02/01/2012

Bugs Suck

I'm firmly convinced that MMOs will always have bugs, at the very least some minor ones. A game that only just launched less than two weeks ago is bound to have some more, even if it's very polished overall.

On the whole, my experiences with The Old Republic have been very good in this regard. I have encountered a fair few bugs since I started playing, but mostly they were minor display issues. Sometimes they were actually quite amusing - but at worst they were a minor nuisance, such as when I tried to talk to a certain NPC on Coruscant and every time the camera was supposed to show me his face, I saw the flickering skyscape beyond the walls instead.

However, yesterday the game rang in the new year in a fairly painful manner for me. First I began to suffer from the silent companion bug. Your companions are supposed to give you a primer whenever they want to have a conversation with you in a private place, but there's currently a bug where this primer will keep appearing and disappearing, so you're constantly taunted with the promise of story advancement which you're then not actually able to access. There's a thread on the official forums about it which is currently sitting on 39 pages. Still, while this is a bit more annoying as far as bugs go, it's still not game-breaking.

Then I got to go on the final class quest for my trooper's first story arc. Without spoiling too much I think it's safe to say that it takes place on a hostile ship. From the design of the environment it quickly became apparent to me that enemies were meant to receive reinforcements out of side doors every now and then, as I'd seen it in several flashpoints before. There's nothing wrong with that, it makes the fights a bit more interesting... problem is, on this particular quest pretty much all the mobs seemed to be hopelessly borked one way or another. They popped into existence out of nowhere, awkwardly "skating" around, evading, vanishing, and not necessarily in that order. And we're not just talking about one or two evading mobs here, it was very much a systematic problem. Though the one guy who seemed to be stuck under the floor and chased me across half the ship shooting from where I couldn't target him definitely stood out. The droid boss who could shoot through closed doors was memorable too. It was quite annoying.

However, I would have been able to immediately forget all of that, had I been able to actually complete the mission. Unfortunately, just as I got close to the end, I turned around to leave a room, had the little speech bubble pop up over my head to indicate that I was about to enter a conversation... and then, nothing. I just stood there, rooted in place and unable to move. Trying to use /stuck or any abilities resulted in a prompt telling me that I couldn't do that while in a conversation. Trying to hit escape to exit the conversation, as you do, just brought up the main menu however - apparently I wasn't conversing quite enough. I quit the game and restarted. For a moment I thought that I was free, but as soon as I hit a movement key, the bubble was there and rooting me in place again. I opened a ticket to ask for help and complained to my guildies about my predicament for a while but eventually figured that my chances of getting a GM response any time soon probably weren't very good, so I logged off for the night, disappointed that I couldn't finish what I had started.

The next day, I came to log in around lunchtime, still stuck in the same place and with my ticket unaddressed. However, something I had seen while prowling the SWTOR customer service forums had given me an idea: immediately upon relogging there was a moment when I wasn't completely stuck and could use abilities - so I could use my Emergency Fleet Pass to get off the ship and start over.

Unfortunately all the trash mobs appeared to have respawned when I returned to my class quest's phase, and I ended up getting massacred by more awkwardly skating mobs and through-the-wall-shooting. Frustrated, I quit without even reviving my character and went to work.

Tonight, I sat down calmly once again and decided to give it another try. This time I took things very slowly and carefully, trying to give all the mobs a chance to get all their evading and general weirdness out of the way before even trying to move on. As it turns out, the mobs behind the droid boss hadn't respawned anyway, something for which I was very grateful. Finally I approached the last quest hand-in, the speech bubble popped up - and the conversation actually started. I was so relieved.

I don't think this negative experience will colour my overall feelings about the game - I'm still enjoying it way too much for that. But running into such a giant cluster of bugged mobs was a bit of a shock - did no trooper in the beta complete the first act and report on this?! And the "stuck in conversation" bug is just horrendous. They really need to implement some way to let players extract themselves from that kind of situation if they can't click on their buttons. I feel lucky in that I managed to activate my Emergency Fleet Pass during that brief period of not being completely stuck after relogging, but I'm not sure everyone else is lucky enough to get that chance - I did see several people reporting on the forums that they had the same problem at different points in the game, sometimes even on their ships, and still hadn't received any help after being stuck for days. I think that being unable to even move your character for so long would be majorly off-putting.

What other notable bugs have people encountered in the game at this point?

4 comments :

  1. The final battle of Chapter 1 for the Imperial Agent is crazily bugged too. You keep getting "cannot see target" messages when you try to shoot the boss. You can only get attacks in when you're in melee (which was pretty terrible for my sniper).

    I finally did the fight by sending my companion to attack the boss, then when she succeeded in starting the fight, set her to passive so she ran back to me. The boss followed, and thus moved out of the problematic area, I could engage properly.

    My first companion quest was bugged as well. The conversation didn't trigger, and the map pointed to the wrong phased area. I finally dropped the quest, and kept retrying every so often until the conversation happened properly. This actually happened just after the start Chapter 2.

    My theory about that bug is that the companion quest was a level 20 quest, but it actually referenced something that happened at the end of Chapter 1, which is level 30, and that mismatch is where the bug stemmed from.

    Still, it's interesting that the major problems appear to be class and companion quests. You'd think those would be the most polished and tested parts of the game. I'd be more understanding of bugs in some random world quest.

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  2. I still have random shut-downs. Sometimes I can't get the launcher to load. And shuttles are finicky if I've got a window/map open.

    Oh! And the bug where my companion wants to talk to me back on my ship while we're out questing, and then once we get on the ship they tell me to go away? So. Very. Disappointing.

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  3. Without giving too much away:
    The level 40ish Commando Story on "The Gauntlet" be VERY mindful of crossing the bridges that you extend as they can appear to be there and well, not. If you die on one of those, DO NOT get revived at that location as that will put you in no mans land under where the bridge should be and you will not be able to get out unless you use your emergency fleet pass.

    Recommend going to the Republic Fleet and visiting the Security Vendor (hopefully you bought a key or got the app) and buy some Fleet Passes for 1k credits each (they have a 1 hour cooldown). This will eliminate a potentially painful wait time on the Emergency Pass and a more painful wait on the customer service people.

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  4. Thanks for the heads-up about The Gauntlet, Doug. I'll keep an eye out for that.

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