Further Server and System Improvements, Part 2
In this post I would like to update you on the progress seen since extended maintenance completed on September 12th—including the implementation of a third duty finder group and the addition of new Worlds—and discuss how we plan to tackle server and system congestion moving forward.
– Resumption of Digital Game Sales
In the most recent phase of improvements, we have focused on expanding server capacity along with adding additional Worlds and instance servers to increase the total number of players that can access the game.
This weekend, we will be monitoring server stability, keeping a close eye on the number of simultaneous logins, instances, and use of the duty finder. If all goes well, we plan to resume digital sales for each region.
– New Worlds
With the addition of a third duty finder group and the upgrades to instance servers, we are confident that the addition of new Worlds will proceed more smoothly than in the past (although the actual integration of new servers takes some time). From October onwards, we will continue to monitor the growth of the player base and expand operations as needed.
– Overcrowded Worlds and the World Transfer Service
Even with the previously discussed measures in place, there remain several overpopulated worlds that may still be subject to peak-time login and character creation restrictions.
Adjustments to the servers have greatly increased the allowed number of simultaneous logins per World, but this particular strategy has reached its limit..
Each World consists of multiple zones (with an area such as “eastern La Noscea” comprising one zone), and allowing a greater number of players to log in to a World could potentially see a single zone become overcrowded, resulting in unacceptable lag and other issues that would negatively impact gameplay.
Login restrictions were introduced to avoid these situations, and, as might be expected, players on highly populated Worlds encounter these restrictions more often than others.
Our next phase of improvements will seek to address this issue in the following manner:
1. Monitor simultaneous login numbers and relax restrictions where possible.
2. Commence World transfer service.
Initially, players on all Worlds experienced frequent login restrictions, and this naturally encouraged the mindset of “if I log out, I might not be able to log back in.”
From this point forward, however, with the upgrades made to server capacity and the introduction of an automatic logout feature, we can expect congestion issues to gradually improve. Promising trends have already been seen with the NA/EU data centers since the September 4th maintenance, and it shouldn’t be long before a similar improvement is seen with the JP data center as well.
We will continue to carefully monitor the number of logins, and ease restrictions as the situation improves.
For Worlds that remain crowded despite these measures, and for those players who have been unable to create characters on their desired Worlds due to congestion, we will be introducing a World transfer service. Please keep in mind, however, that if you choose to move to a highly populated World, you are more likely to encounter the login restrictions described above─choosing to transfer to a less-populated World may prove to be the best choice for your gameplay experience.
The development team is currently testing this service extensively to ensure that the transfer of character data will be safe and secure.
Though there is still some work to be done, we hope to bring you an announcement regarding the availability of World transfers in the very near future.
– Login Queues and Error 1017
We’ve received a great deal of feedback and questions regarding the mechanics behind the login queue, and the error code that is displayed when login restrictions are in place. Along with the impending World transfer service and continued improvements to our infrastructure, we expect that the measures we have taken will resolve many of these issues. To help clear up some of the confusion, however, here is an explanation of how the login queue system works.
The difference between being placed in a queue or instantly receiving the 1017 error lies in whether or not the World you are attempting to log in to is currently undergoing login restrictions.
The server that processes player logins to each World is known as the “lobby server.” The lobby server is comprised of multiple machines that are capable of processing over 100,000 simultaneous logins to FFXIV: ARR.
Directly following a maintenance period, however, the number of simultaneous logins might reach several hundred thousand. Without login restrictions in place, the flood of requests would crash the lobby server, preventing everyone from logging in to the game.
In order to avoid this scenario, the lobby server is designed to employ a queue system when faced with an extreme number of login requests. Each request is processed in the order it was received, rather than simultaneously, allowing for a stable─albeit slower─login environment.
When a player is placed in the queue, a connection known as a “session” is created between the lobby server and the character with which the player is attempting to log in. Character sessions are rechecked approximately every thirty seconds to one minute, at which time queue numbers are updated and players are logged into the game. The frequency of session checks has been set at this pace to once again avoid placing excessive stress on the lobby server.
In the case that the World the player is attempting to connect to is currently undergoing login restrictions, however, no lobby server session is created, and the system will instead display Error 1017. Restrictions may remain in place for as little as one minute to as long as several hours depending on fluctuations in the player population already logged into the World.
A large number of logouts will result in the immediate removal of restrictions, but at peak times such as weekends, players tend to remain logged in for extended periods. We are constantly monitoring character logins for each world, and implementing or lifting restrictions as the situation demands.
Were we to continue to accept login queue requests regardless of population, the queues for each World would grow from several hundred to several thousand, with tens of thousands of players waiting to log in across all Worlds. If the session connections described above were created for every single one of these characters, the lobby server would eventually be overwhelmed.
A lobby server error could potentially reset queues, which would cause even greater frustration to players who had already been waiting to log in for several hours. This is the reasoning behind why players attempting to enter a World experiencing login restrictions─the duration of which cannot be predicted─receive an error display instead of being placed in a queue.
Heavily populated Worlds may still experience congestion during peak times, but with the upgrades made to concurrent connection capacity, the addition of new Worlds, and the introduction of the World transfer service and an automatic logout feature, we believe the general login situation will steadily improve as time goes on.
Once more, I wish to express my deepest apologies for the inconvenience our players have been experiencing since launch, and assure you that the development and operation teams are doing their utmost to implement measures that ensure a stable and enjoyable playing environment.