Update (August 31): Sloclap's Pierre Tarno has responded to my questions, stating that "the main issue has been diagnosed" regarding server instability, and that a patch should go out next week. On a technical level, the issue "is actually routing packages between players through a relay at the matchmaking dispatcher level."
"The fix we are about to push will prevent that so that all packages are routed directly between players as they should, which will improve both lag, and server connection stability," says Tarno. "Other updates will be coming at the same time, or very shortly after, to further refine matchmaking. We will also remove region lock through the system of player invites, so you can play with a friend, even in another region."
"We are really sorry our first players have faced the issues; online games launches are often complicated, especially when you're a small indie studio, but still we wish we could have ironed out these issues sooner," continues Tarno. "We will have a very cool surprise gift for the community when the update comes out next week, to thank them for their patience—so stay tuned for more information!"
The original story from August 30 continues below.
Absolver has earned a spot on Steam's list of the top games by current player count, at the moment sitting just above Football Manager 2016 with over 10,000 players. Its all-time peak, according to Steam Charts, is 18,921 concurrent players—not too shabby for a new developer, and according to Devolver Digital's 'CFO' it's the publisher's biggest launch yet. (Though it bears noting that Fork Parker isn't a real person.)
The only problem is that Absolver's servers don't seem to be handling success so well. Last night, and again today, we've been unable to connect to Absolver's servers for significant periods of time. (You can play offline, though.) We've also experienced some lag and in one instance, an invisible player. To paraphrase my review: Absolver's got some serious bugs, but it's brilliant when it's working.
"We apologize for the rocky start, the team is working night and day to improve this," reads an update posted earlier today by developer Sloclap. "We have a couple of major fixes in the works, which should be deployed next week and should improve these issues. Thank you for your patience!"
Aside from generalized 'fixes,' Sloclap is planning to launch Oceanian servers on Friday and to remove the region lock next week (currently, players can only invite friends in the same region).
I've reached out with questions to try to better understand how much load the servers take on (player connections are peer-to-peer, according to a fact sheet about the game), what the source of their issues has been, and how the developers are going about stabilizing Absolver. I'll let you know what I hear. In the meantime, the servers are working again for me, so it's time to get back to punching.