Monday, December 13, 2010

Marshmellow Test

Think that an odd title for a first official blog post?  Think an introduction would be more appropriate?  You're probably right.  But perhaps if I explain circumstances a bit then my choice will make some sense.

Y'see, even tho my computer meets the Blizzard recommended specs for Cataclysm, ever since Deathwing broke the world, my framerate has randomly, yet consistently, dropped to single digits.  I could understand that my tired graphics card, old Pentium processor & single gig of memory just couldn't handle spell effects or graphics intensive/overcrowded areas.  (Dalaran - lol - 4fps, though that was pre-4.0, it's quite a bit better now that Dal is pretty much deserted.)  But to be sitting in the same deserted spot & one second have 28fps & the next 8 fps... that I do not understand.  I tried all the Blizz recommendations I could find on the tech forums.  I turned all my settings to low, except view distance to fair because you really can't see much beyond a handspan in front of you on low.  I turned off all my addons.  I disabled my firewall before I logged into the game.  Nothing made a difference.  Even the hubby was clueless and helpless to fix my problem.  (Being a geeky-gamer-guy, he hates it when he can't fix things for me.)  I don't know how anyone can play the game and enjoy it at the recommended specs.  I certainly can't.

To make a long story short (and cut the bellyaching about the frustrations and motion sickness of single-digit framerates so I can get to the point sometime today), let's just suffice it to say that after hitting a wall with my system as is, and ruling out the possibility of upgrading individual components, it was obvious I simply needed a new computer.  The one I have is a little over four years old.  It's time for an upgrade anyway.

My system performance pre-4.0 wasn't exactly stellar and I was afraid the Cata changes would make my system obsolete so I wasn't completely unprepared for this event.  I've been saving for most of the year.  Unfortunately, life happens when we're making other plans & my savings took an unanticipated hit a time or two along the way, leaving me with a lot less to spend on my "gaming" system than I had hoped.  But Black Friday was too good an opportunity to pass up.  I ordered my new system from CyberPower & only went $100 over my budget.  Woot!

Now, I knew my shiny new system wouldn't arrive before Cataclysm.  Hell, the estimated ship date when I placed my order was 12/10.  I told myself, "I can wait a week or so.  I can pass the Marshmellow Test."  So when the hubby, and the vast majority of the WoW community, upgraded & hit the new content Monday night, I just smiled & told myself it was worth the wait.  "I mean, look at how crowded Vashj & Mt. Hyjal & the new starting areas are!  I'll enjoy the new content more when things thin out a bit.  I'll just do cooking and fishing dailies while I wait...."

Tuesday I came to the realization that without Cata I couldn't learn Archeology (which is exceedingly boring, but something I can do with crappy framerates) or get my Flight Master's License to cruise around Azeroth and marvel at all the amazing changes to the world, or train my maxed out Herbalism so that Crusader dailies are more productive.  /cry.  I caved on Thursday & upgraded my account.  Now, as you can imagine, my framerate did not miraculously improve.  My new machine did not miraculously appear on my doorstep.  My temptation to delve into the new content ratcheted exponentially.  I wanted to cry.  I logged in on the hubby's computer whenever he wasn't using it (which wasn't very often since he's been on vacation) just so I could do something.

Saturday night, he asked if I could tank an instance for him.  I laughed despairingly.  Sunday afternoon (after kicking me off his computer) he spent an hour or two cannibalizing his old computer to make what boosts he could to mine.  It helped.  Now my framerate only dips to 10-11fps randomly & when it's good, it's in the 40s-50s.  I was actually able to quest in Mt. Hyjal without getting motion sick or dying unnecessarily.  (I have only my stupidity to blame for getting caught in Baron Geddon's AoE, not that I could see much of it with my settings on low but the NPC tank yelling his head off really should've been a clue to get the hell out of the way).  I still haven't rolled one of the new races, I'm not even going to attempt to tank an instance and I'm taking the leveling slowly.

I can do this.  I can wait for my new machine.  I can pass the Marshmallow Test.  I just need a little nibble around the edges while I wait....

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