Interleaving small reads of multiple files – why World of Tanks 1.0 has abysmal loading times on HDDs

TL;DR: If you have WoT (1.0) installed on an HDD, you may experience loading times so long that you might even miss the start of your battles. Fortunately, we can mitigate this.

World of Tanks update 1.0 was released recently, introducing a new game engine with lots of eye candy and better physics (amongst other improvements). I have been playing and enjoying this game since 2011 (when it was still in beta), as it has really solid gameplay mechanics, and I love World War 2 machinery in general1.

I was really excited for this major update, but right after installing it and playing a few battles, I noticed something very peculiar: loading into a battle was really slow, and my HDD sounded like an A-10 firing (almost). In fact, it was so slow that I arrived to battles about 30-40 seconds after they have started (and a minute late for the first battle of the day). That’s unfortunate, because:

  • The fraction of my free time that I’m spending on playing video games, I prefer to actually play the games, and not wait for disk IO instead
  • On open maps, spending a ~minute at the spawn location is a disaster
  • With certain types of tanks, you have to contest key positions on the map, and you need to make a run for it right at the start of the battle

Moving the installation to my SSD would have “solved”2 this issue, but I don’t have enough space on it and I was curious anyway, so I decided to try and investigate.

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