General > Tutorial, training, online play

Being penalised for crashed games and "Leave game" option

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It's not the first time this happens to me, but it is getting really, really frustrating. So I write this post in hope that some changes can be made in order to solve the issue. Which leads to a more general request.

Often enough, games crash. Not very often fortunately, but often enough that it has happened to me about a dozen times already.
When that happens, there is no way out except by logging out of the website. This triggers several penalties:
- Successive wins is reset to 0, as the game is counted as lost.
- ELO score is lost, as happens in a loss.
- It is sometimes not possible to reopen a table within seconds, as penalty for leaving.
Out of these, the one that really frustrates me is the first one, but that does not matter much. The fundamental problem is that players are penalised for a failure of the game's code/the Happy Meeple website. (Just to specify: I checked and my connection otherwise works fine.) It is very unfair.

I suppose it is not easy to automatically detect a crashed game and cancel it (inducing no loss for either player). But this raises another, more general question, which has also been in my mind for a while: why is there no way out of a game apart from logging out ? It's like unplugging a desktop computer to switch it off —there's usually a less radical way to do that.

Could there not be a "leave game" button ?

Upon clicking it, one could have several options : "I want to leave because the game crashed" (this might lead to submitting an error report), "I want to leave because the human opponent is writing inappropriate/offensive comments" (this might lead to blacklisting him or her for me so that person could not play with me again), "I want to concede the game for my own reasons". I would argue that only the third example should really be counted as a loss.

This would be a most welcome new feature !


I'd like to follow up on this previous message on mine.

I guess it's never pleasant to deal with a frustrated person, as they tend to radiate anger and negativity. (I, at least, don't like dealing with frustrated people.) But while I try to always keep my words moderate and constructive, both because this is written communication and because it's often more productive, I'd like to notify that I am presently very, very frustrated by this issue.

What issue ? The one of receiving all the penalties associated with a lost game when the game I was playing was interrupted because of a bug (or so it appears to me). Right now the penalty that bothers me the most is the ELO one, but like previously, that doesn't matter.
The question is : why do I receive penalties when, by my indications, the fault was on Happy Meeple's side ?

Just to be specific about the particular incident which makes me bring up the general issue again, I was playing a game of Hanamikoji. While thinking about which card to take from the ones the bot offered me, I see the green light become red and a blue rectangle in the left telling me there is a connection issue. I didn't experience any wifi/internet disconnection as I could still browse the web, but whatever, the connection between Happy Meeple's servers and my computer seem to have had a problem, so be it. Safe in the knowledge that this was no longer a big issue, I reload the tab with my game (now that a recent change has allowed for this). Unfortunately, I am presented with a message telling me that the game has been cancelled. I'm back to home page, and my game was counted as a loss. Great !

So, coming back to the big point : why does Happy Meeple penalise players when the interruption of a game is not their fault ?

I'm sure the answer is along the line of "the Happy Meeple program does not know whether a game was interrupted by a player leaving (be it due to their decision or a bug on their computer) or because of a bug on its side".
If that is the answer then, firstly, I feel this denotes a programming/design philosophy that either considers that bugs on the Happy Meeple side are impossible (they are not), or that when in doubt it's easier to penalise the players (not really nice), or else the issue just hasn't really been factored in (please factor them in).
1) would it not be possible to improve the stability of Happy Meeple ?
2) could there be a way for a player to signal that a game ended because of a bug, and receive no penalty for it ?

Notice that 1) alone wouldn't solve the problem unless the probability of a bug was reduced to 0. However small the probability of a bug is, if I get penalised when it happens, it is still unfair.

I have logged probably as many hours of connection on the competitor/alternative website Board Game Arena. And I never had this issue.

First, the connection between players and games is more robust on BGA. I have seen opponents disappear for 2-3 minutes and come back telling the others at the table that they had to restart their computer. It may even have happened to me, I don't remember. And yes, it is possible to restart one's computer and get back to the table. Let alone switch off and on your wifi. So long as a player has time left for their turn, the other players can't kick him or her out of the game and the game doesn't stop. I don't know how BGA is programmed, I just know that it's possible.

Second, on BGA, each player has a reputation score (a single one, not one per game). People who leave a game lose reputation (and possibly also ELO for that game, though players who decide to finish the game won't earn much, and that makes sense since it's hard to update a skill score when the game ended abnormally). Then other players may not want to play with low reputation players. And I'm certain that this is what penalties are for : disincentivise players to leave a game once it has started.

Which brings me to a third point, specific to Happy Meeple. Since it offers the possibility to play against bot, why do I get penalised when my game against a bot is interrupted ? The bots don't mind when a game is interrupted ! (And yes, in today's incident, I was playing against a bot.)

Jimmy V.:
Thanks for following up. I’ll try to reply longer later but for now please be aware that the server that deals with games has a 45s timeout which you get disconnected for good and lose the game after 45s of inactivity/disconnection.

We may be able to change this in future. We need to recompile the code. It is not a 2 minute operation unfortunately.

In the meantime make sure to refresh your online game within 45s when you suspect a connection issue.

Thanks for the reply !

That's good to know. Indeed, Hanamikoji is a game where I can spend quite some time thinking about my choice, and since I was thinking I'd just reload the tab when I'd be ready, the 45-second window had passed by the time I reloaded. I'll make sure to reload immediately from now on.

I understand that few changes could be a 2-minute operation anyway. Changing the value of one parameter and recompiling might be on the faster side, working toward a more stable Happy Meeple certainly is far from that side. That's why I was suggesting also a rethinking of the current system regarding interrupted games.

And on this matter, I think there are two fronts that could be worked on (at least).
On the one hand, there could be some options for leaving a game. They could include
- (propose to) concede the game ("you've clearly won, we don't need to move the cards until the end"),
- propose to abandon the game ("ah, I mis-clicked, hence this stupid move ... well, shall we start over ?"), and the important one
- the game has crashed, let me out.
On the other hand, the penalties for a game left without good reason could be differentiated according to whether the opponent was a bot or a human.

Gregory T.:
i think of a solution : the possibility of return (1 time) in a game in a short delay (15 or 30 sec?)


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