The third alpha test for Final Fantasy XIV took place on Thursday, April 15th, but right after the test started there were frequent server malfunctions. There didn't seem to be a possible fix for them, so the test ended an hour and twenty minutes into it. I was personally unable to get a satisfactory play experience, so I will have to forego the play report this time.
This particular login malfunction has been going on since the first alpha test. FFXIV director Kawamoto explained the problem on the tester site, also explaining what they would do to fix the problem.
The login error seems to have been a client error that happened often when a great number of players were concentrated in one area. This makes sense, since the opening instance played just fine, but there were a lot of cases where the client shut down after entering Limsa Lominsa.
A lot of errors were taken care of in the second alpha test, but because they haven't been able to come up with a solution for server load issues, they are having a hard time increasing the number of players able to login at the same time. This seems to be what is keeping the players from logging in, even though the total number of testers is limited as it is.
Because of this issue, the length of the test for basic controls and battle has been extended from what was originally intended, since these things can't be tested if people can't log in. The character wipe and character growth balance tests have also been pushed back. The next alpha test window has not yet been announced, but judging by this announcement, there's a probability that they'll extend it.
These sorts of login malfunctions and other problems are to be expected during a closed alpha test; in fact, fixing these sort of problems is exactly what alpha tests are for. However, it's only natural that devoted fans (like those who made it into Vana'Fest) feel upset about being made to wait to play the game.
I can understand both sides, but I think the alpha status update from the FFXIV director himself shows their sincerity and that they are doing what they can. The forums are thick with information and tester talk, and the relationship between the testers and developers appears to be a good one.
The testers are still in a bit of a gloomy state, but I guess they'll have to be patient a little while longer.
Even though I couldn't play to the fullest this time around, as a tester and as a 4Gamer columnist, I can't just write this off, so for the legions of readers waiting for new FFXIV information, I have strewn this article with Lalafell.
For those who don't know, Lalafell are a race short in stature that are very similar to the Tarutarus of FFXI. There are the Plainsfolk Lalafells who live in the plains, and the Dunesfolk Lalafells who live in the desert. Only Plainsfolk are current available in alpha.