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Friday, July 19, 2013

Runescape: Last-minute Maintenance before RS3 Release

Recently, logging in and playing Runescape has been more adventurous than usual.  Lots of different problems, and many complaints on the forums.  Random disconnects make players afraid to do anything risky.  Who wants to risk all their gear in a boss fight if you might be disconnected during it?

Game-loading problems.  Loss or distortion of audio.  Black screens instead of the usual game screen.  Dramatic frame rate drops.  Quite the list, and coming at a very bad time considering Jagex is busily promoting the release of Runescape 3 next week.

Have you experienced any of these?  I've suffered the black screen. Had to close my browser and run CCleaner before it cleared up.  Some people were luckier, only needing to wait a bit, teleport somewhere, or log out and back in to fix it.  It's happened about 3 times for me.

Also had the loading problems.  Click to load the game into the browser window (using Google Chrome), the logo comes up, and then it just... sits there.  Apparently doing nothing.  Sometimes, if I go away and come back it's okay.  Other times, it's better to just click re-load and try again.  This happens fairly often currently.

The audio problems have happened more to Monique than to myself, though both of us experienced it while doing the new 'Bringing Home the Bacon' quest.  I often play without audio, so may not have noticed every time.

I haven't personally seen the fps problem, but several people on the forum report that it's tied to the 'bloom' lighting effect, and certain graphic-intensive actions like casting Barrage.  Some say if you turn 'bloom' off, the frame rate goes back up to a reasonable level.  As far as the random disconnects, we've been fortunate with those.  It's been a problem in the past, off and on.  But at the moment, not bothering us.

During all of this, not much has been heard from Jagex.  One forum thread.  As far as I can tell, it's not been kept updated, so all you see are pagefulls of people wondering what's going on.

Until today.  Today, there's an announcement on the News page about weekend-long maintenance.  It's for the 19th through the 22nd of July, with a specific list of times- looks like about two hours (at separate times) on Friday, and one hour per day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

There's a clear warning that, while the game will still be playable during these times, there's a risk of disconnection.  So play accordingly.  Don't risk things you can't afford to lose.

I'm glad on a couple of levels.  One, it's nice that they're letting us as players know what's going on.  Sometimes being left in the dark can magnify a problem.  Two, I'm glad to see they're making a serious effort to fix things.  Knowing they're working on it helps me stay patient.

Lastly, the timing is important.  The official RS3 release (but not the HTML5 version) is on July 22nd (2013).  That's less than 4 days away as I write this.  It would be immensely damaging to player satisfaction to have a grand release while plagued by problems.  Certainly there will be hiccups integrating the new systems.  Going through that without fixing existing issues would be very bad business practice.

In spite of all this, I'm excited about the upcoming launch.  Haven't spent much time on the HTML5 Beta, but the New Interface System (NIS) is a lot of fun.  Spent several evenings just playing around with differing layouts and seeing how they worked.

Here's hoping for a smooth transition!

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