Last week, Tripwire Interactive made a rather difficult decision with regards to its latest release, PC shooter Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Following the release of the game in September, the company has received numerous complaints revolving around performance issues, as well as glitches that resulted in players receiving unearned stats boosts and achievements.
Along with announcing a patch in aid of fixing all these issues, Tripwire also decided that the best way to fix the achievements and statistics balls-up is to reset global stats for all players
, essentially deleting all progress globally.
Gamasutra asked Tripwire vice president Alan Wilson for a more in-depth explanation of exactly what the problem was.
"Basically, the system was over-recording the points scoring in the system and 'leeching' points from one player to another on servers, so artificially boosting players," he explained.
"Once we had thousands of people playing, this problem became really obvious - instead of it happening slowly, it suddenly started happening really quickly. This was crediting players with kills they hadn't got and so on, at the end of rounds. That would then push the players' rankings way up, as well as their weapon experience."
The million-dollar question is: how did these issues make it through testing without popping up? Wilson admits that the problems may well have been present during testing, but since the team only had small numbers present to play, it may simply have been that it wasn't obvious anything bad was going on.
"It was a numbers game," he said. "During testing, with small numbers of people playing, there were probably small jumps in level going on - and we tweaked the system as a result."
"Then, once we had so many people playing after launch - and some playing so many hours - the numbers became big and obvious. We went from 50 or so servers in Beta to thousands at launch. So, instead of a few players leeching a few kill points to each other, we had thousands of players, some of them leeching a lot of points around, which started creating enormous jumps in level."
He explained to us that resetting the stats was the only viable option for fixing the problem. "You had people with daft stats," he explained. "For example, I'd jumped from 30-something to 83 when I wasn't looking - and then on to level 99. I'm good - but not that
Of course, this was all a bit of a nightmare for the development team, and can't have been good for players either. When asked whether player numbers dropped as a result of the problems, Wilson simply answered, "Probably."
"We can't be sure, but it seems likely that the issues were putting some people off," he added. "That's why we put the message out that we've fixed it."
Those players who stuck with the game through everything responded in a variety of different ways. "Some people, who put in a lot of hours after launch, are unhappy," said Wilson, "but that is why we are running at double XP right now - so people can get back to where they actually should be, reasonably quickly."
"For most people, it was more of a relief - more of an indication that we have been fixing stuff!"
As for the future of the game, Wilson said that he could not yet expand on the "special rewards" that the company has promised those players who were affected, but noted that it will be providing "something a bit more" than the simple "In B4 Reset" achievement that has currently been dished out.