Saturday, July 22, 2006

Zone Blues

This post was originally posted at my Windows Live Spaces blog. [View original post]

MarkKB's Blog July 23rd 2006

I hate it when people don't read.

Like when people message me on WLM when meh status is set to "Away" (you know who you are!)

Or when people complain about an issue that's already been addressed.

For instance, those who play on the Zone will know that the so-called "Classic Games" have been retired due to aging technology and ancient servers. This resulted in an uproar among the community.

But it seems all the ho-ha is about two things: lobbies and ZoneFriends.
The "lobby" was where you would stand around and chat until you were ready to play, or until a game freed up. Some people just stood around and chat, never actually playing a game. ZoneFriends was a IM program.

With the retirement of Classic games, and no replacement for lobbies in the new ones, disgruntiled Zoners flooded the forums with messeges such as IWANT ZOEN BAK!!! or, those with more brains, left to flock to GameSpy Arcade, Yahoo! Games and the like. The rest of us accepted these changes.

Mind you, I thought the new games were better, with better graphics, and faster response time. Oh well.

I also thought that the Zone team had made it clear that they were working on a replacement. Apparently I was wrong about that too.

From Beyond The Zone:

What about ZoneFriends?
Along with our old servers, the ZoneFriends tool will be taking a long-overdue retirement. All of our remaining (and future!) multiplayer games will be integrated with MSN Messenger. This is a big, big step forward for us. With its wide range of contact and message functions, handy additional features and even exclusive games, Messenger is everything that ZoneFriends wanted to be when it grew up.

So, wait, does this mean no lobbies?
That’s correct, at least for now. The old lobby system was built into our earliest classic games, and is to current game technology what a biplane engine would be to a stealth jet: similar, but essentially incompatible. Online gaming is all about community, so in addition to the in-game chat and Messenger-based invitation ability of our new multiplayer games, we’ve been researching new social and community features for both the games and our site in general. Of course the end result will be fun to use, but we’re also aiming for something that will still be as fun and useful after our second decade joins the first.

Bold emphasis added by me.

Beyond The Zone was an article that was displayed both on the main page and on the page of every Classic-based game.

Another gripe was that for some games, such as Bridge, the new version would be instated a few months after the old version was retired.

Let me make an analogy to a famous example: Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo is the most played PlayStation game ever. It is considered to be the racing sim. The original version alone sold 10.84 million units, forget Gran Turismo 4. The entire series is the ninth most-sold franchise in the world, with 43.7 million units sold in total.

Gran Turismo 2 was rushed to release in Nov 20 1999, so it could be out in the stores by the holidays. Sony publically admitted that development of the game had not been completed. As such, it had a lot of glitches, including the famous Plam Strip track, the remnent of the Drag Racing track that was removed so they release it on time.

This could happen to Bridge, if it were released before it was ready.

But then the Zone reinstated Classic Bridge due to "popular demand". What do people do to show their appretiation?

They spam the board.

Darned if ya do, darned if you don't.

Now, everyone wants their own classic games back, not considering that perhaps they're struggling to keep those remaining old servers running. (If I'm right, they're only running Bridge from a few old servers in the corner, as opposed to the many they had before that were running Classic Games.)

So... yeah, that's all from meh for today...