PB and Hick on Fortress Siege crashes

It sounds like some sort of bizarre appetizer…  mmm PB and hick on fortress siege crashers… I can see it on the TGIFridays menu already.  Okay, anyway.  Yesterday brought the announcement that Fortress Sieges are going to begin undergoing changes to make them less … sucky.   Right now the gist of it is that when too many people want to participate in a Fortress Siege – WHODATHUNKIT?! – that the zone crashes and the whole thing starts over and everyone is time warped and all that good stuff.  The answer to the entire thing, for now, is to limit the amount of people able to participate in the sieges.  They’re doing this two fold.  First, they’re instituting cutoffs for levels so that eventually only the highest level players will have priority to enter the siege and second, they’re adding a cap to how many can enter at all.  Here’s the whole writeup.

And here’s a Youtube of PB and Hick talking about the changes.  It’s more of a video apology of sorts but it works.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiv0Pw7-CEM[/youtube]

I haven’t participated in one of these new and improved sieges yet because yesterday we recorded a ChaosCast (lots of goodies in that – available tomorrow – including talk on fortresses) and I just got busy in general.  But, I plan to participte in a few today that will inevitable pop up because that’s what we Destruction players do: we zerg the heck out of stuff.  Anway, I have a few concerns.

What happens when I die?  Am I sent back to the warcamp and unable to get back into the Fortress Siege?

The Kadrin Valley Warcamp and Fortress are a nasty, nasty, NASTY, run apart from each other (please add another flight path).  If I try to enter and get ‘bumped’ back to the Warcamp am I really going to have to run all the way back trying to ping a spot in the siege?

What are the caps?  Do attackers have a higher cap because of the strategic value of defense?

Does this just stop the crashes or the lag too?  (hopefully I can answer this tonight)

Andy has said that this is just the “first of many” changes.  It does seem like a bit of a bandaid fix right now, but I’ll take it.  Anything to stop the crashes and allow us to successfully render Altdorf vulnerable to our zerg.  “I live for the swarm!”

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  • Good news is, they are fixing it.
    Bad news is, how they are fixing it….. imo.
    Instance the damn thing already, rather have 10 people standing there waiting for the queue to get big enough for another instance than having 200 people getting pissed to the bone and left out completely! My 2 cents at least.

    Ohhh and that Hickman, I like every dev ive seen from Mythic so far, except him, for some reason he doesn’t come through as sincere to me, like he really doesn’t live and breathe for this game as the others do, he’s just there to do his job, yet another job. But then again I might be wrong, videos and pictures really doesn’t tell the full truth do they now ? =)

    Looking forward to the chaoscast, know I’ll enjoy it as I did the 8 other! =D
    Keep em coming!

  • Though a very necessary change for allowing tier 4 conquest to progress. I think the number of questions it raises on it’s actual operation are significant.

    This must have been in the works for a while, I can’t imgaine this was knocked up over a weekend. If it was, then I am going to be running for the bunkers, to escape the fallout.

    I bet they are thinking “If we hadn’t cut the other capital cities, then the war front’s would have been more evenly distributed over three tier 4’s”. But to be fair, it’s only obvious with hindsight.

    It maywell be that these changes just sit there and for some servers people rarely are made aware of this stacking mechanism. Well at least I am not a plane.

    My current bugbear is collision detection within my own ranks. Aaarrrggghhh. Get off the beep beep ramp.

  • All I can say from my experience as a long time developer, is I wouldn’t have wanted to be working there. The hours and stress will have been massive.

    The stress of making fundamental changes when a product is live, would make your privates shrivel up.

    Walking up to MJ and saying “You know that change, well we kind of missed something, all the servers are up in la la la land atm”.

    Hick didn’t look comfortable this time, probably because they aren’t in a good place development wise at the moment. Basically they are on the back foot.

  • He looked very strained by Pauls insistence. There was some tension there that made me a little uncomfortable.

    You can feel the stress pouring off of him.

  • The whole problem stems from unrealistic expectations to begin with. Mythic sold this game on massive RVR, but I have yet to see *any* game-maker handle the problem of scaling, in terms of # of players, elegantly.

    I say this as someone who has done software architecture and development for a living for a long time, esp for systems with massive availability (i.e. uptime) and high performance (i.e. response-time) requirements.

    The problem with mass RVR, such as keep takes, is the stress placed on all aspects of the system.

    Think about this. If there are 400 players in a fort take:

    1. that’s 400 game clients sending data frequently (multiple times a second) to the server(s), which has to process all the actions of all those players and send updates back to all 400 clients appropriately.

    E.g. think of just the data related to player movement, and the collision detection calculations related to that movement. That alone is a lot to process. And then add on top of that all of actions taken by players and the corresponding calculations (resistances, procs, etc). It is simply a lot to manage.

    2. the client-server communication needs to be done in a secure fashion, so it can’t be hacked. This adds another layer of processing to each client-server connection in the system, which slows things down and adds overhead

    3. each game client has to graphically render all the actions, esp AOEs, that all the nearby players are performing. The slower the PC, the slower this will happen

    4. all of the above processing has to be handled efficiently or quickly, or you get the unpleasant experience of lag, whether it be server-side lag or client-side lag

    ——————————————————

    What typically happens with an overstressed server(s) for any system is a gradual degradation of system performance, until the point at which the server “crashes” because it has consumed all available resources.

    This is why we see a given fort take get worse and worse until finally the system comes to a grinding halt.

    Mythic IMO bit off more than it could chew. Am I surprised? As a software architect, no. The whole game revolves around response times. Building a system that scales is a tough technical problem to crack. I think Mythic should have been more careful in terms of game design.

    The fort takes from the get-go should have some kind of cap for # of players, regardless of the mechanism. So that is where we are today.

    I am glad Mythic is doing something about the problem. Whether their current solution is a good one remains to be seen.

  • Yea Taugrim you nailed it. The expectations are really still insane. The other part I don’t understand how they even get any of it to work is there isn’t a ping check. Most any game with huge amounts of folks in it kick the high ping folks. I don’t see how this game runs as well as it does with such a wide variety of users.

    I like what they are doing here. Good fix for now, and in the future if they can’t figure out a way to have 600+ folks on screen (I still don’t see how they are even trying it), then open up the areas needed to fight.

  • I actually thought the video was quite good. It was apologetic and honest, even if it was a bit light on the details. I’m sure we’ll see them develop over time. To be fair to Mythic, I don’t even think we need all the nitty-gritty details as long as they come up with a solution that works. Why give people an opportunity to get all worked up by theorycraft?

    I think this is the first time we’ve seen The Hickman since beta. That also give this video a bit of weight imho. Bring out the big guns (or at least the most recognizable ones)! 🙂

    Yes, you could tell he was a bit stressed, but I don’t think it was Paul’s fault. The already made their bed. He’s just getting people to own up to it. I’m not saying these people are solely responsible, but basically, he’s asking people to apologize for things… and I don’t think game studios are in the habit of doing that very often!

  • The amount of progress that the game has made since launch has been great. One thing I can say about Mythic is that they are second to none when it comes addressing player concerns about their game. I truly appreciate their hard work, and commend them on their tireless efforts to make this game better each week.

  • I hope they dont instance keep battles. Talk about messing up the immersion.

    And I really like Hicks. He seems pretty down to earth and believable. If you ever see the name Mackey appear on Mythics payroll, might as well just unsubscribe.

  • Level limits is just a temporary solution really, I can’t see too many people sitting at Rank 31 for long, especially if they want to Fort siege and they aren’t allowed in.

    Caps are the best long term solution they can make. Not only will it make the sieges actually work, but it’ll probably balance out the sides too.

    Kudos to Mythic for doing what’s necessary, but at the same time I’m baffled they couldn’t see this coming ahead of time from a design standpoint. Whodathunkit indeed.

  • @coppertopper
    I wouldn’t want complete instances, but if they broke the fortresses into wings and made each wing an instance I could see that working.

    I’m also with Rog in that I can’t believe they didn’t have some clue as to what the limits would be.

  • I agree on not making keeps instanced, but why Fortresses cant be instanced i don’t get, there’s in total 6 fortresses and as you get towards the gate there could be a portal. Yes it WOULD suck to be standing there in queue for a instance to pop, but it sure as hell beats crashing the entire tier. And it would work exactly like city sieges does, where you will need to wait in queue for a instance to have enough players.
    Generally I’m no big fan of instancing, but there are technical limits out there, and this is a way to work around it making the game playable.

    And I have lots of faith in Mythic, I truly salute the amount of things they’ve done since release, it’s just that Hickman dude that comes across as cold to me. But it’s just me. =)

  • @Keen: Ahh that post is good, it brings in another element with capped sieges: They can balance the Fortress Lords along with the numbers attacking and defending to make it a lot more compelling (and less zerged feeling!) overall.

    Great news if you ask me.