Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lrn2TechSupport

I don't remember the day of the week that I started playing WoW, but I do know that I played about 18 hours a day for the rest of that week. I occasionally took breaks to do bothersome things like eat, go to the bathroom, and feed my cats, but otherwise it was all WoW, all the time. That continued right up until the following Tuesday morning when I tried to log in, and stared at my screen in abject horror as it told me that the servers were all down for maintenance and would be back up sometime later that day.

WUH??

Don't tell me that! I need my fix now! WTF am I supposed to do... go to work? Clean my apartment? Pay attention to RL friends?? I'm not some sort of human being, I'm a War-crack addict! Maintenance is completely unacceptable.

It wasn't until the following week when the horrific incident repeated itself that I started to notice a pattern. I mentioned it to one of my new online friends and they were all like, "Oh yeah, Tuesday is maintenance and patch day."

WUH-HUH?!?

You mean to tell me that once a week, Blizzard denies every single addict their fix? Are you shitting me?

Five months later, it still mystifies me quite a bit. I mean, I was under the impression that Blizzard is in fact a large company of sorts. Usually, large companies are pretty good about running and maintaining systems that are available 24/7. Large companies that aren't named Blizzard, apparently.

Like everyone else who plays (or is addicted to) WoW, I have since resigned myself to the fact that there will be no play on the first half of most Tuesdays... and if the maintenance goes badly, there may not be any play on the second half of Tuesday either. But this is crazy! I'm an IT geek by trade, and know quite well that people expect their systems to have 99.999% availability. This is 2009 for Pete's sake! (I don't know who Pete is, but I do know that in 1979 or 1989 he might have expected some downtime; not so much in 2009.) I myself have been in charge of numerous systems, and somehow we miraculously find ways to do maintenance and install updates that require little or no system downtime.

Why can't Blizzard figure this out? And more importantly, why do we let Blizzard get away with lower standards? I'll tell you why: BECAUSE WE'RE FRIGGIN ADDICTS, that's why. We're just so happy when it comes back up, and we can stick that virtual needle in our arms, we instantly forget their past transgressions and instead bless the ground they walk on. "Oh, thank you Mr. Drug Pusher, I'm happy to get my fix! So sorry for seeming angry, just please don't deny me my stuff and I promise I won't complain!"

But taking advantage of the socially disadvantaged is not something that Blizzard should be proud of. Now if I worked for that company, there'd be a few changes in the maintenance department. Here's just two for example:

1) Rolling restarts, when required, happen at 4 AM realm time... not 9 AM, or god forbid, 9 PM right in the middle of peak usage. You know all those guys farming gold in China while those of us in the U.S. are asleep? Let's put them to work doing something useful.

2) Patch rollouts would actually be tested in advance. No more messages like: "The following 52 realms are undergoing extended maintenance. We will update you in one hour with further details." Of course, that message gets updated 10 hours in a row sometimes...

Yeah, when Zaphind runs WoW, there'll be a new sherriff in town.

In the meantime, can I please just get my fix now? I need it reeeaal bad...

1 comment:

jptpublic said...

I've had the same thoughts Zaph.

My solution idea was to have a realm (chosen at random) get the patch hours before the rest. If 2-12+ hours of rework are required, only 1 realm is down. Once resolved, the others can get the fixed versions in the time frame of rolling restarts.

I can has WOW?