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Major system updates are never fully stable when rolled out. But it's important to put them online to gather as much feedback as possible if technical problems or outages are reported and to fix them quickly and efficiently in addition to our various internal test phases.

In this article, we'll take a look at two events that caused a complete inability to access our game service for Linux and Mac OS users. We'll then go over the compensation these users will receive for their lost game time.

Ankama Launcher Update - Cytrus version 6


On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. Paris time, our portal that manages games and updates, known as the Ankama Launcher, had a major update: it was upgraded from Cytrus version 5 to Cytrus version 6. To summarize, this new version allows players to install the various updates for games in the portal much more quickly.

The upgrade to the new version required collaboration between the various teams to ensure the transition was as stable as possible.

Unfortunately, two environments reported a complete inability to access the WAKFU game: Linux and Mac OS.

On Linux and Mac OS, files are governed by a permissions system: read, write and execute. Read gives permission to view the contents of a file, write gives permission to change the file, and the execute permission indicates the file is an "program" that can be run by the computer. Note that these permissions are not the same as Windows "permissions". After the update to the Ankama Launcher, multiple files lost their execute permission. Therefore, the launcher could no longer launch WAKFU.

Othan, Developer

A patch update (1.77.2) for the game was already planned for Thursday, November 3, to improve server stability and fix other issues. This was an opportunity for our teams to urgently roll out a fix for the two environments affected.

The Ankama Launcher downloads and installs the WAKFU client on computers via a process we call "Cytrus". When you [the players] update the WAKFU client, Cytrus looks to see if there's a more recent version of the files, and then downloads and replaces them if needed.

While upgrading from Cytrus 5 to Cytrus 6 (a better version), the way Cytrus detects file permissions changed, and they were no longer configured correctly on the files. We therefore fixed the system so that permissions were correctly analyzed when the game was being updated and installed.

Othan, Developer

Except that early feedback reported that the patch didn't work. Therefore, a new version of the game client needed to be rapidly developed to implement the fix.

For the second patch, as a result of our changes to the way we make the client available to Cytrus (for updating the client), we had to analyze which files needed to be added "manually" to the list of executable files, and then force an update of the installed game clients.

Othan, Developer
Linux and Mac OS players (except Ventura) could once again explore the World of Twelve at 12:45 p.m. the same day.

While this can be frustrating and inconvenient for players, a service interruption for all or some of these players is a problem that we take extremely seriously, and we share in the frustration. It usually requires many hours (sometimes days/weeks) of hard work to find a solution. It also ties up multiple members of the development team and communication team for this issue alone for as long as it takes to fix.

Xai, Community Manager

In total, Linux and Mac OS users (except Ventura) were unable to access our service for 24 hours.
 

Mac OS Ventura Update


On Monday, October 24, 2022, Apple rolled out the new version of its OS: Ventura.

Software updates like this add powerful new features, various fixes, improved security, etc. Some applications and video games often need to offer a new version of their software to be compatible with a new version of an operating system on their platform (Windows, Mac OS being the most popular). Sometimes, the work is done proactively before the new OS goes live when an incompatibility is known beforehand; but sometimes it only happens afterwards – reactively – because future problems could not be anticipated.

On Monday, October 24, the first players who installed the new version of their Mac OS reported that they could no longer launch the game client.

We immediately became aware of the problem but we needed specific data to understand where to start looking for the root cause. With help from players who generously shared their client log files, we found the root cause of the problem and started working on a fix (which proved not to be quick and easy).
The WAKFU game client is based on a graphics standard called OpenGL (the same one that Minecraft uses), and we use an external library (JOGL) based on the standard for our graphics rendering. This library provides us with "natives" and ways to call them from our Java code. A native is a collection of several functions (native functions) written in a "low-level" language, i.e. similar to the computer language. It is often very specific and complex code that we don't have any control over.

The libraries we use for graphics rendering have always had trouble working properly on Mac OS, and some users needed to download a third-party tool (Nvidia ToolKit) to be able to launch WAKFU on Mac. That's why, when Apple decided to stop supporting 32-bit programs (about a year ago), the game no longer worked on this platform (Nvidia ToolKit is 32-bit). So, we had to analyze how this tool worked and recreate its functionality with our own methods.

This time, the problem ran deeper. Basically, one of the fundamental functions of the natives we were using for our OpenGL rendering has been forbidden on Mac. It was previously not recommended to use this function, but now, since Ventura, it completely stops the program from being run.

So, we needed to update the library that was using these natives, which was no small job because it is a core component of our game client, and the version we needed was still under development. I want to take this opportunity to thank all who worked (and are still working) on upgrading this JOGL library, especially Sven Gothel and Julien Gouesse!

Once the upgrade was done – and all the resulting problems fixed – we implemented a way to roll out the new client without impacting other users (which explains why the Experimental client appeared. Please test it and send us your feedback if you have the chance).
Othan, Developer

As mentioned by Othan, in collaboration with the Ankama Launcher team, we rolled out an experimental version of the WAKFU game client, which includes the extensive update to the JOGL graphics component, on Tuesday, November 8. This new version logs you in on the two official game servers Pandora and Rubilax. Your progress is saved across both clients.

This Experimental client allows us to once again welcome players on Mac OS Ventura back into the game while allowing other users on a different operating system to test this version and share their feedback with us. It's very important for us to receive reports of any anomalies because we can only roll out the patch on the production client (the classic one) once this client is guaranteed to be stable.

To access the Experimental client, simply download it from the WAKFU game page in your Ankama Launcher. It's the same place you can download the beta and classic client. We know this isn't the most intuitive process, so we are already thinking of a way to make access easier.

Xai, Community Manager

In total, Mac OS Ventura users were unable to access our service for 16 days.
 

Compensation

 
Now that all operating systems have a client and the situation is stable for Ventura players, we can go over the planned compensation. Compensation will be applied from Tuesday, November 22.
 

For Linux and Mac OS (except Ventura) users, active since October 2, 2022, and who tried to log in via the Ankama Launcher between 11:30 a.m. on November 2 and 12:45 p.m. on November 3, 2022:

  • 1 x 1-day Booster Token to be used before 11 p.m. on December 31, 2022
 

For Mac OS Ventura users, active since September 24, 2022, and who tried to log in via the Ankama Launcher between 12:01 a.m. on October 24 and 5:30 p.m. on November 8, 2022:

  • 1 x 15-day Booster Token to be used before 11 p.m. on December 31, 2022
  • 1 x Leap-Gobball emote
  • 6 x Experience Potions (linked)
  • 6 x Harvest Potions (linked)
  • 6 x Loot Potions (linked)
  • 16 x Growth Kibbles (linked)

We usually add the booster days directly to the accounts affected. But for this unique situation we are offering a new form of compensation in the form of limited-time tokens to be used before a specific date. You won't be able to retrieve the token from Ankama Support if you forget to activate it. So, please take care not to lose it!

Xai, Community Manager

The compensation token should be activated on our official page.

We are very sorry for this unfortunate and unprecedented situation that we have all had to deal with. The community has once again shown the kindness and empathy that makes it so great and so enjoyable. We have supported it as much as possible throughout this challenging period and responded to everyone's concerns while working on a solution at the same time. We want to thank you so much for trusting us to solve these complex issues, and we hope we have adequately made up for your lost game time and the frustration it has caused. We are delighted to FINALLY welcome you back in-game!

We want to take this opportunity to give you a big thanks for the invaluable feedback you have shared or will share with us. We love the fact that we have a community as passionate as we are! Your encouragement and understanding during difficult times gives us the boost we need, and we are extremely grateful!

Othan, Eneval and aLONfred, Developers

And thank you again from the entire WAKFU team.