Tuesday, October 22, 2013

server updated - resync, new avatars, robot gameplay in Euchre

This morning, I applied some updates to the server. These are the changes:

1. Resync

The first change gives players some feedback when a "resync" occurs. What's a resync? It has to do with the hourglass that you may see if you take too long to play a card.

When playing with other people at a real table, if you make people wait too long, someone will give you a nudge or make a comment. But on the internet, there's no way for other players to do this. For a game site with multiple players interacting, there has to be some way to deal with this.

To impose a level of fairness on everyone at the table, there's a timeout period. If you take too long to play, the hourglass shows up. When the hourglass runs down, the server picks a card for you to play, and sends a message to your computer to play it.

Since internet connections are sometimes slow, it may happen that you will play a card while the server is sending a message for you to play the card that it picked for you! In this case, the server has to overrule your picked card. It maintains the integrity of the table for all players; otherwise, there would be chaos. So if the server sees that it overruled you, it sends a "resync" message to your browser - telling it to redraw the cards on the table so that they correctly display the state of the game as it is managed by the server.

Up until now, there was no way for a player to know when their picked card had been overruled by the server. They might see some cards jumping around, and be confused about what happened. Now, you will see a reddish-pink message in the lower right corner to let you know what happened. This is shown in the screenshot below:

The message says "Your view of the table is out of sync with the server and is being reset." That's shorthand for the detailed explanation given above!

2. Improved robot gameplay in Euchre

I've had some complaints that robots are not leading with the right bower in Euchre. This is generally considered to be a good strategy, and I've modified the robot code so that they now do this.

I'll be working on more improvements to robot gameplay in Euchre and other games over the upcoming weeks.

3. New avatars!

There are nine new avatars available!  Since Halloween will soon be upon us, I've added five Jack O' Lanterns for players who want to celebrate the day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

bug fix - memory leak

This morning, I updated World of Card Games with a change that many people won't notice. But others may see a big difference!

The site had a bug - it consumed computer resources, but did not release them when it was done with them. In technical terms, it had a "memory leak." It was only noticeable on certain computer systems. Over the last week, I was able to isolate the problem and solve it. My tests indicate that it's now gone.

I've had reports from some players who say that the site "freezes" when they're playing - it sounds very frustrating. I suspect that their problem was caused by this memory leak. I hope this new change fixes it!

If you have more problems with "freezing" - please let me know.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

new feature - kick player

Today the site was updated with a new feature which allows players to kick another player out of the game.

Why is this needed? Occasionally, players have been frustrated by another player for various reasons: mainly because they're being rude or abusive, or at times because they appear to have left the game (and the computer is playing for them).

In these cases, it would be pleasant to have a way to boot such an antisocial player from the game, and hope that someone better joins the table.

That's what the "kick player" feature is about. If a majority of players vote to kick a player off the table, that player gets ejected! So if there are two human players at a table, a single vote will cause the player to be kicked. If there are three or four players, it takes two votes.

Voting to kick a player has a side effect. The player that you voted to kick is added to your list of "disliked players." The site will never seat you with these players again. If you wish to "undo" the effect of kicking a player, it's simple. Click on your user name in the upper right corner, and scroll down to the "Manage Dislikes" area. There, you'll see a list of all the players that you've kicked. Just click the "(remove)" link next to the player's name, and the system will forget that you ever disliked this player, so you may be seated with them in the future.

kick player feature

The screenshot above shows how it works. Guest #81 at the bottom hovered the cursor over the cogwheel graphic next to Guest #2. This causes a tool tip to be displayed which says "kick player?" Next, Guest #81 clicked on the cogwheel, causing a button to appear in the lower left corner, just above the chat button, labeled with "Kick Guest #2". When this button is clicked, it is registered as a vote to kick the player from the game. In a two-player game, the player is immediately ejected.

Again, if you kicked someone by mistake, and want to undo this action, go to the "Manage Dislikes" area of your profile and click the "(remove)" link. See the screenshot below:

manage dislikes

To get to this area, click on your user name, which opens your settings panel. Below that you will see the "Manage Dislikes" area, with a list of players that you've voted to kick. Any players you want to "forgive" can be removed from the list here. You may have to use a scrollbar to view your "Manage Dislikes" area, depending on how many options show up in the profile area.

Let me know how you feel about this new feature in the comments. I hope it helps in the rare cases when it's necessary.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

new feature - no robots

I've gotten a number of complaints about the robot players at World of Card Games. For various reasons, some people would simply prefer to play at a table where robots are forbidden. (If you're a Star Wars fan, you'll get my reference when I say this reminds me of the Mos Eisley Cantina.)

Now there's a new option which will make such players happy! To use it, click on the "Options" button for your card game. The "Options" button is found in the lower left corner of each gold frame which surrounds the name of your card game. When you click it, you'll find that there's a new option called "Bots" (shorthand for "robots"). If you click the "No" radio button, you will be seated at a table where robots cannot be invited.

Keep in mind that there's a drawback to this option. It may take longer for your table to be filled with players, since some other players may have chosen "Yes," and you will never be seated at their table, even if it has openings.

The most flexible option to choose is "Either" - this seats you at any type of table (with regards to robots). This is the default option.

Aside from this new feature, there are a few minor changes.

There were some bugs related to "Going Alone" in Euchre which have now been fixed.

There are also a few new avatars, with an emphasis on marsupials, in a salute to our Australian friends!

PS - a little problem occurred during the update this afternoon which caused some players to be unable to log in. This has been fixed. Please let me know if you experience any new issues after the latest update.

Friday, August 16, 2013

more down time

Sorry to report that the site was down for a while today. Apparently some people were having trouble connecting, while others were not. I haven't been able to figure this one out yet. I'll keep looking into it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

site is down, "uplink fiber has been cut"

World of Card Games has been down for a couple of hours now. All I know is the following message which I got from my host: "The uplink fiber has been cut, they are working on splicing it back together now, I'm sorry but we do not have an ETA."

I'm sorry, not anything I can do about this! I'll post here when the site is back up.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

server down for minor updates

I deployed some changes to the server this morning, so the site was down for a short period of time.

The changes are relatively minor. Probably the most noticeable thing is a new 'game info' link at your card table. When you click on it, it displays the total number of players at the site who are also playing your card game. For example, if you're sitting at a Hearts table, it will display the total number of players on the website playing Hearts - this is shown circled in green in the image below.

A couple of players have pointed out to me that in Euchre, the robots will sometimes discard a trump card needlessly. For example, if you'd already won a trick by playing the Jack of the trump suit, your robot partner might discard a low card of the trump suit, even when it had non-trump cards it could discard. This has been fixed.

The changes made today were small. I'm also working on larger changes which require more time to make. But I try to fix small bugs as they come up, if possible, and deploy them when ready.