When customer service breaks down.
By Thom McGrath on
Sometimes customer service just doesn't work. What follows is a postmortem of my most insane exchange to date. For the sake of privacy, I have renamed this person Horlph. I'll admit my responses are not the most civil, but I don't feel unwarranted either.
Horlph: Your Beacon App keeps throwing the coding in the wrong spots, and everytime I use your beacon app, it causes rollbacks on my servers. This has been tested, and confirmed on my admin shop page after spending about a total of 40 hours (3-5 hours a day for over a week) and it's throwing some of the coding in the game.ini into the gameusersettings.ini
There's not a whole lot of actionable information here, which is not uncommon for the first email of a new ticket. There are some context clues here, such as the "some of the coding in the game.ini into the gameusersettings.ini" that sounds exactly like a strange behavior Ark has on consoles in certain situations. It's also worth noting that it is impossible for config file changes to cause a server rollback, so I just roll right past that.
Myself: No, that’s not Beacon. I don’t know what it is, but it’s definitely not Beacon doing that. If you press the Export button you’ll see the ini files that get generated, and those lines under that TestGameMode header are not there. That header isn’t even in Beacon’s code at all.
If you want to try it yourself, use the Export button and follow the instructions at https://beaconapp.cc/help/updating_your_server_manually to have Beacon update your ini file. This runs the exact same code that the Deploy button does.
It’s definitely Ark moving those lines, but I still haven’t figured out why. I suspect it is something to do with language settings, but I haven’t been able to prove it.
This person went from zero to insane instantly. I'm going to break up the reply in a couple spots to add some comments. The body is otherwise unchanged.
Horlph: Listen, I don't care what it shows in the Custom Config Files, that's just the face of what's being done behind the curtain before it actually happens, and test never run like the real thing. Every time I use beacon, my servers get set back, not so much lately, maybe one or 2 of them now. Not at restart, not randomly during the day, and actually, once I remove the Beacon Placed lines in the Game.ini and GameUserSettings.ini, which makes no sense why that's even in there, my servers have had a drop in CPU output as well I've noticed. Ark is Basic C++ there's nothing special about C++ A computer is as dumb as a dog. It only does what you tell it to. I've had multiple messages too when using Beacon telling me there was an error uploading it into the servers. I had Servers setting back daily for a few weeks one time, and after I stopped using Beacon for a few weeks, after fixing the lines of coding that I used in beacon, via the breeding multipliers, and decided to wait until the next update to even touch it again, my servers had NO issues what so ever, and when I look in my GameUserSettings.ini file, and there's not 1, but 2 "ItemStackSizeMultiplier" lines of coding in the same file, and I manually type out the coding in the custom config files to add the Auto Unlock Engrams to my servers, and groom over them EACH 5 times over, and then I wake up the next day, and almost all of my servers aren't unlocking those codes, and I look into it and i'm like "What the fuck is this horseshit" and see OLD broken codes that shouldn't have been broken in the first place. It's not hard to write out a line and look at the example of that same code in the Nitrado interface, when I DIDN'T use Nitrado to write those out, I wrote them out on Beacon and checked them multiple times, only to find them missing the ----> "(,_) <---- it's not hard to come to the conclusion that parts of the coding aren't being put into the files, and being duplicated for no reason, and even finding a whole set of coding that has nothing to do with GameUserSettings.ini "EngramIndex(41),EngramHidden=True) <---- whatever this shit is,
This right here is the only clue in the message. That's the tail-end of a OverrideEngramEntries command, which is a feature Beacon does not yet support. Even when it does, Beacon will use OverrideNamedEngramEntries instead. What I notice is it starts with a quotation mark and has no comma. It's obvious this person has a syntax error in one of their config files. Beacon is parsing everything inside the misplaced quotation marks as a single string. Unfortunately, this person never gives me the information I would need to help them find it.
(Not the exact line. I deleted it about a month back) AFTER using Beacon, that points at you. You can choose to ignore it, but everytime I use Beacon my servers tank, and I have to go into Nitrado's Interface, and fix it manually. Not to mention the last time I mentioned to you about my saved files not showing up, you said they where there. I had to LOG OUT, and LOG BACK IN to beacon for them to show up again. The FIRST time I ever used beacon (Which by the way I was playing with ark settings for 6 months just for fun before using Beacon, so i know what goes where, and how it works. I LOST almost 4 months of progress in one night within the first week of using beacon. LUCKILY I hand wrote everything down so I could brainstorm while I had free time at home or at work on paper before changing it in Nitrado. At the time, I wasn't sure where it came from at the time, but these problems only surfaced after using beacon. Now, I've had issues with Nitrado too, usually with crash stack files that happen because of broken coding after using beacon, and every time they update their servers, which is pretty much every computer ever nowadays, but the coding being placed in the wrong files AFTER using beacon, but I can do it manually with no problems, there's a problem there. I'm not gonna tell you how to do your job, but i'm taking coding classes learning Python, C++, Linux, etc. etc. I can look at the files and see what's going on. The Reaper spawn issue, yeah, that's Nitrado. The OSD drops recently, and Invisible Wyverns, that's Nitrado, but the issues i'm having are basic Engine Setting uploading related, which means it's an input/output issue between servers. If I can do it manually, Beacon should be able to do it automatically. I'm sure you've got all the coding in there, but it's not uploading properly, and is causing issues when using it. Take from that what you will. I've been using Beacon for 3 months now. I got it figured out. Not it's internal properties, but it's pretty simple. People baffle me sometimes when they ask how to use it, it's that simple compared to when I was doing this shit manually, learning it on my own through trial and error for 6 months, working on it for 6-8 hours a day, and that's just when I was at home. I'd speed through my job, and get my work done half way through the day in a 12 hour shift, leaving me an extra 6 hours to work on it, and my boss let me, and I work 3 12's a week. I really don't care what it is, just thought i'd let you know, cuz I'm tired of waking up at 5 in the morning to crash stacks built up from broken coding that got uploaded with missing parts every time I do an update through Beacon. If I want to update something small, I don't even use beacon anymore cuz it's not worth it.
In any normal exchange, this is where I'd ask for the user's Game.ini, GameUserSettings.ini, and Beacon files so that I could help them track down the problem. However, all this chest-thumping is just not worth it. This person is simply not worth dealing with, so I decide to cut my losses and refund his six month old purchase.
Oh I also got this additional reply before I could make my own, as if I don't know what I'm doing after a few years of this:
Horlph: I can also tell you this, Ark has coding in the GameUserSettings.ini that work hand in hand with the Game.ini coding. So those aren't 2 different things, they're linked, and the coding is getting tossed over only when I use beacon.
I don't know his point, but I know Beacon's rewriter engine works on exactly one file. Each of the two files are updated with their own engine. It's impossible for settings to cross files.
Myself: Ok it sounds like you’ve got it all figured out and just shouldn’t be using Beacon. There’s absolutely no chance you have a syntax error in your files that would mess up a parser. It absolutely must be Beacon’s code because the other 40k users must not notice.
I’ve issued you a refund and encourage you to just stop using Beacon.
Horlph: Yeah, ok smartass. Or just look in your system for this potential error, and tbr the other 40K users are regular Joe's from a 1980's time period with no prior training in coding. I didn't ask for a refund, I told you my experience. Get over it.
Sure thing. It's obvious this person thinks the issue happens for everybody and all I need to do is run the code.
Horlph: Also, when you post updates about issues with parsing files, it defeats your case.
Not really sure what this means, but... bugs do happen. I guess the logic is because I have fixed bugs in the parser in the past, this is automatically a bug in the parser now?
Myself: No you didn't ask for a refund, but I don't want you as a customer. Have a nice day.
Horlph: Also, I look at my coding 5-10 times a week and compare and test on one of the servers. Hbu? Cuz last update. Nice even in your last update you guys posted about working on a crash when importing..... Think about that. Just cuz it's happening on windows doesn't mean it's not happening on PS4 with a bunch of people who just quit cuz of the stress from having to fix your mistakes over and over and doesn't realize where it's coming from. I've also posted on a fb page asking about this error, and a few have replied saying they have had this error. They just don't know how to get ahold of you guys and assume it's nitrado even though none of the server owners realized they had so many issues only after beacon come along. I'm not saying your beacon is trash, I'm just telling you where the issues are. Get over yourself.
More chest-beating. I should have just not replied. Instead, this is where my responses break down.
Myself: See here’s the thing: you’re not telling me where the issues are. You’re just harassing me. You think you know everything because you... studied a little Python? I don’t know, my eyes glazed over trying to read that wall of punctuationless text.
I love finding and fixing issues with my programs because it makes them better. Your original email was light on details, so I had to make some assumptions. Based on your comment about content moving from Game.ini to GameUserSettings.ini, I assumed you were talking about the strange TestGameMode header that Ark adds to some servers.
Instead of responding with something like “no, I don’t think that’s it, here’s what’s going on.” You jump into a rambling fit about how you know everything and my software must be wrong. But again, provide no details to help me actually track your issue down.
Here we are back and forth again, and yet still no closer to exchanging any useful information. I’m happy to help, but your rude harassing tone is not something I want to deal with.
If you want to find your problem, open your ini files in a text editor with syntax coloring. Your syntax error - probably a missing quotation mark - should be more obvious that way. Normally I’d offer to do this for you, but I’m not interested.
Horlph: Keep the $5 bro, I understand. You don't like feedback.
Myself: You haven't given me any.
Horlph: Well didn't I? Or did you just ignore the problem and blame nitrado without considering looking into it, maybe even saying you will, or even consider it? I mean, when my player make a complaint, I at least look into it. You flat out denied it, which shows me the ego without a forethought. Thanks. Good luck.
This person mentions Nitrado a few times and I don't know why. I never once mentioned Nitrado. Anyway, I make one last plea to maybe get some actionable information from this person.
Myself: No you didn’t. You’ve made vague claims but have provided me with absolutely nothing I could use to actually track down the problem. No Beacon file, no ini files, not so much as a single line of code. What do you expect me to do? Read your mind? Given the lack of details in your first message, I made a guess based on what little information you gave me.
If it wasn’t for your rude know-it-all attitude in your second reply, that’s the kind of stuff I would have asked for.
If there is a problem with Beacon, I’d like to solve it. But you’ve given me nothing to work with. You’ve done nothing but harass me and be a dick and make me not want to work with you. So of course I’m going to respond in kind.
I’ve never had an exchange like this before. Normal people politely exchange ideas and information that help bring an issue to conclusion. You decided to go straight into harassing me about a problem you’ve given me zero evidence of. If you’re really studying anything about computer science, you should know the first step to fixing any bug is reproducing it. Because if you can’t reproduce it, you can’t confirm it’s been fixed.
So... where would you like to take this conversation next? Do you want to maybe get this figured out? Or would you rather just keep bothering me?
Here comes another wall of chest-beating.
I can't reproduce your bug without you monitoring it, and screwing over my players.. and you're right, I didn't give details, I gave you a whole history of my time with beacon for the past 5 months, and based on what I read in your updates, I experienced most all of the problems I read up on, and your know-it-all attitude when you said "No it's not bracon" tells me you weren't interested in even looking into it or working with me because you gave me an idea of what YOU think it is without asking me specifics or what/ when it happens, yet already had the answer for me, and I gave you an example of the pieces of the coding missing ("_) <---- this thing, and you suggested that it was Nitrado, and they're saying it's you. As for the coding experience, I'm learning the product criteria of what it is and how it functions. NOT how it breaks yet, I was aware of the reproducing the issue, that's why I said no to your tester basically showing the same thing I'm the config files, when I've got the real deal directly after uploading it into beacon and looking into the game.ini files, and "Oap, there it is again" because you being a coder should know that tests almost never run the same as it actually will on an open network. Your last update literally suggested you where looking into a parsing issue when importing, and your first thought was to disclaim my mention of this problem, and that arrogence encouraged me to tell you of my past using beacon, even when I hit you up last time and you said "I don't know what tf you're talking about" when I had to log in and out of beacon for it to fix itself, yet you're acting like I slapped your child over it after disregarding it and telling me to test it myself was cocky like you already know I'm wrong. Never even considered asking what issues I'm having. You practically acted as if you knew it was a syntax error like most clients have when messing with nitrado engines. Do NOT treat me like an idiot. I told you, after spending 40+ hours, I noticed it happened when I uploaded using beacon. Your immediate thought should have considered the fact that you're already having this issue on windows, and that maybe it was happening on PS4 as well. If you'd have tried communicating with me instead of trying to blow me off and telling me to test something myself as if I needed a demonstration after ALL the demonstration I already had was cocky, so I just laid my history with it on you. The fact that my history is consistent with your issues, and you told me all this shit about not wanting me as a customer after trying to let you know, and you blow me off, so I hit you with my truth/ experience with it and I never once, until now, seen the patch notes for everything, yet matched up with it almost entirely was like a reassurance of my time/ experience with beacon and now, pretty much why it's been acting the way it has. And for the reproducing the outcome, I can't do that without it breaking my servers again, and having to have nitrado reinstall a new HDD after reinstalling it and backing up the files to before using beacon, was not worth proving it to you, and you're the one with the master key to your files. I'm not fixing yours and Nitrados settings. Jay Cartere, who even makes YT videos for Ark coders, yeah, I fixed HIS coding even. Got proof of it in an email even. Maybe you just need to rent a little $10 slot yourself and figure this shit out so you see what I mean cuz I'm not gonna sit here and go round and round with someone who blew me off when I said beacon was having problems and went to pointing fingers at nitrado, like I really need to know that like I'm your mom or something, shows me your professional level of business. I just had a player call me every name in the book earlier cuz he broke a rule of team raiding and tried to finish when I said to abort the raid, and believe me when I say I didn't take it personal and just banned him for breaking my rules even after acting a child over his fuck up. You're how much older than me? Cuz I'm 25, and you arrogently treated me like an immature idiot after ignoring my plead with no follow up questions, and acted completely unprofessional. So, you give me no reason to believe you're interested in working with me, but instead just another customer telling you something you haven't already heard before telling them to look for themselves. Enjoy fixing your shit.
I would have guessed this kid was 12.
Myself: Ok, so since you refuse to help me, please leave me alone. I can’t say I didn’t try.
Horlph: Pffft. After calling names. Don't serve it up if you can't dish it out too. Bye
That's currently the end of it. I haven't replied because there is nothing to be gained.