SparkChess 7 has been rock solid for the past year, with an uptime of 99.98% and almost all feedback from you is positive. Still, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the game and the way you play with it.
We’re looking at some changes and additions and we’d like your feedback.
Probably the most often requested feature is an Elo-style scoring system. We initially chose the existing system because it is simple, intuitive and predictable; new players can understand it easily. It’s also possible to award points when the game ends abruptly (a player resigns or their connection is lost). Its main drawback is inflation – some players’ scores have exploded this year.
We’re strongly considering an Elo score, but one that would take into account more nuances other than win/lose/draw. The new system would not replace existing scores overnight, for a while they would run side-by-side. Elo takes into account the probability of winning, but it’s more ‘opaque’ – more difficult for beginners to understand and calculate. Elo also doesn’t solve cheating.
Do you have anything against implementing it?
We’re also getting requests for faster-paced games, some people think 2 minutes per move is too much. The easiest way to solve this is by allowing players to join different game ‘lobbies’ – say games at 30 seconds/move, 1 minute/move and 2 minutes/move. A more complex approach would be to use a time control system like 20 minutes per game with 30 seconds bonus per move.
My fear is that newcomers would have difficulties understanding a complex time control system (remember, SparkChess is an online chess game for everyone, children and adults, beginners and experts alike) and people won’t have the patience to stare at a screen for several minutes (online multiplayer is different from a real game where you can see your opponent). Blitz-style game would still not be possible, due to network latency. Especially players on mobile devices, who connect from public areas, often are at a disadvantage, with moves needing up to several seconds to propagate (our servers are located in New York and they are fast, the latency is below 200ms on average, tested from US and Europe).
So, what do you think? A simple x seconds/move would be fine? Do you need advanced time control?
No one asked for this, but I thought I should bring it forward anyway. One more complex chess multiplayer feature would allow you to choose from a list of on-going games and simply watch them unfolding. This feature would require more time to implement, so we won’t do it unless you guys really really want it.
Got any multiplayer feature you just have to have? I’d love to hear it!
Your feedback is welcome – comment on this post to share your thoughts.