EA and BioWare’s years in development MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic officially launched on 20 December 2011. That makes the online galaxy far, far away about three days old. Bless it; it’s so small and vulnerable and hassled by teething problems.
Word on the interwebs is that people are loving the game; that’s great news for EA and BioWare considering the amount of effort and money that went into the project. The bad news is that people might be loving it a little too much as servers are DYING out there. Some of the more popular US and EU servers have queues before you can join the game, and sometimes those queues last for up to two hours.
It’s an odd notion, standing in a digital queue before you can play a game you’ve purchased, but I’ve never really been down with the whole MMO thing so maybe it’s part and parcel during the early days of a new title? Be that as it may, it must be pissing off a few people. The bad news is that according to the game’s senior online community manager Stephen Reid, those virtual queues are going nowhere.
EA has a strategy in place to avoid barren servers in the future. That strategy involves increasing server capacities gradually. If they increase them too rapidly they’re worried that once the game’s initial launch buzz wears off, they’ll be left with vast, empty servers. Or something like that.
“We’re monitoring all of our servers around the clock, and we’re raising server population caps where required. However, to ensure our long-term goals of server stability and healthy populations, we do not want to raise population caps too rapidly. We want incoming players to populate lower population servers. At the same time, higher population servers will not be ‘locked’ because we want to allow people to join a server to play with their friends if they wish to.”
According to Reid, you can still join the heavily populated servers for the time being, but be prepared to queue. Their advice:
“We strongly advise you to not create new characters on these servers, unless you are prepared to queue to play.”
At the moment there’s no way to migrate your character from server to server, which means that if you picked a server that has subsequently become over populated, then you’re going to be stuck queuing unless you start afresh on a new server. That means you’ll lose your character. Of course you then run the new risk of that initially quiet server becoming over populated as more people join it to avoid the queues on busier servers. It’s a vicious cycle! And probably a trap as well if Ackbar had anything to say about it.
Another irksome teething problem is that people are reporting dissatisfaction at being required to fill in credit card details before being able to redeem 30 day pre-paid cards. To top it off, Rock, Paper, Shotgun is reporting that that online redemption facility is also broken, as is EA and BioWare’s actual website for the game. That is some serious overcrowding.
If you’re experiencing these issues and you’re on the verge of massacring an entire village of Sand People out of sheer rage and frustration, then just remember that that’s a path to the dark side. It’ll also make you look like a prepubescent brat having a temper tantrum. If the dark side is your bag, then check out this totally awesome flash mob that hit Time Square to promote the MMO in New York City.