Player wants to play Eon Altar, a game where their phone connects to their PC. However, they're at University, or they otherwise don't control the router/network they're connected to, and the PC/phone can't see each other, and therefore they cannot currently play.
The game heavily relies on the network being really fast (low latency), and going through the Internet could possibly make the experience extremely poor. So we--the developers--when designing the game, decided that it should only work over local area network (LAN), which clearly prevents our player from playing.So here's the catch: do we create a solution where they can directly type in an IP Address on their phone to connect to the PC, at the risk that we have way less control over the experience, and the latency might make the game unplayable (and result in an unhappy player, and thus bad reviews/word-of-mouth); or do we just leave it be and tell the user, "Sorry, no dice?" (and result in an unhappy player, and thus bad reviews/word-of-mouth).
We know how the experience will degrade: we saw this at PAX Prime, with 60,000+ techno-savvy geeks all on our mobile/wifi devices. Despite having our own routers, the radio interference made the game frustrating. Your movement marker wouldn't react cleanly or smoothly and dialogue responses would sometimes hang briefly. Pressing and holding for free-running was frustrating because it would take 200ms - 500ms for your character to start running, and stopping also took that long, so you'd overshoot, constantly. It all made the game feel really unresponsive--because, well, in the context of a extremely high latency network, it really was unresponsive.
There are in-between options here. We could bury the Connect Directly to IP Address under a help menu as a last resort kind of thing, with big warning signs on it saying the game wasn't really designed for over-Internet play, but is that really helpful? Are we still going to get slagged, even with a warning message?
There's also a maintenance cost and a support cost. If the Direct to IP doesn't work for whatever reason, we (and by 'we' I mean 'I' as I'm the technical guy) will have another thing to possibly have to troubleshoot remotely via forum/email, but on the other hand, it is a workaround tool we could have built into the game. However, it means that I likely won't be able to fix some other unknown subset of bugs/features because I'll be spending my time implementing this feature.
But having players who can't play the game is frustrating on our end, too. We want people to play Eon Altar, and anything that gets in the way of that--short of not having a capable mobile device, sorry, but that's required as part of the vision of our product--should be fixed with prejudice if possible.
So, do we, or don't we? #IndieDev, #EonAltar