As official online playing page is down for a week, i begin to start thinking, how to organize blokus playing if it will not be repaired. I still beleive it will start working, but…
Is it difficult to build pentoby netwok version? On my mind, it need following things.
Path to playing files - in a local network or at www
Possibility of starting game with a time control - maybe later
Rules of joining game as a player, and - fine if possible, maybe later - as a spectator
After game started, when it is not player's turn, pentobi just reread the file (1 time per second). When it is your turn, others wait, you do turn, pentobi rewrite file
Seems to be simple, but as a programmer i know, what simple to say, not allways simple to realize. But if it will be done, that will be nice alternative to mattel online playing zone.
I have thought in the past about supporting network play with Pentobi. I don't think that a design that communicates by polling uploaded game files would be a good and extensible design, I would probably implement it as a separate server program that the Pentobi GUIs can connect to using TCP socket connections. I wouldn't underestimate the necessary work even for a simple implementation and this is not going to happen in the near future.
But anyway, this would not be a real replacement for the current Blokus server. I think that nowadays people expect to be able to use a game server without having to install a local program, so you would need to implement a web interface (better based on HTML 5 than Flash, but I am not expert in either). And even if you would create an open-source Blokus server, it would still have advantages to run a single big server with many users than many small servers with few users (e.g. to compute global ratings). And then you need someone to host this server and to do admin work.
It might still be possible to use the non-GUI parts of Pentobi's code for such a server, for example for the game logic and/or a computer opponent in the server backend. However, I am not sure if C++ is a good language choice for this. The main reason that Pentobi is programmed in C++ is that I focused on creating a better AI and the search-based AI in Pentobi needs all the performance it can get.
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