Posts Tagged ‘Bugs’

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Funcommunication

August 9, 2012

Everyone gets those warm, fuzzy feelings for a company when they make a good product, but for me and many others that’s only a part of the story. When it comes to MMOs and the game makers that produce them, quality customer care and communication can go a long way in making up the rest of it.

A few days ago, my husband and I were playing The Secret World and had the misfortune of running into a bugged quest, one of those profoundly and irreversibly screwed up situations with a stuck objective which could only be fixed with a petition to a GM. It was the first time since I started playing this game that I had to do this, but I’d heard nothing but good things from many of my friends who have had contact with customer service, so I was admittedly quite curious as to what my own experience would be like.

Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised. On a Saturday evening, right smack in the middle of a busy celebration weekend, both my husband’s and my tickets were answered by a helpful in-game representative within ten minutes, and within another five we were all fixed up and ready to go. Let’s face it, bugged quests are irritating as all hell and no one ever likes running into them, but the sting sure is lessened by a prompt response and swift resolution to the problem. I was very satisfied.

Granted, based on the inevitable complaints on the forums, not everyone has been as fortunate. So maybe you can say that my husband and I just happened to hit the GM lottery.

Still, no one can deny the other ways that Funcom has attempted to reach out to their customer base and fans of their game. From their efforts, I gather there has been a push to improve customer service and communication since the days of Age of Conan, especially in the realm of social media.

For the most part, it’s been pretty effective on me. Recall the /headdesk inducing chat bug that plagued TSW for weeks, at a time when the game is still so new and getting to know your fellow players is of the utmost importance. Several choice words not limited to “unacceptable” and “game breaking” came to mind, but while I can’t speak for others, I know I for one was immediately appeased when I saw this update post and understood that they were working on it and that the problem was more complex than expected. Well, that and Indiana Jones references get me EVERY TIME.

Between following @Morteia and @funcom_tsw accounts on Twitter, I know I can actually count on staying up-to-date with TSW happenings. In particular, I have also been impressed by Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist’s presence on Twitter, forums and game sites, interacting with players and answering their questions. Thus far, he has responded to pretty much every one of mine. As a player and a fan of his work, I won’t deny that felt pretty damn amazing. To see such a celebrated designer and someone so integral to the game’s development get so involved is very rare indeed and I gotta say much appreciated.

That’s not all. After watching this hilarious webcast from yesterday, I also have to give a special nod to the livestreams hosted by TSW devs about once every other week. With the hosts drinking beer and swearing up a storm (though given that PvP was involved, I can understand completely), the recording is most decidedly NSFW, but still I have to say its genuine and unscripted nature is what I love best about it and why I will always make the effort to tune in each time.

I know not everything can be revealed due to spoilers and I certainly don’t begrudge a company’s need to keep certain information hush-hush during development. And yet, I can’t help but feel that the kind of candidness I saw in yesterday’s livestream is a breath of fresh air at a time when it’s way more common to hear the dreaded words “We can’t talk about that right now” come repeatedly out of a developer’s mouth. Open and honest communication and Q&As like that give me high hopes for the future of TSW.

As well, aside from showing everyone that he is one cruel tease, Ragnar’s random revelations (yay for alliteration) such as Peter Stormare doing voice work for the game are quite significant. They’re not particularly telling, nor are they true game updates, but those little tidbits do a good job of letting me know that there are some big things up the pipeline to look forward to (can you say Odin and Norse mythology?!)

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Don’t Look Back In Anger

July 9, 2012

It was the summer of 2008, and I was sitting down to another session of Age of Conan, only to be bombarded with a whole host of problems ranging from minor graphical glitches to game-crashing memory leaks. After the third time I had to reboot my computer to restart the client, I said to myself, “ENOUGH!” and promptly switched over to play another game instead. Two weeks later, still getting problems and no fixes in sight, so I calmly logged into my AoC account and canceled my subscription. Anyway, that’s the story of me /rage quitting, guys, or the closest you’ll see me get.

Have I ever been pissed off by a broken game feature or mechanic? Of course I have. Have annoying issues ever made me stop playing? Sure. But has it ever made me lose faith in a developer completely? Hmm.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just too lenient, and it’s entirely possible that I’m not picky enough. If things get fixed, I guess I’m always willing go back. Or if they ever end up making a new expansion or game that catches my fancy, sure, I’ll check it out.

Which is why a couple years ago, I picked up AoC’s Rise of the Godslayer expansion at launch, and again — surprise, surprise — same problems. I was able to play a new Khitan character, but was unable to experience any of the new zones with my level 80 without crashing to desktop within five minutes.

Anyway, one would think I’d learn. When The Secret World was announced, yeah, I had my reservations that it was Funcom. I generally like what I see from them, but I’ve been burned by them in the past; in my case it was a myriad of technical problems and game instability during the early stages.

Still, as you know I did end up buying and playing TSW. Okay, so it’s not without its problems. I did have a few freak-outs especially at first when the game kept asking me to update my already updated drivers and starting up in a distorted window, and I still stumble upon little bugs and glitches, like this weekend when we had a complete meltdown of the chat servers. But hey, unlike my experience with AoC a few years ago, at least the game is playable. I’m immensely glad that I lucked out there.

When it comes to bungling companies, I guess I subscribe to the “I’ll never forget, but I can forgive” philosophy. And the truth is, I’m glad I keep giving Funcom chances because if I didn’t, I would have missed out on TSW. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in an MMO in ages.

I hope they continue to fix any issues, because currently I feel they’re the biggest drawback. For instance, it’s hard to enjoy an investigation mission when you’re not sure if you’re just too bloody dense to solve a puzzle or if the quest itself is bugged to hell.

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STO: Valentine, Valentine, Wilt Thou Be Mine (Enemy)?

February 14, 2011

Sorry about the title, but I never said I was a poet.

“Mine Enemy”, the second featured episode of the new Star Trek Online series arc debuted Saturday, and once again prior engagements kept me elsewhere and unable to log on at the time of launch. Again, I thought it was for the best as Cryptic still appeared less than prepared to handle the increased server loads at such a peak time. However, things didn’t go too smoothly for me either when I was finally able to play that night. I didn’t encounter any high-population-related problems, but I did hit a pretty annoying bug instead. More on that later.

Note: Spoilers in text and screenshots

This week, T’Androma and First Officer Sleer investigate a Ferengi-run mining colony in the Hfihar System. The rest of the away team stay behind as not to spook the miners and inhabitants, mostly made up of Romulan refugees, as they are not used to seeing too many outsiders to their area. For more on the plot and story of the mission, check out Tipa’s great write-up.

Traffic congestion in sector space.

Like last week’s episode, “Mine Enemy” starts at Admiral T’Nae located at Starbase 39. I made the trip to see her in person so I could grab a few screenshots of the crowd. It’s a shame Cryptic can’t manage the server loads more smoothly, but I do love it to see so many people in STO. It was late Saturday night, but T’Nae was no less surrounded by dozens of players jostling around and even on top of her desk trying to initiate the mission. I find that I really like the voiceover for her character. The actress manages to convey strict control over emotion, and yet there’s just that tiny little hint of condescension you would expect from a Vulcan.

Upon entering the Hfihar System, you’ll encounter a very short space sequence before getting the option to beam down to the surface of the mining colony with one other member of your away team. Commander Sleer was chosen for the assignment. As T’Andy’s first officer, the loyal science officer is her friend, her rock, and most importantly, her healer. Bringing someone who can provide your captain more firepower would work too, but as a tactical officer who likes to go in guns blazing, I personally like someone who can keep my shields up.

Once again, the STO team at Cryptic proves that when they set their mind to it, they can do wonderful, powerful things with environment and atmosphere. Because boy, what a craphole this place is, and I mean that in a good way. You can practically feel the despair rolling off the NPCs huddling in the dust and shadows of the slums. The gravity of the situation hits you even harder when you consider the main Star Trek timeline and the significance of everything around you — all these Romulans are sad and homeless now, scattered to the wind after their planet went kablooie in the supernova. You gotta feel bad for them.

Before you enter the mine, you’re asked to help out some of the Romulan refugees in the area. You get to complete different tasks depending on your character’s class. As a tactical officer, I got to take out a bunch of thugs that has been threatening this poor guy just trying to feed his own family as well as his dead friend’s, which suited me just fine. The point is though, I notice Cryptic is sticking to this trend of providing class specific objectives, which I approve because I think lore-wise it makes each role feel more unique in function, on top of simply just having different abilities.

Why you don't mess with T'Andy.

Okay, here at the entrance of the mine, I encountered the really annoying bug. I first tried using diplomacy to talk the Romulan jerk on guard into letting me through, but ended up having to put him down anyway. Subsequently, I was given the objective to take out 4 more groups of hostile Romulans, except I only got 3 groups, and thus got stuck when I couldn’t initiate the next part of the mission. Apparently, this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence; I saw several people talking about in sector space chat, and a couple of my own fleetmates experienced this whacky glitch. You only have two choices if it happens to you, unfortunately.  One, you can drop the mission and start it over, or two, you can beam out and wait 15 minutes for the mine to reset. I did the latter, but while I waited I also redid “The Vault” with Blue Kae and Talyn, so it wasn’t a total loss.

To avoid the glitch, I was advised to just go in and just shoot the guard. Don’t try to negotiate with him, don’t even talk to him, just kill him. Shoot him dead. Well, I can do that. And voila, it worked! Keep going further into the mine and you should get the message to kill 5 groups of hostile Romulans, which is the way it should be. You miss out on the choice to use diplomacy, but I did this mission twice and both times I followed this advice, and the bug didn’t show itself again, which is what matters. The puzzle (well, if you can even call it a puzzle) initiated to open the hidden cave door, I stood on one of the pressure plates, stuck my bridge officer on the other, and whew, I was finally through this pesky area.

And what’s this? Cutscene! I think this is another trend we’ll be seeing more of from these featured episodes. And with Cryptic having plans to revamp many more of their missions like they did with the Azura encounter, at some point we may even be seeing these all over the game.

Be sure to explore everything before you head past the code-protected door. In one of the caverns to the side, you’ll get even a nice surprise and an accolade out of it…

Cue "not a bricklayer" line!

It’s moments like these that I’m glad I took the time to watch all the Star Trek shows, even the Original Series. The episode with the Horta is one of my favorites. It’s so much more fun when you get the references, and I gotta say kudos to Cryptic for putting in gems like these for the fans.

I’m also astounded by all the choices you’re given in this FE. In the brig, you get the optional mission of releasing the prisoners, for example. I did, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them help me fight! Of course, five minutes later I managed to get them all vaporized. So it goes. I also had the choice of not killing the Romulan commander for the access codes, but duh, I did anyway. What, it’s not like my diplomacy rank would have been high enough in the first place! I don’t know, I didn’t check.

Anyway, choice means a lot more fun for completionist types like me, and even though it is possible to sneak through the facility without having to kill a single worker, I mowed the whole place down so I could sneak a peek at all the information on the consoles they were working on. What can I say? Destruction follows T’Andy around like a pet goat, but there’s usually a rhyme and reason to it.

Speaking of destruction, I love how the whole place almost comes down during your harrowing escape from the mines. There’s that whole thing with environment and atmosphere again. Good job, Cryptic!

Escape action-hero style.

You return to your ready room afterward, to decode the files you downloaded from deep in the mine before you managed to get out of there. Some of the files include errors that you have to correct in order to receive pass codes that will help you decipher the main encrypted document. What followed was a lot of reading and in some cases guesswork, but I found clicking through trial and error will also ultimately get you to your goal in decoding the message. Oh, you Remans. I look forward to breaking your necks.

On a more cheerful note, I love this week’s reward. How could I NOT choose the Horta hatchling pet?

Uh, T'Andy, I don't think he likes the fire extinguisher.

Overall, great episode. Just a shame about the bug; if it wasn’t for that, everything would have been perfect, 10 out of 10. Still, “Mine Enemy” probably ranks up there as one of my favorite featured episodes so far.

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LOTRO: Still Learning

July 8, 2010

There’s been a lot of distractions in the last few days, but despite Taurens, Jedi knights and the drama of RealID, I’m still plugging away at my Hobbit Minstrel in Lord of the Rings Online. I realize that kinda makes me sound like I’m not enjoying myself, but I want to assure you that’s not the case…however, I am starting to wonder how long it should take on average to get level 65. Progress is slower than I am used to; though granted, being new to LOTRO I have no doubt I’m behind the curve. It’s hard to be time efficient when you’re in unfamiliar territory, and sometimes it comes down to something as simple as not knowing where to go for quests.

I think I'm beginning to see the light.

Lately, I’ve been torn between looking up a guide or sticking with exploring for myself. I’m always loathe to turn to walkthroughs and the like whenever I play new games, preferring to poke around and discover things on my own instead…but as my readers and their advice in the comments in the past have shown me, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have help. So far, I’ve been relying on following the Book quests to bring me to where I need to be, and while this hasn’t led me astray yet, I’ve also benefited much from taking other people’s suggestions (like getting over the North Downs hump). I’ve also found Syp’s nerdy progression map to be quite helpful, so hopefully he doesn’t mind that I’m following it on and off myself. Resources like this as well as reader advice makes me think I can continue on this way without ever having to refer to a full-blown guide.

Gotta say, though, sometimes looking stuff up isn’t so bad. Hope you’re all ready for another noob story, because last night I finally figured out that the reason why I couldn’t turn in my first-timer Skirmish quest…was because of a bug.

In retrospect, I guess I should have known, seeing as I’ve upgraded my account with all the expansions and somewhere in the back of my mind I was pretty sure you only had to be level 30, but it didn’t hit me that something was wrong until I had the quest turn grey in my log. All this time, I had thought the Skirmish Captain will eventually deign to talk to me and that the quest will go through, and when he didn’t, I started to think that maybe I didn’t meet a certain requirement, or that I didn’t have something…and it turned out to be: a clue!

The last thing that occurred to me while I was playing, is that one day, I would like to participate in some real roleplaying on Landroval. You know, just for fun. I’m not a serious roleplayer by any means, but I’m not closing any doors to such opportunities either.

However, I already know that it’s going to take some time and a lot of observation to bring me to the point where I’ll be comfortable with it. Last night, someone attempted to draw me into some RP, with the following: <Name> looks at Kiskadee and winces suddenly. I thought, “Omigosh, is he going to think I smell bad or something?”, panicked, typed out a quick “/e gasps”, turned around and promptly ran away like a spooked dormouse.

Awkwaaaaard! In any other MMO, I might have tried a little harder to RP back, but LOTRO roleplaying is admittedly still a mystery to me and not something I’m ready to tackle yet. When the day eventually comes where I do participate in it, I’d like to do it right, and not have to RP a bumbling idiot.

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Ah, Those Fiery Cimmerian Girls

May 7, 2010

Age of Conan may have been greatly improved since launch, but no MMO can ever claim to be completely free of bugs. Thankfully, most of the ones I’ve encountered are little technical glitches that haven’t exactly affected gameplay. A bit annoying, yes, but game-breaking, no.

Among these are the ones that mess with my character’s appearance. They usually last only for a short time, and disappear after I zone or resurrect, etc. I’m not sure if anyone else has experienced them, but please tell me if any of these sound familiar so I’ll know it’s not just me. I’ve had:

1. My girls’ hair turn blonde

2. My faces get “shadowed”

3. My skin turn all gray (this is a creepy one)

4. My eyes becoming faded and “blind” (doubly creepy)

And ever since I’ve been playing Breawyn a lot more, I’ve come across another one: my expression gets stuck on “angry”. You know how Kyela, my horny Priest of Mitra, always looks like she’s ready to jump your bones? Well, Breawyn is always looking like she wants to jump you, period.

I guess she was more upset than I thought over her Kappa.

And another one for good measure, where she’s apparently losing it at an old lady. Real classy, Breawyn.

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When Good Bridge Officers Go Bad

February 17, 2010

What is the dumbest, most screwed up thing you’ve ever seen your bridge officers do in Star Trek Online?

For me, it was an altercation aboard another ship that devolved into an all out firefight with the bad Klingons. Blademasters were getting in my face, phasers were going off left and right, and grenades were sending everyone flying.  I still ended up decimating the enemy, but when I emerged from the chaos to celebrate my triumphant victory with my team…only three of them stood with me. “Um, guys, what happened to Donny?” His character frame was still there, showing all was well…but he was no where in sight.

I finally found him, near at the end of the instance, lying dead in the middle of a raging engine fire. In the confusion of combat, I hadn’t noticed that he had run on ahead, managed to get past several hostile groups of mobs and for all I knew, might have kept going if the fire hadn’t stopped him. This isolated bug has only happened to me once, but it sure was a quirky one.

The wayward bridge officer, ruined and extinguished.