Old age comes for us all, as the near 20-year old game springs a leak. Let’s look at what that means.
It's perfectly normal for things to start leaking when you get up there in age. After all, time comes for us all and parts just stop working the way they used to. There's nothing shameful about it, but in the case of World of Warcraft it can ruin your experience. The near-twenty year old game is prone to performance problems, and a new WoW memory leak issue is no different.
Brought up by a user in the official World of Warcraft forums was a performance issue for DirectX 11 and all Mac players. The problem? RAM-based performance issues making the game slowly lose frames over the course of a long play session.
Luckily, there's a fix in place. However, what is Blizzard fixing, exactly? Let's take a look at what a WoW memory leak even means.
Patch this week to fix WoW memory leak
"We’ve identified and are working on a fix for unbounded memory growth that’s affecting Windows users using DX11 and all Mac users," said Blizzard blue poster Rommax in a response to a thread over the weekend about the growing issue. Memory leaks occur in all sorts of ways, but in the case of this particular one effecting WoW it has to do with code.
Rommax continues on, saying that a code-side issue involving bugged lines of blocks are the root cause. The official suggestion until a patch later this week to fix the issue is typing /console gxrestart into in-game chat temporarily.
Multiple players report the issue affecting even the most high-end of rigs. The original poster, Goldarn, said "The patch today added a new memory leak to the game. After roughly an hour of playing the game had used up all my 16GB of my RAM and crashed."
Does this sum up what a memory leak entails? Let's look.
What is a video game memory leak?
Memory is the thing which allows software to perform actions of code. Think of it like a sponge. A dry sponge is near useless for cleaning. However, once you add water that same liquid slowly leaves the sponge over time. In the case of computers though, memory is a finite source of liquid that it must reuse over and again. A memory leak occurs when that liquid isn't released, so to speak.
Here's a pseudocode example that may explain it better:
When a button is pressed: Get some memory, which will be used to remember the floor number
Put the floor number into the memory
Are we already on the target floor?
If so, we have nothing to do: finished
Otherwise: Wait until the lift is idle
Go to the required floor
Release the memory we used to remember the floor number
The activation of code requires memory, which is then released back into that available pool of memory. In the case of this WoW memory leak, that memory isn't being released back because of a code error. This is a problem that overwhelmingly affects older software, as outdated code breaks and becomes inefficient.
You see it all the time in older games, with one prime example being the PC version of Fallout: New Vegas. However, most modern gaming PCs are able to brute force the problem thanks to large quantities of memory and VRAM. So, if you aren't noticing an issue in World of Warcraft right now with memory leaks it might have to do with your beefy, beefy boi.
Expect a fix for the issue in this week's maintenance, as patch 10.2 progresses onward.
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