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Blizzard Alpha Testing WoW: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard updated the Battle.net site with news that it's currently alpha testing the next World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor. The post states that one of the goals is to test some new technology in the wild with employees and friends and family. The new technology includes a new file format called CASC.

"The expansion content available during this first phase will be quite limited—many of the expansion's major features, such as Garrisons, won't be available until a later point in the testing process," the update reads. "This early phase of testing will help us ramp up for our larger beta phase later on, when we'll be inviting more players."

As for the new file format, the blog explains that Blizzard has used the same file format to compress and store files for nearly 20 years: Mo'PaQ, or MPQ for short. During that time, Blizzard has introduced new technologies such as the streaming client, but the team has pushed the file format way beyond its intended use. Thus enter CASC, or rather Content Addressable Storage Container.

"We'll be using this new format in the Warlords of Draenor alpha and beta tests, and our intent is to convert everyone to the new format in a pre-expansion patch," the update reads. "As geeky as it may sound, we're extremely excited to be moving to this new file format. It provides a ton of benefits not only for us and our ability to support and patch the game, but also for players."

According to Blizzard, the new file format is expected to provide greater performance thanks to a non-redundant file structure. The file structure maintains itself, the post reads, which should help to prevent errors during installation. The new file format is even built to allow for easy integration of new technologies in the future.

"As we mentioned, the first big step in transitioning all WoW players over will be converting everyone's World of Warcraft installs to the new file format prior to the expansion," the update explains. "Our goal is to make sure that's as seamless and painless a changeover as possible, using as much of the existing installed data as possible to reduce additional downloads."

Additional info on the file conversion process will be revealed as Blizzard gets closer to the launch of Warlords of Draenor. To read the whole post, head here.