Friday, November 09, 2007

Don’t PlayNC

NCSoft has got to have THE WORST help system of any on-line game service. Okay, probably not anywhere near THE worst. SoE certainly wasn’t an award winner for SWG at its launch, but NCSoft certainly does love making you jump through hoops and they have had over four years to actually get some tools in place.

I recently bought Tabula Rasa. In order to play it I have to have a Master PlayNC account. I do have a Master PlayNC account that I created almost four years ago in early 2004 when I played City of Heroes. Unfortunately, none of my standard passwords seem to be correct. I also love how they get you with the too many attempts thing right off the bat. You know how most systems allow you to attempt to enter your password a few times before they say something and make you wait awhile before you can try again? Well PlayNC does that after the first try.
Too many failed login attempts, login temporarily disabled. Please try again in a few minutes.
Granted the wait time is only like 2 minutes before you can try again, but what a pain in the ass especially if you just made a typo.

I try to use their lost password feature. It pops up two security questions that I am assuming I picked way back when. It also has one of those annoying ‘type in the letters you see that are distorted, hard to read and partly hidden on this noisy background image’ things that all appear to be coded to just reject your first attempt out of hand. The questions are “What was the color of my first car” and “What was my childhood nickname.” I enter the answers and am told I’m wrong.Mercury Comet
Funny that I have a color picture of said car right here and am still haunted by that cruel nickname. The only recourse I am given is that I have to contact support. No link, just told that is what I have to do.

Under the ‘Help’ link on the side menu I find a ‘Support Center’ link, enter ‘Lost Password’ in the search field and get an entry titled “PlayNC Support - What should I do if I think I have been hacked?”

Okay, lets try, “Forgot Password”… okay that came up with a few, one of which is “I forgot my PlayNC master account password.” It gives me the same spiel about going to the lost password link and if I have updated my account and added the security questions that I need to answer them but if I haven’t updated it then I need to just enter my date of birth. Note to self, in the future don’t update and add the questions I won’t remember the answer to in four years.

At the bottom it has another link. “I can't use the FORGOT PASSWORD feature because I cannot remember some of the required information.” Why this link isn’t included on the actual Lost Password page I don’t know.

That page tells me to use the “Ask a Question” link and paste in the following into the form:
I forgot my PlayNC master account password and I can't reset it using the FORGOT PASSWORD feature.
Here is my account information:
PlayNC master account name: ENTER ACCOUNT NAME HERE
Physical Address: ENTER POSTAL MAILING ADDRESS (not e-mail address) HERE
Serial codes/access keys: ENTER CODES/KEYS HERE
Now the problem with all these is I have moved around a bit and there are 5 possible postal addresses I may have used when I first signed up for the account: My house in Vegas, my mother’s house in Vegas (my main U.S. mailing address), my work address, my original apartment when I first moved to Australia or my current apartment.

The Serial Codes and Unique Account IDs are the game code and account names used on previous PlayNC games. I haven’t a clue. I played several of their games but when I stopped, I canceled the accounts. I don’t have that information. (Actually I do as I am very anal about that sort of thing, but let’s pretend I’m a normal person who doesn’t keep game boxes for more than a few years after they’ve stopped playing them. And that they don’t keep game activation code emails buried in some folder in their inbox. Or at least pretend I’m just too lazy to go out into the box in storage where those old game boxes are which is probably a lot easier.) I wrote that I have no active accounts for those two entries.

I got back an email saying that some of my information in incorrect or inaccurate. To assist them further I need to provide them with additional information. They do apologize for what appears to be additional steps. I am told not to reply to the email but rather to go to a link to update my support reqest. This link takes me to their Knowledge Base support page. At this page I am asked for my email address and a password. I wanted to write back, thanking them for their time but informing them that I was going to return Tabula Rasa to the store.

I can’t however as I have no password for their knowledge base page. I am pretty sure I was never asked to create one. Just now in writing this post I have actually retraced my steps to creating this customer service request. I have looked at the original email they auto-sent me when I entered the customer service request and all over this current one. Both say that if I need to update my request to go to that link but neither give any indication of a password. And this email also says if they don’t hear back from me in 72 hours they will assume the issue has been resolved. Not letting the customers answer back is a nice way to get their customer support resolved issues scores up.

Looking back through the PlayNC email crap I have kept. I do have one regarding why I quite City of Heroes. Petition: “Falling Forever: Walked into a building for a mission and fell through the world. I am still falling. /stuck does nothing.”

I remember that I waited online for quite awhile but never got a response. Tried logging off and back on and was still falling. I got this email three days later, “My apologies, but I am not able to find your hero online at the moment. Unfortunately, we can only assist you on this issue while your hero is logged in. Next time you log in with this hero, please reply back to this email letting us know that you are online, and we will get to you as quickly as we can. You may continue to play, and we will find you in the game when we get to your petition.”

This is why I was working to get macro programs banned from SWG customer service. I may not continue to play as falling forever is not what I consider ‘playing’ and I certainly wasn’t about to spend three more days doing it. If somebody had to actually type an answer to that it would probably have more to do to address my problem than suggest that I log in, write them email, then sit there for hours while waiting for them to come to my aid.

The real end to this story is I have another PlayNC account. I created a second one way back when because of this same problem. I was only jumping through these hoops because A. I wanted to complain about them and B. I would prefer to have the other account name as it is my standard one I always use for MMOs. Seriously, if they want you to maintain a master account and not make a new one for each new game, they need to smooth this process out.

It does annoy the piss out of me that they don’t just do the standard “mail the password to the email address on file” like the rest of the world does. I would only need to contact customer support if I had changed my email address or something. They certainly don’t seem to have a problem spamming my email with crap about how they keep re-activating my various game accounts for their ‘special’ weekends to get me to come back.

I wonder if my CoH character is still falling?


Jason said...

You'll not be surprised to know, that even if you were able to remember your two security question answers and actually got the email with your resetted password... It wouldn't work anyway. I got my email with a generated password. I Tried to log in exactly with the username and password in the email. Here's what it told me (right before the "try again in two minutes" bullshit):

We were unable to verify your login. Either your login information was entered incorrectly, or the account system is currently unavailable. Please check the normal downtime schedule and announcements.

I don't want to create a new master account because I have veteran rewards on my account. The real bitch is that I was logging in fine for the free Memorial Day weekend reactivations. I think they know that many people will just create a new account, and in doing so you have to buy the complete game again, which = more money for them. They should be class-actioned for being dicks, ignorant, or both.

Anonymous said...

They've gotten worse. At least back then they had too many checks. In the last month thousands of Guild Wars players have had their accounts stolen. In every case the culprits did it through their PlayNC account, logging into the PlayNC master account and resetting the GW password. Each time NCsoft give the standard "Sorry, you must have given out your password to someone or have a keylogger" crap. Right now all the smart players are transferring their stuff to accounts with no linked PlayNC master account. Today bricks were shat and they all but admitted that PlayNC security is compromised when they put an announcement on the news page demanding EVERYONE change their password...

Anonymous said...

damn noob, shut up. NCSoft doing a great job

Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

What are you 12? Mr. Chickenshit Anonymous trolling though posts that are over a year old. And noob? Seriously? I’ve been making games for over 25 years which is probably longer than you’ve been alive let alone longer than you’ve been asking people if they want fries with that.

They are not doing a great job. They are doing a mediocre job at best. And their account and customer service system SUCKS! As did Tabula Rasa.

Blivia said...

I'm having this same problem, except I don't have a two minute wait when I try to log in, no. It's been over an hour, and it still tells me to check back in a couple of minutes. The only reason I go through them, is because I do in fact, sometimes enjoy playing Exteel. And now I can't do that, which is bs. (I've even made a new account, but I can't loginto it either, because I've made too many login attempts.)

Lee said...

Haha, you'll be pleased to know, if you are even still checking this post, that this is still happening. Also, you are the first result when Googling "Too many failed login attempts, login temporarily disabled. Please try again in a few minutes."

I have now created 3 accounts with NCSoft in order to try and play the Guild Wars trial. I have been trying for over an hour to either get into my old, original account (which has 3 games on it) or set up a new account. I have yet to succeed. They can bite my shiny metal ass, to quote Bender.

Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

The blog emails me when somebody posts and I get a replies on old threads every once in awhile.

I think NC's problem is their upper level management that close to their US operations. They don't see any of these problems and so they remain. If they could get a hit out in the US, something with really big numbers there would be more of racket and things would get looked at and fixed up a little.