Phantasy Star Universe Doomsday August 1st

In light of a slew of foul-ups by Sega, American Phantasy Star Universe players have dwindled near the point of non-existence. The remaining PSU players have deemed the next scheduled update, which has finally been confirmed for August 1st, as Doomsday — the last day Sega has to not screw up or risk losing a another swath of players. (And even then, Sega can very well consider every scheduled update afterwards a Doomsday as well.)

As a participant on the PSO-World forums, I decided to bring this discussion here to widen the audience.

The screw-ups that PSU players have had enough of include:

  • From day one, 360 players had a very difficult time logging onto the game server due to the ambiguous “Server Interrupt Request Error.” This issue was acknowledged but never addressed in code by Sonic Team until the release of the Ambition of the Illuminus expansion back. The expansion pack brought a vast improvement in both login success and time, but the error still exists to a lesser extent.
  • In order to quell the rampant cheating online, a white-list was compiled of weapons that currently dropped in the game. During the pre-expansion days, this list popped it’s ugly head once, maybe twice, when Sega forgot to white-list newly-legit items. The most recent example, however, was the Deva-zashi single dagger. When synthesized, the weapon would simply disappear into nothingness. For compensation, instead of receiving another board and the materials to make it, victims of the error were given a Deva-zashi of the element they attempted to make with the elemental percentage of 10% (out of 50%).
  • The Machine Gun weapon class is subject to a glitch where the user can fire the weapon indefinitely, several times faster than normal. This glitch was (very slowly) addressed by simply adding a delay to the player’s ability to take off their Goggles. This did not fix the glitch, as another method was discovered. This time, again instead of just fixing the glitch, a delay was added to the player’s Weapon Palette, making it difficult to quickly switch weapons in the heat of battle. XBox360 users can still use another related glitch allowing the weapon to remain more powerful than it actually is. Sega has not announced any plan about dealing with this issue. But people were banned during the most recent event, Maximum Attack G, for using it.
  • A server rollback was conducted on the day of the Ambition of the Illuminus expansion pack’s release day due to two errors, one being that item drops were way too good and dropping way too often, and the second being an error which prevented AotI players and pre-expansion players from playing together. All players were locked out of the game for several hours, and players who didn’t download the new expansion were locked out even longer.
  • A slowdown glitch was introduced with the release of AotI. The glitch happens on XBox 360 wherever robotic enemies appear. The slowdown gradually gets so bad that the user has to exit to the dashboard and restart the game. Sega has made slow progress thus far, but it still exists. Basically, this keeps XBox players from playing certain missions.
  • A debug mission was put on production servers. The debug mission was easy to take out, but everyone got a rollback because of it, including players who were doing other new missions and not the debug map. Some of these players lost finds that still hold a lot of value to this day.
  • At the end of the Winter Event, we were supposed to receive a title update for the 360. However, the update was rejected by Microsoft due to a bug, and the Winter Event ended up being extended until Sega figured out a workaround. In Sega’s defense, Sega claims the title update worked on the dev Live servers that only game producers have access to. However, what became apparent was the fact that Sega was announcing and scheduling title updates before Microsoft had given approval. Sega also made a faux pas in blaming “Microsoft politics and bureaucracy” for the snafu. The comment was posted in a link near the top of the web site announcing the title update. The comment was completely removed at an unknown date.
  • After an unexpected update (read: ST only meant to do maintenance, but we wound up with new content), new items at “The Collector” meant for raising a PM had an adverse affect on a player’s character, should they log out with the item in their inventory. The item would erase your inventory, and PA levels, and essentially render you incapable of using that character. Later that day, a server rollback was conducted.
  • The S-Grinder glitch broke out on the 360. Turned out this glitch had existed for some time, with Sega trying to keep things quiet until a patch could be released. As with all exploits, word eventually started spreading like wildfire. People started abusing it en masse and had started to ruin the economy of the game. Sega banned around 250 users for this. Some people cried foul and claimed they were only testing the glitch and claimed that they dumped the glitched grinders in a mission and abandoned. Sega banned all glitchers regardless.
  • Maximum Attack G in its entirety was completely mishandled. A week into the event, the PS2 and PC players were locked out of the game when the billing server (for the second or third time) fell apart and failed to re-bill recurring subscriptions. This issue was not addressed until the tail-end of the event. As compensation, players were promised an extension for the event while the event was going on. This caused quite a few people to ease up on the goals, realizing that they didn’t have to drive themselves into the ground grinding away now when they still had two weeks coming in the future. The extension was then delayed indefinitely. Word has only come out recently that the event would come back August 1st.
  • Recently, Sonic Team announced it would be addressing the visual slowdown players experience when in close proximity to TECHNIC visual effects. Sonic Team will be “fixing” this by capping the visual effects so that only the caster sees the full effect. This doesn’t even directly fix the problem, as several TECHNICs slow down the game more at lower levels than they do at higher levels.

Also have a look at some of these thoughts from the residents of PSO-World:

  • While the Sega team announces dates for some updates, most of the time the scheduled date was not respected. While it truly shows problems with the update system, it also shows how bad communication is at Sega.
  • The already slow update process has been made slower by one of the promises made the Sega team: extension of the aforementioned event. For this, basically, the update process has frozen in anticipation of this ever-delayed extension. Players aren’t getting their prizes as a result of the event because Sega wants to wait for the extension to happen before giving the away. So by the end of July, it will be 2 months and a half since the end of the event.
  • They pretend to care about the problems of the games, yet only address the problems that can be easily mended by cheep development methods, like delaying the action pallet for the said machine gun glitch.
  • Sega of America has completely dropped the ball with this game. Unless they were able to INSTANTLY catch up with the Japanese servers to the point where we were only but a month behind, there is no godly way to save the US/EU servers of this game. At this point, PSU will last only a fraction of the time PSO did, as this game is technically already in the hole PSOBB was a few months before it was shut down. And don’t think it wont happen. PSOBB wasn’t shut down because of PSU, PSOBB was shut down because Sega of America can no longer obtain profit anymore — PSOBB JP still obtains updates and events. So at this point, we already risk the Death Drain. There is no US/EU release scheduled or even announced for US/EU, which only foreshadows the eminent doom and further distance we have from the Japanese servers.
  • It is becoming quite obvious that SoA is starting to lose interest in the well-being of this game. We are still having billing problems, system glitches, delayed content, and poor filler-events like “MISSION SPOTLIGHT” that are nothing but sad attempts at trying to build an illusion that they care about this game and calm down the riot they are inciting themselves.

If it isn’t obvious that Sega software may soon end up like Sega hardware, I don’t know what is. Sega would have to fly straight for the remainder of the PSU servers’ existances for North American players to buy into the next online Phantasy Star game.