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Reader Comments (38)

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:09AM Felnor said

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I believe it worked quite well.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:14AM Matix said

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The tiered solution was a good experiment as part of the overall strategy:

1) Get guilds together pre-launch
2) Organize alliances and enemies between those guilds
3) Sort the guilds on a short-list of servers pre-launch
4) Expand the servers come launch to accommodate the next wave
5) Open new servers as existing one became full with stable populations.

Mistakes were made (like when guilds whose enemies and allies were sent to other servers... kinda obvious to me but not to Bioware that those guilds would want to reconnect and would just go to whatever server they wanted rather than the ones assigned) but as a strategy it was a kark load better than just bringing every server online and letting people go wherever.

The problem with launch strategies is that since you do it once per game you really don't have much opportunity to practice. Given that, I'd say the experiment was a darned good effort overall.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:14AM Eamil said

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I think they had the right idea, but probably could have executed it better. Unfortunately there's so many factors involved that it's hard to predict all of them, and I don't think any of us can really say for sure that any given solution would have actually worked without knowledge of those factors that only Bioware would have.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:24AM Kodiak said

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I'd be interested to see how many guilds that were assigned on a particular server still have participants who still play on the server they were assigned to and how many moved to a different server.

Personally I found it annoying, not because I didn't get in (I got in right away) but because all the while I was sitting in game my group was talking about playing on different servers so I spent most of my early access time reserving names on the big servers than actually playing or getting ahead.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:26AM Makovorn said

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I wouldn't say it was a flop, but I think it could have been better if they did even more stress testing beforehand and then doubled, or even tippled the amount of capacity they had planned on their servers. It's not like they can't afford it and judging by the hype, this was going to be a huge release.

I have a suspicion that there might have been some compromise somewhere to try and push the release this side of the year and before Christmas. But, in terms of who got on first, I sincerely believe that they've done it best and fairest way they could, especially since those pre-order players got in well before the actual release date.

That said, something that really irks me, is the way Bioware basically alienated the rest of the world outside of their so-called "green zones" by pushing release for e.g. Australia up to March 2012 and the rest of the world still left undetermined.

Fair enough, some players found creative means of importing the game and getting a key - either by getting someone overseas to buy it for them, or to use a tunneling service. Also, Bioware didn't do IP blocking (although there are ways around that too). Only now, you have players on the forums saying things like " ... so yeah, will you 'red-zoners' please get the hell off our servers please and stop hogging the queues ...".

I think Bioware should have had a little bit more foresight in terms of server populations, increased they capacity and staff during release and opened up the game to the whole world days apart ... not a quarter of a year apart. That's my humble opinion. Other than that, I guess the launch was a smooth as it could have been, but there a many lessons to be learned. Hopefully this will set a good benchmark to improve upon for other developers.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:22AM syberghost said

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@Makovorn the problem with putting in enough servers to guarantee no queues at launch is, it quite often results in ghost towns a month later, which causes the MMO press to start doing articles on your game's failure.

For all the anger queues cause, they create a better early impression than tumbleweeds.
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Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:27AM Azaetos said

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Good idea in theory, not sure it worked out as well as they hoped.

Regarding their other tiered release idea by zones. Bioware completely screwed the Australian SWTOR community by splintering it. Not to mention all the other red zoners communities who got shafted.

So they say there will be servers in the Oceanic region and will probably allow transfers for people who have purchased the game now. Just what you want on say a PvP server, you are starting out at the lower levels and a whole bunch of lvl 50's then transfer onto it, won't that be fun.

Also there will be less lower level players to potentially group with, not to mention all the spoilers there will be around everywhere after 3-4 months of the game releasing in the U.S. and areas of Europe.

So I must say thank you Bioware for screwing us red zoners over.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:38AM Joaquin Crowe said

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It might be a good idea if - and only if - it is administered fairly. From what I've read, I don't think Bioware did that. Although, I doubt TOR's tiered launch had anything to do with server load -- the people who started early didn't just stop playing on the 20th to reduce server load.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:02AM scfs123 said

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As long as games don't have "Server First" achievments. I believe its a great way to launch.

Kinda wish expansions could release this same way, how i loathe having 300 people in the same zone working on the same quest chain QQ

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:17AM Dumac said

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As much as i don't like queues, if i see a server with a queue and a "low" server, i kind of want to get into the first one, if it's not too long a wait ... If i assume most people are like that, i don't think a tiered launch is going to help with queues because players will create them whatever you do to prevent them, because they want to play on a more active server. I guess it was worth it to try it at least.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:19AM syberghost said

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Every launch will miss something, and any game with large pre-release hype will have a population issue for which installing a sufficient number of servers is economically very risky, so I won't Monday-morning-quarterback every decision they made, but there are a couple of things I think the industry should learn from this.

One, if you're not releasing the game in Oceania at launch, establish the unofficial Oceanic servers yourself; otherwise your carefully-laid plans for population distribution will be The Harbinger of your doom. Ditto for Spanish and Portuguese-language unofficial servers.

Second, if you're going to do guild pre-placement, have statements regarding your server move plans ready to go before early access starts. Otherwise people will assume you're not even thinking about the possibility, and make their decisions accordingly. It's fine not to allow them right away, to allow populations to stabilize and optimization to be completed, but say "we plan to open those up X months after launch", so people can make their guild move decisions based on complete information. Otherwise you wind up with angry guilds re-rolling.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:34AM dudes said

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At the very least it's generated a record number of complaints. No publicity is bad publicity for getting peoples attention. :D

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:36AM SwarlesBarkley said

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I think considering so many variables, the launch was a success. I did not make it in day one, and barely day two, but I was surprised how well many aspects went over. It was not a perfect launch by any means, but with so many people and this being one of the biggest launches by an MMO, I think it went pretty darn good. I have played smaller games both at launch and when expansions went live and had to wait longer to play. I do not mind the queues that are still going on either. I am on a busy server (not something I would have picked, but was chosen by guild placement) and the wait is new to me, but it does give me a chance to do other things like prepare food, BO's, etcs.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:59AM Kalex716 said

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I've re-rolled three times now to avoid overloaded servers so...

I would say no. Nothing they did really changed the nature of how these things are birthed. I appreciate the live teams attempt, but I would consider it a novel idea in their play book but not worth appropriating again.

The staggered launch really was what was problematic in my opinion. Sure, you got to trickle some people in and monitor your server hardware, but all it did was tick off the people who didn't get in, and sandbag the people who did because their servers bloated a day or two later and it forced a lot of people to throw that time away they put into characters anyhow with re-rolls.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 10:25AM Seffrid said

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I'm all for a tiered launch, so long as that means America gets it after Europe and Australia - the forums would be so much more entertaining that way!

My only criticism of the way things have gone really is in relation to the queues to access the website, and that would have been avoided if people had had the sense to sign up - all the steps stated to be required - in good time instead of leaving the subscription setup to the last moment.

In the main, those who criticise server queues and other aspects of the launch need to understand that is how MMO launches are, always has been and always will be, and either you accept it or you delay playing a new game until things have settled down. I don't see any better way of running launches.

The one change I would perhaps make to MMO launches if it was down to me would be to scrap the whole "early access" thing. It's a wholly unnecessary intermediate step between closed beta and commercial release and whilst intended to stagger the logins, stress test the servers (which used to be the purpose of open beta with full wipe) and raise a bit more revenue through pre-orders, in practice it doesn't really serve any effective purpose at all beyond giving some people the impression that they're entitled to everything for nothing a bit sooner.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 10:55AM (Unverified) said

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@Seffrid

You mean the entire American continent right? America as in North, Central, South and the Caribbean?

That's America.

Or did you mean the U.S. region?
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Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 1:22PM DarkWalker said

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@(Unverified)
AFAIK, the whole Central and South America was outside the launch zone already. Not sure if even Mexico, which is located in North America, was one of the launch countries.
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Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 10:45AM Quarlo said

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I have no problem with staggered admitance for the preorder customers. Considering the amount of hype for the game, I was suprised that Bioware had the forethought to not just open the flood gates.

That being said. The way it was handled left alot to be desired.

The lack of communication from Bioware on when you could 'expect' to get access was the first misstep. Then only doing 4 (or 5) invite waves per day which ended quite early in the day was another. It should NOT have taken 4 days for all the preorders to get into the game.

Then the slow trickle approach to invites lead to a low population exploit that allowed players to level into the 40s on the first day (Bioware says the highest toons were in the 20's, but there is plenty of streamed video evidence of level 40+ players exploiting) and the fact that Bioware did nothing but sweep it under the rug.

MMOs lauching in the future (GW2 I'm looking in your direction) should pay attention to what Bioware did right AND wrong to make their early access smoother.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 10:50AM Nearly Departed said

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The only problem I noticed with the launch was that not everyone in our guild got in on the same day. We plenty of members all starting on different days, but some people felt the need to take it slow until their guild mates were all in and could level together.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 11:10AM madcartoonist said

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I was pretty happy with it. I originally had no intention of even playing the game on launch day because I figured all the people downloading, , setting up accounts, and logging in would be full of queues and overload crashes. As it was I was allowed in early without queues and also decided to play on launch day. There were queues on launch day but I didn't experience anything huge, although I wasn't able to play until the evening as I was working. It was good they increased the number of days of early access from 5 to 7 since people were going to have to wait. I wouldn't object to other games having a similar launch although I suspect other games haven't really had to deal with the number that SWTOR has on launch day.

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