What does the future hold for PowerPlay Manager?
The events of the last two weeks have forced us to make major decisions, which are going to determine the future of the PowerPlay Manager project. What exactly happened? The start of the season has brought problems with server overload, which we have been fighting hard since then. We have spent hours upon hours optimizing the performance and we have managed to find some temporary solutions. The project has so many fans now that we are breaking records in terms of managers on-line. The record number is sitting now at 4,450 which is a truly huge number. Based on experience from other projects, we expected the number of on-line managers to be close to 2,000. We didn't even dream about 5,000. Everything would be fine if this number was not coinciding with the statistical calculation at 6.30pm CET. This causes such a load on the server that we had to make the unpopular arrangement whereby the non-PRO managers are unable to access the game when the load is too high. Many of you have criticized this without considering the fact, that without this precaution, the game itself wouldn't be functional at all.
Despite the fact that these situations are rare, we have been pondering about the future of this project. Soccer is already under development and it is certain to be more popular than hockey. Just consider how popular it is all over the world. Therefore we can expect at least double number of managers on-line compared to what we have now. And this will happen relatively soon. Therefore it cannot be expected that the servers will bear this load. You may think that this is easy to solve just by buying more servers. Unfortunately it is not as easy as it seems. There are two problems. The first one is finances. We already have 3 servers (one web server, one database server and one for pictures and banners) and adding new ones is not cheap by any means. It is almost impossible to sell advertising during the economic crisis and virtually all our income comes from the PRO packs. This sort of a financial investment is a major decision for us. The other problem is even more serious. It is not at all easy to divide the game onto more servers. Our hockey database is connected with the universal user interface. The universal interface, where the forums are, where you can use the "Say to others" feature, is becoming more and more popular and the load created by these features is almost as big as the hockey itself. We have over 5,000 forum posts daily and that's not counting the "Say to others" messages. We are becoming a community portal. These kinds of portals often have a lot of servers. We have this on the same server as hockey. We cannot go on like this and we will have to divide the hockey database from the universal interface so that it has its own server. Consequently, soccer will also get its own database and server. This division is an incredibly complicated operation and we expect that it will take the whole of 5 weeks of intensive work of the whole team. Besides, it is impossible to divide this directly on the game servers. Otherwise it would be necessary to turn the game off every day for several hours. This wouldn't be good for anybody. Therefore we have to do everything on special testing server which will cost extra expenses.
We have been thinking about this for a long time because the future of PowerPlay Manager depends on it. One option was to continue turning off features of the game and last as long as it gets and open soccer for a small number of people who would buy the PRO pack. The other option was to invest more money and go "all in". To redo the whole system, buy new servers and create a game in such a way that would allow everybody to continue playing. We have decided to go "all in". I expect that there will still be people who will criticize us and bash us. They will not appreciate the fact that we are taking a risk. But we have started this project with the goal that people would like to play our game and that perhaps one day we could get something back. We hope that each and every one of you who have read this, will be able to appreciate it. We also hope that this decision will convince many that have hesitated so far to support us by purchasing the PRO pack. We will need all your support especially now.
What is going to happen now? I will describe things in detail here because it concerns all of us. We will finish last small features on hockey in the next 10 days. That includes finishing the skyboxes and tuning up the national teams. Then we will buy testing servers and copy the game onto these servers. Then we begin the work on dividing the databases. This should take about 5 weeks of programming. During this time it will not be possible to develop things on hockey and soccer. Only the major errors will be fixed. When this is finished, the hockey account will get a new server and the universal account will be separated on its own server. The last day or two of the process the new databases will be copied to the servers and the game will inevitably have to be shut down several times for a few hours. When all is done, the game should run smoothly and there should be no more restrictions. Then we shall purchase a new server for soccer and continue our development of this sport. One thing is for certain. The launch of the beta version of soccer will be postponed due to what I have mentioned above. But it is clear that without this, the whole process is impossible to handle. We will keep you posted on the launch of beta version of soccer in the upcoming months, but we can already say that the managers will be allowed to enter soccer gradually in batches.
Finally, I would like to thank everybody who keeps their fingers crossed for us for their support. We will need it. :-) If the whole thing goes according to plan, the game should work much smoother in the future.
Ivan alias tuttle