Details of the revised invite system

Details of the revised invite system

This week was the first time I felt I was playing a complete game, and the first time I felt the other players were playing to enjoy the game rather than just humor me. I have to thank Ozvortex, Friendless,mikey74, russo.aus and andrew for playing games and reporting when they thought things were not quite right. I have managed to find and fix a lot of small bugs hidden in various edge cases.

On a side note the PHP modulo operator is integer based, not floating-point. WTF? PHP is powerful and free, but it is so obvious it was put together by a group that has problems with consistency.

Anyway, I am reporting, yet again, that observer shooting is fixed (touch wood) and that same hex tailing and same hex shooting are now implemented.

I have seen a spike in visits to the site in the last week. I went hunting for the cause – I have not done any serious marketing of the site and definately nothing in the last week. I found someone (not me) put a link to the site in the forums of

One pattern I am seeing is new users who sign up, verify their email address, maybe even send an invitation, and then… nothing. Part of this problem must be usability – it is simply not clear what to do next. But I also think part of it is that there is a big gap in the experience, and that occurs just after the a new player has sent an invite.

Once an invite is sent nothing happens until the invitee responds, if they respond at all. While you can search for other users to invite, for the moment there is no indication that the user you have found is active and will ever respond. Obviously there needs to be a way of illuminating users who are active on the site, and that should be tied into the prestige of active users.

In the meantime I have come up with a partial solution – open invites. This was always part of the plan, but got set aside in favour of just getting things working. With a couple of days work I have resurrected it.

Here’s how open invites work. When you start a new game you nominate how many players you want in the game – two to six. You are always the first player and you can add specific users to the other slots to fill out the game. However, if you do not fill a slot with a specific user the slot becomes an open invitation. Open slots appear as “????” in the list of game players.

Anyone can join a game with an open invitation. Currently a link to a list of open games you can join is at the bottom of your game list. Go to the list, find a game you like, join it and setup a plane for yourself. Note that you only accept the open invite when you commit to a plane in the setup. If you back out before then, the invite will still be open to you or anyone else. Once you accept an open invite it will be like you were invited all along.

Just be aware that each open invitation must be taken by a different user, and cannot be taken by someone who already has an invite to the game. So if you start a three player game and invite Spadger leaving the last invite open – then neither you nor Spadger can accept the open invite (you already have your own invites) and you will have to wait for a third person to join the game to start.

I am hoping I can use open invites to shorted the wait for new users to get into their first game. Now I can set up open games for new players to join and after they select a plane the game will go into its first turn.