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Monday, February 27, 2006

Houston, We Have A Problem...

Ah, launch day. Excitement and frustration battle each other as we strive to enjoy new content. The launch of KoS and the PvP servers last week was no exception. I'm really busy playing so this post is purely anecdotal. It is based on my personal experiences with very little forum research.

Digital Download

The only problem as far as I'm concerned was in communication. I pre-ordered the Digital Download of KoS. The evening the expansion went live I checked my account and saw that it was KoS enabled. When I went to log on I found there was literally only ten minutes of patching.

I believe this is because most of the content was downloaded incrementally as I played prior to launch. However it was done, it was a near flawless and painless experience for me. I found it to be a fantastic process and would definitely download the next expansion.

But as I said, the lack of communication was a little confusing. I didn't know if I was supposed to download something from a link or what the procedure was. And it seemed to confuse a lot of other people as well. The process should have been explained clearly in the e-mail you received upon ordering. I'm not saying the information wasn't out there, but it wasn't conveyed directly to the purchasers.

Technical Issues

When I've gotten on SOE's case during the history of this site it has usually been over design issues (the death penalty) or business issues (Station Exchange, advertising in PS). I don't think I've ever complained about technical problems, mainly because I've never had any. I've crashed a handful of times and had trouble logging on maybe two or three times in the year I've been playing. I think it's been near flawless though I'm sure people will disagree.

Now I consider the actual launch day to be kind of a freebie. You know there are going to be some technical issues. The smart thing to do would be to wait until the second day. But if you want to fight the good fight on day one, well, you have to assume the risk of crashes and the like. So I wasn't overly upset when my server went down for several hours post-launch on day one. I got to play for a bit before and after that.

But when the prime time (evening) of day two rolls around, I expect no problems. Unfortunately, my server was down for most of the second night and I find that unacceptable. Not a lot I can add to that except that I didn't enjoy it. I haven't had any server related problems since then. I can empathize a little since I've had technical problems with my forums lately (sorry about that).

Oh, the offline selling has also been a mess. If that has been disabled to fix a dupe or an exploit, it's understandable. But it's been down quite a bit. The server message said it was disabled "due to reasons beyond our control." I don't know what that means but it just sounds stupid. Did aliens take over the offline selling functionality? Did a ghost possess a coder?

I'm also not sure why I didn't start the expansion with 100% vitality.

Population Issues - PvP

I don't really get the way the PvP launch was handled. If you were going to release a roleplay PvP server, why not do it from the start? I just found it bizarre. By the way, I'd love some population numbers from the Exchange enabled PvP server if anyone has that data.

The way things are now on Nagafen, it is simply overcrowded. It is very hard to get a quest mob in any of the newbie zones or even to solo. And pretty much every zone I've been to is just overly full of players.

But okay, the counter argument is that many people are only there for the novelty and will abandon their PvP characters soon enough. So I can live with it. The fact that it is a PvP server helps because more players mean more targets. And the server just has a different atmosphere. This is a case where I'd rather have too many players than too few. So I'm actually okay with it. What I can't deal with is:

Population Issues - KoS

The entire expansion just feels overcrowded because it is overcrowded. Groups are camping every inch of the lower level zones.

Scaleborn may be the greatest dungeon ever created. But when it feels more crowded than a shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving, it is completely unenjoyable. These zones are just not designed to handle the kind of overpopulation going on right now.

When DoF launched I had a great time. My group and I were exploring the desert, slaying mobs and taking in the scenery. Now we are just desperately trying to find a square inch of real estate that is not already occupied by six other people. No one is commenting on the zones, the mobs or the quests. The only discussion is the overcrowding.

Let me be clear. What I have been able to get out KoS in terms of graphics, quests, mobs and achievements has been positive. I have no real issues with the expansion, itself, thus far. But I haven't been able to enjoy it as I should have.

Okay, I take that back. We did one instance which was great because, well, it was an instance and thus not mobbed by hundreds of people. It was a very fun instance too (the Great Nest or whatever it's called). But I don't want to see everything instanced. I just want a little elbow room.

I just don't get it. When I first started playing, I specifically sought out a low-population server because that's what I like. I enjoy a less crowded feel even if it is harder to find groups. But okay, I'm a reasonable person. When the merger idea came up I saw that my server could use a population boost. So I wasn't opposed to it (except for the name policy which was settled in a positive fashion). But now it's gone to the other extreme. My server is highly, highly populated.

I don't know if a lot of people came back for KoS. I don't know if it is just the merger. I'm glad a lot of people appear to be playing EQII. But the current conditions in the expansion are just intolerable.

My static group has resorted to xp'ing in PoF because KoS is so unplayable due to overcrowding. And while I'm enjoying grouping with my friends, that really makes me sick. It's not only a bad thing for players, it's an insult to the designers who created possibly great zones which are now just being trampled by hordes of players.

I'll grant one positive out of this mess. Lag has been surprisingly absent. Even with a hundred people in the newbie zones on the PvP server, I had zero lag. In the mobbed KoS zones, barely any. I'm sure a ton of people will debate me on that, but it's just my honest personal experience. I don't have a supercomputer either, it's a few years old and though I do have 1.5 gig ram I run at pretty high settings. One place I did run into severe lag was in the Commonlands on the PvP server. It was the worst kind too - the spells and combat arts were off by a half second and that small but persistent issue made it near unplayable. But I am still amazed at the lack of lag I've found in other overcrowded zones.

I don't know what can be done about the overcrowding. Perhaps KoS zones need separate instances. Perhaps I was wrong and the merger was a mistake. Perhaps time will solve the problem. Or maybe it's just my server.


Well, I've calmed down a little since I wrote this on Friday and so have the KoS zones. I still think it's quite overcrowded but it's not unplayable.


Blogger Joe said...

Is there a server where you can kill anyone, regardless of level or faction? If so, I might actually try subscribing.

2:56 AM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

There are level restrictions on the current PvP server (but not in all zones). And there are two factions: good & evil (or Qeynos and Freeport if you want to get technical). I don't find the restrictions very, well, restricting though. You should try it - it's a pretty fun server.

Oh, and KoS was more playable tonight so some of my rantings in this post may have been a little unnecessary. But they were true at the time I first wrote them.

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Euro launch of KoS and PvP went pretty well and since the inital downtime, I haven't experience any downtime in primetime (touch wood).

The PvP server seems to have a heathly population although I'm worried it's not high enough to sustain itself overtime.

It's odd how the UK, which only has 2 normal servers, gets a whole PvP server to itself while the entirity of the US has to fight over (no pun intended) 2 servers - excluding SE of course.

Definitely some issuses which need to be address in terms of PvP balance and general population (either too overcrowded or too low) but overall, thumbs up!

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No lag in KoS zones? Dude what server are you playing on! I ned to switch my character over!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Quylein said...

That whole server being down on the second day had to do with your server mergers.... My old server being the fist was a down server alot for about 5 days in a row, I suppose those that still play and are in KOS are more lucky on my server becuase it hasnt really been down to much since merger..


7:56 AM  
Anonymous Poofe said...

Lag has been attrocious on ButcherKeep. The first few days was 5sec spell lag. Now, it's down to a second or two. I typically play on Balanced quality and only do Extreme Performance if I'm raiding in an area that is graphics intensive. I have not been able to play on balanced unless I'm soloing in an underused portion of the expansion or in an instance. I've 2gigs of RAM and a decent processor/vid. card. The game isn't fun when I'm lagging all over the place... Instances ftw!

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm.... I d normally log in as my blog but I seem to have forgotten my password.

Content is so far great in KOS, but.

Lag in KOS zones on Guk can be over 15 seconds and that spells death. My total times I have been kicked out on the server has doubled since joining Guk and the quality of the gaming experience has degraded extremely badly

Oh and if you were wondering about the exploit, it may notbe what you may think. It appears that players of certain guilds found a way to make/move gear/equipment ETC from the test servers to Guk and sell them T7 boxes and armour were on sale on the brokers before KOS was in the stores, let alone go live. I can definitively identify some of them as current/ex members of NPU (The wealthiest guild in EQ2)and by the looks of things , as some of them are already LvL 70 even a few days ago, I am begininning to wonder if there is an "inner circle" of players who get unreasonable perks in EQ2. Are they GM's or SOE staff? it is something to ponder

9:51 PM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

As an update: Scaleborn still very crowded this evening.

12:43 AM  

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