February 2020 Playtest Review

Hi, fellow gamer and MMO enthusiast!

Our first open testing week has ended, and it’s been one of the busiest and most exciting times in the development of Fractured so far.

Back in December, our first attempt at a stress test was short-lived due to some server issues that came up soon after launch – both in the game code and in our own web infrastructure. Very few of you actually managed to play, which means we didn’t have the chance to assess the consequences of heavy load from a game design rather than a technical perspective.

This time, however, the test ran smooth as silk, and we got all the data we need. Let’s move on to our findings then!

The Good

Servers held flawlessly

Within a month from the previous “failed” test, we fixed all server code issues and completely rewrote our web API, login server and chat server. These changes delivered the expected results: we had hundreds of players logged in the game at peak times, with no sign of overload. Even better, we estimated we could have borne a much higher load!

In this regard, we’d like to express our gratitude to the Improbable engineers. Their help was invaluable, as they quickly solved the issues we had run into in December and supported us during the course of this test, even outside of office hours!

Massive interest again

Our first (attempt at a) stress test in December already revealed a great interest in Fractured – but this one surpassed it greatly.

Over 6,000 new accounts have been created in the last couple weeks, and almost 20,000 characters (belonging to ~15,000 distinct accounts) have been created during the playtest. There were even login queues after new patches were deployed and servers restarted – luckily short and not too annoying.

We now have over 70,000 registered users – thank you all for being here!

Good sales

As expected, the success of the test reflected positively on our sales. We’ve gained over 400 new backers in the last few days, and the flow doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

This increase is great for us but also for other backers, since it’s going to make future testing phases more active and populated, which is great news.

Very few bugs

The work we’ve done in the latest testing phases to reduce the bug count has paid off. We had very few bug reports this time, the main (and truly annoying one) being the infamous “handcart stuck in pavement” bug, which is not going to be around any longer in the next testing phase. Promised! 😉

The Bad

Free land hard to find

The land claiming and management system we’ve used in the playtest was still incomplete, and it was likely the largest issue most testers had to face.

Getting a parcel was completely free (no need to spend game currency), the 3 possible spawn points for new players were relatively close to each other, and land sharing was still under implementation. This terrible combo made it so that all plots around spawn points were quickly occupied, forcing users who joined later to walk for hours (literally) to find free ones.

This game-breaking scenario is the reason we’ve decided to prioritize the completion of the land claiming system and have it ready for Alpha 2 – Test 2.

What do I do now?

This question is one we heard from several players after they were done building their house, crafting stations, etc. The Knowledge System was there and made use of popups and notifications, yet for most testers it wasn’t clear that character progression is based on defeating monsters, filling their bestiary entries and learning their abilities. This requires exploring the world, and the lack of indications on points of interest in the world map definitely made things worse.

Given this feedback and the land claiming issues detailed above, we’re now exploring how to quickly implement a whole new early game experience that’s closer to the one at full release. More details on this topic will be released in future updates!

Griefers & hacks

Since day one, we’ve always taken a lot of pride in our community – one made of kind, friendly and welcoming people.

Sadly, an event like this one tends to draw in some individuals who have no interest in testing the game, but only in spoiling other players’ fun. While there were actually very few, some managed to become a real annoyance in the global chat, and we didn’t have a 24/7 moderation team to deal with them.

Some hackers also found vulnerabilities that could be exploited within character creation and in-game (related to movement and attacks). A couple we were already aware of, a couple were new and unexpected. They’re all gone already (they were trivial to fix), but we clearly wish some of you didn’t have to put up with the people abusing them.

What’s next?

It’s Alpha 2 – Test 2! Starting in late February / early March (exact date to be announced) and bringing to life:

  • Parties;
  • Guilds;
  • Land parcel management (friends & access levels);
  • The first iteration of the Vale of Shadows.

Before that happens, we’ll send out a survey to aggregate feedback from the past Open Playtest. That will award you with Foundation Points, so stay tuned!

Enjoy Fractured!