Monday, January 13, 2014

oops! "replace robots" feature has been pulled back

After I applied the changes for the "replace robots" feature this morning, the server ran smoothly for about 8 hours. But then something went wrong, and the site started to behave poorly. A big thank you to everyone who alerted me to the problem.

I wasn't able to figure out what went wrong immediately, so I just pulled back the changes and reverted to the previous version of the site. Sorry to have to do that, but it's the safest thing! I'll work on the new feature some more to see if I can figure out what went wrong.

Most of the responses I've had about the feature were positive. So I hope to get it back online soon.

new feature! - allow humans to replace robots

World of Card Games got an update this morning. A new, experimental feature was added: the ability to replace robots with humans. Please let me know what you think, or if you notice any problems due to this new feature. Below, I give you some details about how it works.

Suppose you come to the site and you're sitting around waiting for some people to play with. You'd like to start playing right away, and you could do that by inviting robots. But, let's face it, the robots don't play very well, so you can't have a normal game with them (sometimes humans don't play very well either, but let's not go there...). And once you invite bots, you are stuck with them for the entirety of the game!

That changes, as of today!

click on message box to use the new replace robots feature
When you sit at a table, you will now see an extra message in the lower right corner: "Click here to start game with robots. Humans may replace them later." When you click on that message box, robots will fill all empty seats at the table. Then when any people want to be seated at a table for that game, they will bump a robot. This way, you can start playing right away, and people will eventually replace the bots.

If you sit at a table and don't see the new "replace robots" message box, that would be because you've set your table options to disallow robots.

There's one other, new change that applies if you have specifically set your table options to "Private Table" with the table name "none" - as shown in the screenshot here:
When you choose your private table to be named "none" (this is the default), then no people will ever come to your table. It's intended to be used if you only want to play with robots - no one else will be seated at such a table.

Previously, if you had set up your options this way, it was up to you to invite three robots to the table. Now, your game will start automatically with robots once you sit down at the table. It's just a little more convenient.

Enjoy the new features! As always, feedback is welcome!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

why do players abandon games near the end?

davidly wrote in a comment to this blog,
"Not infrequently, a losing player will leave the game as late as during the last hand, the last trick of the last hand, or even before the screen registers their loss...
...this usually prompts a reaction in the chat regarding being a poor sport. But the registered opponents remain--I assume, so that they'll get the win. I have to wonder if they consider that waiting for the next player to happen along is just as unfair as the original player's having left the game in the first place: the remaining players are just as selfishly sticking the new person with an undeserved loss."
Interesting comment!

I don't understand people who leave a game when losing. Don't get me wrong; I don't like losing! But who wants to win all the time? What would be the challenge in that?

I'm a "completionist" - I want to see the game through to its completion. Maybe I'm a little OCD in this respect? I always figured that many others are the same way - the people sticking around at the end of a game just want to finish the darn game, no matter who wins or loses. It had not occurred to me that they are sticking around to score a win. But I'm not the only one waiting to accept my loss; I've noticed many others doing this. So I think there are a bunch of other completionists like me out there.

I'm surprised if it's true that people are willing to sit around waiting for some "sucker" to come in and finish the game, just so that they will get one more win added to their score. Maybe these are the same people who leave early when they are losing?

World of Card Games does not yet have rankings, so your win/loss ratio is something only you will know about yourself - and if you refuse to accept losses, then you must know that your win ratio is high exactly because of your poor sportsmanship in leaving a game early! I find it peculiar that anyone would gloat over a score earned in this manner.

Failing to accept a loss in a simple game of cards strikes me as extremely childish. But you will run into people like this when you play on the internet. I've played in-person games with full-grown adults who take losing very poorly as well, so it doesn't surprise me that people have even worse behavior online.

One of the main reasons I play is because I enjoy the combination of strategizing and socializing. Winning is fun, but I've enjoyed many games where I lose terribly. How about you?

Friday, January 10, 2014

popular table options

A few months ago, I started collecting statistics on the table options that people are using at World of Card Games. I thought it might be interesting to some people, so I'll share the results here.

In all of the games, the most popular table options are the default ones: robots allowed, do not require registered players, no private table setting. That may mean people don't realize that they can change them, or perhaps they don't want to be bothered. Here's the breakdown by game:
  • Hearts: 60% of tables have the default options.
  • Spades: 53% "
  • Euchre: 56% "
  • Go Fish: 94% "
The second most popular option is to use a private table with no table name (table name is set to "none") - this setting is used by players who want to play with robots only. Here's the breakdown for that:
  • Hearts: 29% of tables are private, for playing with robots only.
  • Spades: 19% "
  • Euchre: 22% "

The third most popular option is to forbid robots. Some people really dislike the robot players (I admit, they need improvement!). Here are the statistics for that category:
  • Hearts: 7% of tables forbid robots.
  • Spades: 11% "
  • Euchre: 17% "
Well there you go! Very few people have the "Registered Only" option set. That's interesting. If you set this option, only registered users will be allowed into your table. This may be useful if you want to recognize who you're playing with. Guest numbers change, so if you played with Guest #10 yesterday, they may be labelled as Guest #251 today.

server outage

Thanks to everyone who reported the problem with the site! The server is currently down. I've contacted my host, and they tell me they are working on the problem. I'll post with details as soon as I know more.

[Edit: the site is back up as of noon, EST. My host had some problems with their power supply, and then had some hardware issues. Ugh! Many others were affected as well.]

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

my first live, in-person hearts and spades games!

Last night, I met up with some folks for a few card games. This was the first time I ever played Spades or Hearts offline!

It turned out to be a lot of fun. It was a little disconcerting to play with real cards at first, but I found that my "training" from playing at World of Card Games had really paid off. After a bumpy start, I was soon using the same strategies that I've developed online.

dealing a round of Spades
I noticed a few crucial differences between card games on the website and those in real life.

For one, games take longer in meatspace! The dealer has to shuffle the deck and deal out cards, and players have to sort the cards in their hands. The score has to be totted up after each hand. All of that takes longer when the computer is not doing it for you.

In addition, games are more confusing and disorganized in real life! For example, in a game of Spades at World of Card Games, the computer tells you who deals. In real life, it's up to the players to keep track. After many hands of cards have been played, people tend to forget who dealt last. Was it you... or me... or...?? And in Hearts, the computer tells you whether it's time to pass cards left, right, or across, or whether it's a no-passing round. Not so in real life! I realized I've been relying on the computer to do these things, and I found I lost track easily.

Anyway... here's a brief summary of the games last night.

We started with a few hands of 3-player Hearts, since not everyone had arrived and we didn't have a full set of four players. Once we got four players, we switched to a game of Spades. I enjoy Hearts, but I prefer Spades, so I was happy to switch.

My partner and I failed to make our bid, and got set in the very first round - we would have to dig our way out of a negative score. Soon thereafter, we ran into some luck when one of our opponents (I'll call him West) bid nil, and their partner (East) failed to cover. After we set them, we learned that East had not had to cover a nil-bidder before, and didn't realize what she was doing by leading with a low card - so we got an unfair handicap there. At this point, our opponents were in a negative-score hole!

We managed to set our opponents 2 or 3 times, burying them. They never recovered, and we won!

Afterwards, we played another game of 3-player Hearts. By some kind of miracle, I won this game! (I almost never win at Hearts, online.) I snapped a shot of the scores as evidence, see below. For anyone who does not play Hearts - it's a game of trick avoidance, and the low score wins. Notice my opponents tied for second place, which is a bit unusual!

I'm looking forward to more games in real life. But it's nice to be able to sit down and play a game online when I've got the time - no commuting necessary!

How about you - do you play cards in "real life" or only online? If you've never played with others in real life - I encourage you to find a group to play with. It adds a whole new dimension of fun to it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

server updates this morning

The server was out for a few minutes this morning while it got a bug fix update.

Sometimes a blank table would appear when clicking into the Hearts game. This bug has been fixed. Please let me know if you see anything like this again!

Also, the robot strategy in Euchre has been tweaked. Previously, if a robot went alone, it had the habit of leading with a low trump card. That's a bad strategy, since the low card would be more likely to get trumped on the first round. This has been fixed.

Thanks to everyone for reporting bugs, and flaws in the robot strategy. There's still a lot of work to do, but improvements will come over time. Meantime, enjoy the games!