As bargain hunting Xbox Windows Phone gamers are surely aware, the fairly new Carcassonne is part of Microsoft’s Black Friday week sale which ends today. Until now, we’ve had mixed feelings about Carcassonne due to its ridiculously grindy Achievements and broken online multiplayer. Thankfully, one of those issues is now fixed at last. Carcassonne’s online multiplayer now works!

Server of the damned

Carcassonne broken online

At launch, Carcassonne’s online multiplayer function was about 90% broken. As I explained in our review:

"…The game's server is absolutely terrible. I couldn't invite my friend for over 10 minutes because the game just wouldn't connect to Xbox Live, even though its leaderboard connected just fine. Once we finally started our game, we both got disconnected after a few minutes of playing. You can resume a created game without the other person being online and make a move, but again, you'll fight the loathsome server issues each time you try to resume."

In fact, on two separate occasions I joined a group of six players attempting to get the Achievement for winning a full online game. Both times we spent an hour trying to get everyone into the same room. At best, only 2-5 people were able to join the room, so we never got to play. Very frustrating!

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Battle of the developers

Surprisingly, it wasn’t a fan who took Carcassonne’s broken online mode the hardest. No, the developer of the iOS version of the game, The Coding Monkeys seems to have gotten the most bent out of shape over it. To be clear, the Windows Phone and Android versions come from Exozet Games. Both developers come from Germany, as does the original board game. By all accounts, the iOS version is superior to our port, featuring an original single-player mode and the ability to chat in-game - two aspects the Windows Phone game sadly lacks.

So what set The Coding Monkeys off? An errant tweet from Microsoft’s @WindowsPhone Twitter account. The tweet has since been deleted, but you can still find it cached online. A screenshot:

Carcassonne tweets

Alright, so the iOS dev doesn’t want people confusing the Windows Phone version for their work. They seem awfully angry though. The anger seems to stem from user complaints about our game’s broken online features. Just look:

Carcassonne tweets 2

Before long, Exozet caught wind of the mayhem and asked The Coding Monkeys to chill out:

Carcassonne tweets 3

Could there be a longstanding rivalry between the developers? It almost looks like one party is bullying the other. Would any of our German readers like to chime in on the iOS dev’s final comment toward Exozet?

Solving the technical issues

I feel for Exozet in this situation, because the broken online mode (not to mention the tweeting error) truly was not their fault. As the developer explained to us:

“During our tests and Microsoft's approval process prior to the release, the online service worked fine, of course. The problems seem to be a result of an issue with Microsoft's backend systems which is specific to the production servers.”

The problem was actually out of their hands. All they could do was sit tight and wait for Microsoft to fix it.

Thankfully, the big MS came through this time. They managed to fix the backend problem and restore Carcassonne’s online multiplayer to working order. Players don’t even need to download an update. You just start an online game and it works.

Even the ‘Quick Search’ matchmaking feature apparently functions better now. A reminder from Exozet: “One thing many players don't seem to know: You can have your own lobby by creating a custom match and entering ‘public’ in the fellow players field.”

I’m not crazy about the matchmaking feature because it requires all players to be online and looking for a game simultaneously. But hey, at least the feature’s speed has improved.

Time to build some cities

Carcassonne Windows Phone

Let’s not allow the server issues and drama of clashing developers to overshadow the good news here. The Xbox Windows Phone version of Carcassonne is an authentic adaptation of a very enjoyable board game. While the online mode could be better, at least it’s possible to play against other people now. If you’re looking for a quality board game to play on the go, don’t miss it.

Carcassonne costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Windows Phone Store.

QR: Carcassonne