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September 21, 2004

You can't plan for everything

So you think your beta testing sometimes has problems ?
Spare a thought for the team making World of Warcraft. The building housing their beta-servers was hit by a tornado on Friday night. They seem confident that things will be back up and running soon, although they include the slightly amusing comment that the hardware is not yet dry enough to be powered up.
WoW is a big project, they've got backups and plans to cope (although perhaps not for this specific scenario!).
What would happen to your project if your building was destroyed ? How long until you'd be back up and running ?
If you are lucky then there is an easy-to-access off-site backup of all the code and data. My guess is that it's probably a week old, but most teams can cope with that. However some games developers aren't that lucky, I know (from experience) that in the past off-site backups were haphazard at best in game development companies, there was an assumption that nothing that bad could ever happen.
And even if the backups were recovered, do they contain everything ?
- Sourcecode - probably
- Artwork - probably
- Source art (XSI/Maya scenes) - less likely for smaller companies
- Music/Audio source ?
- FMV/CGI source ?
- email archives, design documents ?

It's a scary thought that many game developers still haven't grown up and started enforcing a regime that protects them against the unexpected...

Posted by Zaph at September 21, 2004 08:27 AM

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I remember reading the initial post from Blizzard detailing the damage from the tornado. Another amusing quote read something to the effect that they had "a team of engineers en route to the scene." Don't know why that seemed funny to me; I guess I just sort of envisioned a crack-team of server specialists waiting by the fully fueled helicopter just in case something like this happened. That would seem appropriate for Blizzard! Bummer that this happened though, like you say, these aren't the types of disasters we usually anticipate in development.

Posted by: Stuart Roch at September 23, 2004 11:07 AM

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