Monday, February 21, 2011

Xsyon: World News! The Sky is Falling!

I did predict it but I'm not feeling smug. I stated that I like Xsyon and want it to succeed so I take no joy in this weekends prelude-launch problems. The trend these days seems to be to launch no matter how unfinished the game may be. I think the Earthrise debacle may take the prize for biggest flop this year. Xsyon isn't finished, and the developers have made that clear. This launch is actually not the official release but a headstart for whoever pre-ordered.

And that's what knocked them to their knees. The hype I mentioned last week has managed to turn into a tidal wave of interest that swamped the servers. Too many last-minute pre-orders overloaded the system (3 gig client download) and it all came crashing down.....sort of.

If you're interested in Xsyon, or have pre-ordered, you know what I'm talking about, and if you haven't you likely don't care. In short: there was some corruption to the database, and lag which saw up to 45 seconds between button-press and action. Of course the Chicken-Littles would have you believe the lag lasted up to 5 minutes and the game is utterly finished.

The point of my post (my PMP if you will) is not that a small game, by an independent developer hit a bump on launch- it happens and that's hardly news- but on how the developer has handled it all:

For those that will say why didn't we implement this before... good question. I should have thought of this system before, but I didn't. I'm not perfect. ;-)
There is a lot of speculation about what could have been done to prevent this. I did try to get our bandwidth upgraded and servers moved two weeks ago, but as various options were offered, changed and delayed, we ended up stuck with the current configuration.

Ultimately it's my responsibility so here's what we're going to do:

All players will get two weeks additional free play time. Effectively that makes March 15th our 'official launch' start. The actual start and final wipe will be as soon as possible once we have the new servers set up.

Again, I apologize for this rough start. We'll get over this bump soon!

Very nice. Very mature. I made a mistake, sorry about that, let's move on shall we? How refreshing. I spent some time online and for the most part the mood was good. Well, to be fair, the mood was mixed when I logged in during the day- there was no shortage of complainers. The lag was bad, there is no denying that, and there was some data-loss which translated into some items going missing but they're starter items so I don't see the big deal. There was some type of exploit discovered around Tribe placement as well but the exploiters themselves reported it. Can we even call them exploiters in that case? Seems to me like they just found a bug and reported it like good testers are supposed to do.

I re-logged at 01:00 am to run about and test some ideas and there was a good vibe in general chat. The lag was completely gone and there were more people playing at that time than I had expected. I would assume those who rage-logged were gone and what was left was a nice group of people intent on trying out the game (sans lag and sans moaners in chat). I was jumped by a crazy-looking, half-naked, pot-bellied, black dude who sliced me up with a pair of primitive blades (it's fair to say he went all Mesolithic on my ass).

After I re-spawned we sat on the grass and talked about the game, combat, pvp, and how our battle went. In the end he gave me an open-invite to his guild and we went on our way. It was, now that I think of it, some of the most meaningful player-interaction I've had in an MMO in quite some time. It's really nice to be able to talk to everyone, even your enemies. It's a feature I really like. that I re-read that it rather sounds like a date, doesn't it? Me and a half naked man...lying on the grass....talking after a sweaty me his number's like the gay-experience I never had. Note that I said never, dammit, and I meant it! (College and road trips to Las Vegas don't count, of course, and then there was that time in Guatemala.....oh never mind. Next time I'll just bring wine.) 

With so much talk about community in the blogosphere (is that one word or two I wonder) lately I have to say Xsyon so far is looking good on that front. I know Spinks has been talking about this a lot (as has Tobold) and there was a very good post by Wolfshead which I commented on earlier.

Xsyon is a game that absolutely requires some co-operation by the nature of its economic interdependence. Unless you (like I have done in testing) roll a toon for every crafting profession, drop your tool bag, and re-roll (which can take up to 10 minutes and you best hope no one wanders by and takes that bag as the game is FFA pvp and  full loot) you will likely need something which someone else can make for you. There are no NPC's, and no Auction House to run to. You make it, trade for it, or take it by force, or you will have to do without. If someone takes your fishing rod and you can't make another you'd better start getting used to the taste of grass. Food and water is not optional in Xsyon.

There will be another full wipe prior to preludes re-launch once the new servers are up and running and we will all begin again. I think it's a good sign that there is enough interest to both warrant a bigger, better server and provide the developers with the cash to do so. Patience isn't always a virtue that we gamers possess in great quantities. The developers have handled this quickly and professionally, and I am confident the game will continue as it was intended. A bit of lag due to massive interest doesn't make the game unplayable overall, just unplayable for the moment. In fact I will make another Xsyon prediction: the game will be fine. It will attract a small but loyal following and evolve and grow.

My advice? Well if you started playing prior to the hype machine you probably don't need any advice. You are probably invested in the idea of the game and are anxious to play. Anxious is okay. Obnoxious is not, however, so if you're one of the doomsayers and/or whingers I currently see on the forums, and in general chat, do us a favor and:

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