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Networking Entertainment Games

How Demigod's Networking Problems Were Fixed 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the crunch-time dept.
The launch of Demigod was troubled by piracy and networking difficulties, which publisher Stardock worked quickly to correct. They've now released a documentary that gives a detailed look behind the scenes of diagnosing and fixing those problems. It includes meetings, interviews with the devs, and part of the bug-tracking process during a frenzied 108-hour work week.
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How Demigod's Networking Problems Were Fixed

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  • by Manip (656104) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:38AM (#28240457)

    I've spoken with, and listened to, several game developers over the years and it just strikes me how different they have been to the guys on this. I'm watching the videos and it reminds me of my college days geeking it out with other geeky types and screwing around with code.

    Very different from the professional environment that you find in a lot of studios these days. They often seem to be run more like a Hollywood Movie or similar to commercial software companies and less like a college startup.

    But then again I've not played (or heard of) Demigod before this, and if they can produce fun games that's all that is really important. :)

  • by PhoenixAtlantios (991132) * on Sunday June 07, 2009 @08:13AM (#28240581)

    But then again I've not played (or heard of) Demigod before this

    That seems somewhat odd, as they've tried to get as much free advertising as they can by posting various development or piracy related stories to social news sites; some stories even got caught by the traditional media. It's not a bad marketing effort; people seem to be falling over themselves to get the game's name out there.

    I wonder how effective this type of advertising actually is though; does pointing out your mistakes and how you fixed them to a technical crowd win additional sales? Maybe that can be the next article they submit.

  • by dunezone (899268) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:43AM (#28240943) Journal
    No to be a troll or anything but they haven't fixed multiplayer. They've released several patches over the past few weeks that have fixed issues but they tend to introduce more problems then fix.

    The game is good and I enjoy it a lot, but my god every time my friends and I decide to play we debate on rather we want to deal with all the connection issues. You spend more time waiting to get into a game lobby then playing the actual game.

    Like I said the game is good, and it has its share of issues even outside of multiplayer but to say its fixed is long from the truth.
  • by dunezone (899268) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:42AM (#28241255) Journal
    Here is the thing about the advertising and no piracy protection.

    Demigod is a DOTA clone which was originally a Warcraft 3 map that is still widely played today and will more then likely be ported to Starcraft 2 if possible. So Demigod is competing against a game that already has a wide install base and is already cheap and will compete against a new game that will sell like bananers.
    Secondly, there is another game called League of Legends which is in the same style of Demigod that is coming out and is currently in BETA. From what I have been told about those in the BETA. Everything that is broken in Demigod is fixed in League of Legends. Remember, first impressions go a long way, many games start like crap and gain momentum but it takes a lot to pull people back into it. Unreal Tournament 3 is a very good example.

    My opinion is that Demigod was released early to get a head start on League of Legends, and it has no piracy protection to help compete against the already installed and well tested Warcraft 3 DOTA map.
  • Re:poor management (Score:3, Interesting)

    by julesh (229690) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:45AM (#28241267)

    the ineptitude of their management can be seen in the 108 hour week. anything over a 12 hour day is wasted, and you NEED 1 day off a week minimum to recharge the batteries, otherwise you just find ways to waste time on the job.

    i've been there, i'm working 50 - 60 hour weeks and i achieve more now than i did in 90 hour weeks.

    While I agree with what you're saying, it's only true long term. As long as they are _unusual_, long hours really can pull more work out of developers, without a necessarily huge drop in productivity. 108 hours is perhaps taking it too far (approaching 16hrs/day), but I can and have worked 90 hour weeks without significant issues. It's when you're doing them week after week that you lose productivity.

  • by pantherace (165052) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @02:02PM (#28242693)

    What's funny is when this article got posted on /., and last night, it was pretty much impossible to play online, due to something with their servers. For

    The game itself is good. Stardock's ImpulseReactor is bad. Impulse isn't so great. The engine isn't really to blame (some fundamental bugs though)
    I've played about 120 games online, and win about 50% of those.

    Here are some of the problems, having played it since pretty much the first day:
    In the initial release, they always tried to use NAT punchthrough. This includes when it wasn't needed. This put more load on their servers and made it slow to connect. Maybe piracy played some role, but given how it worked after it was 'fixed' I rather doubt piracy was the main problem, but more of an excuse.
    There are some ISPs (and routers) that mess with port numbering for UDP receive. This screws up the P2P network connection.
    Demigod/Supreme Commander speak a sandboxed lua in communication. Impulse sends and receives XML, and they wrote some translation layer in there, which was losing messages.
    Stardock implemented some proxies for fixing some problems, unfortunately the proxies are in my opinion, buggy. I've been sitting next to two people, and the same person connects to two of us fine, then proxied to the other. Uhhh, wtf? Additionally, they seem to have a tendency to crash, fucking up the game.
    According to Stardock, Stardock didn't write the NAT punchthrough, but licensed it from Raknet. Also, now Raknet of that denies it's used in Demigod. (And technically, it's not used in the engine, only the connection making, which is the real place where the BIG FUCKING PROBLEM is.)
    Impulse needs to be smacked with even the GNOME HIG guidelines, Apple's, even CDE's. Seriously, wtf? (I know it's trying to look like the latest office. There are so many people that have problems with the interface because of that. Unless you've seen Office a lot you won't recognize that the orb in the upper left is a menu, and even if you have seen office, you will likely miss it because it looks like an oversize decoration. Disclaimer: I don't like Office's new interface style in the first place.)
    Impluse's chat is a webpage, even though it's IRC, which requires IE's security settings to be set to default, it doesn't work if that's set higher.

    Demigod itself:
    Suffers from the problem of being designed with Microsoft's tools that have been focused on the Xbox, and using similar ideas. For example, running at the speed of the slowest isn't a problem when you have a homogeneous environment. PCs aren't homogeneous.
    Has some issues with the UI and communications due to all computers running the sim, and having to wait for every other computer's packets.
    Occasionally a desync (sim wasn't the same across all computers), which I have only seen about 3 times.
    Crashes occasionally, usually on connecting to a port, due to a UPNP call. (This might really belong under Impulse.)

    Plus sides:
    Less so now, but Stardock people are commonly on their IRC.
    If they are on, they generally try to be helpful, or such.
    The game is *very good*, especially on a LAN (or the internet when it works). Remarkably balanced in my opinion, for a newly released game. There are a couple of things which I think might need to be hit with a nerf bat, but they aren't very many.

    Oh, and while there is single player, it's not designed for it. For anyone wanting to play it, play a few games against the AI to understand the basic game, then DON'T PLAY AGAINST THE AI, if you ever intend to play humans. It teaches you bad habits. For example I played with friends against AIs a few games, getting something like a 33-1 K:D ratio against the 'hard' AI. The next games I played against humans, I got waxed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 07, 2009 @02:19PM (#28242835)

    Your comment doesn't seem to have anything to do with advertising or piracy protection. What it does seem like is an attempt to use Demigod's limelight to get some publicity for LoL.

    Demigod's *retail* version ships without DRM because *all* Stardock games ship that way. It's notable that once you update the game through Impulse, though, the game is 'infected' with online activation DRM (but there are no limits on the number of activations from what I can tell).

    Furthermore, Demigod is not a DotA clone. It is only like DotA in the sense that they currently form a two-game genre. An analogy I've been using is that Demigod plays about as much like DotA as F.E.A.R. plays like Doom 3. The general mechanics are the same but their execution is completely different.

    LoL on the other hand looks like a complete DotA clone. From what I've read the lead designer on LoL is even from the original DotA team.

    I disagree with your final conclusion as well (based on stuff Brad Wardell has written and from playing a lot of Demigod), but since it's purely speculative and I don't think either of us can present any real evidence to back up either claim (i.e. you claim Demigod was rushed, I claim GPG and Stardock thought Demigod was retail-complete) I guess the only rational thing to do is to agree to disagree.

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