July 24th, 2011

When the Server Goes Down: Death of a Character

Recently I wanted some nostalgia, so I wanted to pick up playing Phantasy Star Universe. I didn’t know that the server was offline, but found out after it wouldn’t connect.

Dannie the male CAST on PSU that I can no longer play.

Lest to say I was sad, but it bring up a good point about MMO games. What of those characters that get left behind?

Most MMO games people pour hundreds if not thousands of hours into them and don’t even think that the server will ever get axed. Most can see it coming when the population dies down and servers get consolidated. However there’s always the “I put money into this, it can’t die.” Then find out, it does and it did.

So, what happens after the server is gone. That character that became your life is gone for good, you can’t visit them anymore, or visit the land in which they reside. You can’t get back all the frustration and accomplishments you experienced together.
Some people would want some form of compensation. “I spent X hours in here and you do this to me?” Some would beg, plead, and petition to reopen the server or to have the code transferred into a private server.

With Phantasy Star however, SEGA has usually been good about giving the server code to people so they can open up again. The GOOD thing was that in PSO (Phantasy Star Online), characters are stored locally, the offline character was the online on. In PSU however the single player and online player are different. Meaning I will never, ever be able to play THAT Dannie again. Everything I achieved with him is gone. I was also one story mission away from a complete story.
There have been attempts to create a private server, however the Japanese server seems to be online (could be offline) and the 360 servers are definitely online. The PC servers were regionally separated (which lead to the demise) while the 360 ones are combined.  Which is why SEGA probably isn’t releasing the code.
However the new private PSU server is buggy and certainly doesn’t have all the missions up yet. Which is what you have to put up with when these things happen.

Another MMO server went down for a game I played however briefly. Kitsu Saga. The difference here is that Kitsu was a Free 2 Play VS Phantasy Star’s Pay to Play Online. The difference here is that you bought items on Kitsu Saga. You can no longer now play with that item or interact with that item. It’s GONE. That thing you specifically paid for. GONE.
Aeria Games DID give refunds for prior 60 day purchases however, before that, gone. This strikes me a little differently. Before I was paying to just play the character and access the server. Here I was paying for a specific item and now that item is gone. I’d probably want compensation in the form of “points” if I bought ANYTHING, considering the attachment I would have had. However that is not to be so. They can’t make money constantly giving away free points.

Overall Losing my PSU character was a heartbreaking experience and it’s one that people need to keep in their mind when playing MMO games. That their hard work and the money put into them, can vanish at any time. It might make some people think twice about playing such games, or it might make people support the game more just to keep the character around.