Forums & password reset/change
All Tropic Euro in-game accounts now include a profile on the newly created forums, which means that a valid email address is now required in order to play online. This provides the ability to change your password, or reset it if you should forget it in future.
The addition of these forums now means that contacting other Tropic Euro users is now possible from outside the game, and makes arranging meetups a lot simpler. There will also be more features added to the forum over time. Also note that a forum account can only be created in-game by playing online and logging in to the public Tropic Euro server.
A menu bar has been added to the lobby in-game, which contains a handy shortcut button to go straight to the forums. It can also be triggered using the keyboard shortcut Alt + F.
Rankings & leaderboards
All games that start with one distinct human player for every island are now automatically ranked by the server. There are three separate ranking tables for three different game types: 3-5 player games (3-5P), 2 player (1v1) and 4 player team (2v2) games. Each ranked game can only be of one of those types and completed games only affect your ranking in that particular game type.
Games become officially ranked once the game has started and all players have made a move. Once this has happened, any players that leave the game will be replaced by a CPU Normal player and the result of the game will still count towards the rankings. Also note that if all players have left a ranked game that has started but not finished, then the game will be removed and no change will be made to the rankings.
To prevent time wasters, a feature has been added where you can report a user for time violation if they are taking too long to make a move. This can be done via right-clicking on the user in the user list, or by right-clicking in the appropriate user's island window. There are three time violation warnings allowed for each user before the user is banned for the rest of the game and replaced by a CPU player:
- A user can first be reported if no move has been made after 90 seconds.
- After a user has been reported once, the second time violation level is 75 seconds, and if this is reached and reported then the user also incurs one penalty move by a CPU Normal player.
- The third and final time violation level is 60 seconds, and if this is reached then the user is replaced by a CPU Normal player for the remainder of the game. The user can still spectate however, but will be unable to retake control of their island (and also no-one else can retake control of the banned user's island).
When you place your mouse over each user in the user list, you can now see their 3-5P and 1v1 ranking scores via a tooltip message. Right-clicking on a user also now has an extra option to visit their forum profile.
Leaderboards for the various game types are available in-game via the Rankings tab in the new menu bar, with options to display either the global top 10 or your own position in the rankings. The rankings page on the website also has the global leaderboards for each of the game types, plus full details of the ranking algorithm used by Tropic Euro.
The top menu bar of the website has been redesigned to include icons and clearer tabs for the various new pages added, such as the forums and the rankings page. A special template for the forum software that Tropic Euro uses (phpBB) has also been created in order to fit in with the rest of the website.
Roadmap & have your say on new features
A dedicated post on this forum has been created that contains the current roadmap - this post will be continually updated over time as new features are planned and implemented. You can also suggest features by creating new topics in the Roadmap / Suggestions forum.
Connection bandwidth improvements
For those of you who access the Internet through a mobile data network, the amount of data Tropic Euro uses to communicate with the server has been reduced by a further 25-50% (i.e. on top of the 95% reduction earlier in the year).
This means that now hardly any data at all is used when playing online, typically just a few kilobytes or so for an hour's play, depending on the number of users online and the frequency of chat messages.
- The controls in the login window are now disabled once the log in button has been pressed, until a response is received from the server. Previously, these controls remained editable, which could result in inconsistent state if a user on a slow connection managed to edit these boxes whilst logging in.
- All games that are newly created now move from the "Games Waiting" to the "Games in Progress" section immediately before it switches to in-game view. Previously, this would only happen for the first game that a user played.
Under the hood:
- The entire back-end to Tropic Euro has been reworked for vastly improved performance and scalability. The server now uses a MySQL database to hold user data, which is linked with the phpBB forum database. Previously, it was using a very inefficient flat-file system, primarily because Tropic Euro started as a direct port of the phial.com version of Puerto Rico. This new architecture should scale well up to a million users or more, with the only changes required in future likely to be server hardware upgrades as the user base grows.
- The blur animation code used throughout the interface is now more efficient, which should result in a slightly smoother blur effect.