Greetings! Tons of different things to talk about today so bear with me.
Based on the logs, multiplayer is working pretty decently for most people but for others it is completely broken. A program called Game Ranger has helped a lot of people but there’s a lot of warez users on there.
Let’s talk about the pirates
I’ve read a lot of misconceptions out there. First, no, we very much don’t like it when people pirate our stuff. Our position has simply been that people are going to pirate a game whether it has draconian copy protection or not and the people who will buy a PC game will buy it and the people who won’t won’t.
The first few days of Demigod being miserable on-line was largely the result of us simply not having taken into account the effect pirated copies would have on our server resources. So we had to scrounge servers and get users onto there.
Once we got legitimate users onto the servers that were isolated from the infrastructure that was being pounded on by the pirates, the connection situation improved dramatically as you know.
It’s easy and convenient to blame piracy for the launch debacle of Demigod but that would be inaccurate. Even had Demigod had some nasty copy protection on the DVD, it would still have been cracked and this problem would have come up anyway.
So contrary to what some have said, Stardock’s anti-copy protection stance is not the cause the first few days of Demigod’ connectivity. More like, our inexperience in publishing multiplayer-centric games caused us to underestimate the server infrastructure needed.
We do not intend to change our policy on copy protection. This leads us to the next part.
Understanding how Stardock supports games
Our “copy protection” is to treat our games as a service rather than a product. Those of you who have our non-games like Object Desktop or Multiplicity know what I speak of.
That is, we keep releasing updates to our games for a long time. Our publishing agreement with Gas Powered Games includes game updates to the game for at least a year. And after that, we still expect to release updates.
Once the multiplayer connectivity stuff is straightened out, we can start to talk about the kinds of things we can add like team based joining, how clan support should be, what kinds of items people would like to see, what kinds of additional demigods people want, and so on.
But our first priority has to be to those users who find connectivity flakey or just plain non functional. They paid $40 for a game and we have an obligation to help them before we start adding in new features and such.
Stardock’s business model is that our titles generate revenue over a long period of time rather than in the first 90 days. So we look at our journey with you being at the very beginning.
Why we love the community
Another thing that really keeps us going is just how wonderful the community is. Obviously, it should be clear by now that we weren’t anticipating the kinds of connection challenges some people have run into. Our guys have been working with the guys at Gas Powered Games night and day on resolving them.
I can assure you that Gas Powered Games is as interested as we are in making sure problems people run into are solve quickly. Not in some patch a month from now but like updates in a matter of days.
But what really also has made this experience a bit amazing is just how great the community has been to us. One user (OrleanKnight) sent our team a box of Mrs. Fields cookies. Other users have sent us cards and pictures their kids have made of various Demigods. How can you not love such a group of people?
Let’s face it, you guys just rock out there.
Getting the next update out
We’re going to start to try to be a bit more careful about how quickly we put out updates. The last update went out without updating the pantheon security checks to support the new version which resulted in most games not being counted. That’s the kind of thing that haste brings.
That said, as I type this, the team is working on an interim update to Demigod. It doesn’t “Fix” connectivity issues one way or the other but does provide better error messages (and we still have work there).
For example, one “Fix” that still needs to go in is the “Failed to join game” message in custom games. What it should say is “Game is full”. But a lot of frustration people run into is in the kinds of error messages that are shown (or lack there of).
I’m pretty sure this update tonight does start to wean experienced users off of AI players in skirmish and pantheon. At the very least, it has the support so it can become a server side change tomorrow.
Eliminating the connection issue
For those who can’t connect (you know who you are) the solution will be the UDP proxy servers. They spent a lot of time today getting them up and starting to test them to see how they work. Unfortunately, it’s not something that can be done overnight. The team says later in the week they hope to have it ready.
But what that will do is alter Demigod from a peer-to-peer game to a quasi-client-server game that maintains the peer-to-peer performance. If there are any IT people reading this, feel free to explain to lay people the significance of being able to do this in a couple of days without having to change the game client.
For us, Demigod is a long term commitment. So people who worry about this being like a typical release and move on type thing need only to look at our other games. We will be continuing to work to ensure Demigod evolves over time. I look forward to having official tournaments between individuals, clans, etc. So there is definitely a lot to look forward to.
If any of you have any questions, just comment here and I’ll do my best.
Just wanted to give you a head's up that we're not going to put out the update tonight. We have it staged but there is a concern about releasing it and then having the team go home in the event there is some unknown problem. So we're going to put this up tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned.