it out a week prior to Black Friday. Just in time for The Big Sales for Christmas. Events – bugs, mission creep, and so forth – just got in the way.

    Since I have a locked date what I’d suggest is making lemonade and release it before Thanksgiving. Take the fact that this patch will be HAMMERED and treat it as a bonus and serious beta test. Have a “No Sht” day Sunday to look at the forum complaints with an eye to categorizing and prioritizing the next two weeks of workload for everyone so the release is clean.

    And then for the sugar – make a big deal of this. Give a token reward for good bug reports – say, an achievement that accompanies ALL your toons.

    Now you’ve got lemonade.

    • Chris says:

      What you ask for is impossible. The release is happening now because Cata – in it’s retail form – is done, and has been at least since it went live on the PTR. It takes time to manufacture millions of DVDs, package them, and ship them to stores to have on their shelves for the Dec 7th release.

  3. Maebius says:

    yep, I would wait until Saturday or Sunday to drop the patch into “active” so everyone can enjoy a few last-minute quests and family-visits for Thanksgiving, then still bug-fix on Sunday and monday before any tuesday maintenance happens. :)

  4. Darthregis says:

    Regardless of how many bugs are in the “shattering” patch and regardless of how many people it makes grumpy, those folk are still going to be getting their copy of Cataclysm in two weeks.

    So, similar to what Kirk said, release it before the long weekend and get TONS of bugs reported and work them out by the time the expansion hits. It should then, in theory, make Cata a little bit more smooth.

  5. Dr.Panda says:

    Release it today!!!!!! Yes I said today change the normal patch day just this one time to give you maximum test time. OT for the forum mods and GC and crew till thursday off Thursday back at it Fri-Sun. Monday prepare bug fixes for Tue normal patch exhale and pray

  6. Jey says:

    As i live in Canada, and therefor care nothing for when your thanksgiving is, i say push that patch out tomorrow.

    I want something to tide me over while all my guildies are not online because they have a 4 day weekend.

  7. Ard says:

    Since others have covered the answer to your question already (I’m part of the “do it tomorrow” crowd), I’ll digress. Because it’s what I do.

    I fully expect 4.0.3a to be released tomorrow and with that in mind, I’m thoroughly underwhelmed with the build-up to The Shattering. We beat on a few elementals for a while, first scattered around the world (and Outland), then in the cities so we can access some also-underwhelming 1-boss dungeons. /yawn

    So maybe we’ve got another week before The Shattering after all. If not, the transition from Wrath to Cataclysm has been pretty anti-climactic.

    • Jey says:

      Im not disagreeing with you, the buildup was kinda lame, but from a lore standpoint it makes sense. If you read some of the generic comments from the npc’s they are all atlking about how they dont understand what is going on. When deathwing busts through the elemental plane he doesn’t give any warning, he just does it. We are all thinking that there should be some big awesome lead up because we have seen it coming for months. Theoretically your hero will go to sleep (tonight?) and wake up tomorrow after the world is sundered and not understand what is going on until they get reports of deathwing, even though you as a outside observer know exactly why it is happening.

    • Darthregis says:

      See, I thought it was pretty fun. So was the Scourge Invasion. What I think it greatly improved over the Scourge Invasion is that you could re-queue for bosses, etc. If you didn’t tag that last elite from the Scourge Invasion, then you were SoL. Not even bosses.

      So, unimpressive as some may find it, it’s still better than the WotLK lead up.

      • bigbearbutt says:

        Maybe I’ve mellowed a lot over the last few years, but this event, even though it’s more intrusive in the way a city shuts down when the invasion event happens, feels pretty cool to me.

        Maybe it’s because I know that, with the timer the way it is, it’s giving everyone regardless of their time zone or schedule an opportunity to take part, and that’s all I ask. Plus, it’s not every city affected, and Dalaran ain’t affected like Shattrath was last time, so if we opt out of the event (aside from turning in quests), we have that choice. Our main portal transhipment point (while we have it) is fine.

        At this point, I care more for whether or not people get a chance to see and experience the content if they want to than whether or not MY playtime is disrupted. In that regard, I really think they’ve done a great job balancing a fun event against day to day playtime.

        • Jey says:

          Yeah i see what you are saying and the viewpoint i am expressing is the one i have now. The first time i did it, it was fun but now that i have done it a couple times it just seems to drag on until it is finished. I dont think i did the zombie invasion to its fullest extent but i did actually enjoy the whole turn into a zombie and run around infecting/killing other players while trying to stay alive thing, but i know a lot of people hated it.

  8. Dyre42 says:

    They just like the idea of shattering Azeroth on the 6th anniversary of its launch. It is cooler than giving everyone a free pet just for logging in after all.

  9. Nina says:

    The city invasions were fun and cool the first few times I fought them, and they’re still fun with a nice big impromptu raid at high times, but if you’re on midday or early morning then nobody bothers to fight and it’s just annoying that I can’t access the Thunder Bluff holiday tables.

    This way I can get my ‘begin to explore the redesigned 1-55 levelling experience’ jones out of the way before the main event, 80-85. I like it.

    What were people going to be doing over the long weekend anyway, getting their 41st Kingslayer? Now we’ll have billions of alts streaming across the landscape. Sounds like fun.

  10. Beerbear says:

    I’d run in circles, scream and shout.
    Cause I’d be in danger or in doubt.

    My bear druid is on hold, just like WoW in general. I have exams coming up later this week and next week, so I don’t really have time to play.

  11. Ngita says:

    Just get it out their, Yes their are a lot of bugs, but 4.01 has a lot of bugs as well, their are at least a dozen known profession bugs not one of which has been fixed so far. But as far as I know the next 2 weeks are a bit of a dead space.

    The invasions are over? We can run around and try to find deathwing so he can kill us. We can roll a new race/class combo, I am tempted by a troll druid,You can experience the new azeroth quests, i recommend “Be raptor” in ZG, if you want to overdose on cute.

  12. Mannyac says:

    Eh, release it on Thanksgiving. Then sit back and watch the chaos.
    But MOM the new release just came out…But Honey, the new release just came out….
    I know everyone’s ready for dinner, but this is important, it not like I’m sitting around watching football or something.

  13. Chris says:

    I’m speaking from a biased point of view: I work in product development.

    From what I’ve seen, everything from the bugs on stuff that seemed fixed before, to the release of Cata to the PTR and now two weeks earlier is standard operating procedure. I know BBB has complained about the quality, but what he asks for (wanting a quality product first before features) is not practical in any way, shape, or form. It’s one of those things that sounds great on paper, but exposes the ignorance of the author to anyone that’s done design. And I do mean that with all due respect BBB! :) BBB is very knowledgeable in many areas, just not this one, and I do sympathize with his problems. You simply cannot guarantee quality of a feature before designing said feature. Quality always comes last because you can’t improve the quality of something that doesn’t fully exist yet. The reason why new bugs popped up on old features is because WoW is a very complicated set of code, and Blizzard took on the enormous undertaking of trying to completely rewrite legacy code (which as been augmented several times). In software as complicated as WoW, it’s very easy to fix/change something in one area, and create a bug in something that seems completely unrelated.

    I actually find it completely logical to release Cata two weeks early (lets face it, the only difference between 4.0.3a and Cata is unlocked features, the manufacturing of physical DVDs mandates this). This allows Blizzard development team to start bug fixing right now, and not sit around for 2 weeks while they wait for us to install Cata.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      So, based on your argument…. consoles are doomed because you can’t ship a finished, bug free product. it’s impossible. Damn, I better not buy that PS1…

      • Kelvinikus says:

        Touché

      • Chris says:

        Since when are consoles void of bugs? I have yet to play a console game that doesn’t have a “glitch” or cheat or something, have you? In fact many console games go through several “releases.” The version of a game you buy now is rarely the same version that shipped on release day. Go check out eBay for people looking for older versions of online console games without the bug fixes so they can glitch (Socom 1 for PS2 is a perfect example). The latest generation of consoles now have hard drives standard, and bug and patch fixes are downloaded and stored on hard drives. This is standard practice of the console market.

        Hell, the hardware problems of the original XBOX 360 dwarf anything that’s ever happened on WoW. Did you have to send your PC into Blizzard for a new one because WoW fried your hardware? In fact the PS1 is probably on it’s 15th+ hardware revision now, to fix bugs and cost reduce the product. Revisioning happens constantly on consoles, they are just more in control of the environments that WoW is, so they can hide the process better.

        Plus, my original arguement doen’t even logically conclude at “doomed”, that’s quite a bit of hyperbole on your part.  My argument, which isn’t even an argument so much as a statement of fact, is that quality checks have been and will always be the last step of a product development process. You can’t quality check something until it is done. There’s no such thing as designing in quality then adding features. The moment you add the smallest feature, the quality is immediately suspect and everything needs to be completely retested. In the software development world, this is called regression testing, which can take months and require an army of testers. The software developed where I work is so small compared to WoW it’s negligible, yet regression testing requires test software almost as complex as the code in the product, a team of people, and at least two months to complete. The moment we add a new feature, we start over.  I also design products that are mission critical. Some markets, mission critical ones like life-sustainingl machines and industrial equipment, can sustain the longer development cycles to allow for more quality checks before new products are released; others, like the obvious gaming market, can’t. There are already tons of people screaming and cancelling accounts for lack of new content on WoW. To wait until everything was completely 100% bug-free (which is also an impossibility, because designs are too complicated and engineers are not clairvoyant) would be the death of WoW.

        WoW is easily an order of magnitude (if not several) more complicated than any console game.
        -It runs on non-homogeneous hardware that is not in the developer’s control (find me a console game with a sound and video options panel, let alone one as complicated as WoW’s)
        -It’s massively multiplayer (thousands of ppl playing on the same server). Most console online games are quite less than 100 interacting at a time.
        -Expansions have to deal with legacy code. Console games get to start from scratch every release.
        -It’s a wide open play style. 99% of console games have a flow that is infinitely more restrictive than WoW.

        There are actually software development theories that predict the number of bugs and how long it should take to fix them.  They are amazingly accurate.  Given how complex and massive WoW is, I’d actually commend Blizzard for their efforts thus far.

  14. Tesh says:

    …though I agree with Grimmtooth up there, I can admit that a Big Event on the anniversary would probably be a Good Thing for the PR side of things. Crack the world open a bit and let players get started with some of the new toys, and then roll out the rest as possible, give the very real issue of server stability and bug squashing. Honestly, aesthetically, I’d prefer a bit of a soft pedaled rollout anyway, since it allows for better storytelling and player education. We’re all pretty informed about the game… imagine the new player who picked up the game last week and doesn’t know why in Azeroth the frikkin’ town is shut down, cultists are yelling (and players are getting in on it for no apparent reason) and there are earthquakes every so often. It’s an exciting time, but a huge data dump on the hapless newbie might not be all that helpful. They don’t even know what a tank is, much less who Deathwing is and why they should welcome him destroying the world.

    For an expansion ostensibly designed for newbies, there are some curiously unfriendly things going on for new players, both in-game and on the business side.

  15. Tsudrats says:

    What is this Thanksgiving thing? The game is probably best described as a global game where, to pinch a British claim, the sun technically does not set on the WoW Empire. If the roll out is ready to go … roll it out I say. Treat the family to 14 day wow trials and spend the weekend wopping their butts in friendly duels.

    • Tesh says:

      It may not be relevant to all the global players, but since the game is made by Americans who are at least tangentially affected by the American holidays, the schedule is relevant to the guys getting the thing working. I suspect they don’t want to pull twenty hour debug shifts when they could be home with family for the holidays.

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