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Lag? Disconnections??

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Hey guys,

Once again, been a while since our last major status update. Since, we've updated the client, implemented the Castellan dungeon and rewritten the King system. I'm not going to reiterate what I've said there, but the remainder for the most part still needs to be done. More on that in a bit.

We're also now trialling our new Turkish GM Eos as we've been lacking a staff member who can support our Turkish playerbase. Please give him a warm welcome. :)

But the lag though~

Firstly though, I want to talk about the lag and disconnections that have started happening recently. This has been an issue for some for a while longer, but was made noticeable when we started being more strict about how much players were allowed to lag before we kick them (otherwise we end up with issues such as players appearing to be cheating because they're lagging behind).

This lag has been a recurring issue we've experienced with our provider, HyperFilter. Each time they've gone away and eventually dealt with it (after back and forthing with them trying to stress that it is indeed an issue). It's something we're aware of and we're always dealing with, although it may not seem like it.

At this point, we think they're rather overrated and terrible value for money, so we've decided to switch providers.

This switch also means upgrading hardware, because it's been 4 years since we started with HyperFilter -- 4 years technology wise is a huge gap. At this point, the newer hardware is cheaper than what we're currently paying for our much older hardware (RIP. We should really consider upgrading more regularly).

Additionally, their DDoS mitigation scales much better than HyperFilter's ever did, meaning in future, if need be we have the option at our disposal.

Location wise, it will still be hosted in Amsterdam. Regular latency should be much the same; HyperFilter's own latency issues aside, players all over the world in general haven't been too severely impacted by its location (obviously there are exceptions, but in general it's been a great choice).

In addition to this, we're excited to try out a beta service our new provider offers which attempts to reduce latency for game services in a manner similar to how services like WTFast work (just from their end). We're very hopeful this will further help players with latency issues, although we have no other real info on this right now (we're still looking into getting it hooked up to give it a try).

We've been setting these up all week, and will most likely be fully switching things over on Monday. As there's a lot of data to migrate we'll probably have a 12 hour downtime, though the exact time will still be figured out.

Alongside the move, we're looking at addressing some other longstanding issues players have experienced.

We'll be dropping CloudFlare. As great as CloudFlare is at caching content, players have consistently had issues connecting to certain nodes causing page timeouts that we can't do anything about. If you've PM'd me about this -- this is why I (probably) haven't responded. Once we drop CloudFlare, these timeouts should disappear and the site should be consistently usable again.

Unfortunately this also means screwing with our SSL certificate; we'll have a new one, so browsers may briefly have issues with this change. Fingers crossed for the best though.

We've also updated caching. This has caused some odd issues with the website, particularly with identifying recent emails.

On a similar note, we're no longer serving our own emails; this is now being offloaded to SendGrid. For those that don't receive their emails or take a while to receive them, this should help out a lot. This change has already been made to the forums, so emails should be working much better here right now.

Finally, we've made some general backend updates to the website, and the webserver happens to have a lot more resources to work with now. This speeds things up noticeably. The general functionality & design of the website remains the same.

When we switch things over to the new provider, these changes should all be pretty noticeable.

Regarding the game itself, we've also decided to update the compiler considerably. This wouldn't normally be worth mentioning if we didn't rely on several language features that have been changed/improved.

One specific example is our random number generation. There's been a lot of concerns with this (particularly in regards to it giving recurring results), but it's very hard to find fault in RNG; rate tests have given us reasonably accurate results, so my general response to this is always "RNG is RNG". I also want to trial a different approach for this; this will probably be done before we migrate, just to see if there's any noticeable difference in recurring results.

Additionally, in the compiler we were using, it's been reported that it does not know how to optimise 'lambdas' well. As our code relies a lot on lambdas (really, a lot), we should see a lot of our code that's run a lot (e.g. sending data to players in nearby regions) get sped up. Exciting for us, anyway. :P

Fingers crossed for these performance improvements come Monday!

That's great and all... but I heard there was going to be a new expansion? And where's my UTC??

Yes. There's a new expansion in the works, and UTC is part of it. It really isn't too far away.

Actually, we hoped to release the expansion at the same time as the move, but since I insisted on updating software (and updating/fixing everything that uses it) and generally improving the infrastructure, the migration ate up a lot more time than we anticipated. Whoops.

I don't have a date for it, but considering we originally hoped it'd be released this weekend, it shouldn't be too far away.

So once that's released, what's next?

We still want to continue making progress with our client source project. The plan is to get back to focusing on that after the UTC expansion is sorted, as that is our long-term goal.

Additionally, as in the last major status update, we still want to contract a developer/designer for a new website. As-is, the website is clunky and doesn't offer everything we'd like it to. It also doesn't make a great first impression, and unfortunately that's rather important in attracting new players (aesthetics was never our strong suit D:).

Until next time! :)

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