So Empire has been out just over 24 hours now and it's great to see so many people having fun and playing the game we've all been working on for so long, thanks again for your patience.
Naturally the first day has thrown up a few issues that people are concerned about and I wanted to take this opporutinty to address a few of those.
Preloading - Steam preloading was unfortunately unavailable, this was addressed in a previous statement, but I wanted to pass on our apologies again that this didn't take place. This occured for technical reasons outside CA's control. We are looking into a way of repaying the faith of those that preordered a while ago, more will be communicated as it develops.
Downloading times and patches - These vary a great deal depending on your connection, location, and indeed the server you are downloading from. We deliberately kept the day one patch small (100MB approx) so as to remove too much additional download pressure on your connections. Overall the download times seem to have been good, and despite heavy demand Steam coped well although I know it was a tough wait initially for those of you downloading at first. Again, thanks for your patience.
Why Steam - There has been a lot of conjecture that we used Steam solely for copy protection means and that this placed unnecessary demands on our fans whilst the pirates still went ahead and copied Empire. Part of the decision for Steam was indeed copy protection, I'd be lying if I said that wasnt the case. However no copy protection method is foolproof and we do recognise that less casual pirates will still copy the game. Steam offers us a variety of excellent multiplayer facets, an achievment system a strong userbase, good support and automatic patching to every one of our players. These are the primary reasons we chose to use it. I realise there are those people who simply do not like Steam and never will, that's fair enough, from a developer perspective it was never intended to harm fans and we believe it offers a genuine advantage to our title, after a few rounds of seamless 18th century warfare agtainst friends, hopefully you will too.
Steam's not working?
We've been testing Steam installs all night on a variety of PC's and have only been able to replicate one of the issus a few people appear to be having.
Primarily the 'This game is unavailable at the moment' problem.
This isn't a bug, it's caused by jumping ahead of the install process. When you finish the Empire install from disks Steam brings up a window saying 'Any game updates required to play this game are now downloading in the background', as there is an update for Empire it is downloading. Therefore when you click 'Launch Game' from this menu, it gives the 'unavailable' error message. This is because Empire is updating. Check your 'My Games' list under Steam and see what % you have downloaded, when it's 100% you're ready to go. Again, this is caused by trying to launch the game when an update has not been fully applied.
Steam update pauses and restarts - This usually resolves itself depending on the speed of your internet connection and the share ratio on the server you are connected to. The details tab may just say 'Downloading' or 'Updating' and hold there for a few seconds or even minutes, it will then resume at a % rate. Should this not resume, just close Steam fully (Using the system tray icon) and restart it, you should get a download counter.
We have yet to have any problem with Steam attempting to install from the internet when you have a disk install, but to be safe you can try a combination of the following:-
i. Try installing without Steam or Empire installed (Be sure to delete any local content you've already downloaded). This will install Steam, update the client and install Empire fully using the DVDs.
ii. Install the Steam client seperately beforehand, then install Empire. Again this seems to have helped other users on occasion.
I'd like to stress that we have tens of thousands of registered Steam users at this point, of which less than 1% are reporting problems. I appreciate this does not make it any easier for those experiencing issues and rest assured we'll continue to try and reproduce any problem we hear about so we can create a fix for you. As it stands the vast majority of users are having no problem at all when installing / activating.
Steam is installing from the net not Disk why?
This issue is caused when Steam tries to download your game after adding it to your game list, instead of installing from the drive. If this happens please follow these steps:
i. Cancel the download.
ii. Remove the Empire DVD from the drive.
iii. Replace the Empire DVD and choose 'Reinstall Empire:TW'.
This should then install the game fine from the DVD, asking for Disc 2 during installation is an indication this is working correctly.
No Steam codes for some North American stores?
This looks to be a regional distribution issue. The code for your game is on the back of your manual at the bottom. If you have the Special Forces edition there is a unit activation code in there too, this is a one page slip that's on the inside cover of the right side of the case. This is NOT your activation code. If the back of your game manual has no code then it's a case of taking the game back to your retailer and getting another copy with a printed manual. This appears to be a localised problem with certain States in the US, again we're talking to SEGA to sort this out as soon as possible.
Where are my Special Forces Units?
When you install the Special Forces Edition from Steam itself, (as in pre-ordered and downloaded) the units are already active. You just have to have the required regions, factions or technology to use them.
When can I get Empire in Canada?
We've spoken to the Canadian distribution arm this evening and have been told that 'We will have full distribution by tomorrow (Thursday), Friday afternoon at the latest'. The problem in Canada appears to have been caused by manual localisation issues.
Why do I have to be online all the time to play Empire?
This is a common misconception that reappears around the internet. You only need Steam active and online to authenticate your copy at install and download the first update. After that you can switch Steam to 'offline' mode and play Empire without being connected to the internet. You never have to update again if you dont want to, but I'd urge users to keep getting the latest additions and fixes if they are able.
Nvidia Graphics Issues:
A few people have reported problems with some Nvidia graphics cards when playing Empire. The latest Nvidia drivers, that is those released yesterday (Approximately) have not been fully tested with Empire, meaning we cannot guarantee their stability. We test as fully as we can but when drivers are released so close to our release date, there's simply no way we can put them fully through their paces before you guys get the game. Rolling back to older drivers seems to solve the issue in most cases, I can say we've tested driver version 7.15.0011.8206 on a huge range on Nvidia cards and had no significant problems. But we're still working to see if there's anything we can do.
As well as the driver work arounds one of our graphics gurus here recommends turning off volumetric effects for the time being, in case that's whats going wrong with the drivers. It might also be helpful to step through the other options too 'SSAO', VSync etc.
Trade Route Problems
We've become aware of an occasional problem with the trade route system when shipping goods with some factions to some cities. This is being addressed currently and will be fixed shortly. Which brings me neatly to my final point...
Direct2Drive codes are not working why?
There was an issue with people receiving Special Forces unit activation codes in place of Empire activation codes, this has since been solved by D2D emailing all their buyers with correct codes. If you have not received anything from them and are experiencing this issue, please contact thier support team.
i. Please check your internet connection is on and active.
ii. Check that you can connect to other websites and possibly Steam (Without Empire installer running) with your connection.
iii. If your internet connection is enabled but you cannot connect to Steam (Without the Empire installer running) check any firewalls you have allow Steam access.
iv. If your internet works and you can connect to Steam but Empire is not working then it may be the servers are just too busy or that you're having a separate issue
If it's point 4 that is what we're still investigating.
Support and Patches:
We fully intend to support Empire consistently post-release. We're very appreciative to everyone thats bought the title and you deserve our continued support as a result. Therefore I can confirm that we are currently working on a patch that will be automatically rolled out via Steam, sometime next week.
This patch will address the gameplay issue above, fix a few stability problems and improve upon Empire's general performance.
There is a patch schedule that means regular patches will be appearing after this point. To that end, if you have any problems gameplay or otherwise please report them in a thread on the technical section of the forum giving your dxdiag information and as much constructive feedback as possible. We want to make Empire the best Total War experience to date and with your help we can continue to do that.
Again, my thanks for all your continued efforts and indeed those of you who have taken the time out of playing Empire
to come on and support the team and thank us. It's genuinely welcome here. For those of you having bugs or other issues, including Steam, we are working
very hard to resolve any outstanding problems with Empire's release. CA is committed to supporting this game and justifying the money you've spent.
You are not just 'customers', as far as we're concerned you're all fans, and we intend to do our best on your behalf.
We have spoken to Valve and a bug in the Steam client appears to be causing this issue. This is being fixed right now. Valve report that this should fix this problem for the vast majority of users, we are talking to them about this every hour at least and pushing it as hard as possible. Vavle have been extreemely helpful on this and are working on it as a top priority.
I'd like to stress that the number of people experiencing issues in relation to the number who have successfully bought and played Empire is genuinly small. This makes the problems no less important in our eyes, we are still treating this problem as if it is applicable to all.
UPDATE - 6/3/09 1207 GMT : SEGA Knowledgebase Updated
SEGA has updated their Support knowledgebase for Empire: Total War with solutions to a variety of common issues.
UPDATE - 6/3/09 1612 GMT : Steam Issues
We are in a constant dialogue with Valve and they are working towards providing fixes for some of these issues very shortly. We will keep you updated of their progress.
UPDATE - 13/3/09 1109 GMT : fixes update
The campaign AI team are fixing invasions and other issues. The battle team is fixing fort pathfinding and naval avoidance and boarding etc. The sound team are fixing sound issues and the graphics team are fixing display issues. We've fixed the video problems.