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Posts with tag technical

Tweetcraft lets you tweet from Warcraft

Twitter is all the rage right now -- it's the easiest, quickest way to let anyone interested know what you're up to, and because it's so popular, it's also no surprise that we've seen quite a few Twitter and World of Warcraft mashup apps. wowTwitter is a separate update service just for news about your characters, WoWHorn is a script that lets you Tweet when you hit certain achievements, and though services like PlayXpert have let you Twitter from the game before, TweetCraft appears to be the first standalone application designed to do just that. After installation, it works the same way as an addon, though it's actually not -- addons can't directly connect to the Internet, so TweetCraft instead uses an outside script to read and write tweets into settings files, which the ingame addon then reads to get and send your tweets. It gets complicated, but you don't need to know all that to install and use it -- when you run the setup app, it'll put everything in the right places for you.

As with all third-party applications, you should install and run this one at your own risk -- the FAQ has more information if you're wondering how things are stored or whether the app is secure. The app is completely open source, which means anyone who wants to can read the code, so if the author of the app was doing anything sneaky, we'd know about it. And yes, right now the app is not violating the ToS, but of course that's enforced according to Blizzard's whims, so again, use it at your own risk. If you're not interested in using this app, you can always update your status here on WoW.com using our own addon -- it's not Twitter, but it will let your friends keep track of you in Azeroth!

But TweetCraft does look to be a clever, solid way to access and post to Twitter from right inside your World of Warcraft game. If you've been looking for a one-stop solution like this, there you go. Do be sure to follow us over on Twitter, too, if you haven't yet -- you never know when we might tweet something you'll want to see.

Update: Apparently the app on default tweets all kinds of things you probably don't want to (like changing zones). There is probably a settings switch somewhere, but as always, user beware.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Add-Ons

Battle.Net issues today

Today is a Wednesday, and that means that there has to be some sort of Battle.Net authentication/login/game-version issue today. And guess what? There is!

There is a long thread in the support forums about it, and the only blue response so far is that Blizzard is aware of the problem and they're working on it. Many, if not all, Battle.Net users are seeing an error stating the client cannot validate the game version (even after they've patched to 3.1.1).

There is no known fix yet. We'll update this post when there is more information to report.

Update:
According to Neth everything is working now.

Filed under: Bugs, News items

Fixing FPS issues with patch 3.1

A few people are experiencing slowdown issues with patch 3.1, and since our last bit of technical help went over so well, we figured we'd do a little troubleshooting for you on this one, too. If your computer is running slower since you updated into patch 3.1, the first thing to do is check your video options -- Blizzard has tweaked a few things in there, and chances are that by tweaking them again, you might be able to fix your problem (or at least make it a little better). Specifically keep an eye out for the new Video Mode Ultra setting -- that specifically is not designed to be used unless your computer is current and top-of-the-line. Shadows also are quite a drag on the video card and CPU, and turning them down won't affect gameplay that much.

If your options are already low, the next thing you might do is check your videocard's make and driver version (scroll down to the "manually" section there -- you don't need to run Intel's program). Nvidia, who makes the common GeForce series of video cards just updated their drivers to version 182.50 on April 2nd, so if you have an earlier version than that, running the update will probably help. If you have an ATI card, you can find the drivers over on their site.

And of course if all of your software is set up and you're still having issues, there's always the possibility of updating your hardware. That can be quite an ordeal, though, so if you're not so sure on how to install new RAM or can't recognize the difference between SATA and IDE, you might want to enlist a friendly techie for a little help. WoW is still very forgiving, but Blizzard has been slowly adding on the graphical goodness, so if you've been playing with the same PC since launch four years ago, it might just be time for an upgrade.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Hardware

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

Troubleshooting dynamic shadows on OS X and Windows

This forum thread, about the new shadow technology appearing on the Mac in 3.0.2, is confusing. There are four Blue responses in the first 10 posts, and at the end of it, I still don't have a clear idea of whether shadows work on the Mac or not. The issue seems to be this: shadows do work on the Mac, but not the highest quality shadows. Why? Because while Windows uses DirectX to do its 3D processing, OS X still uses OpenGL. And while shadows do work in OpenGL (and eventually can work just as well in OpenGL), Blizzard needs Apple to put some extensions in which aren't there yet, so the highest quality shadows aren't yet possible.

Did your eyes glaze over from all that tech talk? Let's make it simple: if you're on Windows or OS X and you don't see shadows, odds are that your settings are wrong. Open up Video settings in game, and slide the Shadows slider all the way to the right as far as it will go, and then escape out and see if Shadows appear. Note, however, that this will slow your computer down, and as we said earlier today, older computers might have trouble doing this. If you're running an older PC or Mac, you may have to forget about the dynamic shadows completely.

That said, according to the Blues, with the shadow slider flipped all the way up on a PC and a Mac, the PC's shadows will look a little better. That's not a limitation of your computer (or of Blizzard's designers), it's a limitation of the technologies that Blizzard is using to make the game. When OpenGL (the code that allows game makers like Blizzard to draw 3D graphics within OS X) gets updated, then we'll see some higher quality shadows.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Guides

Thirteen WoW windows in 36 seconds with an SSD


This is cool, but pretty technical -- if you don't know your USB from your Firewire, it might not make much sense. But the guys at TGDaily were apparently playing around with a Fusion-io solid state hard drive at E for All last weekend, and to show off the drive, they loaded up thirteen World of Warcraft windows in just 36 seconds.

Normal hard drives, like the one in your computer (unless you've already shelled out a ton of cash for an SSD) have discs in them that spin, and they take time to find the information stored on them -- that's why, when you double click your WoW icon, it takes a few seconds (up to a few minutes if you've got a slower computer) for your WoW window to load up. But a "solid state" hard drive doesn't have discs or moving parts -- it's essentially one big block of memory -- so it's much, much faster in terms of retriving information. And what's going on in the video on their website is that they're pulling so much information from the hard drive that WoW is installed on that it's taking only seconds to load up thirteen windows' worth of WoW.

Of course, how fast all of those windows actually run depends on a lot of other things in the computer -- you'd need a lot more than just an SSD to have the video power to run 13 separate 3D windows at the same time (though TGDaily says they weren't breaking the bank at 5 instances running, they just didn't have any more accounts), not to mention the bandwidth that would come from 13 different connections. But just the startup is interesting enough -- eventually these SSD drives will become cheap enough to be used all over the place, and information will be almost instantly accessible from wherever it's stored on your PC.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Hardware

How Blizzard mishandled the BlizzCon ticket situation

As you may or may not know, we here at WoW Insider are not an official Blizzard fansite. There are a few different reasons for that, but one of them is that within the Fansite Program Code of Conduct, there is a clause that states, "fansites should present content that is supportive of World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment." We don't disagree with that clause -- fansites are run by fans, and they should support Blizzard. But our status as an unofficial site leaves us completely free to talk indepth about situations where Blizzard has messed up big time. And as many players already know, the BlizzCon ticket sales process that took place earlier this week is definitely one of those situations.

Blizzard is, of course, a game company. No one expects them to put on events like WWI and BlizzCon -- they do so to serve the community that's grown up around their games (and, let's be fair, market and advertise their products to the core of their fanbase). And the community loves those events, both hearing about and attending them. Which is why it was a surprise to no one (except maybe Blizzard themselves) that when the ticket sales kicked off Monday morning, it was a nightmare -- the site was hammered by fans trying desperately to buy tickets, the Failoc was a familiar sight, and within a few hours, even Blizzard.com's main site was down.

Everyone could have predicted that there'd be problems like that -- when a fanbase of 11 million tries to buy 12,000 tickets, of course you're going to have technical problems. But Blizzard's mishandling of the situation didn't happen on Monday morning -- anyone can suffer from server outages. It happened over the next two days, days full of frustration, endless page refreshing, and a lack of useful communication from Blizzard about just what was happening.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Blizzard, News items, Guides, BlizzCon

Forum post of the day: Doomsprocket's Dilemma

I have this annoying habit of taking things for granted. For instance, have you ever really thought about how wonderful bone marrow is? My hands, feet, heart, and all the other parts work just the way they should. What would WoW be like if I couldn't use both hands?

Doomsprockt of Mauradin faced just such a dilemma. He (Jaime) was in a struck by a car in an accident that left him paralyzed on the left side of hisbody. Among the challenges of recovery, Doomsprocket sought to regain access to WoW, but his first solution, a frog-pad failed to do the trick. He appealed to the Mac Technical Support forums for assistance.

Read more →

Filed under: How-tos, Fan stuff, Forums, Hardware, Forum Post of the Day

A Carrot-on-a-Stick for your PC

Lev over on WoW Ladies is bummed because her computer plays WoW so slowly. Well, we here at WoW Insider are nothing if not helpful, so here's some help! While WoW is definitely a pretty forgiving PC game (unlike, say, Bioshock or the upcoming Crysis, which will make slightly older computers drop into a fetal position while sobbing), there are still a few simple things, some free, some not, that you can do to speed up your computer a bit. (Note: Most of these tips are for Windows only, although with a little Google searching, some of them can be adapted for Macs as well).
  • Cleanliness is next to ownage: Nobody likes a mess, and your computer doesn't either. If your hard drive is extremely full (as in less than a few hundred megabytes free space), big programs like WoW won't have the space they need to stretch out. So make some space by uninstalling programs you don't use any more, and then run a defrag program to reorganize and refresh your hard drive.
  • Slam that spam: Another thing that makes your computer run slow is viruses and spam programs that run in the background and are a pain to get rid of. If you haven't done so in a while, have your virus checker do a complete system check and delete any nasties that show up, and then download both AdAware and Spybot S&D, and run a full check using both of those. It may take up to an hour or so, but it'll be worth it.
  • Needs more RAM! One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to make your computer run faster is to put more RAM (Random Access Memory) in it. It'll take a little bit of research on your part (to find out what type of RAM your computer's Motherboard uses), but RAM is cheaper all the time, and installation is a snap-- literally.
  • Videocardorama: But while RAM will lower your loading times, the only way to speed up 3D performance in WoW is to get a better videocard. The good news is that they're just as easy to install, but the bad news is that a nice videocard will be fairly expensive, depending on what you're upgrading from-- if you're playing on an old integrated video card that Dell installed, you could get a nice upgrade for as cheap as $100. One thing I do is keep an eye on sites like Techbargains-- when a good deal on a newer card rolls past, nab it up.
Keep your system a lean, mean, clean machine, and upgrade it with the newest, fastest hardware when you can, and you'll be seeing Azeroth at 30 FPS in no time.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, Odds and ends

Tweaking the garbage collector (for techheads only)

Bewarned: this post has to do with a technical, hidden process in your WoW client, something involving how your computer's memory is used and how you might be able to make it a little faster. But if you're not interested in the technical side of things, don't worry: this post is extremely skippable. The upshot is that while you can download an addon right now to possibly make your memory usage a little faster, the same functionality is coming to the regular client in 2.3. So feel free to move on to the next post if that's all you wanted to know.

If you're still reading, you probably know by now that we're talking about garbage collection. Cladhaire has a well-written thread started in the UI and Macros forum that goes over exactly how garbage collection works in your computer's RAM-- after Burning Crusade, the WoW client uses a process called "incremental garbage collection," which dynamically deallocates memory as it falls out of use within the application. The problem, as I understand it, is that sometimes the memory won't actually fall out of use, which means the garbage collector won't kick off, which means garbage will sometimes sit in memory for a while waiting to be collected. For those times, there's GCTweak, an addon which you can install that will occasionally force the garbage collector to do its thing. If you have really low system memory, this might help, but only slightly.

At any rate, while this is interesting (probably moreso to those of you comp sci majors out there), it's really a nonissue-- Slouken confirms that exactly this functionality is being built into the standard client in 2.3. If you're really good at this technical stuff, GCTweak might let you tweak your system enough to pump out a few extra FPS on a lower end system. But if you don't know RAM from ROM, and can't be bothered with all this technical wackiness, just wait until 2.3, and you'll get this same functionality anyway.

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

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