interview

Bungie President Harold Ryan And Team Answer Questions About Destiny’s Servers And The ‘Centipede’ Error

by Mike Futter on Sep 15, 2014 at 09:00 AM

In the wake of Destiny’s launch last week, we had the opportunity to chat by email with Bungie president Harold Ryan. With Destiny now officially the largest new IP launch in history in the UK (according to GfK Chart Track), we wanted to know about the way forward as Bungie squashes bugs and tunes the experience.

Ryan and Zach Russell, Ringmaster at Bungie (yes, that’s his real title) answered our inquiries about the servers, errors encountered by some users, and how future content will be designed with feedback from the community.

Game Informer: The Destiny launch seems to have largely gone smoothly, and we’re curious if there’s anything specific from the pre-launch load testing that was directly applied or the team wouldn’t have otherwise known without the beta.
Harold Ryan: Our public Betas have always been a key component of Bungie game development, starting with our Beta and continuing through ship and beyond maintaining a strong relationship with our community is a staple of Bungie games.

Zach Russell: We learned how awesome our community continues to be by helping us out on the Saturday load test on the Moon during the Beta! It was a huge learning experience. We learned enough that we added more servers. Those servers are also really heavy! Rest assured that there were many bug fixes as a direct result of our Beta. We also learned a lot during the Sunday when we ran a bunch of crazy tests. For example, we did some powering off of servers to make sure fail over was working properly. Thank you to the Destiny community for the help and patience during that time. There is a tireless band of server guardians that are working hard to make this launch as smooth as possible.

We've seen some reports that there are minor hiccups (particularly around college campus access - the "centipede" error, I think). How is the team pivoting from product launch to product support? Is it safe to say that transition is happening with crucible playlists being added this weekend?
HR: As an online connected game Destiny is an opportunity to identify and react to improvements we can make across the board, from technology to design polish, the networking issues are well in hand, game polish will continue for years to come.

ZR: Yes, Tuesday night (Sept. 9) we started to recognize that centipede was a problem for some players. We reached out to our community and the great folks in campus IT departments and realized that our traffic was sometimes being recognized as a bit torrent by network monitoring devices. We immediately started working with some great manufacturers that have already turned around fixes that are beginning to be deployed. There are a lot of universities out there, but we are continuing to reach out to help where we can.

Bungie has also addressed the Centipede error and the problems occurring on college campuses. Bungie is working with security device manufacturers and will be releasing a patch on Monday, September 15. The update will need to be applied at the Universities to enable students to access the game.

Has the concurrent usage been higher than expected? Compared to previous launches, is there a significant change in scope? If so, what impacts does that have on the launch?
HR: Concurrency is following our expected path based on sales. It is indeed our biggest online game to date.

ZR: It's definitely our biggest launch ever with the most players online over any previous Bungie game.

Bungie has added playlists and maps to games before, but does the addition of raids require a different approach? Any learnings from launch to make the rollout of new co-op content smooth? How will the reception and success of the first raid impact the pacing and scaling of future co-op content like it?
HR: We will continue to watch and communicate with the players of Destiny as they explore the game. Future expansion and activities will continue to be tuned to meet the desires of our community.

ZR: We learned from the Beta that when we have specific content events we can see massive movements of our players that can make our servers sweat. It can be pretty awesome (and scary) to watch! I am sure we will learn more when the Raids come online and more through the coming weeks and months as we continue to support Destiny.