Thursday, January 31, 2008

No Arena Points

My 3v3 arena team Old Buggers had a disaster land on us this week - we were awarded no arena points, despite the fact that we played a hearty and enjoyable ten games. We achieved our best weekly result ever too, 8 wins and 2 losses, and reached our highest rating since we started, 1496. At least that little bit of ass-kicking makes me feel a bit better.

The problem is that we played our games Tuesday night Australian time, just before the server restarted for maintenance. We hadn't managed to find time to play earlier in the week, so we hopped on and bashed them out, expecting that they would be counted for the week that was just ending. If they didn't count, then obviously they'd count for the coming week, which would save us from having to do them then. Right? RIGHT?

Apparently not. It seems that there's a "dead zone" for arena games just before weekly maintenance, where games won't count towards the current week OR the coming week. Although our rating and season win/loss ratio were successfully updated, the points just... vanished, which is a real pain. Naturally I checked with a GM, and when he started his conversation with "Note that I can't make changes to arena points or ratings, now how can I help you today?" I realized we were boned.

Now I understand that in a giant, networked system with thousands of concurrent players and millions of pieces of data swirling around in a giant ethereal hurricane, weird and bad things will occasionally happen. I do work in software in real life, after all. I also understand that giving GMs the power to change arena ratings is a Very Bad Thing, open to abuse and distortion, particularly in a system that essentially shuffles arena points from one team to another to change ratings.

What sucks is the way the game carried merrily along, adding points and updating our ratings - giving us every indication that what we were doing was completely valid. If there's a black hole for arena games before maintenance, show it! Disable rated matches, don't update our week's win/loss ratio, or (duh) carry the games forward to next week. Any software system has limits, so point them out and we'll try to work with them.

The painful lesson of this episode is don't play arena games on Tuesday evenings, Australian time. My foggy memory tells me that we were playing after honor had ticked over for the day, but before the server went down for maintenance. This shall forever be known as the Dead Zone time, when madness descends upon the land, foul spirits rise and arena points are swept into the darkest nether reaches.

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