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Blizzard: Comcast issues fixed

Eyonix is now reporting, as an update to yesterday's update, that Blizzard has resolved the issues with Comcast. So to quote the late, great Douglas Adams, "anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem." Which is not quite true -- Blizzard tech support and Comcast are probably still happy to listen to your issues (assuming you can get through their phone system), but the major outages from this weekend are reportedly solved.

There are still three stickied threads going in the technical support forums, so you can possibly find help or more information there if you're still having issues: Eyonix encourages anyone still having a problem to go there.

I'm on Comcast here in Chicago, but I didn't have any issues connecting this weekend (save for the fact that I was offline for half a day yesterday due to an unrelated computer error I had). Still, though we're not sure just how widespread the problem is, there were definitely some players suffering from lag and disconnects. Hopefully the problem is cleared up for good.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Introducing Big Download (beta), the newest site in the Joystiq network

Our good friends at Joystiq are passing out the cigars today -- the newest site in the Joystiq network (which WoW Insider is a part of, within Weblogs, Inc., which is a division of AOL) is called Big Download, is in beta, and is open right now for your browsing and file grabbing pleasure. We'll direct you to the most important part of the site, the World of Warcraft page, where you can grab Blizzard's latest patch and trailer at your convenience (in case you haven't gotten them yet), but the site's got lots of other good stuff, too, including that sweet looking Mirror's Edge gameplay video everyone's going gaga over, and even full MMO clients like Dream of Mirror Online and EVE Online.

The site's got a decidedly PC bent, which we're big fans of, obviously, and there's a news page which will cover PC and game file news from 1 to 100% downloaded. And with a feature called "My Tracker," you can sign in and every time there's a new file for a game you want (say, a certain 10 million player fantasy MMO that you just can't get enough of), they'll tell you right away.

Looks cool to us. The site is still in beta, as we said, so stay tuned for more updates and features all the time. And what's that you say? You want a place where you can get up-to-date, virus-free WoW addons, a place that never goes down and charges no fees and requires no registration to download from? Patience, my friends. In time, good things will come.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, News items

Diablo3.com hosts countdown for May 1st


Our friends at Blizzplanet sent along a mysterious little tip. Diablo3.com is not actually a Blizzard site (at least currently) -- it appears to be somehow affiliated with Blizzplanet's network (there are also links to WoW Radio, so we're checking with them to see what's up as well). But on both Diablo3.com and Blizzplanet, there is now a countdown leading up to thirteen days from now, which lands us squarely on May 1st. On Blizzplanet, there is a note that says "The Church of the Triune will be shaken in..." On Diablo3.com, the message is much more practical: "The number of days until half the web links to Diablo3.com. But why???"

So what's happening on May 1st? Best case scenario, of course, is the official announcement of a third title in the Diablo series. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one, however -- while it has been rumored for a long time, it seems unlikely that Blizzard would break the news on an unofficial site. But then again, maybe it won't be an unofficial site by then -- if diablo3.com was sold to or otherwise obtained by Blizzard (they obviously own the trademark), and is switching over on May 1st, that would definitely be enough reason for "half the web" to link to it, even without an official announcement of the game.

Either way, we'll keep an eye on it. Keep in mind, also, that Blizzard is having the WWI at the end of June (and both Diablo II and its expansion were released on June 29, of 2000 and 2001 respectively. We're not sure what this countdown means yet, but this summer definitely seems like the right time for an official Diablo 3 announcement.

Update: Whois info on Diablo3.com shows that it's currently owned by Roger Barr, who runs I-Mockery, another link on the sidebar. So this could all just be a hoax or publicity stunt. We'll find out on May 1st, I guess.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Rumors

MythBuster Hortus says "No PTR caused lag"

When I woke up this morning I was greeted to two things: a fist full of WoW news to report on, and my daily dose of MythBusters. Interestingly I found that our chummy Blizzard PTR forum poster Hortus has taken up dispelling some myths of his own. This myth is so epic that I think it would make for a good computer nerd edition of MythBusters.

The myth is this: every time the PTR goes up, my server slows down.

I play mainly in two different servers, Anvilmar and Eldre'Thalas. I've heard it claimed often enough on both servers that the PTR seriously effects stability. Most people claim this is because the PTR and the server hardware are on the same "rack." Most servers are just a small gray box with a few blinking lights on the front of them, and lots of connection ports in the back. When making a server farm, like Blizzard has scattered throughout the country, they physically put the servers in clusters, called racks (no, not that kind of cluster, well kind of, but that's beside the point).

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Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Realm Status, Odds and ends, News items, Hardware, Rumors

Ping faster with Faster Ping

Recently members of my guild have been using a tool called Faster Ping to achieve better ping rates in game. My guild is a West Coast based guild, and attracts a lot of people from Hawaii and Australia, so they naturally have higher ping rates than those of us in the States. Faster Ping seems to be working wonders for them. It is not so much of an addon as it is a tool for Windows (though lots of people mistakingly call it an addon).

My first reaction to this was what thinking this sounded like something out of the mouth of Cliff Clavin. I mean, how can a piece of software impact something that is mainly due to physical limits? Well, after thinking about it for a bit, and reading up on what the tool does, it can.

WARNING! This paragraph will be the only one that contains technical content! Faster Ping works by removing the acknowledgement delay from TCP packets. This delay happens inside the kernel's TCP stack, and is a necessity for a lot of functions that go on inside a TCP stack. The other modification Faster Ping does is to remove delay in sending small packets (think anything less than a dozen or so bytes). These changes, at least theoretically, should not impact system stability if the Windows kernel has proper TCP/IP stack implementation. Okay, end technical content.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Odds and ends, Add-Ons

WoW, certain routers causing network problems

Datth on the forums confirms that WoW is causing some home networks to go down completely. After hearing reports that on some networks, logging into or playing the game would cause the entire network to lose their internet connection, Blizzard asked players to report technical specs if the problem happened. And after researching, they've reported now that the problem supposedly lies with folks who have a "Siemens, 2wire or older model Motorola modem or Netgear router."

So if you have one of those and are having this problem, Blizzard has at least identified the cause. They say they're working with the router manufacturers to come up with a fix, but if there really is a problem in the router itself, odds are Blizzard won't be able to hotfix it on their site, so you may have to go to the router's manufacturer for a fix (all that information, when it becomes available, will likely be on their site).

I am surprised, however, that this problem didn't appear before now. Blizzard says that the most recent patch (would that be 2.3.3 and the improvements to load time?) is responsible for "revealing a bug in the hardware," so if the router manufacturers don't release a fix, Blizzard may have to reverse whatever changes were made. At any rate, a fix is coming, no matter where it comes from.

Thanks, Jonate!

Filed under: Patches, Bugs, Blizzard, News items

Knights of the network

We talk so much about warfare these days, and rightly so. After all, this is World of Warcraft. In thinking of the battles we wage in game, the fight against the Burning Legion, the ongoing battle against the Scourge, I would like to take a moment and recognize those who are fighting on the front lines for the WoW players everywhere, regardless of locale: the network security team at Blizzard.

These are the people that have been tirelessly working to keep that spam off our screens, the keyloggers out of our accounts, who protect us day in and day out as we quest in Azeroth and Outland. Being that WoW is such a popular game, its players are constantly under attack from predators that would make the game unplayable, and possibly harm our computers and bank accounts.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

WoW and LAN gaming

Having a WoW LAN at an event like BlizzCon seems only natural, but we're seeing an increasing presence of WoW at BYOC events. With an Internet connection as staple a feature as the local area network that gives LAN events their name, there's no reason why MMOs shouldn't be at these events, as they provide a great opportunity for players to meet up and play together.

Blizzard's recent announcement of their competitions at the Lanwar event in Kentucky got me thinking. Competitions are a great part of LAN events, whether it's cash, swag or prestige that's on offer. However, the time-restricted nature of a three-day event means that certain aspects of WoW get a lot more attention than others.

Rather like the earlier beta contest, two of the competitions revolve around levelling and PvP. How far can you get in three hours? Given a premade character, how well can you PvP? Finally, a test of teamwork and skill that can only really take place at a LAN event like this -- beat other teams in a Stratholme race.

Personally, I think levelling and PvP contests are quite limited -- but special events like PvPing against the devs, or a levelling contest using only Draenei and Blood Elves, could make an event like this truly special. Other areas of WoW could be highlighted, too -- how about testing a guild's tradeskill organisation? Finding rare and unusual pets and items? Mini-tank races?

Filed under: Events, PvP

Orgrimmar and Stormwind on a par with real cities?

Seattle, New York, LA, London... Azeroth? The latest addition to city-specific blog site Metroblogs' line-up is none other than our favourite virtual destination. Although there's not much on the site at the moment (watch out for NSFW language in the first link), it's an interesting move to consider.

Only a few of Metroblogs' other locales -- including London, New York and Istanbul -- have a higher population than Azeroth, although some would say there are big differences between a real urban population and an online game's subscriber base. We, of course, welcome those who think WoW is diverse enough to merit a dedicated blog, but it's going to be interesting to see how "metroblogging" a virtual world controlled by a single entity compares to a real live city.

Filed under: Fan stuff

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