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Unofficial Sims Online revival buckles under unexpected player counts

The single developer behind the unofficial revival of the defunct The Sims MMO has closed down and delayed FreeSO following launch-day demand that exceeded all expectations.

The developer behind FreeSO, an unofficial remake of the discontinued The Sims Online MMO, has temporarily closed the recently launched project after day-one interest exceeded expectations and crashed servers.

Rhys, FreeSO’s creator, is still in the process of extinguishing fires and preparing to relaunch the game in a way that won’t overload his servers, but the blogs he’s released already contain some useful information and lessons for developers on the kinds of unexpected issues that can creep up when launching an online game.

The original launch expected a maximum of 200 users so when the game first opened up on January 6 it was unable to cope with over 1000 players trying to sign in and play. At one point in time, 500 requests were made to the API server all at once, instantly shutting it down. 

This, combined with additional complications like small DoS attacks and the issue of a language barrier from the unexpected abundance of Brazil-based players, led Rhys to close the game and postpone the launch until the servers and community could handle whatever came at it.

“I was banking on everything working fine for the launch, as the date was actually set as the latest possible before I had to go back to university and work on my final year project,” explained Rhys, who has been singlehandedly developing the unofficial TSO revival.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it was ever actually meant to be – I was hoping I could get a lot more of the required features done, and sort of hoping that some of them wouldn’t be necessary with a rather small playerbase. It turns out that all of these are completely necessary, as manually moderating thousands of players without some kind of automated assistance (reports, transaction flags, botting flags) would cause some kind of mental breakdown.”

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