Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 08, 2008
GOA apology and other WAR news

So GOA had to roll out their CEO for a public apology:
"Dear all,

I rarely address players directly, but I wanted to write you as too few of you have been able to access the open beta today.

As my team explained in the previous post, although we have opened the servers and corrected numerous issues during the last 24 hours but we have not yet solved the issue of saturated Open Beta key activations that we’re currently experiencing. I am sincerely sorry for this, and I understand all the frustration the situation has spawned.

Today was a dark day. We expected a massive influx of players, but reality was even harsher.
I personally commit that we will communicate to you as clearly as possible on the resolution of these current issues. My goal is to give Warhammer Online the success it deserves. Be ensured that all GOA teams, with Mythic’s support, are working hard to bring you the best possible game experience.

Best regards,
Ghislaine Le Rhun
Unfortunately GOA is still slightly delusional about their success, as witnessed in their other post on the situation:
"We have encountered serious problems with the authentication system since this morning, while the stability of the game servers, the speed of the patcher and the performance of the downloader have all been satisfactory. This issue, combined with an exceptional amount of traffic and a fault which was not identified during the extensive tests we ran on our platform has unfortunately limited the access to our servers to only a few of you along with our closed beta testers who had already been a part of the closed beta."
Hey, GOA! Didn't it occur to you that the stability of the game servers etc. might be satisfactory because there are only a handful of people who can actually access them? We simply have no idea what will happen to the servers once the account site is up and everyone tries to get into the game.

How is the situation in North America? Did everything start smoothly there, account site and servers?

At least we got some info about realm balance hidden in the official update on WarhammerAlliance:
"Server caps
Previous closed beta testers are being let in. We are successively allowing more and more players join. The current population cap is 500 players per realm (so 1000 max players online per server) with an additional 1500 players in queue. We will raise both the online and queue caps by roughly 25% every few hours. This is a delicate process, vital in keeping the servers and starting zones in good shape. Reports from QA reveal that our Open Beta servers have indeed performed very well since they were brought online, as those of you who can currently play can surely attest to."
So there are separate caps for Order and Destruction, which at least initially (when the servers are full) should work to balance things out. Of course that means that if you want to play the more popular side, you might end up in a situation where you are waiting in queues much longer, or are forced to play the other faction.
Hi Tobold,

I can confirm that the NA servers were fairly stable throughout the weekend. They had to be taken down a couple times for some emergency patches, but they kept us updated and things were pretty decent overall. Given that a lot of this Open Beta is just stress testing, it was well within the grounds of what I would call "acceptable".

I got one of my characters to level 14, and I was reminded that out-levelling teh majority of the playerbase is NOT a good idea in this game -- I was locked out of lower level scenariosand didn't managed to get in a Tier 2 scenario until my brief play session before I came into work today! (I'm in Japan, so around 7:30 AM my time = 6:30 PM American Eastern time)

With my play time this week I'll probably just roll a bunch of classes to try things out and experience what they all play like.
Its a disgrace to be honest. I waited patiently for this while my US friends got into their closed beta and 2 preview weekends.

Now they managed to f this up too.. I think I have to reconsider buying the whole game.
The servers were sort of stable -- there was an outage Saturday night for a few hours during US west coast prime time, but ok, it's still beta, and some down time comes with the territory.

The game still feels fairly buggy -- not omg-don't-ship type buggy, but like there are still quite a few rough edges. For instance, I got a blue piece of equipment as a drop, and the icon for it was "file not found", when I first started up the game, it suggested an Oceania server, even though I live in the US, some mobs can be unattackable (very frustrating), and I noticed in one of the early Dwarf PQ's that sometimes in the last part all the mobs don't spawn, making it impossible to actually complete the PQ.

It's a beta, and there's still certainly time to fix those kind of things.

Of course, if Mythic really want's to treat it as a beta, and have us submit bugs, how about providing a bug reporting mechanism that doesn't require that you enter your entire bug report on one line in the chat frame. It gives the impression they aren't really interested in bug reports.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the people in the EU who haven't been able to play yet. GOA really screwed up, and they don't have Mark Jacobs' talent for straight talk.
I think some acknowledgement and honesty from GOA during the day would have helped. People understand when problems occur but being kept in the dark wasn't necessary. Even if someone had said, try in a couple of hours, or come back tomorrow, that would have been better than just allowing the rage and annoyance to build while reports trickled in about how wonderful the US experience was.
"Today was a dark day. We expected a massive influx of players, but reality was even harsher."

If Goa is not even able to count how many key they have given, they should buy them a brain !

When i think that i was confident after Ian's post... Do people have no problem to lie every time. i thought they would have learned....
"We expected a massive influx of players, but reality was even harsher."

Well, giving away thousands of beta keys the last few days may have contributed to that.

Really Stratospheric Arrogance combined with gross incompetence leads to things like what happened yesterday.

It almost seems to be that some trainee or IT illiterate was in charge of the authentication process.

Who else would let this vital process start just before launch, add extra pressure to it due to incomplete communication (no need for a new account if you already registered on the website earlier) and can meanwhile seriously claim to be "extremely confident" all will go well?
"We expected a massive influx of players, but reality was even harsher"

Anyone else find the deafening silence from the News sites and other blogs about this fiasco strange?
Anyone else find the deafening silence from the News sites and other blogs about this fiasco strange?

Not strange at all. WAR launched just fine in the US. The problems are limited to Europe, and we don't count as far as US games media are concerned.
Iain just made an evaluation of yesterdays events on Alliance.

Apparently we were all wrong in assuming that account creation was doomed to fail because of peak traffic due to thousands trying to create an account in just a few hours. No it was a totally unexpected error in the account dbase which was at fault. Ok, this hoovers in the realms of the possible i guess.

Then things go south, PR wise. According to Iain, everyone who reacted exessively angry yesterday is a psycho :D Dont think this will go down well in the community.

We all know a lot of people have different moral standards on the anonymous internet. Even with that in mind, i agree that some may have overreacted in the extreme. These reactions though were brought on by the arrogance and misinformation from GOA. Also its fine to have Iain opinion but it was probably more wise to keep that within GOAs offices. Saying a part of your customerbase consists of psychopaths isnt normally seen as productive on a corporate level.
That thread is -
...and the comment was -

"Overall then, some things went right - not many to be sure and the important things certainly didn't. We made some mistakes, we expected many problems and we found some entirely different ones. We disappointed many of you by not letting you get into the open beta when we said you would and for that I am sorry. All of us are disappointed that we couldn't bring you the service you expected. I wasn't at work yesterday, Magnus was the man on the scene covering the situation, but I did keep a close eye on forums and was in contact with the guys in the office. A lot of what was said yesterday here and on other forums was entirely out of line. Of course you were disappointed and criticism is certainly warranted but frankly many of the posts made about the situation were borderline sociopathic. If having delayed access to a beta test really drives you to such depths of anger and fury then - and there is no polite way to put this - there is something wrong with you"

...I work in a customer facing environment - you just don't say things like this to your customers.
No matter how rude your customers can be....and in my line of business they can be pretty shocking when their own jobs are on the line because their database is down / corrupt...etc.
I agree dathmar. If i say something like that, i'm fired and my customer go see another company...
Wow, I can't believe a community representive wrote that!

It's the internet - of course people are going to write crazy posts! That's what the internet is all about!

For a rep to insult people like that is crazy!
Mark Jacobs apparently also thought some posts made yesterday were totally out of line and threatening, since he made a blog entry about it on his site. So Iain may have voiced a more commonly felt opinion (which he already made a bit more precise just to avoid adding more kerosine to a blazing inferno - a tad too late i guess:). Now i havent seen these posts and they may have been from trolls or genuine lunatics; point is that addressing even a part of your customerbase in such a way can only work out negatively. Just a heads up that these kind of posts will be completely ignored would have been better.
The success of War is not certain and if it "fails" in Europe the first bullet in the PowerPoint will be "Terrible management of the most important segment in the games market - the pioneers / opinion leaders".

Now, if the Warhammer was super polished and with a perfect gameplay, Mythic/EA (yes, not GOA) could treat their customers as bad as they want. Today, in the MMO business, there is ONE and only one critical success factor - develop a good game. But we know that War, being good, is still far from perfect and in these cases the way the users look at faults depend 100% on their good will towards the game / company.

A second point. I really don't understand how people can't see that this is a 100% EA/Mythic fault. They were responsible for the decision to outsource the service in Europe and more important they were responsible for giving it to GOA. Now, as an example, if my company that sells games selects another company to host its servers because it costs 50% less than doing it in house or 40% less than the closest competitor, when things start failing, who should be blamed?
Out of interest how are things now in EU? Is the beta key registration up again?

At work now you see at pretty curious, yesterday spent unexpectedly on other things than (open) beta testing WAR EU.
...yet another good reason to keep away from beta tests.
How is the situation in North America? Did everything start smoothly there, account site and servers?

NO! My Beta key was "invalid" from the moment I attempted to authenticate my pre-order. /fail
Everything went swimmingly for me for NA beta.

Of course I have that awful habit of alt tabbing still and coming back to a black screen.

Just dont alt tab in Altdorf if you can for now folks.

Also the Book Of Grudges put a post up there a few minutes ago about an update from GOA about the registration.

You can register your key from 4pm CET today.
next day, still no mail, congrats on the new process GOA...
What made me laugh was the line, 'I rarely address gamers directly...'

Wow, so EU customers should be thankful that you grace us with your presence?

Good luck EU guys, it's not looking good.
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