For many people, the first open beta event for Guild Wars 2 can best be described by grabbing your nearest thesaurus and looking up the word “awesome.” It was our first look at Lion’s Arch; our first look at armor and weapons associated with all 8 dungeons; our first opportunity to, well, play the game we’ve been drooling over for 2+ years. Long have we loitered fansites and forums speculating about professions and skills and scouring youtube for videos of gameplay footage. This past weekend was the first opportunity for thousands of people to immerse themselves in the game that is the talk of the MMO scene.
But for some, like me, it was not meant to be.
ANet’s first open beta event was unfortunately rife with connectivity problems. No, I’m not talking about Overflow Servers. Sadly, that’s a first world problem by comparison. I would have been thrilled to experience the problem that was overflow servers. No, I’m talking about error codes and crashes. GW2Wiki has a nice list of error codes to provide some perspective on this subject. It was tragic, really. In a 72+ hour beta weekend, I spent approximately 1 hour in game. And that’s not for lack of trying. I logged in over 100 times and got to play anywhere from 40 seconds to 5 minutes, with one 10 minute period that was glorious, before the client crashed. As you can imagine, that left me frustrated with a lot of down time.
So I cruised the beta forums to read about the problems people were having with logins and crashes. Despite how some fans might have taken it, ANet really did work hard to resolve these issues. They tackled Error Codes 48, 9, and 21 (updating the progress on these codes on Twitter and Facebook), but alas, the Error Code Army was too much for the valiant Devs. Thousands of fan voices suddenly cried out in frustration…and were suddenly silenced (by error codes).
I did what every frustrated fan did. I looked up the minimum specs for the beta and checked them against my laptop multiple times (just to be sure). I defragged my computer, ran a virus check, reloaded the client, etc, etc, etc. I thought for sure it was my computer. To my knowledge, it was not. I found several people on the beta forums who had similar (or worse!) issues.
Despite the issues experienced by many fans, the take home message about this weekend is that this is beta. Betas are expected to have problems. That’s why they exist. While part of the beta event was to gather gameplay data, test server capacities, and get player feedback on their favorite dynamic events; another part of the beta was to gather data on issues like connectivity and compatibility with Windows. It’s not as glamorous as hearing about how 30+ fans zerged (zergged?) the Shadow Behemoth, but it is vital to the game’s performance. I think I took the complications in stride (ok, it was very frustrating, but it’s not like I could push the easy button and make it work), but there were a lot of irate fans venting on forums and websites about how they’ve been ripped off or cheated. And really, that’s just rude. Sure, you paid money for a product, but that product is a working game, not the beta event. Access to the beta is a privilege.
I am confident that ANet is working hard to solve these crashing issues and will provide a more fluid beta experience in the months to come. I would much rather have problems now than at launch. I don’t feel cheated, even though this is my very first beta experience ever (beta virgin!). I have had high hopes for Guild Wars 2 since back when GW: Utopia was scrapped, and my faith has not faltered. For now, I will have to continue to live vicariously through my fellow fans.
What was your beta experience? What plans do you have for future beta events? Post your thoughts and interests about this and future beta events in the comments below. Heck, I’ll even settle for your criticisms, gripes, and complaints as long as you keep it civil
About the author: Belzan is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology who enjoys Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. Belzan the character was created as a necromancer back in the days of Diablo II and was updated for GW. He will make his return in GW2 as an asura elementalist. Belzan the author enjoys writing fiction and has recently stepped up his blogging. Feel free to catch him in game (Belzan Furu).