Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TERA Lag Update

One of the things that annoys me a bit about the game design of TERA is that a lot of the story missions are level-dependent, that is, besides getting though the preceding story missions you need to qualify for the next one, you also have to hit a certain level in order to get the next mission and move on to the next area of the game. If you do all the BAM missions that probably wouldn't be an issue, but if you solo a lot like I do, you'll often find yourself done with the prerequisite story missions but not yet at the level you need to be at in order to get the next one.

When I find myself in this situation, I'll often go back to an area where I left some missions unfinished and do some of those to get the EXP I need to ding the next level and start the next story mission. That's what put me on Serpentis Isle fighting Malagash yesterday. Generally speaking, I try to go back to an area anywhere from 5-8 levels below where I currently am because that's usually where I find that the BAM missions become soloable, winnable but still challenging, and with EXP and drop rewards that are still worth the effort.

Because of the extreme lag I encountered while revisiting Serpentis Isle, I was forced to stick to lower-level mobs for the most part in that area, but I did manage to gain enough EXP to hit the next level and start the next story mission which took me to a new town, Habere. Here I experienced little of the intense lag I had to deal with on Serpentis Isle, and so the game once again became playable (at least so far), although most of the BAMs in the area are far too strong for me to attempt to solo.

For me, this is a big issue. I enjoy teaming up with other players to take on dungeons and BAMs, but I also enjoy solo play, and I like being able to try soloing a BAM that would have been impossible to take on alone when I was at the level where I originally encountered it in the course of normal questing.

So it seems that the intense lag I've been experiencing is directly related to what particular area of the game I happen to be playing through at the time. This makes sense give that free-to-play opened just two weeks ago and it's likely that most of the new players are still making their way through the lower and middle levels of the game. At the same time, it also points up another problem: As these players continue to level up, it seems likely that the higher levels will become as lag-ridden as the lower and middle levels already are. Not good...not good at all.

The analogy that keeps coming to mind is a tsunami. You can see the disaster coming in the distance, making its way toward the shore you're standing on. You know it's coming, that it will eventually reach you and that it will wreak havok on you and everything around you when it gets there. In this case, however, it seems that EME has to know its coming too, and what's more, they're the only ones who can stop it, or at least limit the damage it does when it arrives.

I hope EME does what it has to in order to prevent the "lag tsunami" from basically destroying upper level gameplay and eventually the endgame as well. If upper level players start deciding in droves that TERA is no longer playable for them and a mass exodus starts, it will be, at best, very bad for the game, and at worst, a potentially fatal blow. I hope we're going to see backbone infrastructure upgrades that can handle the load and quickly, because at the rate many players progress through this game if they wait another week or two, it's probably going to be too late.