Demigod: Breakthru

Published on Saturday, May 2, 2009 By Brad Wardell In Demigod Journals

Okay, I now feel confident in publicly saying that I think that the connectivity issues some have had is going to go away next week.

Here's what we've built:

1. If you open ports 6112 to 6200 and port forward them to your IP on your router (this is for people who are familiar with this stuff) you'll get what is called direct connect.

2. If you don't do this, we will try to do a quick NAT connect. This takes longer but works for most people.

3. If NAT fails, you will be connected to our Proxy server system.  This is not going to be super desireable at first because the physical location of the Proxy server is going to make the difference between a good and a lagfest.  When the proxy server is nearby (east coast US player for instance to the east cost proxy server) it's perfectly good.  But, for instance, if you're in Japan and it uses a proxy server in Singapore, you're adding 200ms to your latency which can make the game a total lag nightmare.  so this is clearly your last result.


Now, right now, the current version of Demigod uses a connectivity server that ONLY does option 2.  That's because it was decided early on that users shouldn't have to open ports.  This, IMO, should NEVER have been the first option because when you force even technically sophisticated users into this system, you end up having a LOT of unnecessary connections to these NAT servers.


So, I feel confident that this next week is going to be the turning point for those people who have had connectivity difficulties PLUS the whole range of stat stuff, pantheon stuff, etc. will all come into line as well because, as I've said elsewhere, because the connectivity thing was our #1 priority, everyone, including the people who would resolve favor items and favor points and accurate win/loss stuff have been pulled onto this.

Heck, this past week, I had the ART team from Elemental working on doing benchmarks for speeing up NAT (That's where we finally concluded that NAT, for P2P is just feasible when there's thousands of players, it would simply require so many NAT servers, located around the world, to make it not totally awful that it wasn't financially logical - we'd be better off just hosting all the traffic which is better anyway).


We absolutely do not want to do any more "betas".  The betas don't really solve our problems. We're getting rave emails from people in support today saying how this beta "totally fixes connectivity".  NO, it doesn't. The only reason it seems that way is because there's so fewer people using the beta servers. If you check impulsereactor.dll, it's still the same one from day 0.  So the betas don't really help because it gives us the same false sense of success that the actual open beta had.

The other problem with the beta is that it splits the multiplayer community which is really a problem.  Right now, the Demigod MP community is fragmented. You've got a ton of people on Game Ranger. a Bunch of people on Himachi, others on Demigod release and some on the beta.  And you get some very poor results hwen you play Skirmish or Pantheon or just find games.


Now one of the things that I've always been painfully aware of in online games is that you need a critical mass of users to make it work.  With Demigod, we have some plans on how to make sure there's always lots of people to play with once the MP is bullet proof both in terms of connectivity and stat tracking.  As someone who has been ejected from a pantheon game during connection, I know we have to do some QUICK changes to some of this stuff in order for the MP experience to have any integrity.

First, one of the things we did is we have everyone's email address who has updated the game.  When we start the next-gen pantheon with favor points, achievements, favor items, stat tracking, disconnects dealt with and of course bullet proof MP (all of which I expect to be done this week) we will email everyone letting them know where we are at.

Second, the Stardock marketing push will actually begin.  After that day 0 debacle with the MP connectivity being so crummy, I made marketing halt all Demigod marketing efforts. Those will go into high gear probably in the third week of May.

Third, and this is where we need your help: The demo.  We will be working with GPG on the demo but I was thinking of proposing that the demo for Demigod be multiplayer ONLY.  Moreover, I would like the demo players to be able to play online with legitimate players.  Here's where we need your help: What do you think would be a good way to limit this demo then in order to get people to still buy the game?

Fourth, we plan to start formal Demigod tournmants with cash and prizes for the winners.

Fifth, Stardock is working on an update to Impulse Reactor that will allow people to have more control over the types of people people are matched up with.  Think of it being like eHarmony but for gaming. You'll be able to describe the type of gamer you are and the match making system will pick out people for you.  This feature is actually being developed for Elemental but because Demigod uses Impulse Reactor, it'll get that for free.

Sixth, Stardock moderators will soon be introduced into the online community.  This will probably happen in mid-May.  The idea is, if we have forum moderators, why not multiplayer ones? Their job will be to provide enjoyable multiplayer experiences (i.e. good sports, skilled player, etc.) PLUS they will be able to add or subtract in-game karma from players.  People who are just nasty or horrible to other players will lose karma points. People who are good sports and good citizens will get points.  Those with higher karma will tend to get matched up.  Yes, we know this is controversal.  Players will see the karma as part of their account and there will be a way for users who feel they were unfairly negated to appeal.

Seventh, all people who have bought Demigod at retail or direct up May 10th (and didn't return the game obviously) will be getting a coupon that will let them purchase a second copy of Demigod for 50% off for a limited time as a way for us to show appreciation for this community that has put their faith and trust in us.

Thanks everyone!