Home > Mentality, Uncategorized > D3 Release, or Still Thrashing On A Leash

D3 Release, or Still Thrashing On A Leash

May 17, 2012

Normally, this is where I would happily scourge my fellow gamers for spoiled consumerism, entitlement, impatience and low attention spans. This time around, however, the screaming children have a point. Blizzard made an uncommonly awful mess of this launch.

Diablo III is not an MMO. It is worth remembering this, and easy to forget it, because game companies like everyone else are absolutely gagging to monetise our social transactions. (Even something as innocuous as Heroes VI is trying to be an online game with an “online community”. In my humble opinion, Facebook is just about the worst thing to happen to the Internet and its business models for a good long while, but that is a rant for another time.) It should, therefore, have been considerably easier to manage the server load. No characters tied to servers, (I am aware that a realm is not the same as a piece of hardware, of course, and realm-related resources are quite fungible, but there is still more granularity in MMOs) and vastly decreased synchronisation requirements, to start with. It is a little surprising that a company with Blizzard’s experience at this sort of thing does not have some spare capacity floating around to harness at launch day, too.

The North American servers took about an hour and a half to kick in at all, and went down repeatedly for multiple hours on both days. A menagerie of server errors accompanied every step of the gameplay process, from authentication through gameplay to auctioning. There wasn’t even the courtesy of login queues. The hoi polloi can be forgiven for grumbling a little.

Still, the swirl of anxious humanity on Diablo forums was fascinating to observe. The keenster, who burbled about his day off and his case of Red Bull in the fridge, reduced to hot, manly tears moments after zero hour. The incoherent spewer of profanities and the bargainer toady trying to restrain him. (“do not bite the hand that feeds you, guys!”) The would-be hierophant of server errors, creating a structure of superstition about what exactly causes which. The jailhouse lawyer, darkly muttering “class action suit”.

Could our distant ancestors have acted much differently in the face of natural disasters assumed by them to be divine fiat?

I also wonder what goes through the minds of Blizzard’s representatives on the other side of the barricade. Is the atmosphere closer to a tense war room, trying to manage the massive denial-of-service-attack by the consumer base, or to that relaxed coffee lounge bitterly-satirised on the forums, laughing at the rage in sure confidence of no real consequences? Hard to say, but it does make me smile fondly at the memory of the perfect launch of my MMORPG of choice a few months ago. Much harder feat, executed flawlessly.

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Categories: Mentality, Uncategorized