The dreaded "Connection to Rock Central has been lost. Sorry about that!" message

Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
edited September 2012 in Rock Band Blitz
Sorry in advance for the long post, but I've been stewing about this for a while and need to get it out there.

Let me preface this by saying that I think Rock Band Blitz, minor issues aside, is a work of utter genius. As someone who didn't start playing rhythm games until a few months after the first Rock Band came out, and subsequently became hopelessly addicted, I am simply amazed that they've managed to make a game that combines the musical interactivity of traditional Rock Band style gameplay with the addictive puzzle game aspects of something like Tetris, all with an automated system that works with all pre-existing DLC. I thought I would enjoy the game for a bit and then go back to playing RB3, but I'm in this for the long haul.

That's why it's so incredibly frustrating that the game handles the Rock Central connection requirement so poorly, particularly in the case when it happens during or immediately at the end of a song. Now, it's not a huge deal if it happens when browsing the list or even right before a song starts, because you just have to click a couple buttons to reconnect and the game even defaults to what song you had selected when the server crapped out.

But when you play a song all the way through, are thrilled with your score and can't wait to see how high on the leaderboard you placed, it's unbelievably deflating to see it hang for a few seconds and know that what you just did will vanish into the ether.

I understand why Harmonix decided to go with a purely online server model for this game, even if I desperately hope they do something to provide the ability to sync with a fully-featured offline mode down the road sometime. But with that being the case, they either need to make sure their servers are virtually ironclad (which is probably not practical) or there needs to be a better way to handle this infuriating situation.

Without knowing the technical details, it seems as though what happens is that at the end of the song, the game tries to hit the server to push the score, coins, and cred up to it. I think that's true because of the fact that every time I've had this happen, the "Loading" screen that usually comes up very briefly before the song report stays up there for several seconds. So if the game tries to hit the server and fails for whatever reason in a certain amount of time, it just kicks you back to the main menu.

My question is this: why can't the game, instead of simply quitting at that point, allow you the option to retry connection? In almost every case, I've been able to immediately reconnect to the Rock Central server, so it was obviously just a temporary situation. Wouldn't it make sense to at least allow the player to keep their score in memory and attempt to reconnect as many times as they want before just flushing their performance down the drain? That way, if someone had the run of their life on a song they've been working on for hours, they could at least have the option to fix whatever's wrong or just wait the Rock Central server out until it's clear.

It just seems that this simple measure alone could potentially eliminate the most egregious pitfall of this system.

Comments

  • MaximusDMMaximusDM Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    I agree. It tries to establish a connection for like up to 10 seconds and then gives up to determine your run was worthless.

    I am willing to wait up to the entire length of the song I just played for it to register because otherwise I'm going to be running it again anyway. So what's worse? Having the player wait a few more seconds or have the player lose his coins, lose his score both local/online, and then have the player re-do the song in hopes that it doesn't happen again and hopefully comes close to the score he hit last time.

    I'd rather wait a few more seconds for it to register.
  • SirDavidTLynchSirDavidTLynch Headliner
    edited September 2012
    Am I the only one who's never had any connection problems?
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited September 2012
    Probably. I haven't had much in the way of connection issues, but I did have one score get wiped off the table (and it was a gold star run, too :mad: )
  • BachiGBachiG Inconceivable...
    edited September 2012
    Hopefully this happens on both the PS3 and Xbox versions... You know, so that it gets "looked into"

    :p I kid, I kid! No hard feelings from this PS3er, HMX!:D
  • Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    Well, I think the problem likely affects PS3 users more, simply because the PSN is not as stable as XBL. It's extremely rare for me to get dropped from XBL at random times (though it has happened to me once or twice in several years), but the PSN is just flaky sometimes. It's not at all uncommon for people to just lose their connection to the network at random times, sometimes fairly often, no matter how good their Internet connection generally is. The difference is that with other games, dropping from PSN doesn't necessarily stop you from playing an online game (as counterintuitive as that sounds.) This game does, even if you pause and reconnect (as I did just this morning when the PSN booted me in the middle of a song.) Apparently RB Blitz sees a dropped connection at any point and just says, "Screw it. No soup for you" instead of handling it elegantly by allowing for a re-connection.

    Last night I played for about 3 hours without any issues, which was probably the longest streak I've had so far. But mostly it's not the PSN that drops me, it's just that the Rock Central server has some sort of issue and can't upload the score at that particular point. It just baffles me that they would treat this situation (especially one as simple as something that is posting a few integers to an online database) as some kind of fatal critical error that requires a complete kick to the main menu.
  • Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    BachiG;4874497 said:
    Hopefully this happens on both the PS3 and Xbox versions... You know, so that it gets "looked into"

    :p I kid, I kid! No hard feelings from this PS3er, HMX!:D

    The irony is that the PS3 RB3 crash bug, which is ostensibly far more egregious than this issue, is actually not nearly as big of a deal for a solo player, because at least in RB3 you could play offline and save your own scores locally. Also, I never once got a crash late in a song, it was almost always within the first 20 seconds or so. So in RB3 you could pretty much never completely lose a finished run. But in RB Blitz, even though it doesn't completely crash, every run you make is potentially at the mercy of the stability of external servers.
  • Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    Just got this issue again on my lunch break, only this time I noticed something interesting. When I selected my powerups and hit play, the game took an unusually long time to load before finally coming up to the "X to continue" screen. So I was a bit wary, but I thought it just might have taken a bit longer to load because the song (Seven from RB1) seems to have pretty dense note tracks throughout.

    So I played through the song, and did well enough to get the top spot of the PS3 leaderboard. But this time, at the end, it didn't even flash the typical "Loading" screen before it shows the results, not even for an instant. It's as though the connection failed at the outset and the game didn't even bother to try checking again at the end.

    Fortunately, I was able to do even a little bit better when I reconnected and played it again, but it would have been really frustrating if I hadn't gotten good luck with Blast Notes or something like that and I came up short of what I'd already done, aside from the obvious annoyance of having to immediately replay the song to get credit for it.
  • Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    So pretty much the nightmare scenario happened last night: I got this error after having posted a Gold Star run on Green Grass and High Tides. So frustrating....but it kind of makes sense, because if this is something that just happens sporadically and randomly, your chances of getting it during a longer song are statistically higher than on a shorter one.
  • T-HybridT-Hybrid Washed Up
    edited September 2012
    SirDavidTLynch;4874435 said:
    Am I the only one who's never had any connection problems?
    I've had it happen a handful of times. It's frustrating when it happens as I lose the score, cred, and coins...but I'm glad that it doesn't affect achievements.

    I understand why they have to hit Rock Central after every song, but it would be nice if the only thing lost after a bad connection was the coins/cred. I could live with that if the score still made it across as SOME point. Even if I had to manually select a "Send scores to server" button to resubmit my work.
  • MaximusDMMaximusDM Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    From someone who has seen this message a lot, this is the first time I've seen this one:
    http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w489/Maximus_DM/DSC02508.jpg
  • Hibou77Hibou77 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    I agree with the OP, this need to be fixed. If it is impossible to reconnect to the central at the end of the song, then save the score somewhere locally until the connection with the central is restored. Just had to replay a 5 minutes song 3 times in a row because the first two times, the connection to the central was lost while I was playing...
  • Epsilon82Epsilon82 Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    MaximusDM;4876011 said:
    From someone who has seen this message a lot, this is the first time I've seen this one:
    http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w489/Maximus_DM/DSC02508.jpg

    MaximusDM! *jokingly shakes fist*

    I see you above me near the top of the leaderboards an awful lot.
  • DiamaniacalDiamaniacal Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    MaximusDM;4876011 said:
    From someone who has seen this message a lot, this is the first time I've seen this one:
    http://i1078.photobucket.com/albums/w489/Maximus_DM/DSC02508.jpg

    I have saw that one more than my fair share of times. If I leave game on menu and go away for a while, but never while playing a song, or after finishing and reviewing scores.

    I am pretty disappointed that it is rearing its ugly head here, past 2 weeks I have also had RB3 stall out on main screen 'connecting to RCS' but just waiting 2-3 minutes has gotten me connected unlike before. This has only happened 2 times, so it is nowhere near the issue it was in the past.
  • RyRoboRyRobo Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    Your scores don't update? Is this just a PS3 thing (As I understand PS3 Rock Band 1/2 didn't cache leaderboard scores while playing offline)? I've had this message a few times now and I'm pretty sure my scores still hit the leaderboards, but I've never properly checked. I'll test it next time I can, if so though this is way worst than I thought.

    This is a huge problem for Blitz right now, and I'd argue the only real major one as the game stands in its current state.

    For guys who don't have a problem imagine the situation other people are in. The internet is a flakey thing, and a connection to Rock Central requires...

    1. Home connection to stay up without a hitch. In the days of wireless, although this tech is improving, this still isn't something that can be guaranteed.
    2. Your local council might have really got a great infrastructure going that's relatively problem free... but some parts of the world don't even have broadband yet, let alone Google Fiber. Canada of all places was rated third world for their web connection by Netflix literally a few days ago, we're not talking remote parts of the world.
    3. ISP might run into no problems. This is something locally that has been improved greatly, but I still experience periodic dropouts that my router reports is all on their side. Again, out of control.
    4. Xbox Live/PSN must be facing no problems, and we're all too aware of the reliability of their servers.
    5. Rock Central has to be up, which as far as I can tell from the 360 side of things... Harmonix are pretty good at this!

    Just 5 of the ways that the web can fail us, but the real problem is that it only takes a second for any of these services to lose contact for the whole run to be void. Even if I get disconnected from Xbox Live reconnecting during the song still results in me being kicked off Rock Central and nothing counting for that run. Happened in Ghost of Perdition, I wept. Still haven't dare ran through 2112.

    What I think we're seeing here is just straight up DRM, probably Harmonix reacting to the custom community that plagued RB3 pre-patch, the games reaction to removed RBN songs is proof of this enough to me. As far as I'm concerned DRM hurts legit customers way too much, the ends don't justifies the means, and we're seeing that in the guys who are experiencing drop outs or plain can't play the game because they don't have a constant connection. At least Harmonix seems to be looking to turn coins into something cross Rock Band titles, so something positive can come out of this.

    Still, a 'reconnect' button should definitely be there at the end of the song to make everything count, and I'm really baffled why it isn't. And in the future when Xbox Live for the 360 is gone, or Rock Central is no longer supporting Blitz, we'll no longer be able to enjoy our game like we would be able to Rock Band 3. Give that a thought, it's a real sad one to me. Games are art and should be preserved, DRM as a trend is making this impossible.
  • SirDavidTLynchSirDavidTLynch Headliner
    edited September 2012
    It probably has more to do with coins and goals than DRM.
  • RyRoboRyRobo Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    I don't see why that info can't be saved and then sent to Rock Central when the connection is regained like old Rock Band titles did for scores. Yeah, granted it would cause a bit of sync time for Facebook and whatever else they plan use coins for in the future to catch up with, but it would have given much more freedom to the players.

    I don't see why goals have to be on Facebook either and not in the game, that wouldn't be a problem then. Don't see why coins can't be stored in the game's save instead of in the cloud.

    I think these systems were build in that are employed in the first place as DRM, or at least it stood as a benefit to employing them as they are even if it wasn't the main cause of it. You simply can't use power-ups without a connection to Rock Central, I don't think this was accidental. It's a pretty clear design decision.

    It's possible for a program to hang back sending data until the correct requirements are met. It's also possible for a program to receive data at the right time and adjust itself accordingly. Older Rock Band titles did both.



    EDIT: Of course, it's not really important why design choices were made, it's the impact that's more important, so I guess this post is kinda pointless and doesn't contribute. :p Still, it's hard to not agree that the impact is intrusive, similar in ways that DRM naturally is.
  • SirDavidTLynchSirDavidTLynch Headliner
    edited September 2012
    RyRobo;4882063 said:
    I don't see why goals have to be on Facebook either and not in the game, that wouldn't be a problem then. Don't see why coins can't be stored in the game's save instead of in the cloud.
    If the goals were set up entirely in Blitz, they wouldn't be able to update as easily, and you wouldn't be able play the goals in Rock Band 3. For the coins, you can use coins to look at your opponent's loadout during score wars. It's not much now, but if they find more uses for coins, you spend all your coins on Facebook, how is Blitz going to know if you play it offline? What if you spend all your coins of Facebook and spend them all playing Blitz offline?

    They also wouldn't have been able to respond to peoples' complaints about grinding so quickly, or set it up so that you get more coins by playing songs by that week's featured artist(s).
  • RyRoboRyRobo Opening Act
    edited September 2012
    They would absolutely be able to send out goals with just as much ease, they've been able to send us setlists and whatever before, there's zero reason this should be impossible. Coding wise it's just the same as any messages of the day they send. Even playing the goals in RB3 makes sense, the same process that happens right now would happen then, although you'd have to start the challenges in Blitz obviously. Rock Band World is just a UI.

    Yeah, I agree that spending all the coins in Facebook is a tricky one... but shouldn't that functionality to 'peek' already be in Blitz anyway? Why can't Harmonix provide a store front that can be updated with new things to spend coins on be in Blitz? I understand this could be more limiting in future updates, but I'm not too sure if even that's true. It all depends how much allowance Harmonix can send to a game based on MS/Sony restrictions. When you consider this kind of stuff, the Rock Band World integration seems more than a little bit... unnecessary? Although I concede there's a lot of speculation here.

    On the other hand, yeah, it would have been impossible to react to fan criticism for coins amounts without a patch, which I understand, agree with and am grateful for, but why would they be suddenly unable to award double coins for playing certain songs? That's just functionality that requires a Rock Central connection, Harmonix has already built this feature in Blitz, it just need a ping from the server to turn it on. There's no reason this is tied to the coin counts being calculated server-side rather than client-side.
  • gwpomgwpom Unsigned
    edited September 2012
    I have posted several times in various places here in the forum about this problem. I have it ALL the time, and not always at the end of the songs. There are many times when I can't even connect to the server. I have never had a problem with RB3, or any other game for that matter, other than the normal PSN glitches from time to time. Absolutely nothing like the horrible connection issues with Blitz. I tried two different times this evening to play in the Free DLC challenge, and when I was finally able to play a song, I got dumped both times. I've spent over two hours tonight trying to play a frakkin' song and could not submit ONE score. I am so ready to both embrace and completely abandon this game. And for every one person like myself who is willing to take the time to voice my disapproval and utter disappointment, Harmonix, think of all the thousands you are losing who just say Screw it, it's not worth the hassle. I'm right there at that point, and I hate being there. Come on guys, DO SOMETHING!
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