Sea of Thieves temporarily turns away new players to sooth server problems

While half the RPS treehouse seems to be happily singing shanties and taking screenshots where the placement of their boat’s steering wheel means they appear to be clasping a pegpenis, some players have faced stormier waters in Sea Of Thieves. Rare’s open-world pirate ’em up launched yesterday, and was met with such an unruly torrent of pillaging hordes that the servers struggled to keep up, causing server problems. In the end, Rare temporarily stopped letting new players join the game. The game seems to be slightly more shipshape this morning, but not without problems.

Some poor soul scattered the bad news across the game’s official Twitter account last night:

I’m still seeing players reporting problems with delayed or missing rewards and cheevos, lost money, and other issues.

If the game is giving you a bearded error message (KiwiBeard, CinnamonBeard, BronzeBeard, Ashbeard, AvocadoBeard, AlabasterBeard, AllmondBeard, CyanBeard, Beigebeard, DaffodilBeard, FluffyBeard, Lapisbeard, Lavenderbeard, Lazybeard…), check the support page’s list of Beard Errors to help diagnose the problem. Yes, it is very twee, but I suppose those are easier to remember and look up than the usual blasts of error numbers and jargon stew.

Sea Of Thieves does seem a lark when you are playing, mind. Mostly. Ish. Fraser Brown wrote yesterday that it “is fun until you meet other pirates”, finding the PvP ultraviolence everywhere got in the way of pirate adventures. I know our Alec will have more to tell us about the game soon too.

Sea Of Thieves is out now exclusively on Windows 10 for £50. You can play Sea Of Thieves free through Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which usually costs £8/month but does offer a free two-week trial. If you want to see what pirate life is about. Once these launch problems are settled, preferably.

13 Comments

Top comments

  1. Tiax says:

    Anyway how's your sea life?
  1. Guvornatwo says:

    I got a bug in the tutorial that meant I had to restart from the start – I think if you select more than one voyage when the game prompts you to get one, it screws up the voyage inventory, so it’s full in the player’s inventory but the ship doesn’t recognise it. I had to delete that character and start again

  2. Kamestos says:

    Oh aye Mark.

  3. Babymech says:

    Why did they do it? Forsooth.

  4. Don Reba says:

    That’s quite a sensual grip on the wheel there.

  5. mont3core says:

    Not a huge surprise as their “stress tests” were oddly limited to preorders or people who signed up ages ago. A very silly and under-performing way to test capacity, but I guess they sold a few more preorders.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s been 20+ years since MMOs became a real thing, and at this point you’d think they could have developed better techniques for automated testing.

      I guess that’s extra development work though, and it’s quicker to just launch and watch how the servers collapse and frantically scramble to fix them.

  6. Imperialist says:

    I thought the “Beard” error system was some RPS styke joke…until curiosity hit me and i clicked the link and MY GOD its real.

  7. suibhne says:

    “Soothe”, perhaps?

    In other news, it continues to amaze me that almost everyone does a ridiculously bad job at forecasting server needs at launch. I understand from a small indie, but when it’s MS, EA, Ubi, Valve, etc….sheesh. Nutty, especially given how easily you can scale server infrastructure up and down these downs – and how quickly you can lose player goodwill and word of mouth.

    • geldonyetich says:

      It would help if it wasn’t considered trendy amongst the script kiddies to DOS attack major launch titles. But, in most cases, the developers are basically instigating their own DOS attacks as unprecedented numbers of players’ game clients start hammering the doors of server clusters that are thoroughly unprepared to handle the volume.

      If you don’t go with an optional online functionality peer-to-peer model for your servers (like Dark Souls did) it’s a bit of a financial problem. Having enough servers to handle launch day hype is an unnecessary investment. Sure, it’ll keep the players at launch day happy, but typically a game’s launch is its busiest period, then people get bored and do other things in droves. You end up needing about 10% of the original capacity for players who really enjoy the game to stick around. So 90% of those servers end up being an unnecessary expense you need to keep paying for, month by month.

      So they’ve opted to go the route of allowing players to hammer futilely at servers unable to handle the volume until the hype patrol moves on to other things. Wasting an opportunity to catch more fish in their net, perhaps, but ultimately a conservative investment policy in the game. As it sounds like they’re trying to bring more servers up right now, it’s probably rental servers they can cut later.

      • TormDK says:

        Nonsense, in an Azure infrastructure setup, you’d pay for the consumption in 15 minute intervals during peaks (Azure will auto-adjust based on load and will spin up, or shut down capacity as needed in those intervals), so it’s just a matter of developing your application to take advantage of this scale out possibility.

        Which surprises me that Microsoft does not seem to have forced on Rare to do.

  8. pipja says:

    That’s why on-demand servers provided by cloud operators is a thing…

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