Earlier this morning ended the open beta. What Blizzard refereed to as a stress test. Although, based on the numbers only about 4x the normal number of players played in the beta. After all this, what did we learn?
Noobs will be Noobs
The first thing I noticed on Sautrday and Sunday was the amazing potential for new players to throw a wrench into the flow of a public game. I ran through the first four quests more than a few times with players who simply couldn’t keep up. Some of them were actually reading quests, reading tool-tips and carefully inspecting their stat sheet. Who knows what else they were wasting their time on.
I realize that this is a natural reaction to a new game. These guys wanted to take full advantage of their free beta and were in no hurry to rush to the Skeleton King to kill yet again. Even though we could have saw this coming, it’s a great reminder what we’re up against. How do we separate ourselves from the masses who load up on May 15th (remember, only a fraction of those people were playing this weekend)? We do that by not wasting time, by knowing the game’s mechanics before we load up. By understanding how to compare equipment, how to accept quests (tap the escape key to end conversations) and how to select our skills without stopping. Believe it or not these subtle advantages will pay off.
These sorts of players will slow you down in the live version. Play with friends, make friends quickly or be quick to find a new game when you spot a newb. Once you pass these guys up they should go away for awhile though.
The auction house doesn’t work under heavy load
The commodities auction house pretty much broke when everyone tried to use it at once. I wasn’t the only person who had a hard time buying and selling Subtle Essence. The prices change so rapidly that if you search for a quantity and then try to buy there is a good chance that the price has changed. If the price goes up then it won’t let you purchase. If the price goes down the auction house will send you a refund of the difference in prices. This just goes to show how a massive amount of player volume can effect a market.
Price fluctuations were huge, as much as 50%-75%. This means that if you post items 50% higher than their going price, there’s a good chance that your items will sell during a short lived spike in price.
People don’t like Buyouts
While equipping a Witch Doctor I realized that prices for top of the line stuff were insanely high. I’m talking 500,000 to 1,000,000 gold. However, if you search for the item you want and sort by buyout with highest on top you can page through manually to find the lowest buyout. If you sort by buyout with the lowest on top it will show you hundreds (thousands?) of auctions with no buyout. Using the first method (highest on top) you can find some incredibly cheap gear for a really nice price. I’m not sure that you’ll be able to sell that stuff competitively since most players want the best of the best, but it’s a great source of leveling gear. I’ll be using this trick to gear my character up as I level.
The biggest complaint
The biggest complaint among new players was how easy the game is. I’m not complaining, because I realize that the first four quests in Act I are the equivalent of exploring Durotar in World of Warcraft. Bashiok has this to say:
“I think it’s a symptom of the beta where you’re in the part of the game where we’re very deliberately guiding players by handing out a skill here, a rune there. It’s really a crafted and linear experience to start (both in system introduction and environment) because the first couple hours are the most crucial to a successful and long term experience. We’re not in the mindset to drop all of the game systems on you and say “Good luck, sucker!”
To some the approach we’re taking is likely a turnoff because they want to feel like they’re part of an elite group able to figure out complex and obtuse game systems, and be challenged the second the game begins. I think if they stick with it they’ll find that there is a ton of depth and complexity to the game. We put the depth into the gameplay, skill, and decision making itself and not the requirement to overcome the UI or understand how the game even works.
If you’re one of those players you’re going to blaze through Normal, hit Nightmare, and things are going to start feeling really good for you. You just have to understand that not everyone is like you, and we’re making the game so a wide range of people can enjoy it.“
Along with the auction house quirks, cheap prices, new players and complainers the game was very enjoyable and smooth. There was always a party ready to play with so I’ll say the open beta was a big success.
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