As far back as a week ago now, we received strong evidence that they make actually be much further along in the testing period than they originally let on. Suddenly all the world is abuzz with delight over the prospect of a mid or early fall release! But why, you might ask?

I’ll tell you why, relax! Stop asking.

This Alpha, and subsequently Beta as well, will be implemented an entire renovation in how we test content, especially balancing. There was talk early on about an entirely separate server where everything level 100 takes place, and this can be used to enormous impact beyond anything we have seen before.

Non-related imagery.

Non-related imagery.

It’s important to remember just why we are here, after all. Typically, if testing takes 5 months, at least two of the months are testing the leveling process and all the inner workings of that, and then they let you get to 100 and do a few dungeons, but still don’t allow premade 100s. This happened last expansion especially, and it REALLY hurt raid testing, if it wasn’t for the infamous Emperor Tern slaughter power leveling…

Anyway, imagine the power we now hold. Even if it still takes 2 months to test all the leveling, if they can simultaneously implement a level 100 server they can essentially start the second half of the beta early. This will likely mean that there will be two sets of content to test and release each build, and I can see it likely being as simple as one dungeon and 2 levels unlock, and one heroic dungeon unlocks on the instant 100 realm.

The possibilities are endless, but the beginning is obvious, and confirmed by Celestalon.

Relatively soon, we will see not only level 100 servers, but level 100 test dummies of all sorts to test with. This symbolizes a very important victory for not only just the players but also for the developers. This means not only have they found a way to simultaneously test on the same client, but they are getting deep into balancing max level with implementations of these apparently new dummies that can even be used as Healing and Tanking tests.

The effects of this are profound, as many of you may realize, as getting the balancing out of the way now is step 1 into launch. If they are ready to open this can of worms this early, it means they have a lot of the inner workings of classes realized and are now looking for data to support implementation. Especially with healers and tanks, this has the potential to stretch very far and wide, and will help players as well as those pulling the strings.

In the simplest sense, we are indeed dummies as well for this entire build cycle, and will do our duty effortlessly. I will find these creatures, and I will heal the life out of them. I will withstand their blows too, as a bastion of tankness, and may even decide to use damaging abilities to reduce their health near zero. Because doing this transcends just my interests. Giving relevant data this early into the Alpha suggests we may see even more relevant sources of data inputs coming soon. And the more people who contribute the faster they can process and proceed. And when you have beat your knuckles bloody on these limitless creatures, you can take a breath and go back to leveling and testing whichever zones they wish to be looked at as well.

The term “win-win” has never been more true.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we have seen this type of test happen, but I hope you share my sentiment in understanding just how huge of a deal this is, especially when talking about the first two weeks of a public test. Last time, there were massive patchwerks in Shattrath city that acted as raid dummies as well, and for those looking to relive the glory days, find the video below of its prior implementation.

This round proves to be much different, as last time there was only a DPS option, one that submitted to hits as any honorable training dummy would. Never one that hit back! Let alone one that could be healed…

A true man’s man.

Sadly, I admit my wondering of what they will actually look like. The safe bet seems like Patchwerk, but I’m hoping for the healing ones we get something different. I don’t care much to heal a friendly Patchwerk, so my official WoW.stratics prediction goes to Mr. Flaskataur, Esquire. He is a kind heart, with an even kinder disposition for helping others, so I don’t see why we can’t return the favor this time, especially with him getting nearly one shot every few seconds. Luckily he has Sturdy… Ya.

OK, so let’s make a serious prediction as well. This time, the topic of our clairvoyance will be Alpha progress. I will say what every one else is thinking after reading this.

With dual testing happening, each build will contain progressively more. After a week or two of max level balancing, the next build will have max level dungeons that can be queued for. Meanwhile, the leveling server will unlock more zones past the starting area, for both Horde and Alliance. Further past this, as the leveling server continues to implement more and more zones, we will see Ashran and Heroic Dungeons past that. From there, the sky is the limit, and it will likely be bottlenecked by the leveling process. I would speculate that once the level 100 testing is deemed a success and balance has been installed, the leveling portion will be great expedited.

Regardless, I don’t think there is any argument to be made that this isn’t revolutionary. If it would take 6 months to test this entire expansion, getting the level 100 balancing out of the way potentially shaves off three months. Sure, we will be much busier, but so will Blizzard. Its not surprising to know that they have a lot more done than the builds indicate, but regardless, its our job to help them get even more.

First stop, Shattrath to heal up Mr. Flaskataur, Esquire. Next stop, live servers. See you there.