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Topic: F355 Challenge is now offline

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lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Thu Jan 19, 2006 2:54 pm
quote : #1
profile : pm
Posts: 5893
Type: NTSC-U/C
F355 Challenge was one of the last remaining Sega developed Dreamcast titles to have functional online game-play. I am sure many of you are experiencing mixed emotions about F355's recent departure. On one hand, we all expected the game to eventually go offline. On the other hand, the sudden discovery that the game had gone offline still shocked many of us. Much of this has to do with timing. The news posted at the F355 Challenge homepage was made on December 29th, which is still during the Holidays for many of us. Had the news been posted a month later, I am sure someone would have caught the information so we could have one last race on F355 Challenge.

Here is a refresher course on how F355 Challenge works online. The game runs over port 80. When you first sign online the game will access CGI scripts at f355.sega-rd2.com, which is run and managed by Sega of Japan / Sega AM2. The North American, Japan, and PAL Region versions of F355 Challenge all connect to this very same script located at f355.sega-rd2.com.

The news states that Sega had to take F355 Offline "due to technical issues". The technical issue Sega is speaking of could be the very same issue I predicted might happen back in July of 2004. The network functions of F355 all rely on a single subdomain in order to function. If Sega had to terminate this subdomain for legal reasons, then the game would be affected. Remember, Sega's development teams were recently restructured. So the subdomain might have been disabled due to policies regarding this restructuring.

---

Never the less, F355 Challenge is now offline, and was terminated on January 16th, 2006. Once again this affects all regions of the game, as they all used the same services managed by Sega of Japan / Sega AM2.

So where do we go from here? I think we need to analyze a few facts first.

For starters a petition here probably would not do anything. Sega already realizes how popular F355 Challenge was. They knew how much activity the game got because they could see the server logs. They even state in the news post at the F355 Homepage: "We really appreciate your long-term support on this service." Notice how they stress "long-term support". They are well aware that gamers have been playing this game all the way up until they pulled the plug a few days ago. Creating a list of names or even letters to merely show Sega that we care would do nothing. They already KNOW we care. Not only this, but they updated both the English and Japanese news pages. Sega knows this isn't just affecting Japanese gamers, but gamerís worldwide.

Sega will probably not put the script back online even if we convince them that we can redirect our consoles. This is because they would get customer support questions regarding this issue. They do not want to have to deal with this at all.

If Sega is not prepared to put the script back up at an alternate domain, then the only other option is to convince them to release the script to the public. This is extremely complicated, because there could be legal red tape involved. The developer might say yes, but their superior might say no. Leaking the script could also result in getting fired. Even if they have no evidence that a specific person leaked it, someone will still take the fall. Plus, who knows what else this person could leak?

This means we will probably need clearance of some nature to actually obtain this software. To do this, it would require speaking with someone with the authority to make this decision, and someone who would be receptive to our cause. Plus there is the whole language barrier to consider. You would have to convey that we have the capabilities to redirect the game to an alternate address, and could run the script. Not only this but putting things into perspective in terms of Dreamcast Online's history is insanely important. Conveying the historical significance for the video game hobby is a key to getting support. Not many people are qualified to do this.

---

Now it is time for some optimism. I only have to make one more of these posts ever again at the Dreamcast area of OC. The only remaining online title with a questionable future is Maximum Pool. The remaining titles are all online forever. I remember back in the summer of 2003 when games first started going offline. I thought that by September of 2003, all we would have was Quake 3 Arena, and Sega Swirl. This was before we even found out about 4x4 Evo's direct-ip capabilities. I feel we have been rather fortunate, and so far everything has turned out far different than expected.

F355 Challenge's departure from the list of online games is different than previous situations. Right now I would kill to have a game like Outtrigger be able to use the Dreamcast VS CABLE. Luckily, F355 can still be played via system link using this cable. Also, you can swap and compare driving data as well, via email or by uploading the file to a website. Back when I setup the forum list, I was thinking ahead to this moment. I put the F355 Challenge forum in the system link category for a reason, so I wouldn't have to eliminate the forum when the game went offline! The F355 Challenge forum will stay as is, and will be a place to discuss the game, as well as system link and driving data.

One feature will be eliminated, and that is the PDB for the game. You will shortly see the game pulled from your Online Game collection in your profiles when I update the Online Game Lists.

I just booted up my Windows 98 machine to see if I had any packet logs. I couldnít find any on the desktop with all of my other logs. However, I searched and luckily found 1 log stored in an alternate folder taken in June. I still have to sift through this log to see if I actually raced against someone, or just went to the master list. Regardless I can guarantee the log is not 100% complete. This is because I could never get F355 to complete a race over the PC-DC server. It would error out when trying to retrieve the reply file. Plus I had to open up the network scanning a lot to try and get the packets, so it has other packets from my local network as well. I have to go through the packets and parse off the ones that are relevant to F355 before releasing these. I will work on a research page for F355 that will have the packets available for download for inquiring minds.

I had some good times playing F355 Challenge late at night solo against Tao, while he conversed over Jabber. This is a great game, and one that I will continue to celebrate with its local network functions and driving data comparison feature. I recommend everyone do this as well.


Last edited by lordnikon on Thu Jan 19, 2006 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mcmonkey
rank 44
Posted:
Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:39 pm
quote : #2
profile : pm
Posts: 1314
Type: PAL
atleast Ive got the memories of playing a couple of full games (as in full of people) on this and furoughly enjoying myself.
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pakkitman
rank 41
Posted:
Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:52 pm
quote : #3
profile : pm
Posts: 1039
Excellent write up, nikon, shame many of us never got around to experiencing the game online (we only have ourselves to blame, really). It makes me that much happier we, as a community, have Maximum Pool and other games online including 4x4, another, albeit very different, racing game.
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deadmanshand
rank 11
Posted:
Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:33 pm
quote : #4
profile : pm
Posts: 164
i my self never had the chance to play this game offline or online i could only imagine how fun it must be but it's ashame that another game is added on the ever growing list of used to be online games for this system.now im wondering who's next Question hopefully such thing never happens and be thankful that we still have these other games for this system that are still online Mr. Green
 
Tao
rank 15
Posted:
Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:41 pm
quote : #5
profile : pm
Posts: 262
Well, shit. This announcement just threw me off way more than it should.

Thanks to FUKA-san, Helga, JMC, Lonewolf, ICUK, Nikon, Kingofgrills, Brock, LeSpank, Maurice X (I think I got a game in with you), I-san, ELT-san, Kizzy (and thanks especially for being near my skill level, presumably when drunk), WormytheWorm (you're not dead, right?), some Japanese players that I can't picture, and the countless NONAME's out there for the great races and memories. They really were some of the best times I've ever had online.

The game wasn't only means for me to play against other people, but to really meet them as well. Half the people I listed I would never have known without spotting their car a lap ahead of mine in the replay. It's now I wish that I had had one more chance to log on and see 12+ competing in the qualifier. That was really a spectacle. It's one of those things that I guess I'll look back on and smile. You guys really are fucking awesome.

Here's to rushing home after school to make the Tuesday/Thursday meets. Wink

Posted Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:22 pm:

(that was sappy sorry)
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macnet
rank 9
Posted:
Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:37 am
quote : #6
profile : pm
Posts: 108
yesterday I received a copy of F 355 which was offered to me by Kizzy just to play with him and now these news...

Could it have been worse?
Sad
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lozz
rank 41
Posted:
Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:32 pm
quote : #7
profile : pm
Posts: 1085
Type: PAL
well thanks for the ifo nikon, you said in your post that you would need to talk to someone of a high rank at sega, i don't know if it would help, max (i think hes the admin) at dreamcast-scene mentioned that he will be having a meeting with sega germany he may be able to metion f355 there. thanks, lozz.
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What better place than here
What better time than now

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kingofgrills
rank 33
Posted:
Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:51 pm
quote : #8
profile : pm
Posts: 707
Tao wrote:
Well, shit. This announcement just threw me off way more than it should.

Thanks to FUKA-san, Helga, JMC, Lonewolf, ICUK, Nikon, Kingofgrills, Brock, LeSpank, Maurice X (I think I got a game in with you), I-san, ELT-san, Kizzy (and thanks especially for being near my skill level, presumably when drunk), WormytheWorm (you're not dead, right?), some Japanese players that I can't picture, and the countless NONAME's out there for the great races and memories. They really were some of the best times I've ever had online.

The game wasn't only means for me to play against other people, but to really meet them as well. Half the people I listed I would never have known without spotting their car a lap ahead of mine in the replay. It's now I wish that I had had one more chance to log on and see 12+ competing in the qualifier. That was really a spectacle. It's one of those things that I guess I'll look back on and smile. You guys really are fucking awesome.

Here's to rushing home after school to make the Tuesday/Thursday meets. Wink

Posted Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:22 pm:

(that was sappy sorry)


Tao, it was an absolute blast racing against you and everyone else you listed too. I honestly think I've had my most memorable experiences playing online have come with F355 Challenge. I'll really miss the interaction with all of you and also the anticipation I felt waiting for the replay to begin after crossing the finish line.

Hopefully, we'll be able to find a game that sort of delivers that online racing experience again someday.
  _________________
Gamespy ID: Kingofgrills
Online with: 4X4 Evo, Starlancer, Quake III: Arena, and PAL PSO V. 1

How are my little crackers doing today?
lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:54 pm
quote : #9
profile : pm
Posts: 5893
Type: NTSC-U/C
I need to stress that, it is not just "at sega". I was speaking in general terms. To be specific, talking to someone at sega to assist you communicate to someone else would be a great help. However the only people that you will get any results with, are by talking directly with someone in charge at Sega AM2 in Japan.

Anyways, I will be doing what I can. I am currently working on multiple things at once like this, so writing up all of these takes time. I will report back when and if I get any results.

Sidenote on the effectiveness of Petitions:
I think some people really want to gravitate to petitions because they are easy, and they don't require much effort. They involve a lot of people, as well as promotion. The time it takes from start to finish getting people to sign names extends over a period of time. People feel that they are "doing something". This delays possible rejection, and keeps hope alive for many. However Petitions just are not very effective at all.

Contacting companies in a more professional manner, and "knowing" what you are talking about is far more effective. On top of this, petitions are already cliche and seen as innaccurate representations of true actual support. Some people will sign almost anything. So even if you get say, 2,000 sigs... only a fraction of them are actually serious.
  _________________
I'm already numero uno on Dark Helmet's hit list...
maurice x
rank 7
Posted:
Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:00 pm
quote : #10
profile : pm
Posts: 72
well the question is lord NIkkon: what can I do to help? i'd like to have a contribution to try to salvage this game.

i see what you mean when you say petitions can be ineffective, after all, before sega desided to pull the plug they knew (more like) they were prepared to cope complains from us.
 
lozz
rank 41
Posted:
Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:40 am
quote : #11
profile : pm
Posts: 1085
Type: PAL
I know petitions are not a very effective method, like you said people will sign anything. However i am not saying it will happen (the chances are slim) but if someone did happen to be able communicate with someone at sega Am2 do you think it would be helpful if they took some actual personal letters (Like wwp)? im sorry if what im saying is absolute crap i don't know a clue about how something like this would work, but its killing me sitting here not bing able to say anything.... do you know what i mean? anyway, thanks, lozz.
  _________________
It has to start somewhere
It has to start sometime
What better place than here
What better time than now

All hell can't stop us now
lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:19 pm
quote : #12
profile : pm
Posts: 5893
Type: NTSC-U/C
I really don't have anything at the moment that springs to mind that people can do. I am going to take steps that I feel would be productive. If and when I do think support is needed, I will of course present tasks that people could do to assist. However, at the present I personally will not be rallying any sort of petition-like scenario for F355. As I stated above, I feel it would be futile, and would produce no results. More-so in this case, because Sega clearly knows already that we all support the game. So they would get the petition and be like "yea...we already know this...".

It is hard to see a game go offline, but I guess I am a realist, and I don't like to instill a false sense of hope.

I should also stress that, while this is my expert opinion, you all are free to do as you wish. If you want to start some petition or an alternative group effort then anyone is free to do so.
  _________________
I'm already numero uno on Dark Helmet's hit list...
Soniku
rank 4
Posted:
Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:19 am
quote : #13
profile : pm
Posts: 27
Maybe if we threaten to burn down SEGA of America HQ, they'll put the game back online...

Eh, but that's boderline terrorism... Actually, I guess it'd be full-fledged terrorism...

And... I don't have a DC anymore anyway...

I just liked the idea of burning something...

Hmm....
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Blast
rank 43
Posted:
Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:38 pm
quote : #14
profile : pm
Posts: 1285
Type: Pal
Quote: I just liked the idea of burning something...

Hmm....

Yeh happens to me often too, quite worrying to be honest lol

Laters
  _________________
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PiperUK
rank 3
Posted:
Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:36 pm
quote : #15
profile : pm
Posts: 11
Another sad day in the life of the DC. It seemed F355 was the only DC game here in Europe where people actually went on to play...not like PSO where everyone seems to log on just to chat.

Thanks for a great post Nikon.
 
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