As you may have experienced, Avatar Farm! has a freezing issue that can occur anytime while you’re playing. First things first, our apologies for releasing a game with a bug as that one on it.
Now our excuses:
As some of you may know, the XBLIG platform doesn’t support official leaderboards, or setting up our own servers to store gamer data or provide services to gamers. For that reason, we use a custom P2P sharing scoreboard. This system works as follows: While you’re playing, network sessions are created from time to time, and other players playing the game at the same time join that session. Once joined, scoreboard data is shared between both players, and data is stored on both computers. After that, they disconnect and start over again.
Although quite dirty (too many connections, lots of repeated entries sent…), the system works, which is better than nothing.
Sadly, this environment is hard to test while developing the game: At most we can test with only a handful of consoles/computers sharing data. In this controlled situation, the system works fine and everything goes smoothly. But, once the game was made available on the Marketplace, literally hundreds of people are playing the game at the same time, connecting and sending data each other.
In this situation, some issue in our code arises and causes a total freeze: The only option when this happen is to reboot the console with the power button.
We’ve tried our best to reproduce the issue in our limited environment, to no avail: We’ve let a handful of systems running and sharing at an increased rate (around 100x the rate on the released version), and no freezes are found. So we’ve had to look for the issue “by intuition”, looking carefully at the source code and trying to guess what could be happening (since there’s no way to determine where is exactly the game freezing).
We’ve found some things that could be causing the issue, and fixed/improved them, but there’s no way to be 100% sure that we’ve fixed the freezings. So, to ensure you can keep playing even if we haven’t fixed it, we’re going to add an option to disable P2P score sharing.
Meanwhile, we have some workarounds you can do to avoid the freezings:
- (Only if you are using a wired connection) If you just unplug the network cable once the game has started (Xbox Indies need you to be online to start the game, but once started you should be fine), you won’t share scores with anyone so no freezing should happen.
- If you disable online play in parental control settings, you won’t be able to share scores as well and you should be safe (remember to enable it again to play other games!).
Since XBLIG doesn’t allow to submit an update until 7 days after a game is released, we won’t be able to submit the update until next Thursday. And once the update is submitted, there’s the usual approval process, which can take a week. So we expect the update to be available around Tuesday 23th.
We’ve been also notified of other issues, such as red screens or sound issues. Many of them are related with a bug in the loading process, which will be addressed in the update as well. This isn’t as usual as the freezings and in most cases you can keep playing.
We’ve received some complaints about plants rotting if you don’t attend to them. Although this is a game design decision, it seems that many players are upset with this mechanic, so we’ll be reducing its effect:
Currently, once a plant is ready to be harvested, it waits 100-150% (randomly selected) of its growth time until it dies.
We’re going to change it in the following way:
- A plant will take 150%-200% of its growth time until it dies.
- The minimum time until a plant dies will be of 12 hours.