In our previous blog in the Game Development series, we listed some important pointers on how to choose the right network solution for your game. And now, the big day is here! Months, maybe years of hard work are about to pay off. Launching your online multiplayer game is always an exciting moment that is worth celebrating, so give yourself a round of applause, pat yourselves on the back and whip out that celebratory cup of expensive coffee you kept hidden away until now.
Unfortunately, just because your game runs beautifully now, there’s a very high chance that as a game developer you can experience quite a few bumps on your hitherto smooth ride. Game launches are rarely eventless – every single player will encounter different errors, bugs, and incompatibility issues on their side. You need to make sure you can jump in to iron out the details as fast as possible. But what should you look out for during the first months of your game?
It’s midnight – or any other time you planned your launch for – and the first lucky players are logging in to experience the fruits of your hard work. Everything is going well… until they encounter that game-breaking bug. Maybe a texture is broken, perhaps a line of code throws the program into a loop? Now they’re stuck on a loading screen. Maybe you just missed a typo in a filename – and the player is now unable to play the game.
Consider yourself in this situation – what kind of experience would you consider satisfactory at that moment? What type of error reporting should you implement in the game? Make sure that the steps in the process are clearly laid out, and the player has reasonable options to point out the bug to you so it can be fixed quickly enough for them to come back and play as soon as possible.
Bug reports are coming in from the players, and you’re on the job of ironing those out. It’s time to update the game files – but are you ready for prolonged maintenance on your online servers? Can you afford to turn off your game and upload new files manually while players are left waiting?
“If the game is unavailable, players will move on to something else very quickly,” says Lélia Peuchamiel, Product Manager at i3D.net. “There are so many other games that are online. Downtime destroys good experiences.”
Before that happens, make sure you have a comprehensive updating tool that will help you streamline this process and minimize the maintenance time needed for patching and fixes. When choosing a provider that will host a game, investigate their products and possibilities regarding this, as it’s safe to assume new bugs will pop up constantly – no matter how well-made your game is.
As your game and its community grow, updates can become more significant over time. Ensuring swift maintenance periods and regular patches keeps the game playable and popular with its user base. Make sure you create a thorough plan on how to tackle bug fixes and changes in the life cycle of your every product, as no-impact patching and smooth updating are paramount to making your players happy.
If everything went well in the end, you have made it! Your game is live, it’s playable, and it’s gathering a happy community around itself. Remember that your relationship with the community will be a crucial part of the entire experience – listen to their needs and opinions and make necessary room to include them in your game. If you want your game to last a long time online, you need to be flexible and ready for action – just like your players.
Only a part of this will be an easy fix. It’s one thing when a game is broken due to small bugs or errors, but it’s a completely different story when the parts of the community become something to look out for. With cheating devices, aimbots, and mods on the rise – how keep your online multiplayer fair?
Stay tuned and check out our blog for more on game development!
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Game Hosting Platform at i3D.net includes hybrid cloud solutions, flexible scaling if your game grows bigger, and a set of tools for patching, connectivity, and protection to maximize your uptime. We’ve developed updating tools in cooperation with large game publishers and studios for the most efficient transition between game builds.
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