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The big selling point of online multiplayer role-playing games that they never end. Unlike a stand-alone, single-player RPG with a comparatively distinct path from start to finish, the adventure in online titles can go on indefinitely, thanks to periodically added extra content and the huge supply of new companions to go questing with.

But as appealing as a game that never has to end may be to hard-core gamers, many of them recently found out they were playing one that couldn’t, as the logout function mysteriously disappeared from one of Japan’s most popular online RPGs.

Last Sunday, shortly before midnight, video game company Sega noticed that some players were encountering problems keeping them from signing into the servers for Phantasy Star Online 2. In response, a message was sent out from the title’s official Twitter account, saying that the company was looking into the cause of the problem and would be correcting it shortly.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the gate, players already logged in to the game were having a different problem. At the bottom of the game’s display is a row of eight icons, with the one farthest on the right showing a picture of a door. Ordinarily, letting the cursor hover over the icon brings up Japanese text saying “log out,” but not last Sunday night.

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Instead, many gamers got a blank box. Clicking it didn’t seem to help, either, as even those who managed to bring up the logout menu were only given one option, modoru, or “cancel.”

▼ Which, when you think about it, means it wasn’t really an option at all.

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In more extreme cases, the entire logout icon disappeared from the display, leaving just seven symbols in the center row.

▼ The giant space chicken, though, is apparently a normal part of the Phantasy Star Online experience.

Still others had their logout icon transform into a pure white field, which we’re guessing was a visual glitch to go along with the functional one, and not a special “White Christmas” theme Sega is running for the month of December.

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Since the solution to the problem was for the affected gamers to keep playing games, none of them seem to have gotten too bent out of shape over the inconvenience, and Sega seems to have ironed everything out in about an hour or so. Still, online commenters were quick to point out the similarities to the plot of novel and anime series Sword Art Online, in which a group of gamers gets trapped in the world of a multiplayer RPG, where death in the game kills the player as well.

Thankfully, at the current time, no deaths have been reported in connection with Phantasy Star Online 2. Still, until we can be certain that real life hasn’t somehow been overlaid with the plot of Sword Art Online, we’d advise anyone who ran into the game’s logout error to brace themselves for a sudden shift in their lifestyle and possibly massive disappointment in eight to ten weeks, as per the timetable laid out in the anime TV series’ first season.

Sources: Jin, Hachima Kikou
Top image: 4 Gamer
Insert images: Twitter (1, 2) (edited by RocketNews24), Hachima Kikou