Yesterday was a REALLY long day. I’m almost at a loss for words and am seriously worried about what the fallout from yesterday is going to be. 2.8 Patch has been a resounding disappointment. Server issues, weird bugs, forever loading screens, and the most uneventful progression race ever makes for a lackluster start to the Summer of SWTOR. Or maybe we should call is the Summer of Unsubs, since a mass exodus of the Hardcore community is probably on the way. And while many may not care , or be happy to see the elitist jerks leave, imagine your life without us. No guides. No math. No streams to enjoy while we throw ourselves at bosses for 13 hours a day. No drama to entertain you while we bicker amongst ourselves. Yesterday, for me, just started out as a different progression. Being new in my guild, I was basically a sub in. I hung around outside of DP at start and got to sit in Fridge’s stream and chat with the Progression crew. That chat is the happening place to be, and I often sit there with the actual stream on pause. I’m really just there to chat with everyone else and keep tabs on where everyone is at. Not actually having to raid though means that I got to watch the whole 2.8 Patch crumble and fail.
First was the Server Plague. Multiple servers, Harbinger and The Red Eclipse predominantly, were simply broken. Players couldn’t log on and once they finally did they were not in guilds or were fake Free to Play. Raiders also couldn’t join instances and bosses were bugged. It took almost two hours for Harbinger to come online and The Red Eclipse continued to have problems all day. After a few hours, the plague had spread to other servers. <Reckoning>, a European guild, couldn’t even get their full raid team into Palace before it had been cleared. Synyc, a good friend and their Merc healer, posted this video to show his frustration (below). Shadowlands got infected and after a wipe our raid team had to force close and try to log back in. We decided to take a break and eat, only to come back to the problems still there and a 2 hour process of just forming a group. Invites reached players 5-20 minutes after they were sent and some of us couldn’t phase in. Some servers seemed to have been vaccinated ahead of time and made it thru unscathed, liked Jedi Covenant and Pot5. <Reckoning>, a European guild, couldn’t even get their full raid team into Palace before it had been cleared. Synyc, a good friend and their Merc healer, posted this video to show his frustration.
Second was the the actual progression race. Congrats definitely have to go out <ZORZ> who did an insane job of getting in and getting Dread Palace cleared in three hours. Definitely the shortest clear in the history of this game and progression races. But three hours? That's just... disappointing. What exactly is supposed to keep people interested all summer long and until new content is released? We’re MONTHS away from another Progression cycle, probably about 9, since BioWare has been releasing NiM separate from SM and HM. While new content will be out, none of the Hardcore Progression guilds consider HM as being an actual part of competition. Sure, only one guild has cleared, but a few are close and everyone else looks like they’re going to be thru it in about a week. And the final encounter Dread Council aside, the first four bosses were a relative joke with another series of guilds one shotting them. I am not a fan of the trend of the first four bosses being a joke on progression day. Things were better when there was a natural choke point mid raid for everyone to have to get thru. Terror From Beyond, Scum and Villainy, and even Explosive Conflict all had more than one boss which guilds had to devote serious time to. Not the case lately.
Zorz's pretty awesome victory selfie.
And not to take ANYTHING away from them at all, but this rapid clear has sparked a debate and more controversy during the shit storm that was 2.8 on the topic of PTS. Many people are arguing that the time <Zorz> spent on PTS is the reason for their success. While there is definitely some truth to that, the PTS by no means gave them an unfair advantage or means their players aren’t simply really good. Did it give them an advantage? Yes. But everyone could have spent time going thru the fights on PTS and I honestly believe all the guilds were given the same equal opportunity. The PTS is supposed to be there to get testing in and make sure the fights are stable, not be the way to win progression. The fights came to live as almost carbon copies, or easier, and didn’t slow down <Zorz> at all. The time they spent on PTS learning the raid and wiping was just done in the weeks leading up to progression and not the day of. They spent about 16-20 on PTS, from what they have said, and it will be interesting to see if that time is comparable to what the next guilds to clear will have spent doing progression on live.
PTS is definitely necessary. We all don’t want buggy fights when it comes to progression day. But since little to no changes are made between PTS and Live, or anything significant enough to slow people down, means that PTS has become a necessity and is essentially the new progression. If clearing there equates to killing here. Or progressing there equates to kills here, all the guilds are going to have to shift their focus to PTS in order to stay competitive. But, spending time on PTS just isn’t viable for everyone. People have guilds to run, people to gear, and other things to do in life. I think most people are so sick of Dread Fortress and Palace now that seeing it before progression, during progression, and after is just too much. Especially when most of the fights are a joke and are loot pinatas.
So, what’s the solution then? First off, we should be getting NiM mode for Ops when SM and HM launch. It’s the unanimous belief amongst the competitive progression teams that HM is not a part of the progression race. The strategy of releasing them separately is just a ruse by BioWare to artificially elongate content cycles. Second, encounters need to be significantly different from PTS to live. PTS should only be there to test mechanics and make sure everything is working as intended and not a way for the fights to be worked on for weeks at a time. When all is said and done, one of the most disappointing aspects is BioWare’s complete bungling of everything that went wrong yesterday. They had a few, unhelpful posts, and showed no interest in the havoc that was happening. While admitting there were problems, and they were working on it, everyone was very tight lipped and additional information never came. Even checking the following day they had no more posts on the subject. While I’m sure they will address the server issues and other technical problems, I can guarantee no formal response will come in regards to how progression turned out. On the multiple fronts.
The response though, by the players, has been resounding. A significant portion of the Hardcore population have had enough. Guilds are deciding to quit en masse and many have already unsubbed. During what is usually a really tense, stressful, and shit talked filled time has been mostly banding together and camaraderie against the Devs. Everyone, across the guilds and world, are just disappointed. So many of us love this game, but its hard to keep paying and supporting something which shows little regard for you. I mean, I get it from BioWare’s perspective. The Hardcore community is less than 1% of the population, we could all unsub and it wouldn’t even matter fiscally to them. But, after the PvP exodus, and what that effect had on the game, you’d think losing another highly influential part of the population is something they would want to avoid. This won’t kill the game though. Nothing really will. There is enough for the majority of the players to stick around, and the new event was the only part of 2.8 that had a successful launch. The credits blown there were way less than any guild repair funds spent yesterday. It’s just hard to see, as someone who loves this game and is a Hardcore player, what the priorities are and knowing that the main reason I play this game is now gone. At this point, I’m here and subbing because I’ve grown to love podcasting and this blog. Not because the game is providing me with what I’m looking for in a game.
The only upside to yesterday is that I had a great time with my guild. I spent more time with them yesterday than the weeks I’ve been here leading up combined. They’re a hilarious group of people and every pull started in a positive place thanks to our tank Shock. We wiped, but we enjoyed doing it together. It was serious without being oppressive and sad. Ranick’s descriptions for the bosses (dick sucking, crystal throwing faggot) made the time we were in there enjoyable and was the saving grace for me after everything that happened yesterday. That said, we’re still going strong and will be going in soon. Energy is a little low across the board, but that usually happens once someone has been cleared. And with everything that went down yesterday, not completely unjustified.