Tomorrow will mark the 1st week since Demigod’s official launch. The newer reviews that have come out since the initial launch have come back to more where we’re expecting:
Firing Squad: 84 of 100
Cosmos Gaming: 95 out of 100
GameFocus: 92 out of 100 and an Editor’s Choice
Where are we at?
First, one of the side benefits from the day 0 debacle is that I have fallen in love with a new program called GameRanger. It’s hard to remember but back in the Total Annihilation days, playing multiplayer involved knowing someone’s IP address and trying to connect to their game via IRC or something else. But then program like TEN and Kali and such came out and made things better. But if you’re having problems with getting multiplayer going, I have to say, GameRanger works pretty well and it is doing basically the same thing we’re in the process of setting up.
Now right now, Demigod, as a game, is awesome. Demigod, as an on-line service, however, sucks ass. It works fine for what I dare say most people but for others, it's just awful. Our job is to make sure it works fine for everyone.
Talk about being babes in the woods. Sins of a Solar Empire’s network “infrascture” to this day involves 1 server. Demigod’s involves dozens of servers now because of so many people using it. I guess it turns out most people playing Sins of a Solar Empire were playing it single player.
So what is the cause of our woes?
Let’s talk about peer-to-peer networking. Here’s how it works:
Everyone has to connect to everyone. And unfortunately, not everyone can. Worse, the connection servers we’ve had have been just being pounded by the number of requests.
Why wasn’t this found in beta? There’s two reasons:
1) Our beta group was overwhelmingly located in North America and they didn’t have problems connecting to each other. That is still the case now. But people in Europe tend to have problems connecting to people in the United States.
2. Our synthetic stress tests on the server were through pretty ideal connections where connections were pretty easy.
So what can do do about this?
This is a bit of an over simplification but you get the idea. We have the connections pass through these proxy servers on-route to the other player. The geographic location of these servers is key to keep users from getting lag. I’m told it shouldn’t take very long to get this part going.
It’s not all bad
I will say that the current system does a pretty decent job. Once we were able to throw enough servers at the problem we’re seeing a lot of successful MP games. But that does little good for the people who just can’t connect and no amount of port forwarding is going to solve the case where two players just can’t talk to each other.
My expectation is that by the end of this week, the connectivity problem will be largely solved. I hopefully won’t have to eat my words. But the fact that things like GameRanger works so well indicates that there’s little problem with Demigod itself but rather the service infrastructure behind it.