Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet saw the launch of its MMO hit by a string of server crashes, trading loopholes and security issues, and gamers – as are wont to do – gave them hell for it. ArenaNet’s game director Colin Johanson has shared his thoughts looking back at the game’s launch, and has discussed how it has learned from what happened to increase the game’s stability moving onward.
As part of an interview you can read right here next week, Johanson attempted to give the inside story on Guild Wars 2’s launch issues, and to underline his studio’s commitment to stable, dependable play.
“It’s one of the hardest things you will ever do in the game industry,” he said of MMO launches. “There are times where I am envious of developers who get to make offline games that don’t have to deal with these kind of issues, it’s insane how complicated it is.
“Though we had a few hiccups on launch, for the most part I think we had a very smooth launch when you consider the kind of player login rates we saw, and how quickly we were able to respond to those issues. Our biggest issues at launch simply came from the sheer volume of concurrent users hitting each part of the game, even in our beta tests where we had very large player populations we never were able to reasonably test any system with the kind of numbers we had for launch.
“Our betas led us to believe everything was totally stable, but when we cruised past certain numbers areas like the trading post, and a few issues with the servers reared their ugly heads. Account thieves took their turn as well taking well known account names and passwords they had stolen from other games forums and using them to try and get their hands on peoples accounts that didn’t protect themselves with unique passwords.”
Indeed, some 11,000 passwords were supposedly at the mercy of hackers at one point, but although the developer managed to clear up all issues in the end, Johanson remains firm that there is no room for ArenaNet to get slack. In fact, its job must continue apace.
“Looking back on those days,” he recalled, “basically everything has not only been stabilised, but our ability to deal with them as improved dramatically as well. Issues with connectivity, the trading post, and so on are now extremely rare. We’ve setup countless account security measures and added the ability to restore accounts in the rare case something happens, which is now incredibly rare.
“We set a legacy with the first Guild Wars we’re going to live up to with Guild Wars 2, the total down time for the first game over seven-plus years is so tiny it’s insane, and we want to be even better in Guild Wars 2. We hope you go your entire lifetime of the game with Guild Wars 2 and never see the message “Guild Wars 2 is currently down for maintenance”.
“We’re not done though, our security team, IT team, server programming team, and customer support team will all continue to work proactively to make these parts of the game even more structurally sound than they already are. We don’t ever want to stand still and say “good enough, mission accomplished” we’ll keep finding ways to make our already extremely stable system even stronger.”
What’s your view on the Guild Wars 2 launch backlash? Were some gamers to hasty to pass judgement on AreneNet without realising the scale of launching an MMO of its size, or should such a collapse have been pre-determined by the team? Let us know below.