Warlords of Draenor – An Early Success

In one of those “fools rush in… and get the best seats” moments, I got home from work yesterday, started up my computer, launched World of Warcraft, logged in, and started playing.

No fuss, no muss, no queue, no problem.  I just logged in, decided to go with Vikund as first into Draenor, took the quest, and off I went.

The quest is hard to miss

The quest is hard to miss

I am not sure you can actually refuse the quest.  I tried with another character and the game seemed pretty persistent.  Anyway, I was in the game and headed out on my first try.

This happens to me once in a while, where I wander into a minefield and pass through unscathed by sheer luck.  I know that many people were having problems, and my luck is not in any way to say that everything was fine.  My daughter was interested in a level 90 on another server, where she ended up in a queue nearly 4,000 players deep and estimated to get her to the front of the line in about 7 hours.  She watched that for a bit then decided to join me on Eldre’Thalas, only to find that logins had been locked for the server.  So there were problems in my own house, and I had to hear my daughter moan about how she couldn’t get in while I was happily playing.

Because I was on and in game, which at that point appeared to be the big hurdle.  The server itself was only listed as “medium” when it came to load and I found Earl already on and level 91.  He had passed through the starter area and now it was my turn.  It is through the portal and off to work with Khadgar and Thrall.

Vikund, Khadgar, and Thrall

Vikund, Khadgar, and Thrall

The intro zone is a short, story driven event meant to give you the “why we fight” look at the expansion.  I was interested in the emphasis placed on the “bad” guys, the leaders of the Iron Horde, the so-called Warlords of Draenor, who were each introduced in a very cinematic fashion, like an 80s ensemble cast complete with action shot pose and dramatic name reveal.

The special guest star was the Eye of Kilrogg, which played a supporting role.

I won’t try to record the details of the intro zone.  I am sure there are guides out there, should you need one.  It was a quick lark.  As always, I took every opportunity I could to pose with Thrall.

Vikund and Thrall

Vikund and Thrall

I have built this “Homer Simpson/Mr. Burns” relationship with Thrall in my brain over the years, where we have interacted on many occasions yet, whenever we meet, Thrall doesn’t know me.  I just need an orc version of Waylon Smithers (or maybe a goblin) to start reciting past events to Thrall like, “he helped you escape from Durnhold Keep, he once shot you with a BB gun, you sent him into Deepholm to save Azeroth, he was on the team that brought Garrosh Hellscream to justice…” to complete the scene.

I was interested to see that Vikund’s gear, which is mostly Siege of Orgrimar LFR level purples, was not immediately worse than what was being handed out for the first few quests.  Vikund is probably better geared, sitting at the end of Pandaria, than he has ever been, so not trading up immediately was a new experience.  Eventually, he got something that was the same item level for one of the garrison quests, but it lacked a gem socket, didn’t have an enchant, and was otherwise almost identical, so I let it sit in the bag with the rest of the stuff.

I was a bit disappointed that, for no good reason, the game client refused to take screen shots during one of the cinematics where all of the orc warlords were standing together at the top of a cliff in a rather epic pose.  A movie poster level of positioning.  But Blizz seems to be odd on that front.  Sometimes screenshots work during cinematics, sometimes they do not.  I will have to run Fraps with the next character into Draenor.

Anyway, I thought the whole thing was nicely done.  Though it was probably a lot of work for a relatively short encounter, it does lay the foundation for the expansion.

A whole zone for a 30 minute intro

A whole zone for a 30 minute intro

I made it through and was dumped on the beach in Shadowmoon Valley, where I was given a “you made it” achievement.  There should probably be a special “you made it through all the technical issues” feat of strength achievement for getting there within 24 hours of the launch, but that might be rubbing salt in the wound.

Welcome to Draenor!

Welcome to Draenor!

From that point the game was very determined to get me into my garrison.  This does not appear to be an optional thing, but a requirement to progress.  Granted, I wanted a garrison, so I did not explore much when it came to “can I bypass this?” but it sure seemed like a requirement.  You end up at the site of your Garrison… with a few dozen other people in my case… where you have to collect some resources and kill a few things.  The resources were not consumed when others collected them, so it wasn’t an all out race grab them.  You basically flagged trees to be cut down, and with each you got an old school Warcraft RTS peon response.

The mobs to kill were contested, but were available in abundance as well.  I was thankful once again that Blizz made special quest mobs available to everybody who got in some damage, as there was a huge mob waiting to slay the one named guy we all needed.

That went pretty quickly, and I was soon standing before my garrison.

I will call it "Jim"

I will call it “Jim”

There were, naturally, some quests waiting within.  I went out to collect some things, kill some other things.  I built a barracks and visited the various vendors that are present just to see what I had.  And then it was time to head off to a school event for my daughter.  My wife is the PTA president, so we can’t skip this sort of thing, we need to be there to support her.

So I logged off.

Nooooooooo!

A couple hours later, when we returned home, I wasn’t able to log back in.  I managed to get into the server selection, but for quite a stretch it would not connect to a server.

This I can screen shot, but not the cinematic

This I could screen shot, but not the cinematic

My daughter was similarly locked out.  She gave up and went to bed while I sat around reading the various news stories and blue posts about DDoS attacks and unexpected issues.  Some of it was out of Blizzard’s hands and some of it was stuff they weren’t going to find until we all hit the game at once.  Then again, there was at least one Blizzard note I read that mentioned a problem caused by too many people being at the same place in the game, which got a big eye roll from me, since that was the system they designed.  Everybody ends up standing at that spot where the garrison is built, as an example.

As usual, some people were philosophical about the whole thing, while others were complaining that Blizzard had effectively stolen their money or other over the top statements.

Yes, it was bad at times and Blizzard should know we don’t appreciate it.  They own a lot of the problems.  In all likelihood Blizz will comp everybody a day or two  to cover this, and the storm will pass shortly.  But if you are bitching about having skipped school or taken a vacation day for this… well, I have to ask if this is your first online game.  I did that once, called in sick for a video game launch.  I think it was in 1989, when Gemstone opened up on GEnie after having been in the beta for a while.  It was an unplayable disaster on day one and my time was wasted.  Nothing has changed in 25 years.  If you are smart, you do that once and you learn your lesson.

Anyway, in the midst of all of this, while my screen sat in the trying to connect state on the server selection page, a tweet came through from Blizzard CS suggesting that people log out and back in.  I was hesitant, but had nothing to lose.  So I gave it a shot and, sure enough, I was able to log back in just fine, I was back in the game, back in my garrison, and ready to go.

I ran off and got my first follower, whom I sent on a mission which got me a second follower.  I sent them both off and rode out to the first town/quest hub.  There is kind of an interesting moment when you ride out of your garrison and down the road and you hit the point where you exit what is essentially the instance your garrison occupies and load into the shared world.  As it happened I was riding my chopper down the road and hit that transition point to find myself riding right next to a guy, also on a chopper and headed to the same location.

I saw Potshot online and he was able to get into the game at about that time as well.  However, there seemed to be a problem with people getting into the starter zone then, and he was stuck in the Blasted Lands getting the same automated message, “The portal you are trying to access… Draenor… is busy or out or service, please try again later.”  So all was not yet peaches and cream.  But Blizzard has a downtime today and some patches to do.  Tonight should be better than last night, and tomorrow night better than tonight, and at some point in a couple of days it will be a complete non-issue and we’ll move on to complaining about something else.

After a bit more running around, it was time for bed at my end.  And so ended my first look at the new expansion.

Others looking at day one:

Friday Night Addendum:

Oh, now I feel your pain.  Now I know the rage and humiliation of having to sit in a queue.

This will not stand!

This will not stand!

Big changes from Blizz incoming.  This should be… interesting.

32 thoughts on “Warlords of Draenor – An Early Success

  1. Asmiroth

    A combination of DDOS and a high pop server (Stormrage) provided me with a queue of 4000 at midnight EST and an eta measured in hours. S’ok though. I already had other plans for both Thursday and Friday lined up expecting something similar to occur (though perhaps not at this particular scale). As you, the “too many people in one spot” came off more like “we derped bad”.

    Glad you got in.

    For others who have laggy servers, if they get invited to group with someone on a different server (through the real id stuff), they actually transfer servers for their session. Seems to be a workaround for some.

    Like

  2. Pia

    This:

    “There should probably be a special “you made it through all the technical issues” feat of strength achievement for getting there within 24 hours of the launch.”

    Yes.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – “Anyone who thinks yesterday wasn’t as bad as any MMO launch ever probably wasn’t on a high pop server.”

    What? You can only say that if you’ve never experienced are really bad launch. “I had to queue” isn’t a bad launch, that’s just old school WoW. Coming into WoW a couple months after launch meant spending 12+ hour patching and THEN getting in a multi-hour queue.

    There were stretches of day one EverQuest where you were lucky if you could get in the game and stay there for 20 minutes at a stretch. The servers were up and down. EVE Online had an expansion that killed that bricked some people’s computers by deleting the boot.ini file. Yesterday was a cakewalk.

    I am not saying things couldn’t have gone better. Blizz clearly screwed up any number of things… and I bet they are regretting some of that server linking stuff now… but in a couple days it will all be a memory.

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  4. HeavyB

    I find it facinating that noone points out that WoD have LONG ques to log on, 2 dayes after launch. But stil there are 5 hours log on wait. Bliz have to do this on purpose, just for the headlines. Cuse this amount of uselessness cannot be a coincidence. So hopefully some blogger with the right tools can compare logon amount at lauch with regular logons. And former launches.

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  5. Lonegun

    You are one of the lucky ones to get into the game. I was able to get in this morning to experience a broken portal before they shutdown the servers for maintenance.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    This, by the way, is why they traditionally launch on Tuesday, so they can get the problems under control by the time the weekend arrives.

    Launching on a Thursday has put them in a position where Blizz has announced a maintenance downtime during the early AM on Saturday morning.

    Like

  7. p0tsh0t

    Being a west coastie on an east coast server, things improved dramatically after the east coast went to bed around 9pm west coast time. An hour or two before was bad being super all US primetime.

    Once through the portal, smooth sailing.

    Like

  8. bhagpuss

    Worst MMO launch ever: Anarchy Online. Unplayable for most for days. Bad for weeks. Funcom didn’t charge subs for several months.

    Some would say Vanguard which was unplayable for many and bugged to heck and back. It was playable and enjoyably so for me so I don’t class it as anything like as bad as others have.

    Horizons had some of the very worst lag I’ve ever seen at launch. It was literally impossible for me to enter a city.

    EQ’s Gates of Discord expansion appeared to be functional until players tried to fight things, whereupon they died. In droves. Later revelations revealed the difficulty settings to have been set unintentionally and prohibitively high among many other bugs.

    I believe the launch of EQ’s Luclin expansion was also disastrous, with the game offline more than it was on for the first week and many things not working for months. I was playing something else (DAOC I think…) so that’s only hearsay.

    FFXIV didn’t charge subs for six months or more and eventually pulled the entire game and re-launched it a year later.

    The litany of appalling MMO launches is long and horrific. However…

    This particular example does seem to be weird.
    A) it’s Blizzard, who are the market leader and supposed to be hyper-efficient
    B) a lot of these problems seem to be very predictable and familiar
    C) the suspicion has to be that this is failure brought about by success.

    To elaborate on the last point, Blizzard must have sold WoW to tens of millions of people. WoD has clearly caught the interest of more of those ex-players than either Pandas or Cataclysm did. It looks on the face of it as though a LOT more people decided to come back than anyone expected. That interest will be very fragile. Getting everyone in and playing for the weekend will be crucial.

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  9. Shintar

    I have to say that this has been pretty amusing to watch from the outside. Someone posted this epic rage video in the Massively comments for example.

    It is kind of sad though that big launches like this are still the same every time. Players should learn to expect issues on day one, but so should Blizzard. Sure, bugs happen, but “too many people in one place” has been a problem since Burning Crusade, you’d think they would have given that some thought by now.

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  10. Shandren

    From your recount of the events it sounds like youve had a smooth launch all things considered. I wouldnt go as far as to call this the worst launch ever, not even close. But seeing as I’m on EU servers that wasnt DDoS’ed, and its been a mix of 7hour queues combined with unplayable lag on anything except weird hours for me, I do feel for those on NA servers that got the full blunt of it.

    In vanilla with the server queues it always felt like I had the option to just play a new toon on a new server, but being very heavily set on which server I play on now, and the new content only being available to lvl 90’s. I dont have the same option now. Queue or dont play at all. Feels sad in 2014. And i must admit im a bit sad because it seems like a good amount of the issues could have been avoided.

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  11. Jenks

    “What? You can only say that if you’ve never experienced are really bad launch. “I had to queue” isn’t a bad launch, that’s just old school WoW. ”

    You have zero clue what people are going through. Your statement is a complete joke and an insult to the many people who queue for 7+ hours, only to try to login and get a “character not found” error and go back to the beginning of the queue. I have several friends who haven’t been able to play yet. If that’s what you think the extent of this launch’s problems are, you are completely ignorant of what’s going on on high pop servers, like I said.

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  12. Jenks

    “There were stretches of day one EverQuest where you were lucky if you could get in the game and stay there for 20 minutes at a stretch.”

    Played EQ at launch on Veeshan. Playing wow currently on Zul’Jin.
    This is miles worse.

    Like

  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – And I am saying that if you are saying that is equal or worse as a launch when compared to launches where such situations applied to literally every server or even every single customer as opposed to a subset, and at this point a small subset, then you aren’t convincing me. That you have to narrow it down to specific servers pretty much seals it.

    I am not unsympathetic to what is happening to some people, including my daughter an her horde characters, and I realize when the problem is happening to you it seems drastic, but this isn’t anywhere close to some other launches.

    “Played EQ at launch on Veeshan. Playing wow currently on Zul’Jin.
    This is miles worse.”

    Then your memory is significantly faulty. Not being able to log on, being in a queue at least gives you some feedback you can asses, as opposed to having the server crash on you time and again.

    Like

  14. Jenks

    A small subset play on high population servers? Really?

    What launches were worse? You mentioned EQ, I was there, it wasn’t worse. I didn’t have friends who weren’t able to play EQ 3 days in. It’s not close.

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  15. Jenks

    Citation needed for 7+ hour queues for Archeage, the longest I’ve seen cited was 4, most claimed 3. I’d also need something similar to the “character not found” error so many are getting, forcing people back into the queue after waiting the 7 hours.

    AA’s 3 hour queues put it in line with vanilla WoW iirc (I played on Mannoroth which was a highish pop server).

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  16. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    The problem for me is that you are trying to fit “worst” into a very specific definition with which I do not agree. 3 hours or 7 hours or frankly anything beyond 2 hours is all the same to me, as that probably means I’ll go play something else as my play time budget won’t allow the wait.

    Queue length simply doesn’t matter after a certain point, so arguing that a 4 hour queue is worse than a 7 hour queue in any meaningful way is like arguing that being killed by a .44 is twice as bad as being killed by a .22. To me you’re dead either way.

    For me, crashes and being kicked off a server repeatedly, as in first night EQ nearly every time I hit a zone line, is a much worse situation.

    But if you want to argue that “worst” as far as launches go should be strictly defined by the longest queue time any individual ever encounters, then that is your right. I just disagree. As an example, I see the fact that some servers had small or no queue as a mitigating factor. Worst launch for who? Again, not to be unsympathetic, but telling people who weren’t on some specific servers that it was the worst launch ever will probably fall on deaf ears.

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  17. Jenks

    I happily dealt with the queue times in vanilla WoW, and played the game.

    Go ahead and reread my original 1 sentence statement that you condescendingly responded to. I very much implied that if you’re on a low/medium pop server, you’re probably having a good experience. If you’re on a high pop server, you’re having a miserable, worst mmo launch in history experience.

    So instead of responding to me with “you’re right, I’m luckily not having issues because of the server I play on,” you came back with the ultra condescending ““I had to queue” isn’t a bad launch, that’s just old school WoW. ”

    If you’re deciding who to award the trophy for “worst mmo launch ever” to, go ahead and award it to whatever game you’d like. There is a very large amount of people who are experiencing the worst mmo launch in history right now. It’s shitty having the people getting to play turn around and give us an earful of patronizing nonsense about how this isn’t that bad. I’ve been around the block. It’s that bad.

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  18. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – My whole post is pretty much a straight up “I got lucky” story. You cannot read it any other way unless you came here looking for an argument. I certainly was not looking to rub it in on anybody was was less fortunate. I mention how shit it was for other people, and most of the people I link to at the bottom were having a bad time. Some still cannot log in.

    Your one line was a response to that post.

    But if you literally cannot see that discussing an overall launch is different from how bad things may have been for individuals, even large numbers of individuals, and take any statement or comparison to other launches as “patronizing nonsense” then maybe you should take a time out and do something else for a while.

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  19. Jenks

    “My whole post is pretty much a straight up “I got lucky” story.”

    Your response (#4) to my comment wasn’t, it was straight up “these whiners don’t know what a bad mmo launch looks like.” Of course that couldn’t be further from correct.

    There’s 10 hour queues being reported now.

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  20. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – In response to your calling out my post with a statement that this was the worst launch ever. It wasn’t “My day sucked” it was “as bad as any MMO launch ever.” And around we go. You can stop any time now.

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  21. Jenks

    “But if you literally cannot see that discussing an overall launch is different from how bad things may have been for individuals, even large numbers of individuals, ”

    There’s some confusion here, because that’s not an argument I’m having, or that I even care about. Give the “worst mmo launch ever trophy” to anyone you want. There’s a huge number of people having an experience that bad or worse, and I’m annoyed at the dismissiveness of them in the embedded tweet.

    Whatever game you give the trophy to, I bet it wasn’t much worse than hundreds of thosands/millions of players unable to play at all for 3 days – so maybe we can get a little more respect than boo hoo, “I had to queue” or “that’s just old school WoW.” I’ve been in the queue since I got home at 5pm EST. It’s now after midnight and I’m down to 887. That’s not old school WoW. FYI, my server is barely in the top 10 population wise – there are much, much worse queues. Let’s just hope when I finally reach the promised land, I don’t get a “character not found” error that so many have gotten.

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  22. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    “There’s some confusion here, because that’s not an argument I’m having, or that I even care about.”

    Well, that was the discussion I was trying to have, stemming from your use of the phrase “as bad as any MMO launch ever.”

    If you want my sympathy, you have it. My daughter is even now moping around because she couldn’t get logged into play her horde characters in the time she was given to play.

    But Jesus Christ, if a flippant remark in a comment thread is driving you this crazy, that you have to keep coming back, that you can’t let it go and walk away, I don’t know what to tell you. If you need to say, “Fuck that Wilhelm guy!” and never come back, I’ll understand.

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  23. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Darren – He yet lives!

    It has its moments. I am enjoying it. But it is very much “WoW evolved” again when it comes to quests and such. I happened to like the way quests evolved for Pandaria, where they tend to be tied up in story packages that get fed to you a few at a time, so it works for me. There are not so many “kill some guys” quests.

    On the other hand, the quest chain for a zone is threaded, so you can’t really pick and choose, you have to follow the path. And then there are garrisons, which are a whole new thing, and which I will get to in tomorrow’s post.

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