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Offline asaphxiix

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making online play easier
« on: November 03, 2012, 06:43:25 PM »
Some thoughts on multiplayer:

Playing multi is rather different than single player - mostly in the fact that the game cannot be controlled at all times, while often it needs to be. So for instance if my trains suddenly get stuck when I'm offline - my company may go bankrupt. This is taken to extreme when playing experimental - the (very cool) refund system can take a successful company out of business within a night, if major changes happen in the network and the player is not there (and sometimes, even if they are).

This makes the game, which is quite addictive as it is, even more compelling - you can't stop playing, even if you don't want to play at the moment, or your girlfriend is calling you (a commercial game would call this a gold mine)

Some ideas to relief this situation:

1. An SMTP system to alert players by email (sent from the server) in a critical situation (major loss, stuck trains etc.)
2. A way to quickly relief a critical situation - temporarily freeze lines, mass-send to depot etc., or a general panic button to freeze all company activity (with no permanent change).
I will try to think of more ideas. I guess this won't be very high priority, but maybe someone will want to make a patch...

Offline greenling

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2012, 06:52:48 PM »
Yes that need we!

Offline kierongreen

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2012, 07:12:13 PM »
A mass send to depot could lead to bankruptcy as maintenance costs would not be covered...

Offline Fifty

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2012, 07:30:32 PM »
Yes, I'm not sure if sending trains to the depot is the best idea, but for an actively administrated server it might be nice if public service could access accounts without changing their password (right now public player can change any player's password, but it cannot simply access the account.

Five other big suggestions I have based on my netgaming experience-- some are easy, others more complex. Just a wishlist right now:

1. Improvement to the chat system: currently it is easy to miss chat, and while you are offline, someone may want to tell you something. Going through long chat logs is annoying. Thus it would be nice if there was a way to make chat directed toward you pop in your face, especially when you log onto the server. For instance, if a player typed @Fifty, the game would pop the message up in my face immediately or the next time I come onto the server. Typing @all would announce to all players. Chat could also be a bar at the top of the screen instead of hidden in the message center.

2. Improvement to multiplayer power networks. Right now you cannot share power. In most games I have seen, some players have lots of power and others have too little. When the little players get power, it is usually across the map, which leads to many powerlines strung across the map. I would suggest a "public transformer" system, where players with power could choose to share, for instance, as much power as other players demand, as much excess power capacity that exists, or a certain number of MW, and to specific players. This would prevent powerline madness.

3. Removal of unused accounts: I thought this was to be implemented, but it always seems that there are a number of locked accounts with no financial activity. They should be removed after a certain number of game-years without activity.

4. A tool to transfer money between players (other than the sending vehicles to other players' depots "bug")

5. A way to "merge" companies together.

Offline IgorEliezer br

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2012, 07:41:24 PM »
1. Improvement to the chat system
You might want to see this discussion: http://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=9379.0 :)

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2012, 08:00:42 PM »
A mass send to depot could lead to bankruptcy as maintenance costs would not be covered...


True, but these costs will be much smaller than the costs of refunds for instance.

Such a feature would have to not only freeze the convoy activity in the line, but also stop/remove pax from trying to use it, to relieve overcrowding.

Offline Fabio

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2012, 08:15:03 PM »
I suggested elsewhere the nationalization of bankrupted players' infrastructure (for both single and multi player games). They would be taken over by the public player (but possibly as unowned, so that they can also be removed by other players if needed).

The panic mode could dismantle lines in the red, selling vehicles (or sending them to depot) and removing or nationalizing infrastructure used exclusively by that line. It should be optional for each player and triggered when there's risk of bankruptcy.

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2012, 08:19:36 PM »
nationalization can be very cool with the new access charges system.

Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2012, 09:18:06 PM »
If detecting such conditions would be so easy, the AI would do this already ...

Offline ӔO

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2012, 03:44:05 AM »
How about adding a sort of "backup point" for the player's finances if they are not playing?

If the game somehow bugs out, or if someone PK's someone else while that player is not playing, then the player can decide if they want to accept loses or revert to their last played finances.

The game should only ask the player if their current finances would lead them into negative, compared to their backup point.
The server admin should approve or disapprove if the player decides to revert.


Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 10:31:16 AM »
How would this work out? I would rather suggest to have servers without bankrupsy then. Or the server adminsitrator allow for much higher starting money. The game state certainly cannot be really backed up, since everything is connected. Assume you had an essential industrial (or passenger connection). If this is not served to dealock or whatever, then the company going down is the only way this is not killing other players too.

Furthermore, it is a game. The whole point is to loose. Or the server should be cooperative, i.e. without bankrupsy and thus no loosing.

To alleviate the problems with a stucked company one might think of connections that expire if no goods were transported for a certain number of month (like 24 or so). That would help other player only, of course. Or maybe resetting the company password if less than 10% of the maitenance was generated as income. That way other players could help.

Offline greenling

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 10:52:44 AM »
I think that we as first in all playable pakset build in the Chatservice that player can be talk without icq over problems.
Then we have a working chatservice in all paksets,
then can we build in a service that allows all stops or Station to sell at the public or on another player,
they by Networkgames work.

Offline Fabio

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 10:55:58 AM »
The warning mail for stuck vehicles or consistent losses over the past game year could be good. The player could then try to log in and fix the mess. Players should be required to register a valid email address and check/uncheck whether they want to receive mail updates. Maybe the mail stuff should be executed by nettool every real time hour.

Offline greenling

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 10:58:18 AM »
The problem with the email it that i self not often go to my emailbox.

Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2012, 12:50:18 PM »
I am opposed to warning emails:
- creating even more addiction (and likely emails during nighttime will not be read anyway)
- will likely cause several false alarms (like traffic jams by city cars)
- OpenTTD with much much longer online history does not need it
- not trivial to sent mails one various systems in a portable way (And no, the server could not act as email server, since nowadays most independent email server are grey- or even blacklisted.)

You could as well just left the client running all the time. Or if you are not online/awake, then what good an email would do?


Offline VS

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2012, 01:22:12 PM »
Just imagine it! You are working (or maybe hiking or whatever), then suddenly, you get a sms: Redirected email: Traffic jam at Sundington transfer station for 6 months. You drop everything and go play. Uhm... :o

BTW, sending email is really hard. IMHO it would make sense to script something using nettool to get messages, then send email.

Offline Ters

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2012, 02:01:46 PM »
In my experience, e-mail servers will accept e-mail from within the ISP, so just relay through that. Technically, I don't think there is a difference between a client and another SMTP server from the receiving SMTP servers point of view. SMTP is also a simple enough protocol for this purpose, so no need to rely on system SMTP client functionality.

But it won't help if people's phones don't beep when they get e-mail.

Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2012, 03:17:19 PM »
Uusally server need a secure connections and a certificate from the ISP before accepting emails nowadays to fight spam. A fried of mine who had his own mail server since early 90ies or so gave up since some large german mail providers refused his emails every second week or so.

But my main concerns are more concisely put by VS anyway. And indeed, using nettool in a script could do the trick too.

Offline VS

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2012, 04:21:37 PM »
The only question is - can it get the needed data? If yes, then it's already doable :)

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2012, 05:25:10 PM »
yep the email business would be a cool feature for the truly addicted. but perhaps not the best solution altogether to solve the initial problem:P

I guess the system needs further stabilization for multi purposes, of the kind that isn't reached within one or two versions. I actually think that in the context of inter-network dependency of passenger movement (the domino effect) and refunds, changing local/mid/long ranges and probabilities can help with this to some extent (and more realistic in large maps). Other than that, players just have to be careful with other people's networks. Still not ideal, because it can be quite hard to bring them back together even when both players are online. but, this is the challenge, part of what makes the game so great.

also, as was mentioned here, using any SMTP or telnet client and the ISP (or hosting company)'s SMTP server to send emails is mostly possible, although some ISPs may limit this in some ways. From there a mail will usually be seen as a legitimate email (unless it contains the word 'viagra' in it) and accepted at its destination.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 05:33:53 PM by asaphxiix »

Offline Ters

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2012, 06:19:34 PM »
Uusally server need a secure connections and a certificate from the ISP before accepting emails nowadays to fight spam.

Is a certificate needed for Outlook or Thunderbird too, or is the ISP's webmail client the only way to send e-mail? I've got an SMTP server on my Linux box, which relays to the ISP's SMTP server (as opposed to acting like an independent, normal SMTP server).

Offline Isaac.Eiland-Hall us

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2012, 06:37:04 PM »
Outlook and Thunderbird are email clients - software that read email. They have absolutely nothing to do with email servers.

Offline asaphxiix

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2012, 08:18:37 PM »
actually, SMTP servers (receiving connections and answering commands) like ISP's servers, are also clients - after they receive a mail for sending onwards, they will initiate a connection and give commands to the 'next hop' SMTP server on the way to the destination, much like an outlook would, thus they are 'relaying' email. this can be skipped, for instance nettool can be ordered to skip the ISP relay server and use a DNS client to determine the server that accommodates the target domain (for instance gmail's servers) -  however this would be a bit more complicated to do and also much more likely to be screened out as servers such as gmail's are not like to accept emails coming directly from an unfamiliar client such as a home computer, which will get blacklisted quickly.

Offline Ters

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2012, 08:41:51 PM »
Outlook and Thunderbird are email clients - software that read email. They have absolutely nothing to do with email servers.

They are also software for sending e-mail. This, unlike fetching, is done with SMTP to a server. asaphxiix wrote the rest i had to write.

Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2012, 09:37:22 PM »
OK, they are clients that sent mail; but the use some encryption at least for the password (usually). Thus for the simutrans server (suppose it is run remote via telnet) this means to implement either that or tied it to certain program names. Be it mail, sendmail, or dovecot or whatever. This seems more like a shell script action, i.e. invoking a script via system with some parameters.

The main hurdle is what alarms and when it should trigger. I feel user will want to very different ideas. The most of will be, "notify me if anything goes wrong" which is again one of the ill-defined read-my-mind errors ...

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2012, 10:31:28 AM »
How about an Android app for monitoring server games?

Offline prissi

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2012, 10:39:20 AM »
Go ahead, if you can do Java. Otherwise a simutrans app is not too difficult (it was even done) but it would badly need a scalable UI, ie larger font sizes and scalable UI elements. So far only less than half of the dialoges scale with the UI size (just set the values in gui_frame to larger number and you see what I mean.)

Offline An_dz

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Re: making online play easier
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2012, 03:43:24 PM »
Can't we use Twitter too?
Send messages with scripts maybe.