Monday 28 June 2010

GOA to Mythic, some rambling thoughts

OK then since we now have some details about the transition (read this too) from GOA to Mythic for the EU players, I reckon it’s about time that I chime in with a few thoughts.

First off, sorry GOA I got it wrong and I am now aware that Mythic did know GOA would be announcing on Friday AND that it was GOA that prompted the whole split. With Mythic knowing of such an epic announcement being released on Friday, I’m a touch disappointed with Mythic’s one sentence that day. To be honest I’m a little disappointed that Mythic barely commented on this, haven’t acknowledged Josh Drescher going, aren’t giving us any real news on the future (always just next patch news doesn’t cut it) and in general suddenly seem a bit quiet. Even the front page on the Mythic website hasn’t been updated for over a month. Now before you think I’m getting all negative, I was recently reliably informed that WAR is doing very well and there are zero concerns there, so I’m not doom and glooming here, but what’s with the lapse in communication? It just feels a touch odd.

Anyways, onwards!

Am I happy to get away from GOA?
Yes and no. In DAoC I loathed them, the service was shocking, but in WAR I’ve not really had any problems that I can put squarely at the feet of GOA. Well, other than in the first 2 weeks anyway and I’m not going to develop long term hatred because of a ropey launch, after 14 years of playing MMOs I would have lot of people on my hate list if I did.

When contacting support the response has been slow and when it’s eventually my turn in the queue, the CSRs have all been polite, chatty and mostly useless. Yet that’s like every MMO I’ve ever played and from reading the American forums this experience isn’t going to change when we move over to Mythic. I can’t hate them for that, so on to the next common complaint about GOA; server performance. WAR EU suffers from a lot of lag spikes and not always related to lots of players being around, but is that really down to GOA’s servers or is this the fault of WAR itself? I’ve no way of knowing, at least not yet (we will all find out soon). I’m not going to hate GOA because it might be their fault.

I don’t know them well or anything, but I’ve liked the posting style of GOA reps like Kaxzane and have no issues with any of them, quite the opposite. They seem a good bunch. So once again, there is nothing that I can rationally start ranting about.

Patches being delayed by a day or two… Is that worth whinging about? Absolutely bloody well not! We’ve had the American live servers as our unofficial live test servers for every patch since launch. Believe me, that is nothing to be unhappy about.

The only thing they’ve really done to annoy me is the website. And actually no longer having to look at that flash ridden hunk of utter shite is enough to edge me towards happiness. Being able to access a website that actually works properly and has the Mythic developers reading, well that can only be a huge step forwards. But then with a resounding thud, you think of billing disasters, which surely must have been a one off, but even so there’s a little hint of discomfort and nagging doubt. To put this into perspective, I recently had a problem with my DAoC account, not billing, something else and nothing scarily complex or security based. I contacted Mythic’s support by email and they refused to help me unless I phoned them. I’m a European player, playing on the recently transferred EU to US DAoC servers and they wanted me to phone a US phone number for a fairly basic thing. I dropped that account and didn’t bother with it. I am not making expensive phone calls to America for my basic customer support, especially when it could easily have been dealt with by email. This is a slight concern should anything go pear shaped again, which I honestly doubt it will, but a concern none the less.

Will the new service be better?
Now that is the big question and not one I can answer, anything I say here would be a guess and nothing more. This is where the pressure is really on Mythic to justify the last 2 years of people whinging about GOA. BUT if we have the same lag spikes at random and if dungeon runs are sill buggered by random massive lag spikes because someone, somewhere, logged into Nordland, then we know it’s wasn’t GOA’s "hamster powered" servers to blame, it was WAR. However, and this is only my personal opinion, I suspect we may see an improvement in lag. How justified it really is I'm not techy enough to say, but within the gaming community France Telecom (owners of GOA) don’t have the best reputation for latency/lag issues.

Oh and our new servers are indeed hosted in Germany. Good! Being in the US may have been a deal breaker.

What about the transition itself?
I am very pleased to have it confirmed that our server will be moving as one and will not be merged. Our population is certainly big enough, it’s very competitive and has been waging WAR together for quite a while now. As such I’m very pleased to hear that Karak-Norn and our wonderful rage filled community will continue! That is my single biggest concern addressed and routed.

I’m not keen on the server downtime being on Tuesday afternoon to early evening (2pm to 6pm CET), simply because that’s the one day of the week when I get home from work early and I normally log onto WAR mid afternoon GMT. Purely selfish reasons, though I have to say I expect quite a few European players to be unhappy about this one, particularly people a couple of hours or more ahead of CET. As far as I can recall every MMO I’ve ever played had EU server downtimes in the (often very) early morning. Still, this isn’t something to make me rage, just a mild irritation.

Speed of the transition? WOW! It starts like tomorrow?? Impressive and I’m pleased it’s not being dragged out. As for the rest of the transition details, it sounds good and if it all goes to plan it should be a smooth transition.

As you can probably tell, I’m on the fence about this whole thing. It would be easy to join the people leaping with joy at this news, but I’m very aware that “the grass is always greener on the other side”. For now I think I’ll remain perched comfortably on the aforementioned fence and see what happens. Hopefully Mythic will do a good job and in just over a week’s time I’ll be posting the praise they deserved.

UPDATE! I didn't mention the no XP, loot, etc gains for a week. This was kinda half intentional, it just doesnt concern me and my subconcious ignored it :D We get 2 weeks refund which more than covers it and unlike many (most?) people, I can quite happily continue to play for a week just for fun and not pixel reward ;)

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.