Monday, November 21, 2011

But I'm Hungry Now! : GW2

Spinks notes that we may now not get Guild Wars 2 until 2013. I'd heard about the NCSoft Conference Call reveals but I was still taken aback so I went to look at the recently updated GW2 FAQ . It says:

When will there be a beta?

We will be conducting small closed alpha and beta tests in 2011. The feedback from these tests will determine when we will do public beta tests and ship the game.

Well that's confusing. Does it mean until now, despite the many playable demos at shows, there hasn't even been an internal "friends and family" Alpha server running? Just a purely technical testbed server? And how are they going to fit both alpha and beta tests into the next six weeks?

What did pride go before again?
Maybe it's just badly written. Maybe when they say "conducting" they mean "beginning" and  when they say "public beta tests" they mean "open beta tests". That'd give us a closed alpha followed by closed beta beginning in 2011 and continuing into 2012, followed by an open beta nearer to shipping. Then the FAQ would make more sense.

They also emphasize that there is no release date for the game. It will ship "when it's finished" and not before. There's currently no sign-up for any kind of beta.

I find it deeply disappointing. I was really expecting GW2 to ship in Spring 2012 after a beta lasting some three months or so. I am absolutely not in the "done when it's done" camp. Few things are ever "done" and I would far rather have something when it's "good" than wait for some imaginary state of perfection that can never be achieved.

Hmm... We might need a bigger fire.

It's particularly pointless when it comes to MMOs. Every MMO I've ever played, no matter how "finished" it was when it went gold, had a sizable patch to download on launch day. Which was then followed by a literally endless series of more patches that fundamentally changed everything from minor details to entire design concepts.

Take Rift, for example. Apart from the single issue of not having enough servers to meet the unexpectedly huge demand, a problem most MMO houses would be more than happy to have, Rift was generally agreed to have been "ready". So did it just sit there, smug, satisfied and perfect, while we admired it? Like hell it did.

Do you see me laughing? Well, do you?
Rift got tweaked and twisted and warped and changed. The whole competitive element was stripped out of rifting in the first month. The PvP system was changed radically, then changed again. Souls were revised almost routinely. I believe my pyromancer has had his Soul Points refunded four times in six months.

When Star Wars: the Old Republic launches next month, will it be "finished"? No it won't. The NDA is down now and it's clear that even beta testers who are entirely satisfied that the game is ready don't believe it's "finished". Everyone understands it's a work-in-progress. If it's a half-decent MMO it will never be anything less.

This is just what MMOs are. Infinitely mutable. They are never "finished". If Guild Wars 2 has to be "finished" before it launches then it will never launch. Although when they do eventually have to push it out the door and let it take its chances, it's going to have to be perfect because "At ArenaNet, we have one mission: to make Guild Wars 2 the best MMORPG ever". The Greeks had a word for that.

Ah well. Good things come to those who wait, or so they say. We can but hope.


  1. They have already begun closed alpha testing, just FYI:

    "We're in closed alpha right now. We're going to go into closed beta by the end of this year."

    And yes, by "public beta tests" they mean "open beta".

    I'm quite finished with speculating about whether this means an early, middle, or late 2012 release for GW2, as I'm all waited out. I'll be there for launch (or, if I'm very lucky, sometime in the beta stage), but I'll have to busy myself with other things in the meantime.

    Thank goodness for LOTRO and Skyrim, is all I have to say!

  2. This hurts...bad.

    This is the ONE game I wanted. I do not want SWTOR, I think Secret World looks neat, but I am betting on the "Funcom" effect. Nothing else looks good. At least I am happy in Rift......for now.

    I hope this is the "You cant always get what you want" situation, and they unexpectedly drop it in 2012...and the CROWD GOES WILD!

  3. I agree with all the comments above, GW2 is *the* game that my old WoW group can agree to reunite in. I personally am really looking forward to it. If it's not coming till the end of 2012 or even later then I may have to rethink SWTOR as a stop-gap.

    I cannot be stuck just playing Rift solo and WoW as my only options :-/


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