I’ve gone on record multiple times to state that when you get right down to it, MMOs look pretty darn complicated. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to game development and coding and all that stuff. I do not envy the people who are trying to deal with the game when things go wrong, much less the times when servers are full to capacity and queues are long. These are, for better or worse (probably worse), some of the things we expect when we sign up for online games.
That’s not what today’s column is about. Today’s column is for cases when MMOs went above and beyond with technical messes, when it wasn’t just queues or population issues but some absolute technical nonsense that reaches above and beyond. We’re talking about the sort of thing that ends with someone slowly adjusting the clock on the mantelpiece aboard the Titanic, here. It’s… here, just look.
1. Shroud of the Avatar rolls back to August
“You might have a lot of negative things to say about Shroud of the Avatar,” argues Trab Sunk-Cost-Fallacy (of the New Hampshire Sunk-Cost-Fallacies), “but at least the game has never deleted a month of progress players have made!” And to that, Trab, we say, “Oh no, oh no, oh noooooo.”
Yes, a rollback of all progress that’s taken place since August. It is now October. This is an actual thing that happened. I feel like at face value alone this looks pretty damning, but when you consider that this game is supposedly being managed by the same person who has teamed up with Richard Garriott for a crypto scam, it gets even worse.
2. Hangame accidentally deletes M2 altogether
I have never forgotten this because how does this happen? I have multiple backups of the files on my computer, and most of those files are Transformers comics I bought off Humble Bundle, RPG rulebooks, image memes, and save games. Somehow a company that is presumably staffed by professionals had fewer backups for an actual entire game. Basically, what I’m saying here is that impostor syndrome is a lie and apparently anyone can do anything.
Is it a coincidence that this happened right before a whole lot of Kickstarters thought they could make an MMO? Probably, but it’s still funny.
3. Phantasy Star Online 2 launches in the West on the Windows Store
This was so hopelessly upsetting, unnecessary, and messy. And it definitely did no favors for the game or for its overall perception. The bright side is that this was temporary and it does appear to be fixed now, but the down side is that this was one of the most frustrating experiences in trying to make a game work ever.
4. Alganon goes down for maintenance and never comes back
First things first, it is important to note that supposedly Alganon is indeed finally coming back online at some point in the near future. On the other hand, it’s also important to note that the game was supposedly going down for routine maintenance… only for it later to be revealed that the whole thing was being moved and then it just never came back online. This is the video game equivalent of bringing your car online, waiting for seven hours, then when you finally ask getting told that your car was detonated as a warning to others and they’re making you a new one eventually. Have fun walking home!
5. New World launches to a whole new world… of bugs
Linking to all of the various New World self-owns around its launch would be overwhelming, but luckily, this was all recent enough and high-profile enough that everyone remembers it. We never quite got to the point when a new bug was uncovered that let you delete someone else’s character by having your name start with a vowel and turning left, but it was juuuuust below that.
Highlights include: Bugs that prevent you from taking damage! Auto-attacks doing infinite hits! Other bugs that prevent you from taking damage! Construction projects that pay you to cancel them! Still other bugs that prevent you from taking damage! Generally clowning on any attempts to call this a good game! Infinite healing! It’s like the game was fed to a Game Genie.
6. Black Desert hits some infinite shovel harvesting
The worst part about all of New World’s bugs wasn’t just how they turned an already content-starved game into a content-starved exploitative hellscape; it’s that they were all so predictable. I mean, Black Desert already had infinite harvesting glitches years before. They were doing it before they were even cool.
Wait, that’s apparently never cool. Forget that, then.
7. Firefall plays will-they-won’t-they with its servers
I kind of liked Firefall at first, but I fell off it hard, and before its shutdown there was a period wherein basically everyone – including the owners and operators of the game – weren’t really sure if it was coming back. You know when you have a really old computer and you’re not totally sure if it’ll boot up, and each time you boot it up you wonder if this time will be the last time it boots successfully? That’s the energy this had before it shut down.
Like riding on a rollercoaster, but for uptime, in other words.
8. Don’t Pokemon Go to Niantic events
So I’ve been working with MOP’s Andrew Ross for a while now, and he covers a lot of Pokemon Go. He’s a cool guy, and there are certain constants of working with him. Is he going to type the game’s name according to our style guide? The answer is no. [Editor’s note: We always let it slide!] Did he put in a bunch of time to break down what Niantic has done with its most recent event? The answer is yes. Did Niantic screw the event up? The answer is always an enthusiastic yes.
Seriously, that’s from way back upon the dewy slopes of five years ago. Niantic has a track record of screwing up here, both from a “live event” standpoint and a “reading the room” standpoint.
9. RuneScape’s fresh start is an old-fashioned rollback
So I cannot understand why someone would voluntarily spend time playing RuneScape. But that’s fine; my understanding is not required, and I’m sure some people can’t understand why I play the games I do. But what I really can’t understand is why you’d want to start playing RuneScape on a fresh start server to grind everything out all over again.
And I really can’t understand why you would still want to after the launch got bungled so badly that players had to endure a rollback based on characters being assigned to the wrong servers. Seriously, why. At that point, just… why.
10. ARK: Survival Evolved turns a blind eye to three years of exploits
What happens when you exploit a known bug in ARK: Survival Evolved for three years? Apparently, you get a chuckle from the developers, a letter saying “oh, you,” and a very stern finger-waving because everyone did it so why punish anyone? It’s all right. Just don’t do it again now, you hear?
Then again, I suppose in this scenario you were expecting the designers behind the game to consistently make good decisions, so perhaps that’s your problem to begin with.