Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
All right, I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon when there's issues. We've been in Beta, and we're in Headstart now, and for weeks there are going to be issues as we go through shakedown. That's what every game ever has dealt with, and Star Trek Online will be no different.

However, the infrastructure Cryptic has to communicate with their player base during troubled times is completely inadequate and as a result, the level of communication we get during issues is frankly unacceptable. We're paying customers now, and especially this weekend we're paying customers on a timer before something we paid for expires.

The core issue is this: Cryptic's website, forum software, authentication server and actual STO game shard all use common resources. As a result, when one goes down (STO, generally), it means suddenly the forum operates at 1/4th speed or less, the website times out, and going to the Dev Tracker leads to "redirect loops." The system is not and cannot inform the paying customers as to the nature of problems or even if Cryptic is aware of them.

This entire system needs an overhaul. The web server shouldn't care if the game system crashes -- they should be entirely divorced from each other. The forums shouldn't bog down because the login server's got an issue. Each of these things needs to be discrete enough that a major issue with one doesn't cause major issues with all the others in a domino effect.

However, that will take time. Here is what Cryptic CAN and MUST do today to relieve these problems:

1. Offsite communications resources: We need an official "STO Network/Server Ops" twitter account and it needs to be updated immediately when a server goes down. Even a simple "the server has gone down and we do not have more information at this time" tells us someone's noticed there is a problem. Further, there should be a blog page that is nothing but a standalone blog, on a completely different server -- probably someplace entirely separate from Cryptic's serverspace -- that does nothing but provide a static record of up and downtime. Someplace every Cryptic/STO customer can go when there's trouble so they can start to figure out if it's Cryptic's problem or their own.

2. Existing communication resources must be used: When I go into the STO launcher right now -- right now -- there is no note saying there's server downtime. I see that the red "Server Down" icon is lit, but there is no sense that anyone at Cryptic has even noticed the issue. Likewise, when I wait the long block of time for the Support page to load on the website, it has no notice even though the "Undergoing Maintenance" tag is on the Server Status. These things have to be filled out immediately. Even the boilerplate tells us someone has noticed the problem and is trying to fix it. Absent these things, it's an exercise in frustration. Likewise, Community Representatives -- the folks whose entire job is managing us -- need to be on top of these situations, saying "hey, we know there's a problem and we're working on it, and I'll try to find out more when I can do so without jiggling the elbow of someone working on a server." And needless to say, we need to be able to find those notices even when the Dev Tracker has consumed itself.

Part of that means there needs to be a forum that actually is what the Federation News Network forum claims to be -- a place where emergency notices are posted. That forum needs to be locked to Devs, GMs and Community Reps -- players should be able to read but not respond to it, so that it doesn't get bogged down in a rage. When there is a problem, there should be a notice in that clear, open forum, most recent issues up at the top, updates added in those threads. A link at the bottom of the notice should lead to the place where the community can scream about it, but that thread needs to be clear of community response so that anyone can quickly find official information without needing the broken search feature that drives the Dev Tracker.

And there should be absolutely no time, day or night, when at least one community representative isn't on duty specifically for these reasons. Someone should be employed 24/7 to specifically manage the legitimate concerns of the paying customers when there is a problem.

3. The time for Facile Response is over: During Beta, one could be lighthearted in their response. At that point, we all worked for you, not the other way around. We were QA testing. It was important and our frustration was a roadmap to a better game. That was the deal.

That's done with. We're now your customers. We're paying for this. You work for us now. And so response needs to take that in consideration. We need legitimate information. We need to be convinced that you understand these problems are real and must be resolved as soon as possible. Customer service and customer relations are now at the top of the job list.

Look, the server's going to crash. Especially over the next month, and then sometimes after that. That's what a new MMO means. It's okay. It's all right. It's part of the expectation we have to have. But we need to be well informed about this stuff, before, during and after it -- otherwise, anger becomes rage and that's just not good business.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
01-30-2010, 12:50 PM
When the game goes down unexpectedly, EVERYONE IN THE GAME comes HERE
BIG surprise the forums are gonna run slow under that kind of load I know
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
01-30-2010, 12:56 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buddah7118
When the game goes down unexpectedly, EVERYONE IN THE GAME comes HERE
BIG surprise the forums are gonna run slow under that kind of load I know
It's not that simple -- every time the server dies, the search system melts down. That's not because of forum load. That's because of interconnection between the game server and the forum server -- the same interconnectivity that gives us a single signon/authentication information in the game and on the forum.

They need systems that are independent that can keep us informed during downtime issues. Interdependent ones lead to single points of failure, and that's an I.T. nightmare that leads to increased frustration during issues.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
01-30-2010, 01:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buddah7118
When the game goes down unexpectedly, EVERYONE IN THE GAME comes HERE
BIG surprise the forums are gonna run slow under that kind of load I know
Further, that underscores the need for a static page that people can go to. A simple apache server with a simple page that doesn't need to do any dynamic reassembly or call other systems for authentication can take hundreds of thousands of hits a second and still return the web pages without melting down. This is technology that was refined and nigh perfected in 1997.

A modern website -- especially a forum like this one -- needs a lot of backend infrastructure to operate. Server calls must be made, databases must be queried and responded to, current iterations of the page must be generated and delivered. It is very complicated, and any failures along the way become long delays until calls time out, which compounds the issues. Things bog down. There is lag. Pages fail to serve. Such is life.

We need a place to go that's bonehead simple in design, so that when a few hundred thousand people need information, it can give it to them. A proper server status page, for example, done in HTML 4.01 with a netops rep having a simple script he can run that will let him write an update and have it publish. It's an old, even deprecated way of doing things, but it's nigh bulletproof and takes the domino-effect out of the loop.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
01-30-2010, 01:11 PM
I agree with the OP's points. (Very well thought out and written BTW!)
But who knows if Cryptic even reads this forum...would be nice for a Dev to reply in here once in a while.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
01-30-2010, 01:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_WarriorX
I agree with the OP's points. (Very well thought out and written BTW!)
But who knows if Cryptic even reads this forum...would be nice for a Dev to reply in here once in a while.
They do, I promise you. Community reps, devs et al do read the feedback forums. Replies are sparse, I agree, but I promise you stuff in here gets read.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
01-30-2010, 01:22 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Borysthenis
Someone should be employed 24/7 to specifically manage the legitimate concerns of the paying customers when there is a problem.
I agree.
Why did Cryptic doesn't think of that?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
01-30-2010, 01:24 PM
I have been waiting for this game for a long time now. I am happy with most of the work done on the game thus far, and I do realize that the creation of such a game is not easy. That being said I am very disappointed with Atari ((Cryptic is just a name now, its Atari calling the shots)). Atari want to enter the MMO field and make itself known. Well I must say they are doing a terrible job. I have seen next to none as far as advertising of STO!
Its almost like there is an office weasel there telling the developers use what you have because you are not getting anymore, perhaps it is one of the three men who have been in charge over the last three years. I have seen strides here as far as customer service, but I grow concerned that it is lip service, as we cannot even get a heads up in game when they have to bring the server down.. I have decided that no matter how much I love Star Trek, that I will not give this game more then three months to demonstrate Atari cares. The reason I will give them three months is to give them the chance to do something, to try and live up to the potential of what this game could be. I hope that Atari gets its head out of the proverbial sand, and realizes that it may never get many of the players they are loosing now due to this incompetence, .

And to the CEO of Atari, Do us a favor, if you want to play with companies like Blizzard, them put some cash on the line. So far it seems you have already cut the cord on STO, and for myself Atari killing Star Trek will be remembered, and not forgotten. In short if this dies, all I will hope for is to see atari fade away as well.
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