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2011
Aug
26

Post-Launch Updates

Categories: Flash Bingo Games, Site Updates

I have been monitoring the site for potential issues, so I was doing minor updates as I encounter them. Here are the latest updates:

  • Database is now being backed up on a regular basis.
  • Fixed a couple of website PHP codes that are generating some warnings/errors in some pages, due to some issues that I only noticed now.
  • During game intermission, if a player isn’t signed in yet, make sure the player pop-up will only show the appropriate menu items (e.g. friends can’t be added yet).

I’ve also fixed a major issue that happens in the banner ad engine. I think I have blogged about this in the past, but I wasn’t able to fix it as I couldn’t pinpoint what’s wrong. I only knew of the bug when I moved servers to a new provider a couple of months ago, but this is actually a long standing issue that’s also present in HB for years now.

The bug is stopping the banner engine from serving ads to some players after some time, which is bound to happen if the player has played a couple of games already. It’s also generating a lot of warning logs in the servers. Anyway, I was finally able to figure out the problem, and make an appropriate fix. Both HB and the BingoGems bingo games have been updated.

I took a look at the stats and noticed that banner impressions have significantly increased, confirming that the issue has been fixed. The other side benefit is the excessive warning logs are now gone, so this should ease up the load on the servers even just a bit.

The site has been live for 2 weeks now. There are a few players playing now, not a lot yet, but I’m hoping there will be more players to discover the site in the next weeks.

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2011
Aug
11

BingoGems… Live!

Categories: Site Updates

Four long years. That’s how long it took me to finally launch the games on this site. While I am proud of the things I have accomplished, it’s disappointing how long it took to finish this project (and no, it’s not even 100% finished yet).

In comparison, HB took just 2-3 months of coding time… mostly sleepless nights as I was in a hurry to launch a site then. When HB was launched in 2004, there was only one game available (75-ball bingo), and a lot of things were lacking or weren’t working properly. The next few months were spent fixing things as I encountered it. It was a very successful project though (by my own standards), surpassing all my expectations.

It took another year before Spin Bingo was even introduced on the site. Then another 6-7 months before I added 90-ball bingo. (NOTE: I wasn’t even aware of these time frames until today, after I re-read some parts of my blog on HB). So all in all, it took me like a year and a half to get the HB site on a more stable and complete state, with 3 bingo games available.

I officially started working on BingoGems in July 2007. It’s not until today, August 2011, that I am even opening the games to the public. Sure, I now have 4 bingo games immediately available upon launch, which may help justify the 4-year development time. However, if you read my previous blog entries, there has been several instances when I thought I am so close on releasing, then have to push it back again and again. Over those 4 years, there were a lot of distractions, so I have not really been able to work on the site continuously. Yes I have some regrets, because I know I could have finished things A LOT sooner if I just sat down and did more actual work, but I didn’t.

Anyway, that’s all in the past now. What’s important is I am finally making a major milestone today, by actually opening the games to the public already!

The next few weeks will be spent fixing any issue that I will encounter as more people play on the site. Looking forward, I will now have the time to work on the avatar system. I had to delay this feature, so that it doesn’t push the launch date any further. It’s something that I can introduce to the system later, without affecting the current game setup. Then I will also make better game skins, as the current ones are rather plain looking (though very decent).

So to wrap things up… welcome to BingoGems!!! If you are looking for FREE bingo games to play online, you’ve come to the right place!

Happy bingo gaming!

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2011
Aug
10

Best Players Lists

Categories: Bingo Game Server, Flash Bingo Games, Site Updates

I was shooting for an August 1st launch date, and I was actually on track, however as I have mentioned in the last post I was concerned about some potential speed issues regarding best player lists. The best way to test this is by doing actual profiling, however since there are still no large volume of existing data, I have to make some codes to create hundreds of thousands of test data. This puts the test data on par with HB’s current database size, if not even larger.

And my hunch was right. The tables and codes just aren’t fast enough. This is because I opted to implement real-time display of best player lists. This means as soon as a game is over, you can immediately see the stats updated from any page, or within the Flash bingo games. In contrast, HB updates these same stats once every 24 hours only.

So I decided to just delay the launch date (again), so I can work on optimizing this problem area. This involves making use of secondary tables and further optimizing current table indices and queries, in order to speed up read access of the affected tables. Unfortunately, this required code changes in all areas (web site, bingo game servers, Flash bingo games), hence it took me a couple of days to wrap up everything including a new set of necessary tests.

It took a lot of work, but I am more at ease now knowing that even a few years from now, the current setup can still reliably handle a larger volume of players and data. Real-time reporting of stats is still fully supported, which is really what I wanted from the start.

There were also some other changes/updates in other areas:

  • Fixed a bug that doesn’t parse the bingo room name properly (happens on IE browsers only).
  • Fixed a Flash alignment bug which may disrupt the display (happens on IE 9 only). Unfortunately, this looks like a known unfixed bug on IE 9 itself, so I’ve only done a possible workaround to make the display bug less obvious.
  • There are times when the chat history is being messed up. I think it happens when the chat text is being pruned. I haven’t been able to reproduce the bug yet. I’ve done some potential fixes, but it’s possible this issue may reappear in the future.
  • Fixed bug where the initial value of the minimum jackpot amount was not being properly set.
  • Changed order of pot/jackpot displays.

All the changes (in all areas) are now active. Just doing some more tests right now.

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