Thursday, July 8, 2010

DDO update 5: an unpleasent surprise

I sincerely hope I am mistaken about this [Edit: yeah, I was...turns out it's an unintended bug in the patch]

As far as I can tell, the buffer for outdoor maps got changed from four (i.e., your character will remember where you have been in four outdoor zones until you hit a 5th, then one character specific map will get replaced) to zero. This means that if you have the temerity to explore an outdoor zone and log off before doing every single thing in the zone, when you next log on your map will be completely blacked out... as if you never set foot in the zone. This makes it one hell of a lot harder to figure out where to go or what you missed in between sessions in outdoor exploration areas.

Maybe I hit a bug in Tangle-Root Gorge. I really really hope so, because the alternative is that Turbine is bat shit crazy. The outdoor zones are huge, and it's hard to remember where you have been. Getting all the exploration points and all the rare kills critically depends on remembering where you have been. A map that shows where you have been recently is absolutely essential to exploring these areas. If they are having storage capacity issues on their end all they need to do is make the map storage data client side. Yes that means we could easily open up all of our maps with simple hacks. But really, who the hell cares? Figuring out where to go should not be the primary challenge of the game.

Being rewarded for exploring is awesome. I loved clearing out maps under the old system, it gave you a real sense of progress as you went looking for all the exploration points. Losing every bit of that progress the moment you log out is poor game design. If some of your users choose to set the exploration aspect of the game on fire to use cheated up maps, that is their loss. Those of us that enjoy exploring will still do it the legit way. Don't kick us all in the 'nads because you are too cheap to pay for storage space on your end, or too lazy to move it to our end.

My apologies for the rabidity of this post to my regular readers. There is some history. I was pretty ticked when I discovered the 4 map buffer after spending three evenings scouting out out the entire Three Barrel Cove map (yes, even the empty ocean bits). I hit a new zone, and my map got completely blanked. I rank pretty high on the explorer end of the Bartle continuum, and flushing maps I've filled out jams a "Yeebo angry" button on the back of my neck. But after some reflection, I realized you really don't bop back and forth between more than four outdoor areas that often. There is no reason to, the lower level maps you have filled out are largely useless to you once you level out of them.

No map buffer at all, on the other hand, jams the same button on the back of my neck about ten times as hard. In my myopic world, this change is insanity of the first order. Be on the lookout for a guy with long hair ranting on random street corners about maps, Turbine, and the number five.

Final Edit (Update): It seems that my nerd rage was unwarranted. The issue is a bug, that will get fixed in the next few days.

All I can say is thank goodness. Now I can get on with bitching about the realID fiasco. Oh, no wait, that's not an issue now either. Well, there's always the latest Allod's patch. Maybe I'll fire that up and see if it's as bad as they say on the forums ;-)


  1. I had forgotten about how that worked. I remember that happening in some large open zone that took too long to complete in one session; then having to start from scratch when I next zoned in. That's really annoying.

    Turbine has always been stingy with data storage and it's part of those little things that annoy me when I play their games (tiny backpacks in LotRO.

  2. I have to agree that it's a bit baffling as to why Turbine is so stingy with data storage. Based on my experience with offline RPGs, the total data volume represented by an extra bank slot or a four map buffer is absolutely miniscule. Offline RPGs often have a size infinite map buffer and unlimited storage, and the save files are still tiny.

  3. Huh. Maybe they'll offer a map case in the Turbine store.

    Low blow, I know.

  4. As cheesy as it would be to start charging us for something we used to get free, that may in fact be what they intend to do.

  5. They may be keeping inventory small to keep the network traffic per client down to a minimum. Storage is cheap but networks not so much.

    One would think that the map history could be stored on the client where that wouldn't be an issue. I sure do miss having maps filled in (per toon) permanently like LotRO. My memory is horrible and I need all the help I can get.

  6. I'd love it if that change were implemented.