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Server Status Pet Peeve June 11, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, MMO Design, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH, World of Warcraft.
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One of my MMO pet peeves, probably the only one that I have actually complained about multiple times on official forums, is the availability and reliability of server status information.

This morning I went to log onto EverQuest and, after going through three of the screens through which you must pass in order to get into the game, I got a notification that the server, Luclin, was down and that I should go check the network status page for details.

Of course, the EverQuest network status page showed all servers up.

At the bottom of the page there was an entry about the servers being down for six hours starting at 5am today. Since it was 9am, the servers were obviously still down for that maintenance period.

What irks me, of course, is that the server status, all that static text in bold green in the middle of the page, indicates that the servers are all up. The person whose job it is to change that text when the servers are down either forgot or is out of the office, and since it is obviously not automated, the text remains the same.

Okay, so EverQuest isn’t down that much any more and, well, it is EverQuest, so who even cares?

It is the fact that it shows a lack of attention to detail that bothers me. Here is something that could be automated, that should be automated, yet is left as a manual task that gets looked after some of the time.

It is a polish thing, if I can use that word safely while Darren is about.

World of Warcraft has a great Realms Status page that is very useful. It shows server status, server load, and tells you if there is a queue. Blizzard talks about polish and attention to detail and they demonstrate it here. The only problem I have ever had with that page is when there is some general server problem and a few hundred thousand people hit it at once. The price of success.

EVE Online has just one server, but the server status is right there in front of you when you launch the client. Plus, the server status is available via an API, so I can see server status when I am running EVE Mon.

And it isn’t just EverQuest that shows this neglect. I have seen enough instances of the EverQuest II network status page reporting “All Servers Are Up,” when they quite clearly are not up, to feel the need to verify anything I read there.

And when looking at other SOE games, I noticed that the Pirates of the Burning Sea server status page reports all 13 servers up and running.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but didn’t they merge down to fewer servers than that? I could have sworn that Guadeloupe, the server I played on, was one of those eliminated, yet it is still listed as up. Did I completely misunderstand something (not unusual), or do we have at least one Flying Dutchman server on the loose?

And I could not find any server status for Vanguard.

Polish includes the whole user experience. It includes all of the little things, like accurate server status pages. It can be hard to take a company seriously when it treats information like this so haphazardly.

Who else does server status well… or badly?

Comments»

1. Hudson - June 11, 2008

I rarely, if ever, see a MMO that actually PROPERLY updates its servers other than EVE, with the use of that monitor. Well MAYBE LOTRO.

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2. Shalkis - June 11, 2008

The problem with WoW server status is that what we see as a server is in reality a group of servers, and the server status page monitors only one of them. There’s the login server, the realm server, the three world servers (Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms and Outland+Draenei+Blood Elf), the instance servers and the battleground servers. If the realm server is up, the realm is listed as being up, no matter what the state of the other servers is.

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3. *vlad* - June 12, 2008

Shalkis, I didn’t know that (or rather I did, but never thought it through).
There are times when I have not been able to log on to WoW (rare, I have to say), and yet the server status page has said it’s up. In such a case I usually go to the realm forum, and chances are there will be people complaining that the server is down, and that there is no ‘Blue’ telling them what is going on.
So the Blizzard status page is not as polished as it would appear to be.

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4. Stefson - June 12, 2008

It’s like you say yourself, it’s a polish thing.
It takes an awful amount of dedication to take care of the details. Unfortunately, most companies don’t care about the details these days.

Had something similar the other day, I tried to freeze (cancel) my SWG sub. I’m planning (planned) on returning after a month or so, just needed a little break.
Fortyfive minutes of refreshing, restarting the browser & abusing the F5 button is what was needed to be able to logon to the SOE account pages. I mean really, what the ****. I just wanted to freeze my sub, not try and hack the entire internet.

Anyway, wrote a little bit about it on my blog:

http://www.stefson.com/227/an-epic-quest-trying-to-cancel-my-swg-sub/

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5. syncaine - June 12, 2008

Just based on search terms for my own blog, it seems an awful lot of people have issues with anything server/account related with SOE. My personal (although brief) experience with SOE was also not very positive.

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6. Graktar - June 12, 2008

I wouldn’t give WoW’s realm status page too much credit. In the 3 years I played that game my server of choice was down many many times. Out of all those times, I would say WoW’s realm status page showed useful, up-to-date and correct information . . . maybe twice. Usually it would show my server as up when it was down, then eventually switch to showing it as down after it had already gone back up. In other words, it was useless.

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7. Wilhelm2451 - June 12, 2008

I must have had good luck with the Blizzard page then, as it always seems to be accurate for Eldre’Thalas when I check.

Of course, there have been plenty of times when I could not get in because the login server was down, but the game server was chugging along, but that is a different story.

They need to put the login server at the top of that page… maybe with some stats to show how many people have logged on in the last minute, 5 minutes, hour, day, or whatever.

EverQuest II’s network status page though. There was a long stretch of time where I was cursing that “All Servers Are Up” message for the lying bastage it was! The character page in the client would show the server was down, the forums would have messages from SOE staff that the servers were down, but that page would say “ASAU.”

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8. Kevin - June 13, 2008

The point about server status was brought up to Silius in Voyages of Vanguard #44, and he indicated that the responsibilities of maintaining server status fell to some other group. Listening between the lines on what he said, he sounded pretty miffed about the whole situation, since I think the product teams take a lot of flac over something they don’t control.

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