Tag Archives: Beta

Simulating the WoW Classic Opening

The beta for WoW Classic has been up for a bit now.  Some people, and not a few streamers, seem to have made the cut for the beta which Blizzard has said it wants to keep limited.

I opted in for it but did not get an invite.  That is okay, as I likely wouldn’t play too much.  But as somebody who opted in I remained in the pool for stress test events, the first of which was yesterday.  I did get an invite for that.

Time to pile on the server

Blizzard can get lots of tactical information… not to mention some reports of bugs that are not bugs… from the normal beta.  But to be ready for opening night and the crush that will no doubt follow they need to load up the servers to see how their mixture of new and old tech responds.

Anyway, I downloaded the stress test beta, which appeared to be a subset of the WoW Classic package and waited for the start time.  They wanted people to log in and get up to level 5, which was where the test would be capped.  A minute or two early I launched the client to see if the server was up already.  I was not alone.

545 deep, estimated time under 1 minute

That seemed like a pretty optimistic number.  However, it did tick down very quickly and soon I was… kicked out to the login screen.  Well, I was in there ahead of time.  So I waited until the appointed hour and tried again.

1637 deep, estimated time 2 minutes

Now the surge was beginning to build.  There was a time, back in the day and at most expansion launches, where that many people ahead of you would have meant you had time to watch a movie or go have dinner.  Again, the queue drained readily and I was soon disconnected and back at the login screen.  But it did take less than 2 minutes.

I waited a couple of minutes, then once more unto the breech.

2052 deep, estimated time 3 minutes

The queue was getting deeper, but the time estimate stayed low.  And this time I was passed through and able to choose the server.

The server in sight

It may have showed a low population, but that seemed to be because it was having problems getting people loaded in.  I was once again at the login screen with an error.  But this was what we were here to do, load up the system to see where it breaks.  Back in I went.

2776 deep, estimated time 4 minutes

From this point forward I made it to the server selection every time, however the status of the server changed from time to time, being low population, offline, or locked at various points.  But I kept pressing the button every time I got kicked out.  That was the high water mark for my queue, though it stayed in the 2600-2700 range for the rest of the test.

Meanwhile, on Twitter WoWHead was posting screen shots and retweeting various streamers who were in the game and running around with the mass of players.  Life it good when you’re special I guess, though I suspect that nobody was retweeting people saying they couldn’t get in.

At about the 90 minute mark of the two hour test I was able to get on the server successfully and start on character creation.  I went for a night elf druid just to give that a spin, at which point I ran into the next problem.

Character creation timed out

That persisted for the balance of the test time frame, so I missed out on some of the special things that popped up during the test, like Ragnaros showing up.

Of course, that all showed up around Stormwind, so I wasn’t going to see it anyway… not unless I made the run across the Wetlands, which I actually planned to do.

While the time frame of the test was over, Blizzard said they would leave the servers up and later in the evening I was able to get in and experience the starting zone.  The opening cinematic narration was interesting, as it spoke of the planting of Teldrassil and how it was the vanity of the elves and their desperation to get back their immortality that made them do it, against the wishes of Malfurion Stormrage, and that it had been corrupted by the Burning Legion.  I had forgotten all of that.  Maybe Slyvannas was just doing Azeroth a favor by burning it down?

Anyway, I was in, a lowly night elf druid with 16 bag slots and some boars and nighsabres to slay.

In at last… but reporting tools up front and center

Even off peak, with the queue gone and no problems getting in, the starting area was overrun with other players.

Anyway, while I did not show up to actually play, I did run around and do the first couple of quests, got a level, and got myself into the mindset of what WoW Classic will really be.  It is easy to forget what it was like being fresh to the game back in the day.  I think one of the things that keeps us going in MMORPGs is the accumulation of things that ease our journey.  It is much easier to carry on with a game we’ve already earned that stuff in than to start raw and fresh in a new one.

Given that the test seemed to go less well than one might have hoped, I expect we will see another round or two.  If I get invited I’ll join in again to add my weight to the server load.  That was what we were being invited to do after all.  People angry that things were not perfect need to remember this.

I hope Blizz got some good data out of this that will make the launch in August, where I expect servers to be completely slammed by both the dedicated old school fans and the curious alike, go smooth.  Or at least not be a disaster.  I doubt it will be smooth on day one no matter how much Blizz throws at it.  We’ll see if this new layering tech works out.

Anyway, if you want to see how the login queue works before August you need to opt in for the WoW Classic beta, which is its own category in your beta options.

LOTRO Beta Bank Blues

I have pretty modest expectations for the coming transition of Lord of the Rings Online to a Free to Play financial model, which is scheduled to happen on September 10th.  Subscriptions will be out… sort of… there will be that whole VIP Level of commitment… and the LOTRO Store will be in.

And since my expectations are modest, I haven’t really felt the need to join in the beta just to check out the store.

Last week, however, they were going to do a stress test and wanted to get as many people online as possible.  I decided to finally grab the beta client to help out with that.

And since I was going to be there anyway, I though it might be time to check and see if my expectations had been met.

There were three specific things that I hoped I would be able to purchase with Turbine points, of which I should have many come September 10th.  Those things were:

  • Increase bag slot space
  • Increase bank slot space
  • Housing

That is it.  Anything else which shows up that I like will be a bonus.

And it looks like I am not getting two out of the three on that list.

Bags will remain capped at the five 15 slot bags which I have currently, or so it seems when looking through the store.

And while I can buy decorations for a house in Middle-earth, the actual house stills has to be paid for and maintained with in-game currency.  Gold in the game isn’t as rare as it was back at launch, but I still don’t have enough hanging around to invest in housing.  The homestead will have to wait.

Ah well, at least I have more bank slots for which to look forward.

Sort of.

I have a problem with that too.  It isn’t that I cannot get enough additional bank slots.  It looks like I can get plenty.  It is how they will be displayed.

Currently in LOTRO, your bank looks like this:

It looks like a pretty traditional bank storage system in an MMO, akin to what you get with WoW or EQII.  You get a series of spots into which you may place your items for storage.

As you can see here, the default is 30 slots, and you can pay to unlock additional slots (which both cost in-game currency and have a level restriction) which come in the form of 15 slots boxes.  In the picture above, I have unlocked two additional boxes, giving me a total of 60 bank slots, although those 30 additional slots appear as individual windows apart from the base 30.

You can also see the care I put into organizing my bank slots.  There is quite a bit of crafting material shown in that screen shot.  It belongs to Silinus, my hunter, who is also a weapon smith and woodworker.  All his crafting materials are sorted by rows to show the tier to which the material belongs, and by column to distinguish the type of material.

I have some excess materials (still sorted by tier) on the left column, while the top row holds recipes I cannot yet train.

So I have a system, and it works well enough with the bank slots as they are presented in LOTRO.

The one very valid complaint I have heard about the bag and bank slots is that it can be hard for people to distinguish between items because of the tiny and less than optimally designed icons. (I’ve complained about the iconography in the game before.)  The second column from the right, for example, holds ingots of dwarf iron, rich iron, and barrow iron, but the only way I know which is which is because of their position.

So there is a mixture of good and bad there.

In the beta, the bank view has been changed.  This is the bank for the same character, with the same items, after having been copied over to the Bullroarer server.

If you bought the Adventurer’s Pack that they were offering along with Siege of Mirkwood, this view will look familiar as it is the same as the shared storage vault that came with the pack.

It is a change and it has a couple of things going for it.

You can see how many bank slots you have and how many you have used right there at the top of the window.

And, of course, each item now shows both its name and its icon, so you can see what you have… sort of.

The problem is that the window can only stretch so large.  With the shared storage, which is only 20 slots, that is no big deal.  You can make the window big enough to see everything.

But at 60 slots the window would have to stretch beyond the dimensions of my monitor.  And for the full 120 slots, which I plan to purchase, the window would have to extend to the floor in my office to see all my stuff.

Also, while you can choose a couple of filters for what is shown, it still lists stuff out in an order that isn’t very helpful.  You can see four types of resin listed in that window, but I couldn’t tell you off hand, without mousing over them to get the description, which on was for which tier.

That is why I lay everything out in an orderly fashion, so I can tell at a glance which is which.

I won’t have that option soon.

So this looks like a mixed blessing.  I will be able to get a lot of new storage space with my Turbine Points, but the actual usability of those spaces will be compromised by the new view.

Our Cataclysm Correspondant Is…

Not me.

We have two World of Warcraft accounts at our house, and mine was not the one chosen for the World of Warcraft Cataclysm beta.

My daughter’s was.

I’m not sure how they pick who gets into the beta at this point in the cycle.

It might be just completely random.

It might have something what sort of system you are running.

If the latter plays into it at all, there is no doubt my daughter had a big edge over me in getting picked.  My Windows XP system is pretty generic.  There are probably a lot of WoW players out there whose systems cover pretty much the same ground.

My daughter though, she plays on an Intel-based iMac running Snow Leopard.  That puts her in a much smaller pool of potential beta invites.

If they are looking at systems.  It might just be random at this point.

But however it is being chosen, they chose the right person in our household.

Since the moment I explained that there was such a thing as the Cataclysm beta, my daughter has wanted to be a part of it.  She has been checking Battle.net every couple of days for weeks and weeks, and this week she was finally rewarded.

The first thing I did was explain to her about what a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) was and how she couldn’t talk about being in the beta or tell people about it.

Then I looked around and realized that the NDA restrictions must have been dropped.  I mean, Two Hammers over at Game Bunny got into the beta the same day and has screen shots posted already.

So I changed my tune and told her she could have some extra play time if she agreed to be the TAGN Cataclysm beta correspondent.

She agreed.  And while I have heard lots of details being shouted over her shoulder at me (Hunters get pets at level 1! Each race has a default pet!  Gnomes can be priests now!  Goblins can have blue hair!) there has been precious little in the way of written detail.

She has taken some screen shots.  We have somewhat different sensibilities when it comes to screen shots.  So while I am okay with the Goblin starter area beach scene:

Note the blue hair

I’m not sure the rubber ducky in the water trough is really expressing the grandeur of the Cataclysm expansion:

Is that a wind-up key or an antenna?

Okay, I would have taken that picture as well.  But I would have taken a lot more pictures in addition.

And while she spent more than an hour driving around the Goblin starter area in what looked like the Goblin version of a Bucket-T (less chrome, more… what is that, lime sheet rock?) trying to run down NPCs and shouting in joy, she didn’t take a single screen shot.  But Leper Gnomes?  Those we have screen shots of.

Leper gnomes... why did it have to be leper gnomes?

All in all, the expansion sounds like quite a delight for my daughter so far.  I’m just going to have to get her to take her correspondent commitment a little more seriously.  I at least need a screen shot of a goblin shouting, “You’ll hear from my lawyer!” as she tries to run him over.

Tonight we’re going to copy over her main character so she can see about flying in old Azeroth.