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First Person Shooters (Games)

Steam Registration Servers Overloaded 768

Posted by Zonk
from the plumbing-problems dept.
duckle writes "The Inquirer reports that "The World has come crashing down around Half-Life 2 players today, as Steam's authentication servers in Europe have died.", and deemzzzz_k writes "It looks like even Valve wasn't quite prepared for Half Life 2's popularity. HL2 requires registration to unlock the game and although the Valve/Steam homepage claims that it fixed registration issues the servers are still overloaded. Registration is "delayed" and temporarily unlocking the game takes 20-30 minutes over a 1.5MB DSL line." This seems to primarily be an issue for folks who bought the game from a store; I purchased the game via Steam and was playing at 12:15 am PST on launch day.
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Steam Registration Servers Overloaded

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  • by eobanb (823187) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:25PM (#10845589) Homepage
    The whole idea of Steam to begin with is just utter shit. I have a Powerbook so I don't play very much Half-Life, but it simply amazes me what hardcore gamers are willing to put up with from Valve. There are lots of perfectly good other games; why the HELL should Valve even be allowed to do this? If it's M game, I should be able to play it, even if I don't have an internet connection. I don't doubt people who pirate the game are going to figure out ways around the authentication mechanism, and in the mean time it just pisses the hell out of people who really did buy the game. Scrap the whole thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:25PM (#10845600)
    I wasn't impressed after dropping over 100 bucks for the game. Yeah, I bought the game with a t-shirt, the artwork and CS Source and HL Source.

    I've always hated Steam. I think the whole phone home concept is flawed. What happens if the company goes out of business? Does that mean I can't play my game anymore? What if I don't have the Internet? What if I want to play on a lan that doesn't have Internet access?

    Anybody else have a different opinion on this?
  • Be grateful... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CheetahMk2 (832017) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:26PM (#10845611)
    Most of you are lucky you never had to recover a password off of the Steam network. A friend of mine purchased the game online, and since then he uninstalled CS to focus on his studies. Now he can't recover his password!

    If he uses the 'lost password' procedure in Steam he gets an Operation Incomplete error, and so far he hasn't managed to get a single human person to assist him at Steampowered. I was never a big fan of activation, but this cinches it.
  • Exactly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:27PM (#10845623) Journal
    Because everyone *knows* that companies weren't coming up with whacked-out registration schemes before valve was hacked...
  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:29PM (#10845647)
    I bought the game from a store yesterday. It only took 20 minutes to install off the 5 CDs, you would think they could make it on DVD. And whats with not giving us jewl cases for a $55 game? Cheap paper sleves are for Drivers, not AAA title games.

    Where was I? Before it would let me play it forced me to create a steam account, something I've boycotted since Counter Strike 1.3 and has a lot to do with why I stopped playing CS. Never-the-less I created an account and waited as it tried to unlock my game. It told me that it was unable to register me, but it would let me know as soon as it was able to. I guess at this point I was "in line to register". Then it actually allowed me to play! I tried it again after disabling my network connection and it told me that it could not verify my CD key and that I could only play while I was online. I'm kinda pissed about that and hope they get that fixed soon. If the cable goes out and I cant play HL2 I'm going to be very very bored, I might even have to go outside

    From my first 20 minutes playing reaction I've got to say this game is so much more open-ended then Doom3, and though I'm a huge id fan I've got to hand it to valve, this looks like its going to be just as fun to play as HL1. I could spend an hour just throwing television sets out windows at the police on the ground.

  • Precedent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sfd (827121) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:29PM (#10845656)
    From now on companies will think this is a ok to do and in the future all singleplayer offline games will require this yey im so happy.
  • by Ed Pegg (613755) <> on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:32PM (#10845690) Homepage
    It took me over three hours, as well. About an hour into the horrifying process, I was thinking that if I was a criminal, I would already be playing. In order to play, you have to have Valve's spyware program running on your system. You have to go through 4 separate EULAs. You have to sign yourself up on two different services. An internet connection is mandatory as you play the game. You must give out numerous personal details, put in a long password, and keep the disk in your computer while playing. Updates are mandatory. If you click the "play" button, you have to wait 50 minutes before the game actually starts. Far Cry and KOTOR were two other games I registered recently. I think they took 5 minutes.
  • by netfool (623800) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:34PM (#10845712) Homepage
    I figured this is more about money than it has to do with piracy.
    Doesn't Valve make 3-4x what they would on sales over Steam rather than people buying the game in stores?
    Valve knew HL2 what be very popular. I'm sure there thinking went something like "Why NOT make are own online distribution software, require everyone to have it and sell all are games that way?".

    I may be way off base, but I'm guessing once the rest of the developers see all the money Valve is rolling in after this, they will quickly follow suit. If not licence Steam for themselves, or even sell games through Valves steam network (it's already on millions of computers now anyways).

  • by mcheu (646116) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:37PM (#10845764)
    maybe if someone didn't steal and release the source code two years ago, valve wouldn't have had to do this to their customers.

    Nope. They had Steam already planned out as a distribution and copy protection measure, and had a working version well before the source wandered off. If it was done as you suggest, then the guys at Valve are clairvoyant because they knew it was going to happen, and stupid because they let it happen anyways.

    I do blame Valve because they lied to the paying users. Early on when Steam was announced, a lot of people were concerned about privacy issues and things like this preventing paying users from playing. Valve put out press releases (some not too long ago) promising that all such concerns had been addressed and that the bugs were worked out of Steam. They assured us that there would be no problems once HL2 hit the shelves. After all this, I'm wondering whether the the promises behind the privacy concerns were really addressed either.

    For the first time since Ultima 9, we've got a retail product where the only way to play it is to hunt down a crack because the copy protection is so screwed up.

  • Re:not Steam's fault (Score:4, Interesting)

    by satoshi1 (794000) <> on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:40PM (#10845808) Homepage Journal
    Valve is trying to protect their product, yes, but they've also created massive headaches and delays for those trying to install it, pissing off many fans. If Valve had not made the anti-piracy measures so bad, they would be making more money. This is just ENCOURAGING piracy! Why buy the game and go through all of this shit when you can download a cracked version and play? Valve will feel this one in the morning. I know I would've gotten Half-Life 2 if they didn't include all this crap.
  • by InfiniteVoid (156157) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:46PM (#10845892) Homepage
    A month or two ago I was feeling nostalgic and loaded up my (legal, paid-for) copy of HalfLife. I wanted to play online (Natural Selection, in particular) so I had to download Steam and register my product, which I was happy to do. The benefit of automatic updates seemed well worth creating an account and giving them my serial number.

    But... it took a couple DAYS for my registration to go through. And crawling their bulletin boards showed that this had been a common problem for months.

    The disregard for paying customers is the main reason I won't be buying HalfLife 2 or any of their other products any time soon.

    That, and the fact that I'm now playing EverCrack II. :)
  • by Cyclone66 (217347) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:48PM (#10845914) Homepage Journal
    Don't jump to conclusions, the game is still in beta and they're testing things. Also there are 500,000 beta testers and (hopefully) less servers than for retail. Ordinn, a guy from Blizzard posted this on their boards:
    Hi all, A number of inquiries have come in about the lag issues on some of the servers, so we want to take some time to provide more in-depth information for you. Some of you might be surprised to learn that the lag you're experiencing is an expected and necessary part of the open beta test. Contrary to what some of you might believe, the open beta test is intended as a massive stress test, and not just a free demo of the game prior to launch. Having hundreds of thousands of testers playing the game at this time lets us analyze how well our server infrastructure -- made up of the best, most up-to-date hardware available -- can handle extremely large server populations. In fact, the open beta test is allowing us to simulate having an even greater number of testers spread across even more servers than we currently have up. In terms of concurrency, we're already seeing servers with twice as much population as we had during the closed beta test, and our total overall concurrency, across all servers, is already rivaling that of the most popular MMORPGs currently available. Keep in mind, also, that this population is distributed across a relatively small number of servers -- again, for the exact purpose of stress testing them. In general, lag issues are caused when thousands of players congregate in one or two zones on a server. When this happens, the normal communication that comes from the server -- which includes information about every NPC, monster, player, item, etc. in the area -- increases to the point where the flow of data can get backed up. For those of you who are concerned about server stability and possible loss of character-related information, take heart knowing that the lag you experience when this backup happens is not at all related to stability; it's more of an issue with how quickly the data is handled. That is, with an excess of communication from the servers, the data remains stable, it just has to wait its turn in line to be processed. Running a massive open beta test like this allows us to steadily optimize how the data is processed. With half a million people having signed up and been accepted into the open beta test, we have the unique opportunity of being able to fine tune our code prior to release in a way that most other MMORPGs have not. These code optimizations are done server side and do not require players to patch. As more and more testers finish their beta-client installations and start logging on, we'll be able to do even more analysis and optimization prior to release. While this process brings about a challenge for those of you facing lag issues, it ultimately helps us maintain our schedule of analyzing and optimizing our code for all of our servers, including the ones that have yet to be brought online. We are looking forward to having hundreds of thousands of players enter the world of Azeroth on November 23, and we're grateful that you all have the interest and the patience to help us do this last, sometimes challenging, bit of testing. Your assistance with this will truly help us ensure that World of Warcraft will run as smoothly as possible at launch.
    Article []
  • by David Horn (772985) <david&pocketgamer,org> on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:53PM (#10845979) Homepage
    I bought the game from a store yesterday. It only took 20 minutes to install off the 5 CDs, you would think they could make it on DVD. And whats with not giving us jewl cases for a $55 game? Cheap paper sleves are for Drivers, not AAA title games. [/rant].

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the UK it was released on DVD. At least we're embracing the future - I vaguely recall the same thing happening with Far Cry. For some unbelivably stupid reason the publishers assume that America lacks DVD technology.

    We should have lost disc swapping 5 years ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:54PM (#10845993)
    "I want games to be cheaper to buy"

    Haha look at the stupid monkey thinking if piracy goes down so will prices... lol
  • by TheAntiCrust (620345) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:55PM (#10846002)
    Grrr... No one on slashdot seems to realize that one of the primary points of steam is NOT to stop piracy. The idea of being able to verify all the files on someone's computer adresses the much larger issue of CHEATING. Cheating in multiplayer games has been a huge issue with Half-Life and I think more than anything else valve wanted to make sure all the game files are un-edited to prevent cheatng by hacking the game.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:59PM (#10846044)
    Don't forget: if you aren't willing to put up with that, you can't return the game for a refund, or even store credit.

    Once upon a time, we had consumer protection laws...
  • by Wavicle (181176) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:06PM (#10846131)
    So if the larger issue is cheating, why not allow people to play single player without steam and only require steam for multiplayer?

    Or is valved frightened that people are going to cheat at single player and finish the game??

    Steam is at least as much about piracy as cheating. As a result Valve has clearly stated that they are willing to inconvenience a lot of their customers so that a few will buy instead of pirate. I'm glad my midterms preclude me from installing HL2 until next week.
  • by ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:20PM (#10846294) Homepage
    NHL2005 wil NOT install due to cloneCD. EA's fix was to uninstall cloneCD.

    Hell, it get's better with that. Some of that crap like Splinter Cell2 bitches about Nero and other legit burning programs also. Sometimes, just the back that you have a CD/DVD Writer that is also a CD-ROM pisses it off.

    And their answer is always "uninstall". God forbid honest game purchasers actually have a CD/DVD Writer and software to write and backup files to.

    I honestly don't know which I hate more right now, the craplock CDs or the POS Steam servers. I spent more time waiting on those damn servers last night that I did playing the game. That seriously sours any thoughts of purchasing any other game ill-powered by Steam.
  • Crazy EULA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:24PM (#10846351) Homepage
    There was part of the agreement near the end where you had to promise that you would not give the game to a terrorist or any national from a country that supports terrorists.

    Dang, and that was always my favorite side in CS.
    Seriously though, did anyone else think that was odd?
  • by ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:26PM (#10846373) Homepage
    Powerplay was all BS anyway. A lot of babble, and no substance or working product.

    So, nothing has changed with Steam then. :-)
  • by Fishstick (150821) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:27PM (#10846386) Journal
    I had a similar, frustraing experience. I had pre-ordered from gamestop -- they sold D3 & HL2 with free shipping when you pre-ordered both titles.

    Anyway - I got an email at work yesterday confirming that the game had shipped, FedEX tracking told me it was on a van in my town out to be delivered, and my son called excitedly around 3 to tell me it was delivered.

    I had to work a little later than usual so it was probably around 6:30 that I got around to installing and activating. When steam wnet to create my account, it told me there was an error and I would have to try again. I waited a little while and tried again, but it told me there was an account with the same email address.

    I tried to log on to the account using the pw I had supplied, but it sat there a good 10 minutes before deciding that user/password was no good. I should have known better, but I went ahead and tried sumbitting a request to change the pw. I did eventually get an email with a confirmation # to use to reset, but somehow I did end up getting in with the original user/pw (obviously things were just slow and I was not being patient enough).

    So then I actually start unlocking, which takes over an hour on a (supposed) 3mbit cable line. *it is at this point I go back downstairs and prepare the first of many double jack and cokes.

    By about 11 I was playing. I was so tired and cranky that I didn't get much farther than the train station & security office. The experience of being pushed around and beaten by the cops somehow was more than I needed at that point.

    One thing I did like was picking up garbage and whipping it at the police. I think I spent a good 20 minutes seeing what I could pick up and hurl at a cop and then see how fast I could run away and at what point the cop gave up and went back to his spot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:29PM (#10846400)
    throwing servers at a problem is a very management-esque way of dealing with things. this is not the case.

    i am not allowed to share, but if you have any idea how much bandwidth steam is doing, sustained, right now, it would blow you away. i know for a fact valve spreads its servers out through many providers to lessen the load on each node, but in the end there is only a finite amount of upstreams they can get traffic through.

    i also know for a fact that other providers who they have contracts with had to shut down valve's connections since steam was completely detroying their network. how is it Valve's fault when the over-excited sales guy @ MegaColo signs them up for a couple of gig-e connections that turn out to be duds?

    all it takes is one overloaded router @ MegaColo for them to decide that the popularity of HL2 is destroying their network, and Valve is shit out of luck, port admined down, take your servers somewhere else. again, THIS HAS HAPPENED. 24 hours before hl2 went live bandwidth ramped up dramaticly and many providers started showing their true colors.

    Valve is working to resolve these issues trust me, last night at 3am i was moving around linecards so we could accomodate another connection.

    posting anon, i don't work for valve but i work for someone they have contracts with.
  • FUD FUD FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:29PM (#10846404)
    I was thinking that if I was a criminal, I would already be playing.

    One of your few valid criticisms...

    In order to play, you have to have Valve's spyware program running on your system.

    You must have a different concept of "spyware" than I do. Can you explain how exactly Steam is spyware? They tell you what it reports to Valve. You choose to install it (you don't have to buy HL2). It is simple to uninstall it. Choice, valid information, and easy uninstallation are 3 things not found in real spyware.

    You have to sign yourself up on two different services.

    Not sure what you mean. I created a Steam account, bought HL2 via Steam, downloaded it, unlocked it. I started downloading it a few weeks ago, so it was just a matter of unlocking it when the day hit.

    An internet connection is mandatory as you play the game.

    This is false. An internet connection is mandatory to unlock the game initially.

    keep the disk in your computer while playing

    Not sure why this would be, if it is true, since anyone that bought it via steam of course does not need to do this.

    Updates are mandatory.

    Right-click on HL2 in Steam, select Properties, and change the automatic update setting. I do not see any indication that updates are mandatory for HL2. I can imagine they are for any online games, to prevent cheating.

    If you click the "play" button, you have to wait 50 minutes before the game actually starts

    If this is true, I think your system is not up to the task of HL2 to begin with.
  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:30PM (#10846412) Homepage Journal
    Problem is that while the crackhead does get to kick me in the nuts, he does have THE BEST crack around (HL2), and therefore I am stuck enduring *some* pain for what I (and many others) consider to be a far larger gain in the enjoyment factor of the crack (HL2). Grandparent post had it right: the cracked activation codes available on IRC eliminate the foot-to-the-nads step in obtaining my 'crack', which only encourages the "pirating" of the game.

    I've used cracked versions of Civ3 in the past as well because THE CD COPY-PROTECTION is more likely to hang up Windows when I'm "obeying the law" and have the CD in the drive than when I'm using a cracked version of the game. Notice: I bought the friggin' game! I should have no need or desire to have to use an illegal copy of it, and yet I do because the "real" version is more of a hassle than the cracked version.
  • by gcaseye6677 (694805) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:32PM (#10846433)
    They were probably relying on their Microsoft ISA firewall to protect it. That's how my company protects it's proprietary data, and it's damn amazing nobody has hacked them to pieces yet.
  • by dougmc (70836) <> on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @04:35PM (#10846468) Homepage
    No one on slashdot seems to realize that one of the primary points of steam is NOT to stop piracy.
    I'm sure there's somebody on /. who feels this way. Like you, perhaps. So much for `no one' ...

    I'm quite sure that the *requirement* of Steam activation to even play HL2 single player is all about the prevention of piracy. Who cares if you cheat if you're playing a single player game?

    I imagine they also want Steam on everybody's hard drives, popping up ads and the like. It took me two hours to get HL2 up and running yesterday (after many errors and problems), and already today Steam popups are appearing telling me that my registration finally went through. Tomorrow, I imagine popups will appear telling me that Valve's new game is available for purchase and download ...

    For now, Steam seems to have set itself up as a `portal' to games on my system. I'm sure Valve is just loving this ...

    It may help prevent cheating, but that's NOT why it's been installed on MY hard drive. It's on MY hard drive because Valve wants *more* money, both now and in the future. They're setting it up as a useful service -- which is fine, but I don't like how I *have* to use this service just to play a game that I bought, a game that really should not need the Internet. If it were a MMORPG, then I'd understand the need for the Internet. But for a single player game, it's a marketing thing only. It benefits Valve and *not* me.

    Don't get me wrong -- HL2 is great, what I've seen of it so far (I'm somewhere in Chapter 2 (?) driving that swamp boat around. Great fun!) -- but I do *not* like what Steam represents. I'm very tempted to download to a HL2 crack just so I can ditch Steam ...

  • by danila (69889) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @05:22PM (#10847106) Homepage
    Heck, why are you so intent on hurting yourself? Punish Valve. Get a game off P2P, play it, have fun, but don't pay Valve a cent. Why this pretended uprightness? When you want to punish Nestle for their baby formula scams, you can't buy Nestle products or they would get your money, and stealing their products would harm the retailer. But with content products like games you can have your cake and eat it too. Pirate the game - this way the developer/publisher is harmed and you have your fun.
  • by geek42 (592158) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @07:32PM (#10848535)
    {Vivendi.Agent1} Please let me know what is says in front of Status: Offline mode:

    {Visitor 0} Status: Ready to play

    Offline mode: ready

    {Vivendi.Agent1} Now Close this window and disconnect your internet connection.

    {Visitor 0} You must be joking.

    ... a couple minutes pass ...

    {Visitor 0} If I disconnect my net connection, how will we continue our little chat?

    ... a while longer ...

    {Visitor 0} Are you still there or what?

    {Vivendi.Agent1} Ok then i will give you the procedure to run the game offline and you can try launching the game offline.


    About 5 minutes later he coughed up the location of the FAQ on Dude.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @07:32PM (#10848538)
    Well, this morning I tried out the warez release of HL2. It took me 30 minutes to download on DC (YES! 30 minutes for 4GB on my niiice 10mbit connection). I started it up, and it worked flawlessly, until it crashed because of a corrupt file a while in. I decide that this was enough of a teaser. I would definitely have to buy this, so I sign up for steam, wait for 1:30 (I can accept that) to download it, try to start it, and it locks up my computer. Reboot and try to start it up, same deal again. I go to, register at the forums, and I'm put in a damned moderators queue. I decide to try the search button in the forum to try to see if others have solved the problem... IT'S FUCKING DISABLED!!!! Just by chance I find a thread that seems to remotely have something to do with my problem. It suggest to delete all your files and redownload. So that's what I'm doing right now. Currently I've been downloading for 2:30 hours, and I'm at 90% now. Still I'm trying to find suggestions in the forum, but now I only get a damned "server overloaded" message. I've spent something like 7 hours trying to get this thing to work. God I'm dissappointed. I will think thrice before ever buying a game with activation again.
  • by Black Pete (222858) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @07:34PM (#10848560)
    When I picked up my copy from Future Shop yesterday, they had flyers up everywhere saying that they will install Halflife2 for you for $19.99 (CDN).

    Me and my friends laughed it off while we were standing in the checkout line, joking about dumb computer users, and how we could easily do the same thing for $10 or less...

    After having gone through the horrific install process that is Steam (story too long to write here -- it involves hours, error messages, reboots, Steam interrupting me with survey messages - WTF!), a sobering thought came to me: that $19.99 flyer at Future Shop no longer seemed like a laughing matter.

    If it was difficult for me, with 25 years of computer experience under my belt, imagine what it must seem like to the average Joe User.

    You know there's something WRONG with your copy-protection system when Future Shop is offering a service to install your game for your customers!

  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @07:44PM (#10848705)
    ...was when the installer bombed out on Disc 4 with an error message.

    A few minutes Googling the newsgroups came up with an answer: Valve had stupidly failed to test the installer with the option to install CS turned off. Back to square one, and another twenty minutes of feeding CDs...

    Busy lines to get Steam content? Not pleasant, but understandable. Shipping your installer in this state, after five years of development? Valve should apologize.

    The game rocks, but nobody should have to jump through 90 minutes of hoops after paying $50.

  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:00AM (#10852987)
    "I understand it took a while to validate the thing, but after spending hours downloading it on Monday, fifteen extra minutes to verify didn't matter much--I was up and playing at 3:15 EST..."

    Yeah, but 15 hours later, when everyone was getting home from work or school and trying it out, things went to hell. I had the Steam-based version and had no problem unlocking and playing it at 4 am. But after work, the Steam authentication servers were too overloaded to let me login in, even though the game was already unlocked and playable on my machine. To make matters worse, Steam reacted to the server's being overloaded by deleting my cached authentication information, so I couldn't even play the game in offline mode. I finally got in later that evening, and I've left my PC running with Steam logged in just to be on the safe side.

You can not win the game, and you are not allowed to stop playing. -- The Third Law Of Thermodynamics