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[Column] WildStar: Avoiding the Launch Day Blues

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

MMO launch days for the last several years have, for the most part, been facepalming experiences for players. In today's WildStar column, we take a look at ways that those "blues" can be avoided. See what we think before leaving your own thoughts in the comments.

If you’ve played an MMO on launch day, you’ve probably experienced a range of horrors. Login servers that crumble in front of an onslaught of eager gamers. Realms or shards that are listed as full, with massive queues before you can join them. Crowds of players that swamp a zone, making it a struggle to kill mobs and complete quests. We all have our horror stories to share.

Read more of Gareth Harmer's WildStar: Avoiding the Launch Day Blues.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • The_GekkoThe_Gekko Calgary, ABPosts: 28Member Uncommon
    The link takes you back to the front page.
  • DMKanoDMKano Gamercentral, AKPosts: 8,524Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by The_Gekko
    The link takes you back to the front page.

    It's because on launch day, when servers are crushed, or you are #8942 in the login queue - where do you end up?

    MMORPG.COM

    I think that's what they are trying to say (in a clever way)

  • The_GekkoThe_Gekko Calgary, ABPosts: 28Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DMKano
    Originally posted by The_Gekko
    The link takes you back to the front page.

    It's because on launch day, when servers are crushed, or you are #8942 in the login queue - where do you end up?

    MMORPG.COM

    I think that's what they are trying to say (in a clever way)

     

    Ha, never thought of it that way. Nice one!

  • NorewonNorewon Oceano, CAPosts: 100Member

    Thank god that only the first couple of zones instanced. I hated not seeing anyone in the later planets on SWTOR. Really looking forward to this game and the fact that there is a path just for my game style ( explorer ) .

    Cautiously Optimistic....

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    Why don't they just sell early access $1000 gets you 5 days $800 4 days ....
  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,762Member Uncommon
    Don't play beta, wait for the review, have a cup of coffee instead. Make an informed decision and only then decide if you want to buy. If its F2P just wait until launch day. Not rocket science is it?
  • TalonsinTalonsin Posts: 1,468Member Uncommon

    I dont understand why they dont sell different versions of the game.  Give all beta testers access to the game on Friday.  Sell 200,000 pre-orders of the game on your website with keys to get into the game on Monday and then boxes copies at stores get you into the game at the official launch 5 days later on Friday.

    Three entry points, easily controlled and starter zones not overpopulated but with plenty of people to group with. 

  • SiphaedSiphaed Everywhere!Posts: 877Member Uncommon
    Getting that demand right is crucial; modern MMO servers are custom-built, with a couple of months between placing the order and getting the hardware shipped. He also admitted that it would have been easier for the team if Guild Wars 2 had been less successful. “We designed the hardware setup years ago to use any of their unused hardware, since usually games spike and drop for peak concurrency. However their servers are all still generally utilized because the game has remained popular, [which is] cool for us as a profitable company, but no free hardware for our servers.”

    Really?  They banked on other game by another studio within their own corporate structure (NCSoft family) to not do well, just for the sake of hardware?   How much egg is on his face?

     

    GW2 is popular because it's financial model and the Living Story (ignoring the vocal minority) being so popular in keeping players logging in every few weeks.   This is unlike WoW, where they have people only subscribing maybe 1-2 months after a major patch, then going silent the many months in between.

     

    I'm kind of afraid to play Wildstar at launch.   I really like the way the game looks in both artistic style and content design.  However, a subscription model isn't a good one to attach at launch because it'll be plagued with issues that'll waste money of the first few months (Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, SW:TOR, and Tabula Rasa all remind of this).    


  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,205Member Uncommon

    I'm glad they're planning and discussing that publicly. Trion did a fairly good job at launch, compared to most launches, although they did have some insane queues for a few days. GW2 was one of the best launches in my opinion. I like being able to get in the game even if it's in a temp zone.

    What does he mean they don't know how much they're going to charge for character transfers and "barbershop" services? They're charging $15/mo for them. They sure as hell better not be charging extra. That's just a blatant cash grabbing gouge. If your sub doesn't pay for that kind of thing then some harder questions need to be asked. Trion did it. I'm sure NCSoft can pull it off since it will be part of the backend design.

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    How the hell are the Wildstar, ESO and EQN PR machines going to be able to keep this up ?

     

    Wildstar seems to be generating around 2 "feature articles" per week on MMORPG.COM currently. ESO and EQN aren't far behind. And none of them are launching for at least 6 months... 

  • zimboy69zimboy69 chicargo, FLPosts: 374Member Uncommon

    Why  don't they just tell people the release date.

    then suddenly open a week early  but not tell anyone its open.

    as the load would depend on word and mouth 

    the effect    would spread  the load out  more evenly

     

    and yes  you would still  have   times  where  there are  huge amount of players  all trying to join when someone posts the game is open  on a forum or website

    but  what  you wont get is  the whole population trying every 30 secs    trying to join  the  game at a certain time  on  a certain day
     

    image

  • IncomparableIncomparable KuwaitPosts: 872Member
    Originally posted by Siphaed
    Getting that demand right is crucial; modern MMO servers are custom-built, with a couple of months between placing the order and getting the hardware shipped. He also admitted that it would have been easier for the team if Guild Wars 2 had been less successful. “We designed the hardware setup years ago to use any of their unused hardware, since usually games spike and drop for peak concurrency. However their servers are all still generally utilized because the game has remained popular, [which is] cool for us as a profitable company, but no free hardware for our servers.”

    Really?  They banked on other game by another studio within their own corporate structure (NCSoft family) to not do well, just for the sake of hardware?   How much egg is on his face?

     

    GW2 is popular because it's financial model and the Living Story (ignoring the vocal minority) being so popular in keeping players logging in every few weeks.   This is unlike WoW, where they have people only subscribing maybe 1-2 months after a major patch, then going silent the many months in between.

     

    I'm kind of afraid to play Wildstar at launch.   I really like the way the game looks in both artistic style and content design.  However, a subscription model isn't a good one to attach at launch because it'll be plagued with issues that'll waste money of the first few months (Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, SW:TOR, and Tabula Rasa all remind of this).    

    Except gw2 is not great in terms of combat, art, class story, exploration, crafting, raids/end game, pvp is also mediocre ( i did not like the maps for pvp).

    Im sure to get combat right, they either have experienved devs copy and paste and slighty change, geniuses that reinvent the wheel and make it better, or just bad/mediocre combat. 

    The most important part in the game like gw2 is the combat. When you look at the combar system its imo not worth more than b2p. How many others share that perception that not only is it important but the combat of gw2 is not great or of good enough quality. 

    If, sub based mmos gave better combat, then i would rather pay a sub. Or not play at all. I quit gw2 less than a week due to the combat and dynamic events feeling hollow. Thats 50 bucks for a week and a few hours of play. So, for others who might share a similar idea, having these thing just right is important.

    Maybe, you should ask... Why does a dev still use sub based systems when financing their project? The answer is in the question. They are using other peoples money, and its a business decision baded on several reasons. But, i feel, the biggest one is to get just enough money to get the job done. A risk on an investment is based on how fast the money is returned. High risk is little money given to the company, or high return in interest. Low risk from giving money back quickly means a large  investment but also a lower  interest when paying a loan if its not equity, but debt.

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • DaGafferDaGaffer Carbine Studios Laguna Niguel, CAPosts: 62Member

    What does he mean they don't know how much they're going to charge for character transfers and "barbershop" services? They're charging $15/mo for them. They sure as hell better not be charging extra. That's just a blatant cash grabbing gouge. If your sub doesn't pay for that kind of thing then some harder questions need to be asked. Trion did it. I'm sure NCSoft can pull it off since it will be part of the backend design.

     

    Actually, with character transfers in particular, if they are free/unlimited you can cause a lot of issues as the server populations naturally trend in directions you don't want (reinforcing overpopulation and underpopulation of servers):  

     

    I.e. which server unlocks a given raid/achievement/expansion area first?  Likely a populated one.  Where do you want to be?  Those servers, making them more populated.  Where did you come from?  A less populated server.  Etc.

     

    So you want some gating on server transfers.  You can put limits, etc. artificially, but it's efficient to use the invisible hand of Adam Smith to limit it - charge a (hopefully nominal) fee and people start only shifting characters when it's more important to them than the $5 or $20 or whatever is charged, which is both a natural limiter and pays for the GMs who have to handle the migration.  And you make money as a publisher.  And people only pay it if they want.  So it's a win IMO in most areas; it doesn't surprise me that most games charge for it.

     

    The vanity items that most cash shops sell (and makeovers etc.) are a lot harder to defend - but, if they aren't required for gameplay, at least only those who think they are worth it pay for them.

     

    We did a study a long time ago and in Korea, the total Korean eBay transactions between players/farmers for items was something like 4-5x as much as the subscription and per-minute (KR was largely a PC cafe economy at the time) dollars that we ever made.  It's interesting the amounts that people WANT to invest in their characters if they like a game (we certainly didn't encourage any of that, nor did we profit from it).  And if a game sucks, no money is made pretty rapidly by the same economy.

     

    Just a thought; not really defending the industry practices one way or the other as everyone votes with their cash in the end -

     

    -jg 

    (currently on WildStar, but worked on Asheron's Call/UO2/CoH/L1/L2/etc. in the past)

     
     

    Jeremy Gaffney
    Executive Producer, Carbine Studios (Wildstar Online)

  • DaGafferDaGaffer Carbine Studios Laguna Niguel, CAPosts: 62Member
    Originally posted by Siphaed
    Really?  They banked on other game by another studio within their own corporate structure (NCSoft family) to not do well, just for the sake of hardware?   How much egg is on his face?

    We just aimed to be efficient if there was extra hardware available.   Remember, even successful MMOs have highest concurrent users (peak usage determines what hardware you need) around launch because even a static or slow-growing userbase tends to play more hours in the first few months after a given cohort of users joins the game.  So extra hardware tends to happen.

     

    So just efficiency and contingency planning, no banking on or happiness/sadness about it one way or the other (well, obviously we prefer a growing GW2 to saving a few mil on hardware, but we would have also preferred saving $ on hardware to having it sit unused and those two thoughts aren't mutually exclusive).  

     

    And there's likely benefits in being able to share dark/contingency/emergency hardware in the future, and probably in training IT/Datacenter folks and build deployments, though the latter is relatively minor monetarily TBH.  

     

    In practice we'll probably go with more custom hardware for launch tho because the added HW efficiency will outweigh savings in training/redundancy.  

     

    Anyhoo, FYI.

    -jg

     
     

    Jeremy Gaffney
    Executive Producer, Carbine Studios (Wildstar Online)

  • LevicusLevicus milpitas, CAPosts: 22Member
    I had the same idea as everyone else.

    Buy the collector's edition, get a week head start.

    Buy the gold edition, get 5 days head start.

    Buy the silver... 3 days. Etc etc

    Other than that I like the idea that the introductory areas are instanced. Too many release day woes of waiting for a pig to re spawn
  • azzamasinazzamasin Butler, OHPosts: 3,066Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Incomparable
    Originally posted by Siphaed
    Getting that demand right is crucial; modern MMO servers are custom-built, with a couple of months between placing the order and getting the hardware shipped. He also admitted that it would have been easier for the team if Guild Wars 2 had been less successful. “We designed the hardware setup years ago to use any of their unused hardware, since usually games spike and drop for peak concurrency. However their servers are all still generally utilized because the game has remained popular, [which is] cool for us as a profitable company, but no free hardware for our servers.”

    Really?  They banked on other game by another studio within their own corporate structure (NCSoft family) to not do well, just for the sake of hardware?   How much egg is on his face?

     

    GW2 is popular because it's financial model and the Living Story (ignoring the vocal minority) being so popular in keeping players logging in every few weeks.   This is unlike WoW, where they have people only subscribing maybe 1-2 months after a major patch, then going silent the many months in between.

     

    I'm kind of afraid to play Wildstar at launch.   I really like the way the game looks in both artistic style and content design.  However, a subscription model isn't a good one to attach at launch because it'll be plagued with issues that'll waste money of the first few months (Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, SW:TOR, and Tabula Rasa all remind of this).    

    Except gw2 is not great in terms of combat, art, class story, exploration, crafting, raids/end game, pvp is also mediocre ( i did not like the maps for pvp).

    Im sure to get combat right, they either have experienved devs copy and paste and slighty change, geniuses that reinvent the wheel and make it better, or just bad/mediocre combat. 

    The most important part in the game like gw2 is the combat. When you look at the combar system its imo not worth more than b2p. How many others share that perception that not only is it important but the combat of gw2 is not great or of good enough quality. 

    If, sub based mmos gave better combat, then i would rather pay a sub. Or not play at all. I quit gw2 less than a week due to the combat and dynamic events feeling hollow. Thats 50 bucks for a week and a few hours of play. So, for others who might share a similar idea, having these thing just right is important.

    Maybe, you should ask... Why does a dev still use sub based systems when financing their project? The answer is in the question. They are using other peoples money, and its a business decision baded on several reasons. But, i feel, the biggest one is to get just enough money to get the job done. A risk on an investment is based on how fast the money is returned. High risk is little money given to the company, or high return in interest. Low risk from giving money back quickly means a large  investment but also a lower  interest when paying a loan if its not equity, but debt.

    Combat, Art, Exploration are the best parts about GW2 so I dunno what you're problem is other then opinion.

    Sandbox means open world, non-linear gaming PERIOD!

    Subscription Gaming, especially MMO gaming is a Cash grab bigger then the most P2W cash shop!

    Bring Back Exploration and lengthy progression times. RPG's have always been about the Journey not the destination!!!

    image

  • AsamofAsamof La Canada, CAPosts: 738Member Uncommon
    Launch day troubles suck....but everybody forgets that after the first week. Not a big deal
  • MaelzraelMaelzrael Las Cruces, NMPosts: 354Member Uncommon

    @ DaGaffer

    Me and My wife met on WoW, we now have a 14month old girl. At some point near the end of cataclysm we just lost all interest and started playing Swtor. That panned out for about 5 months and we then spent alot of time just tryin out every mmo on the market and the only one that held our attention for any length of time was Gw2. Eventually we returned to WoW after becoming completely bored with Gw2(something like 9 months) and their 2 week temp content updates. 

    I then decided that the perfect game for me and my family would be a combination of everything that makes wow fun and addicting and everything that makes gw2 fun and addicting.... though I thought that no such game could ever exist. 

    Enter Wildstar....

    The point of this JG is that we can't wait for your game to come out. We are hoping that it's everything it sounds like it could be. We hope that there are not to many PR spins hyping it up to be more then it is. And we hope it's good enough straight out of launch to hold our attention for years to come. (Side note, make sure you got a lot of cool armor for us to go after at endgame. Launching with a transmute/mog type feature wouldn't be a bad idea and would be especially good with a dye system as well... though you may have allready thought of all this). 

    tldr: We support you, don't let us down. :D

    image
  • KanethKaneth Posts: 1,924Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DaGaffer

    What does he mean they don't know how much they're going to charge for character transfers and "barbershop" services? They're charging $15/mo for them. They sure as hell better not be charging extra. That's just a blatant cash grabbing gouge. If your sub doesn't pay for that kind of thing then some harder questions need to be asked. Trion did it. I'm sure NCSoft can pull it off since it will be part of the backend design.

     

    Actually, with character transfers in particular, if they are free/unlimited you can cause a lot of issues as the server populations naturally trend in directions you don't want (reinforcing overpopulation and underpopulation of servers):  

     

    I.e. which server unlocks a given raid/achievement/expansion area first?  Likely a populated one.  Where do you want to be?  Those servers, making them more populated.  Where did you come from?  A less populated server.  Etc.

     

    So you want some gating on server transfers.  You can put limits, etc. artificially, but it's efficient to use the invisible hand of Adam Smith to limit it - charge a (hopefully nominal) fee and people start only shifting characters when it's more important to them than the $5 or $20 or whatever is charged, which is both a natural limiter and pays for the GMs who have to handle the migration.  And you make money as a publisher.  And people only pay it if they want.  So it's a win IMO in most areas; it doesn't surprise me that most games charge for it.

     

    The vanity items that most cash shops sell (and makeovers etc.) are a lot harder to defend - but, if they aren't required for gameplay, at least only those who think they are worth it pay for them.

     

    We did a study a long time ago and in Korea, the total Korean eBay transactions between players/farmers for items was something like 4-5x as much as the subscription and per-minute (KR was largely a PC cafe economy at the time) dollars that we ever made.  It's interesting the amounts that people WANT to invest in their characters if they like a game (we certainly didn't encourage any of that, nor did we profit from it).  And if a game sucks, no money is made pretty rapidly by the same economy.

     

    Just a thought; not really defending the industry practices one way or the other as everyone votes with their cash in the end -

     

    -jg 

    (currently on WildStar, but worked on Asheron's Call/UO2/CoH/L1/L2/etc. in the past)

     
     

    I'm ok with nominal fees for certain account services, but at least give multiple options. If you charge let's say $5 for an individual character transfer, allow me to transfer my entire account for a reasonably set price as well. If there's 5 character slots per server, maybe charge $5 ea toon or $20 for all of them at once (pure examples of course). It then gives me the option to move everyone at once for cheaper, but also gives me options to move individual characters.

  • GuppidonGuppidon BucharestPosts: 4Member
    Totally agree and makes sense.
  • darkrain21darkrain21 philadelphia, PAPosts: 274Member

    For everyone attacking the sub program saying its a way to make quick money you could not be further from the truth. A sub system is actually the slower way of making money as its only on once a month at 15 bucks. After the actual launch companies take a huge gamble on their game to keep profiting when going sub. This can create 2 scenarios.

    1. They do great and over the long term the sub system pays off and allows them to give content with out any extra charge.

    2. It doesn't live up to expectations (not nesscicarlly failing) and it falls back to a free to play model in which their investment is paid back very quickly but in turn you now have to pay for all content updates and it allows the updates to become lazy and riddled with item mall crap.

    All F2P, B2p, and P2P have their merits and their short comings. Honestly ive heard about people spending TONS more money in a F2P or a B2P than your standard sub. But it sucks if you really like a game and cant play cuz you come up short for the month. 

    Now as for the topic in the artical i think this very proactive look by the wildstar devs is a breath of fresh air. So often do we hear "Ok beta this weekend" then "ok launch" then finished with something like "sorry we didnt know this many people wanted to play our game bear with us".

    The WS guys are making a true effort to keep us in the loop and they want to make a good product and they believe in their product and its future which is why they are going sub based. Proof being that at the beginning of this year they were so sure it would be out Q4 of 2013, and when they reliezed it wasnt ready they pushed it back and added more testing. 

    Thats just a few things rattling in the head.

    P.S sorry about the grammer and spelling i went to public school 8P

  • BruceYeeBruceYee Los Angeles, CAPosts: 427Member Uncommon
    Am I missing something? have they announced a release date?
  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,442Member Uncommon

    20-50 player zones?Unless those zones are super small that will make them seem like ghost towns.Flexible spawns will make it look like the many Asian f2p games with mobs spawning almost instantly after a kill.You won't have those piles of endless carcasses if you don't force all the players to the same mobs with the same quests.

    You limit congestion by having lots of big zones and by making sure players start in different areas.You also limit congestion by NOT making linear questing games,that type of design forces EVERYONE to the same mobs.This is a former Wow team,so i doubt they understand game design,they understand how to run a game cheaper rather than giving the players a better experience ,it will be more linear questing,low end graphics and instancing.

    Bottom line is ,games are not allowing for enough space for players and limiting zones to 20-50 is really removing the MMO feel that players crave.Using pre orders is absolutely NO indication what so ever of possible players,they could be off by 50% easily using that number.Beta testing would be a much better indicator and even then you would allow 200% more space because not everyone gets excited about Beta testing because you lose all that player time/effort


    Samoan Diamond

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 530Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    20-50 player zones?Unless those zones are super small that will make them seem like ghost towns.Flexible spawns will make it look like the many Asian f2p games with mobs spawning almost instantly after a kill.You won't have those piles of endless carcasses if you don't force all the players to the same mobs with the same quests.

    You limit congestion by having lots of big zones and by making sure players start in different areas.You also limit congestion by NOT making linear questing games,that type of design forces EVERYONE to the same mobs.This is a former Wow team,so i doubt they understand game design,they understand how to run a game cheaper rather than giving the players a better experience ,it will be more linear questing,low end graphics and instancing.

    Bottom line is ,games are not allowing for enough space for players and limiting zones to 20-50 is really removing the MMO feel that players crave.Using pre orders is absolutely NO indication what so ever of possible players,they could be off by 50% easily using that number.Beta testing would be a much better indicator and even then you would allow 200% more space because not everyone gets excited about Beta testing because you lose all that player time/effort

    Well, he did say just the "first few zones" and "up to level 6", so I would assume they are relatively small starter zones for different characters.  

     

    These guys seem to have some real well designed systems in place, modular and flexible.  I hope everything ends up being as awesome as it looks, because at this point it looks freaking amazing.

     

  • FransgaardFransgaard AalborgPosts: 3Member Uncommon

    I would like to see a major event, with lower graphic, abilities or whatever it takes to reduce queue times and lag.

    The event would be something like the factions ships land and the players would fight an enemy.

    In the event people can’t level, but they can fight, gather resources and build barricades, spawn points etc.

    It could be major pvp (I am not a pvp’r but I wouldn’t mind this, like I didn’t mind the big wow zombie event) or it could be battle against the local wildlife either way the event would end with a massive increase in the wildlife forces, and players would eventually be pushed back to their future starting points.

    The event could reward some title depending on kills, constructions build and materials gathered.

    After a few weeks the event is removed and the game will continue as planned.

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