The Time Has Come: Execute Error Code 66

'nuff said

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).

Progress update on Twitter

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).

Further reading:

  • BWE experience, what experience I can have after 10 minutes of play in 3 days of BWE. At least i learn the error codes 🙂

    • I was impressed at how I managed to unlock all of the weapon skills after only playing for about 1-2 minutes at a time. Clouds and silver linings and all that.

  • ArcherAvatar

    I was deeply saddened to hear of your difficulties (and those of others.)  My own experience with the GW2 BWE was more of the “OMG… it’s… so… AWESOME!!!” variety, but my computer is barely two years old and more than exceeds the system requirements for this game (i7 quad cpu, 12g tripple channel 1333mhz ram, and a nice Nvidia with 1.8g of onboard ram) which is maybe not the “latest & greatest” but is more than enough for GW2.

    Unlike yourself, this is not my first beta-rodeo, and I have painful memories of experiences VERY similar to what you’re describing.  My old comp was forced to continuing marching for many years past it’s prime, and struggled greatly with newer games over the years of service it provided me.  Sometimes, it’s simply not financially feasible to do anything about that when you would most like to.

    In my own previous experiences, the difficulties during beta were greatly reduced, or altogether eliminated, at launch, or very soon there after, and hopefully this will be the case for you and your experience of GW2.

    In these early beta builds they are barely using the video cards at all – forcing the CPUs to muscle through the vast majority of the work.  If you’ve got an i7 quad core that’s not such a big ask, but for older systems it was clearly too much.  As the game is further optimized, and more of the work is directed towards the video cards, older systems will have a much easier time of it.

    I applaud your outstanding attitude in the face of adversity.  Well done sir.

    • I’m not sure what it is in my case. I have a laptop that is <2 years old, but I'm almost certain the video chip is crap (as with many laptops if you don't pay attention when buying). My hope is that it is simply connectivity problems. I can deal with running the game on minimum specs, without all the bells and whistles, but I'm going to be very sad if my lappy can't run it at all. 

  • Aly

    Some people just have unrealistic expectations no matter what. Prior to Beta, people complained they weren’t invited to the previous stress test. Now some are complaining because they can’t participate in the upcoming stress test, and a silly few are taking off work and school to participate anyway. Now some of those may have realistic expectations about a stress test, but others are expecting super happy fun time so in addition to those presently raging that they can’t participate, there will be even more complaints on Monday from many of the people who can. People keep reiterating what testing is, including ANet but some refuse to see it as anything but a demo.

    • I have high expectations for the game, for sure, and all of the video and commentary tells me they are all likely to be met. For beta, however, I expect to encounter problems. I was let down that the problems I encountered were so severe, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I agree totally about the expectations of others. Beta is not GamesCom or PAX. These are not “flawless” builds for you to run around on computers built and tested expressly for that purpose. A stress test is exactly what it sounds like. I personally will likely laugh out loud if my experience Monday is better than the one a few weeks ago 🙂