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Ustice
07-02-2008, 07:29 PM
Reposted from DDO Reports (http://ddoreports.com/2008/07/02/china-servers-offline/):


China Servers Offline for 2+ Months. Players Blocked from All US Servers.

July 2nd, 2008 — DDO China, DDO Forums

There have been various reports from Chinese players that the DDO China servers are offline, and have been for some time, but unfortunately the information has been spotty at best. Today, I learned why. On top of the language barriers that exist it appears that the Chinese players are being blocked from not only the US gamer servers, but also from the US forums.

The reasons for this are unclear as China’s government does have a habit of blocking sites, although usually that is due to “inappropriate content,” be it pornographic, violent, or political. They rarely block sites like the DDO forums. The more likely reason is that the DDO players in China are being blocked by Turbine, and in response to the gold farmers from China, or due to contractual or legal concerns. I hear that there are some players that are able to access the US servers, but they are the exception to the rule. Chinese internet users are generally well versed in using proxy software to access blocked sites, but it seems that most of the major proxy servers are being blocked as well.

For more on this, here is a report by Kane Gao, who first posted about this on the DDO forums. (Note that it has been edited by me to fit this format better.) I attempted to independently verify the facts contained within this report, but so far Turbine will not comment on this matter in any way.


I wrote the original post on the US DDO forums. A friend of mine helped me to create the thread because I do not have an active account on the US servers yet. For the same reason I can’t post replies, so here is the life and death of DDOC (DDO China). I don’t always keep a clear track of time, so the following content may not be entirely accurate.

June 28th, 2006:
DDO hits the market in China. It’s just an alpha test, and restricted to invited players only. Anyone could apply for an invitation on the official Chinese site, only some of them would actually get it. DDO became an instant success, and all servers (three in all) were populated with merry players.

August 8th, 2006:
Alpha test ends; however, what followed was “the second alpha test” according to the operator (a company called Sanda). Some players abandoned the game because all characters in each account were deleted by the system at the end of “the first alpha test.”

August 28th, 2006:
After a short period of 20 days, the so called “second alpha test” also came to an end. Once again Characters were deleted, and a few more players left. Open Beta test began. More servers came online. All 20 servers were divided into three groups.

February 7th to 11th, 2007:
Server merge. Players had long been complaining about the decline of online population on almost all of the servers. Some servers are nearly abandoned. Original 20 servers were merged into only five.

Mid-September:
Server upgrade to Module 4.1. The upgrade encountered a serious problem, and caused a half month delay. Servers had been offline until the problem was finally solved. Lots of players were angry about this half month of boredom. DDOC official forum was flooded with complaints. More players left the game.

January 1st, 2008:
End of beta test. Sanda finally began to collect a monthly fee from DDO players. Until that day, Sanda hadn’t made a single cent from the game. The monthly fee is 30 Yuan (around 5 USD), which is totally acceptable. Most players became subscribers by paying the fee. However, population on each server had already dropped to a dangerous level.

Around March, 2008:
“The Great Migration”. Due to the problem of online population, subscribers began to migrate to servers with higher populations. Some servers were nearly completely abandoned. By “migrate” I mean creating a new account, paying another monthly fee, and losing all characters in original account. Sanda didn’t offer any help such as migrating subscribers’ original accounts.

April 24th, 2008:
The beginning of the end. Sanda began an upgrade to Module 6.0. Once again the development team faced a major problem. There was an official notification saying that DDO servers would be online again as soon as the problem was solved. The fact is that they were never online again. The contract between Turbine and Sanda should expire in late June or early July. Since Sanda had made DDO a notorious failure in Chinese market, there’s no reason to expect another company to adopt it. Thus dies DDO in China.

Other Information

“The addiction proofing module”:
This is a concoction from Chinese government. They believe that gaming (especially online and MMO games) addiction has been harming youngsters in this nation. So the government forced each online game operator to add such a module into their product. With it added on, each user must make a identity verification to make sure he/she is an adult. The user can only play a certain game with the module for limited hours per day if he/she is without a verification or verified to be a minor. An online game without this module would be regarded as illegal; however, it looks like that the module isn’t well designed and causes some bugs to games from time to time. According to a Sanda staff, the two serious problems emerged in server upgrading were both caused by this module.

Server IP block & internet censorship:
We both know that Chinese government has a nasty habit of censoring various contents on internet. I saw that some users on DDO US forum raised a point that we can’t access US server because of the government censorship. I won’t agree with that though, because:

The Chinese government is known for internet censorship, but usually with a proper reason, usually for political reasons, but DDO US is simply a fantasy game with nothing to do with politics. Yes, many sites were censored from Chinese internet users after the Tibet problem made a big bang this March, But we lost access to US server before that incident.
Some US forum user discussed the possibility of ISP censoring. Interesting things against that possibility are happening at the moment: a few Chinese players actually could log into US server and visit the forum WITHOUT A PROXY. It is unlikely that the ISPs makes exceptions in censoring something from only some users. If they block a site, it is blocked from all users.
The only reasonable explanation: It’s Turbine who’s blocking Chinese IP address. They lack both the power like Chinese government to control all data-flows from China to US and the ability to control a large amount of users completely like local ISPs. So they are blocking common Chinese IP address segments. China is a huge country though, users in certain regions have uncommon IP address. That’s why there are exceptions.


Farmer/Seller problem:
It has been said that “Turbine sets up the blocking to get rid of farmers & sellers”, “DDOC also had a problem of farmer/seller spamming;” however, the problem is that IP blocking will never be a working method to silence farmer/sellers. They’re professionals. They make a living by spamming, there’s no way you could ever get rid of them by a simple IP blocking mechanic. The only ones who are blocked out are common players (and potential subscribers).

Time-Limited Quests:
This is an idea invented by Sanda. In the beginning days of DDOC, there weren’t enough quests for devoted players, and Turbine didn’t offer updates fast enough. All that we had to do was to repeat some major quest again and again, because after you finish trying basically everything the only attraction left was XP. Apparently Sanda felt that some quests were over-heated, and to respond they introduced a “Time Limited” system. That is, popular quests are open to players for only on specific time on specific days. This was somewhat over-done, and most times we had nothing to do. A lot of players talked about to leave DDOC after this ridiculous system was activated, and most of them really did.

Pellegro
07-02-2008, 09:03 PM
As part of Turbine's latest funding round, they announced plans on expanding Turbine's presence in Asia.

One of the big providers of $$$ was a specialist in this. I forget the name, you can probably find it.

Most likely, Turbine dropped the old contract adn will be "trying again" in China (and the rest of Asia) with the new partner.

Ustice
07-03-2008, 06:10 AM
That is my thought too. The problem is that the players in China are not able to access even the US main site. While I am told that the DDOC population is low, there is still interest in the game, but it is shrinking daily due to this extended downtime. If a new company takes over, it is likely not going to be able to get up to speed for several months at best. In the mean time, it would be nice if the players in China could access our servers like those in Australia do.

Pyromaniac
07-03-2008, 09:01 PM
If its a plat farmer prevention program, I'm all for it. Guessing its related to them putting out Asia specific servers though.

Ustice
07-04-2008, 09:24 AM
If its a plat farmer prevention program, I'm all for it. Guessing its related to them putting out Asia specific servers though.

The problem with that is that the plat farmers will either relocate or just set up proxies. Private users don't have those resources so they stay blocked. This is unfair. These are people that are die-hard fans. They have stuck with it despite 2+ months of being off line. If their servers are down, they should be able to connect to the US servers.

Hopefully we will have more info soon.

Beherit_Baphomar
07-04-2008, 09:46 AM
Im reading this and thinking "two months of downtime...what would the forums look like if we had two months of downtime"?

I am LOL'ing.

Ustice
07-04-2008, 02:42 PM
My guess is like the China servers with a lot of unanswered questions, complaining, and people leaving.

This is why I want to help spread the word with what is going on so that those players can find a new home. Supposedly Shanda is supposed to give a status update today, so hopefully we will have more info soon.

Xalted_Vol
07-05-2008, 02:10 AM
I am old enough to remember Tienanmen square. I hope you all realize that the Chinese people have a government that SHUTS down Internet sites and tells you to only have one child. They also keep their currency at a very low rate so American goods and services can not compete with their cheap ones. I would love to teach any revolutionary Chinese activist to speak English to fight their govt I have taught many over Skype. The old communist guard is dying lets just hope this generation will embrace true freedoms and liberties. Never forget our revolution against a certain King George here in the states. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY Its time for a chinese independince day ohh and long live the Dalai Lama :)

DoctorWhofan
07-05-2008, 02:46 AM
I am old enough to remember Tienanmen square. I hope you all realize that the Chinese people have a government that SHUTS down Internet sites and tells you to only have one child. They also keep their currency at a very low rate so American goods and services can not compete with their cheap ones. I would love to teach any revolutionary Chinese activist to speak English to fight their govt I have taught many over Skype. The old communist guard is dying lets just hope this generation will embrace true freedoms and liberties. Never forget our revolution against a certain King George here in the states. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY Its time for a chinese independince day ohh and long live the Dalai Lama :)

So can I. I don't the Chinese government would like their citizans to SPEAK to an American (or other free country. Dear lord, talking to Taiwan!!) I think this is Turbine not lowering its standards for players and the Chinese gov't not allowing the same gaming freedoms as the rest of us.

I know of other things about China that anger me, so while I feel sympathy for the people, I have to shove it aside and say "all or nothing": Complete freedom on the game, or not having the game at all.

And yes, Long live the Dalai Lama.

Ustice
07-05-2008, 08:23 AM
This really isn't a political thing. I have strong opinions on that issue as well, but that isn't why I want to bring more attention to the problem that the Chinese players face. I am just trying to help find them a new home, and give them the freedom to choose where they play.

Valyn
07-07-2008, 08:39 AM
If Chinese players are having trouble reaching our servers, then I am not sure I want to see how many would be here if it was easy for them to get to our servers. I often play in the morning, USA time, and there are a LOT of Chinese players on at that time. I have been in some very frustrating groups with uncommunicative players that turned out to be Chinese. I even tried to join a group that had all Chinese players in it ( will not try that again). I don't have a problem with them per se, and I am glad they enjoy the game, but the language barrier is a frustrating problem.

I have my doubts that Turbine would be blocking them. Money is money to them, no matter where it is coming from. Given the long history of censorship and internet blocking by the Chinese government I tend to believe it is them. Your original post mentioned that the government believes there is an online gaming addiction problem with its people. It is not as if the Chinese government would offer an explanation or even admit if they did cut it off.

IF this is something Turbine has done to try to stop gold farmers then more power to them. Gold farmers have gotten so bad it makes me want to quit the game. Turbine simply has to do something to stop them. I get an average of about 10-15 tells an hour from gold sellers in the game. :mad:

Ustice
07-07-2008, 10:44 AM
If Chinese players are having trouble reaching our servers, then I am not sure I want to see how many would be here if it was easy for them to get to our servers. I often play in the morning, USA time, and there are a LOT of Chinese players on at that time. I have been in some very frustrating groups with uncommunicative players that turned out to be Chinese. I even tried to join a group that had all Chinese players in it ( will not try that again). I don't have a problem with them per se, and I am glad they enjoy the game, but the language barrier is a frustrating problem.

I have my doubts that Turbine would be blocking them. Money is money to them, no matter where it is coming from. Given the long history of censorship and internet blocking by the Chinese government I tend to believe it is them. Your original post mentioned that the government believes there is an online gaming addiction problem with its people. It is not as if the Chinese government would offer an explanation or even admit if they did cut it off.

IF this is something Turbine has done to try to stop gold farmers then more power to them. Gold farmers have gotten so bad it makes me want to quit the game. Turbine simply has to do something to stop them. I get an average of about 10-15 tells an hour from gold sellers in the game. :mad:

Once again, blocking IP address or ranges is ineffective in blocking spam. We need other methods to prevent it. Filters are one way, and so is preventing tells on free accounts, and tar-pitting tells is yet another. If this is why these players are blocked, then it needs to stop.

Right now, DDO is not set up well for people that speak different languages to play together. Final Fantasy XI (MMO) has a cool little system for communicating with people of other languages. There are a lot of Japanese players in that game. The way that they do it is they have a bunch of pre-set messages that you can send, and when they are displayed on the other end, they are automatically displayed in the person reading's native language. They can then also be hotkeyed, so that you can quickly sent them out. For instance you could press CTRL-F1 and it would say, "Gather for buffs." If there were someone in your group that spoke spanish and another that spoke chinese, then they would still see it in their respective languages. Regular text chat is unaffected.

It would also help those of us that do not have microphones to quickly communicate. For instance, maybe they want to say "Incoming!" but are too busy running. With a mic that is easy. Without one it is hard unless they could use a system like this to send the message with a key press.

As for what we can do right now, unfortunately it is just grouping with people that speak a common language. Luckily with the new chat system, that should be a lot easier. Now we can join chatrooms that are language-specific. I heard about a Spanish-speaking guild too, and that sounds like a nice idea as well. Hopefully we will see more of this, and better support for multiple languages in the future.

parvo
07-08-2008, 12:20 AM
Software companies start drooling when they see the chinese market. Then they go and get totally burned. Turbine will get abused there. I hear all the cries for freedom and democracy but I don't hear any cries for the rule of law and respect for intellectual property.

Ustice
07-08-2008, 06:10 AM
Piracy may be an issue in China, but it really isn't an issue for Turbine/DDO, unless someone has created a DDO server. That is sort of the problem though, there is no such server.

Spell
07-08-2008, 06:20 AM
Maybe the Chinese government was wanting Turbine to limit the number of character slots available (1 toon per couple) on the Chinese Servers?!
LOL

Pellegro
07-08-2008, 06:48 AM
I can almost guaranty its a licensing issue.

If chinese players can play on US servers, then there's not much value in having the right to market DDO in China, right?

To keep the Chinese market in China, they have to keep them off the US servers ....

They will get their service eventually I"m sure.

Why no outrage over there being no DDO Australia? Get the dang Dingos off our server !!!


that is a joke, for those who may not know ...

parvo
07-08-2008, 07:48 AM
Piracy may be an issue in China, but it really isn't an issue for Turbine/DDO, unless someone has created a DDO server. That is sort of the problem though, there is no such server.

Piracy is not the only issue with software in China. How much can Turbine charge for a chineese account?

Ustice
07-08-2008, 07:52 AM
Shanda was reportedly charging about the equivalent of 5 USD. (Multiply that by the number of people that can potentially play there, and it adds up quickly.)

parvo
07-08-2008, 03:55 PM
Shanda was reportedly charging about the equivalent of 5 USD. (Multiply that by the number of people that can potentially play there, and it adds up quickly.)

I don't pretend to understand all the ins and outs of the business but each account cost Turbine something. Thier profit is a percentage of each sub. So, unless Turbine is making ~70% margin on U.S subs, they are making nothing off China. I'd prefer not to subsidize chineese players.

Litz
07-08-2008, 03:57 PM
/cheers

Ustice
07-08-2008, 08:39 PM
I don't pretend to understand all the ins and outs of the business but each account cost Turbine something. Thier profit is a percentage of each sub. So, unless Turbine is making ~70% margin on U.S subs, they are making nothing off China. I'd prefer not to subsidize chineese players.

There are some missing parts to that puzzle. Don't forget that costs are a lot lower there. I assume that the price was researched. That being said, it sounds like Shanda may have made a lot of mistakes.

Thailand_Dan
07-08-2008, 09:34 PM
Having worked in Beijing for about a year, I know a bit about China. I can easily see them simply shutting down access to a particular site, for no reason with no explanation and no warning. It happens.

What US subscribers should realize is that China is almost exclusively a cash economy. Friends of mine there worked for IBM, and still got paid in cash. Incidentally, the highest demonination bill is 100 yuan, which translates to about US$15. I knew executives that would carry envelopes from the bank with bricks of cash on pay day.

Back to the point, if everything is paid in cash, how do subscribers pay their fee. They walk down to the 7-11 where they pay cash and the money is transferred to Turbine. This is how they pay their electric bill, water bill, etc. If Turbine wants to do business in China, and charge fees, they have to essentially set up business infrastructure there so they can collect their fees, explaining why China had a business partner in the first place, that did very little and gave horrible service. Turbine realizing they had little control over the situation eventually says the hell with it, and pulls out.

Now possibly the partner, being a local company, talks to his uncle who is high up in the government, and says, Turbine left, and now people are accessing servers in the US, and I'm not getting any money. Suddenly blocking of access to the US servers happens.

If Turbine is doing it, there are some reasons why this might have occured. While there are many wealthy people in China, the vast majority of the population does not have a computer or an Internet connection. Instead, one entrepreneurial-minded guy buys a bunch and charges about $1 - $2/hour for anyone to come in and use. This is very handy when travelling to check your email or maybe send a photo or two. But it doesnt take very long to do that. So, the owners of these Interenet cafes put games like DDO, counterstrike, WoW, etc. on them to keep people playing away. In many parts of Asia, if you walk into an Interenet cafe between 3PM - 7PM, they are packed with students. Hence, the concern the government might have, about it destoying their youth (not saying I agree, just mentioning it is plausible that that is how they came to this conclusion).

Most students do not have enough money to set up an account, but maybe the business-minded owner does. Say he opens 5 accounts. He can probably keep all 5 of those accounts running full steam with players everyday of the week. So for 1 account, probably 8-9 different people have 1 toon, and someone is almost always on, instead of 8 accounts with 9 toons each. That sure is burning a lot of bandwidth for $5/month.

Suddenly, mister business minded owner hears the kids talking about how they just pulled a w/p or a bloodtone, or whatever uber gear thats worth 1M plat. Well, it's his account, so he starts looking through the toons of his players. Next day, "Sorry kids, the computer crashed, and everything was lost. I feel bad, so I will let you start again. You can play for free for the next week." Suddenly XYZ plat sellers has been invented.

OK, maybe the story is a bit conspiracy theory-ish, but I gurantee you, the majority of the subscriber base is China is from students or others playing in Internet cafes, with multiple people under 1 account, maybe even under 1 toon. It would be worth it to an Internet cafe owner to offer someone 1 toon for a monthly fee of say $3/month. Turbine would not like this, and possibly cut their losses in China, and doesnt want to deal with it on their US servers.

Just some thoughts, sorry for the book.

Ustice
07-09-2008, 06:37 AM
From what I understand (and granted, this is not first-hand info) most of the time, the game time is bought with game cards.

I understand Shanda pulling out. If everything that I have heard about how they managed the game is true, then the game there was a complete failure. The problem is what happens now? These players are the ones that are willing to not only pay for a Chinese account, but to actually pay for a US account at three times the price. The problem is that they are being blocked. That is the central issue really. If they are willing to pay, and there is no competing service, why shouldn't they be able to?

Once again, I don't know where they are being blocked at, but given that there are some Chinese players that are able to get on our servers (many are likely using some proxy service) it is unlikely to be the Chinese Government, or the ISPs. The only logical party is Turbine, but once again that is unconfirmed.

If DDO disappeared today, and you knew that you could play on the Euro servers, but when you tried you found that you were blocked, how would you feel?

I just want them to be able to use the US servers while the Chinese ones are down. They don't even have Risia to keep them occupied. :)

Xalted_Vol
07-12-2008, 05:10 AM
Its easy to get swept into all this fake patriotic hoopla after 9-11 but remember question everything your government does or your civil liberties will be a thing of the past. China will shut down games because of so called anti govt speech. Every American should read the book 1984 and the bill of rights. The supreme court just stood up for gun rights recently there is still hope :D

Quanefel
07-19-2008, 06:06 PM
I was trying to research all of this but I was unable to locate any information about DDO China closing 2+ months ago anywhere on the web. I used many different search engines and after a few hours, still nothing on the subject. Other than your website, thats all the information out there about it. Which brings up a question, one link from Shanda on your website that you had translated states that they will be closing DDO China servers on July 31, 2008. It seems to contridict this post stating it was closed 2+ months ago. Could you clarify this for me since it is a bit confusing.

Also, you wrote in your post you attempted to verify Kane Cao's post that you reposted on this thread. Any luck getting verification for other sources as to the accuracy of it? I ask because some of the information he proved might need looked in further. Considering his post looks more like an opinion peice than anything else. There are no real facts to find anywhere other than his post for most of what he was writing about. Any clarification on this would be helpful.

Ustice
07-19-2008, 06:21 PM
Thanks for your interest.

The difference in the dates are when the servers actually went down, and when the contract is due to expire between Turbine and Shanda. The servers went down close to 3 months ago, but until recently Shanda didn't have much in the way of information. Then, pages on their site stopped working, and there was various reports of people saying that they were getting info from Shanda reps that the contract was due to expire. Most recently I linked to the release by Shanda as to the fate of DDO China (under Shanda) which basically said that they will be losing the rights to DDO at the end of this month.

I was never able to get confirmation on the timeline, but the facts were all there. Most of it can be seen on the DDO China forums (translation needed, of course), but I never did find anything that stood out as being worth linking to. There is still no word from Turbine on this, but I expect that they won't be making one until the contract expires, or later.

Also, there is still no word as to whether or not Turbine is blocking the Chinese players from the US servers or not. There are obviously more Chinese players around now, so whomever is blocking them, isn't doing it consistently.