Sunday 14 November 2010

Perfect Patching

When 1.4 arrives this Thursday, please don’t for a minute think there won’t be problems, because it’s a given that there will be. It’s always the way.

Most MMO patches bring with them a whole load of issues, be they lag, bugs or whatever. And with 1.4 including such a monumental change to the campaign and more, well… I’ll be amazed if it’s all smooth and perfect. As such, it’s not really worth going all emo rage and ranting if/when things go wrong and you can run the risk (if you care) of making yourself look a bit stupid as you wind yourself up over the obvious.

Now I’m sure we’ve all seen people saying “no we shouldn’t take it, we’re paying customers” and to a point that has some merit, so is it right to just accept these inevitable problems? Yes and no. Update problems happen with every MMO and that is not going to change anytime soon. Actually that’s not quite a broad enough statement, because really it happens with pretty much every type of software. Out in the real world, software upgrades are the bane of my working life and in particular I’ve learned to dread the major landmark updates. Those point zero versions that basically should be called Headache Inducing Toss 2.0, the buggers.

It would be lovely if software developers could deliver perfect, bug free software and the following patches, but with so many different pressures applying to release schedules and software being written by humans, it’s just not realistic. Also as anyone who’s ever been involved in serious software testing knows; what happens on your test system and what happens in a live environment are not always as related as you’d expect or hope. Combine that with MMOs being so damn complicated and having such large numbers of simultaneous users in much more free form environments and yikes… It sure as hell isn’t easy.

Having said whilst I’m obviously showing some sympathy towards MMO developers, I think it’s always important to ensure that the issues revealed on your test servers are properly dealt with before anything goes near live. I’ve not been able to get onto the PTS much and as such I can’t really comment on how solid 1.4 is, the feedback out there is rather mixed and some people’s opinion (both negative and positive) I find difficult to trust.

So going back to that “paying customer” bit… I would say it is unrealistic (though perhaps not unreasonable) for us to expect perfect updates on the day of release, but it IS perfectly sensible to expect any serious issues to be unforeseen ones and to be dealt with promptly after release.

Fair enough?

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.