Site update 1.16

WarLight has just been upgraded to version 1.16.0! This blog post describes what’s changed.

Take back control from AI

In games where you can get turned into an AI by being booted or surrendering, it’s now possible to take back control from the AI for later turns. This effectively allows for a soft-boot, where the AI can control a player while they’re away and then the player can take back control when they come back.

Also, when browsing history, WarLight now shows player’s AI status correctly. Prior to this update, it would show them as an AI even on turns before they turned into an AI. Now, it will only show AI in front of their name when the AI actually played those orders. The only exception is when a player submits orders and then becomes an AI through surrendering before the turn advances. The AI won’t replace their existing orders with new ones for that turn, but the game reports that an AI was controlling the player.

It’s worth noting that this change also means it’s possible for a player to be booted multiple times in a single game. Each one of these boots increments the boot number shown on that player’s profile.

Game creators can control how many times a player can take back control in a game. The default is two. It’s recommended to keep this at a relatively low value so that trolls can’t keep coming back after being booted over and over to slow your game down.

New Tutorial

WarLight now has a completely new tutorial on the single-player tab which helps new players learn how to play. To check it out, click Single Player and then the Tutorial button.

This tutorial is more refined than the old one. For one thing, it has its own level with no opponent so new players can focus on their own movements without being distracted. Whereas the old tutorial only walked you through playing one turn, this one walks you through two in order to present concepts in more detail, such as taking bonuses and splitting stacks.

Obviously, most of you reading this blog already know how to play and won’t need this. However, if you try it out anyway, feel free to post your thoughts. Also, if you can find a way to break the tutorial by getting off-script (getting in a situation where it’s telling you to do something that it prevents you from doing), let me know!

Open Games tab now shows Random Teams

The open games tab now differentiates between FFA games and random-team games. In random-team games, right next to the boot time, it will say how many players each team will receive.

Additionally, game’s settings panels now make the team mode more clear. Now it has a “Teams” line on all games that tell you if the game is an FFA, random teams, or manual teams. This replaces the old “at start divide into teams of” line.

Expiring Card Turn Numbers

Cards that expire, such as the diplomacy card, now show the correct turn they expire. Previously, they showed one turn number too low, which created confusion around knowing when cards would expire.

Left Column UI Changes

The left column of the main game screen received some UI updates. First off, I want to apologize for changing the UI. I do realize that any time you change UI it causes a great deal of pain. Humans are very habitual creatures, and re-learning how to do something that you used to know how to do is never fun. I didn’t make the decision to make these changes lightly; these are things that are a long-time coming and address deep-rooted problems that players have reported many times over the years.

Let’s go over each change and explain the rationale.

  • Cards Button: The Cards link that existed at the top when you have cards received a face lift and also gained the ability to close the cards panel by clicking on it. This is now the preffered way of accessing cards, and if you were used to using the cards button in the lower left, I recommend switching to using this new button (or the hot-key B)
  • Surrender and Vote-To-End buttons: The Surrender and Vote-To-End buttons were moved up to the main game screen. Previously, they were hidden under the Players panel. Admittedly, they never made much sense on the Players panel, and they were only placed there since they had nowhere better to go. This led to new players not being able to find the surrender button as easily and receiving some boots that could have been avoided.
  • Analyze Button: The main game screen now has an Analyze Attack button that brings up the same graphs that the attack dialog’s Analyze button does. This allows players to access the attack graphs even when not in attack mode.
  • Menu button: All of the lower-left buttons except Chat are now located in a collapsible menu. This was done for a couple reasons.

    With the addition of the Surrender, Vote to End, and Analyze buttons, this makes the menu much larger than it was before. The biggest problem with the column of buttons in the bottom left is the amount of screen space they take up, which is very limited for players playing on low-resolution screens such as netbooks and laptops. It’s very common for netbooks to have a low vertical resolution (often 720). In these cases, having too many buttons down here ends up making the page too tall, which pushes the entire Flash object below the bottom of the screen. This results in players not being able to the bottom of the map (I often get emails saying “I can’t deploy to Antartica!”).

    By having the buttons be collapsed when not needed, this allows more buttons to fit in the area and also allows them to be spaced out better (previously they were all squished together for low-resolution screens.)

  • Phase Name Changes: The three phases now have a 1/2/3 in front of them again like they used to. This was added back after feedback from new players indicated that it was more clear this way. Also, “Deploy new armies” is now just “Deploy” since there wasn’t enough room to fit it all (this was the reason the numbers were originally removed in the first place.) “Confirmation” also became “Confirm” just to keep the tenses the same.

Misc Changes

– Getting booted now correctly increments the boot stat on your profile when booted players are turned into AI.
– The deployment slider setting defaults to 15 instead of 10 for new players.
– The deployment slider now has a title of “Deploy”
– When issuing attacks, the text in the orders list was altered slightly. “X armies from Y will attack/transfer Z” instead of “X armies will attack/transfer Y from Z”
– In the ladder statistics section of profiles, the Best Rank and Best Ranking are no longer shown for seasonal ladders. What’s most important in Seasonal ladders are the final rank. The best ever achieved is often highly skewed since at the beginning of the season, #1 is awarded just to the first person to get a rank no matter how good they are. You can still see this information by clicking on the link, it just isn’t shown on profiles.
– Some cards received new graphics due to potential licensing issues.
– Adjusted the nudge/boot icon to try and make it look more like a boot.
– Fixed a bug that occurred if you invited the same player to a game twice, once by e-mail and again directly.

Season VIII

Congratulations to zibik21 for winning a very close Season VII!

Season VIII is going to do something a little different than previous seasons. In Season VIII, every bonus will have its value randomized. For each bonus on the map, there is a 1/3 chance that it will be worth one army per turn more than normal, a 1/3 chance that it will be worth one fewer, and a 1/3 chance that it won’t be changed.

It’s up to the players to determine how the modified bonus values will affect the game. Because each map will be randomized in this fashion, every game should be very different from the rest. Of course, the bonus boxes on the map will reflect the new values, but players can also check the Settings panel of each game to see a list of how each bonus was modified.

Since this bonus randomization is a special feature to Season VIII, creating a game with the same template won’t have the same bonus randomization. Therefore, it’s not as easy to practice these settings ahead of time. However, if you’re motivated enough, you can still practice by overriding each bonus value on the Armies tab.

It’s worth noting that the zero-bonuses that are located in Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, and Korea will also be modified. They will become either a 0, +1, or a -1. This opens up new strategic possibilities, such as the option of taking a zero-turn bonus. It’s important to remember that the bonuses you start in are the cheapest to take, so while taking a zero-turn +1 bonus will give you strength on the first turn, it can also make you weaker on future turns as your opponent captures their early bigger bonuses.

Settings are similar to Strategic 1v1 except on the Modified Medium Earth map. This map has also been modified from its previous version. In addition to East Russia having one fewer territories, East United States also has one fewer. The goal of this map is to increase the value of bonuses that are often ignored. Even though this map has two fewer territories than Medium Earth, it feels larger since there are more attractive bonuses and therefore more space that gets used.

You can see the template here, but as warned above, using this template won’t get you the randomized bonus values since that feature is specially coded into Season VIII.

The season will begin on Tuesday at Midnight GMT (which is really Monday night for those in negative timezones, such as North America). Good luck!