Title: 2177

Tuesday, Mar 3, 2009

March 2009


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Title: 2177

March 3, 2009
12:01 AM

Okay, it’s really, truly time for me to just get on here and bitch. I can’t let it go any longer, because I just sit here getting pissed off about it, and that’s not healthy. Plus…. it kinda relates to today’s comic, so I guess it’s fair.

Darkfall, as you may or may not know, was scheduled to be released in January… that never happened. Instead, it was delayed ’till February 25th. Which sucked, but hey – waiting a month for them to iron out the bugs? Totally worth it. They assured us that the reason for this was to ensure as smooth a launch as possible. It was also noted that there would be a preorder period, and that sales would be throttled in as spaces became available. It made sense, I suppose… at the time, anyway.

Fast forward to February 25th. Excited, I log on to darkfallonline.com… only to find that it hasn’t changed. Not one bit. Not since the BETA was released, as a matter of fact. It’s only when I try to log on to the forums that I find out what’s going on… A) The forums are completely slammed, and are, in fact, down 80% of the time, and B) They posted the link to buy the preorder in the forums. ONLY in the forums. Nowhere else. Preorders lasted mere minutes, and then they were gone. Poof. Well, gee. That sucks.

So I check back the next day. And the next day. Nothing. No ETA, just vague references to server-side optimizations, et cetera, et cetera. Meanwhile, the unknown quantity of players who did manage to get in on the preorder have been playing and gobbling up potential city sites, while the unwashed masses wait outside the gates to get in.

Then, lo and behold, this morning I get on the computer and see that they plan on opening sales “shortly”. Having learned my lesson the first time, I refreshed the forums with a startling degree of regularity, once again having to deal with 80% downtime. I did some sleuthing and found out that to sign up, you had to visit a site that up to this point had not really been publicized anywhere and add your account and payment info – so you could be ready. However, we find that there is one caveat – you can’t refresh more than 4 times in 10 minutes, or you will be blocked from viewing the site for 10 minutes. That’s pretty harsh, but I get it – they want to keep the servers open.

So I go back to the forums, and wait, and wait, and wait… and then finally see the post! Sales are live!

And then I spent 10+ minutes timing out on the sales page.

I learn after the fact that sales went live BEFORE they made the post that they were up for sale – which meant, due to the tenacity of the people wanting to get into the game, that they were sold out BEFORE HIS POST WAS UP. I would have simply checked the sales page instead of the forums, but I didn’t really feel like getting a 10-minute block.

Is this all starting to sound ridiculous to you? Because it sure as hell sounds ridiculous to me. From what I understand, this means that the forseeable future will involve me logging on sometime in the morning, waiting for sales to be announced, and then fighting thousands upon thousands of other players for a slot, while simultaneously fighting with the worst web programming any MMO Account Management page has ever dealt with. There’s no “key” or “token” that guarantees your transaction will go through once you get it… it just processes the orders in the order the authorization hits the server. (And sometimes, not even that much… given how many people got corrupted account info during the preorder. There are people who preordered whose accounts still aren’t active, even while they sell new accounts to new players.)

In short, by going with the method they chose, they have instead had one of the worst launches of any MMO I can think of offhand. WWII online may have had buggy servers, but at least I had an ACCOUNT. At least I knew that once the servers were sorted out, I was on an even footing with everyone else. This case is reversed – the servers, apparently, work just fine. Slight code and maintenance changes here and there, but people are playing and enjoying the game. Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of people have no idea when they’ll get to play. And when we do finally get in, it’ll be into a world where many, many people are already far beyond where we could be. Par for the course for late adopters, but there’s something to be said for joining a game early on and actually getting to ADVENTURE in that world. That’s basically gone now.

Really, for all my bitching, I’m GOING to be trying to get in every time they open sales, and I’ll be hanging around. I know that, and I’m ashamed of the fact that I don’t have stronger moral principles, but that’s who I am. But the way Aventurine is handling this makes Cornered Rat Software look downright PLEASANT by comparison. Just something to think about.