World of Warcraft is a MMORPG taking place in the well established
Warcraft universe. Players create a character on one of two teams. They
select a race, which limits what class they can play. Play revolves
around completing quests for rewards, battling monsters and performing
trade skills. People familiar with traditional role playing games will
notice many similarities. What's different about this title, that makes
it the best game in existence in my opinion, is the changes made to
game-play and the overall attention to detail. Veterans of other
MMORPG's will notice the lack of annoying shortcomings found in other
games. It's as if Blizzard waved a magic wand and removed every
undesirable characteristic and still managed to create a balanced world.
This game is nothing short of revolutionary. Any game that follows will
build on its decisions or fail.
I decided to install World of Warcraft without making any of the
recommended changes listed in the Cedega documentation. We'll call this
the "out of box" experiment.
My choice of which game to test first however, led to an early setback.
The WOW installer disappeared after launch. Nothing appeared to happen.
If an alternative game or a different hardware/software combination
existed, it might have worked. The only thing that was disappointing
about this initial failure was the lack of an error message being
generated to the screen.
Having installed WOW in Windows, I was aware that the very first thing
it does is force you to read the licensing agreement and agree to it.
Installing the ActiveX control appeared to be necessary. I did so, via
rpm. The executable which completes the ActiveX control installation was
run. It contained a Microsoft licensing agreement.
The experiment was resumed. However, the next installation attempt also
resulted in failure. Again, the installer vanished and nothing appeared
to happen. This time, I decided to try once more, focusing on making an
error message appear. I launched P2P from a gnome-terminal, hoping any
error message would appear in the terminal window. It worked, the error
message was even documented. There were a couple possible causes.
Remember, I still had not done the recommended alterations. Continuing
with the plan, I went on-line to see if I could find the quickest
solution, instead of implementing the blanket recommendations provided
Basically, I found out I needed to "follow the directions" or in other
words, do what they had advised me in the first place. This concluded
the "out of box" experiment. Although it was a failure, it only delayed
my Cedega gaming experience.
The World of Warcraft installer performed identically to Windows except
for when it concluded. It exited with an error message. It should be
mentioned this is documented by TransGaming. It would be nice if this
didn't happen, but it didn't bother me. It installed correctly. The real
question is, would it run?
Upon launching the game, the full-screen cinematic started as it is
supposed to on the initial execution of the program. Those of you who
have seen this cinematic, know, it's one of the most beautifully made
introductions ever included in a game. It's gorgeous and it ran
flawlessly. This was good news, but no one buys a game purely for the
After the cinematic finishes, the procedure is to log in and connect to
the server your character resides on. Upon doing this, the game client
noticed I was running version 1.0; a newer version was available.
Blizzard's patch utility was launched automatically.
Some of you may be aware that Blizzard has included a "bit torrent" patch program that lessens the load on their servers by people upgrading
the WOW client. This program had no issue running in Cedega. It worked
as it does in Windows. Very quickly, WOW was installed and patched. I
had only to choose the same configuration options used in Windows and I
was ready. Now, it was time to play it!
I hit the connect button and what I saw was exactly what I was used to
seeing! I was shocked. It looked identical. This is impossible, I
thought. There has to be some difference. It can't be the same. So, I
waited. I experimented. I tried doing everything you can in the game, to
force all possible menus and effects to be rendered to the screen.
Nothing, not one single thing looked different from in Windows!
"Okay, you have some skill.", I thought of TransGaming. However, I was
not giving up. I was determined to find the flaw. There must be some
undiscovered visual artifact. These guys can't be this good. And if not,
I was sure the game would not perform at the same frame rate.
After hours upon hours of playing, I discovered a grand total of two
differences between the Windows and Cedega version of WOW. They are so
minor I hesitate to mention them. One would likely be noticeable to
anyone, the other you need to have eagle eye sight to notice.
Footprints in the game tend to flicker if you reposition the in-game
camera with your mouse. This, should be noticeable by most. Is it bad?
No. Is it annoying? It didn't bother me at all. The other issue, I only
noticed by visiting one unique location in the world. If you travel to the
high level town in the Tanaris zone, which resides in the middle of a
desert climate, you might notice the sand to look different. It's
missing a shining effect that the sun causes. The dunes will display a
glare effect off the sand if you view from the correct angle. This
appeared to be some kind of specular highlighting effect not
implemented. However, there are many places in the world where it
appears specular highlighting works. Anyway, my guess is most people
will never notice it. It is very difficult to recognize.
During my explorations of Azeroth, I was unable to discover a difference
in the sound produced by Cedega as opposed to in Windows. The weight
carried by this statement is multiplied by the incredible effort
Blizzard put into sound for the game.
The game might look and sound the same, but it can't achieve the same
performance, or can it? I turned on the in-game frame rate meter, which
honestly I'm not sure produces accurate results when run in an alternate
environment. It appears it may, however. The numbers produced were
identical to those I get in Windows!
I stress tested the game to make sure. I went to the worst place
possible, where the game would be forced to calculate and draw more
polygons to the screen than any other place. If you play WOW (with an
Alliance character), you know this location to be the auction house in
Ironforge. Here, it's not uncommon to see over 100 players in the same
location. It's one of the flaws of the game, that currently everyone on
the same team goes to the same city in the same spot, to sell their
items they collect while playing. This will be fixed eventually,
Blizzard has promised. Currently, it's a huge test to any computer no
matter the hardware available. My frame rates remained identical. It
ranged from a low of twenty five to a high of ninety five. It was such
an identical experience that the game stuttered in the one and only
place it does in Windows. This being after you teleport in to the inn
and go outside to walk to the auction house. When you get in range of
it, the loading of all the player models causes a slight stutter on my
Words don't express how impressed I was by my World of Warcraft
experience. It is fully playable to say the least.
There are two additional comments I will make about WOW in Cedega. One,
the in game screenshot button got overridden by GNOME 2.8. Any attempt I
made to take a screenshot using WOW, resulted in GNOME taking the image.
This kind of worked. In Windows this might have been disastrous. If you
have ever played a full screen 3D accelerated game and then switched out
of it while running it, you know what I mean. It's an ugly experience.
In Linux, no problem. GNOME took the screenshot, let me name it, then
when it was done, it went back to full screen mode as if nothing ever
happened. The only downside was in the quality of the images. There was
an artifact in almost every screenshot GNOME created. It seemed to catch
the actual frame being drawn to the screen. This would produce a
distorted line somewhere in the picture. Unfortunately, I don't think
you can remap the key in game. GNOME allows for remapping of the screenshot
key. Changing from print-screen solved this minor issue.
Lastly, in Cedega you have the option to run custom settings for each
game. This is done by selecting the "configure" button in P2P when you
have highlighted the game you wish to alter. There are many options, one
of which is what operating system should W.I.N.E. emulate? Not knowing
any better, I decided to try Windows XP. That seemed like the logical
choice. Regrettably, it's not the wisest decision. It did work for me,
until the most recent patch by Blizzard. I was then forced to go back to
the default setting, which is Windows 98 mode. It worked fine, when I
did. This is the recommended setting apparently. The XP mode apparently
still needs some more work. No matter, the default works great and I
recommend you use that setting for any game you run, unless you have
specific reason not to.