Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Back with a new Address!

Fleet Combat Online is back!  And it has a new address:

I am sorry it took so long, but we are back.

I have sent out a mass emailing to all players, so hopefully most users will see it and we can get back to the battles right away!

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coming Back...

Well, I still can't get back -- someone snagged it and is using it as a domain parking site.  They want $150 for it and it is totally not worth it :)

I still own, so I will just bring the site up there instead.

So keep an eye out in the next few days for Fleet Combat to finally come back!
Thanks for sticking around.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Down for a while

I don't know if anyone can get to this blog anymore, but in case you can, here is what is up:

The credit card that I had tied to my mydomain account for automatically renewing my domains was stolen and I canceled it. Then when the domain came up for renewal, they could not charge my card, so they canceled the domain.

MyDomain want's $200 to re-activate the domain which is crazy. So instead, I will wait for it to completely expire and go back in to the "public pool" of domains that can be purchased. I don't think there will be a lot of demand for it, so I should be able to buy it back. If so, it will only cose $20 instead of $200.

If not, I'll have to come up with a new name and domain for the game :) Hopefully that won't happen.

Hang in there.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It is no secret that the site has not been too stable lately. And it is no secret that I have not been making many updates lately :) Real life unfortunately getting in the way of fun as always!

The problem with the site crashing is that the game data is stored in XML which is then Zipped up to save space. This was an experiment on my part to see if this would be more efficient for storing lots of data that is infrequently accessed than putting the data into a database which is optimized for frequent data access. This would also allow for easier distribution of the files at some point -- some files could be on the server, others could be "in the cloud" (as they say). Whereas with a traditional (non Azure) MS SQL database, it all needs to be in one place.

If I were to do it again though, I don't think I would do it this way. The problem is that something is corrupting the game data on occasion when the data is being saved and zipped. Then when it goes to unzip the data the next time, it complains that it fails it's CRC check. This corruption seems to poison the .Net appdomain and it eventually crashes requiring a manual reset.

I am not quite willing to rewrite the whole game data storage engine at this point though. So I have updated to the latest version of the DotNetZip Library and modified the code a bit to detect when the zip file is corrupted and attempt to automatically repair it.

Hopefully this will cut down on the amount of corrupt game data and as a result make the appdomain crash less frequently making the site more stable.


Friday, June 25, 2010

...and we're back!

I am very sorry for the very long outage. It looks like the site was down for about a month -- May 25th to June 25th due to a variety of problems.

First, something happened with the hosting provider that meant that the web pages could not access the database which brought the site down. I could not even access the database from my development computer or from the tools provided by the hosting provider. It seemed to be some kind of permissions issue.

Second, Google for some reason disabled my email account and the blog without explanation.

Third, it's not much of a secret that I haven't been logging in to the site with much frequency lately so I didn't notice that it was down. You were all of course emailing me that it was down, but I didn't get any email because my gmail account for the game was down.

Anyway, it's all straightened out now. The site is back up, and hopefully you will all come back and keep playing. I have temporarily disabled the service that deletes games due to inactivity so that it doesn't go delete all these games that haven't had a turn in 30 days.

Thanks for sticking around and/or coming back. I will try to be on the site more and maybe even do some development on it from time to time :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hooray for Small Milestones!

Fleet Combat Online has reached 500 users!

OK, that's not a huge number, but still not too bad for a game that has done essentially no advertising. We average between one and two people signing up per day (1.43 to be exact). The game started in February of 2008.

So in honor of the occasion, here are some more statistics about the game:
61% of our traffic comes from Google searches
13% is direct traffic (people that type into their browser or use a bookmark).
10% comes from this blog :)
6% comes from -- don't forget to vote, it helps!

This is a pretty big change from six months ago or so. Back then, most of our traffic was direct or from the voting sites. Google searches were a lower percentage. It means that the site is gaining relevance in Google which allows more people to find it just by searchng. Here are the top search terms that sent people to the site:
1) fleet combat online wiki
2) fleet online +browser game
3) fleet combat online
4) fleet combat online ranks
5) starship combat simulator

Funny that it seems like most people searching are actually searching for the game by name. Also funny, is the breakdown of browsers used on the site:
65% use FireFix
24% use IE
6% use Safari
4% use Chrome
.25% use Opera

And in case you think I am in this for the money:
Hosting costs so far: $240
Advertising costs so far: $100 (I experimented with some Google ads a while back)
Advertising revenue so far (from ads on the site): $44.85

So, it's not exactly a get-rich-quick strategy ;)

The came is coded in 30,553 lines of Asp.Net code using C# and MS SQL 2005 and Adobe Flex for the game client.

The 500 players have fought 870 battles. There are currently 55 battles in progress. The AI have played in 795 of those games (wow!). The player who has played the most games is 'Kirbs' with 99 battles and 77,218 command points.

The top ranked player on the player ladder is 'Jinntann' who has fought 59 battles and has 57,334 command points.

There are currently 1,696 ships in the game. The top ranked ship is 'D.J. Supremacy' which is a Victory Class Heavy Carrier owned by 'Voydwalker' with a huge 66 kills and no defeats. The most successful ship class is the Hermes Class Battleship with 155 kills and 11 defeats -- thats a 14:1 kill ratio.

So, I think the game is pretty healthy overall. It could always use more players and I could always use more feedback. I am still surprised by the large number of players that never post in the forum or play against other players. It seems most players want to be left alone and play against the AI ;)

I am also surprised how few people vote using the voting links at the bottom of the home page. Only 13 registered players have EVER voted and most of them only did so once. Remember, you get free command points for voting AND it helps drive new players to the site. I might have to increase the CP reward for voting to try and improve this stat.

My major goal for the next few months will be to get the Galactic Era up and running. That should be a whole other battle experience with new strategies. Beyond that, I will be trying to just build up the community more and mature the game even more.

I hope you all have enjoyed playing it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Look Out!

A very early feature request in Fleet Combat Online was for ship collisions. Another request some time later was to be able to battle on different "maps" that have obstacles on them such as asteroids and planets, etc.

Both of these features have just been deployed. When you create a game now, you have the option of selecting a map to play on. As of now, there are only two maps, but I will be creating more. The maps will have asteroids and debris and other things that must be avoided during battle.

Implementing the map required me to do some decent complex polygon collision detection. It wasn't too hard to go from there to detecting collisions between ships as well. So ships can now collide with map obstacles, and each other.

For testing purposes, collisions do not yet cause any damage.

I want to make sure first that the collision detection works and the resulting "physics" of the collision are reasonable. I also want to see how often collisions happen -- are you constantly running into your own ships and the enemy. That might get frustrating if you lost the ships every time you ran into something.

The obstacles will also block projectiles, beams and ship decoys. Fighters however, can fly right through the obstacles -- they are manuverable enough to weave around them more easily. I might change this in the future too I just figured since you can't control fighters directly it might be annoying to have the AI choose a course around the obstacles that causes problems for them.

Also, the AI is only vaguely aware of the obstacles at this time. They will try not to hit them, but they will still fire their weapons when their target is behind an asteroid. So battling the AI around the new maps might not be so satisfying yet, but they will get an update soon.