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of Loading...

Loading... is the premier daily
MMOG news and commentary
newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Scaling up for an MMOG for release or an expansion launch is probably one of the scariest things about massively multiplayer game development. No matter how much testing and QA devs do, it's all theory until the game goes live. We'll look at one of our favorite moments in the short history of MMORPG scale-up snafus (including this weekend's EVE Online issues) and what devs could do to fix the growing inadequacy of traditional testing in . Loading... Up and Down.

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The Pulse

You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/" target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

are today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow">World
    of Warcraft
  2. Lord of the Rings Online (UP 7)
  3. Warhammer Online (UP 2)
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2">EverQuest
    II (down 2)
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aoc">Age
    of Conan (down 1)

movers today

  1. Copernicus (UP 45 to #17)
  2. Global Agenda (UP 18 to #12)
  3. Free Realms (UP 5 to #15)
size="-1">Recent Releases
  • size="-1">2/16
    - href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/expansions/sentinelsfate/index.vm">EverQuest
    2: Sentinel's Fate (expansion)
  • size="-1">2/16
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/81479"> LotRO:
    Oath of the
    Rangers (content update)
  • size="-1">4/5
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/83086">Pocket
    Legends (iMMOG - release date) size="-1"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1004">

  • size="-1">5/1
    - href="http://www.cityofheroes.com/news/game_updates/issue_17/issue_17_overview.html?utm_source=COHemail&utm_medium=US&utm_campaign=banner">City
    of Heroes - Issue 17: Dark Mirror
  • size="-1">5/11
    - Age
    of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer


  • size="-1">May
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve">EVE
    Online: Tyrannis (expansion)
  • size="-1">May
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2422">Craft
    of Gods (release)
  • size="-1">June 9, 2010 - Mortal Online (release)
  • size="-1">June
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/998">APB
    (US - July 2 in EU)
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">Q2 2010
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1801">Mytheon
  • size="-1">TBA
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2079">Final
    Fantasy XIV size="-1">


  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">6/15 -
    6/17 - href="http://www.e3expo.com/">E3
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">6/25 -
    6/27 - href="http://www.lfgexpo.com/">Looking
    for Group
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">7/22 -
    7/25 - href="http://www.comic-con.org/">Comic-Con
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">8/5 -
    8/8 - href="http://events.station.sony.com/fanfaire/">SOE
    Fan Faire 2010
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">9/3 -
    9/6 - href="http://www.dragoncon.org/">DragonCon
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">10/22 -
    10/23 - href="http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcon/?rhtml=y">BlizzCon
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;"> 3/24
    3/26 (2011)- href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/">CCP

Loading... Daily

Four years ago at right about this time of month, I was on my way to LA for E3 2006 and stopped by the now-defunct Tulga Games (who operated Horizons at the time) on my way there. One of the developers took me to task for an article I wrote a month or two earlier. In that editorial, I cited long server queues over too long a period of time in World of Warcraft at the time and stated that, when it dragged on for months as it did, it simply amounted to poor customer service. Blizzard, I asserted, shouldn't take money for their product or expansion if they can't deliver the experience. It wasn't anythign like my best work, but it was heartfelt. So when a dev told me he thought the article was rather unfair - that Blizzard was dealing with massive populations like the subscription MMO community has never seen, that they were in uncharted waters and deserved our patience, the passionate delivery (if not so much the content) of the criticism stuck with me.

Like some kind of cyclical 4-year haunting or Hegelian dialectic, concerns and problems over delivering an MMO gaming experience at scale dominated the news over the weekend. EVE Online: Tyrannis, the expansion that marks CCPs first step towards bringing planetary control to EVE Online players, was delayed until May 26th over the weekend. Senior Producer Torfi Frans Olafssen broke down the reasons for the delay into simple language that anyone can understand:

In our regression testing, we have identified scalability issues with the Planetary Interaction feature, which led to code refactoring that then needed further testing before being launched to Tranquility.

The problem is a common one for MMOGs and expansions - what works on a small scale doesn't always work when painted in broad strokes over a massive population. EVE is an incredibly complex game with a very diverse playerbase and much higher concurrency than just about any MMOG originating in the west, owing to its single-shard approach. Thus EVE's fixes, patches, and updates tend to create some short-term havoc, such as the vanishing items issue that CCP is busy fixing at the moment.

CCP and other MMOG developers face the same problem that economists face - you can't create a simulation layer vast or complex enough in a laboratory to fit the bill. Beta and/or stress testing used to be the solution, but even the most glib of developers acknowledges that open beta is much more about marketing and building (or destroying) hype than testing and improving the game. Plus, few games outside of the top-tier, IP-driven games can attract a large testing community, much less a strong one. The upshot is that we typically spend months or years after launch giving a game the kind of testing it needs, and maybe by the time the first expansion launches, we have a complete game. No wonder the subscription MMORPG is losing ground.

What's the solution? Not that there's any single pat solution that's going to fix the destructive mess that is today's beta test, but Loading... has always been a fan of games that discard the fire-and-forget console games model - the massive ad and review push followed by total silence that typifies single-player and most multiplayer games. Retail is always going to have its druthers, and that's fine. I'm not even sure that making major expansions free (e.g. EVE Online: Tyrannis) is the best thing for a game - North American gamers seem to associate quality with cost.

But maybe that kind of retail or retail-esque push should come after the game is ready. There will always be a development gap between the time at which you're sure you have an awesome and playable game concept and the time at which it's ready - in that middle time, why not make the game available to folks who believe in the game enough to pre-order it at full price? Maybe offer temporary discounts or freebies to guilds and communities you know will yield good testers. It's the model Stardock used for Sins of a Solar Empire and is using for Elemental: War of Magic to great effect.

What else can devs do to address these failures to launch and beta period that stretch on long past launch? Share your thoughts in the Loading... forum!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our Guild Wars 2 News & Articles Discussion

Be a Ten Ton Hammer Guild Wars 2 Guru

you a Guild Wars 2 fanatic? Are you active in the Ten Ton Hammer
community? Want to share the wealth of your knowledge with other Guild
Wars fans by answering questions, helping to report breaking news, and
serving as a forum leader? Then our volunteer program needs YOU. Get
all the specifics in our Guild Wars 2 forum.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

No quotes today, just Guru awesomeness.

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell

and Exclusive Content
Today at Ten Ton Hammer

4 new Ten Ton Hammer
articles today! 51 Ten Ton Hammer
in May! 522
in 2010!


Acer vs Alienware: Who is King of the 3D Vision Monitors?


Mattlow follows up his 3D
Vision by Nvidia review
with a comparison of the top monitors
available to use with the new technology. Will
the Acer GD235HZ with its low price point of $399 be able to topple the
gaming giant Alienware OptX AW2310, which comes in at a hefty $499?
Mattlow breaks the monitors down and gives you the skinny on which one
is the best deal.


StarCraft II: Terran Infantry In-Depth Stats and


The Terran army of StarCraft II will never be complete
without infantry. They are the front line, they are the support, they
are the primary raiders and spellcasters, and they are your bread and
butter units. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses are essential to
your success in the beta, and at release in July. Not even Raynor can
save you in the campaign if you don't know that a Reaper can jump over

5 Things to Improve Star Trek Online


Since its release, Star Trek Online has not lived up to the
expectations of many Trekkies. Boring missions, a lack of
community, and a host of other issues need to be addressed to keep
the game from vanishing like a cloaked Bird of Prey. Fortunately, there
is time to turn STO around and to keep gamers as happy as Klingons
drinking blood wine. To that end, Jeffprime looks at a few suggestions
that could make STO a better game for both the casual gamer and diehard

WoW Machinima: The Craft of War - Blind


Something new is brewing here at Ten Ton Hammer. As a testament to the
creative power of the WoW community we are pleased to present a brand
new feature: WoW machinima reviews. From time to time our talented
writers will pick a video and let you the reader know if it’s worth
watching. This week Mem gets the distinguished pleasure of presenting
our very first machinima review on a little video called “The Craft of
War - Blind.”

Hottest Articles, Guides, and Features

  1. Acer vs Alienware: Who is King of the 3D Vision Monitors?
  2. 5 Things to Improve Star Trek Online
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/giveaways/eve-tyrannis">EVE
    : Tyrannis Launch Day
    Prize Giveaway
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/fallenearth/previews/blood-sports">Fallen
    : Blood Sports PvP
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aoc/rise-of-the-godslayer/preview">Age
    of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer
    - Launch Day
  6. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/tsw/interviews/vip">Ragnar
    Tornquist Answers Ten Ton Hammer Reader Questions for The
    Secret World
  7. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/guides/ships/osprey">Flying
    The Osprey Cruiser In EVE

  8. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/interviews/fallen-earth-downsizing">(Prairie)
    Chicken Little Be Damned - An Exclusive Fallen
  9. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/reviews/nvidia/3d_vision">Nvidia
    3D Vision Review
  10. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/podcasts/live/6/transcript">Ten
    Ton Hammer Live Ep. 6 Transcript - David Georgeson on EverQuest

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle
the Ten Ton Hammer team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EVE Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.