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Game Upgrade Plans (long.. boring...) :)

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    Posted: 30 Dec 2018 at 9:59pm
Hey folks!

It’s been a while since I posted anything as it relates to future game enhancements. I apologize for that; I’ve had a lot going on the last 2 1/2 years (I won’t bore you with those details.. it just is what it is), and I've been more in a "maintenance" mode than a "progress" mode.    I am hoping to change that in 2019... I'll bore you with the past history (which you can probably skip), and then tell you my plans for the upcoming year(s).

History (if you are bored..)

When I rewrote the game between 2010-2012, it was a full time (and necessary) endeavor. Before that, I was running a lot of the code manually, and the infrastructure was falling apart. If you were around then, you may also recall that we were coming up close to our 1 millionth race, and I honestly never assumed we’d reach that number started working on this back in 1997 (and formally released in 1998).   To get us into the 2000s, I had to cut some corners, most notably by using ASP Classic for the front end (which I was familiar with) instead of using a more acceptable language.   Well, needless to say, it's time to consider another rewrite...

Moreover, the game was not rewritten with mobile compliance as a priority.   CSS has come a long way since then, and the @media tag is now regularly used (which I was completely ignorant to at that time). I know the game is an eyesore on mobile, and making it more mobile-friendly is also necessary...

Fortunately - the backend code that runs the game is pretty solid! And honestly that’s the bread and butter, so until everything else is done, I'm not looking to mess with that (though I will eventually.. )

Plans for The Upcoming Year :

Good news - I know a lot more about "recent standard" internet technology than I did when I last rewrote the game! Here is what I hope to accomplish in the next 12-18 months :

Priority 1 - Move from MySQL to MariaDB (yawn) -

In theory, this will not cause any issues and be a drop in the bucket, but it may take a bit of downtime. In practice, I have no idea if this is even possible... but it would help immensely with priority #3 (as I work on priority #2)..

Priority 2 - SLOWLY move to a mobile friendly version of the game using Python (and more Javascript) and moving away from ASP Classic

This will be a grind, but this is the one you guys will see the most progress on from your end on.   I will attempt to slowly move pages from the clunky ASP classic version to a mobile complaint Python/Javascript version. I don’t expect this to be easy, but it will a) move the game to 2 of the top 3 most popular languages currently in use and b) allow me to save money on online server expenses (using a Linux box instead of a Windows box). You may see some new game additions during this phase as well!

Priority 3 - Move the MySQL/MariaDB database to Azure DB in the cloud

This is important in the big scheme of things.   I have been running the databases from my home for years now, and the computers have running things are old.. very old. One just broke down this week... and we are also relying on my home internet connection. Making this move will cost more but it’s much, much safer (and hopefully moving my front end to a non-windows environment will offset this cost)

Priority 4 - Rewrite the backend of the game SLOWLY using Python

This is the lowest of priorities, and will definitely be the last thing I will attack. That said, it would eventually allow me to move the “game guts” to a non-Windows box in the cloud (and save energy costs), or possibly move it to a handful of smaller devices (in theory, I could run it from a handful of raspberry pi’s I operate from home - dunno if this is actually possible.. but I'd be willing to try it!).

So yea.. that was a bunch of boring detail but, if we can get here, the game will literally be set for another 10-15 years..

..and hopefully then my next “big game overhaul” will be a post about me training up Ben to take this sucker over (I am 47.. 20 years has FLOWN by...) ;)

Thank you for your continued patronage and patience!   

--Mike







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