Dateline Jan. 8, 2003: Aspen Treasure Hunt Site Collapses During $10k Final Episode

March 28th, 2010

Even as I write, the Aspen Cologne website remains unavailable. This morning, at 10:00 A.M. ET, Aspen released the final episode of their treasure hunt where one lucky winner will receive a grand prize valued at $16,000.

[ Aspen Cologne], sponsor of the Aspen Treasure Hunt (see previous article) was unable to prevent the crippling collapse of their website (including the game console) during the final episode of the Aspen Treasure Hunt.

At stake are prizes totaling over $43,000. A representative from Madden Media acknowledged that several people have called in to report technical problems and referred me to the technical staff who have not yet returned my call.

The representative had no information about whether the outage would affect the award of prizes. According to the [ official rules], “If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by reason, for example but not limited to, of infection by computer virus, bugs, worms, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest and select the winners from entries received prior to the action taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsor.”

According to Carol Ann K., one of the players present for the final episode debacle, “This was a great game that would have been greater if the server could handle the load each week. Many found it frustrating that they could not even enter the game, or when they did many elements were missing. Bottom line: I think you are on to something here. Few will forget about Aspen Cologne.”

The symptoms of the failure were identical to a DDOS attack. Most pages on the website were unavailable for extended periods and the game console behaved erratically by locking up, losing player points and inventory, and presenting blank screens instead of the normal views. The entire website went completely offline at least once.

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