Another contribution from Katy “much-funnier-than-me-anyway-I-don’t-know-why-I-bother” Coe today. She still can’t count though.
We’re all familiar with it: you log on for a bit of team deathmatch, or to buy that new downloadable game that got a 103% average score on Metacritic, only to see some obscure error code: your console’s way of telling you the servers are down. Downtime causes great pain and suffering to all those affected, in some cases leading users to take such extreme action as cleaning the house or eating. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan for when that inevitable downtime comes. How can you be best prepared? This 10-step survival guide will show you.
1. Panic – It’s important not to remain calm when downtime strikes, otherwise it may seem like you don’t care. The ramifications of mass calm are dire: the admins may think nobody is really bothered and go for lunch instead. Panic is key to making the time pass faster and getting the problem solved as quickly as possible.
2. Reboot – I’ll be a little more specific: turn off your device, unplug it from the mains, wait 30 seconds, then plug it in and turn it on again. Anyone who has ever called Sky or their ISP about a faulty set-top box or modem knows that rebooting the client device is the universal solution to 100% of all server-related problems. Heed their advice.
3. Hammer the Reconnect button repeatedly – It’s important to keep server load as high as possible during downtime, as it helps the admins check and resolve any problems more quickly and assists with the testing process. Logic dictates that a server can be tested for bugs faster when people are trying to use it than when it is unoccupied.
4. Call Sony or Microsoft technical support – Level 1 tech support are extremely well-versed in server issues and are always kept up to date with the latest information. When there is server downtime, call volume is generally low so this is an especially good time to call for assistance. The level 1 staff will be able to fix the server for you while you’re on the phone and you’ll be up and running again in no time. They may also offer expert advice such as waiting, rebooting as above or returning your machine for repair – crucial knowledge which is all too-often forgotten. Tech support is underrated; these are fine people, salt of the earth. Where would we be without them?
5. Write an abusive post on the company’s blog or a large gaming web site – Nothing says you care like a well-timed “f*ck you”. There are several advantages here; the first two are establishing mutual respect, and admin motivation. Imagine you are face to face in the office. You say “my God you useless retards, I am so sick of this shit, I paid for this service! Or if it’s PSN, I didn’t, but I paid for my PS3 goddammit and now I can’t use it at all. You guys are amateurs, I’m never buying another game from you.” Not only will the responsible admins respect you more, but this also lets them know you really like their service and will motivate them to fix it faster than they would if you hadn’t waxed visceral at them. The third advantage is time-saving: like a horse being whipped, the downtime will get fixed much faster if the staff are constantly bombarded with abuse they have to respond to, rather than just being left to trot along at their own pace.
6. Heap praise on the admins on the company’s blog or a large gaming web site – Server downtime is a good moment to find new gameplay buddies. Posting messages like “you’re doing a great job, I’m with you!” or “take the time you need to fix it properly” will make you instantly more popular with the other gamers, and you’ll quickly find your inbox filling up with friend requests.
It’s also important to establish a clear separation between player and company employee. Those people who respond to a comment of praise with “what are you kidding me? Do you work for Sony or something?” are far more astute than you might think. Create boundaries by posting praise with your normal screenname. This will ensure there is no confusion and it will be clear you an impartial gamer, not an employee.
7. Reconfigure your internet connection – This includes closing any ports you may have open, re-arranging the ethernet cables in your router in an arbitrary fashion, enabling your firewall, changing your IP address, resetting the router to its factory defaults and so on. Anything you can think of that might help. It should be second nature with the knowledge you have by now to know that when you and all your friends can’t connect, the servers must be down because of your internet connection, and resetting it will fix both your and your friends’ connection issues.
8. Post a conspiracy theory – As with making friends in step 5, now is also a good time to weed out the chaff. Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, and by everyone, I mean idiots. Catch these people out and improve the company’s reputation to boot by coming up with a good conspiracy. It doesn’t have to be plausible or in any way factually accurate, it just has to be couched in a way that makes gullible people believe it. Once you’ve got a list of respondents who agree with the theory, you can add them to your block list. Some examples follow:
- Your 360 died and when you went to town to buy another one, all they had in stock was Wiis. This is a clear case of Nintendo paying Microsoft off to send a virus to Xbox 360s in your town only, with Microsoft in exchange reducing stock levels in your area.
- Your downloaded games have become corrupted. The manufacturer did this on purpose, hoping you would not notice you could re-download them for free and would pay for new copies.
- Did your PS3 die with a YLoD one day after the warranty expired? Sony engineered the machine that way on purpose to make you buy a new one. You’ll notice here the theory overlooks the fact that Sony make a loss on each hardware unit sold. Some people with moderate intelligence may try to catch you out here, but you can foil them with a secondary conspiracy: Sony just want you to think that so you feel sorry for them and buy more games.
- Venessa Phelps takes a dump that is so potent that not only can it be smelled from Redmond, it actually seeps into the server storing all the Xbox Live Silver subcription data and destroys the hard drives. Again, a clear case of backhander pay-offs. In this case Microsoft paid Venessa Phelps to make you upgrade to a Gold membership.
9. Reformat – It is well-known by experts that deleting all your game saves, install data, downloaded games, add-on packs and other DLC in one sweep not only improves the performance of your machine but also takes the load off the servers allowing them to run more smoothly. If you all reformat when the servers go down, this will help them come up again much faster. Always reformat during server downtime. Every little helps.
10. Check the date – Is it 1st March 2011, 2013 or 2014? Relax. Sony schedule a mostly annual 24-hour maintenance window for PlayStation Network every 1st March. It commences at 0000 GMT and ends at precisely 2359 GMT. You may have heard conspiracy theories about a bug in the PS3’s internal clock. Pay these uninformed peasants no mind; these rumours are completely unfounded and Sony have a large team of engineers queueing at Dunkin Donuts right now working extremely hard to identify and resolve any outstanding maintenance issues. The downtime will always be over within 24 hours.
11. Pull your machine apart – Voiding the warranty on your console is an excellent way to pass the time while the servers are down. Dismantling your machine requires only a bare minimum of skill with a screwdriver and almost all of the parts inside are easily user-serviceable. Try removing and replacing the laser from the DVD or Blu-ray drive as a simple introductory exercise if you are new to warranty voiding as a pastime. You can also try upgrading the RAM by desoldering the existing memory chips and gluing in some much faster and higher capacity standard PC memory. I’ve tried this and it makes all my games faster. If you don’t have a desoldering tool, use a penknife to cut a hole in the motherboard around the memory chips, which can then be safely removed.
12. Practice counting to ten – A skill often forgotten – particularly by female writers – counting from 1 to 10 is another good way to pass the time, and will help you sharpen up your math skills for Blue Toad Murder Files to boot.
Finally, a word of warning. Under NO circumstances should you leave your premises during a server outage. Despite what you may have heard from loved ones and your psychiatrist, going outside is extremely risky and reckless behaviour and could lead to such negative exposures as the Sun’s dangerous UV rays, physical exertion and outside interactions. Please remember that outside interactions are not rated by ESRB.
Of course, the worst-case scenario of leaving your premises is that you may even miss the moment when the servers come back up, which could lead to the nightmare scenarios of having to wait a few extra minutes for that new DLC to download, or your friends soaring past you in level, making the game virtually unplayable.
If you do feel the compulsion to go outside, do remember that virtual money is invalid in the real world and you should always carry with you a supply of soda potions and pizza breads in case your stamina starts to run low. Try to keep the other items you’re carrying to a minimum as it will slow down your maximum walking speed and make returning to your premises more difficult.
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