5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

ptr-woes

What is the PTR? There’s all sorts of curiosity and questions about this PTR thing. One of my guildies affectionately refer to it as the patience test realm. The PTR as we know it is actually known as the public test realm. It’s several servers that contain upcoming content for players to test such as new class changes, new in game events (like the Argent tournament) and a new raid instance like Ulduar.

But my experience with it has been incredibly frustrating. Of course, there are periods where things aren’t so bad and I can try out stuff. Today’s post is going to feature a list of annoyances and possible suggestions for Blizzard in upcoming content patches.

Instance instability

During the worst of times, the instances are unplayable. I’d have half my raid group inside Ulduar and another half would be waiting outside trying to get in. They’d receive errors like “Transfer Aborted: Instance not found” or “Too many instances. Please try again later.” It was incredibly frustrating. A typical PTR test day would involve 30 minutes of actual boss time and 90 minutes of waiting for people to resolve their technical issues.

I can’t even report any bugs and such or effectively test out stuff since it’s nigh impossible.

Solution: In BC, we’ve got this major traffic artery called the Port Mann bridge. It carries hundreds of thousands of cars daily and it’s still not enough. Right now, the city engineers in are in the process of twinning the Port Mann bridge by doubling the lanes to increase the load that the bridge can carry. I wonder if that same logic is possible to apply by launching more instance servers.

No Mcweaksauce

I know. Blizzard mentioned that players should be prepared to bring their own stash of buffs. I don’t know how realistic it is to have that kind of expectation that players have bags full of flasks, enchanting mats, glyphs and what not for the entire duration of the testing phase. It would just be incredibly convenient.

Solution: Have the entire McWeaksauce family at the staging area just before the instance portal that anyone can go to. Make them slightly larger than normal to prevent mammoths from sitting on top of them.

Overcrowding

Guildies and other players I’ve spoken to explained that previous PTRs were much easier to get in to. Why? Because there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in them. Why? Because people weren’t bored and they still had stuff to do.

Think about it.

A large number of guilds have completed all that the game presently has to offer. More than usual, even. So when word comes out that there’s new stuff to play around with, a lot of players will jump at the chance. I know if I was still working on OS drakes or Malygos, I wouldn’t be as dedicated with the PTR. Most of the traffic seems to occur right around the beginning of a boss being toggled on.

Solution: Not quite sure here. Would more servers do the trick?

Lack of servers

Again, this is similar to the population control. I have players disconnect from world servers. I have players who get network connection errors. I have players who continuously error out. There’s a lot more demand from players who want to get in on the action then there are boxes that can supply that desire. Europe’s got four servers, right? North America has two. But I guess all the European ones come in various languages. It’s at the point now where I routinely pray for other players to get frustrated enough to give up their attempts to get back in so that my group has a higher chance of getting in.

Solution: See above.

Inflated prices

This is just a product of every PTR phase. This is what some players are thinking:

“Gold doesn’t mean a thing so I can charge a crapload for it! I can make a fortune of gold that will be completely and utterly useless! It’s all going to disappear within a few weeks so I can charge obscenely high prices and not give a damn!”

And this ends up being a vicious cycle. One person charges overpriced stuff for enchanting mats or glyphs. This causes everyone else to match the price to come up with the funds to pay for other overpriced stuff. And on and on it continues. Who loses? Just about everybody since they can’t get access to the tools they need to test stuff effectively. And don’t even try to raise the garbage argument that “oh they should’ve gotten their stuff enchanted before coming”. Because we all know there’s new items coming and that stuff should get polished up, too.

Solution: A really savage beating.

So why do I keep going back? Why do I continue to subject myself to hours of teeth grinding annoyances?

Because I still firmly believe that knowledge is power. Sure you can read about strategy and watch live videos of guilds attempting to do it. But the experience and feeling of accomplishment after figuring a boss out on our own? That type of feeling can’t be reduplicated. There’s already strategies and videos out. But for the brief hours I was in there with friends and guildies, the experience of undergoing trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t is unmatched. And I have a new whole level of respect for the top tier guilds and raid leaders around the world who engage in this every time new content is available.

Props to those guys. And Stratfu.

Apparently word on the street is that linking to Stratfu brings good luck and many beautiful women. I’ll have to test this theory.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. Bonkers says:

    Instances could have a “join as a group/raid” feature a la battlegrounds. Better to have 6 raids going than 20 stalled trying to get everyone zoned in.

    Instead of adding servers to handle demand, I’d rather see some kind of vetting process to make sure PTR players are submitting useful feedback. The “more servers” part will happen in a few weeks when it goes live!

  2. Bonkers: Yeah, that’s true too. Like a queue to get in, right? The PTR forums are usually good for feedback (and I’ve read some of them).

  3. My favorite solution to some of the problems would be harder raid content. I don’t ever want a PTR again where I’m so bored and full of loot that I download the client. Haven’t set foot in Ulduar though, still not sure if testing on PTR won’t spoil the fun for me. I’m really tempted by the thought of working on a boss with no strats. Then again I don’t like to do bug testing for a monthly fee, just because there’s nothing else to do.

    Actually I started reading books and stuff.

    drugs last blog post..PTR, Ulduar, Arcane Mage and good old Times

  4. Bonkers, I really like that idea – it could even be automated, so that if one person enters an instance, a number of slots on the server equal to that person’s current group/raid size are reserved (for X amount of time, to prevent someone forming a 40-person raid and then not doing anything with it), without the group leader having to take explicit action.

  5. I’ve always enjoyed pottering about on PTRs and, I agree, they’ve become a bit of a circus now.

    Yes, all Europe’s servers are different language flavours – the English test server is overcrowded to hell and the others less so, meaning that a lot of the top guilds are now testing on Spanish or other language realms from what I hear.

    I feel there has been a lot of bitching about people going to ‘sightsee’ and whilst this is a problem, it’s an issue caused by, as you say, people being bored with content. I’ve never felt treated so second-class by many of the ‘higher eschelons’ of raiding because I don’t go to the ptr to test raid content but the other pve content… High end raiders seem to think that the ptr is simply a way to train for faster kills outside of the ptr and even Blizzard’s split system has not stopped that attitude.

    Asking them to ‘add new servers’ is probably not going to happen – they already seem pretty overstretched in that department. No idea how they could alleviate it otherwise without limiting signups to the ptr, though how thy could do it without being arbitrary I have no idea.

    /hug

  6. Hey Matt,

    Here’s some more reasons the ptr sucks. A little overlap but I beleive there’s a common theme.

    http://omenscourge.blogspot.com/2009/02/top-10-reasons-ptr-sucks.html

    Omenscourges last blog post..Evolution of Personal Professions

  7. Well, there is actually one reason why PTR sucks: YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE! Well, not actually you, but that other guy.

    What is the purpose of PTR? Surprise, surprise: testing! You know, finding bugs and reporting them to developers. Testing different specs and sending feedback.

    What do 99% of players do on PTR? Hanging around, trying to see the content earlier than they are supposed to, forming 2-man raids to sneak into Ulduar…

    When you see some spells havingly nerfed 2 days after 3.0.8, you start to guess, did anyone with that particular spec actually went into a raid at PTR? NOOOO, everyone was bored to hell with Naxx at live servers! They “tested” how does Night Elf look on Mechanostrider

    That’s of course is natural: if you give a way of looking at new exciting things, people will go look at them.

  8. Alorina says:

    haha Who’d have thought I’d ever see the day when the Port Mann was compared to something in the WoWverse.

    My solution to the hell that is the PTR? Stay far away and hope that others have more patience than I do.

    Thanks for doing what you can with the limited PTR :o)

  9. PTR prices are insanely high because everyone copies over 4 characters with as much money in their bags as possible.

    In turn, people need to copy 4 characters with enough money as possible to be able to afford the insanely high PTR prices.

    And round and round we go!

    Keevas last blog post..Very quick undocumented changes in 3.1

  10. About congestion: Ulduar is also only open for specific times which forces everyone to sign on at the same time to test. I once tried to get into a raid but due to lag and server crashes I never made it into the instance 🙁

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