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Yann
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  SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 15:14
Dear Small World 2 players,

We will now focus on some of the gory details concerning Turn Game Clock time-out, Karma and Ranking. Although this might be less exciting than nice-looking screenshots, we want to make sure the hard-core players among you get a chance to understand how these systems will work before we finish implementing them. Together, these elements should help foster a friendly competition within the community and motivate some to organize tournaments. We saw this with Ticket to Ride Online, and we'd like to make this even more successful with Small World 2.

The Basic Question

The basic question is: "what happens to the status of a Game, and to players' Karma and Ranking in abnormal situations?"

Abnormal Situations

What we call "abnormal situations" are situations when the game is not running smoothly because:

  • A player willingly left the game although he was not supposed to - for example by exiting a Single Session game or voluntarily withdrawing from a Turn-Based game.
  • A player accidentally left the game although he was not supposed to - for example due a temporary loss of Internet connection during a Single Session game.
  • A player ran out of time (his Turn Game Clock reached 0) during a Single Session or Turn-Based game.
  • ALL players left or withdrew from a game before its completion.

Karma

Karma is a way to measure and display the "good behavior" of players. Karma is intended to encourage people to play a game to its end, even though they might lose it. Experience with Ticket to Ride shows that even though it is not perfect, Karma does have a positive tendency to reduce "rage quit" behaviors.

There is one serious technical issue, though: there is no reliable way to distinguish between someone leaving a game on purpose and someone temporarily losing his/her Internet connection during a real-time game (like a Single Session games). So there needs to be a system that cancels a Karma penalty if the player resumes a disconnected game (just like we do in Ticket to Ride Online).

Ranking

The ELO Ranking is well-known and we won't discuss its plusses and minuses here. Let's simply recall that you play a game that is ranked, losing this game means losing some Rank Score points (32 at the very maximum).

Some events will cause the automatic loss of a player, regardless of his/her final score in the game. This typically happens when a player runs out of time on his Turn Game Clock or when he quits a game mid-way.

Cases Table

The following table summarizes all the cases the system may face, and the outcome for the player:

http://s3-assets.daysofwonder.com/www/SW25_5-cases.png


We look forward to your comments!

The Days of Wonder dev team
      
AngryMarine
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 16:45
Hi, Yann!
Thank you for keeping us informed about the good changes that are going to happen in Small World Online!
I have a question. If I play a Single Session game and lose my internet connection (or the game crashes which happens much more often), will I be replaced by a bot immediately (the way it works in TtR Online), or am I going to be given a minute to rejoin the match before the bot takes over?
I am asking it, because in Small World every turn is very important, and I really think that if the game crushes and a player is replaced by a bot immediately, in most cases there is no chance to win such a game. The only reasons to rejoin it are to be nice to your opponents and not to lose Karma.

[Updated on: Thu, 06 March 2014 19:28]

      
Yann
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 17:03
This is a good question. The time it takes for the server to realize that there is no one at the other end of the Internet can be quite variable - and sometimes quite long.

So you could be able to resume the game without seeing the bot take over. Assuming it was your turn to play, of course.

This will have to be validated during testing. We might have to add some kind of "grace period", but it could be tricky to implement.

We'll think about it, thanks for this comment.

Yann

[Updated on: Thu, 06 March 2014 17:05]

      
AngryMarine
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 17:08
Thank you for the quick reply, Yann!
It usually takes 20-30 seconds to rejoin, so if the servers are slow enough it is good Smile
      
Siltaria
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 22:24
Thank you very much for these design notes. I can't wait to see these improvements implemented.

Some comments:

- Are you not allowed to leave Single Session games (when playing on tablets)? That seems a bit strict. I would prefer that it was a timer (for example 30 to 60 seconds) for how long you could be away from the game when it is your turn before being replaced by a bot.

Is this how Ticket to Ride on iPad works? I only tried that once, and was very disappointed with that experience. I like both live games and asynchronous games, but I don't like being forced to stare at the screen the whole time while waiting for someone to finish their turn. I hope Ticket to Ride will be the next game to get an upgrade (and that we'll get an iPad version of Memoir '44).

- What happens if someone decline an invitation? Will it be possible to invite someone else instead, or start the game with fewer players?

EDIT: I missed the following sentence in update #4: "The game will really start only after everyone accept the invitation. If one player declines the invitation, the game is killed."

- The default start player should be random. Only in special cases would you want to select the start player (if you for example runs a local tournament).

- Automatic Redeployment should be active by default for Single Session games.

EDIT: I meant the opposite, it should of course be off by default.

[Updated on: Thu, 13 March 2014 19:07]

      
AngryMarine
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 22:48
Quote:

- Are you not allowed to leave Single Session games (when playing on tablets)? That seems a bit strict. I would prefer that it was a timer (for example 30 to 60 seconds) for how long you could be away from the game when it is your turn before being replaced by a bot.

Single Session games are meant to be played without leaving, Days of Wonder provide this option for those players who like to give their full attention to the game and their opponents and receive the opponents' full attention in return. In your case asynchronous games with a small time limit would be more preferable and, in fact, fully satisfy your needs.
Reading such comments I understand that rasmussen81 was right saying that only small time limit should be allowed in Single Session games.

Quote:

- What happens if someone decline an invitation? Will it be possible to invite someone else instead, or start the game with fewer players?

- The default start player should be random. Only in special cases would you want to select the start player (if you for example runs a local tournament).

I really suggest that you should read attentively the previous Design Notes. All the answers are there!

Quote:

- Automatic Redeployment should be active by default for Single Session games.

On the contrary! Automatic redeployment in Single Session games is nonsense!

[Updated on: Thu, 06 March 2014 22:55]

      
DAC cazaron
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 06 March 2014 23:41
Best update notes so far, without a doubt. Great news for the multiplayer arena.

Thanks Yann, you and your team (you do have a team, right?) work really hard, and we appreciate it here. Thank you.
      
Siltaria
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Fri, 07 March 2014 04:16
AngryMarine wrote on Thu, 06 March 2014 22:48

On the contrary! Automatic redeployment in Single Session games is nonsense!


I completely agree! I wrote the opposite of what I meant. Automatic Redeployment should be off by default for Single Sessions. It makes no sense when you play a live game that the AI performs the redeployment for you.
      
Siltaria
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Re:SW 2.5 (the software) - Design Notes #5: bots take-over, ranking, and corner cases Thu, 13 March 2014 19:23
I still think there should be a time limit before being replaced by a bot. Let's say I'm playing a 5-player game, and have just finished my turn, and I click on the home button on my iPad to change music, should I then be immediately kicked out?

I think not, but even if you're of the opinion that you should not be allowed to take your eyes of the screen while playing a single session, there might still be legitimate reasons like program crash or losing internet connection.

So instead of:

"if you - or another player - leaves the game, that person will be immediately replaced by a robot that will take over for that now-missing person "

I would suggest that if a player is missing when his or her turn starts, that person will have a small time, say 1 minute to reconnect, before being replaced.

Why?

a) Accidents do happen
b) Replacing a person with a robot should be a last resort
c) This short waiting time will be saved on future turns if a bot do take over
      
    
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