• Dear Blizzard, be a sweetie and pass me the Lan. Oh and a side order of 'Restore Dropped Game'. tweet this

    I've just finished watching the SC2 GSTL Finals - held for the first time outside of Korea, at IPL4 in Las Vegas. A combination of GOMTV production, a huge hyped crowd and some of the best players in the world, duking it out for this prestigious trophy, guaranteed the event was going to be epic.

    And it was epic. Some of the most exciting games of Starcraft II I've watched - all fueled by incredible skill and a superb atmosphere, of the kind Vegas is so good at creating. I don't think I've missed a GSTL match all season, having subscribed to it on GomTV. Startale vs Prime - who could ask for more.

    I'm not going to run through the games here - and I don't want to spoil the result for those of you who have still to watch the VoD's. I'm writing this because of an 'incident' during the finals. The kind of incident that unfortunately happens far too often in major Starcraft II tournaments but that could so easily be avoided - Battle.net connection issues.


    (photo - Mike Morhaime & Dustin Browder watch on as MKP's Battle.net connection hangs and drops). (All credit to @silverfire - Kevin Chang, for this awesome shot!)


    Whether it's general lag or, as in this case, a total dropping of a players' connection, a local fault, it's inexcusable when so much is on the line, and when a solution is readily available. Several solutions actually. Most of which have been around for years. The simplest of which would rely on a locally auto-saved file, that could be used to resume a game whenever a connection breaks (be it due to Battle.net connectivity or a Local network issue).

    Blizzard remain stubborn on the subject of Lan in SC2, citing piracy concerns. It may not have helped in this case - rumor is that it was a local issue, but it would have helped the countless times it's happened before. They reason that if they stop forcing people to be connected to Battle.net for the entire game, the pirates will run wild. This kind of thinking deserves to be rubbished. It is rubbish - for the players, for the viewers, for ESports - and for Blizzard.

    Making improvements to the Battle.net interface within the game, that add so much value so as to offer a vastly better user experience and hence discourage people from running pirated copies, is a far more progressive solution to Piracy. Improving the social features of Bnet; adding the ability to watch replays with friends from within it, for example. Bringing it to life in a compelling and inclusive way, to encourage community in what is, for many, a fairly isolated past-time - playing 1v1 RTS games. These are things Blizzard should be doing. Immediately!

    Solutions needn't even be complicated. Simply having the client connect to Bnet at the start of a game and at the end would serve a similar purpose to the current 'always on' method, from a piracy standpoint. Introducing LAN mode wouldn't lead to millions being lost to more people refusing to purchase the game. Not if they implemented it properly. It would however lead to large live events running smoothly.

    There will be much debate about whether the lagging out of game, last night, by MKP, should have been resolved with a rematch (the option that the GSTL Admins went for) or whether MKP was actually so far behind his opponent STParting, as to warrant giving the game to Parting. Frankly, i'm not interested in that. The admins were forced to make a tough call because of the way Battle.net and SC2 work .

    It seems odd that there isn't the ability to resume an auto-saved game which dropped due to connectivity - despite the fact that a detailed replay file is stored locally, on both machines. It can't be that hard to implement - other games manage it.

    I really hope that hearing the crowd roar 'We Want Lan' will have had a lasting impact on Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime & lead SC2 Developer Dustin Browder. I hope they felt uncomfortable seeing the StarTale team arguing the case for an admin awarded victory, in favor of their man Parting, due to his position in the game at the time it dropped.

    It's an exciting time for eSports. Money is flowing in very nicely, from sponsors and investors. They all have businesses to run. They all need things to be reliable, as much as Blizzard needs to protect itself from piracy. Lets hope Blizzard react now. They need to take a good look at what they have created here - and respect the community that makes it more than just a game. They need to give us Lan and local 'resume dropped game' options. Now!

    Comments 16 Comments
    1. jim's Avatar
      jim.ps -
      But battle.net issues had nothing to do with it, it was a local network failure as stated by https://twitter.com/#!/dting888/stat...19332145479681 which would have caused a drop regardless of it being a LAN or not.

      I agree that having LAN is a good thing etc but it wouldn't have helped in this specific case.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Ah, interesting. I also notice that this response was received to that comment, from the CTO of ESFIworld ;

      https://twitter.com/#!/DanESFI/statu...19784916418560
      @dting888 not true. No L3 Router is needed in LAN mode!!!! Just a switch. That connection will never die. Don't say it's Win7's fault!
      In any event, resuming from a dropped game would have solved all.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Incidentally - here's a pic that appeared on t'interents purporting to be the Army graph from the game in question. Just goes to further the point that stuff like this can't be left to referee's discretion - it needs to stop being an issue.

    1. The Sero's Avatar
      The Sero.ps -
      Yeah, I was so shocked watching that. Horrible situation, not a single result that the ref could choose would be acceptable in a way. Giving the game to either player would take away the chance of that epic comeback, which does happen in StarCraft, quite a lot. (I admit I don't know the game well enough to say whether it would have had a chance this game.) Yet, in the rematch choice as it is, we have that argument of the difference at the time of drop.

      It is ridiculous, especially when there are simple solutions as you say. If things like this persist, I can only see it having a harmful effect on the amount of money in, and therefore the growth, of esports as a whole.

      Fantastic read by the way, really good points nicely presented.

      I like how in that video you left on the end... the commentators don't repeat what the crowd are saying...
    1. jim's Avatar
      jim.ps -
      Quote Originally Posted by Logan View Post
      Ah, interesting. I also notice that this response was received to that comment, from the CTO of ESFIworld ;

      https://twitter.com/#!/DanESFI/statu...19784916418560


      In any event, resuming from a dropped game would have solved all.
      The PC encountered an issue when it was renewing the IP address from the DHCP server, this was a local networking failure and in the end, having LAN mode wouldn't have made a difference. I'm more inclined to take the word of both the general manager of the event and the network engineer in charge of it over a reply from the CTO of "ESFIworld" who clearly wasn't aware of either the network setup or the root cause of the problem.

      If anything, it seems like it's the poor network of either the hotel itself or the one provided to the hosts. I disagree that blizzard should be blamed for this in the slightest and definetly shouldn't "be ashamed"
    1. grazr's Avatar
      grazr -
      Whether or not Blizzard should be ashamed in this case or not is besides the point for me. Battle.net connection issues do cause problems, problems for the loyal paying customer that could be avoided were it not for the culled LAN functionality that is in place, a functionality removed as a method of tackling piracy and not for technical improvement; as is usually the case with aggressive anti-piracy methods such as DRM. The specific case may be invalid, but the point is not. Blizzard should still be ashamed since it was the LAN party and LAN event scene which sprung competitive RTS into the eSports scene.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
      The PC encountered an issue when it was renewing..... I disagree that blizzard should be blamed for this in the slightest and definetly shouldn't "be ashamed"
      You seem to want to focus on defending Blizzard; I didn't say they should be ashamed, I said that there are some easy ways to prevent this type of thing being an issue for major live events. My post comes from a love of SC2 and a love of Blizzard - I thought I was pretty constructive in presenting alternative ways of them progressing SC2's development and avoiding difficult situations that arise currently on a relatively regular basis.

      On an optimistic note, I hear rumour that HOTS will include some useful new features aimed at encouraging community a more friendly user experience - at least for those players who would prefer not to play in the competitive arena that is Ladder. I hear it's called Arcade more - but the details seem sketchy currently.
    1. jim's Avatar
      jim.ps -
      Quote Originally Posted by Logan View Post
      You seem to want to focus on defending Blizzard; I didn't say they should be ashamed, I said that there are some easy ways to prevent this type of thing being an issue for major live events.
      I was going off "but Blizzard should be ashamed" which appeared in my twitter feed last night man.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Things said on twitter....hardly cool calm reflection - which this post was meant to be; and hopefully read as such.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Incidentally, David Ting posted an interesting thread on Reddit regarding the tech side - and more importantly, that he will be talking to Blizzard about a reconnect option. This is good news indeed.

      [–]dting888 83 points 19 hours ago
      For those who are looking for the technical explanation, we have a complex network infrastructure at the event. According to our network engineer, the symptoms (backstage systems) that we saw even after that main stage lost connectivity seem to point to a DHCP related issue. The way things appear to be set up, Cosmo created different network blocks for the different sections / areas. For instance, the SC2 stage area is in a different network block as the master control (SC2). The master control is shared with the LoL stage and tables. The master control (LoL) is on another block, etc. etc.
      What I'm suspecting is that the SC2 stage machine that had issues reached its DHCP half-life and was trying to renewing its IP with the DHCP server. This is likely the cause of the disconnect.
      In layman's term, there is protection on the hotel network that disallows connections that have over 24 hour duration. We likely have hit a glitch that caused the disconnect. I will talk to Blizzard tomorrow regarding adding a reconnect option.
      http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/co..._issue/c49rddo
    1. jim's Avatar
      jim.ps -
      I'll bear that in mind next time I read stuff on there then.

      None of my posts have the sole intention of defending Blizzard, I'm not going to go and blindly defend them, I dislike many of the decisions they made in the many years I've spent playing Blizzard products. What I don't like is that people are portraying Blizzard as the cause of this problem. This isn't directed at you or anyone else in this thread, it is directed at the response I've seen from the community who think that going on some righteous crusade for LAN is the right thing to do.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      I agree that righteous crusades are not great.

      Emotion plays it's part on Twitter, and elsewhere - as does 140 character limit - I'm sure you'll agree, it's hard to be too specific in short form.

      Pretty much exactly the reason I wanted to write what I thought and hoped would be taken as a thoughtful, comprehensive article on the subject of 'blips' in Pro SC2 tournaments, that could be avoided using tech that's been around years. I hoped the article would be appreciated for what's in it.
    1. grom's Avatar
      grom.ps -
      Quote Originally Posted by Logan View Post
      What I'm suspecting is that the SC2 stage machine that had issues reached its DHCP half-life and was trying to renewing its IP with the DHCP server. This is likely the cause of the disconnect.
      Good God, it's 2012 FFS Seriously, running a LAN competition off a hotel network?!?!
      I've had more complicated set-ups in my house. I fail to understand exactly how amateurish you would need to be to have a DHCP lease not renew when still in use. This is not rocket science people.
    1. Logan's Avatar
      Logan.ps -
      Even more interesting - A member of the SC2 community has created a proof of concept program that allows you to resume a game that has dropped from a Replay! Awesome stuff.

      http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/view...opic_id=328785