Arenanet On Guild Wars 2′s Grouping Grumbles

By Alec Meer on August 28th, 2012 at 10:20 am.

Bear with them.

I’m having a whale of a time with Guild Wars 2, but I am playing it pretty much on my own due to problems with the grouping/instancing/server overflow system. As half the world pointed out on my piece yesterday, in theory if your party is rendered disparate by the game you can right-click on party members and select ‘join’ to be dispatched to whichever overflow shard your chums are on, but only in theory. It doesn’t work much of the time, and to the point that me and mine simply don’t bother to even try it now, especially as we knew that even if it did work we’d soon be torn asunder again should we have the temerity to change zone or embark on personal quests.

Turns out it is at least partially a bug rather than the design flaw I accused of it being, ArenaNet having been in touch with the following statement, and promise that they’re working their hindquarters off to improve the situation.

“We currently have a couple serious bugs with one of our important back end systems. This error is causing the loss of trading post, players to sometimes be separated and unable to travel to each other when switching maps and entering overflow servers, and numerous guild errors. We are very sorry for this inconvenience and are currently working around the clock to try and remedy this error.”

“When this bug is fixed overflow servers will keep parties together and players will be able to travel to the same overflow server as any friend or guild member who is in an overflow.”

So there you go. I’ve double-checked, and the bug is also what causes groups to be split up if one player enters one of the instances for their personal quest. There is no in-game explanation or elaboration on what’s supposed to happen or why groups get split up, so if you’ve been affected by it, now you know why. It is a very, very unfortunate problem for an MMO to launch with, but it’s a relief to hear it’s by accident rather than design.

With the game now on general release, as opposed to just the three-day early access, the servers are going to be even more flooded, and thus the issue even more acute as folk are scattered across the overflow servers. Let’s hope it’s resolved soon, and is priority number one, above and beyond the payment systems.

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68 Comments »

  1. Lobotomist says:

    +1 karma to Alec. What is fair is fair ;)

    • SandmanXC says:

      He can use it to buy a sack of potatoes from the Chef vendor.

    • lonesock says:

      Yeah, it’s good to get an official response, thanks Alec!

  2. sendmark says:

    Yeah I noticed they got the gem store up and running right from the start :)

    I’m still having a lot of fun as the game mechanics make cooperation between players natural anyway, but fixing this bug will improve the experience massively. It’s pretty devastating to the social side of the game when you combine this party bug with the guild problems as well. Apart from a brief run on firstday with the guild I’ve soloed everything when I would have preferred to group and had more fun doing so.

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      To be fair, if I couldn’t have bought an extra character slot and reserved that name I wanted, I would have been really peeved :)

    • Namey says:

      I’ve noticed the gem store being up at maybe half the time at best, and when it’s up it hasn’t accepted my credit card data that works perfectly fine everywhere else.

      So the micropayment store definitely isn’t some safe haven of “It works perfectly!”

      • gunny1993 says:

        Works perfectly for me, i did notice i had to put in the date/month as 00/0000 rather than the usual 00/00 though

        • Ajh says:

          Map chat in lions arch on tarnished coast on day 1 of head start: “There’s no 2nd month? It can’t accept my card.” “Try 02.” “Oh. I knew that. Really.”

    • briktal says:

      I think the game would’ve been a little messed if the gem store and related services were unavailable at launch. I’d imagine a lot of the money used to get larger guilds up and running (you have to pay gold to expand the cap) and to buy WvW siege equipment, at least in that first weekend, came from selling gems for gold.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Screwie says:

    “We currently have a couple serious bugs with one of our important back end systems.”

    With ArenaNet, you can tell its a serious bug when it hasn’t been fixed in a matter of hours.

    Very unfortunate to have this happen to the game at launch to a bunch of systems that worked to varying degrees of “just fine” a few days before.

    • Gnoupi says:

      “Very unfortunate to have this happen to the game at launch to a bunch of systems that worked to varying degrees of “just fine” a few days before.”

      I don’t think it’s unrelated. It’s most likely caused by the overload the servers are taking for launch. From what I experienced, the party on overflow works good when you play on the “calm” moments, like early morning. So it’s most likely a load issue.

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        FriendlyFire says:

        Yeah, I have a feeling that the “network error” you get when trying to join in is because the person you want to join is on a full server, be it overflow or otherwise. Last I got it, we just reversed things (someone was trying to join us, so we joined him instead) and it worked perfectly.

        The issue really is just that the servers are overloaded. Parties are getting separated when transferring the entire party would cause the server to go over capacity.

        • psyk says:

          Wonder how many people have raged on boards instead of just doing that….Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

    • Warskull says:

      I don’t think their coders are quite up to the same ridiculously high standard they had with GW1. Losing two of the founders and a bunch of other people was a huge hit to the company.

      They fixed it on monday, but that fixed made it so you couldn’t create new characters. Thus they rolled that fix back. Now you can’t join guilds.

  4. Andrige says:

    Until the issue has been resolved, there’s a thread on Reddit saying that the group issues can be resolved by all members of the party logging out to character selection and then in again (thus getting into the overflow), then using the “Join In” function. I haven’t tried it for myself yet but it’s worth a shot.

    • Nick says:

      we found that just heading to a waypoint near a “zoneline” and going in and out till everyone was overflow worked as well (combined with the join button once everyone was overflowed).

  5. Bremze says:

    The game feels like multplayer Skyrim with combat that’s not shit. I can’t stay angry at the server stability issues because just heading out on my own whimsy is far more rewarding than any other mmo I can think of and up there with Morrowind and the like.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      That is why I’m playing in a nutshell. I am bored with MMORPGs, but damn do I like a good virtual world that rewards me so much for just wandering around. The fact that other players are around is just icing on the cake for me.

      Said another way, it feels much better to help some stranger up off the ground for a simple “TY” than to fetch some NPC’s lost family heirloom for a pile of gold I don’t need.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Funny how we’ve gone from “The most serious design flaw I believe I’ve ever seen in any MMO” to “Oh, it’s a bug caused by an overloaded server system.”

    Rushing to get out hyperbolic statements like that doesn’t really help anyone, now, does it? And as a lot of people in the previous thread pointed out, the overflow server system, while not perfect, has ensured that everyone is still able to play the game, even if they are separated from their friends.

    Any other MMO would just put you in an hour+ long queue, and you wouldn’t be able to play at all, with friends or otherwise. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be an MMO – look at Diablo 3!

    • sendmark says:

      Well in fairness to Alec this issue was not well publicised and the ‘join in’ option is buried in the middle of a list of others and only when you righclick a character portrait in overflow. It is not something any normal player could expect to know about imo, so it may as well be a design flaw while it isn’t working.

      • Groove says:

        Both sides of the issue have merit. Alec must need a good sauce to go with all those words he’s eating, but I’ve been reading loads about the game (and I’ve gone through the online manual) and I would never have known about how to join a friend in overflow without reading the comments on his article.

        • Odog4ever says:

          I’ve been reading the official wiki and various starter guides on the net and I still had not heard about the “join-in” option till reading this article and the comments.

          The in-game “tutorials” and “help” section need a LOT of work. This game’s systems get complex when you start stacking them all together, especially since they differ from traditional MMOs.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        It might be something a journalist should look into before writing about, though, don’t you think?

    • KikiJiki says:

      The sensible thing to do would be to edit the original article and issue a retraction, rather than the half assed “Turns out it is at least partially a bug rather than the design flaw I accused of it being” presented here.

      Considering ArenaNet are actually issuing better corrections on their own errors (The first level 80 character was mistakenly implied to have not done it legitimately) I think RPS could stand to maintain the usual high standards we get.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Yeah I have to admit that line made me cringe a bit in Alec’s first impressions. Especially as it was used at the top of the article and the wording was a bit sensationalist.

      The truth being that while it’s frustrating and annoying, we know the problem with grouping is fixable (well at least I hope it is!), because the system has worked in the beta weekends. Being unable to group with friends is not a design choice by AreaNet.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      To be fair though, RPS writers can’t hit the spot EVERY single time – now and then it’s natural for them to misjudge something. They’re not robots.

      But the majority of the time, they come across well. Which is the main thing.

    • derbefrier says:

      it was a honest mistake man. Its not like the game tells you any of this stuff. Those of us who were not in the beta weekends and not scouring the internet for every minute detail can only comment on what we experience and that is exactly what he did. Blame arena net for not making it more obvious. Group options like that should be explained in a help window the first time you end up in an overflow server so us noobs will know how it works. That way confused game journalists don’t end up eating their words and we can all find our friends with out scouring video game forums and websites for info.

      • KikiJiki says:

        I guess the alternative is that journalists could, y’know, DO JOURNALISM?

        There’s a bit more to being a journalist than spewing words quickly onto a page, there’s research, fact checking etc etc.

        It’s a bit sad that in this day and age it seems that journalism to some is regurgitating press releases with sarcastic comments and funny metaphors.

        • Asurmen says:

          Why would he perform research for his article regarding his initial impressions? The article wasn’t an officially researched review copy, but how the game is working live. If the game doesn’t really explain certain things then that will affect his impression.

          • mazzratazz says:

            Are you saying journalists only need to do research when they post a review, and can just blurt out whatever on every other type of article? Seems a bit arbitrary to me. Research just comes with the job, in my eyes. Particularly when you make a serious accusation like “most serious design flaw I’ve ever seen in an MMO”, you need to make sure you’re not talking bullshit.
            (I love RPS, mind, and I’m not even playing GW2 yet, I just think Alec dropped the ball here)

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Yeah, this is games journalism. It’s all about the pretty words. Reviews and opinions. We’ll have none of those pesky facts here!

      • DiamondDog says:

        I have to say the lack of information on some things is one of my main problems with GW2 so far. The hint system seems a bit sparse and there are some things that could do with better explanation. The ‘join in’ function being one of them. I don’t think it was flagged up when I first joined a party, and you shouldn’t have to google something that is fundamental to playing with your friends. If they have the overflow system, they need to clearly explain how parties work within it.

    • f1x says:

      I’ve complained some times about articles here, and the same Alec has repplied to me that this is not a gaming journalism website but rather a blog to share some opinions

      And to be honest with time I’ve learn that this is what makes this site great
      So rather have him expressing honest thoughts about the gaming experience and if he feels like rectifying or posting a different opinion after getting some more information is cool enough

      • Gnarf says:

        I think you’ll find that the “it’s not X but Y” defense is usually pretty irrelevant to whatever issue is at hand. We would rather that Alec was right and not wrong, and some times we might criticize him for being wrong. No one really cares if he’s technically not doing journalism or whatever, we’d still really prefer it if he was more right and less wrong.

        They’ve put “it’s got the most serious design flaw I believe I’ve ever seen in any MMO” on their front page, as the game in question is launching. Me, all personally like, I think they should be pretty certain before doing something like that. I think that was a mistake, no matter if it was journalism or “opinion” or whatever.

        It’s not a terribly huge deal to make a mistake every now and then. And if you then own up to it and fix it, there’s little harm done. But these excuses being thrown around in the comments, they’re not so pretty.

      • f1x says:

        Exactly what I meant is that making a debate its good, risking with some opinions is good,
        but no need to get to the “angry point”, just keep a healthy flow of comments and arguments

        About journalism and such I was trying to reply to a previous comments but I failed to press the right button, of course talking with facts its better than talking without facts but I tend to love this sort of sometimes non-formalism of RPS

        • KikiJiki says:

          I just think that if you’re going to present yourself as a serious gaming news site, opinion based or not there needs to be a level of proper journalism going on. This site is quoted by the BBC amongst others and has a generally well deserved reputation for quality articles, and I think hiding flaws in posts or bad posts behind the excuse of: “That’s like, just my opinion man!” is a cop out.

    • psyk says:

      NEVER QUESTION THE GREAT AND HUMBLE LEADERS…..pffft lmao

      Edit to add the articles are never just put up for hits that would be madness……

  7. mechabuddha says:

    Good news that they’re working on this. Is there any word if this will fix joining the personal storyline of party members?

  8. dahools says:

    Just a question regarding GW2 I Understand its an MMO without monthly subscription, so where or how does the money machine turn?. Is it pay to win? Or got some money AH like D3. If i buy this will it be looking to milk me at every opportunity for small gains or items, or is it going to be completely competitive for the retail price.

    • KikiJiki says:

      I took a quick look at the in game cash shop, it seems to be mostly temporary buffs like xp boosts, cosmetic items and things like additional bank space that you can buy with their currency.

      The thing is though you can farm gold and convert it to gems (store money) so I don’t think you necessarily need to pay for anything if you don’t want to.

      • Nick says:

        Indeed, I already bought a fetching pair of aviator sunglasses using the in game cash to gems function, pretty handy. In fact you could save up enough in game money to buy yourself the delux edition upgrade.

        • dahools says:

          Cheers guys, i might give it a go next week then. Sick of D3, and need a break from minecraft . I’ll wait for the servers teething problems to be ironed out and give it a go.

    • Yargh says:

      A surprising number of people will shell out for cosmetic items, looking good in public is pretty important.

      There are also handy things like extending the size of the personal bank vault and, of course, the current MMO obsession with unlockable crates (though you can also earn the keys by playing at least)

      In addition to this, ArenaNet published several paid expansions to GW1 and I would expect that to continue for GW2

      • gunny1993 says:

        I MUST KNOW WHAT IS INSIDE THE CHESTS lol, and dyes … always need more dyes

      • Ajh says:

        On top of that there are people who are actually planning to Role play on Guild Wars 2. Special outfits are very nice for them.

    • Dominic White says:

      Most of the stuff in the cash shop is silly dress-up items, like pirate costumes or specific clothes dyes. It’s largely the same as GW1 – they can actually support the game fairly well with just boxed sales alone, but the shop is a supplement to keep things going smoothly.

      • dahools says:

        I never played the first GW, last proper MMO i played was age of conan which i enjoyed but not a fan of paying monthly just to raid and spend ages waiting around with people etc. I class D3 As solo with drm ;-) so i am bored of that now. Want something new. This may fill the void.

        • Ajh says:

          The nice thing about GW 2 is when you are bored of one thing in it you can go do another. There’s exploration (And actual in game rewards for that as well as xp) there’s karma rewarding group random events and bosses all over the maps. I logged in this morning to see a truly epic shadowy monster of doom in the middle of a swamp with about 20 of us trying to kill it. I threw down a lot of med packs to help people, and ran around mending fallen players and still got loot at the end of it. Another time I was just throwing grenades at bandits during a caravan escort.

          When you want some alone time there’s always the story quest,which you CAN bring friends to. I did.

          And then to spend all the karma points you do things for the local people, like checking traps along the path and smashing eggs, or destroying centaur supplies, at one point I was talking ettins into fighting the centaurs.

          And then there’s crafting, which will be better once the trading post comes up, you can even cook things. They’re going to have mini games in town also.

          So yeah, there’s a bit to keep you doing all sorts of things.

      • neolith says:

        Even though I tolerate the vanity items in the shop, I must say I am exceptionally dissatisfied with what they look like. Aviator sunglasses? Baseballcaps? That’s weak, especially in the light of how awesome GW2 seems to be designed otherwise. Why aren’t these items that fit in better with the general setting of the game?

        • gunny1993 says:

          Well it is probably reasonable to assume these are just a few they knocked up for launch and they will add more soon.

          • neolith says:

            You might be right – but I still think the shades should’ve been something like engineer’s goggles and the the cap any other headdress that has nothing to do with the real world…

        • Arglebargle says:

          Failure of vision. Especially when they could have had awesome steampunk specs, or headgear actually matching their art design. Or Cestii!

    • Malk_Content says:

      I was a bit miffed with things like xp boosters being sold in a cash shop, but after 5 minutes of crafting experimentation I found I could, with over abundant materials, craft equal or better buffs. The 50% extra xp from mobs kills you can buy is nothing compared to the +10xp you can craft. At least where I am anyway where monsters normally die for around 8xp.

      • Euphoric says:

        Why would XP boosters piss you off? Are you feeling pressure to get to level cap for some reason?
        Seems like an odd thing to be miffed about.

      • Qwentle says:

        If you’re talking about the generic food buff, that may have been a UI thing. When I logged in on Sunday it was reading as +10%, while on Saturday it was just +10.

      • f1x says:

        Indeed,
        I was pissed because you get “only” 5 characther slots per account, BUT you can unlock more paying 800 gems each,
        but…. in the end getting 800 gems with in game gold is quite easy,
        so basically the system is cool enough, not pay to win, but simply some people with more money and less time will get some temporal buffs or fashion items, but if you play the game (1-2 hours a day is enough) and have patience you can get everything
        the competitive part of the game, the PVP is also unaffected by gems store afaik (I mean there are no game-breaking items that you can buy there)

    • Brun says:

      The money engine comes from releasing expansions at fairly regular intervals, the same way it worked in GW1. Compared to WoW, these expansions fall somewhere between a major content patch and a full WoW expansion, content-wise. Eight to twelve months from now they’ll release an expansion for $39.99 or something, and they’ll get more money that way.

      They also have the cash shop, to supplement that business model.

  9. gunny1993 says:

    Funny thing is i have literally never had this problem, played 30+ hours with about 4 mates and we always in the same overflow server.

    • Euphoric says:

      I don’t get into the same exact overflows, but “Join in” has worked since release for me also.

      • gunny1993 says:

        I chose a server deliberately because i knew there wasn’t a butt tonne of people going to it, if they [RPS] are one the same server they were in beta they are on one of the most populated EU servers.

        • vee41 says:

          We are in Gunnars Hold, think it was desolation in beta. Both are crowded servers.

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            Screwie says:

            Gunnar’s Hold notably less so, at least (it’s been at Medium capacity since last weekend compared to Desolation’s High).

  10. Commander Gun says:

    Mildly off-topic, but can any GW veteran tell me what is the best place to read a bit about the lore of the GW universe? I just purchased GW2 and as i would like to enjoy the story as well :)

    • vee41 says:

      Not veteran of any sort, but I caught up on things by reading some stuff in the gw2wiki and watching these great videos by Potatoes made of Wood. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-G9tPOV9q0

      • Commander Gun says:

        Thanks for that. As the comment reads “Interested in Gw2 but never played the original? This will teach you everything you need to know about the story from the first game.” this seems to be exactly what i look for :) Will watch it as soon as i come home from work!

        • Arglebargle says:

          I prefer reading to Youtube Yammer, but this guy is really pretty good. Well worth watching.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thurgret says:

      Regarding the lore, this may be of interest (just sub out ‘Player One’ for ‘the Ascalonian heroes’, ‘Player Two’ for ‘the Canthan heroes’ and ‘Player Three’ for ‘the Elonan heroes’ and it’s all good).

      Edit: blergh, I managed to put this down without the link going in…

      http://www.guildwars2guru.com/topic/7176-lore-summary/

  11. Ajh says:

    Workaround on the bug with the party thing. We both went to Divinity’s reach which was easy to get out of the overflow for, then we walked outside at the same time, appearing next to each other. I hung out with my GW1 guild leader alllll day yesterday.