Can't Stop v1.03 Update

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I've released version 1.03 of Can't Stop. It's free to all registered owners. Here are the release notes:

  • FIXED If the current player leaves the game for any reason, the game will skip to the next player (so the game doesn't hang).
  • NEW There is a Help Card included in the box, which has some simplified rules to get new players started. You won't get the help card if you upgrade your game. If you want the new card you'll have to get a whole new box, by touching the Can't Stop vendor.
  • NEW There is a new audio and visual indicator on your HUD when it's your turn.
  • FIXED The yellow and orange playing pieces are easier to tell apart
  • NEW All scripts have been recompiled into Mono
  • FIXED The camera view when you sit down has been pulled back a bit
  • NEW There is a Get HUD button directly on the table, so you don't have to go through the Help menu to get a new HUD
  • FIXED The game would malfunction if you rotated it after rezzing.
  • NEW The game tells you your world ranking when you sit down.
Game owners can upgrade by ordering a new copy through their remote control ("/8 deliver game") or by visiting Procyon Games and touching the Can't Stop vendor there.

New Take it Easy Solo Challenge v2.14

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Someone found an exploit in the Take it Easy Solo Challenge.

For those of you not familiar with the game, Take it Easy comes in three flavors. All versions of the game have the players placing tiles on a hex game board, trying to align colors along three separate axes. The Solo Challenge version features a progressive jackpot. You get the same tiles each time you play, but every play costs you $50. The money all goes to a networked jackpot, and the person who first finds the best arrangement of tiles wins the jackpot.

Anyone can pick up a Solo version at my store for $10. Rez it on your land and let people play. If someone wins the jackpot while using your machine, you get a cut.

If you had a Solo Challenge rezzed on your land, you may notice that it has disappeared. Because of the exploit I've had to do an emergency update. Please come to my store to pick up a new, updated version (or just ask me and I'll give you one).

Golden Frootcake Competition

Do you think you're the best Frootcake player in the world?

The Frootcake Diner has been accepted into the Winterfest celebration. And we're having a contest to compete for the Golden Frootcake award. The contest is simple. It works like an ordinary Frootcake tournament. All during Winterfest, you can play as many games as you want at the Frootcake Diner. Every game you play will add points to your tournament score. The top scorers are displayed on the leader board at the diner. After Winterfest is over, the top 5 players will compete in one more game for the Golden Frootcake!

Frootcake v1.14 Update

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Special thanks to Valentine Janus who found a critical bug in Frootcake that affected everyone except me, and NonSmokerGirl Tulip who helped test the fix. Frootcake 1.13 had a very serious bug that would cause the game to stop spitting out cakes in the middle of a game, and generate script errors for every game after that. All owners should upgrade to 1.14, via the usual methods (you can get a new game with your remote or through a vendor).

Free Holiday Gift

Sunday, December 7, 2008

For a limited time, Procyon Games is offering this Puzzle Box as a free gift for the holidays.

Simply touch the rods to make them raise and lower. The object is to get all the rods to their top position.

It starts out simple, but gets progressively harder. There are seven levels of difficulty. Can you work through them all?

The box is available on the Freebies table at Procyon Games. While you're there, be sure to check out the new expansion I've done to the workshop. There's now a Gift Certificate vendor, and a video theater where you can watch all the Procyon Games videos.

Frootcake v1.13 Update

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's that time of year again... time for family gatherings, gifts -- and Frootcake! I've released version 1.13 of the game which fixes some bugs and adds a couple new features:

  • [Commercial License Only] The payment system has been updated to work more like the other Procyon games. You can toggle Free Play mode off and on, independently of what you have your Min Bet set to. The game will rez in Free Play mode, and will not ask you for Debit Permission until you turn off Free Play. The option to toggle free play is in the menu that pops down when you touch the game.
  • [Commercial License Only] When the game is in Free Play mode it is impossible to pay money into it.
  • The HUD does not spam new players with the release notes when they wear it
  • There is a new darker background on the HUD display to help you read the numbers there. (Players will have to get a new HUD from the game of course)
  • I've made a new Help Texture which emphasizes the HUDs and combines the 3 old screens into one. You can rez the included prim, or apply the texture to any of your own items.
  • Touching the jukebox doesn't pop down the menu any more.
  • The cakes now glow to indicate when they will stack.
  • The scoreboard has been redone to drastically reduce the number of prims (now 23 prims instead of 63)
I recommend all existing owners upgrade by getting a complete new box. You can pick up your new Frootcake by touching the vendor at Procyon Games.

Give the gift of fun

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are you wondering what to give that special someone in Second Life? Why not give the gift of fun? A game from Procyon will provide hours of entertainment, as well as give you more reasons to spend time together.

Do you know someone who grumps, "There's nothing to do in Second Life anymore"? Are your friends' inventories full of clothes they never wear? Imagine their surprise when they receive a complex, fully scripted game that will be fun to play with for years to come.

All Procyon games are now available as Gift Certificates. The Gift Certificate is transferable; simply give it to your recipient, and when they rez it it will register their license as well as send them a complete package. So which will it be? The award-winning Danger Zone? The ever-popular En Garde? Or our latest creation Can't Stop?

Visit the new Gift Certificate vendor at Procyon Games

En Garde v1.13 Update

Sunday, November 23, 2008

En Garde v1.13 is now available!

This version contains many fixes in many different parts of the game and support items. I recommend that you get a whole new box. Come to Procyon Games and touch the En Garde vendor there. It will give you a complete new setup. Derez your existing game and delete any En Garde items you have in your inventory, then rez your new copies.

New in this release:

  • MONO. All scripts have been recompiled in the new Mono runtime. This should not change how anything works, and I have done some testing and it all seems ok. But it is a big change "under the hood", and if you notice any new bugs please report them.
    The Mono recompilation should make everything faster, and it should eliminate the problem where the game and/or HUD would run out of memory (giving "Stack/ Heap collision error")

  • CARDS TEMPLATE. A texture is included in the box to help you make your own custom HUD display for the player cards.

  • The status display in the HUD has a darker background for easier visibility

  • To set your team name, you need to use your remote (the button has been moved off the game itself)

  • The remote control properly handles upper-case commands

  • Debit permission requests have changed. If you have a Commercial License, the game will now only ask you for Debit Permission when you take the game out of Free Play mode. You can turn Free Play on and off with a button on the game menu itself.

  • The Team Signup script now uses the team name in the dialog (it asks, "Do you want to join Rifkin's Rapiers" instead of "Do you want to join Rifkin Habsburg's team")

  • In certain rare circumstances, a round would continue even after the deck had run out of cards. This has been fixed.

Charge for Traffic

Saturday, November 22, 2008

There's a lot of talk these days about what to do with the bot problem. Estimates for how much of Second Life's population is made up of robot accounts range from 10-50%.

Broadly speaking, bots can be classified into two main groups. There's the "traffic bots," which are robots placed in a parcel by the parcel owner as a means to boost the traffic score for that parcel. A sub-variant of the traffic bots are the camping bots, which seek out camping chairs that have been placed to attract traffic by paying out miniscule amounts of money.

The other kind of bot is "everything else." These include models used for demonstrating clothing for sale, group bots that automate the group joining process, and scanners and such that enable data collection for people looking to monitor trends across the entire grid.

It's really only the traffic bots that upset people. Because the traffic bots are good for only one thing -- boosting traffic -- and the more of them you have, the better they are. Bots that actually perform some useful service, tend to stay out of your way while they go about their business. So when people say, "let's get rid of the bots," what they really mean is, they want to get rid of the traffic bots. If the traffic bots all went away, and the "other" bots stayed, I don't think anyone would be complaining. It's the traffic bots that consume resources, warp traffic figures, and confuse people when they make worthless spaces seem popular.

People have proposed many solutions for getting rid of bots. These include: forcing bots to identify themselves to the Linden Lab server, eliminating the free accounts bots use, and eliminating the concept of traffic altogether.

I have another solution. I think Linden Lab should charge for traffic.

Traffic is a measure of how many resources you, the land owner, are consuming. If I run a website, I'm generally charged for the bandwidth I consume. If I have a popular website that gets a lot of hits, it pulls more bandwidth and my provider charges me more, accordingly. So I think Linden Lab should charge people for traffic. It seems fair.

Of course, they'll have to lower tier to compensate. Let's say they cut everyone's tier in half, and then charge additional fees for traffic to compensate. For a small homeowner who doesn't get any traffic to his home parcel, his overall fees to Linden Lab would drop. In fact, I suspect most people's fees would drop.

The exception would be large clubs, and busy, successful stores. They would likely pay more per month than they are paying now. But supposedly those venues are making money, and can support higher fees.

There would be some uncertainty involved. The amount you pay Linden Lab would change each month depending on how busy you were. I don't think that's a huge obstacle. Most people keep a large enough cushion of money in their account.

The big losers would be bot farms. Anyone who is placing 40 bots over their parcel would see their traffic payments skyrocket. It would be like saying, "Here, Lindens, take my money." I think this would kill traffic bots faster than any other suggestion.

Congratulations to Can't Stop Winners

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Can't Stop Premiere Event was a great success. We had four tables running simultaneously, for two hours. And, it was my first time DJ'ing! Thanks to everyone who said I have a great voice. Everything ran pretty smoothly. The only real glitch was when I forgot to reset all the scoreboards at the same time, so only one board was showing the correct results. But that just gave me more chances to announce the running scores to everyone.
It was a very close event, with the lead changing off several times over the course of the event. In the end, our final winners were Aries Oh, Eoland Elvehjem, Ingeborg Apfelbaum, Samantha Poindexter, and Seth Troell. They each won their own Personal copy of the new game. Congratulations!

Can't Stop Goes On Sale This Saturday Nov 15

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Procyon Games is pleased to announce the arrival of its latest game: Can't Stop. Can't Stop is one of the most popular games designed by the great American game designer Sid Sackson. It works for 2-4 players and is loads of fun. Just try it once and soon you won't be able to stop! (ok, I couldn't resist one bad pun).

I've made a tutorial that explains the game and how to play it in Second Life.

So watch the video, learn to play, and come to the party! For an Opening Day Special you can purchase the game at half off! Normally L$1999 for a Personal Edition, on Grand Opening Day you can buy it for just $999 (Commercial Edition $1499).

There will be a tournament as well. The game uses a ranking system similar to my other games. The top five players of the day will each win their own free copy of the game!

Once again, the party starts Saturday November 15, 1PM SLT
Procyon Games

Network problems

Friday, October 24, 2008

There seems to be something very wrong with Linden Lab's network right now. Around 3:00PM PST today, calls from scripted objects via llHTTPRequest started silently failing some of the time. This means that En Garde scoreboards won't update, games won't get recorded, and in general things are a mess.

I've called support and filed a ticket and they say they have an engineer looking at it right now. The problem is easily reproducible. I'll file an update when I know more.

[UPDATE 7pm]: We have narrowed the problem down to DNS, which seems to be broken at Linden Lab. They are looking into it.

[UPDATE 7am Saturday]: Linden Lab claimed they fixed the problem, but it's still there.

[UPDATE 1:30pm Saturday]: Still no further response from the Lindens. This bug is responsible for games not registering, score boards not updating, and remote controls not functioning. It also causes some of my vendors not to deliver products.

I've added a Jira issue for this. If you own one of my products and are affected by this bug, please go to JIRA SVC-3318 and vote for the issue. (You will have to log in using your Second Life name and password; then a Vote link will appear in the left column)

[UPDATE 3PM Sunday]: I have no new word from the Lindens, but my tests seem to show that the problem has gone away. If you are still seeing this problem please let me know

Name troubles

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Linden Lab has done something today that killed the bot I use to upload name textures. So all my pretty scoreboards that show players' names in nice fonts in just one prim won't show any new player names. If you're already "in the system" your name will still be there ok. New players, however, will just show up blank until I can figure out how to fix this.

There is also a problem with Local Scores -- if a new player is on there, it kills the whole display (since they don't have a texture to show). I can maybe fix that so they're just blank and it doesn't kill the whole score display. Not sure how long that will take either.

[Update 10:58] I've fixed the bug so that blank names won't kill your Local Scores. No new players will show up in any scoreboard, though. Still working on that.

[Update Oct 3] It seems Linden Lab re-enabled bots, so I've turned the name upload back on. There are some new players who didn't get a name during this period. If your name isn't showing up, IM me and I can reset you.

[Update Oct 4] I spoke too soon. I'll work on this some more this weekend and see if I can get it going again. Hey Linden Lab, when can we get HTML on a Prim, hmm?

[Update Oct 5] Okay, giving this another try. Let me know if it's working... or not.

En Garde scoring adjustment

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm experimenting with an adjustment to the En Garde world ranking algorithm, so you may see more fluctuation in the World Champion scores today.

The problem I'm trying to fix is this. Your ranking is determined by an algorithm based on Google's PageRank. You get points for having winning records against other players. Or, to look at it from the other side, everyone else gets points for having a winning record against you. But what if nobody has a winning record against you? In the Google search ranking, this is equivalent to a web page that has no links to any other page. It's treated as a special case. It gives its points equally to every other page on the web.

So that's what I did in my ranking algorithm. The problem is, it can make a big difference when you go from "only one person is beating me" to "I have no losing records." If someone you know is getting points from you, then the chances are those points are circulating around a circle of friends you play with, and you get most of them back. But when you switch to "no losing records," your points get scattered across everyone, and that had the deleterious effect that winning a game could decrease your score.

The change I have made is to track partial game scores. So even if you have no losing records, you will still give points to people who have scored touches on you. They will then give most of those points back to you (for the touches you scored on them), so the next point flow should be the same. The difference is, the only way for a player to switch to "no losing point" mode is if nobody has ever scored a single touch on them. That's really rare, so it should be less of a problem.

For those of you who have been affected by this (you've noticed that winning a game could drop your score, or vice-versa), let me know if this change improves things.

25,000 Games of En Garde

Monday, September 8, 2008

I keep a log of every game of En Garde played. It's mostly used for calculating the player rankings, but I can also use it to run statistics and keep track of the data. One thing I've been monitoring is a total count of every game played. And today, we crossed a pretty big number.

Twenty-five thousand! That's how many games of En Garde have been played in Second Life, ever since I released the game, just about a year ago. That works out to about 71 games per day, or a game every 21 minutes on average!

The 25,000th game was won by David Tapioca, who defeated Richard Brink 5 to 3.

New Take it Easy v2.14

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Take it Easy Multiplayer v2.14

A new version of Take it Easy (Multiplayer) is available.

This version fixes a bug that corrupted the display of some of the player names in some circumstances. It also adds in some logging information so I can track games, which is the first step to adding a player ranking system like the other Procyon Games.

The update is available for free to all current game owners. You can deliver it straight to your inventory with your remote.

New Follow Me v1.9

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A new version 1.9 of Follow Me is available!

New Features:

  • Fixed the on/off button. When you click the green ball, it will toggle off, and when it's off nobody can follow you (and you won't get TP notices)
  • Fixed the Summon button. It would only work if your follower was in a crowd. Now it's much more responsive.
  • Added Map on/off. If you don't want your map to popup every time someone teleports, you can change it to only give you a TP link in your chat history.

To upgrade, just visit Procyon Games and click on the Follow Me vendor.

Rez with confidence

Monday, July 28, 2008

There is a new exploit that has some people concerned which allegedly makes it possible for people to steal items you have rezzed. You can read the thread for all the details, but basically:

  • You have to have a custom-hacked viewer to do it. You can't steal things with the standard viewer
  • People can only steal things if they're rezzed in-world. It's not possible to steal items out of your inventory. It is possible, however, to steal an item that you're wearing (attached).
  • If someone steals something that's copy-ok, they get an identical copy to yours (same creator, same permissions). If they steal something that's not copy-ok, then you lose your copy.
  • Unlike CopyBot, which can't copy scripts, this exploit takes everything -- prims, textures, scripts, and all.
Understandably, a lot of people are taking expensive, no-copy items back into inventory. And some people have reported losing chims that were full of no-copy anims, which is unfortunate.

But, if you own an expensive Procyon game, you don't have anything to worry about. The Procyon Asset Protection system comes to the rescue! If you notice one day your game is missing, you can use your remote to get a new one. No big deal. So keep your games rezzed and available for everyone to play.

If someone does steal your game, the thief won't get much. The Asset Protection System locks the game to your avatar, so when the thief tries to rez his stolen copy, it won't work.

One more scoring tweak

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I've made one more change to the ranking algorithm.

For those who don't know, the ranking algorithm is based on the same algorithm Google uses to determine its search results (which is the same algorithm SL is now using when you enter a search query in the "Find All" dialog). The change I made a couple days ago fixed a problem with points leaking out of the system, but it concentrated those points too much with people who had undefeated records. This latest tweak distributes those points evenly among everyone who's played games in the time window (two weeks). This is actually closer to what Google does for their own rankings.

New En Garde T-Shirts

Samantha Poindexter has created a line of En Garde T-Shirts. Choose from a variety of witty saying guaranteed to enrage your opponent. And you don't have to say a thing! The shirts are offered as "sharewear." When you pick up a pack, you can make a donation for however much you think they are worth. Just come visit the En Garde Arena and pick up your set from her vendor there.

Ranking algorithm tweaked

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I made a slight change in the global ranking algorithm.

Previously, a player gained points by defeating other players with points. The way it was calculated, it went through each player, found the players that person "owed" points to (because that other person had beaten them), and gave them some points.

The problem I found was, if a player was undefeated, then the points that they got just evaporated. That made for lower, flatter scores overall. I didn't think that would be much of a problem, but it turns out there's a lot of undefeated players (mostly people who have played one or two games and haven't lost). So a lot of points were getting lost

So now, undefeated players keep all their points, instead of them evaporating.

This change affects all the games with global player rankings: En Garde, Frootcake, and Danger Zone.

Mega Game Event

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Valentine Janus is having a huge, one-day event featuring all four Procyon games! If you play one of my games like En Garde and you haven't tried the others, here is a great chance for you to get some cross-game experience, meet new players, and have lots of fun. Go out there and give Val some support, if nothing else, because I think trying to run four tournaments all at once is a recipe for mental breakdown.

The event takes place Saturday, July 12, in the Zarahemla sim.

Danger Zone games will be running from 4:30AM-4:30PM.

The Frootcake tournament runs from 6:30-6:30.

Both Frootcake and Danger Zone will use the "Local Tournament" scoring, where every game gives you some points, you get more points for every player you beat, and your cumulative score is tracked on the scoreboard.

Then, there's an En Garde tournament, of course. It will run from 1PM-4PM.

And finally, Take it Easy games will be played fro 6:30-7:30PM.

There are other games being played as well, including 7Seas Fishing and Show Jumping.
Val will total up all your scores across all games in her Grand Champion system, to determine the top player for the day!

Server Glitch

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My server crashed around 3:30AM last night, which means games that were played between that time and 7:30AM (PDT) were lost. I've gotten everything back up and running now.

The reason it crashed was it simply ran out of memory. I've tried a bunch of optimizations but you people are playing too many games! I've put a request in to my hosting provider to be upgraded to a larger package.

Are you feeling Crazy?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I've released a new version of the Deck of Cards, version 1.03.

Now included is the game "Crazy Eights." It's the game "Uno" was based off of. Everyone tries to get rid of their cards first by matching suits or ranks. It's fast and simple, and works for 2-5 players.

The upgrade is free to existing deck owners. You should have received a notice already (and it will tell you when you rez it). The deck doesn't use the same licensing system I use for my bigger games, so it's not as automatic. If you have any problems IM me and I can send it to you manually.

Updating Server Code

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I'm currently in the middle of a server upgrade, so you may see some glitches. I've had some reports of scoreboards going blank; if this happened to you you can force it to reload by clicking on it. The Follow Me HUDs are not working right now, I'm working on getting those back. If you have any other problems (anything saying "Server error, report to Rifkin") please let me know about it.

[UPDATE 7:15] Follow Me has been fixed. Everything should be working now (and hopefully the new server code will be faster)

Games Week at Orange Island

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The folks at Orange Island are hosting a week's worth of events dedicated to Gaming in Second Life. Come see me there tomorrow for my talk on En Garde and Creating Games in Second Life. Have you ever had a question about how I make my games? Now is your chance to ask!

Plus, the United En Garde group will be giving a demonstration, and there will be several strips set up for people to play and learn the game.

The fun starts 10AM Pacific on Orange Island. My talk and the En Garde demonstration takes place at 1PM.

Monster Frootcake Tournament

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The folks at Sinful Sinners are running another Frootcake tournament and it's bigger than ever! There's $8500 in prizes that will be awarded:

  • $5000 First Place
  • $2000 Second Place
  • $1000 Third Place
  • $500 Fourth Place
The rules are the same. There's no entry fee, just play as many games as you want between Monday May 26 and Monday, June 2nd. You get points for every person you beat, and the rankings are updated live on the big scoreboard. Good luck, and watch those calories!

Here's a teleport link: Sinful Sinners in Paradise

Danger Zone v1.07 Release

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I've released a new version 1.07 of Danger Zone. It fixes some long-standing bugs and adds new functionality to the scoreboard, bringing the high score system in line with the other Procyon games.

The boulders now work properly in skyboxes or elevated builds. Previously they would only bounce off the ground. Now they bounce off your head!

The platforms had a serious bug that spammed people if they rezzed a patform but never stood on it. Now the platform will time out and derez if nobody stands on it in 3 minutes.

If a player was brand new, they would be given an outdated HUD. Now it only gives HUDs when asked, and they are the latest version.

The remote control has been updated to use the new (HTTP) delivery method for all items.

The payment system has been revamped. If you have a Personal License, the game will never ask you for DEBIT Permission. If you have a commercial license, it will only ask you if it's not in Free Play mode.

If multiple people tried to rez platforms all at once, all but one would silently fail. The rez system is now more robust.

The scoreboard has been redone. Danger Zone now uses the same type of high score system that Frootcake and En Garde have. All players worldwide are ranked based on their overall play. Each game owner also has their own Local ranking which tracks plays on your game for the past two weeks. The new scoreboard is included free in all Danger Zone licenses.

Danger Zone owners can upgrade by visiting my main store in Malrif and touching the Danger Zone vendor there. While you're there, check out the new Danger Mountain!

Follow Me v1.8 (now mandatory)

Monday, May 5, 2008

I upgraded Follow Me to version 1.8 last week. Tomorrow I will be making the upgrade mandatory. If you are still using an older version of Follow Me, it will stop working.

One of the main reasons for the upgrade was to make the code more efficient on my server. The older versions tend to band much harder on my server, and it slows things down for all the other functions it has to perform, like keeping track of high scores.

Even if you don't upgrade before the cutoff, you can still get a new version by visiting Procyon Games and clicking the vendor there. If you've incorporated Follow Me into another item, you will need to replace the script there with the new version.

Picture Puzzles

Friday, May 2, 2008

If you were a customer 5 months ago, you might remember the holiday card I sent out. It was a puzzle card, with a picture you could unscramble by clicking the right tabs.
I've updated it, and made it into a generic picture puzzle for everyone. You can drop any texture into it and it will use it for the puzzle. You actually get a set of 6 different puzzles, each one a different size and aspect ratio. The simplest one is a 3x3 puzzle, and the most difficult consists of 5x4 tiles.
These puzzles are not like the "sliding 15" toys you see in real life. They're actually not possible in real life, because of the way the puzzle wraps the tiles around the board.
You can also drop a freebie gift into your puzzle, and it will give it out to anyone who solves it (and then rescramble itself). So it can be a fun way to give out freebies to your customers.
Or, hang it in your home as a work of abstract art. It's up to you.
I'm selling the Picture Puzzle Set for $299. But, I'm also trying a new special promotion. If you add Procyon Games to your Picks (in your profile), then I will give you the Puzzle Set for FREE! If you already have Procyon Games in your Picks, all you have to do is click on the spinning "FREE" box in my workshop. It can tell that you have me in your picks, and will give you your prize. If I'm not in your picks yet, go visit Procyon Games and add it to your Picks list. It takes a while for your picks to register with the server, so you might need to revisit the shop a day or two after you add the pick before it will give you your free item.

Checkers update

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I've updated my Checkers set.

The old set had you move pieces by physically dragging them across the board. It was a nice idea, but dragging things in SL is tricky at best. This new version lets you click on a piece, and then click on where you want it to go. It works a lot better.

The Checkers Set is still just one prim when not in use (during a game it rezzes 32 pieces). It automatically cleans up when nobody is around.

All services down [UPDATE: all better]

Monday, April 28, 2008

[UPDATE 3:35 PDT] I think I've fixed what was broken, and things seem to be back to normal now. Sorry for the downtime. I have slightly more sympathy for Linden Lab now.

Sorry folks, I messed things up big time.

All Procyon web services are down for until further notice. This means no scores are being recorded for any games, the TIE Challenge is not working, and FollowMe is not working either.

I'll try to have things back up as soon as I can, but it's not looking too good at the moment.

Scoring glitch

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've been working on the world ranking scoring these past couple days. I'm not changing in any way the math behind how the rankings are calculated -- I'm pretty happy with that. I'm just trying to optimize a few things, and make it less stressful on my server to calculate rankings on all those games you people have been playing.

You may have seen a few glitches as scores go up and down, but rest assured that nothing is permanently lost. I can always recalculate the rankings from scratch (and I've done that several times these past two days). The scores look correct right now, but I will continue to watch them as I debug the system.

Follow Me v1.8

Friday, April 25, 2008

A new version 1.8 of Follow Me is available!

New Features:

  • Links decay after 3 hours. This will mainly help my server keep up with the load. If you're linked with someone, and they don't move for 3 hours, they will automatically unlink. Just stand next to them to automatically relink to them.

  • On/Off switch. Click the green ball and you can turn it on and off.

  • Give Gift. Lets you easily give copies to your friends without taking it off.

To upgrade, just visit Procyon Games and click on the Follow Me vendor.

Take it Easy Challenge Available now

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Take it Easy Solo Challenge is now available for purchase. Your Challenge unit will be automatically networked with every other unit on the grid. Anyone can match wits to try and find the best arrangement of tiles on the board. Whenever you play, you're playing against everyone else in Second Life!

It costs L$50 to play, and the money is all collected into one global jackpot. When the Challenge ends, whoever has the high score wins the pot.

Here's the best news: If someone wins the Jackpot and they played on your machine, you get a 10% commission. So if someone wins $500 at your place, you get $50. Sweet! Just rez it, leave it alone, and it will make money for you.

I'm selling the Challenge units for just L$10. Heck, I'm practically giving them away! Pick up one for your place today!

En Garde update v1.12

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

En Garde 1.12 is now available!

This version fixes two bugs which affect game play. All you need is a new game unit, which comes with new HUDs. You must use the new HUDs with the new game.

Release Notes:

There is a new HUD accompanying this game, and players must upgrade to the new HUD to play.

FIXED: Timer race condition. If timers were enabled, and a player executed an action right as time expired, sometimes both the action and the "time expired" happened. This could result in the player moving at the start of the next round, or even an extra point awarded at the end of the game.

FIXED: Last card drawn and Last-Second Attacks. When calculating which cards to use for the Last-Second Attack at the end of the round, the game did not take into account the last card that you drew from the deck to replenish your hand. This is fixed, so it is possible to draw the card you need to make your LSA. Note, this is the way the game was "supposed" to work, the previous behavior was a bug.

Try the Take it Easy Challenge

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Take it Easy Challenge is now in beta test. If you've never played the earlier "Zingo Challenge" this is a chance to flex your mental muscle against all comers.

In the Challenge, you get the same tiles every time you play. Everybody gets the same tiles, in the same order. There's nothing random about it. Whoever can order the tiles best before the Challenge ends, wins the jackpot.

That's right, you can win money. It costs $50 to play, and all that money gets put in one world-wide jackpot. Whoever is the best, wins the pot.

You never know when the Challenge is going to end. So give it a try! Right now there are four locations where you can play TIE Challenge:

Play the game and let me know what you think. I need your feedback!

Take it Easy Multiplayer 2.08

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I've released a new version of Take it Easy Multiplayer. This just has a couple cosmetic changes and is not a required update:

  • In Puzzle mode, player's boards are not shown until the very end of the game.

  • The HUD will now give you a "Ten Second" warning when time is about to expire.

Gossip Girl ad

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm putting this here because Gossip Girl has a not insignificant presence in Second Life (see their sims here). I don't watch the show, but I must admit their new real-life ad campaign is very eye-catching.

Zingo is now Take it Easy

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've released a major update to Zingo, renaming it to Take it Easy.

I liked the name Zingo, but so did someone else. When I first made the game, someone else made a game and called it Zyngo, and it's lead to no small amount of confusion. So I've changed the name to Take it Easy, which is the name of the original game it's based off of.

At the same time, I've completely reworked all the scripting. The new game is much more efficient, in both script time and prim counts. The interface is less confusing, and I've split the game up into different editions. The Head-to-Head Edition is a table format, allowing two players to sit across from each other as they play. The Multiplayer Edition gives each player a HUD, so you can have as many people playing as you can fit in your sim!

Plus, I've added Puzzle Mode, which gives a completely different feel to the game. Instead of one at a time, players get all the tiles at once, and try to find the best arrangement within the time limit. I've had a lot of positive response to this in playtesting.

You can try the game out at Club Zed, and purchase it at my workshop.

New Frootcake 1.12

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I've released a bugfix for Frootcake, now at version 1.12. This fixes a money problem where the game would pay people even when in Free Play mode. Sorry about that. This doesn't affect you if you have the Personal, free-play-only license. If you have the Commercial license but you set the game to Free Play, you will want to get this update.

To upgrade your Frootcake, just delete your old game, and use your remote to deliver the latest version.

Count the bots

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Traffic bots are a problem in Second Life that many people are talking about but nobody has really done anything about. One problem is it's hard to estimate exactly how big the problem is.

There are two big classes of bots. One, shown above, is a traffic bot. It's designed just to game the traffic statistics. You can put 30 or 40 of these 500m above your shop, and bam! you've got great traffic! Linden Lab now claims that traffic doesn't affect the new search rankings as much as it used to, so tactics like this aren't worth very much. But the traffic rankings still exist in the old search results, and they do have some effect in the new, so many people still resort to tricks like this.

Another bot is the camping bot. These exist to fill camping chairs. One person can run 30 bots on one machine, and camp in 30 locations at once, collecting 30 times as much money as a mere human. Again, camping is related to traffic, and for the same reasons above shouldn't be such a big deal -- but camping chairs still exist, and thus so do the bots.

User concurrency has been hovering around 65k these days, and that seems to be a hard limit. Any more users and the asset server collapses and transactions fail. So the real question is, how many of those users are bots, taking up resources the real people might otherwise have?

I have an idea for an experiment. Let's leave Second Life running, but close logins for an extended time -- say, twelve hours or so. Also, let's make it so that any time you try to teleport, you get logged out. After a while, all the real users will leave the grid, and the only accounts left will be avatars who just sit there, doing nothing at all. In other words, the bots.

Nobody would seriously suggest doing this experiment intentionally, but today it looks like Linden Lab has done it for me. Here's a chart of logins over the past 24 hours, courtesy of Tatuero Nino:

It looks like there's about ten thousand bots on the grid, give or take a few.

More cake for everyone

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The last Frootcake tournament was a blast, so the people at Sinful Sinners are doing it again, bigger and better this time!

There's over L$2000 in prizes this time, and the tournament lasts for one whole week. Same rules as last time: you can play as many times as you want. Each play earns you points on the tournament board (unless you come in last!). At the end of the week, the top three places will get prizes:
  • First place, $1250
  • Second place, $500
  • Third place, $350
You can play any time during the week. Just get three people and head to Sinful Sinners. If you need a third player, IM NonSmokerGirl Tulip who is running the tournament.

The tournament starts Monday March 24 6pm, and runs for one week.

Frootcake Tournament

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sinful Sinners is hosting a Frootcake tournament that will run for two days starting 6PM Monday March 10th.
The tournament will be run using the "Local Franchise" method on the scoreboard. At the start, the high score totals will be reset. Then, over the next 48 hours, anyone can play at any time on the Sinful Sinners Frootcake table, and each game will add to your score. You get points based on how well you play in each game. The more games you play (and win), the more points you get. At the end of the event, the top three players as listed on the board will win prizes.

  • First Place $1000
  • Second Place $500
  • Third Place $250
So come on down to Sinful Sinners and play a game or two. 

New En Garde version 1.11

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I've just released version 1.11 of En Garde!

This is a bugfix release. It fixes a problem with the new timer in the HUD, and a couple minor issues. It does require a new HUD to play, but that is included in the game.

Since the only thing that's changed is the game, the easiest way to upgrade is to use your remote. Wear your remote and say "/8 deliver game". The latest version of the game will be set to you. Just delete your old game and rez the new one. If you've set custom textures you will need to redo those on the new game.

Looking for En Garde 1.10 feebback

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How is the new version of En Garde treating you? What do you think of the new features? Have you found any bugs?

I will probably be releasing another version, 1.11, this weekend. I've had a couple bug reports that I want to address. If you have any issues that you want to get fixed, let me know. You can add a comment to this post.

New En Garde v1.10

Sunday, February 24, 2008

En Garde 1.10 is now available!

This is a big release with lots of new features. The main game board, scoreboard, and remote have all been updated. To upgrade, I recommend that you simply come to my shop and click on the En Garde vendor there. It will give you a new Box with everything in it.

Release Notes:

There is a new HUD accompanying this game, and players must upgrade to the new HUD to play.

NEW! Chat ON/OFF: To cut down on chat spam, you can turn off most of the game chat. In the blue popdown that appears when you click on the game, you can click "Chat OFF". Only owners and game hosts can do this.

NEW! Last move in HUD: Your opponent's last move is displayed for you in your game HUD.

NEW! Spectator HUDs: If you're wearing your HUD, you'll see the last move of any game you're standing near. With the Chat off, this makes it much easier for people to follow the game.

NEW! Time Limit: You can set a time limit per round. Time limit can be set to short (60 seconds), medium (90 sec), long (120 sec), or off. Only hosts and owners can change the time limit. Time remaining is shown as a colored bar in your HUD. If time runs out, you lose the point.

Setting the time to its fastest setting changes the feel of the game without changing any of the mechanics. It becomes a brisk, fast-paced game that forces you to think quickly. On the slowest setting, you have plenty of time to think about each move, but the game still moves along.

The timer resets at the start of each round, not each move. So if you want to spend a lot of time thinking about one move, you can, if you move quickly for the rest of the round.

FIXED: Re-attached HUDs: If you tried to put your HUD on after the game had started, it wouldn't work (displayed bad cards). This works now; in fact, you can take off and reattach your HUD at any time during the game. You can even replace your HUD mid-game and it will pick up right where you left off.

NEW! Last-second attack display. The game now pauses at the end of the round, right before the last-second attack, and the cards used in the attack are hilighted for both players.

FIXED: Two-Pair Bug: If you had two pair in your hand that were the right combo for an advance-lunge, and you selected them 1-2-1-2, you could play them all and confuse the game.

FIXED: Advance-lunge turn: It was possible to play quickly and take an extra action after doing an advance-lunge.

NEW! Team Roster: Your remote has a new command, "/8 team" that gives you the names of all the members of your team.

FIXED: Team Scoreboard: The scoreboard would give a spurious error when you set your team name.

FIXED: World Ranking: The game will now tell you your current World Rank and score when you step on the game. You no longer have to be in the Top 8 to see how well you're doing!

En Garde! Photo

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

En Garde!
Originally uploaded by Sebcaen Ulysses
Check out this awesome En Garde photo by Sebcaen Ulysses. Of course the Windlight makes it look good, but they also have a great setup, using custom textures to turn the strip into a dock. Great job!

Do you have a nice setup for your Procyon game? Send it to me and I'll post it here.

Frootcake is out

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let them eat cake!

Finally, after many long months, Frootcake is available for sale. No longer will I be pestered by people asking, "When are you gonna let people buy Frootcake?"

Come visit the Frootcake Diner and play a game or two: Frootcake Diner

Havok4 okay

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good news, everyone!

The latest Linden Lab release of Havok 4 has fixed the bug that was causing En Garde to malfunction. So, if you have your own island and you'd like to join the Havok 4 Early Adopter program, you can do so and still enjoy your games of En Garde.

Server glitches

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Last night, the server that runs the Procyon Games backend died.

The hosting company that I use (Linode) was very prompt in getting it back up and moving me to a new machine, but there was a period of several hours where things were glitchy. This means: my network vendors were offline, team scores were not updated, and games were not recorded in the database.

Everything should be back up now. If you notice any weirdness please let me know.

Rolling Restarts and other problems

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I've been getting reports that some people's En Guard games have started to malfunction. I think this is due to the recent rolling restart. On Thursday the lab tried one restart, and aborted it, and then on Friday they did another. This seems to have glitched a lot of scripted objects.

The good news is, this is exactly why I designed my licensing system. Just delete your glitched game and rez a new copy.

Havok4 Fix is Coming
Both of the bugs that are seen on the Havok4 servers (sit bug, scoreboard bug) are now marked as "Fix Pending," which means a Linden thinks he's fixed it, and they're just waiting for the next rollout to install the fixed code on the grid. Actually, Simon Linden says it will take two pushes, so it will be in the release after the next. But that's some good news for customers who are stuck on Havok4-enabled regions.

Warning! Do not upgrade to Havok 4!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Havok 4 is a new physics engine that Linden Lab is rolling out. Private island owners have the option of requesting an early upgrade to Havok 4.

Havok 4 contains several bugs which break En Garde. The En Garde game and its scoreboards will not work in any Havok4-enabled region. If you upgrade your region to Havok 4, any En Garde games rezzed there will stop working.

If you would like to communicate to Linden Lab that you would like this bug fixed as soon as possible, you can write a comment and vote for the bug here:

For those who have owned En Garde since the beginning, this is the same "llSetLinkPrimitiveParams" bug that killed En Garde the first time.

Please take a moment to follow that link, log in to JIRA, and vote for the bug (click the vote link on the left side). While you're at it, vote for this bug too:

That is a separate bug in Havok4 servers that is causing the scoreboards to malfunction.

En Garde Scoring -- will it never end?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The new scoring has been up for a week now, long enough to take a look and see how it's doing.

In general, I like it. I think it's an improvement. First of all, it fixes the "can't play newbies" problem that dogged the previous scoring method. That really hurt me, because it discouraged teaching the game to new players. As always, my goal is to make the game accessible to new players and encourage its spread across Second Life.

Watching the list fluctuate, I think it's pretty close to a good "mixing" level. The names and ranks change, so it's fluid, but it's not chaotic. There's a balance to be had there. I don't want the high scores to be so chaotic that they completely change with every game. But at the same time, I don't want them to be static, with the same names always in the same places -- that would discourage new players. What I'm seeing now is, I think, pretty good.

But, of course, it's not perfect. Here are some questions that have been asked me online and in the comments:

It's too complicated! I don't understand how my score works!
Yes, I know. This was the biggest concern I had in implementing this system. I've tried to explain it as best I can in the blog posts below. I hope that, for most players, you don't really have to understand it; you just have to know that if you play well and beat a lot of people, you'll get a high score.

Why can't I see my ranking after I play a game? If I'm not on the board, I can't tell what my score is.
I'm sorry, I had to take that out temporarily. The reason is, it takes a long time to compute the new scores, and if the game waited around to give you that new number it could hang up my whole server. The next release of En Garde will tell you your score/rank at the start of the game (when you step on the piste) so you'll see it there, and you'll know the rank of whoever you're playing against.

Why does it only track your scores for two weeks?
There's two reasons. First, it adds fluidity to the board. I wouldn't want someone to get a super-high score, and then leave SL, and have their name stand there forever. The board could completely freeze up if that happened enough. So I put in a 2-week time limit. I figure, if you haven't played at all in the last two weeks, then you don't deserve to be on the list.

Secondly, the calculation is expensive (see above), and it gets more expensive the more games it takes into account. Right now there are about 500 games of En Garde played every week. So, after every game, it has to scan through 1000 games and adjust everyone's score.

Have I mentioned that the Procyon Games server runs on a rather low-end system? Well, the hardware is fast, but to save money I have to share it with many other people who have also purchased space on the server, so every CPU cycle counts. I've optimized and re-optimized the scoring system, trying to squeeze every last ounce of processing power I can, but I'm at the limit. Trying to calculate scores over a larger window would make the whole system grind to a halt.

My score can go up with no effort on my part!
Yes. If you beat someone, and then that person beats a lot of other people, your score will go up.

Here is how I think about it. How many points should you get for beating someone? Under the old system, the number of points you got was based on their ranking at that time. If they were ranked high, you got a lot of points. It's simple, but it only looked backward.

The new system says: when you beat someone, you get points depending on how good a player they are. And that definition of "good" can change over the 2-week window. If you beat a new player, the system doesn't know if he's good or not. So you don't get many points. Under the old system, it stops there. But under the new system, if that player turns out to be some sort of prodigy, then their rank will improve -- and you will be awarded more points for having beaten them.

PageRank can be gamed. You can't rely on it.
Any kind of scoring system can be gamed. My old scoring systems were gamed. Google wages a constant war against Search Engine Optimization companies. My move to this scoring is in part a response to gaming of the previous score systems. At some point, hopefully, we'll reach an equilibrium. Google has an army of software engineers on their side. I've just got me.

Logarithmic scoring?
Yes, PageRank is logarithmic. And so is En Garde scoring. This is a technical detail; it happens behind the scenes. The log scale tend to flatten out the numbers. If I didn't have a log scale, then the top players would have scores in the thousands, while people just below them would have scores less than ten. I've tried to adjust the scales so everything "looks right".

Dangling links?
In the PageRank algorithm, pages that have no incoming links are a problem, because every page is fed the ranking scores from all the pages that link to it. In EnGardeRank, every player feeds ranking scores to all the other players that have winning records against him. Google adjusts PageRank with a "damping" factor, which represents the random chance a user will move to another page without clicking a link (via bookmark, for example). EnGardeRank is adjusted by your overall score. In the two-week window, it adds your score in every game, and the scores of all your opponents, and that ratio is used to feed every player some small ranking. This represents the random chance you might beat someone that you've never met. So, even a player who hasn't defeated anyone will have a non-zero ranking score.

New En Garde Scoring

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I've changed the World Champion scoring again.

Nobody liked the last change very much. The biggest problem was it made it too risky to play new, unranked players. If you lost, you could lose a lot of points. Another problem was, if two players never played each other, there was no good way to determine a ranking between them.

The new system is based on the Google PageRank algorithm. Google increases the search placement of pages based on how many other pages link to it, and how high those pages rank. In the new ranking system, you get points for having winning records against other players.

The actual math that determines your score is complicated. But here's some tips on how to get points:

Get winning records against lots of other people. This is the number-one thing you can do to improve your score. The system looks at all matches over the last two weeks. You have a winning record against a player if you've won more matches against him than he has against you. Every winning record improves your score.

Get winning records against good players. If you have a winning record against someone the system thinks is "good," then you get more points than you would against a poor player. Also, points get divided up. If you're the only person who has a winning record against someone, then you get more points than you would if that player had losing records against many people.

Win by big margins. You get more points for big wins that close matches. And there is also an "overall" component to your score, which takes into account your total score over the past two weeks.

Don't worry about losing games. You don't lose points when you lose a game -- except if that loss converts a winning record to a losing record against that opponent.

The scoring change is retroactive. The scores you see now are the current rankings, using the new system on all games from the past two weeks. This also affects team scoring as well, since team scores are just the sum of all world scores from team members.