Sunday, August 26, 2012

Launch: Success or Failure

The amount of impact that the quality of a launch can be for an MMO can be monstrous.  Several MMOs in the past have failed or flourished because of disastrous or smooth launch.  So where does Guild Wars 2 fall in the spectrum?

Let's take a look after the break.

To start chronologically, the headstart began 3 days before launch.  It was a very nice strategy on ArenaNet's part to spread the population over a variety of zones before the "pre-order" wave of people show up on the 28th.

What was also pretty nice for me, was that the servers went up three hours than their scheduled start.  This a very controversial point in particular for many, and I think it was something ArenaNet should have clarified more.  About a week ago ArenaNet made a Facebook post and I think a tweet about the servers potentially starting up to three hours early.  I just wish they would have reminded people a couple more times leading up to launch.  If you don't follow Guild Wars 2 news daily, you could easily have missed it. And if you missed it, you lost out on name choice and sever options.

Because once those servers were opened, all bets were off.  I was in within the first minute, and let me tell you... I had planned this.  I told myself I would rapidly make 5 characters to reserve my top-rated names, delete one, and then take the time to make my main character.  Well let's just say this didn't go as planned. 2 of my top 3 names were taken already, including Entombed....So if you are ever looking for me in-game, my name is Aeneas, named after the main protagonist in the Aeneid, a Latin epic poem written by Virgil.  I'm happy, but I really wish I could of reserved Entombed, but I understand that someone beat me to it, fair and square.

Server choice was also pretty critical for my friends and I.  We finally decided on Northern Shiverpeaks because we knew we would have successful WvW there, specifically because Team Legacy had decided to go there.  Though after the third day of testing, I'm wondering if we made a mistake.

However, my experience in WvW has been extremely limited.  The queues have ranged from instant to over two hours, to "just not happening today".  I would love to level some of my character in WvW, but every map is full to capacity. From the scores though, it looks like our realm has been pretty successful, I just wish I could be there.

One of the biggest concerns for the majority of players is lag.  Latency has ranged drastically depending on the individual, server, and zone.  On my end, I have almost had no lag anywhere.  Though, I have heard many people complain about it on the forums, I just can't vouch for the validity of their concerns, because I've had almost none.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the trading post has been in absolute disaster.  I have been able to use it once.  At best it can be very slow, at worst it's downright broken.  The ETA on the fix is still unknown, but I'm really hoping we will be able to use it soon. This is also downright concerning for ArenaNet because many people have bought gems and have not received them.  The amount of money they potentially could lose if this is not fixed soon could be staggering.

And the absolute worst problems have been the login issues for many players. Again, I have not had any problems, but from forums/social media there are a substantial amount of problems.  For quite some time, the EU servers were down, and a multitude of players are experiencing various error codes upon attempting to log in.

Also, zoneing in to the starting zones was nearly impossible to do for the first day or two.  I was unable to join my friends and other starting zones because the portals would simply not work.  And then, even if we are in the same zone, the "join in" option refuses to work most of the time, and we are stuck on different servers.

To be honest, this has not been the "smooth" launch I was hoping it would be.  That being said, it hasn't been a disaster either.  Most of the basic features work, and I am able to play when I want to play.  The trading post, WvW, and grouping features may not be working as expected, but it is still pre-launch.  I am hoping ArenaNet will be able to fix these problems as they crop up, and be extremely transparent about them.  Guild Wars 2's official Facebook page and twitter feed have been a buzz of activity of updates and work-a-rounds, and I'm glad to see them succeeding in the transparency department.

Overall, I think I would give ArenaNet a B-/C+.  They have definitely passed, but there are some major problems that need to be resolved in a very timely fashion.


  1. For me Day 1 was a success. I was able to log into the Anvil Rock server just after 1200 central time. I made four quick toons to save my names, then logged off. I didn't log back in until later inteh night. logged-in with no issues and enjoyed a few hours. The only disconnect I experienced was while making a toon. I quickly restarted the game and no issues. Maybe it was because I selected a low population or unpopular server.

    Lag has been non-existent. The game has been crips and spot-on. The game runs beautifully.

    I didn't try and trade posts so I can't offer any insightin that department.

    Also, this is more like a pre-launch to be honest. The folks playing are those who've wanted this game, hence why they prepurchased it. All those coming in on 28 August are those who are curious, those who probably didn't play GW1 or the fair-weather-johnson fans. These three days are ANets time to fix live game issues so things are really "perfect" for Aug 28.

  2. The name situation sounds familiar.

    As for lag, it depends on video cards, drivers and PCs. I didn't have much trouble until I downloaded nvidia beta drivers because I heard it was increasing other people's FPS. Mine went up by 10 or so but then I started having really bad issues. I've since installed the most recent official version. Ironically I got a hardware alert from the login screen and was advised to install those beta drivers. The official drivers are working jut fine though, but I'm still not running the game as well as I should be so hopefully they get the next official drivers out soon.

    1. Hmm..interesting. I actually have a below minimum requirements laptop I am currently playing on, and it's actually been working well.

    2. Bill Freist spoke about the Nvidia drivers in the following post.

      Interestingly enough the 301.42 driver was delivering lower performance scores than the previous driver. I'm running a GeForce GTX 550Ti with the driver set just before 301.42 and I'm pulling 40 to 50 fps on max setting and resolution.

    3. Don't remember what my original drivers were but they hadn't been updated since I got my laptop in March. Turns out my issue this weekend has been overheating and may have been slowing me to a lesser extent in previous BWEs. I have the beta drivers again and so long as I keep more distance between the laptop and my table until I get a new cooling pad, everything's running smoother than ever (though still not as well as it should be.)

    4. on the laptop that I have are horrid. I play using the Auto-Detect and try to screenshot with Best Apparence. But it runs smoother than silk rubbing a cat! FPS is great movement is flawless and I haven't hit a bit of lag yet at all. So the actual game is running awesome.

      Really missing the Trading Post. That right there is why I would give the launch a B-.