Frustration, Frustration…

 

From the OGPlanet Forums:

We understand your frustration, however they do not help in resolving the issue in any ways. Please do not spam forum with multiple threads regarding to this issue, reply to this post if you wish to comment. All other posts regarding to the same issue will be removed.

Unfortunately we have experienced OGP wide login issue in the early morning. Players already logged into the game are not affected.

We are fully aware of the external reason causing it and IT team is doing what they can to mitigate the it. However, the issue may repeat. We ensure you that any game data (characters/items/astro purchases) will not be affected, it’s strictly related to login/launcher.

If you wish to comment on it, you can reply this post. Please do not start multiple posts discussing this issue, it’s not necessary and they will be removed.


 

I have not been playing UWO a whole lot for the past several months.  This is due to a number of reasons having to do with the game itself and with personal matters.  When I first heard about the Atlantis updates, however, I started to get excited again for the game. I downloaded the updates, and began working on my characters again (I’m currently preparing for a number of Nanban runs to boost my finances).

And then I read the post – and commentary – in the Forums…


 

In one of my other sites (RandomGamingThoughts) I’ve been spending a good deal of time talking about another video game that I was enjoying for quite a while called The Division.  I’m not going to rehash everything I’ve written before (you can read my earlier posts here and at RandomGamingThoughts), but suffice it to say that both Ubisoft-Massive and Koei-OGPlanet are suffering from similar issues regarding customer service and satisfaction.  It’s sad to keep reading about the frustrations of players who’ve been dc’d out of GAMMA server while sailing in the ocean and it’s sad (although at times humorous)  to see those players take out their frustrations in the forums and on Facebook.  There’s still speculation that the TalesRunner hackers are continuing to DDOS OGPlanet, and that speculation isn’t going to go away until OGPlanet issues a definitive statement regarding that issue.  And yet it’s still disheartening to take breaks from UWO and then return to see the same issues plaguing this game again.  Having gone through the “lockout” issues that plagued The Division, I’m a little less flustered about OGPlanet’s server woes, but I’ve also happened to be online when their servers are actually running properly (i.e. evening hours Hawai’i Standard Time or approx. early morning hours Greenwich Mean Time).

In my latest post on RandomGamingThoughts (“Consumer Protection and Overwatch Hype – Why I’m Feeling a Bit Cynical These Days About AAA Games…”) I wrote a good deal about the need for greater anti-consumer protection in the video game industry.  The issue is a bit more complicated in the case of games like UWO because players are dealing directly with the distributor of the game (i.e. “OGPlanet”) rather than the developer/publisher (“KOEI”).  The fact that UWO is also a Japanese game that was translated for the international market does not make things simpler either.  Nevertheless, I still believe that people who play games like UWO should feel like they have a recourse to turn to if they feel like they are not being given the customer service that they deserve.  As someone mentioned in the OGPlanet forums, customers will simply find another place to spend their hard-earned money if they feel like they are wasting their time and money on UWO.

To be fair to OGPlanet, they seem to be more responsive to the constant server issues and have offered fairly generous compensation packages for past disruptions (especially when compared to Ubi-Massive’s efforts in The Division).  While OGPlanet is responsible for maintaining the UWO servers, KOEI still maintains control over game patches, so OGPlanet (to a certain degree) is caught in the middle when it comes to technical issues with the game.  But all that being said, I do sympathize with those players who feel like they are being “cheated” of their time and money, especially those players who have limited time and/or money for games.  I guess the only thing I can say to these players is that it never hurts to take a break from a game (or from gaming in general).  It’s hard not to get attached to a video game, especially one as immersive as UWO, but if there’s anything I’ve painfully learned over the past several years, it’s that it’s important to not get “too attached” to any video game.

[I think the Buddha talked a great deal about “letting go of attachments,” but like many important things in life, that’s more easily said than done….]


 

I hope that KOEI and OGPlanet will eventually be able to fix UWO’s server woes so that players can get back to enjoying this game again.  But it seems like I will have to be quite careful if I intend to do any kind of sailing outside of Europe (bring extra No-war pacts and supplies and minimize the deep ocean sailing as much as possible) until things stabilize with the servers again.

 

Why MMOS can be the most addicting – and most frustrating – games to play

In case anyone reading this is still wondering, I am still playing Uncharted Waters Online, although I’ve been taking a bit of a long break again from the game. UWO has been a fun, immersive, and addicting game for me to play, but after nearly three years of playing it (more or less), I’ve found myself spending time on other games and then coming back for the proverbial trade grind or sailing run. Maybe if I spent more time adventuring or maritime pvp, I’d probably get back into UWO in a heartbeat, but I’m really not so interested in those elements of UWO right now, and the reason for this is related quite closely to another MMO (or lite-MMO) that I have been playing for the past month or so on Xbox One.

But before I dive into my (admittedly biased) views, I will confess that I am no expert in MMO’s or MMO culture. UWO in fact is the first MMORPG that I’ve extensively played. I also happen to be a solo gamer, which of course begs the question why I play MMOs in the first place. The answer to that is that I play games not because they are meant to be solo or social but because I find them fun and addicting regardless of how they are meant to be played.

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So the game I’ve been playing for the past month or so has been Tom Clancy’s The Division. In case anyone reading this doesn’t know, The Division is a third-person shooter/MMORPG where you are tasked to retake New York City after a disastrous smallpox pandemic. It plays similarly to games like Destiny (which I have played) and Diablo (which I have not). You play through the missions and side missions leveling your character along the way to 30, and then you slowly gear your character through replaying missions on harder difficulties and exploring through the “Dark Zone.” The Dark Zone (DZ) is a curious hybrid of PvP and PvE that’s similar in some respects to the “hostile” and “lawless” zones in UWO (except that there is no “blue flag” for players wishing to avoid PvP). Players kill PvP enemies and bosses for better gear and weapons and then head to “extraction” areas in order to take their new loot out of the DZ. Players can kill other players and steal their loot, but they end up going “rogue” in the process (which is very similar to UWO’s piracy system) and can be hunted down by non-rogue players. The latest update to the game has also introduced “Incursions,” which are supposed to be similar to “Raids” found in other MMO games. And finally, players can craft their own weapons and gear in the game (the materials are earned from pickups throughout the regular map/DZ or from finishing missions or quests).

So….

Here’s how character progression is SUPPOSED to work in The Division:

1. Finish story and level to 30

2. Replay missions in hard mode/start grinding the DZ for levels and gear

3. Replay missions in challenging mode/continue grinding the DZ for higher levels and gear

4. Team up with well geared players to beat Incursions/max out DZ levels.

Here’s how character progression REALLY works in The Division:

1. Same as Above

2. Start farming glitches/exploits to shortcut grinding in the missions/DZ and to max out on crafting materials

3. Farm Incursion glitches and quickly get best gear in game

4. (if not burnt out already) Rampage through the DZ with maxed out gear.

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I know that some of you reading this are probably wondering by now why I’m talking about a shooter MMO that has little or no relation (at least in terms of content) to Uncharted Waters Online. The reason why I’m doing this is because in many respects the issues that have been plaguing UWO for the past several years are similar to the ones that are now plaguing the Division. There also some key differences between these two games, however.

First, the similarities:

1. The character progression systems in both the Division and UWO have suffered greatly from changes made into the game by their respective developers. These changes have led to a great disparities in gear between “hardcore” veterans, more casual players, and newcomers.

2. The PvP in both The Division and UWO has underwent extensive changes that have led to debates within the community over its significance and replayability.

3. Both games have struggled with communications between the developers/game managers and the player community. These struggles can be seen in the forums, which (like most other video games) are full of complaints about one aspect of the game or another. Communication issues are commonplace in any situation, not just in video games, but both The Division and UWO have undergone some very rough patches in terms of community management.

4. Both The Division and UWO are online-only games.

Now the differences (most of these are quite obvious, but I’ll lay them down anyways):

1. UWO has been around for over five years; The Division was just released a month ago.

2. UWO is a free-to-play game (with micro transactions) whereas The Division costs sixty US dollars (plus additional money for those who bought the season pass)

3. UWO and The Division have different story content.

4. It has been much easier to hack/glitch/cheat in the Division than in UWO. The Division also suffers from a whole number of bugs and glitches that have contributed to the disparity between players in that game. UWO in comparison is a relatively bug-free game, although it’s suffered from other technical issues (e.g. server lag, login issues, etc.)

5. The Division relies more heavily on RNG (random number generation) than UWO,
which in other words means that your luck plays as much a role as your skills or tenacity.

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So what’s the point of all this? Why spend so much time writing about these games and just play them instead?
Perhaps my best answer to these questions is that video games are never just games to the players who invest their time and money in them. They are more like passionate hobbies or sports. And whenever people spend a significant amount of time on something, they are going to get passionate about that something (hence the term “fan”).

But what saddens me about video games these days is that it’s so easy to become critical and cynical about them that it nearly ruins the whole purpose of gaming. This frustration is most often seen in social media or in the online forums that nearly every video game has. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to criticize something that’s wrong with a game, but when a game ends up stirring so much frustration that it leads to a toxic community, then it’s probably time to find another game to play. This is kinda where I’m at with the Division, and it’s a stage that I’ve experienced before with UWO. It’s the stage where you kinda wonder why you’re even playing the game in the first place.

I know however that despite whatever criticisms I have with a video game, I will probably still play that video game until I find another interesting game to play. And one of the nice things about solo gaming (in my opinion) is that you have the freedom and flexibility to choose however you want to play.

Finally, I want to say a little something more about the relationship between the developers of a game and the players who play their game. No matter how well made a game is, if a game’s devs are either unable or unwilling to address very difficult situations with their community, then that community will probably wither and die. I know that OGPlanet has made more than its fair share of mistakes when its come to managing UWO, but these mistakes have paled in comparison to the ones made by Ubisoft and Massive since the release of The Division. Deleted characters, numerous bugs/exploits, and the lack of a clear or effective anti-cheat policy have all poisoned The Division community. And the fact that Massive has only recently stated its intent to punish anyone caught exploiting their game says alot about how they’ve handled their game in general. It would be like KOEI or OGPlanet telling the UWO community that they are now going to punish those who have used the ESBTs to farm millions of ducats out of EA dungeons instead of just nerfing them and moving on.

I doubt that Ubisoft or Massive will really come down hard on those who have been exploiting glitches in The Division, and if they choose to do so, these players will probably just quit the game and tell everyone they’re quitting because of the punishment. I would do the same thing if I were in that position. But the fact that they are even threatening players with punishment over something that they should have fixed before the game was released is really sad, in my opinion. A negative reaction is only going to spawn more negativity at a time when the devs should be focusing on repairing the damage caused by all the controversy surrounding their game. Of course, players will always be angry about other players who are taking advantage of a glitch or exploit to advance ahead in a game. But this is why it’s extremely important to have good communications between developers/game managers and the player community. When the communication is not there or is vague, then the community suffers. And if the community suffers, then so does a game’s future.

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Having gotten all of that off my chest, I want to end this post on a more positive note. For all the glitches and bugs and whatever that’s been happening to The Division, I still believe that that game has the potential to be a great game. It is the same hope that I share with the future of UWO, and my experiences with UWO have colored my experiences with The Division. And if worse comes to worse, there is nothing wrong with taking a break to focus on other games.

Who knows where the trade winds will take me on my next gaming journey….

Why Wiping The UWO Server Is A Bad Idea

Aloha Everyone!

In my last post, I mentioned that changes were coming to Uncharted Waters Online in August. And changes did indeed occur. For one thing, players can no longer lose their valuable stuff in land combat or in the dungeons, although sailors will still continue to take your things if you let their fatigue run too high (I lost a cheap pair of boots while collecting stuff because I forgot to leave the collection area before going AFK).

But perhaps the BIGGEST (and most recent) change to occur in Uncharted Waters Online since July is OGPlanet’s decision to bring UWO back to Steam. The class registers are full to the brim again, and there’s even players talking about whether OGP should open another server (probably too expensive for them to consider doing that, but who knows?).

Along with my regular forays into the OGP forums, I’ve also been following the UWO community hub at Steam. Over there, Uncharted Waters Online has been receiving generally positive reviews, although I’ve also noticed many of the same old complaints about the schools, dungeons, ESBTS, and so forth. I think it’s great that UWO’s back on Steam again, and I hope that this will lead to a more vibrant player community. More players after all equals a greater chance that Uncharted Waters Online will continue into the foreseeable future.

I do want to point out a specific thread that’s emerged (again) on the OGPlanet forums about “resetting” or “wiping” GAMA server. This is the first and hopefully last time that I will have to bring up this topic. A lot has already been said about server wipes in the OGP forums, so hopefully I won’t rehash too much of that stuff here (forgive me if I end up doing so; sometimes I get a bit carried away). And it is very unlikely that OGPlanet will even consider such a drastic move, especially now that they have been managing UWO’s GAMA server for nearly a year now.

But for some reason, there are players out there who are still floating this idea about. For that reason, I’ve decided to state some of my own thoughts about server wipes and why such a move would be a VERY BAD IDEA for the future of Uncharted Waters Online….

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Ok,

For those of you readers who don’t know what a “server wipe” is, it basically means that EVERYBODY on the server – whether you started playing Uncharted Waters Online yesterday or have been playing for over four years – will have ALL of their character and stats reset to zero. Period.

So….

If you’ve finally leveled your adventure, trade, AND maritime classes to level 50, server wipe means you’ll need to go back to school and start all over again.

If you’ve just spent 100 astros on ships bottles, booster items, or what not, then server wipe means that all of that is now gone.

And If you’ve spent a year grinding shipbuilding in order to begin building clippers, then you’ll need to grind shipbuilding
all over again. And if anybody reading this has tried to grind shipbuilding (and I have), you’ll know that even the THOUGHT of having to grind shipbuilding all over again from scratch is painful!

Now the people arguing for server wipes will give you a couple arguments for doing so:

1. Astros can be refunded, and any progress made in the game can easily be made up again.

Perhaps that may be true for some players, but I don’t think this will be true for ALL players. As mentioned earlier, restarting from scratch means undoing weeks, months, or even years of playing time, and I don’t think everyone’s going to be happy with that situation.

2. The dungeons and ESBTS have corrupted the UWO economy so much that KOEI/OGPlanet has no other choice but to reset the server in order to make everything nice and balanced again.

I’ll admit here that the dungeons and ESBTS are NOT how Uncharted Waters was ORIGINALLY meant to be played. There are still many players who are calling for an end to both in UWO, and I sympathize with their concerns. That being said, I personally have no problem with either the dungeons or the ESBTS being in the game. Players can still sail around the world and trade to their hearts content if they want to, and anybody who’s tried farming the dungeons before will tell you that the dungeons, while addicting at first, can get quite boring eventually. Not only that, running the dungeons a little bit can be quite helpful for new players struggling to establish a secure financial base so that they can focus on all the other aspects of UWO.

This is probably why the “majority” of players have not come out against removing the dungeons and ESBTS, and this is also why removing them, like wiping GAMA server clean, will probably do much more harm than good.

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Now here’s why I think a server wipe in UWO will be a very bad idea:

1. It can take a VERY LONG TIME to level classes or skills in UWO.

Now of course there are ways to grind more quickly in UWO, but that usually involves things like relentlessly playing UWO during 2x events (such as the one occurring right now on GAMA server) or buying expensive booster items. Some players may be able to do either or both of these things, but I don’t think many players will be willing or able to spend 12 to 16 hours a day grinding away during 2x events or spend a hundred dollars at a time buying all sorts of boosters in order to shortcut this process. Being forced to re-grind skills or classes that you’ve already spent weeks or months grinding WILL lead to burnout. And burnout means players will quit playing UWO altogether. And that’s not a good thing for anybody who cares about UWO, either players or management.

2. A Server Wipe will lead to ALOT of heated discussion and debate both INSIDE and OUTSIDE Uncharted Waters Online, and this will discourage new players from joining UWO

Like any other commercial product, image/reputation is everything when it comes to a video game. If people do not like your game, they will talk about it openly and quite vociferously. And while there will always be somebody who’ll be unhappy with a video game and who’ll therefore complain about it over and over again (especially around the Internet), having LOTS of people complaining about a video game AT THE SAME TIME is NEVER A GOOD THING. Negative publicity has a way of feeding back upon itself, especially on the Internet, and when lots of people are getting mad about something, that usually tells bystanders that whatever their complaining about is probably a not a good thing to get into.

And that is what a server wipe will do. It’ll lead to LOTS of players (especially Veteran players) quitting Uncharted Waters Online. And while the proponents of server wipes may say something like “good riddens” to these players, not having many experienced players around is just as bad, if not worse, than having few new players around in UWO. And the worse thing about all of this is that it will send a negative message to anyone who is remotely interested in playing Uncharted Waters Online. In other words, veteran players will leave and very few, if any, new players will want to sign up.

One minus One equals Zero.

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All of what I’ve just written are of course my own thoughts about server wipes in UWO. I cannot speak for every player in Uncharted Waters Online and I do not intend to. Any of you reading this post are free to agree or disagree with me or to correct me if anything I’ve said here is inaccurate, misleading, or wrongheaded. And I do not want to convey any negative impressions about Uncharted Waters Online. I know that I am taking a bit of a risk in writing about a topic as controversial as server wipes, and I do not mean to “feed the trolls” either (the person who started the original thread and/or the person who revived the thread may have done so for trolling purposes).

But after reading some of the reaction on the forums to the “server wipe” thread, I felt that it was time for me to weigh in with some of my own thoughts in a place that I am relatively comfortable writing about such stuff. Even though I’ve chosen to play more privately in Uncharted Waters Online, I have a good deal of respect for UWO’s player community, which on the whole is quite friendly, welcoming, and supportive.

The last thing that I want to see happen is for that community to become divided beyond repair.

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Whew!

Now that all of that has gone off my chest, I want to end this (long) post on a more positive note.

First, I want to reassure anyone who is still reading this that there will be no server wipes happening in Uncharted Waters Online. Not now and heaven forbid not ever.

Second, and especially since this summer, OGPlanet seems to be managing Uncharted Waters Online quite well. There have of course been hiccups along the way. The OGPlanet GM’s, it must be remembered, not only had to take over running UWO, but also had to learn how to play this game from scratch. OGPlanet’s GM’s – like the rest of us players – are human beings who make mistakes, and considering the fact that UWO’s very future was in doubt last year, I think that things have improved quite considerably under OGPlanet’s tenure.

It’s one thing to point out issues or to make suggestions, for a healthy honest discussion is never a bad thing. But it is also good to give the credit where it is due. And although November is not here yet, it is never too early to give thanks for the things that we do have, rather than always complain about the things that are wrong or missing.

On that note, I will end here. For those of you who have been following my posts, I apologize for not writing more regularly these past few months. I’ve been far too busy enjoying Uncharted Waters Online, and far too busy with other things in life, to post as consistently as I had hoped. But hopefully I’ll be back soon with another update on my adventures in Uncharted Waters Online.

Mahalo for all of your feedback and support, and happy sailing!