The FlyFF community platforms have been dominated by but one topic for what feels like an eternity: constant disconnects and client crashes.

Community, publisher and developer are all speculating equally about the reasons for these technical problems. This week, we would like to put in our two cents as well and cast a closer look at the topic. Where could the real problems be located and how could they theoretically be solved? Is a solution even realistic and viable?

The current state of the FlyFF server stability

By now, it has become part of the daily agenda: players repeatedly lose their connection to the server or the client ends up closing itself without a discernable reason. Opening player shops turns into an ordeal due to having to check whether the shop character is still online every ten minutes or so. Farming dungeons turns into a trial of patience as well, if the disconnect or a client crash decides to happen in the middle of a run.

FlyFF has always had such problems in the last few years. Contrary to back then, they currently seem to be occuring at an inflationary pace which turns playing FlyFF actively into an act of frustration. Weekends are currently especially bad off. On those, you would be lucky if the problems were limited to ‘only’ disconnects and client crashes.

The source of these technical problems in FlyFF

There are varying opinions concerning the source of these problems. We would like to take a look at some of these theories subsequently. While we will obviously not be able to provide a true diagnosis either, some speculating may just be within our power.

General data traffic congestion

In the current period of Corona, the general data traffic is working to capacitiy in several regions. Many people are forced to stay at home or are working from home. The latency is very likely to suffer under such conditions.

This circumstance may sound plausible at first glance, but it does not explain the client crashes. Although one would like to put the blame on shifted conditions, it will not really work out for this example. The workload of the general data traffic may be the reason for some lags or disconnects, but it does not quite fit into the picture of the client crashes.

Too many players on the FlyFF server

Another theory also revolves around capacity issues. This time, however, it centers in on the server workload due to too many connected accounts.

This theory would actually be conceivable and could, at least partially, be contributing to the ongoing stability problems. FlyFF may not have as many ‘unique users’ as it had ten years ago anymore, but this fact is being compensated by the limit of eight game clients which every player is able to open up per computer.

This theory is being backed by the fact that client crashes and disconnects are mostly seen on Channel 1, where 90% of the whole server population resides on average.

Outdated game engine and incompatibility with today’s computer technology

This is where we actually get close to a realistic assessment of the problem at hand. Comments mocking the servers can often be read on the FlyFF community platforms. ‘The wooden servers are down again!’ or ‘Invest your money into better servers instead of your private estates!’. And yet, the problem is likely not to be found with the server hardware itself.

FlyFF has come to be a very old game. Most of the development on the game has probably taken place in the 2000s. Accordingly, the game engine is stuck at an old level and was never truly brought up to date or optimized for current computer technologies. This has turned the source code of FlyFF into the enourmous patchwork rug we know today. Holes were only mended where they acutely popped up.

This theory would also explain why the game was running at a much more stable pace ten years ago, even though much less players are active today then there were back then. The game engine was much more compatible with the server technology at the time because FlyFF had been developed for that specific hardware. Computer technology and hardware have seen a lot of change during the last ten years; the same cannot be said about the FlyFF game engine. This makes way for frequent incompatibilities, which ultimately lead to connection issues and client crashes.

How can these problems in FlyFF be fixed?

A solution to the problem is sadly not simple to integrate whatsoever. It becomes especially difficult with code projects which have grown over so many years. We can only think of two approaches. Both are not very promising, however.

Optimization of the current game engine for today’s system standards

This path is already being treaded by Gala Lab after a fashion. Then again, we cannot reproach the developer for this fact. FlyFF Blog creator Amenofus knows of such problems firsthand due to his IT-oriented job. According to him, such ancient projects are usually avoided and only touched as barely as possible. This especially applies if the person in question has not been involved with the project when it was first being developed (and we honestly doubt that any of the employees who actively developed FlyFF in the beginning are still at the company). There is always the danger of even the smallest adjustments to the code leading to malfuntions in other parts.

This is probably the reason why Gala Lab is sticking to compatibility adjustments only. Sadly, their success is only moderate, as we are currently increasingly experiencing.

Complete redevelopment of the game

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Image source: FlyFF DE Discord

‘This brings us back to the points you have already touched upon. In order to tackle this grievance, the whole game would have to be reprogrammed from scratch. This effort is way too expensive, however, and would never generate the money that was spent in the first place.’

The most promising way would probably be a complete redevelopment of the game with current technology. WEBZEN Moderator Shed Ling has spoken out in the same vein on the German FlyFF Discord not too long ago. However, in the same breath, the Moderator signified that this is not likely to happen due to the enormous costs attached to such a project.

The matter of expense is where we have to agree with Shed Ling. FlyFF is part of the free-to-play grind MMORPG genre, which is going extinct. Big budgets for development are very risky, since nobody is able to gauge whether this old product will be able to balance out the expenses. Nontheless, an actual attempt at a redevelopment took place once.

FlyFF Masquerade – a failed remake attempt

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Image source: FlyFF EN forums

Back in the year 2013, Gala Lab was developing a new version of FlyFF with the byname ‘Masquerade’. This version differed greatly from the one known to us. The look had been refurbished with comic cell-shading graphics, a new UI design was implemented, as well as new animations, a full-screen mode, 1920×1080 resolution, and the client seemed to be running much more stably in general.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? So what became of FlyFF Masquerade? Well, it sadly had a massive disadvantage… it was a completely stand-alone title.

 

As far as we can remember, FlyFF Masquerade only launched in Japan, where it was published next to the old version of FlyFF. But FlyFF Masquerade was not really able to establish itself. After all, players would have had to give up on their current progress in order to make a completely fresh start on the new FlyFF version. The project flopped in Asia and, after a short time, FlyFF Masquerade was scrubbed. Attempts in Europe or America were never even started. The results would probably have been the same.

Conclusion

The technical problems put one at an impasse. Gala Lab surely endeavours to make the current game engine compatible with today’s standards. Sadly, this is not an easy task and progress is rough-and-ready.

Then again, not even a complete redevelopment would be a viable option. This remake would surely be released as a stand-alone game, requiring players to leave behind all their progress on the current FlyFF version and start anew in the remake. FlyFF Masquerade beautifully demonstrated how well that would work… that is, not at all.

What remains is, as almost always in FlyFF, stagnation or little progress made at unreasonable intervals.


What are your experiences with this topic? Are you strongly and regularly being impacted by disconnects and client crashes? Have you found small workarounds to minimize the impact? What are your thoughts on a completely new version à la FlyFF Masquerade? But, more importantly… are BoBoChan and Braum from League of Legends related? Feel free to leave us a comment!