Bungie Explains Destiny 2's Recent 20-Hour Outage

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A Destiny warrior uses his hands to collect an orb of green energy.

Screenshot: Bungie

Two days ago, Bungie turned off the Destiny 2 servers while the studio looked into a problem that had players apparently losing progress on in-game challenges. This outage lasted a bit longer than everyone expected, with the free-to-play loot shooter remaining offline for nearly 20 hours. So what happened? Today Bungie pulled back the curtain and explained exactly what went wrong and why it had to roll back the game, erasing a few hours of folks’ quest progress in the process.

On January 24 at around 2:00 p.m., Bungie tweeted that it was taking Destiny 2 offline while it investigated an “ongoing issue causing certain Triumphs, Seals, and Catalysts to lose progress for players.” A few hours later, at 5:51 p.m., Bungie tweeted that it had possibly found a fix for the issue and was testing it, but was unable to specify when or if Destiny 2’s servers would come back online. Nearly four hours later, Bungie tweeted for the last time that night, announcing that Destiny 2 would not be playable that evening. Nearly 12 hours later, at around 9:55 a.m, Bungie announced it had finally solved the problem and servers would be coming back online following a hotfix. The nearly 20 hours of downtime had some players worried about the game’s health, and its future. After years of bugs and broken updates, it was really starting to feel like the seven-year-old shooter was being held together with duct tape.

So what happened during those 20 hours and why was the game down for so long, seemingly with little warning? Bungie has explained what broke, why, and how it was fixed in its latest blog post. And surprisingly, the developer is more transparent than you might think, going into technical details of the issue.

According to Bungie, shortly after releasing a previous update for the game (Hotfix 6.3.0.5) players began reporting that many Triumphs, Seals, and catalysts had vanished. Bungie realized that this was being caused after it moved some “currently incompletable” challenges into a different area of the game’s data. To do this, Bungie used a “very powerful” tool that lets the studio tinker with a player’s game state and account. Apparently, due to a configuration error, Bungie accidentally “re-ran an older state migration process” used in a past update. Because of this error, the tool copied old data from this past update into the current version of the game, which basically undid some players’ recent in-game accomplishments

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“Once we identified that the issue resulted in a loss of player state,” wrote Bungie, “we took the game down and rolled back the player database while we investigated how to remove the dangerous change from the build.”

After creating a new patch that removed the mistaken change the issue was fixed, and following some testing, Bugnie deployed the update. However, as a result of this patch, all player accounts had to be rolled back a few hours before the troublesome update went live. This means any player progress made between 8:20 and 11 a.m. on January 24 was lost. Any purchases made during this time got refunded, too.

While it sucks that the game was down for so long and that the team was forced to spend what sounds like many late hours trying to fix their mistake, it’s refreshing to see a developer be so open and honest about what happened and how it was fixed. In a time when games feel buggier than ever and players are fed up with delays, outages, and broken updates, it’s smart to pull back the curtain and show everyone just how hard it is to make, maintain, and sustain video games as complex as Destiny 2.

Hopefully, next month’s new Destiny 2 expansion, Lightfall, and the upcoming Season 20 rollout will go a little smoother than this recent 20-hour hiccup.

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