Some forum queries about the upcoming content patch got Blue replies this afternoon, after the v2.2.0 Patch Preview was posted. Blizzard Answers Patch 2.2.0 Questions:

    How will CASC benefit us?

  • Is it possible to give examples of benefits besides “bad installs”?
  • What “technical limitations” does it over come?
  • What type of things will now be “hot patchable” that weren’t previously?

  • Tyvalir: In our preview blog for the patch 2.2.0 PTR, we mentioned some of the benefits of switching Diablo III over to the CASC file system. For those of you who geek out about file systems as much as you do about games, here are a few others:

  • It allows the game client to finds assets more quickly due to its non-redundant file structure, improving real-world game performance
  • It means patches no longer require double the installation size on-disk when patching (one of the drawbacks of the old file system)
  • It lets us easily integrate new technologies for patching as we develop them
  • While I don’t have a specific list of the kinds of data that can be hot patched, the main takeaway should be that adopting this file system will ideally lead to a better, more seamless experience – both when the game client is being patched and while you play the game. It can also give us the opportunity to implement some changes more quickly than in the past.

    Click through for replies about the patch 2.2.0 timetable and PTR “soon” possibilities.

    2.2 During the Season?

    I’m pretty sure I heard one of the devs say something about not doing big content patches during a season, instead they would do that in between seasons. Am I mistaken?
    Lylirra: You are not mistaken! We discussed this during the Tavern Talk last week. 🙂

    The plan from here on forward is to (1) end a season, (2) patch, then (3) launch the new season. However, there may still be cases where a small patch for a critical bug fix or something similar is necessary.

    So in the official post about 2.2.0, it says “See you on the PTR, nephalem!” in the end, but I recall them saying in the tavern that patches would only be released at the end of a season. So my question is (because I have limited traffic) if the PTR is already up or when can we expect it?
    Grimiku: The patch 2.2.0 PTR is not available yet, and we currently don’t have any estimates to share with all of you for when it will be. As always, though, we’ll be sure to announce the date right here on the official site as soon as we can.

    They’ll want at least a month or two of PTR testing time for all the new gear and Rift maps and bounties and such, and Blizzard said the 5+ months of Season One was longer than future seasons should run. So if they figure 3-4 months for S2, they’ll want to get the PTR for 2.2.0 going in maybe as little as a month? (Assuming the patch is ready to start testing, of course.)

    On the file system change, I assumed Tyvalir was joking in that first post, but maybe not. Is there anyone who geeks out over file extensions? I found a useful article on Geek.com talking about CASC and its Blizzard debut in the last WoW expansion.

    The biggest advantages of the switch to CASC are speed and resilience. CASC allows WoW to locate the assets it needs more quickly, which means a faster loading game as well as faster content streaming. This also has a knock-on effect for patching, which will also be faster and more reliable because of the way data is handled. You also won’t experience file corruption anymore as CASC is self-maintaining. It’s also expandable, meaning if there’s some new tech or feature Blizzard wants to add, it’s now a simple task rather than trying to hack Mo’PaQ to make it work.

    I’ve played with MPQ extractors over the years since they are required to crack open the compressed game files to extract images and sound effects and data files and such… but I know nothing of the programming/technological pros/cons of different file systems. By all reports the CASC thing is a definite improvement and should improve game performance. In theory it’s also easier to work with on Blizzard’s end, so maybe programmers will have more time to create new features and debug stuff, instead of toiling to make their games function through the old MPQ format?

    Any programmers or knowledgeable readers want to enlighten the rest of us?

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