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Warlords of Draenor™ Alpha Testing Begins

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
We’ve been hard at work on World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor™, and today we’ve entered the Alpha phase of our expansion testing. As part of this, we’ll begin using public servers to host the data, which means you may begin seeing some datamined information show up in the usual places.

One of our goals for this very early stage of the Alpha is to test out some new technology in the wild with employees and friends and family, including a new file format called CASC (more on that below). As such, the expansion content available during this first phase will be quite limited—many of the expansion’s major features, such as Garrisons, won’t be available until a later point in the testing process. This early phase of testing will help us ramp up for our larger beta phase later on, when we’ll be inviting more players.

Introducing Our New File Format: CASC
For nearly 20 years, Blizzard games have used a file format called Mo’PaQ (MPQ for short) as a way to compress and store game files. We’ve been able to introduce some great new technology using MPQ, such as our streaming client, but we’ve really pushed the file format far beyond what it was ever intended to be used for. Today, it’s become the source of a number of technical limitations for World of Warcraft.

To address these limitation and help us develop new technologies that will improve everyone’s game experience for years to come, we’re introducing a new proprietary file format that we call CASC (Content Addressable Storage Container). We’ll be using this new format in the Warlords of Draenor alpha and beta tests, and our intent is to convert everyone to the new format in a pre-expansion patch.

As geeky as it may sound, we’re extremely excited to be moving to this new file format. It provides a ton of benefits not only for us and our ability to support and patch the game, but also for players. Here are just a few of the benefits of the new CASC file format:

  • File Corruption - File repair tools are a thing of the past. The file structure maintains itself, helping to prevent errors during installation.
  • Speed - Real-world game performance should increase for many players thanks to a non-redundant file structure[/b] - in layman’s terms, the game can find the assets it’s looking for more quickly.
  • Patching - Updating your game files should be faster and more reliable. Patch data is integrated seamlessly, and no longer requires double the installation size on-disk when patching.
  • Client Hotfixing - CASC allows us to be able to hotfix client game data, similar to server hotfixes, giving us the ability to address client-side issues that would normally require a patch.
  • Streaming - The new format provides better support for streaming data and gives us greater flexibility to define how content updates are delivered and released.
  • Expandable - The file structure is built to allow easy integration of new technologies in the future that we haven’t even thought up yet.
  • . . . and more!

We’re already using this file format for Heroes of the Storm’s Technical Alpha test, and we’re looking forward to reaping its benefits for WoW. As we mentioned, the first big step in transitioning all WoW players over will be converting everyone’s World of Warcraft installs to the new file format prior to the expansion. Our goal is to make sure that’s as seamless and painless a changeover as possible, using as much of the existing installed data as possible to reduce additional downloads. We’ll have more info on the file conversion process as we get closer to the launch of Warlords of Draenor.

Signing Up for Beta
We’re still early in the Alpha testing process, but if you’re interested in opting in for a chance to participate in the Warlords of Draenor beta test later down the line, let us know you’re interested by creating a beta profile. To do so, log in to your Battle.net® account, go to Beta Profile Settings to download and run the Battle.net System Check tool, and submit (or update) your computer’s specifications. From the Beta Profile menu, make sure that Warcraft is checked, and update your beta preferences. You’re now eligible to be randomly selected for a Warlords of Draenor beta invite at a later stage of the testing process.

Account Security Reminder
As interest grows for the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, please be aware of phishing attempts. Unscrupulous individuals (possibly working for the Iron Horde) may send out falsified emails purporting to be from Blizzard, but are in fact meant to steal your login credentials. For more information on how to identify these emails please refer to our Battle.net® Account Security site.

Stay tuned for more information as development and testing progresses for Warlords of Draenor™. This is just the beginning and we’ll have more information to share with you in the near future!

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This article was originally published in forum thread: Warlords of Draenor™ Alpha Testing Begins started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 125 Comments
  1. mackenzie's Avatar
    The vast majority of those who immediately say "Gimme an invite" would be better off watching someone stream the beta on Twitch. Blizzard wants you to actively participate in the beta more by finding problems with the game rather than lord over the fact you're in beta and such and such a person isn't.
  1. UnifiedDivide's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by masteryuri View Post
    2015 release happening !
    Yeah... no.

    Alpha only just starting is a bit poor though. Still Alpha doesn't usually last very long.
  1. Gurushock's Avatar
    Alpha? wth blizzard... wth... Alpha should be ending and normal beta testing should be starting at this point. Oh well, at least alpha never last to long, less than 2 months most the time.
  1. Xjev's Avatar
    Waiting for a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge datamined info post on front page!
  1. Rayanoc's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rawcult View Post
    Alpha? Oh, wow. Blizzard, you're so gooood and fast at this. Speechless. Amazing. Wow. You're beyond pathetic at this point. Words cannot even begin to describe it.
    Haha ladies and gentlemen, a prime example of someone who would rather see rushed content instead of quality content. Give a round of applause to this guy for being ignorant towards what kind of work has to be done in order to make a game decent.
  1. Xavv's Avatar
    Jesus christ, There's just no fucking pleasing you people. Any of you.

    The constant bitching about how slow they are, and when they offer you up an amazing piece of progress towards the expansion, most of you react by shitting on them more.

    Previous Alpha phases have lasted 4 to 7 weeks and a less limited Beta is pretty soon to follow after that, in most cases.

    Skip the Alpha? Why? So you people can fucking complain that it isn't polished enough when it goes to beta?
    Get with the program, These games don't just shit themselves out. Bunch of fucking mouth breathers.


    Happy to see the wheels in motion for a WoD Beta and very excited that datamined information will now be available much more often.
  1. Peeb's Avatar
    Start leaking stuff Bibi, please.
  1. Bauwagast's Avatar
    *Drool* Gimme!
  1. Moondance's Avatar
    Do want......
  1. Blockygame's Avatar
    And so it begins!
  1. Count Zero's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Collected View Post
    To compare, MoP F&F Alpha started 19/02/2012 and released 25/09/2012. So roughly 7 months from F&F alpha to launch. Which would put WoD at roughly 03/11/2014 release if they followed a similar testing schedule. Maybe that estimated date near the end of 2014 wasn't so far off.

    "You're assuming that we're following the exact same testing process we have previously. That's an incorrect assumption."
  1. Durandro's Avatar
    So much butthurt... Its so delicious...

    Everyone needs to get over themselves :P
  1. Count Zero's Avatar
    That link to Watcher's tweet is broken
  1. Mellrod's Avatar
    Alpha doesnt mean Blizzard is slow and/or stupid, it means that this expansion actually takes alot more work than the usual ones that start out with a beta. Blizzard wants to get this expansion right for once, so they aren't taking their time any more than they are taking precautions. Calm down folks - blind hate gets us no where, and neither do logical fallacies.
  1. Godavari's Avatar
    new tech news more exiting than anything else!
  1. Kumashy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Godavari View Post
    new tech news more exiting than anything else!
    Agreed. The nerd in me got all excited about the new file system =p
  1. Collected's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Count Zero View Post
    "You're assuming that we're following the exact same testing process we have previously. That's an incorrect assumption."
    Well the process of F&F Alpha -> Beta is going to happen as it's mentioned in the blue post.. so I'm guessing Lore is referring to a shorter testing period this time around. Which I suppose is possible due to the lack of new class or race. Maybe they've done more internal testing this time too.
  1. Chingylol's Avatar
    Judging from past alphas of past expacs it's about 6 months from release so, October...

    So depressing knowing that we're only HALFWAY thru SoO.. WTF
  1. Artemishowl's Avatar
    And the forums go..... WHOOSH!
  1. sys01's Avatar
    This really has a Burning Crusade smell to it, same thing happened back then, they slowly started with FF Alpha, then Beta etc, and then the final product was pure awesomeness, at least for the times then...

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