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The server lockout, and the (unpopular) solution.


Jack Shepard
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I've seen many ppl complaining over the past few nights during the war of being locked out at crucial times and this being detrimental to their war effort.

We have seen admin make comments that the server is capable, the bandwidth is plentiful, and that the issue is a limit on simultaneous database connections.

So, lets review why we have so many people on at update?

In a 'turn based' game, update is the one time you can potentially get in two 'turns' in a row, within minutes of one another, otherwise known as the 'Quad'.

The 'Quad', is the root of the database bottleneck, and many of the same people screaming about being locked out are the same people who shout down any suggestion to remove it.

It is however the best way to remove the lockout.

Solution:

Put a 20hr limit on attacks from one day to the next.

So, you do your 2 ground attacks today at 6pm, and tomorrow you can come back anytime after 2pm and do your next 2 attacks... this allows plenty of flexibility for people who can only be online at certain times of day, and doesn't constantly push the attack window back further and further like 24hrs would.

This makes it truly a 'turn based' game, and update is reduced to nothing more than an economic barrier to collect your taxes.

I don't expect this to be very popular of course, but it's looking to me like an either/or situation... either remove the quad, or live with the lockout.

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I've seen many ppl complaining over the past few nights during the war of being locked out at crucial times and this being detrimental to their war effort.

We have seen admin make comments that the server is capable, the bandwidth is plentiful, and that the issue is a limit on simultaneous database connections.

So, lets review why we have so many people on at update?

In a 'turn based' game, update is the one time you can potentially get in two 'turns' in a row, within minutes of one another, otherwise known as the 'Quad'.

The 'Quad', is the root of the database bottleneck, and many of the same people screaming about being locked out are the same people who shout down any suggestion to remove it.

It is however the best way to remove the lockout.

Solution:

Put a 20hr limit on attacks from one day to the next.

So, you do your 2 ground attacks today at 6pm, and tomorrow you can come back anytime after 2pm and do your next 2 attacks... this allows plenty of flexibility for people who can only be online at certain times of day, and doesn't constantly push the attack window back further and further like 24hrs would.

This makes it truly a 'turn based' game, and update is reduced to nothing more than an economic barrier to collect your taxes.

I don't expect this to be very popular of course, but it's looking to me like an either/or situation... either remove the quad, or live with the lockout.

It's ideas like this that just slow the game down even more. I'm not in any war and I oppose this.

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You and I both know this solution is too extreme for administration to consider, no matter how popular it is. There will always be enough individuals to stop such a change if it were to be pushed forward. :(

I have another suggestion, a mild suggestion, which is to relocate in-game "midnight" to 12hrs from the update. Either the update OR in-game night should be shifted so that they do not coincide.

Nearly all of the players who check their nations over update are the ones who also have a tech advantage (being the overly-active tech-hoarding nations they are). They would, therefore, be more effective in battle further away from the update. Otherwise, they sacrifice their night-time combat advantage. This would alleviate some congestion with a minimum number of player complaints.

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Besides the fact that the idea is stupid, shouldn't it go in suggestions?

I'm not suggesting the change, I am trying to have a discussion on what would be worse, living with the bottleneck or removing the quad (either via my suggestion, or an alternate)... so far, living with the bottleneck seems popular.

Edited by Jack Shepard
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A first simple step would be to switch the night time/day time advantages. There are a hell of alot of players these with over 1k tech so of course going to encourage people to attack at night, whats more is that then another advantage is gained from striking at update.

Advantages do need to be devised to draw people away from attacking at update, whether it be time between attacks for troops to replenish ammo and regroup for example, or to provide greater incentives to attack across the day time by giving better battle odds etc. As it stands warfare is unfair for those who 1) Americans who can easily get on at update as opposed to europeans 2) people who get locked out of the game.

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One option that may help would be to disable some or all of the methods of attack for everyone at midnight update similar to the way some of the stat pages in the game are taken offline to conserve system resources. In this way players would be able to login at 12:00 midnight, collect taxes, pay bills, and prepare their military and then around 1:00 AM or whenever things slow down enough the war system would be switched back online so that players could perform their attacks. This would help spread out the load and hopefully prevent or reduce the update lockout. I wonder if there are parts of the war system that could be brought back online at separate intervals so as to further spread out the update load or would it all (ground attacks, cruise, nukes, aircraft, spies, etc...) have to be brought back online at the same time?

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One that could be changed and have almost *no* effect is to restrict Cruise Missile launches from 11:30pm to 12:30am as they have essentially no strategic effect like Ground/Air do.

This.

But most of it should be brought back online at the same time, you don't want to create 4 separate "updates" where everyone must be online to defend against certain attacks, I have other things to do as well. :P

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What I would do -

Make it so that you cannot purchase Cruise Missiles or fire them in the 11:00pm - 1:00 am gametime range. Cruise Missiles are not at all worth while to use in that time frame.

Make it so you cannot delete messages in that time frame either, and instead of showing a "message cannot be deleted right now" screen simply disable the button, so it reduces the number of actions (if it is able to be deleted vs showing a 'cannot delete' I think it'd be the same number of server hits).

Make it so that you cannot view alliance stats in the same time frame, I imagine this is a large draw on system resources as it compiles all nations. This includes the Display All Alliances page as well as the little min-stat box that you can get for each alliance. Do the same for Nation Rankings and Display All Nations.

Disable anything team related, that entire panel, voting, etc. Disable realtime updating of nation rankings, both strength/casualties. Potentially disable showing improvements/wonders on nation pages (still bring them up for the owning nation if they go to the respective tab however).

Disable extended display.

Potentially disable foreign aid as well, that'd be a lot more controversial though.

Question for you - does bringing up the "Temporarily Disabled" page add another server hit? What you could do is if that does, during those times add something at the top of the page with a link to all the things that are temporarily disabled around update, which could be located off server, and that would save all those hits there.

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What I would do -

Make it so that you cannot purchase Cruise Missiles or fire them in the 11:00pm - 1:00 am gametime range. Cruise Missiles are not at all worth while to use in that time frame.

Make it so you cannot delete messages in that time frame either, and instead of showing a "message cannot be deleted right now" screen simply disable the button, so it reduces the number of actions (if it is able to be deleted vs showing a 'cannot delete' I think it'd be the same number of server hits).

Make it so that you cannot view alliance stats in the same time frame, I imagine this is a large draw on system resources as it compiles all nations. This includes the Display All Alliances page as well as the little min-stat box that you can get for each alliance. Do the same for Nation Rankings and Display All Nations.

Disable anything team related, that entire panel, voting, etc. Disable realtime updating of nation rankings, both strength/casualties. Potentially disable showing improvements/wonders on nation pages (still bring them up for the owning nation if they go to the respective tab however).

Disable extended display.

Potentially disable foreign aid as well, that'd be a lot more controversial though.

Question for you - does bringing up the "Temporarily Disabled" page add another server hit? What you could do is if that does, during those times add something at the top of the page with a link to all the things that are temporarily disabled around update, which could be located off server, and that would save all those hits there.

You forgot something, those data graphs. I am pretty sure they are a resource hog.

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You forgot something, those data graphs. I am pretty sure they are a resource hog.

I assumed all graphs were disabled? If not definitely ax charts of all sorts.

Also another possible source to cut would be removing different image calls, depending on how that interacts with the database, since that no one *needs* to see all the images that show up during a war.

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Make it so that you cannot view alliance stats in the same time frame, I imagine this is a large draw on system resources as it compiles all nations. This includes the Display All Alliances page as well as the little min-stat box that you can get for each alliance. Do the same for Nation Rankings and Display All Nations.

Assuming that the primary system bottleneck is the database, and that the relevant queries have been optimized to the maximum extent possible already, some of these statistical summaries can be redirected either to denormalized tables carrying the relevant information, or even to textfile equivalents that are parsed outside the database. The drawback is that there would be a limit to how up-to-date these summaries would be, depending on how frequently they can be updated within system resources.

Even though there's somewhat more potential for mischief with server-processed files, the game database would still be the central authoritative data source and corrupted files would be overwritten periodically (or on demand if necessary.)

The nice graphic displays of nation stats aren't inherently server-intensive, as there are browser plugins and javascript libraries available for making simple bar- and pie- graphs a client-side rendering task. The primary downside to that, is that some browsers cannot render SVG and/or may have limited javascript support (my cell phone, for example)

A more difficult solution to implement would be to queue the users' updates. It's easy enough to set up for input (as long as you never have to change the format of the queued data files or messages), but as far as I can tell, outputting the updated data to a client over HTTP would be anything BUT easy.

It might be easier to do as several have suggested and limit the 23:30 - 00:30 timeframe to nation upkeep tasks: nation status editting, bills, collections, purchases, deployments, etc. Force the server-intensive summaries and the war-screen tasks that change the summaries to be done earlier or latter.

Well, that's my inflated US$0.02

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One option that may help would be to disable some or all of the methods of attack for everyone at midnight update similar to the way some of the stat pages in the game are taken offline to conserve system resources. In this way players would be able to login at 12:00 midnight, collect taxes, pay bills, and prepare their military and then around 1:00 AM or whenever things slow down enough the war system would be switched back online so that players could perform their attacks. This would help spread out the load and hopefully prevent or reduce the update lockout. I wonder if there are parts of the war system that could be brought back online at separate intervals so as to further spread out the update load or would it all (ground attacks, cruise, nukes, aircraft, spies, etc...) have to be brought back online at the same time?

At first I thought this would be a great solution... just disable the lot... but upon additional thinking...

#1, Do the disabled screens come back

a) at a different time each night dependent on traffic? or

B) a set time every night?

If a) then you're going to have everyone F5ing the crap out of it to get in first when it does come back

If B) You could well get the busy signal 2mins after everyone knows what time it comes back online.

#2, Loss of realism... "You cannot attack at this time because... erm... the world is too busy"

#3, Additional complaints that ppl now have to wait up till 1am+ game time to do post update attacks.

---

I understand my previous suggestion and this one will be unpopular (hell I put it right there in the title lol)... but the quad is the most unfair item of gameplay in CN.

#1, At its least evil, the presence of the quad means your ability to defend your nation is advantaged/disadvantaged based on your geographical location.

#2, At its most evil, the presence of the quad means your ability to defend your nation is based on pot luck as you may or may not get the busy message.

---

We already have a lack of realism with the quad in play... you can ground attack at 11:59:00 and ground attack at 11:59:30, but if you try and attack again at 11:59:59 you are told your troops are exhausted in this region.

Magically however, at 12:00:00 they are refreshed and ready for battle again.

---

Why not use this as an opportunity to increase realism, fairness, and database access all at once?

At 11:59:59 you try and attack again and you get a message "Your troops are exhausted in this region, you cannot attack again for x hours".

I have no preference for how long x is really... someone suggested 5hrs, hell make it 4hrs if you have a Pentagon, as long as its long enough to bridge update enough to move everyone at various intervals throughout the window...

It would effectively cut in half the number of military actions at update, at worst.

For coding, slap in a new DB field for time of last ground attack.

If has_pentagon then
  x = 4
else
  x = 5

If (ground_attacks_today = 0) and (time_since_last_attack < x) then
  can't attack
else if ground_attacks_today = 2 then
  can't attack
else
  can attack

---

So here we avoid geographical bias, we avoid pot luck, we avoid adding more unrealistic stipulations, and we avoid merely delaying the bottleneck while people wait for features to come back online.

Edited by Jack Shepard
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I would also add to alden peterson's suggestion of no attacking (except for CMs) between 10:30 PM and 1:30 AM.

This is backwards, by teh way, my suggestion was to block out CMs from those hours since those have literally no benefit and add countless server hits (war battles, CM, fire, damage calculation, message creation, etc) x2 but have about no tactical advantage or need to be able to do around update.

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Another possible solution would be a subpanel on the homepage which had direct links to the "purchase soldiers," "purchase tanks," "purchase aircraft," navy/nuke/CM pages.

It would reduce

home -> military -> tanks

to

home -> tanks

And at update that probably will add up with all the people who are going to rebuy soldiers/tanks/af after attacking

Also, perhaps put a direct link on the aftermath of each attack page? That'd cut even more out. So after the air attack have a link on that page to the aircraft purchase screen.

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I somewhat agree with teh OP's ideas regarding "attack limitations" but really do not want to see CN become an hourly turn based game in a manner different than just daily refreshing.

Also admin if you read this, you should disable the link for extended display so it doesn't reload your page, as that would cut out another database hit :P

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