What would Mythic do?

Funcom’s explanation of the open beta snafu, which I first saw over on Bildo’s site, finally cleared up my questions about what the hell’s been happening over the past few days. Gotta say, I’m not really thrilled with the answer. I’ve been hoping that Funcom left old code in because they wanted to test some sort of cumulative effects with 50k new users, but no, that wasn’t it.

Darren quoted the important part of the explanation, and I’ll trim it down even further here:

We tried to include the best we had on a stable approach, but in our eagerness to please we wanted to get a few additional fixes out (hence we pushed the launch back a couple of hours). In order to reach the May 1st date some of those fixes led to unwanted side-effects which weren’t discovered in time. For some, it got a bit rockier than we wanted.

Let me highlight a bit there. “we wanted to get a few additional fixes out“. Fixes. Umm. Hello? Your eagerness to please should only include shipping heavily tested code. It’s a bit horrifying that they pushed back a launch to cram a couple more “fixes” into a build, especially when the fixes ended up breaking so many things for so many people.

I can’t even address the survey. ‘4 of the first 6 votes for President went to Ralph Nader. I think he’s going to win this year!’. Right.

I can’t help but think about Mythic, who was also contemplating a launch around this time. I posted over on Darren’s blog that I was trying to imagine Mark Jacobs saying “Yeah, we jammed some features in at the last minute, before we patched”. I played DAoC for a long time. Sure, things went wrong, but I don’t think they ever went wrong because someone dropped in the code at the last minute, without testing the build extensively.

Maybe that Midgard Left Axe thingy, that could have been a last minute change 🙂 God, I hated Savages and Berserkers for the longest time.

In fact, when Mythic was faced with the decision to go with what they had, or pull it back in for more testing and refinement, they pulled back. Funcom decided to forge ahead. Now they’re in the position of having to be right with each decision, as their decisions go public pretty quickly. You can mess around all you want in a closed beta, take chances, try things out, but that time has passed. There needs to be stability, and better communication about your decisions, even if the changes are tested and stable. I’ll give Funcom a mulligan, but you only get one. I’m hearing the word “Vanguard” way too much, and I think AoC is too good a game to get that label because Funcom gets impatient.

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve barely been able to get more than a couple hours of basically-solid play in since the Open Beta started. I change the Core to just one and set the Priority to High and change all the Graphics Setting to Low and play in Windowed-mode but it’s unplayably choppy and load times are several minutes and it crashes at least every hour.

    I haven’t played very many MMORPG’s and the only other Beta I played was WoW and from other comments it sounds like I was spoiled by that WoW Beta experience. Still – it’s embarrassing to show my friends this game and try to not look like an idiot because I’m still enthusuatic about the game.

    I’m annoyed because the gameplay has been too choppy and problematic for me to have leveled any character up to 13 so does that mean that I won’t be able to participate in the PvP Event this weekend?

    I’ll probably buy the game on launch because it just has to, HAS TO, be an improvement over this Beta and I love the Hyborian world and Conan the Barbarian is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I have that bias. It’s just gonna be hard to convince my friends and fiance to adventure with me if Funcom doesn’t make drastic improvements.

  2. wow, thats pretty much the same reaction I had on my blog. I dont know what they were thinking! It makes me suspicious of their QA department.

  3. Aaron, I wish I could tell you what cleared up my problems (if they’re truly cleared up, I’m still suspicious), but I really don’t have a clue.

    I didn’t get to play last night, so I’ll have to pop in later this evening and see how it performs.

    And yeah, the WoW beta was really smooth. Turbine does pretty good betas too, and WAR has performed pretty well for me. Funcom needs to step it up.

  4. Mark Jacobs would have castrated his QA team and delayed the game another 4 months if WAR saw such a horrid weekend like Conan’s.

  5. Hehe, yeah, that sounds about right.

    You’re not gonna bite on the Left Axe comment? C’mon, I’m totally trying to bait people who played Midgard, especially the Mid/Perc crowd that ate my realm up for so long 😉

  6. I’m still sore from that low blow years later. 😉 My Zerker AND my Savage were hit below the belt, haha.

  7. Well, tonight I’m going to see if there’s a new driver for my 512mb nVidia card because I keep reading that nVidia cards are problematic for AoC but the fact that I’m running it on Vista (even with 4Gs of RAM) sounds like that’s another issue for the game. I’ve also read that using a non-Windows defrag program can help performance so I’ll try that tonight too. I’m hoping that even if I can’t find a fix and can’t get a character to 13 before the PvP Event, at least the PvP Patch might make the initial Tortage section work better so I can at least get in a good amount of 1-13 play this weekend. Here’s hoping. 🙂

  8. http://bildos.blogspot.com/2008/05/aoc-closed-beta-patched-faith-restored.html

    Take it with a grain of salt, but if this patch is what comes to the OB soon, many people will be left feeling a whole lot better about the launch.

  9. I played a bit last night, Bildo, it was much better. I’ll post about it later this morning.

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