Pirates of the Burning Sea Underway

Pirates of the Burning Sea went live yesterday after a few weeks of limited pre-boarding. I did the pre-order for PotBS after open beta. I also did the pre-order period for LotRO which resulted in a very smooth launch for that game– in part because the economy got a jump start and the number of players impacting the starting areas on release day was reduced resulting in a less lagtastic experience. Turns out it was a very good idea.

With LotRO, I pre-ordered from a large online retailer. I ordered two copies of that game through them. Long story short, it was a cluster. They only made one pre-order code available, its was buried in their site without instructions on how to retrieve, etc. Then, when release came around, they said they’d send the retail box (with activation code) something like 2 weeks after release… After a few phone calls and some huffing and puffing, I got my two activation keys before release and the boxes actually arrived the day of release.

Fortunately, Turbine planned ahead and gave a grace period so that pre-order peeps could continue to play while their retail boxes got delivered. So while dealing with the retailer was frustrating, getting in and continuing to play the game was never an issue. Unfortunately, FLS didn’t make the same choice much to the consternation of many players.

Still, I vowed never to do either the electronic download or online order experience again. So for PotBS, I went with Fry’s. The evil you know versus the evil you don’t know. I bought the pre-order there, dutifully saving my receipt. I went there yesterday at lunch accompanied by my preorder box with receipt and found the retail box. With a relative minimum of explaining how a pre-order purchase works to the retailer selling it(!), I walked out of the store with the retail box.

Since I had to finish work that day, I checked in to see what was happening in the forums. I know, I know, but it was a slow day. Lots of peeps reporting difficulties and frustration getting activated for the game. Lots of issues seemed to surround the the company we love to hate (SOE) and the activation/registration process. My unscientific survey seems to validate my approach. Direct download and/or online retail customers seemed to be having the most problems.

Still there were probably some true SOE-induced issues– like not recognizing game cards as a form of payment upon activation and requiring a credit card to be entered. Likewise, misunderstandings that a credit card is required even though the first 30 days subscription is included with the box. For some, at least, the whole tin foil hat credit card over the computer/internet thing is a religious issue.

So with some trepidation, I left work hoping that I might actually get in game on release day. I went home. I opened the box. I found the activation key. I launched the game. It asked for my activation key through SOE’s account management page, entered it without dashes (don’t know if it mattered), put in payment information, looped back and entered my “Landing Party Key” (which allows me to continue to claim pre-order rewards on any new characters– needed dashes this time), put in my super secret open beta reward key and launched the game. The retail box also ships with a Buddy Key to rope your friends in. Not sure if online/direct download offers the same thing.

And a few seconds later, I was in game. Start to finish– about 10 minutes. Of course I’m on Guadeloupe which is apparently slightly less populated than Pluto, but there were no crashes, no lag and wonder of wonders, the /whocount was showing that the French population was rising (huzzah!). After reading the forums, you’d think it was the Anarchy Online Launch, Part II. For me at least, this was painless. Yes, a little needlessly cumbersome, but generally painless. Kudos to FLS on a painless launch for this sailor.

I dropped into Tampa and noticed right away that the only spot of contention on the map was New Orleans. The Spanish which appear to be the largest contingent on our server, had obviously coordinated their efforts and were creating massive gobs of unrest around N.O. I popped over to see what the fuss was about and nearly got sunk by my own in attention as the PvP zone expanded. This carebear has a few things to learn about PvP… Full contention by about 10 p.m. U.S. West Coast time. Yikes! Even more frightening was the number of level 27-28 Spanish trolling off the coast. Someone’s been very busy.

So rather than risk my hard earned ship in a gank fest, I decided I’d just spend some time harrassing Spanish shipping outside Havana and getting a bit of fighting experience in my new ship. I managed to bring port contention in Havana up to a total of 5 (10,000 required to trigger a full PvP zone) all by my lonesome. Heh, go me, that’s sticking it to the man. All in all, I’ve got to echo Keen’s sentiments that having port contention turned back on really adds back the excitement that the pre-order game was lacking. Looking forward to hooking up with my society mates and doing a little hunting.

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