2nd Alpha Test Recap

This post is really just a recap of the tests, as well as a collection of any news tidbits since then.

Table of Contents



Friday

The first day of the tests. So much anticipation, so many lost hours of sleep. Many of us were expecting the servers to buckle under the pressure but amazingly all went well. In fact throughout the entirety of the test session things were remarkably stable, wasn’t even all that laggy. The population peaked at around 19,000 simultaneous users.

Saturday

This day was by far the most populated, with a peak of 23,000 simultaneous connections. The lag was rampant and blocks were even crashing under the load/ However to the client’s credit, enough of the combat was client sided that it didn’t impact the gameplay as much as it could have.

Wednesday

The GM announcement system crashed the servers, resulting in a two-hour extension to the test time. From here on out, the GM message ticker was silent. The population peaked at 21,000.

Friday/Saturday

One random maintenance without explanation, 1 hour extension. There are seemingly no population stats for this test.

Overall Population

Of those who entered, 80% actually participated in the tests. Of those that participated, 73% made it past level 10 which is the requirement to qualify for the closed beta. That really isn’t all that surprising, given that reaching level 10 took at most 30 minutes or so.

[Statistics and other information taken from PSblog]

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What Sakai Said

A whole lot of not much, so far. He was very apologetic about the server lag and said that they would be doing something to address this before the closed beta period, stating that it may be difficult to fix. He considered the tests a failure. Failure enough to warrant further alpha testing? Well that has yet to be seen. He was however pleased to announce that they think they know the main cause of the lag (something to do with the way players start quests if I recall correctly) and they isolated the issue that was causing blocks to crash (which again iirc was something to do with players moving to and from their rooms).

Honestly the lag issues are kind of a big deal, because while the population was reasonably large (at least for an MMO series this obscure) I expect the population on release day will be considerably larger. You only get one chance to make a first impression, or so they say, so hopefully that issue is sorted to give the game a more solid launch. Because seriously, they could a use a decent launch after the train-wreck that was Phantasy Star Universe’s.

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The Client

This section will talk about the client as it was during the 2nd alpha.

  • The client still uses Nprotect Gameguard. So it’s looking like that pest of a program may well be staying, unfortunately.
  • You can use the mouse to interact with the user interface. The interface itself however is not customisable beyond a scale setting in the launcher.
  • You can adjust graphics settings in-game. No longer will you need to restart the client to get to the options screen in the launcher. convenient, yes, but naturally some changes will only be apparent when you do restart (the client informs you of this).
  • Full-screen mode is still technically windowed, which means that you can happily alt-tab to other programs while playing PSO2 on full-screen. Why not actual full-screen? Well players of PSO and PSU may know why, but in case you don’t if you switch windows while in full screen the game will terminate. It’s not because it assumes you’re a filthy cheater like a lot of people believe, it’s more to do with the fact that the game’s world ceases to exist when you alt-tab.

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Foreign Support

As of yet, still no word. However, the results of data mining do seem to suggest that they’re continuing to work to at least give PSO2 the option of localised versions, beyond what was seen in the previous client. This is by no means a certain sign that it will happen, just that they’re at the very least working to keep that card on the table.

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Phantasy Star on Console

No this does not mean that PSO2 is coming out on a console you CHUMPSTICK. I’m referring to one of the questions that was asked in the player feedback questionnaire, namely:

Q14. Using your character data from the PC version, which other platform would you like to use it to play the Phantasy Star Online 2 “Series”.

This may well be a similar deal that occured with PSU and the Phantasy Stat Portable games, in which you could transfer character data from PSU to them, at least in a limited sense. We may not hear much more on this until some time after the release of PSO2 (I’m thinking a year after, at least). This is not related to the tentatively titled “Phantasy Star Victory”.

[Translation of Question 14 taken from Bumped]

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Towards the Future

Some information on future events as well as news that is expected soon!

  • A full report on the 2nd alpha tests, including detailed player feedback and maybe some cool charts. Really eager to find out what players considered the biggest issues of the game (presuming they’ll be presented to us this way of course).
  • The closed beta test will be happening “before it’s hot”. Which presumably means before the summer, which could also place it any time during spring.
  • Character data from the open beta will be carried over to release. This may seem unusual, given that most of the time in MMOs all data from any test periods is wiped, for various reasons. Sega have done this before, however, on the lead-up to Phantasy Star Universe in Japan and I believe they did this with PSO:Blue Burst JP as well. Essentially they seem to treat it more like a demo mode than the traditional idea of a beta.
  • Details about the billing procedures will not be announced until after the closed beta and before the open beta, so said Sakai in an interview. Not that this has stopped a torrent of fiery opinions damning any sort of free-to-play model.
  • Some cool concept art of the RAnewearl, hopefully! But sadly this hasn’t actually been announced, nor do I expect it to be. It will be a random surprise as the RAnewm art was.

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