Now I’m joking but the current issues with the download of the WoW patch let me really appreciate how much, MUCH better is SOE’s support.
It’s from early beta that Blizzard decided to distribute game and patches through Bittorrent to spare on the bandwidth. Problem is that their client is total crap and for very simple reasons. I can use Bittorrent without a problem but the Blizzard’s version is completely broken for me. It was broken during beta and it still is. Two years have passed and ZERO improvements have been done. At that time I ranted on their forums explaining the problems and they said they were going to fix it in time for launch. Yeah, sure.
There are two problems with that crap-program.
The first is that it doesn’t save partially downloaded “parts”. Basically a Bittorrent client chunks a large file in smaller parts and then downloads them from peer connections to then recombine to form the full file. Let’s say a “part” is 256kb (as in this case). Other, better Bittorrent clients save even partially downloaded parts, so that even if you have downloaded 128kb of the 256kb, it isn’t lost and then it is resumed seamlessly. Blizzard’s client doesn’t do this. If you go look at the connection details you could see that you have downloaded a total of 15Mb but completed only 8Mb. If you restart the client the 7Mb partially retrieved won’t be saved and will be lost.
The second problem is an issue with certain network cards and connections. While other Bittorrent clients allow you to set the max number of open connections, Blizzard’s downloader opens them up at will till your connection gets totally swamped and cannot keep up anymore. In my case (ISDN line) I can keep open forty different connections without a problem. It’s way, way more than enough to cap both my upload and download bandwith. But if I go above that cap my connection gets completely swamped till it dies. It stops completely to upload and download and I cannot open even a webpage. Basically it kills my connection till I shutdown that program and all those useless open connections. So if your network card doesn’t like an insane number of connections open the Blizzard’s download is simply unusable since it doesn’t allow you to set a cap. It just continues till it kills your connection.
Recently Blizzard got the “smart” idea to keep the downloader up while you play the game to download the patch in the background using “spare” bandwidth and ease the load during patch day. Well, if I don’t disable it I last two minutes in the game before that FUCKING SHIT of a program lags me to a disconnection. Again because it happily goes to open connections to other PCs at will till my own drowns in despair. You idiot of a program, I’m on dialup, what the fuck you expect when you open more than *eighty* connections to other PCs?
So two years later I’m still waiting Blizzard to fix those two trivial problems or at least provide a standard .torrent file so that I can bypass that shitty program they have.
And one has to praise SOE at this point. SOE doesn’t rely on peer to peer to support their game. In fact their patch program is so smart that verifies and keeps up to date ALL the files. You can go in the game directory and delete a random file and the patch program will deal with it. With a fast, reliable connection. Add to this the mini expansion packs that are distributed completely online. Add to this the possibility to download the FULL game if you need to. Hell, add to this even that they forgot to include the expansion in the expansion DVDs. No problem. I downloaded *all of it* directly from their servers. And if I want I can buy the expansions directly online without bothering to drive to a shop or wait a few days for a shipment to arrive.
Even SOE now supports the possibility to download optional content packs in the background while you play the game as Blizzard tried to do recently. Differently from Blizzard’s crap version, it works. I can play the game even with my poor connection and the background downloader does it work smoothly without lagging me at all.
So some praises, at least when it comes to a good support, are well deserved.