AoC Open Beta vs. Closed Beta Client

I have decided to write a post and address the controversy surrounding AoC’s Open Beta Client being “much older” than the Closed Beta Client — rumor has it that the open beta client is even older than the Gamespot PvP Weekend Client. Since the NDA was dropped for the 1-13 content for both open and closed beta, I decided to log into my closed beta account and test the differences between the clients for myself.

After testing the game for a few hours with the closed beta client and repeatedly going over the areas in Tortage where I had problems (I seriously zoned in and out of that Inn 20x times) I have decided that it must be true. I did not experience a single CTD, crash, memory leak, or disconnect (reading my OB writeup you’ll see I had dozens of problems every few minutes). The game ran smoother and performed far better than Open Beta Client. While some of this is definitely attributed to less people being in a single area together, it can not be dismissed that the closed client is indeed better. The ONLY problems that I found in the closed beta client were the load times and stalling — but they are supposedly on purpose or with reason.

What does this mean? This means that Funcom made a huge mistake by using an old botched pos client for their Ope Beta. This was a mistake of epic proportions. Why release an old and bugged client when the problems it faces have already been resolved? That negates the need for testing. Why expose 50,000+ people to bugs, glitches, exploits, memory leaks, and shoddy code when such problems are non-existent in a newer client? That works against marketing, reviews, and building hype. And most importantly why in the name of Crom would you not at the very least make official reference to this fact? Someone needs to be fired.

One of the most widely acknowledged cardinal rules of mmorpgs has been completely ignored here. You only get one first impression. And Funcom, you have botched that first impression. I’m lucky. I have the opportunity to test the 1-13 play in closed beta and realize that it’s practically a different set of code. But thousands upon thousand of others do not.

I’ve said it already a dozen times, Age of Conan’s gameplay is fun. It has real potential. Yes, the game still needs polish and everything I said in my open beta writeup stands. But now that I have experienced the game without the horrific stability and performance I am once again leaning towards purchasing the game. I have just over two weeks to confirm that feeling. I hope Funcom comes to their senses and does more to promote their game better. It deserves it.

NOTE: I agree with Cameron Sorden in his Massively Article on this point: “I’m a hardcore gamer, and if my computer built specifically for gaming from less than a year ago has problems with this game, how can they hope to capture any significant audience?”. AoC is still going to face enormous problems pushing the bleeding edge of technology. While the game runs smoothly on low-medium settings and doesn’t crash anymore on the Closed Beta Client, it’s still less than ideal.

Disclaimer: Could these issues still exist but be less blatantly obvious? Yes. That is why I will be playing the 1-13 gameplay a dozen times over to make sure of it. Vanguard had a sneaky way of hiding its CTD’s and memory leaks. More testing is necessary.

  • yeh me and my brother have been waiting to get into the beta for a few weeks now, got in last night and you nailed it with all the issues it has currently. glad to hear its an older build so that when its released it should be all smoothed out in the closed beta like you stated. hope to see ya guys in game:)

  • ” I am a hardcore gamer as well. I Bought the labtop for one thing and one thing only… its a gaming labtop meant only for that. nothing in this was meant for anything else. Its soul intention was MMORPGS. its true.. if my comp cant handle AoC… wow than thqts bull. I understanding that betas are betas.. but comon, even this is getting hetic. While the game is VERY good and i enjoy playing, there is so much things they coulda done diffrent. Upon starting up on the second day, things seem to be running a little smoother. It seems ive only crashed once today lol. “

  • damn… ty was rly thinking of not buying the game untill launch.. to see what happens then… thig post got me thinking of preordering it again:))

  • Is it possible that its just the debugger? Or a combination of an older client and the debugger.. maybe its set on hardcore data collection or whatever and is basically blowing everything up. Pure speculation, but just giving you something to chew on.

  • That’s why I am glad that I was able to test the 1-13 closed beta client for myself. Funcom is completely to blame for all the bad press about the beta client. That mistake could cost them big time. Luckily I was able to test the client and see for myself that the stability issues aren’t there and the client feels solid. It’s still suffering from bleeding-edge-of-techonlogy-syndrome and will not appeal to as many potential players as it could, but that’s their choice.

    Hopefully word will get around and Funcom will take their heads out of their arses. They need to patch the open beta client immediately and release a formal/official statement.

    First impression wounds can be fatal. If you survive them they can take a long time to heal.

  • @Michael: Nah, the debugger is what makes it a little laggier and gives you the hitching and hardrive stalls. It doesn’t crash you…usually. The problem with the crashing was craptastic code that is obviously fixed immensely in closed beta.

  • If one looks at the version numbers of the clients, it appears the difference isn’t that big between the open and closed beta clients, and as such I sort of doubt all issues were magically fixed over the course of a couple of days. It could very well be an issue of the client simply being bad at handling many people in the same zone, since it wouldn’t be unreasonable for this to cause both memory leaks and random crashing.

    I haven’t experienced any crashes at all myself yet, though my system has 4GB of RAM and Conan tends to eat close to 2 GB of that.

    Doubt it, if anything the closed beta people should have more debug logging than open beta, since open beta was supposedly to test servers, and not for client side bugs.

  • Since I didn’t get a beta key (I don’t think my comp can handle it,) I was wondering whether they graphics scale well from high to low. I’m wondering because I recently bought Unreal Tournament 3 and my computer can’t handle it on the higher settings, but the when I get the settings to a playable version, it seriously looks like Wolfenstein 3D (but it can handle Oblivion just fine.) If it scales well, then I could understand pushing the graphics to the limit, but if not it’s just another thing to tack onto the list of problems Funcom is facing.

  • I think something to be mentioned is that not all MMO’s will fail immediately like Vanguard did. One of the reasons Vanguard was torched was for the fact that A) No one really knew what it was about, it just had a fancy name and looked like EQ3 and B) When SOE came into the picture, people wanted nothing to do with it because of what happened to SWG.

    AoC can be a little buggy off the bat, heck more buggy than WoW ever was at release. People right now want brutal action, not arena pvp or monotonous pve. AoC looks gritty, gorey, and will appeal to an audience that is willing to stick through some hiccups.

    In my previous experience, we as players have had some patience when it came to our games. How long it takes to fix the bugs and the problems however will affect how long people stick around.

  • you ever think they will tone down there graphics a bit to get a bigger turnout? I can run fine on low but for PvP in the open beta client its HORRIBLE

  • This is indeed horrible news, but waited for AoC long enough and i can see all the potential in it.

    Although these constant fps freeses and crashes are really annoying. And cant seem to be able to hit anyone in PvP either, hopefully they will fix the beta version soon.

    AoC really cant afford to much negative publicity.
    Lets hope it can still turn out well….very soon.

  • @ Xaanin

    You can’t really look at the client number, we’ve got massive patches that have been 4GB++ the past weeks and that only result in like going from v1.0.2008.403 – v1.0.2008.430.

    So I can’t really see how you can be able to tell how old a client is by just looking at the build.

    And the latest patches has been all about stability, performance and class balancing. Missing out just a few of those updates might have a rather big impact.

  • @Thomas
    True enough, however source control commits should never be made in such large batches, and since funcom is nice enough to include what appears to be revision numbers of the source tree used in the build, it suggests the difference is in fact not as large as people try to make it sound. It’s not a surefire way of knowing, and it only takes one revision to fix a CDT-bug, I still feel it does provide some information about the amount of changes between two builds. I assume you also realize that a 4 GB patch is mainly a content patch, and not a patch of the actual client.

    This is further supported by the fact that my friend in closed beta is experiencing almost all the issues I am.

    As for stability issues in the open beta client, I still have zero crashes and no major memory leaks even after zoning 30+ times.

  • For reference, version numbers are:
    PvP Weekend: ACHA_GeneralBetaCurrent@43991_ReleaseWin32_2008_04 _18-14_17_Rev(43991)
    Open Beta: ACHA_GeneralBetaCurrent@45865_ReleaseWin32_2008_05_01-13_42_Rev(45865)
    Closed Beta: ACHA_GeneralBetaCurrent@46067_ReleaseWin32_2008_05_02-14_27_Rev(46067)

  • Well said Keen. I just posted earlier this evening saying I wouldn’t buy or play a game in this condition, and the clock is ticking for Funcom.

    I know it’s a beta, and I know they might be trying lots of different things to see what’s good and what’s bad, but my first impression was today. You’re right, you only get one chance at a first impression, and now Funcom is going to have to earn my $50. After everything I read about the PvP weekend, I thought it was a pretty sure thing. I’m not so sure any more, but I’ll willing to let Funcom convince me. I’ll keep playing and hoping.

  • Since FC is still working on the patches, we should take the opportunity to make intermittent checks to see if conditions have been improved.

  • Well, almost two full days of trying to play the Fileplanet Open Beta AoC and I haven’t been able to get inside Tortage yet. It seems my 2GB RAM isn’t cutting it but my HP Duo Core 2(1.66 GHZ) running Vista 32 bit with Nvidia 8600GS gets the graphics done on low when I’m able to log in. I’m hoping I can go up to 3 or 4 GB but my, so far, limited research isn’t looking to promising for me.

    I have probably spent a 4 to 1 ratio of trying to log in or being in serious lag when I’m in the game compared to actually playing the game.

    I am hoping for any solution that will work out for me, either that Funcom makes it playable for me in the near future or if its my RAM problem, that I can find a solution for that. My processor seems fine when I check my Task Manager’s log.

    I must agree with Keen on first impressions. If I wasn’t so hyped up on AoC and WAR came out right now and worked on my machine, I’d jump to it in a minute! Luckily, for Funcom I can’t bring myself back to WoW, so they still have a chance to win me over. I’ll wait for a solution, any solution or save up for a year for a better machine. Got solutions?

    PS Keen, have you been reading up on Darkfall? If so, what are your impressions?

  • I don’t disagree with Horpse; I’ll keep checking to see if Funcom’s fixed things, and I’ll keep submitting feedback and testing.

    That said, though, I grumbled a bit about WAR’s graphics when I was in their beta. The only caveat I offered was Mythic’s experience designing a game that will put 100+ people on keep sieges. Cutting edge graphics might not be the best idea when you’re going to jam tons of players into the same area for PvP.

    I remember DAoC going through lots of changes trying to get armor models to load more smoothly when big groups crashed together in RvR. I’ll take my graphics a little less fancy in WAR if it means less lag than I fear I’ll see in AoC.

  • Just went to the official AoC website and clicked on the link that brings you to one of the worst hyped articles ever: “New Mitra’s Method: Age of Conan Beta Journal Entry #2”.

    Well, just what I needed to finally cancel my pre-order. I am tired of the bullshit and all the mumbo jumbo about how “glorious” this game is. All of you guys that are wasting money in beta testing got a small hint of what is coming. This game is NOT ready for launch yet. PvP is a mess. Funcom is not worry about the single-player part. It’s the PvP crap! Do your single-player shit, then the gates of hell will open with lag and frame rates dropping like crazy.

    I feel sorry for those that pre-ordered. This game needs another 6 months, probably 1 year to actually work as intended. And I am not talking about one-on-one PvP. If you think that in 3 weeks Funcom is going to give you a miracle, go for it. , and have fun.

  • Well, I’m new here, but wanted to add my thoughts. Having been through a Funcom launch before, I’d go so far as to say it sounds like a Funcom problem. When they launched AO it seemed fine in beta, but as soon as they got people on the servers, there were bugs everywhere and zone crashes for weeks into launch. I think they suck at writing server code, honestly.

  • I’ll wait for the game to be released as I fear there might be lots of problems when players will flood in.As you say “Vanguard had a sneaky way of hiding its CTDรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs and memory leaks. More testing is necessary”.So see you may be in 2 weeks and may Crom guild our path

  • @Tired of the Hype

    eh, maybe it will suck, maybe it wont but people still like WoW and IMO without bugs that game is crap… but even it launched with many bugs/glitches and the beta was instable… now their format was much more simplistic than AoC so I hope AoC fixes a portion of the bad bugs and sort out the rest in time.

  • Amen Toddofcruz, what does it say that I am reading this board instead of playing? For me it is about a 10:1 ratio of loading/freezing to actual play.

  • I was about to post what pEpz did. Seems like a multi-threaded issue on client’s side, or there are still some bugs in them. Ideally, if you are running on a chip that is single core, you should set the application to use single-threaded mode (or what the article describes as cpu affinity). However, dual-core users should only run multi-threaded if there no stalling issues, else default to single-threaded for the time being. And wait till FC fix it.

  • know what i love? accepting quest and crashing. Know what i love even better? Doing the at night quest and crashing and not being able to log back into my char cause it crashed eash time i try to get back in. <3 at funcom

  • What would be a better dammage spec for TOS, lighting, or thunder? Im thinkin thunder.

  • Seems like there is a lot of problems with the open beta ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well I have very few at the moment in the closed beta that is all I can say. Now if they could just kill that damn debugger (the other day it went bananas and created an error file 544Mb large with 99,9% the same entry).

    Anyway I could be wrong (if so kill me) but I am quite confident that this game will have a surprisingly smooth launch. I think thet learned the lesson of Anarchy Online.

    I think the question to ask is do you have more fun playing this than world of warcraft ? And will War be out this year ? probably not.

  • AoC will probably be sufficient for me to play for at least 4 months. Good enough. There just isn’t so much time to spend on each mmog since these days there are quite a lot of them under development. Quite hard to say if WAR is gonna be out this year still. We havent had a decent fantasy mmog since WoW. Still, there are quite a few decent mmogs besides AoC and WAR, namely, Huxley, A.P.B., EarthRise, etc to wait for. Heck, I just want TakeTwo to make G.T.A. Online.

  • Nice AoC screenshots btw. Looks awesome. Thos are max settings or something ?

  • Yes, they are medium settings that my screenshots are taken in. I never raise settings to get screens. ๐Ÿ™‚ Game LOOKS great. It runs “ok” and YES that is because I have a 1 year old system and not the bleeding edge of technology. As for crashing… Open Beta has issues that are mostly fixed in CB.

  • Setting affinity to 1 cpu has reduced the stuttering and loading times quite a bit on mine. I’m guessin that AoC client is just hogging to much cpu time, not leaving enough for the video card drivers and other low level os stuff.

  • I also read that there is a debugger running in the background of the Fileplanet client.

    I guess they had to make a choice between first impression and gathering data so they could squash bugs for release. A hard decision, to be sure, but, personally, I think they made the correct one. Better to have this craziness at beta than at release, after people have already paid for the game.

  • Is anybody having problems when you first leave the newbie quest and trying to load into the multiplayer world…I can not load into the game. I would try to post on the Age of Conan forums but it wont let me register.

  • btw if anyone was having problems all mine were solved, (cept the trying to log out) by turning the setting that involves setting it to 2.0

  • @ chance: yes i had the problem once with my barb only tho. not sure the cause of it be i reloged and changed my settings where you can choose 3.0 2x and 2.0 and i choose the 2.0 and it solved many of my problems for some reason.

  • @Cedia: The debugger is running in the closed beta as well. The debugger could be causing a lot of performance issues but it’s definitely not the open beta client’s problem.

    @Ravenlof: Shader version? Very interesting… did you see a boost in performance as well when you lowered it?

  • it worked i was able to load into the game thanks Ravenlof..however i am suffering from a lot of lag on low settings and my computer is somewhat better than yours Keen

  • Keen are you refering to the Server or Client side debugger. Because I’m willing to bet the server side is still running, while client side is not. At this point they would have written the debug code out of CB to prepare it for final release. The most likely reason OB is an old client is because it was the last stable game version with the debug code still written into it.

    I know with other mmo betas the last legs of the CB the debug code is taken out to get feedback on performance without it. I don’t know what the communication form funcom is like in the CB forums for AoC as I didn’t get it, but if its anything like it is on the OB forums I can’t imagine they would have communicated this very clearly.

  • @Keen: yes apparently it fixed all problems i was having. i barely lag at all now, load quick, and crash only whe n i try to log out.

  • AoC has only provided the fastest burnout of any MMO I have played to date. It’s extremely linear and excessively repetitive, no where near as “revolutionary” as is being advertised.

  • Beta is beta – you there to collect data not get a free ride. If the open beta is buggier then maybe they need more numbers to iron out what perhaps has been ‘bodged’or disabled in closed beta in order to test different areas of code. Only funcom knows – but it would’ve been less painfull for all if they had reiterated this.

  • I think funcom is more concerned with testing their game than with people who will not play a game because the STRESSTEST beta is laggy, the reason the older client is being used is so they can gain as much data as possible, if they use their good client how will they get all that data? You dont know how they work on their code, i dont either, i think they know what they are doing more than us random people do.