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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
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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2011
Jul
29

Production Server Game Testing

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

Finally nearing completion… I am now doing game tests on the production servers. There were some glitches that I encountered, but nothing major that’s not easily fixed.

Here are some final changes/improvements that were made during the initial game tests on the production servers:

  • Adjusted Spin Bingo game timers, as I feel that even new players don’t really need more than 4 minutes to get the hang of the game.
  • Possible fix for another thread-related issue, which may explain a rare error that I recently encountered while using the stress test application. The error was not in the game server, so hopefully this isn’t a critical issue.
  • Additional checks in the bingo game servers to prevent multiple games from being played. There is already an existing check from the web pages, so this may seem redundant. It’s done for security purposes, and it also fixes an issue with the stress test application that prevents the game server from recording log outs properly.
  • Some changes in the stress test application so it can connect outside the local environment.
  • Fixed several e-mail issues. I just realized that some pages don’t even send out e-mails yet, so those have been updated. Also, there were some issues with the e-mail filter and calls to the function that prevented it from actually sending e-mails.
  • Ads were not showing in the production servers. I already encountered this issue during local testing. Apparently, it was another Flash security issue, so the previous local server fix I made wasn’t even necessary.
  • Minor visual changes to the web site’s top area graphics. Also changed the text from “Home” to “Games”, as I find that more appropriate.
  • Minor improvements to the policy server. Removed some unnecessary codes, also fixed a counting bug that doesn’t really affect the stats but makes it a bit inaccurate.
  • Optimized some frequently accessed tables (best players and player status related), updated corresponding web pages and game server codes. I have just seriously considered using secondary tables for some player stats. This will kinda duplicate some existing data, but will potentially make reads/writes faster since fewer records will be involved. However, I decided to look into this in more detail later, as lots of areas will be affected. Hopefully, the current setup is good enough.

I am still doing a couple more tests, covering as much area as possible. The bingo game servers are actually actively running now, and the web site now allows games to be played (but this is currently limited to my account). When the tests are over, all I need to do is reset the entire database, then open the games to the public.

So far, everything is looking better. If I don’t encounter any major issue this weekend, I can (finally!!) look forward to a game launch next week. Let’s hope for the best!

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