Q&A session with our devs

  • Well whatever the outcome from any Q & A session...... :-

    Travian are totally deluded if they think it will appease the players.

    The facts of the matter is that HTML5 didn't work.

    You all reckon it will be another month before you can get an update out to all

    The game is getting worse, day by day........ Hour by hour

    One can spend as much time refreshing.... OOOOpoooppppp... SORRY... Refresh don't work any more most of the time. You have to go back to lobby and start the game again.... sometimes more than once to get anything to work.

    Up to 3 mins from starting to reschedule trains to actually getting them there.... Provided you don't have to do another refresh., sorry, reload from lobby to see if all have actually taken..

    The game is now getting virtually unplayable. And one thing is for certain.

    If I have to put up with another month of this crap, well I will not be here, and I'm guessing a lot more will not be either.

    What happened to the 'We have stopped fixing all problems, but will still look at major ones'.

    That went out of the window didn't it

    Bottom line is that you have a game that no longer works

    New players leave within days even more than usual because they don't want a game that don't work

    Long standing players are only staying with the game because of friendships made via the game... The game does absolutely nothing to keep our attraction any longer.

    Never mind the technical stuff, that many of us do actually understand....... What about the people that don't.... All they want is a game that is playable .... And right now this is the biggest heap of CRAP I've ever seen in 20 years of gaming..

    And to anyone who does not like what I've said... TOUGH....Many will like it even tho they will not have the guts to say so.

  • ^ That's how you hit the nail on the head RN. Cheers Viking!

    To the Q & A hailed as a great success, I think it was because they finally figured out how to use Zoom. I'll take a wild guess here and say the reason they didn't want it recorded or refuse to post transcript is because they couldn't afford the licensing rights to Happy Birthday. Next time you have a company party, do not presume it is for our benefit and leave us out of it, like all the players you wouldn't admit or could care less about anyway.

    For all the employees patting themselves on the back for some delusional and / or trivial reason, you are still NINE months past the dead line for implementing HTML 5. This makes you look even more incompetent as you knew this was coming FIVE YEARS in advance. How old is RN again? Oh yea, 7, so most of it's existence you've known there was a big giant bug coming to gnaw on your bones. What have you done about it? You let it stomp around and breed countless other bugs.

    To all the failed art majors trying to get your finger painting on the company fridge, I've got a few words for you too; Coal, Iron Ore, Copper Ore & Bauxite.

  • Q&A Notes: Technical aspects of the upcoming HTML5 update

    As announced before, here are the notes from last weeks Q&A session:

    We are speaking freely in the Q&A and sharing our personal perspective, so please do not consider any of this to be prepared or official announcements.

    Q: What are the basic technical differences between the current live version and the upcoming version we are working on?

    • Andreas: Base difference is how the UI is rendered concerning changes in data. The current system is very granular, leading to cascading effects when changing the UI. This leads to bugs being much harder to fix. In the new system, changes only affect the correct screen, which makes it easier to fix bugs. Both systems have their pros and cons, but in the end the new system turned out to be better in all regards like readability and performance. It was a big decision, but this is the best for the future of the game.
    • Sergej: In the current version, the framework disguises the functionality of the code. In the new version, there are fewer layers, making debugging quicker and reducing the amount of bugs in general.

    Q: What did you do in the last few weeks and months?

    • Andreas: Most of the time went into bugfixes and making sure events also work in the new version. Generally, our focus is the quality of the game right now and we want to work towards the quality of Flash as fast as we can.

    Q: How will the new HTML5 version improve the performance?

    • Andreas: Highlight is that, on older PCs, the map scrolling is much much faster. The general performance improved as well, but it depends on the individual players how big these improvements are. It also depends on the individual screens, so we will also have to work on them one by one. In general, the performance is already better, on average. Maybe 10-20%, except for the map scrolling, which is really fundamentally better now.
    • Sergej: Many screens were invisible screens, unnecessary for loading. We changed that so they only load when visible, which improved performance significantly.

    Feel free to join the PTR to test the current status of the new version.

    Q: How do we handle performance problems in HTML5?

    • Andreas: We did a lot of systematic changes in order to work on performance better. For example being able to track individual loading times for screens. We had to build our own tool for this, but it helps us to keep working on performance problems and focus on the most important ones where we can make the biggest improvement in the shortest time.

    Q: Some buttons have lower contrast now. Is that intentional?

    • Salix: No, these are bugs. One of them is not reproducible and the other one does not exist in the new version anymore. In general, if there are more contrast of visibility problems in the UI, that is definitely something we want to improve.

    Q: What tools are you using and did you change tools?

    • Andreas: In the backend, we didn’t change a lot. We are working on some changes for the deployment of servers, because that is very time-consuming right now. Without this problem, we can focus more on game content and bugs. The big change happened in the frontend where we are now using Haxe, that converts into HTML5. It’s based on action script, which is the language of Flash, so we can still use our old tools. However, still a lot of work, because Flash is binary, like an executable and java script is just a script language that is compiled in your browser. This makes it harder to make it work as fast as Flash, but it’s doable by optimizing the code. This platform keeps RN safe for the future because we can compile it in any language we want to.

    Q: Will the final HTML5 version be as good as Flash was?

    • Andreas: I think so, yes. Concerning bugs we are on a good track and in terms of performance, the use of HTML5 has pros and cons. HTML5 is very modular, so in the future we can load it much faster than Flash, which loads the entire game at once. Getting on the same level is hard, but possible. It is still the right way, since HTML5 will stay and Flash won’t, and we want the game to be available forever, if possible.
    • Salix: The version we are working on right now won’t be the “final” version; of course, we will keep on working on it.
    • Andreas: Something like a “final” version could be achieved in something like 1-2 years. It’s really hard work and it takes time.

    Q: Will you add a larger font size?

    • Salix: There are limits to how much we can do here, since the text needs to fit in the screens in all languages. Nothing should have changed because of HTML5. But either way, readability is important for us, so if some problems keep being there , please let us know.

    Q: Why is there so little attention for the mobile app?

    • Andreas: Even though Haxe can be compiled in multiple languages, like Java for mobile, there are still some things we need to change for each platform. Some things are entirely different, for example the shop, where we have to use the Google Shop and the iOS shop. Also for our screens, we need to redesign them for mobile. So all of this is quite a lot of work and a completely different project. The main platform for our players is the browser version so we want to make a great browser version first. We will eventually work on the mobile version, but the browser version is still the main priority.
    • Salix: Additionally, with the browser version we have strict time limit due to the end of the Flash player. With mobile, that is not the case. Also given that we are a relatively small team, we can not do everything at the same time. To prioritize the browser version was simply more important and urgent. However, this does not mean we are not working on the mobile version at all. Probably in the next (not sure) mobile update, for example, there will be a fix that deals with a lot of crashes many players face on the Android version of the app.

    Q: Do you plan to make some kind of API and can you even do that?

    • Salix: No plans right now.
    • Andreas: Not that easy, because this would give some players an advantage compared to less tech savvy players. More important, currently we are putting all our resources into improving the game quality. But we can talk about it, and then maybe at some point in the future we could consider it. But right now, our priorities are definitely on bugs and performance.

    Q: Why is the chat so bad?

    • Sergej: The chat was created for Flash and it had a different logic to render text than HTML5. We are already working on improvements for the chat, where the rendering and loading of texts is optimized, using a so-called “virtual list component”. The chat will be scalable with HTML5, which is not the case right now. Currently, every new message leads to all messages being loaded and rendered again. In the upcoming version, only new & visible messages are loaded, making the chat much faster.
    • Salix: We are not quite sure yet if this will be in the first big update, since this is still in testing and we need to see if this is ready in time. We don’t know for sure right now, but it’s possible it won’t be in the upcoming update.

    Q: When are you done?

    • Salix: We are planning to use the entire August to work on bugs primarily and we will stay on the PTR for that time. It’s not impossible we will go live earlier, but unlikely. We will evaluate the version every week and check if we reached our goals for a live release. For example, we want to get rid of all frontend bugs up to a certain severity level and the overall amount of frontend bugs needs to be much lower. Of course we know that, once we go live, the bug number will increase again, since internal testing and even extensive PTR testing can not prevent that. Some bugs can only be seen until a huge amount of players plays the version. So the game won’t be bug free of course, but we are very confident that we can get the bug count to a very low number.

    Feel free to join the PTR and check yourself. We are a small team and we really appreciate players helping us with bug reports that allow us to reproduce bugs, which saves us a lot of time.

    Open question time:

    We would really like to do sessions like this again, maybe with other team members. If you have any ideas about topics you want to talk about, contact Salix in a PM on the forum. The same applies to any other feedback about this Q&A.

    Q: Does it mean that the app will not be improved for a long time?

    • Salix: Depends, but essentially yes. Browser comes first and with the app we can probably start next year.
    • Andreas: It’s a bit like Pandoras Box, we only can judge how long it takes once we start working on it. It might be one month, it might be twelve. Until then, it’s impossible to tell. Right now, the priority is clearly the browser.

    Q: Is the mobile app still on Flash?

    • Andreas: Technically it’s on Adobe Air, but basically Flash, yes.
    • Salix: It is important to note that this is not related to the Flash player. For mobile, we do not depend on that, so nothing will change once the Flash Player is gone next year.

    Q: Is it possible to buy the full steam box in the mobile shop?

    • Salix: For app-only players the new shop is sadly not available.
    • Sergej: There might be a solution for this, but it’s not yet planned when we can work on it .
    • Salix: Until then, use a workaround by using the browser version of the game on your phone, which of course is not very convenient.

    Q: When the app is reworked next year, will bonus codes work in iOS?

    • Salix: No, because that is not a technical issue, but a legal issue with Apple that is not at all in our hands. So this will sadly not change, unless Apple changes their rules.

    Overall we were quite happy with how the Q&A session went. There are a few things we want to improve, like getting rid of the waiting room and changing some camera settings. But beyond those technical aspects, we are quite happy with the format and would like to have more Q&A sessions in the future.

  • I am curious if the Amazon app will be able to run Rail Nation. My husband bought me a tablet and the tablet doesn't run Google, it runs Amazon Apps. It has Rail Nation, but it doesn't support the Rail Nation App. Will there be a fix for this any time soon? I don't always have my computer with me so a tablet would be nice to use to have a bigger screen than use of my tiny phone. Thanks!

  • Sadly not, no. We supported the Amazon devices in the past, but we noticed that user numbers on Amazon devices were extremely low (literally a handful of active players), so at some point we had to stop developing for this platform.