Friday, February 15, 2008

Quality Apes Programming, LLC and the Irreplaceable Backpack

Over at WoW Insider, there was a post about the backpack that we all carry. You know the one. Its there when you're first born. You carry it with you everywhere. Sure, you get new purses and suitcases along the way, some of which you can sell or give to your main's brothers or sisters, and some of which are so important to you they become bound to your very soul.

But that first one. 16 beautiful slots.

And you're stuck. You can't change that little guy. Even though you've got access to a variety of larger bags, there's something special about that one bag.

The article indicates that the reason Blizz might have implemented this feature is due to computer memory, specifically on their servers.

I don't know man. Sounds fishy. First off, the number of alts people have won't impact memory. Only one alt is ever in memory at a given time. Sure, your alts take up disk space, but disk is cheep.

Even if it were some performance constraint, memory, processing speed, disk space, the weather in Fiji, and so on...I have a tough time buying into the fact that given five bag positions, by limiting a single one of those five to a bag size that's 4 slots smaller than the largest bags would have any material impact on the game at all.

And to top it off, they solve the physical constraints on their systems via multiple realms (ie horizontal scaling) and weekly reboots (ie why fix memory leaks when you can reboot), so even if all 10 million subscribers logged in simultaneously, no one server is eating it all. Granted if they're doing their shareholders any justice, they do some statistical analysis similar to power utility companies, who figure within a few standard deviations how many concurrent users they will need to support, and when consumer behavior goes outside those bounds, you get brownouts or server crashes. Back on track here, lady....

I'll take my own shot in the dark as to why that bag is not replaceable.

/cast Wild Speculation (Rank 7)

Consider yourself a level 1 nuthin of a toon. You're new to Azeroth, totally overwhelmed by both the beauty and complexity of the world and interface in front of you. Stumbling around the lowbie area, you're clickin' on everything you can get your little cursor on. You have no idea what an NPC is or how to buy and sell at a vendor, or anything at all about bags and item management.

Clickity click click and whoops, you just sold all your items, followed by your one and only one bag.


You're up Sht Creek and you've got a giant brown paddle.

Without a bag, you can't do anything. Nothing. Nathan. Nada. That toon is now effectively dead.

Now on to the real problem...

Blizzard recognized this issue, and they also recognized another issue...the cost of paying expensive software developers. Like any good business, they outsource the coding to the cheepest bidder.

Why not pay the same developers who they would later pay to code the Netherwing Drake. You know the ones who're dirt cheep and at times buggier than hell? Yeah those guys. How many times do I need to move my stupid drake left right up down front back just to land on the ground and pick a herb? Come on? Netherwing Ledge bugs out more than any zone I've ever seen, but I digress. I mean, really, the ariel swimming orcs over by the Not So Friendly Skies? Come on!!! Ok, stop it amava.

So Blizzard figured out that losing all your bags sucks. Smartly, they figured they'd build an in-game mechanism to prevent this from happening.

Unsmartly they just hardcoded it to never be able to be removed, replaced, or upgraded. Probably could be replaced by one or two lines of code that compare the incoming bag to the original backpack, and if the new one is bigger, then let 'er in.

/cast [target=Amava] STFU (Rank 7)

Actually, I don't mean to bad mouth Blizzard. I've loved their games for years, and continue to. I can't imagine how technically and organizationally difficult something like WoW must be to build and maintain.

Its just that funny image of them sitting around in a comittee somewhere trying to brainstorm out how to solve the "oh sht, my bags r gone" problem popped into my head. I picture chimps in diapers and khakis with laptops and thick rimmed glasses, and a white board, and empty cups of coffee scattered about. Two of them doodling silently, the other pretending to check his email on his blackberry but they all know he's playing the one and only company provided game (a Breakout ripoff), another staring out the window, one standing at the whiteboard getting impatient, and another tearing a sheet of paper into tiny bits and piling them up on the table while arguing with whiteboard guy, and the other two who're whispering and laughing anytime whiteboard guy says "duty".

Quality Apes Programming, LLC. Quality Gaming Solutions, Not Made From the Stuff We Fling at You.

Now get those monkeys working on making my dragon land on the ground better!!!!!

No comments: