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WoW Insider speaks with Curse and Wowace

Saturday afternoon I had an opportunity to sit down with Kaelten, known both for his work with Wowace and now Curse.com. We spoke of many of the concerns users had about transitioning from Wowace to Curse for their addons, and the reasoning behind the merger.

Kaelten was more than happy to answer any questions I had, and we jumped right in as soon as we found somewhere to sit for lunch. His explanation for the reasoning between the merger was what we had known (and reported) from the first time we heard of it: It was, essentially, necessary for survival. Wowace was not something that could stand on its own very long. The sheer amount of bandwidth they chewed through was unbelievable, especially on patch days. We're talking 350 GB per hour. The average person has less than 350 GB in their PC, and Wowace (and now Curse) chews through it like it's nothing.

The intent of Wowace was to be a platform for developers, and not necessarily users. It was a development and testing platform, not something originally intended for the general populace. The project just grew from that intent, and became something that was really unfeasible to continue as it was, logistically and technically.

It wasn't a project that could be privately funded anymore, quite simply. Donations just didn't cut it, either. The original design of Wowace certainly didn't help things, either. Every beta build, every alpha build, was put out for all to see, and use. Each and every update, including nonessentials, would be seen as an update- every update would picked up by every user, and that would cause just more bandwidth problems. And problems for the user, too.

Just like full software (which many of us have seen with Wrath of the Lich King throughout its development), beta versions of addons are not necessarily safe for public use. Alpha versions are even worse. And the Wowace platform quite nearly encouraged the use of those versions by the entire populace, even if they put large blinking warning signs all over the place. Was all of this convenient? Oh, definitely. It could not have been more convenient for the user. For everyone else, it was most certainly a problem, and if things continued as they were, it would have gotten much worse. The merger with Curse was very much a matter of survival.

Kaelten himself is very excited about the merger, and most addon developers feel the same, he says. The platform for development has only improved with Wowace joining Curse and Curseforge, and it will continue to improve. If addon developers have any concerns, their concerns are for the users of their mods and addons. As we've seen, the Curse client for updating your addons is not exactly the best, and certainly not as convenient as the WAU used to be. However, it's a work in progress, Kaelten says. The project is past its beginning stages, but it's certainly not done.

Compared to other updaters, including the now-extinct WAU, it has had far less man hours put into it. It is very much a work in progress. It will become easier to use. I made it a point to ask if there were ways to give feedback for the updater, both from mod authors and end users, and there most certainly are channels for that. The Curse.com forums, on Curseforge, or even contacting Kaelten directly. He says that he tries his best to read it all personally, so I definitely recommend giving feedback on what you think can be improved upon. From us here at WoW Insider: Try to leave constructive feedback if you want to see improvements. Whether it be fore the Curse client, Curseforge, or anything else, be constructive. It's more helpful than flames.

I asked about a Mac version of the Client for some of our readers that were interested, and there is a Mac Client on the way. In fact, if you want to start testing it out and giving feedback, it's currently in the beta testing stages.

Another concern we've seen crop up is regarding the Curse Premium program. If you're unfamiliar with Curse Premium, it's a paid subscription that offers a number of features. At $3 a month, the Curse Client will automatically update your addons for you, remove any ads from the Client and Curse.com, and support both addon developers and, of course, Curse itself. The mere concept of paying for updating services has raised a lot of hackles, people wondering why they would ever pay for something like that.

Personally, I can see where many of those people are coming from. A previously free, convenient process becoming a paid service sucks. The logic behind it makes sense, though. You're welcome to make up your own minds regarding it, but Kaelten laid it out quite well: First, some support for Curse is essential. Without that, Curse could ultimately end up in the same situation as Wowace. No support for the absurd amounts of bandwidth they go through would be a disaster. Two, some of the 'profit' from Curse Premium goes back to the mod authors, as Kaelten believes they should have received all along.

The top mod authors will be rewarded for their effort and contributions to the community. The top authors will be finding themselves hitting up Amazon.com regularly to buy themselves some toys, and the not-so-popular authors may still find Curse paying for their WoW account now and then. Who the 'top' authors are is determined by a points system. How are points accrued? Kaelten wasn't willing to go into detail about that, to avoid anybody trying to play the system unfairly.

Is the service worth it? Really, that's your decision. As Kaelten pointed out, you can get a year of Curse Premium for just short of $20, which comes out to less than $2 per month. To me, that seems worth it. The population at large, though? They may simply not want to pay for the service at all, which is something we've been seeing a lot.

As a note, the Curse Client does not count beta or alpha releases of addons as full releases, which has caused some confusion. Final releases are releases. This is intended, not a bug- it was a problem that was encountered on Wowace. Beta releases are for testing purposes, not to use as a regular addon. As an example, remember Omen's last major remake? Remember when our updaters continually prompted us to update it? Every time you logged on, every time a friend logged on? That's what happens when beta versions are considered releases. Not all beta updates are essential. In fact, some of them will render your mod totally broken. When an addon developer pushes a release, that's when the Curse Client will prompt an update.

The stigma surrounding Curse is still very much there. It's perceived as the big bad guys here in the WoW community (which, oddly enough, is mostly missing from the Warhammer community), but they're very much trying to turn that around. Kaelten especially wants to take a stance of transparency, trying to be as open as possible. Not all things can be discussed (such as how to make money off of them as mentioned above), but he's certainly willing to try and calm your nerves as far as Curse, Curseforge and Wowace are concerned.

Kaelten is very excited about this merger, because it will be the first time in a long time he'll be able to have an active role in Wowace in a very long time. Wowace hasn't been dumped as a project, it's simply part of Curse now, where he can fulfill what he's always wanted to do with the project.

Ultimately, whether you want to use Curse's services or not is up to each of you, and not me or Kaelten. After speaking with him about all of it, though, I feel a little more at ease using Curse's services. Kaelten, on behalf of Curseforge and Wowace, is also willing to go through some Q&A for you guys, our WoW Insider readers if you have additional questions. Ask them in the comments section below, and I'll personally be pulling some of the best questions to ask him in a future post.

Filed under: Add-Ons, Interviews, BlizzCon

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