Built-in chat

Posted June 13, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

Today I publish OCTGN 0.10. It contains a few fixes plus a new built-in chat client, so that it is easier for people to connect to #octgn and find players to play with.

This client is in fact an IRC client and still uses the same #octgn channel as we do today. So you don’t have to use it in order to see players in the channel.

This new IRC client is a bit experimental, which means:
1. hopefully there won’t be too many bugs;
2. it is not as full-featured as a “real” IRC client.

Point 2. is important. The built-in IRC client basically has only 2 features today: channel chat and private chat. It’s key advantage is ease of use for people who are not used to IRC and easy access from OCTGN.

This means that if you are a moderator of #octgn you’ll probably don’t want to use it. If you already have a good client like mIRC, you probably won’t either. On the other hand I expect people who use mibbit from the website (or worse: who use nothing!) to switch to this new option.

In the future I’d like to build a simpler way to invite people for games on top of that client and maybe other features (like filtering people by the game they have installed, or sharing files maybe).

Comments are welcome.


Closing tickets and fighting spammers…

Posted May 1, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

I haven’t worked on OCTGN for a long time now. I felt a bit bad about it, so I figured I’d look at the ton of tickets people opened recently.

The result is the 0.9.4 release, which closes 13 tickets in the tracker. There’s a fair number of bug fixes and a few new features exposed in Python (for a complete list please have a look at the tracker activity).

– players is a global array containing all players
– shared is the “global” player for games that have one
– whisper() writes to the local player chat only
– card.targetedBy checks if a card is targeted (and by whom)
– table.create() now returns the newly created cards

(API details are in the wiki and usually the corresponding tickets.)

Also, this release is slightly leaner because I totally removed the XML scripts. If your game still uses them, it will NOT work in OCTGN 0.9.4.

In other news, since the beginning of 2011 spammers have started to try to register on our forum massively. I have to filter out hundreds of registrations.

The consequence is that I may easily have dropped a few legitimate users. If you are (or know) one, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am not willingly rejecting players.

Posted February 6, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net


Nothing worth noticing but I fixed two regressions in 0.9.3 and added one small “feature”:
– Fix: Click on Quit in the ribbon when the ribbon is minimized results in a hang;
– Fix: Player “indicators” was not displayed in the tab header anymore;
– New: one can remove packs from the limited dialog box.

UI Goodies

Posted January 30, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

I know, last time I said I wouldn’t work on OCTGN before mid-february… Well then consider this as an extra gift and that I won’t work again before end of february!

I have published 0.9.3. It contains several bug fixes and a major UI change: the main window now contains a ribbon instead of the menu.

The ribbon takes a bit more place than the menu. If you have concerns regarding available space I think you’ll run full screen anyway (where the ribbon is hidden unless you move your mouse to the top, just like the menu). If you really need a “collapsed” option in windowed mode, let me know why. EDIT: I don’t even know my own application! If you right click on the ribbon there’s an option to collapse it! In my opinion it only needs to be a bit more visible, but hey, it’s there.

Some icons are a bit ugly, if someone wants to donate some time to create better ones, you’re welcome. Icons take an indecent amount of time to create. I assumed that you’d prefer a release with temporary icons than no release at all. For the story, the “Load” and “Limited” icons have a player because at first I thought I’d need a “Load Shared Deck” with some world instead of the player… turns out I don’t. More about that below.

Another change took place after the ribbon. Limited games no longer use the “player” area for their “Start” and “Cancel” commands. A new tab appears dynamically in the ribbon for that.


As you can see in the screenshot, I grabbed the opportunity to add a “Save deck” option to limited!

Another new feature is that you now can load “global” decks, which makes “global” zones more useful… 5 years after their creation! Simply use the normal “Load deck” button for that, it works automagically (deck files can now have a “shared” attribute inside).

Unfortunately shared decks are not supported yet in the deck builder. So you have to tweak an existing deck by hand. More info on the needed work on game definitions and decks is available in the comments in the related ticket here:

I hope you like the change!

2010 has ended… Random facts

Posted January 23, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

No update today, but instead I figured I’ll tell you a bit about the OCTGN website, its visitors and a few random topics…  If you read this blog only for the new features you can skip this entry!


First of all, I’d like to point out that spammers have been incredibly active during the Christmas period. At times there was 30 registrations a day on the OCTGN website. Thankfully everything seems to be more quiet now… If you recently registered and haven’t been approved by now you probably were trashed along the spammers. In that case please try to register again (and leave me a message).


Roughly one year after someone asked me for the first time if there was a way to make donations, I put up a donation page, here: http://octgn.net/donate.php.
At first I was surprised by the request (isn’t everyone happy to enjoy free stuff?) but then considering the encouraging comments and messages I sometimes get I figured it may be natural for people who really enjoy their games with OCTGN to be able to give back to its author.

(Random unrelated comment: if you’re into games, the independent scene has some cheap real gems such as Braid, World of Goo, or Shatter.)


Speaking about money you certainly remember that 6 months ago I added small Google ads on the OCTGN website. So for those wondering what ads may be worth, here’s my experience.
Clicks on ads have a highly variable money value. Between 0.05 and 1.5 USD. Google doesn’t give details about how revenues are computed, but my guess is that it depends on how the ad was chosen to be on the site (targeted ads may be more expensive?) and probably whether the visitor bought something or not. $1.5 is pretty expensive for a click, and I would bet that those people made a purchase… On average a click on OCTGN ads is worth $0.40.
As you may expect given that OCTGN is a (small) community website and that the ads are unobtrusive, the click rate is quite low. On average 5 clicks per month.
You can do your math, after 6 months ads on OCTGN are worth $13.55. (You can’t get your payment before they are worth $100, which would be in more than 2 years at this rate.)
My conclusion is that it’s not really worth it, at least not on this kind of website, or maybe not without trying to push ads harder (which I don’t want to do). Sure it would pay the DNS registration, but heck waiting 3 years to get $100 is more trouble than it’s worth.
Since it’s more effort to remove them than to let them in place, they’re staying here at the moment… not sure for how long.


This post is already longer than I expected, so I’m going to stop here. Just a few numbers for the curious:

Each week, approx. 4000 unique visitors see 9000 pages on octgn.net. Half the page views are on the website from a search engine and just bounce, the other half of page views is the community using the forums.

This blog gets around 500 views per week, sometimes more depending on the posts.

Happy 2011!

Posted January 9, 2011 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

Hello fellow readers!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the end of year celebration and I wish you all the best for the new year.

Here’s a little gift for you, I just published a minor update 0.9.2. So what’s new?

  • A few bug fixes. Most importantly the issue were queued Python scripts (e.g. calling shuffle several times very quickly) weren’t executed until the end of game is fixed.
    Because this issue motivated some people to keep scripts such as shuffle in XML, XML-scripts are still included in this release. Now that there is no more blocking issues regarding Python, please update games to use it. The 0.10 release won’t support XML-scripts anymore.
  • I’ve included a lot more debugging information with the release, so it’s about 1 Mo bigger than the previous one. This enables more detailed error reports, which is required by a few bugs that I can’t identify properly at the moment. I may remove this later when OCTGN is more stable to trim down the client size.
  • The Peek feature is now enhanced with indicating precisely who’s peeking at which card. When someone peeks at a face down card, an “eye” icon appears on the top right corner of the card and if you hover the icon with your mouse, the list of people who have peeked at the card appears.

And that’s it for now. I am working on another small project at the moment and there probably won’t be any release before mid-february, except important bugfixes (if any).

Important note for game authors

Posted December 7, 2010 by jods
Categories: OCTGN.net

This is an important follow-up for game author. I forgot one important point when I wrote my previous post:

When you switch to Python as a scripting language, make sure that you set the “octgnVersion” attribute on your game to “0.9” at least.

This is because:

  • Your game wouldn’t run properly on 0.8 anyway;
  • For the first time I am going to remove features (xml scripts) from OCTGN and break compatibility. For that reason, future OCTGN releases will be marked as incompatible with games requiring any version less than 0.9.

In other news the 0.9 update is now published.