WvW World Restructuring Beta Feedback and Future

Hello, Mist warriors,

This is Cecil Armstrong, the Competitive Producer for Guild Wars 2. We recently completed a World Restructuring beta event, which ran from January 12 to February 2, so let’s talk about it!

We’re pretty happy with the results and data gathering provided by this beta: uncovering some startup data errors, increased queue issues, and some beta-specific reset and UI errors. In addition, we gathered great feedback from community members about their experiences and have some good areas for improvement identified. We’ve already set to work on those fixes and improvements, so let’s get into some of the details.

The entrance to a World vs World Tower

The Issues

Team Placement (or “Where am I, and who are all these people?”)

We uncovered several individually small issues that compounded upon one another and led to incorrect team placement. First, during the EU reset at the start of the beta, we discovered that our servers had failed to read the new team-creation data and fell back to its last known good data: the teams from the last beta. We identified the issue pretty much immediately and restarted the matchup with the correct data. Unfortunately, some players were presented with the option to select their team when the wrong data was active, and that choice prevented them from being fixed in that reset. Ultimately, our engineers came up with a clever solution that allowed us to identify the affected players and fix them programmatically, but we couldn’t get it done until early evening Pacific Time, so most of our EU players had already logged off for the night.

After resolving that, we could dig into the still-unknown reports. We identified a trend of people who told us they selected their guild close to the lockout deadline and started exploring that thread, revealing our second major issue. The analytics that track guild selection had an error and stopped reporting during the night before the lockout, effectively preventing any selection from making it to the server for an extra day. This was an easy fix once it was spotted, and now we’ve got some safeguards in place to spot the issue if it were to occur again.

The rest of the issues in this category occurred very rarely, and some are still being investigated, but we also caught a couple of places where the system was working as expected but felt broken. The first is in the case of an inactive WvW guild. Our system has a method for removing guilds and players from the team-creation data if they don’t participate in WvW for an extended period. Normally, this won’t affect you if you have a WvW guild selected, as it is very likely someone else that selected that guild has played WvW recently. If no one with the guild selected has played recently, everyone in it gets sorted as a solo player. We are looking into solutions for this.

The other edge case we saw affected players who had transferred worlds to a different region. If you normally play in NA but had transferred to EU during the lockout, you would be sorted into a team on EU. If you then transferred back to NA, you wouldn’t have been kept with your WvW guild.

The combination of all these issues meant a lot of players were not kept with their guilds as expected, especially in the first team creation. I want to give a huge shoutout and thanks to Rubi, Roy, and the amazing members of our Customer Service team, who spent a lot of time getting players manually moved to the right teams to minimize the impact of these issues. This is the first beta for which we had a proper solution for manually changing teams, and we certainly put it through some rigorous live testing.

The Queues

The dreaded “queue issue” or “Map Is Full” error struck again during this beta. With the increased population due to the very popular WvW Rush and World Restructuring beta, we saw occurrences and reports of these issues skyrocket.

While this is sort of a known quantity and ongoing investigation in WvW, we did find some new variations of this issue that are specific to the World Restructuring system. The team is exploring why that might be and seeing if it can inform the larger queue-issue investigation as well.

UI (or “What you see is what you sometimes get.”)

Beta resets have had some odd UI errors, and while we solved many of them, there were a couple that still affected us this time around. Notable reset errors were:

  • Team names could be incorrect on the WvW Mist War panel
  • Players could be unable to join WvW via the UI or portals

Thankfully, these have a simple workaround and are fixed by relogging, but they still led to reset frustration for lots of players. We also discovered an issue in which players that had set themselves to invisible status would not see the proper UI for their WvW guilds. While this issue was visual only and the server was still getting the proper data, it likely caused people to be misplaced in team creation due to the confusion. Luckily, all these errors have somewhat similar root causes, and we have fixes prepared for them.

Looking from a distance at the entrance to a World vs World Tower

The Feedback

Despite the issues, the beta was very successful in many ways, giving us tons of data and great player feedback. Thank you all for sharing your experiences with us to help us improve the World Restructuring system! I want to quickly address some of the major feedback topics.

Some Matchups and Time Zones Felt Unbalanced/Unorganized

This was a mixed experience. There has been a lot of discussion about the balance of specific matchups, time zone coverage, and the distribution of experienced commanders (especially open tags). I am very glad that we received so much feedback in this area, as it was the primary goal of this beta. Our new team-creation algorithm was utilized for the first time, and the new criteria are working as expected.

The goal of this system is to create the most engaging matches possible, ensuring there is a good balance of player and commander activity throughout the matchups and across time zones. We certainly have improvements to make with how our criteria are used to create balanced teams, but initial data and feedback shows us moving in a good direction.

Language Barriers

Many players in our EU community experienced issues communicating with their teammates due to the heavy mixing of international guilds and players. With communication being so critical to a good WvW experience, this is a major area of improvement for us. This is challenging to solve without breaking down the balance aspects of the team-creation algorithm. We don’t have a timeline or solution nailed down for this yet, but we are investigating ways to mitigate the issue.

Loss of Server Communities

Several players have expressed a feeling of loss of community with the World Restructuring system. While we understand that this departure from the longstanding WvW server system will have some negative impacts, World Restructuring provides a regular redistribution of players that is critical to the long-term health and balance of the game mode. We are aiming to provide tools and options for you to create and maintain robust communities within the new structure.

Queues Are Bad

We hear you! This was a major issue for some teams. During this first week, this was heavily impacted by a population surge from the WvW Rush event, but even in later weeks we could see some significant queue times on certain teams. We’re looking into ways to reduce queue pressure in prime-time slots while protecting balance in lower population times.

Many players have also pointed out that long queues led to an increase in AFK players; a vicious cycle. We are investigating better ways to clear inactive players from the maps to reduce this inflated pressure on queues.

Of course, both of these issues were also made worse (and significantly more frustrating) by the “Map Is Full” errors we discussed above, and that investigation is a top priority for us.

Fun Facts

During the World Restructuring beta, I was paying special attention to commanders and saw a lot of extra people tagging up!

  • Unique Commanders: 6,236
  • Commanders were tagged for an average of 4.7 hours during the beta
  • Average weekly commanding hours increased by approximately 26% during the beta

Earlier this year, an issue caused us to disable gliding in WvW for a period, which ended up being a sort of impromptu rules change test. Many of our players certainly felt the impact, as you’ll see below.

  • 35,546 players died of fall damage while gliding was disabled
  • This averaged 5,359 falling deaths per day; a 94% increase over the normal daily average

Airship hovering over a World vs World Location

The Future

With this beta wrapped up and lots of work yet to come, we want to talk a little about our future plans.

Better Information in More Places

This is a system with lots of moving parts, data, deadlines, and player input. In an effort to make that information more accessible and apparent, we’re planning several UI and API improvements. We don’t have a definite timeline on these yet, but we will share updates as we have them.

  • UI
    • Adding Next Team Creation and Next Lockout Deadline to guild/WvW panels
    • Adding guild roster indicators for players who have chosen the currently viewed guild as their WvW guild
    • Making the WvW Team Selection panel information visible but inactive when you have an assigned team, allowing players to see what teams their contacts and guilds are on
  • API
    • Adding Next Team Creation times for each region
    • Adding Next Lockout Deadline
    • Adding WvW guilds’ assigned teams
    • Adding WvW guilds’ next team
      • Similar to our World Linking forum posts, this would allow guilds to know what team they will be assigned at reset as soon as the team-creation data reaches the server
    • Adding an API key option for a player’s selected WvW guild
    • Adding an API key option for a player’s assigned team / next team

Sixth Guild Slot

Many players were frustrated by the feeling of “losing” a guild slot to properly organize in the World Restructuring system. We always want to encourage players to build long-lasting and meaningful communities in our game, and this made that more difficult. To remedy that, we have decided to add a sixth guild slot when World Restructuring is turned on full-time. This new guild slot will have all normal guild functions, and it will be available to all players, regardless of their WvW participation.

Region Transfers

During the beta, we got quite a few questions about the future of world and region transfers with the removal of home worlds. We wanted to let you know that region transfer functionality will still be available via an updated character selection interface. In addition, we will be setting the gem cost to transfer regions to a flat 500 gems, as we no longer need to have variable costs based on world populations.

Next Beta

While the beta was mostly a major success for the team, we are concerned about the new version of the queue issue we’ve discovered, particularly the evidence that World Restructuring is worsening it. With the “Map Is Full” error being such an extremely negative player experience, we aren’t comfortable enabling the system full-time before we resolve it. Investigating this issue is the number-one priority for the World Restructuring team, but we don’t have an expected timeline to solve it right now. We will share more information on this issue when we can.

Once we find a solution to this queue issue, we’ll have a clearer picture of what the next step is for turning World Restructuring on full-time. Ideally, the next time we turn on World Restructuring, it will stay on.

Thanks for Participating!

Your involvement in our World Restructuring beta events has given us the ability to test and tune the system to support the future of WvW. We’ve got lots of exciting stuff coming and lots of hard work ahead, but we couldn’t have gotten here without your participation and support.

For now, I’ll leave you with a quick reminder of our current priorities. The Future Goals section below specifically references things that we know we want to do but could be deprioritized or significantly delayed as other important issues come up.

  • Top Priority
    • New World Restructuring “Map Is Full” error investigation
    • Adding Next Lockout Deadline timer to in-game UI
    • Add 6th Guild Slot
  • Future Goals (No Timeline)
    • API integrations for WvW and World Restructuring information
    • Additional guild & WvW interface improvements
    • Better mixed-language team experience
    • Improved detection of inactive players

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