The free-to-play monster slayer Dauntless went into full release earlier this week, bringing players from PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC under one roof in "true" cross-play. It seems that popularity has had some ramifications however, as the game has been going through varying stages of server troubles since the launch.
It's hard to tell whether things have stabilized; while I jumped on and played for a while last night, experiencing only a few drawn-out matchmaking queues, our own Mike Williams was met with a login queue this afternoon. Regardless, it's enough that developer Phoenix Labs got questions about it in their Reddit AMA today, and associate producer Ian Tornay gave a very detailed answer.
"The short answer is that 'more servers' is a tempting idea, but it probably won't solve any problems," says Tornay. "Video game server networking and architecture is complicated and hard. If buying more servers would solve the problem, I promise that we would do it in a heartbeat."
Tornay broke down some of the pieces creating the problems Dauntless is currently grappling with, from optimizing networking and developing custom solutions ("No two online games are the same," he says) to preparing for real-world situations.
"Overestimating or underestimating capacity is a false dichotomy in this situation," says Tornay. Much of the networking needs to happen in real time, and in response to the evolving needs of reality. He closed with a short summary:
Having enough boxes or a big enough box for everyone is not usually the problem. The problem to solve is how to get everyone into the right box and then move them quickly and painlessly between boxes around the world Toss in our amazingly ambitious crossplay plans and, well, we are hugely flattered by how many people showed up and we're doing everything we can to get everyone in and playing as quickly as possible. TL;DR Designing network architecture is a lot like being a baseball outfielder, but you're not allowed to move your feet until the ball is already coming down. You use your best instincts and make informed, educated decisions - but sometimes you're gonna have to hustle after that ball!
There are some other nuggets of feedback in the thread, like fixes for odd bugs involving PlayStation friends and color-switching gear. But despite the server trouble, a lot of players still seem pretty psyched about Dauntless. It hit the four million player mark after the full launch, and the lines to get into the servers indicate at least some popularity. Hopefully Phoenix Labs can translate this sudden influx of popularity into some stable solutions for playing Dauntless.