Prior to recording today’s Contains Moderate Peril podcast, I launched my LOTRO client at about midday and started patching the game. A lot of data files for Riders of Rohan had been preloaded, so there was no need to queue to log on to a patching server. I then went about my work and left the installation to sort itself out. Turbine dutifully posted a launch day trailer which was up to their usual high standard. Twitter was filled with avid LOTRO fans eagerly discussing when they would be able to log on or even giving a running commentary on their install progress. There was an excellent article over at CSTM regarding thing a player could do while waiting for the game to patch. It’s things like this that add to the excitement and make launch days special.
About 18:00 GMT I discovered that the servers were back up and I could now log in to LOTRO. I had left my primary alt parked next to Galadriel in Caras Galadhon, as that’s were the epic story kickoffs. Now for several months I have noticed that it take nearly five minutes for me to log into the game from clicking on the client to appearing in Middle Earth. Now bearing this in mind and the fact that I new I was going to spawn into a busy place, I expected this progress to take a bit longer. It certainly did. About ten minutes longer. But as was a launch day you just have to roll with things. So I proceeded with the epic story and quickly found myself doing some session play set during a pivotal scene in the book. It was extremely well done and a good way to start the ongoing narrative. Kudos to turbine.
You know it’s amazing how goodwill can evaporate like dew in the spring sunshine. Because as I progressed further along the quest chain I found that game loading times and lag became intolerable. I eventually gave up when I reached the Argonath. There were quite a lot of other player about but I do not think that this was a case of server stress. This was an example of the stop and go lag and rubber banding that I regularly encountered during the beta test. So I logged out of the game and then spent another five minutes plus waiting for the game client to close. It didn’t and eventually I had to kill it via windows task manager. Something else I had to do during beta testing. So naturally I decided to check the official forums for further information only to be confronted with a wealth of player with these and other problems. A lot of other problems.
So that is how launch day went for me and a whole load of other people. I know that Turbine are working their ass off trying to fix these problems and that the community team now has to do a lot of back peddling and damage limitation. But that’s not really the point, is it? This just shouldn’t be happening. The original launch date was postponed and a month and a half of additional beta testing was carried out, so this sort of shit wouldn’t happen. But it has and as a result a familiar debate once again raises its ugly head. Let’s not bother going over the respective arguments. Surely by now we know them off by heart? However, I suspect that there may be a difference this time. I get the feeling that there is a shift within the wider player base and that they’re finally be reaching the end of their tether. That is not good for Turbine.
As for me, I can simply go and play Guild Wars 2, where groups of fifty plus players present no sort of network issue. As for this years LOTRO expansion “problems”, I’m happy to leave it to others to argue the point. Let me know if there’s another compensation package on offer. Hopefully it will be a free copy of Chance Thomas’ superb soundtrack for Riders of Rohan. You’ll find me in Tyria.