I saw more than a few quips regarding the early ending of something titled "Endless," and if you participated Wednesday night, you may have felt some of that frustration.
This was the second preview of the Halloween event that we've seen on the live servers, and this one got a little out of hand. The event opened the public area of Delara's Tomb to all players -- everyone's help was needed because undead were spawning like crazy all over the place. Players killed them in exchange for a chance to gain event items, which were then exchanged with a couple of collectors as part of a server-wide goal to unlock a large raid.
Unfortunately, Endless Night was plagued by some severe bugs right from the start. Players logging in were greeted by a message in the login window warning of a grinding noise during gameplay. It was a known issue, but not yet solved, so everyone was advised to tab to another window and back when it started, as a stopgap measure while the team tried to fix it.
The other issue was inside the raid itself. You see, once the server had reached its goal and unlocked the raid, you needed an Ethereal Key to enter. Ethereal Keys were dropping from enemies, but if you didn't manage to get one that way, the keys were in the DDO Store for 50 Turbine Points. So everyone had access to keys one way or another.
Unfortunately, once the key was used inside the raid, a huge number of players found themselves almost instantly booted back to the graveyard, never having participated in the raid and minus one key. If they managed to escape that bug and participate, game-breaking lag was rampant and caused a lot of failure.
Players -- especially those who spent Turbine Points to access the event -- were understandably very angry. While 50 points represents a very small amount of money, I can definitely understand the frustration. Finally, things were so bad that Tarrant made an announcement: "Due to a bug in the Endless Night Festival, we will be ending the preview now. We are aware that a number of players lost their Ethereal Keys, and we are taking steps to remedy the situation going forward and to reimburse those that lost their keys. More information will be available going forward. We apologize to those of you that planned on joining later in the evening, and thank those of you who participated tonight!"
I asked Turbine a few questions regarding the issues, and got a more extensive reply: "We are working on a solution to compensate players that participated in the preview, but we are actively collecting data to understand how fast and which players were impacted. The early closure was due to a possible failed instance of the second phase of the event. While the number of players actually impacted was small compared to the number of participants we still feel it needs attention before the event runs for a long period of time. We also have a solution to the sound looping issue players are experiencing. We intend to resolve both of these in time for the event which is being held over Halloween weekend."
The event was somewhat of a disappointment from that angle and I was surprised by the severity of the bugs, especially since this event has already been on live servers once. There is a silver lining, though, so I want to focus a bit on that.
First, this preview served as a great stress test for the Turbine crew. I'd much rather see these issues crop up now rather than during the actual event. The problems I mentioned above, along with a ton of player feedback regarding things like spawn rate and mob levels, can now be addressed and fixed before we all swarm back in at the end of the month. This is definitely a bright spot. I like to think that this is the answer to all the unexpected issues that cropped up in Update 5. Throwing it on to live servers for a period of time early allows all of these bugs to crop up and be dealt with, and might have prevented some of the problems with Update 5. Frankly, I hope to see more of this in the future.
Second, it's great to see Turbine acknowledging those who lost Turbine Points and planning to reimburse them. I think it probably would have been better for this event to either increase the drop rate of keys or somehow make them available for free, but barring that, reimbursement is a good second choice.
Finally, this was fun. The Massively DDO guild played together as a large raid party, and we didn't even worry about getting into the raid once we learned about the bugs. We just tore through the graveyard taking out anything that got in our way. At the end we'd racked up a nice pile of loot. We learned a bit through trial and error -- we seemed to have improved spawns in our area if we stayed together as one large group rather than scattering -- as well as gained a nice head start on Endless Night later this month. If you focused solely on running around killing, enjoying the company of your fellow players, it was a good time. I look forward to seeing a more polished event very soon.
Speaking of the Massively guild, we are making some changes. Something that I have heard over and over since OdA came into being is: "I would love to join you guys, but I live in [other country] and your meeting time is simply too late for me." I've always hated leaving so many people out, but real life makes it impossible for me to remove the mommy hat and don the gamer hat any earlier than 9:00 p.m. EST.
I have great news, though! OnedAwesome has been going strong since last spring, and we have a solid core group of experienced and active players. As people experiment with alts and explore different facets of the game, they progress at different rates. The guild's forum has seen a surge of activity lately as well. All of this means that less step-by-step guidance at a set time is needed, and the guild is moving to a different (and more traditional) playtime format.
Rather than meeting on Wednesday nights, any guild member can schedule playtime on the guild forums. Simply post what quest, arc, or raid you need and when you plan to run it. This will let anyone interested in joining the guild post their interest, as well as allow for much more flexibility and variety in scheduling. If time zones have been keeping you away, that issue has now been eliminated and we would love to hear from you. You can send a mail in-game to any of three characters: Rubialina, Aunwiira, or Tebraen, and we'll get back to you with a guild invite.
With that, I am off to sort out inventory from Wednesday night, and I will see you all next week!