The Scariest Thing About Friday The 13th Is... The Launch Day Disaster!
If you read my pre-release review for Friday the 13th, you know that this asymmetrical 7-vs-1 outing was an incredibly fun experience -- even if some selfish counselors left me to die while they sped away in a car I'd fixed for them.
The pre-launch experience was fantastic. Servers worked as they should, match making was quick, everyone knew exactly what they were doing. We were all having a hell of a good time getting slashed, dashed, burned, crunched, cracked, split, and yes, even "hugged" to death.
It was the golden age of Friday the 13th's (thus far) short lifespan. There were a scant few hundred people playing, and the servers didn't have a serious load to deal with. It was just gamers having fun -- and I'm pretty sure at one point I got killed by PewDiePie yelling "I just want to hug you!" All in all, it was a great time.
Then launch day happened, and the nightmare truly began.
The servers started going nuts. Players dropped in and out of parties at random. Everyone's ping was somehow 999ms. And the vast majority of the people in my group were speaking Russian to one another. Clearly, something was amiss.
I managed to play few rounds of that multi-lingual mayhem, as counselors disappeared from the match at random. Then the dreaded Friday The 13th Game Database Login Failure error started to appear, which was far scarier than the notion of being neutered by an axe to the crotch.
Needless to say, people who pre-ordered or backed the original Friday the 13th Kickstarter weren't amused. Developer Illfonic had raised a staggering $800,000 to put together a functioning game -- not something that immediately crashed when a decent number of people actually tried to play together.
Those backers waited a long time to see the finished product -- with the Kickstarter taking place almost two years ago. And as several hundred of them angrily mentioned on the Steam forums, they didn't get to play before release, unlike all the streamers and gaming sites who received advanced review copies.
Review copies and early streams are just the nature of the beast. A developer obviously wants to build hype and have people besides just the base backers know about the project, but in this case that standard industry practice backfired -- and it backfired hard.
After working quickly for a weekend, the dev team released a patch yesterday which updates the game to build 2686, fixing several issues and getting some people back online, but the vast majority remain offline.
According to a series of tweets and forum posts, the issue resided with server problems that had to be manually reset and updated, with players in different areas of the world coming back online slowly in small batches.
Here credit has to be given where it's due: the developer has been staying in communication via multiple outlets to let frustrated players know what's happening. Although considering the smack some of them talked about Dead By Daylight's team prior to this disastrous launch, perhaps sometimes less is more on the communication front.
Developers take note -- you want updates like these when something goes wrong
When you could get online, a new problem reared its head -- and it was uglier than Jason's face reveal in Friday The 13th Part 2. In another blunder, achievements weren't popping, and everyone was stuck at progress level 0, with 0 CP to spend. It didn't matter how many rounds you played, you were stuck at the bottom of the totem pole.
In a way, everyone complaining about needing a wipe so pre-release streamers didn't have an edge got what they wanted -- but in the worst way possible, since few could play and those who could didn't level up at all. These problems are slowly being fixed across all platforms, with most players expecting to be able to log in and play by mid-week.
That's not much consolation for those who still can't properly get in a full match though, and a serious question of price has now arisen: is $40 too much for an online-only game with two maps by an indie dev who dropped the ball on release day?
While I'm normally a huge proponent of the practice, this is a potential pitfall of crowdfunding -- and of handing a famous license to an indie developer.
I can say without hesitation that when everything gets back to normal, this game absolutely is worth the price of admission... with the caveat that the developer needs to release content updates.
The two-map setup will get repetitive when everyone has figured out how to work all phone, boat, and car repairs, and some new locales and kill methods will need to be released in the coming months to keep this community alive.
Have you had trouble connecting, and do you feel the price is on par with the experience provided? When you do manage to get the game working and your progress is actually saving, be sure to check out our guides on killing as Jason or surviving as a counselor: