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Carcassonne's online multiplayer makes a dramatic recovery

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!

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

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Finally
  • HEY!  Is that my Trophy!?!  Faithful phone on a pain in the backside carrier.  It's been tough to find a replacement.  Just refreshed the case.  The rate VZW is going with their new WP8 devices, it looks to be a few months until a worthy Trophy replacement hits their inventory!
    Glad to see the developers being aggressive and persistent.  Hopefully they can get the same out of Microsoft.  Lots of $$$ to be made on the WP platform.
  • He just said "I need to do your support because your not able to get your communication straight. This is of course YOUR issue."
  • Ouch... So harsh on that dev's part. Thanks for translating for us, man!
  • Sorry, off topic, tried to post to article regarding black Monday sale but wouldn't let me, question, if I order something today that is out of stock will I still get the discount when it ships? Again sorry for off topic comment
  • Are you asking about something from our store or somewhere else?
  • The wpcentral store of course :)
  • Gotcha. Yes, the discounted price will be honored on orders placed today, even if the order ships later. Always a good idea to save the email receipt just in case, but I wouldn't worry. Thanks for your support! :)
  • Thanks Paul that's good to know, and thank you for the response
  • According to Bing translate, the german tweet says:   I must make here your support because you don't receive your communication. of course, this is your problem.   I must make here your support because you don't receive your communication. of course, this is your problem.  
  • Ah Twitter, giving a voice to voice-less AND to people who would be better off shutting the fuck up. Bad enough people over react to every little thing now they get to do it at the speed of light...
  • Is anyone else finding that Carcassonnes causes their Lumia 920 to COOK? It doesn't strike me as a processor intensive app, yet after 10 minutes or so it becomes hot to touch. I've heard others mention that this was happening with other apps that were originally desigined for WP 7.
  • Yep, also drains battery like mad. Not sure why as other much more graphics intense app do not.
  • ah, the ios game developers who think they are all high and mighty.
    definitely like exozet's rendition of carcassonne. hope to see more people on after this sale to get a game going.
    would be nicer if it didn't require that everyone be online and searching at the same time, but I can see how if they just randomly paired anyone who had the game together (up to 6 people!) and if one person isn't active, that mp game is effectively going to never end.
  • Its definitely awesome when you can still get the awesome sale price ! =P
  • Damn, the @CarcassoneApp devs sounded pissed off from the get-go.  I understand the frustration of being accused of releasing a broken when it's not true, but I think they could have handled it a little bit more politely.
  • I tried this on 11/28 and when I do Quick Match or Play Online I get an error "Sorry! Access to this service is denied. Please check your privacy settings and try again."  I looked at my XBox live privacy settings and I don't see anything too restrictive.  Is anyone else having this problem?
  • I'm late to the game and didn't get t his game till a few weeks ago. I had occasional connection problems. usually it said something about not being able to connect to Xbox Live, but all day today for the first time I'm getting the error message above that you were getting. But, it's not just Carcassonne that is down. I cannot connect to any of my Xbox Live games on Windows Phone.
  • And here we are a month later and online multiplayer is still sporadically generating server errors.  And the piss-poor design of the initial multiplayer synchronization is still there.
  • Another 'bug' that affects my enjoyment of the game is the green checkmark button for placing followers. First you place a tile, click the green check mark, then you have the option to place a follower on it, then click the green check mark again and your turn is over. In practice, though, about 20% of the time I'll place a tile, tap the green check mark to then place a follower, but it will double tap, meaning that it will end my turn before I can place a follower. I've lost a few games because of this, not being able to put a follower in a city or a cloister.
    That said, I still love this game and wish more people would play online now that the servers are mostly working.