Leona release leads to server downtime

I was more than a little surprised today when I woke up to find a patch preview from sometime yesterday evening. Then boom, servers were down and the game was patching. Leona was in! Then she was not. Then the servers were not in at all. Now we’re waiting out what is expected to be at least a three hour downtime. Bummer.

I’m really shocked Riot decided to release Leona at week’s end. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As I’ve written before, players are used to the Tuesday patch system. To us, that is the rule. That is when this game is patched (as are many others). Why push for a release today? I know Riot couldn’t have anticipated the amount of downtime, but even assuming something goes wrong, Friday is kind of a bad day for it. Players are ready to dive into some games for the weekend, which for a lot of people won’t happen even hours after the servers come up. Once they’re live again we’ll definitely be looking at login queues, which are bound to scare off quite a few people. Waiting a day certainly isn’t the end of the world, but if I had my choice I’d be playing games without Leona rather than waiting to play games at all.

I think I would understand the decision to patch today if the changes were a little more interesting. Did Yorick need a buff? Definitely. Was Alistar due for a nerf? Yeah, probably. Did they need to happen as soon as possible? No, not really.

At the very least, this has let Riot make use of the forum feature that rolled out a couple weeks ago. The big red bar you see above appeared recently to alert players to current issues. It’s nice to have important information readily available regardless what subforum I’m viewing.

  

Servers will be down until 7PM EST

Server UnavailableThe servers came up for a short period of time this morning (about an hour, and access was set to ‘Busy’ from what I saw) but went down, and brought the mainsite down with them for a couple hours. Pendragon has now updated the Server Status forums with an estimated 7PM EST server uptime. Wow that is a long way off.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my patch notes roundup to give you something to munch on while you wait for servers to come up. If you have Steam, Company of Heroes is $2.50 right now, and though I’ve only played through the tutorial, it seems pretty good. It’s yours for less than the price of a LoL skin.

  

Riot responds to server instability concerns (right here on FG!)

Riot Games logo.A few days ago I made a post regarding the recent instability issues with Riot servers, a post that seemed to resonate with a lot of you. In case you missed it, RiotChris dropped by this very blog to respond to some of those concerns, and he was followed shortly by Marc Merrill, the president of Riot Games, who linked his own response to the situation from the League of Legends forums.

Here’s what RiotChris (who is Chris Enock, the company’s Director of Marketing) had to say:

We are sorry that we have been having server stability issues and growing pains recently. Fixing them and making a better player experience is our company’s top priority.

We are as frustrated by the server issues, and we will be taking time to bring everyone up to speed on what we are doing to make the issues better. I know it doesn’t help you play the game, but I can tell you that all the problems are due to the growth – if it was just a matter of buying more servers we would do so instantly – and the cause of the problem is rarely the same issue twice because we fix the problems. Of course none of that makes LoL available to play, but our top men are also working on improving the server stability night and day.

– RiotChris

First of all, I want offer my thanks for your response, Chris. On the official forums it’s one thing – players either go there or they don’t, and it doesn’t exactly feel personal when that’s the only place we see an official response. You guys (meaning the readers, not Riot) have chosen this blog and continually choose to come back, which has made the time I spend writing here infinitely worthwhile and interesting, and the fact that Chris not only reads here, but decided to comment does feel personal, sounds informed, and seems empathetic. Despite a few blunders, I do think Riot is among best developers around in terms of community involvement and outreach, and anyone who has spent time in the customer service industry knows what a horrible, mad bitch of a task it is to keep people happy.

President Marc Merrill’s response further edified the good vibrations RiotChris delivered with a detailed look at the source of the recent issues and the efforts currently underway to resolve those issues (make sure you read his post as well as the service post he links). I had a good feeling that LoL was growing fast. I had no idea it was more than doubling the game’s audience every three months (which could mean a lot of things, but empirically means the game is exploding). That kind of growth would be hard for any young developer to keep up with, and it would be unfair to Riot to not bear in mind the company’s youth.

The takeaway message here is “stick with it.” I think we can all agree that the game is a lot of fun – it’s complex, exhilarating, and interesting enough that I can write about it every single day, and often in a positive light. Though the current stability issues are frustrating, even infuriating at times, there are “top men” working on them, and those top men really are invested and interested in what we, as a community, have to say.

N.B. – I’m really sorry about the delays on posts this past week. Moving in North Carolina in late August is horrible, but it will be done by the middle of next week. Things will return to normal. I will be my typically witty, charming, and timely self, soon.

  

Servers go down again

Top 10 forum postsYesterday afternoon we lost servers for a brief restart period, which is kind of expected after a decent patch day. Tonight, though, they’re down again, and I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’m fed up.

One of the most infuriating pieces of the server instability is Riot’s constant crowing about the quality of the free game they provide. For me, the game isn’t free – I’ve paid more than retail price for an average game for skins over the past nine months – and it’s a big slap in the face to say that the game is good for being free. It’s also frustrating that there’s been no word about the leaves people get from server disconnects. On a macro level, I think it’s safe to say most players don’t experience those problems. On an individual level, though, I think Riot isn’t delivering a quality experience. For every five players with a fine experience I’d bet you can find one with a terrible experience at some point during a given week.

The worst part of it all, of course, is that Riot has made a great game. It’s so good that it will likely continue to grow at the pace that’s causing the problems – it’s just more players than the servers can handle. For now, I’m here to stay. It would actually take a lot to pull me away from a game I enjoy so immensely when it’s working. For a lot of players, though, I can see the downtime and Riot’s attitude regarding it as the final straw.

  

Vladimir patch downloads still haven’t started

Just a quick note for those of you who don’t spend much time on the forums. Patch maintenance has been extended, which is why everything is still down and the downloads haven’t started yet. I am a little concerned about the lack of download, though. I’ve been able to patch as far as four hours in advance, so we could be seeing, uh, extended extended maintenance today.

  

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