PbNet News from Rm – Jan 2019

Jan 8th, 2019

Paintball Net Update: Testing Open

If you can read this, you are invited to take part in testing Paintball Net. (Remember that word “test.” It’ll come up a lot.)

NOTE: THIS IS A TEST (See?)

While I’ve been testing as I go, I’ve had a lack of multiple mes. So most of the testing has been me logging in, typing commands, running around, that sort of thing. Now I need the type of testing that only comes from people who are *not* me.

I’ve probably developed bad habits while playing solo survival games. So I need those beaten/splatted out of me.

Because THIS IS A TEST, it’s entirely possible one or more of the following will happen:
* Repeated crashes.
* Wiping the player database and starting over.
* Unannounced lack of availability.
* Shit not working as expected.
* The “help” command providing information that is way out of date.
* Swearing.
* Asking yourself, Is this my beautiful house? (Talking Heads reference)

You can report the inevitable issues to my email (davidrm@davidrm.com) or here on FB (IM is better).

In a similar vein, since this is the resuscitation of a game that was looking pretty retro even in its hey-day of the late 1990’s, I feel like I should point out:
* Yes, it looked pretty much just like this. I used the exact same art resources.
* Yup, those are some rough sound effects. Same sound files, but converted from WAV to MP3.
* And, you know, nostalgia provides a filter even Instagram would envy. =)

Oh, one last thing: Remembering to type ‘c’ before chatting is *still* a pain in the ass. 😉

All that said, here is the link:
http://www.davidrm.com/paintballnet/play/

You will need to create a player, verify that player, then actually login. After that, you can just login.

Left-click on the map to move. Right-click to fire. Stay away from bots. They feel no pain and will not stop.

Have fun! Report bugs!

-David

Jan 9th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

OK. I wasn’t expecting quite so many old players quite so rapidly. =)

I’m working on the server crash issues as a priority and other issues as I can. <mumbles something about a day job>

It’s exciting to see everyone again, and hear how we’ve all gotten just… old. ;-)Also, a bit humbling. It’s been kind of a rush of emotions .In a good way.

More news as it happens.

-David

Jan 10th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

I’m excited to say the server stayed up all night. A milestone. =)

After having to do a full inventory wipe TWICE yesterday, I’m hoping we can wait a few days before having to do that again. I hope the Mass Item Duping of PBN 2019 was as much fun as you always dreamed it would be. =)

Keep those bug reports coming!

In a similar vein, I’m curious how “game balance” feels. I’ve seen more than one comment about turbo boots maybe being too big a leap forward. Maybe those need to be nerfed a bit? Or made more expensive?

Finally, if one of you with the bootleg copy of the server source wouldn’t mind sharing it with me, I’d like to be able to compare. I’m pretty sure the bootleg server source is older than what I have, but I’d like to see what’s different.

Thanks!

Jan 11th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

Another long patch with no server crashes. 11 hours and counting. =)

Yesterday’s fixes/enhancements:
* Better handling of game ready when you’re out of games.
* Better checking for automatic resetting games played.
* Added command “screen center/left/right/up/down”.
* Fixed “team promote” to avoid negative team levels.
* Better handling of ending game when the player is in motion.
* New server configuration setting for port #.
* Fixed error in confirmation text for “give” command.
* Improved server logging.

And, of course, added more items to the to-do list. Wouldn’t want to get, you know, caught up. 😉

Sometime in the next day or two I’ll (finally) implement giving admin privileges and grant a couple lucky souls tournament master (and reset games) privileges.

I now have a copy of the bootleg server source. I’m curious what might be different between the 2 versions. So thank you to those of you who sent that to me.

And thanks everyone for your help with testing and feedback!

-David

Jan 14th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

The game survived its first weekend. More or less. There was even a small tournament or two that mostly worked.

In between chasing server crash bugs I’ve been updating the game with little features that had been left out in the initial port. Those are mostly done, I think.

My current priority is fixing teams and knocking items off my to-do list. There are some (hopefully) simple features I want to add to the client this week to make it work better on phones (AKA devices with really small screens).

-David

Jan 15th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

The server is going to be down for a bit today as I prepare for something a little different.

When the game comes back online later today, I will have cleared all inventories again, BUT…
* All players will have some stupid amount of money. Like $500K or $1M.
* All playeres will have an equally stupid weight allowance. I haven’t even thought of how stupid just yet.

That state of affairs will run for a couple days, so have fun with it. =)

Also, at that time, you will want to do a force reload of the client web page. On Chrome, that’s Ctrl+F5.

-David

Jan 16th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

So, while testing my “lockout” feature, I locked myself out. <sigh> But it’s fixed now.

In better news, I’ve fixed the error with using Unicode emojis in aliases. Then discovered there’s an issue with using Unicode emojis in command buttons. That, at least, won’t cause an error or lock you out of the server. Just won’t work.

Since yesterday, I’ve fixed a number of other issues, such as spread kits firing funny and invisible grenades and bots and lots of little things here and there. Turns out, you port thousands of lines of code, one at a time, sometimes you get typos. =)

The stupid money and silly weight allowances are still in effect, so if you haven’t had a chance to try those on for size, go for it.

-David

Jan 18th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

That was fun. =) My thanks to everyone who participated in Something Stupid Tuesday (Wednesday & Thursday), with $1M in cash and 10K weight allowance.

I think we were able to test every piece of equipment and most combinations of mods. Special Thanks ™ to Tammy Shaw-Mcguire for going through every available command and finding my typos and just plain poor choices. =) Hell, we even found and fixed some bugs that were in the *original* game. 😉

Client changes include support for numpad movement, and option to use the arrow keys for movement. And hopefully cleaned up the who list display more.

Last night I managed to get the game so it at least works with Firefox, even if there’s still some rough edges to smooth. I learned that Google’s “optimize your page for Chrome” tool actually *breaks* the page for Firefox. Who would have guessed such a thing?

As of this morning (Friday), I have cleared all inventories and set cash back $1000 and restored normal weight allowances.

I’m hoping we’ve found the last crash bug (cue crash in 5…4…3…) and that the server will stay up all weekend.

NOTE: I have decided that I will be resetting all stats before the game goes live. When is that? I don’t have a firm plan, but I’m guessing it’s sooner than I was originally thinking. My hats off to Douglas Michael (AKA “Dug”) for creating a stable platform that I was able to port and be off to a huge head start. Most of what I have left is updating the help command, getting the client so it shines, and setting up a web page that’s welcoming to new players. You know. That’s *all*… <sigh>

Anyway, thanks again, everyone!

-DavidRM

Jan 21st, 2019

Paintball Net Update

The server is definitely more stable now. That’s cool.

Still, there’s some performance issues, so I’ve added profiling to see if I can narrow down the bottlenecks.

On the client side, I made a number of improvements, especially for those brave souls trying to play with a phone. I don’t have the UI quite the way I want it yet, but it *is* playable that way (within certain values of “playable”).

Even if you play the old-fashioned way, I recommend doing a “forced reload” of the page in your browser (Ctrl+F5 in Chrome).

Tammy’s been going through the “help” command for the game. Much of the game is still the same as it ever was, but the help still talked a lot about text terminals and all those weird options in the “screen” command. I should be able to integrate her changes before the end of the week.

-David

Jan 23rd, 2019

Paintball Net Update

Been mostly working on infrastructure this week.

The big news is what I’m currently calling “redemption codes”. There’s still no way to purchase upgrades, but when I get that done, you’ll be sent a “redemption code”. In the game, you’ll type in “redeem <code>” and you’re upgraded. My plan is to eventually be able to offer more than just upgrades this way. For example: special equipment. But that’s very much a future thing.

In other infrastructure news, I was able to trace down the minor bottleneck I had spotted and get that resolved.

I have more infrastructure to prop up, and working on that is probably going to take the rest of this week. And maybe some of next week.

The game is stable and seems to be working. If you’re worried about the impending stat wipe (still probably weeks away), just think of it as free practice. =)

Thanks to everyone for their bug reports, suggestions, and encouragement!

-David

Jan 24th, 2019

Paintball Net Update

This update is mostly to say that it will be a bit before there’s another update. =)

Probably next week some time.

What I’m working on is on the server side. Just so you know I *am* working on *something*. =)

-David

Jan 25th, 2019

Paintball Net Update Update

I’m still working on the backend changes, and still don’t expect to be finished with those before next week. Might even spill into the following week. But I wanted to give an idea of where the game is headed.

First, though, I want to mention that the game as it is in testing right now is probably the closest it will get to the game that went offline in September 2000. So if you want the Most Authentic Nostalgia Experience Possible, get it while it’s there. =)

After I finish the backend redesign, I will begin changing the game in a few ways.

The most significant changes will be:
* Every player will have access to the commands to clear their games, rename objects, and even rename themselves (subject to moderation of course). Those commands will cost in-game money to use.
* “Levels” will go away. Instead, players will be able to use in-game money to buy the ability to give/drop items, buy a locker, buy more carry weight, and so on.
* Which also means that “level upgrades” go away, replaced with buying in-game money and (eventually) items that can’t be purchased at the in-game stores.

All of this is going to necessitate changes to the in-game economy, and might take some time to balance. But I think these changes will simplify/reduce the administrative overhead of the game, making it easier to keep running, and modernize the in-game economy.

These changes also make it possible for the Truly Cheap among us to never actually pay for the game, honing their skills and leveraging the built in “portion sizes” to avoid playing all day every day. And for the Strategically Frugal to pay for only those parts they want. Both of which approaches work for me. =)

I expect this will evolve as testing continues, but that’s the gist of it.

-David

Jan 31st, 2019

Paintball Net Update

OK. This is taking longer than expected. Typical optimistic programmer scheduling. 😉

In case I haven’t mentioned it already, what I’m working on is splitting the game server and the underlying database.

The goal is to have a central “player database” that can be used by multiple game servers. The central player database, which I call the “PX”, will handle all loading/saving of data, plus keep track of which players are logged in to which games, and so on.

The original PBN did this in a different way. In short, the main game server provided PX functionality for all the remote game servers. The remote servers had “player names” and logins and would connect to the main server. They had special commands, invisible to normal players, for loading/saving data and such. It was clever. =)

I wanted something more scalable, though, and with more distinct separation of duties.

I’ve had some solid progress, but there’s still a lot of work to do. I had to code some low-level “scaffolding,” which slowed me down, but now I have that and can build on it. I’m working through replacing all direct database access in the game server with calls to the PX.

Assuming anyone is still reading, this is one of those cases where you expend a lot of effort, break the code and rebuild it, so that at the end you have something that works just like it did before–but with more options for the future.

Once I get this done, I can work on the UI again, and start on the changes I mentioned last week.

Thanks again to the brave testers! I appreciate your patience. =)

-David

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