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We are committed to the ideals of Crowdforging. Giving our players a real seat at the table and a voice in our decisions about how we develop Pathfinder Online.
Our community has been very vocal about their desire to have the whole Early Enrollment map ready for play on the first day of Early Enrollment, and we're making changes to our deployment plans to accommodate that desire.
To get all the territory ready for immediate use we're going to start Early Enrollment on the 25th, 4 days later than previously announced, push the start of the War of Towers forward to the week of October 16th, one week later than originally anticipated. We're also reorganizing some other internal projects to make time on our schedules to enable us to deliver the full map but none of those changes should affect other announced plans.
As always, these dates are based on our ongoing Alpha Testing. If we determine that we require more time to improve the code quality or adjust features we may decide to delay the start of Early Enrollment. We will keep the community informed of any such changes if they occur.
We had planned to release Alpha 8 earlier this week and to do two releases this week. We decided over the weekend that it would make more sense to consolidate all the new code going into the Alpha into a single release and to postpone that release until this Friday, September 12.
The Alpha servers are being shifted to our data center in downtown Seattle this week as well.
Because of these two changes we will not be turning Alpha access on until Friday at 3pm (Pacific). We believe that we will be operating continuously once we make that change, so once the Alpha server is made available there will not be a planned curtailment of the Alpha except for downtimes for maintenance, to update the Alpha, and to prepare for the start of Early Enrollment.
The system will come down each day at 9:00am (Pacific) for scheduled maintenance. The window of downtime is planned for 1 hour. If we need to extend that time we'll keep the community updated. The server may go back on-line earlier depending on the various maintenance tasks and backup procedures. If we get to a point where there is some meaningful implication of the exact time the server will return to service, we'll work with the community to standardize the startup time.
We are going to return to our Alpha schedule cadence of doing major updates on Thursdays. We plan to do an interim update to the Alpha on Thursday the 18th of September. We are now planning to begin Early Enrollment on Thursday the 25th of September.
Starting the following week, we will deploy new code to Zog, our test server, on Thursday. The week following, that code will be deployed to the live game server. This will allow us to externally test new code before it is deployed into the live game and thus help us reduce potential problems before they occur.
The first iteration of this new tempo will begin on Thursday October 9th when the War of Towers code will be deployed to Zog. The following week, on Thursday October 16th, the War of Towers will be deployed to the live servers.
Zog, our test server, is going to be reconfigured as we move into this new tempo. When we re-open Zog to test accounts we'll also be resetting the access permissions. Zog should go back into service after the start of Early Enrollment and before the 9th of October. We have not determined yet what portion of the territory will be hosted on Zog but it will not be the whole map. Zog is going to allow us to test various new game features but it is not designed to be a mirror of the live server.
After the start of Early Enrollment access to Zog will be reset. Initially, those players who have paid for Alpha Accounts via the Kickstarter, the Goblin Squad store on paizo.com or the goblinworks.com shop will have access. We will extend them limited numbers of invitations to pass on to other players similar to the process we have been using in the Alpha. We are also going to make the accounts of the individuals who are responsible for each of the Land Rush Settlements able to access Zog and give them invitations as well so they can gain experience with the War of Towers code when it is deployed. At some point in the future those Land Rush accounts will lose access to Zog as their need to test the War of Towers will have ended.
We see Zog as a long-term benefit for our Alpha backers, but we also will have various scenarios we want to test with specific groups, with large numbers of players, or with random selections of testers so Zog will not be populated just by Alpha backers and their invitees - but Alpha backers will always have access. Each time we set up a test on Zog we'll communicate with the community about who will have access and when that access will be available.
Starting on Thursday the 18th, we expect to open the Alpha to all users with goblinworks.com accounts and at least Open Enrollment access. That will enable over 7,000 people to experience the game for a week prior to the start of Early Enrollment and allow us to do some extensive stress testing of the game. Remember there will be a server wipe at the end of the Alpha test, but no wipe from the start of Early Enrollment forward. Players with Open or Explorer access can upgrade to Early Enrollment and begin live play on Day 1 of Early Enrollment by purchasing Early Enrollment access on the goblnworks.com shop.
The team believes that we'll have a Macintosh OSX Client ready at the start of Early Enrollment. The client is going to be even less optimized than the Windows client and we expect that initially it will be a little rough around the edges. We'd like to get as many Mac users on the native client as we can as quickly as we can so we can learn more about the various challenges we'll have at supporting the OSX operating system immediately.
We will do an additional blog this week on Friday to describe the release notes for Alpha 8.