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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. Xinkir's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sys01 View Post
    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...
    Except this time, they have a LOT to test!


    I'm assuming the same type of crowd from HoTS will be the first to get alpha access.
  1. Count Zero's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chingylol View Post
    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

    "You're assuming that we're following the exact same testing process we have previously. That's an incorrect assumption."
  1. Nexsa's Avatar
    The angry people here remind me of a child telling their parents they will run away from home if they don't get what they want right away.
  1. Frozenbeef's Avatar
    Slow and steady wins the race (or loses you lots of subs <3)

    Would the file format give any fps benefits ? :/
  1. Arcangel14's Avatar
    It's a technical alpha, exact same as Heroes currently. It is still a public testing phase, as CM_Lore tweeted just recently.

  1. Count Zero's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Frozenbeef View Post
    Slow and steady wins the race (or loses you lots of subs <3)

    Would the file format give any fps benefits ? :/
    It said it should improve performance for most
  1. Cronosmash's Avatar
    Patch notes!
  1. arcaneshot's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Godavari View Post
    new tech news more exiting than anything else!
    Yeah, I have a suspicion that this is what they were holding back the beta for. They've been using MoPaQ for a real long time and to change it up now is kind of a big deal.
  1. Tommys's Avatar
    I had guessed that they'd launch in Sept on that poll we had on the front page forever ago. Looks like all of those guesses for a launch before july are going to be wrong.
  1. Nymrohd's Avatar
    So in essence they gave us a blue post to tell us:

    Hooray, we are going to make it even easier for Boub to do our job for us hyping you all by giving him all the data to mine in an easier format!
  1. fionawower's Avatar
    For all you whiners out there... Blizz has already said the release is 12/20/14 or before. Quit your QQ'in.
  1. thejm's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by fionawower View Post
    For all you whiners out there... Blizz has already said the release is 12/20/14 or before. Quit your QQ'in.
    great Diablo 3 quality release all over again loving that pvp....oh wait
  1. Mkgego's Avatar
    Great alpha invites again for streamers, yay !
  1. jacce's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by fionawower View Post
    For all you whiners out there... Blizz has already said the release is 12/20/14 or before. Quit your QQ'in.
    No, they have not.
  1. lyphe's Avatar
    Alpha? ALPHA??? What happened to, "further along than we were with MoP"? There is no way this is still the originally planned time line. We are on track for the longest raid tier in the history of the game (since they said no filler patch). I'm floored. Hopefully this means there is a TON of fixing up of the game happening in addition to just the standard fair expac cause otherwise I don't understand. Man, I'm speechless.
  1. sargior's Avatar
    more time to get legendary cloak 4 and 5. and lvl more alts. with so much to do on wow I have no idea how an extended SoO is a problem.
  1. Kalcheus's Avatar
    FYI Rygarius just tweeted a blog post is going up in 90 minutes
  1. Count Zero's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jacce View Post
    No, they have not.
    Yes, they have. Did you not see the WoD pre-purchase announcement ? Last day of Fall (which is December 20th) or earlier.
  1. Issalice's Avatar
    I'm just excited there is news Although I feel I should apologize to everyone that said they were waiting for ESO to announce something and I was all 'No they won't!" lol

    Just noticed (apparently I'm blind) they are early in Alpha testing. I really could have sworn they had said something about being in Alpha at Blizzcon.
  1. Artemishowl's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Count Zero View Post
    Yes, they have. Did you not see the WoD pre-purchase announcement ? Last day of Fall (which is December 20th) or earlier.
    They said that was the worst-case scenario date, are you new?

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