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Role Playing (Games)

World of Warcraft Tuesday Maintenance A Thing of the Past 151

Posted by Zonk
from the now-they-can-stay-in-for-a-full-week-without-blinking dept.
1up has the news that Tuesday maintenance will no longer be the way of the future for World of Warcraft. This is a big change from the weekly several-hour downtime that the company has used for the past two years. From the official post: "In the upcoming weeks, we will be testing the effect of a live maintenance, where regular maintenance tasks are run during off-peak with realms live. On Tuesday, December 26 there will be no scheduled downtime for weekly maintenance. We will perform all necessary maintenance tasks while the realms are live. We are anticipating the possibility that we may need to perform rolling restarts off-peak if we find that a realm restart is necessary; however the downtime for each realm would be less than 10 minutes if it was required." Is this really that big a deal? I know that the timeframe had to be inconvenient for EU players on the U.S. servers, but was a couple of hours of downtime early in a workday really such a burden?
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World of Warcraft Tuesday Maintenance A Thing of the Past

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  • Or in asia... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24, 2006 @07:39PM (#17356400)
    I myself do not play, but a lot of my coworkers in Japan complain about the downtime... It happens after work over here...
  • You're on! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dreddnott (555950)
    I bet a hundred bucks that deep-vein thrombosis incidence mortality rates jump at least 500% in the unemployed 16 to 24-year-old demographic in the next month.
  • Believe me (Score:2, Informative)

    by El Lobo (994537)
    I play 2-3 hours every day and here in Europe, the mantainence day is wednesdays. While it's not a big deal a 2-3 hours pause in the servers, very often those breaks are 8-10 hours breaks (dunno the reason, some technical problems with the patches, I guess). So practically every wednesday is a lost day for WoW players. I'm not a compulsive WoW player, but WoW is a service and if you have the habit of playing some time at evening like I do, it is an annoyment to suffer those breaks.
  • Interesting! (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by seebs (15766)
    I am looking forward to seeing whether or not this works.

    I am not entirely optimistic. I mean, yes, it'll be more convenient... Except for the part where you can no longer SCHEDULE for server resets.

    "Oh, sorry, were you 95% done with MC? I guess you'll have to go back."
    • Try not to plan your MC runs during maintenance times then.
      • by eht (8912)
        There are now no planned maintenance times, just random "we have to fix this problem" now times.
        • by seebs (15766)
          Exactly. It may be that they'll only be down for ten minutes, and only twice a week... But if there's no way to predict even what day they'll be, you can't schedule a run to avoid them.

          Of course, there's been occasional restarts for various reasons all along, so it may not be noticeable.

          I wonder what they'll do for patch days.
      • that's the GP's whole point: With this in place, if they have to reboot at a "random" time to recover from problems with the hot maintenance, you can't plan your runs around it
    • by walnutmon (988223)
      Blizzard has been very good about this stuff so far, there is no reason to think that they will be pulling the rug on players unannounced now. This is to make playing better for players, not worse.

      Blizzard isn't evil yet. They haven't released Warcraft '07, incomplete for xBox360 two years running at 60 dollars a pop. Nor have the released the an expansion pack every month... Warcraft: Weapons and things to fight with! ... Warcraft: Races other than gnomes! ... Warcraft: Colors! ... Warcraft: Now in Ster
    • I found this announcement amusing because Blizzard has been doing this off and on already. In the last several months there have been weeks where maintenance was skipped, at least on my server. What has happened now is that they already have it in place and are just giving political cover:
      "Hey, we're going to make this the norm, but if it doesn't work, we'll reboot or do normal maintenance."

      In the end, is this really news that a system has implemented 99.99% service?
  • Often the downtime was a lot longer than it was supposed to be. Usually it meant not playing the game for an entire day, and patch days were even WORSE. Now, of course, I've quit WoW to focus on school but I was part of the WoW craze too. Don't knock it until you've tried it, it can be rather addicting. Besides, people are paying $15 per month for the game, some people would like to take advantage of that as much as possible.
  • by snuf23 (182335) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @07:58PM (#17356496)
    The Tuesday outages basically meant a short night of playing for me as I live in Hawaii. Because of the time zone difference, I played with a lot more New Zealand and Australian gamers than with US based ones. For them the outage came a lot earlier in the evening.
    So while it wasn't a huge deal - it was irritating if you forgot that it was maintenance night and had something planned.
  • One of the biggest production systems in the world no longer needs weekly reboots, I'd say that's a pretty big deal, technologically if nothing else. In Beta there was no weekly downtime, but when the game went live they fought serious scalability issues and thus began the weekly reboot. I don't know about the rest of you, but several hours each week != the 5-nines availability that I expect from machines I administer, so I've always found Blizzard's weekly downtime a copout, and an embarrassment.
  • by Negatyfus (602326) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @08:18PM (#17356614) Journal
    I know that that have always been tons of people complaining about down-time, more often when it's a few hours late. These people will not stop complaining; they will simply find something else to complain about. You see, when your very life exists around World of Warcraft, any break in service will cause a panic reaction-- and they people are the loudest of the bunch.

    I'm not saying that every World of Warcraft player is an addict, but the people having a normal enjoyable time usually don't jump on the forums the second something is up.
  • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuit&gmail,com> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @08:19PM (#17356624)
    Hardcore players used it to resupply their homes and get the minimal amount of sun needed to survive.
  • They're testing the possibility... NOT moving in this direction yet. They are most certainly not (yet) a thing of the past. Very poor choice of words for the title.

    And besides, one day a week, good grief. That's not that big of a deal. The same kids complaining are the ones that whined when their parents told them to go outside and play instead of sitting in front of the television. Everyone knows to expect this - it isn't a surprise and it isn't something new. No guild worth its salt plans a raid for
    • Have to admit I have zero sympathy for poor old raid organisers who won't be able to plan their raids around them. Blizzard already panders far too much to the uber guilds who spend months raiding the same dungeons over and over and over again. There have been numerous content additions for these sad bastards who waste their lives on this game and fuck all for the casual gamer (re-cycled content, e.g. taking existing dungones and lowering the required group size, does not count).

      I quit the game because I go
    • For someone who's complaining about editors not reading the article, you did a good job of missing something yourself: the "10 minute reboots" are said in the article to be planned to be applied off-peak.
  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @08:26PM (#17356662) Homepage
    I was getting pretty edgy with only 166 hours of Warcraft a week.
  • A lot of people seem to think that the maintenance periods we have had in the past were just for a reboot. Not true. WoW realm restarts take a few minutes, this is hours of offline time for database maintenance ect. The ability to run those tasks with the realms online is a great step forward. My only concern is that it will generate lag during the online maintenance time (my 'peak' time, due to living in Australia), but honestly, it would only be in the time that the realm would otherwise have been offline
    • by seebs (15766)
      I am wondering what the changes will be in database reliability.

      The big test will come after the first catastrophic hardware failure.
  • I don't understand why they need so much downtime, I play another mmorpg, and downtime is rare, usually once every other month, and never for too long.

    Unless they add a significant amount of content every week, they shouldn't have to do that, and if they add a minor amount of content, they should do it once a month instead as a bigger package. While wow has several times the amount of subscriptions as the mmorpg I play, there are less people per server at any given time in a wow server, so it can't be a sc
  • Why? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NineNine (235196) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @08:36PM (#17356708)
    Last time I checked, it said "News for Nerds" at the top of this page. Why not write up the technical reasons why it's happening? Is it rebuilding indexes on some crappy MySQL servers that we can laugh at? Is it applying weekly Microsoft patches to servers? I've never played the game so from my perspective, it seems absurd that the game has to shut down on a weekly basis. I just got finished playing OGame (see sig), and all hell broke loose if the servers ever went down (which they did on occasion, but it wasn't weekly... it was like once a year).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nasarius (593729)
      They claim [blizzard.com]:

      As with any system that is processing large volumes of data, the World of Warcraft realms require regular maintenance to ensure they are operating correctly.

      Really? I can't remember the last time Amazon.com was down for maintenance.

      This maintenance consists of hardware and software updates.

      Hardware - Come on, they must have enough redundant servers so they can take one offline at a time without disrupting anything.
      Software - I suppose this means updates to the game data/code itself. A rest

      • by walnutmon (988223)
        Amazon.com is very different than WoW...

        And it says they require regular maintenance, I am sure Amazon require's regular maintenance too, it just doesn't require downtime because not everyone is constantly accessing all information. User computer's do not need to be upgraded either.

        Not sure when self hating nerds started hating WoW, it is pretty much all of their wet dream. Orcs, elves, gnomes and in beautiful animated splendor. It is a social place for people too pale to talk to real humans, and on top
        • by Nasarius (593729)

          I am sure Amazon require's regular maintenance too, it just doesn't require downtime because not everyone is constantly accessing all information.

          Huh? Of course people are constantly accessing all of Amazon's information. Do you want to tell me which part of their service they can take offline for a few hours while no one is using it? Obviously they have redundancies, so they don't need downtime.

          Not sure when self hating nerds started hating WoW

          I played the 10-day trial, enjoyed it, didn't feel a need

          • While I agree that needing to be taken offline every week is indicative of bad design, I do not agree that you can compare Amazon's traffic to WoW's. I believe if you broke each individual connection to a WoW account down and compared it to each individual connection to an Amazon account you would see a GREAT deal of difference.

            For example, every single milliseconda person's WoW account is capable of multiple updates to the server's database. A player's entire actions must be queued, executed and responde
            • by caerwyn (38056)
              MMORPGs do not push the database as hard as you seem to be implying. If they did, in fact, hit the database for every action taken in game, there'd be an enormous number of updates- but that's not what they do. The various computers running parts of the world at any given time cache appropriate data and make saves or lookups periodically, or when data and characters need to be handed off from one server to another, allowing macro updates instead of a constant stream of micro updates.

              There are still an enorm
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Miniluv (165290)
                The differences between Amazon and WoW is intuitively obvious. Amazon is a web delivered service, and therefor is statefulness wrapped around a stateless protocol. The statelessness of HTTP allows for tons of easy solutions to maintenance for virtually every component.

                The second major difference is that nobody using Amazon affects anybody else using it. With the exception of inventory updates which can be cached on virtually every item Amazon deals in due to the volumes they're handling nothing any one user
              • I didn't mean to imply they hit the database for every action in the game. I meant to say that there is potential to hit the database multiple times per second for every single character logged in -- and all at once.

                In any case, it seems the WoW network engineers have figured out a way to do it much more efficiently than before. This of course doesn't necesarily mean that it's as easy as Amazon, or even that it's harder. We just don't know enough details to compare them intelligently. So there's not muc
                • I know this is a week late, but I missed this story the first time around.

                  I spotted two problems in your post:
                  1. WoW has been running since November 2004. That makes it two years, not one.
                  2. SWG, like all other SOE properties, has weekly maintenance, usually as long or longer than WoW's.

                  (Side note: I haven't played SWG in years, I just remember being annoyed that the servers were always down on... Sunday mornings, I think it was.)
          • by aesiamun (862627)
            I don't know how many MMOs you play but Eve online also requires weekly downtime. This doesn't seem to be due to "poor design". If you're so smart that you can critcize Blizzard and apparently CCP about their design systems, please show me your popular and successful MMO and how it can handle maintenance, updates, etc.

            Or are you talking out of your ass?
            • by robosmurf (33876) *
              Actually, EVE Online has daily downtime - 11am to 12 noon GMT.
            • by geniusj (140174)
              Its status as an MMO is debatable, but see Guild Wars. It is massively multiplayer, but heavily instanced. Downtime is seemingly nonexistent for them.
            • by Nasarius (593729)

              If you're so smart that you can critcize Blizzard and apparently CCP about their design systems, please show me your popular and successful MMO and how it can handle maintenance, updates, etc.

              Give me a few days and a large budget (which Blizzard certainly has), and yes, I can design a real-time system with multiple redundancies that can be taken offline piece by piece. It's not about "smart", it's about understanding how these systems work and some basic engineering principles. The system already has multi

          • by walnutmon (988223)
            "Huh? Of course people are constantly accessing all of Amazon's information." Which takes up much less space than WoW's. "Do you want to tell me which part of their service they can take offline for a few hours while no one is using it? Obviously they have redundancies, so they don't need downtime." Have you ever made a website? You probabaly have. If you haven't, I am sure you are capable of it. It's just not that difficult. Most of it is really easy to do when you get the hang of it. Have you ever
    • I doubt OGame ever had to deal with server loads the size of WoW's, and OGame is also a browser game and doesn't need to apply patches like WoW does. (That being said, compared to NGS and other games of the same strain, OGame felt a bit simplistic)
    • by hetfield (129762)
      Last time I checked, it said "News for Nerds" at the top of this page. Why not write up the technical reasons why it's happening?

      Mostly because the technical aspects of WoW are not something easily discussed. I'm a casual player, and by admission have spent a casual amount of time trying to research the technology that drives the game. So far, most of what I've read is speculation and conjecture, with the rest being statements like "multiple realms share the same database backend." I'd love to discuss
  • Couple of hours during the workday you say ?

    Ok, let me explain my pov first. I've played MMORPG's since Ruins Of Kunark release (first expansion to Everquest 1).. Since then i've played Eq2, Uo, Daoc, AO, SWG, many betas - same games which never came out, some that did. Basicly i've have had subscription to some mmorpg spanning for a quite a long time and, to wow, since its release in europe.

    And i have to say one thing.

    BLIZZARD AND THEIR PATCH ETA'S ARE HUGE JOKE! Content patches, no matter what they promi
    • by sugarman (33437)
      Ok, let me explain my pov first. I've played MMORPG's since Ruins Of Kunark release (first expansion to Everquest 1).

      n00b

      =)

    • by Damvan (824570)
      "I've played MMORPG's since Ruins Of Kunark release (first expansion to Everquest 1)"

      And this is supposed to impress us?

      Try one of Verant's two day rollbacks in the early days of EQ (ie entire server rolled back two days, all loot, exp, etc, earned during those two days gone), and then come back and complain about about Blizzards poor ETAs.
      • by rasjani (97395)
        If you really think that "It was supposed to impress you", you where not the person to understand my point. Few issues with your reply: Fanboy mentality, and erm.. Fanboy mentality.

        Yes, the feared roll back. Alot of those still happened during the time i spent to suck of evercrack. But they got better and later on, i dont remember any rollbacks happening and also, they didnt bother me... But lets think about this. So, Verant did that as their first big mmorpg ? And they had the biggest crowd playing at one
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @08:44PM (#17356742)
    The poster asks:

    Was a couple of hours of downtime early in a workday really such a burden?
    For some it was, for others it wasn't, but that's not the point.

    The point is that downtime at ANY time of the day is inappropriate in a global service in this day and age, since it's always prime time for somebody somewhere. Lots of people play on "foreign" servers, because that's where their friends are.

    Many other MMOGs have now eliminated patch-update downtime in favor of continuous background updates, and their maintenance is typically fully transparent: "We're doing scheduled maintenance at hour XX-YY GMT, but you're unlikely to notice anything". Another MMOG I'm currently playing is like that, very slick --- the only time I ever noticed the service being down was when they were moving their huge data center lock stock and barrel to a larger site. And there is never any downtime for new expansions.

    Far from "Does it matter?", this is very welcome news from Blizzard indeed. It's about time.
    • The point is that downtime at ANY time of the day is inappropriate in a global service
      If you would characterize WoW as a global service, which is a stretch, WoW would be one of the definitive examples that it is a standard. MySpace, Second Life and yes, even Digg have have maintenance. I don't see where appropriate fits into it.
      • by geniusj (140174)
        Where I work, we do not have the luxury of maintenance windows. It's not too difficult to get zero downtime on a web-based service if you have solid deployment methods. Something like WoW is a little more difficult, although you can get pretty close with the Guild Wars approach (running multiple versions of the server at the same time and allowing users to finish what they're doing before restarting their clients to patch).
      • by @madeus (24818)
        MySpace, Digg and even Second Life do not go down for hours at a time every week (as WoW invariably does, with it's sure-fire maintenance overruns), the only MMO worse than WoW in this respect has been Eve Online with it's daily hour long maintenance (which also frequently overruns).

        Servers do not need to be taken down to do backups, and updates to code should only require a downtime in the order of a small number of minutes. It's just lazy programming or bad management that don't care enough about the user
        • by Jack9 (11421)

          However, the apporach to server management is dreadful and starkly contrasts with this

          It's a common refrain that the server makes 90% of the MMORPG. This does not necessarily mean that the server management has been dreadful, given the popularity.

          It's just lazy programming or bad management

          Given the results, I cannot agree with your conclusions. Less efficient than the optimal result, yes. Awful, no.

          Servers do not need to be taken down to do backups,

          I'm sure you're aware of the granularity that WoW records

    • The poster didn't ask that...Zonk did. And you would think he would know better.
  • Every tuesday morning I'm forced to actually get work done. Until the servers come back up, that is.
  • That's the only time I stop playing long enough to actually use the bathroom. Do I have to wait until the next server crash to take a dump?
  • by miaDWZ (820679) * <<alan> <at> <alanisherwood.id.au>> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @09:13PM (#17356856) Homepage
    GAH! I feel like throwing my head against a brick wall after reading "I know that the timeframe had to be inconvenient for EU players on the U.S. servers"

    Yes, it's all very well-and-good for you people in America. You don't see downtime. I'm happy for you. Really.

    But (and this may come as a surprise to the story poster), there are more then just US and EU people in the world.

    Welcome to my little part of the world. Oceania. We are spread out roughfuly between GMT+8 and GMT+12 and cover such countries as Australia [wikipedia.org] and New Zealand [wikipedia.org]. Maybe you've heard of them before?

    Unlike the EU (and the US), who have their own nice little servers 30ms away - us Oceanic people are OBLIGATED to use the US servers, located in the US, a not-so-small 450ms jump over the Pacific Ocean.

    After a year or so of Oceanic people throwing their heads into a wall, Blizzard decided to make a couple of "Oceanic" servers.

    The server time on these machines where set to GMT+10, and gave rise the the ability of playing at the same time as everyone else. Sadly, these severs continue to be hosted in the US - still 450ms away.

    But the other small issue is that Blizzard runs their weekly-maintenance at the same time as the US servers.

    When I say "same time", I don't mean, "3am" which means a different physical time because the server time is set to GMT+10. What I mean is that it's the exact same time - everywhere - at the same time. When the US servers go down, so do the Oceanic servers.

    As a result - this means, Tuesday's weekly-maintenance doesn't happen at 3am for Oceanic customers, but rather, 7pm and finishes about 2am.

    Yep, right in the middle of prime-time.

    Unlike EU players who make their own willing decision to use US servers - we are REQUIRED to use these servers. We simply have no other choice.

    Whilst the player base of Oceanic isn't quite as large as the US, it's still significant. I think we have what, 5 servers dedicated to us at the moment? And they are all full to the brim, every time Blizzard puts in a new one, it's full within days.

    So, in closing, this may not be a big deal for people who live in the US, and play on US time - but this is a HUGE deal for us Oceanic customers.
    • by brkello (642429)
      You make a big deal that Oceanic servers have the same maintenance time. But it makes sense for them to do this. It's easier to schedule one time for all of their staff to be there working on the server rather than having multiple ones to server a much smaller population.

      So it's good for you, but I don't think what they did was really that bad. Besides...when you look at it...maybe forcing everyone to take a break one night a week isn't such a horrible thing. And if you do feel it is horrible, you need
    • by rxmd (205533)
      Welcome to my little part of the world. Oceania.

      The explanation is easy, of course. Blizzard is at war with Oceania. Blizzard has always been at war with Oceania. ;)
  • by kunwon1 (795332) * <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @09:35PM (#17356946) Homepage
    Is this really that big a deal? I know that the timeframe had to be inconvenient for EU players on the U.S. servers, but was a couple of hours of downtime early in a workday really such a burden?

    Indeed, if it had been 'a couple hours', it wouldn't have been a problem. But rarely was it so. In my personal experience (I was on Duskwood-US from shortly after that server's birth until about two months ago, when I gave the game up) the downtime would often last into the digits. That's hours. I can remember several tuesdays, coming home from work around 6pm and not being able to login because my server was still down. They'd give a list of 'affected servers' on the login screen, it was usually about 25-30 servers a week going down. Maybe it was the same servers giving problems week after week, which would explain why many players wouldn't notice it. I don't know, as I said, my experience is limited. But this would be a big deal to me, if I still played.
    My .02
  • And tuesdays were a big reason: it was my day off work. I could get up before the gf, and enjoy my good old lvl 39....oh wait. The game was awesome, and PvP rocked. The queues to log in, the disconnects, and nerfing of my nightelf priest into oblivion, and not being able to play for over 10 hrs of my "weekend" led to me voting with my dollars and go back to CoH. Maybe I'll give it another go.

    This was me and my gf [penny-arcade.com]
    • This is obviously fake...you can't have a girlfriend and be on Slashdot!
    • by DerWulf (782458)
      Class balance in wow is excellent. I can tell because everyone* thinks they've been (and will be) treated unfairly by blizzard, that they loose to everyone and that they can beat everyone. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Priests are fine. Really. * (people that troll the official forum)

  • It's about time they decided to upgrade to a live patching system. As another poster mentioned, the need for hours of patch time every week seems questionable. It seems they've taken a page from Guild Wars, whose live update system is one of the nicest features of the game (imo). There are no maintenance days, and rarely is there any downtime. The patches are downloaded live by the client and installed on the fly, which is the way it should be. We'll see if the new Blizzard devs can get it right or if it wi
  • Blizzard isn't exactly great at running an MMO - every patch brings downtime (always more than was scheduled), lots of bugs, long queues, and server restarts. It was laughable that Blizzard had to take down their game for several hours every week - imagine if Visa or Wal-Mart did something like that.

    Welcome to the 90s Blizzard.
  • It was a pretty big deal in terms of the gaming industry simply because it made it pretty easy if you had to pick a day of the week to blow your advertising wad. What other time of the week can you believe that there are at least 100k gamers surfing the web, not playing a game, and in contact with their social network to spread the word of some cool beta/game/etc. ?
  • Yeah it is that big of a deal, I still pay for that scheduled downtime and I can't play. Obviously there is no guarantee that the servers are going to have 100% uptime, but it's not like Blizzard suspends your paid time while they are doing maintenance. I'm usually home on a Tuesday and I can't play until after 2 PM. This change is great and I hope it works out.
  • Let's remember:
    1) what was always scheduled to be a 'couple of hours' very often (perhaps 2/3 of the time) turned into 8-10 hours immediately or shortly after the new patch was applied, servers were up, and then they had to fix something that was newly broken.

    2) Most users pay $12-$15/month for 24/7 access. Take down the servers 4 times a month for 4 hours each = 16 hours. That means I'm losing 2% of my available play time. If I'm in Oceania, I'm losing that time during my prime time hours. NOTE: Blizz h
    • by Damvan (824570)
      "That means I'm losing 2% of my available play time."

      You do realize you are talking about 30 cents a month?
  • Is this really that big a deal? I know that the timeframe had to be inconvenient for EU players on the U.S. servers, but was a couple of hours of downtime early in a workday really such a burden?

    Hi, Asia? "Off-peak" is the middle of the evening here. Don't mind us though, we'll just do some math while we wait. We'll count Aussies or something, since nobody else seems to.
  • it was weird because of my children, I don't get to play at all at night, so when I wake up early, I might be able to get an hour or two. This always seemed to happen on a Tuesday, and they were always off line for maintenance. I was probably just lucky, but it seemed to happen a lot, and was frustrating since they didn't come back online until after I left for work. Anyway, I stopped playing again for awhile, but I am glad they are doing away with the six hour schedules.

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