As the first official battle for Atlantis draws to a close this week, we are considering some additions to Atlantis we hope to have in place for the August battle. We would like your feedback on these updates.
There are 15 million qredits up for grabs. The players from the winning faction who appear on the top 100 Atlantis leaderboard at the end of the battle will share in the spoils of 10 million qredits. The qredits will be distributed per launch. So the players with 1000 launches will receive 10 times more qredits than the players with 100 launches. Players on the top 100 list for the second and third place teams will share in 4 million and 1 million qredits respectively. The more you launch, the bigger piece of the prize you get. If community feedback doesn’t cause us to scratch this planned enhancement, this one will be awarded for the July winners sometime before August 1.
The winners get to sleep. All members of the winning faction, regardless if they battled for Atlantis or not will receive the gift of sleep. For the last week of the month (or less if the battle for Atlantis does not end before the 23/24th), the winning faction’s bases will be doubled in credits capacity, requiring you to harvest half as often. Now you can sleep through the night and not waste any qredits by morning. We are also considering a small harvest boost of perhaps 10% increased collection rate. This is still under debate. We would like to have a bonus, but not significant enough to cause many players to defect to the faction just to get the bonus for 1 week. If the community supports this idea, the feature will likely not be complete before August.
Finally, we are planning to add new medals. The person who discovers Atlantis will earn the Discovery Award worth 8 rank points. First, second, and third in each faction will earn medals for each position worth 8, 4, and 2 rank points respectively. Each medals can only be earned once by each player. These medals will be awarded retroactively once we have them implemented.
In addition to these enhancements, we are working on a dedicated Atlantis screen for all of the mobile clients. Once Atlantis has been discovered, the new Atlantis page will allow you to jump directly to an Atlantis zone and launch. This will allow us to move Atlantis into deeper water. Perhaps Atlantis will take more than a few hours to discover as a result.
The top three players in each faction will still have the top three zones in Atlantis named for them each month. We have created a topic the forums and a poll where you can give us your feedback on these ideas.
-Christie (aka Gadgerson)
Today we are announcing that Atlantis has been released for testing. Starting now, you can search for Atlantis, discover it, and begin deploying. However we will be using the next three weeks to test the system and work out any bugs. Instead of doing a 5 day stacking period and 10 day battle, we will likely only do a 1-2 day stacking period and 3-5 day battle, then delete all the zones and do it again. We think we can do about 1 test battle per week leading up to the official launch of the new Atlantis on July 1. We will be manually adjusting battle dates and may reset the Atlantis zones without much warning.
Use this time to practice your strategy and help us verify all parts of the system are working correctly. But we discourage players from spending cubes and significant qredits to capture and defend Atlantis. ALL STATISTICS AND LEADERBOARDS WILL BE DELETED DURING THIS TESTING PHASE.
WINDOWS PHONE USERS: To launch against the new Atlantis zones you will need to download version 1.23 which was published to the store today. It may take a few hours to appear in the store on your phone.
Monitor the status of Atlantis from the portal. The location will be exposed once at least one member from each faction discovers the location.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Atlantis: The Evolution
See the video summary.
We have received much feedback on Atlantis. In general, the community wants to keep Atlantis, and wants more. We have formulated a plan and have begun the work to make Atlantis a major expansion to QONQR. Today we are sharing that plan with you. We can’t say yet when it will be complete, but we will be working full-time on Atlantis until it is ready for release.
- The current Atlantis zone that was introduced on April 1 will be renamed “Atlantis Prime.” Atlantis Prime will be hidden from the map when the new update is released, but the final bot counts and leader board will be preserved as part of the battle history reports.
- 18 new Atlantis Zones will be added, surrounding Atlantis Prime in the shape of a triangle.
- These zones will represent Atlantis Districts that surround Atlantis Prime, 6 Legion zones, 6 Swarm zones, and 6 Faceless zones.
- The Atlantis complex will move to a new location around the world every month and the zones will be reset back to 0. Atlantis will always be found in water.
- Players will need to search for and discover Atlantis using their phones. Atlantis will not be visible on the Command Center or public API until after it has been discovered by all factions.
- The first player to deploy bots into a zone in the Atlantis Complex will be crowned the “Discoverer of Atlantis.” A tweet will be released that Atlantis has been discovered, but the location will not be disclosed until all factions have deployed bots into the complex.
- After Atlantis has been discovered by all factions, the location will be announced and the ability to search for Atlantis by name to find the location will be possible.
- For 5 days following the discovery of Atlantis, each faction will be allowed to deploy bots into their own districts, but may not attack the enemy Atlantis zones. This will be known as the staging phase of the battle. The first player to discover Atlantis will want to keep the discovery quiet, telling only trusted operatives, as to not allow the location of Atlantis to leak to enemy factions, thus giving their faction an advantage of having more days to stack defenses in their zones.
- If not all factions have found Atlantis within 48 hours after initial discovery, the location will be disclosed publicly by QONQR, as to not give any faction more than a 2 day head start on stacking the zones.
- QONQR may post clues to the location of Atlantis, if it has not been discovered within the first week of the month.
- 5 days following the discovery of Atlantis, the staging phase will end, and the battle stage will begin. The battle will last for 10 days. At the conclusion of the battle, the faction holding the most zones will be declared the victor. If there is a tie, the winning team will be determined by which faction has the most bots in the Atlantis Prime zone.
- No Booster, Strengthen or Divert bots can be used in Atlantis. The first iteration of Atlantis demonstrated that 100% survivability of the support bots created an undesirable motivation for players to spend too much money to secure the zone. Instead we have created the staging part of the battle to establish defenses in your districts.
Some Zones in Atlantis have special rules for deployments, but first a sidebar about “Elite” players. Nearly all MMO games have a special classification for players that are big spenders in the game. We have received much feedback from our biggest financial supporters, indicating a frustration they have spent significant money to support our small game company, but have nothing special to show for their support. In response, we are creating “Elite” player status for all players that have spent over $100 in the game. In most mobile and social games, and QONQR is no exception, fewer than 1% of the players make up over 50% of the revenue that keeps the company going. We want to recognize those players that make it possible for us to keep doing this job every day, and who are primarily responsible for enabling QONQR to be enjoyed by all players. As such, we are adding the following features for Elite players.
- Elite players will have the option to show that they are “Elite” on their player profile. By default this is off. Some players may want to hide their spending habits, or may not want to draw attention to themselves by indicating they are Elite.
- Elite players will receive a fixed quantity of free Sync Lock Anti-Virus doses each month. We have been very clear that Sync Lock was created to avoid our big spenders from being pushed out of the game by multi-scopers who refuse to support QONQR. However, we also need to ensure that these same players are not pushed out by Sync Lock itself.
- Elite player will have a new option to change their rank title. Elite players may choose to show their current rank, such as “Master Seargent”, or may chose a different title to display on their profile. The new options will include.
- Spy (if earned)
- Double Agent (if earned)
- Rouge Agent (if earned)
- Mercenary (if earned)
- Annihilator (if earned)
- Mega Annihilator (if earned)
- Private (for those wishing to obscure their true rank)
- An exclusive zone for Atlantis (discussed below)
- And more Elite Player features to be revealed in the future
- Your Elite profile settings are available under your account settings on the portal. We are working on updates to iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android to show the special titles and Elite status, which will be in the next update.
Now that we’ve explained Elite Status, let’s go back to Atlantis. This is the shape Atlantis will take each month. You can see each faction’s district is made up of six zones shaped like a triangle. There are special rules for some of these zones.
The top three zones in each Faction’s Atlantis district will be named after the top three players from the previous month’s battle, based on number of launches. The inaugural Atlantis zones will be:
- Faceless Cas
- Faceless Compasspoint
- Faceless Bozo
- Legion Dbanick
- Legion Heavy Seventh
- Legion Bacchus
- Swarm Willie
- Swarm Intmadatris
- Swarm Roosterman
The top zone in each district will be for Elite players only. Players who are not Elite, but attempt to deploy into this zone will receive a message that only Elite players may deploy into this zone. Players wishing to hide their Elite status, should not deploy into this zone.
The middle row of zones, named after the 2nd and 3rd place players from the previous month, will be normal zones, where anyone can deploy anything, with the exception of Support and Divert bots. Atlantis Prime will have the same unrestricted deployments, but unlike these zones, Atlantis Prime cannot be hit until after the battle begins.
The bottom row of zones will be named “Grunt”, “Melee”, and “Clover”. These zones are designated as “Refresh Free” zones. Any player that has used a bot refresh or energy recharge in the previous 60 minutes, will receive an error message when attempting to deploy into these zones.
- Grunt will be designated for new players. Only those players still in training (below level 100) will be able to deploy into this zone.
- Melee will be a zone where ordnance is not allowed. Only Zone Assault, Deflection, Shockwave, and Seeker bots can be used in this zone.
- Clover will be a zone where we will test battle outcome randomization. Many players have requested that we add some level of randomization to the battle outcomes, similar to rolling the dice in board games. In the Clover zone, a random “plus or minus” percentage will be included in calculating the outcomes of the battle.
Atlantis is all about bragging rights. We caution players to not overextend their cube and credit spending, but to make the cost worth the outcome. We have specifically created the Grunt and Melee zones to be inclusive so new players can be an integral part of the battle, and play a significant part in a faction’s ability to win the war for Atlantis. We hope these zones foster a whole new level of mentoring of new players and strengthen the QONQR community. We are working on more ways for you to share your Atlantis success both during the battle and after. Our players have shaped our plans for Atlantis, and the features to come will be no different. We will continue to evolve the Atlantis arena, and your ability to brag about your success, as we see how the first few battles go. Speaking of new features to come, we would like you to take a look at and vote on some features in the forums at http://community.qonqr.com/index.php?/forum/50-vote-for-new-features/
As always, thanks for being awesome. You make QONQR possible, and we are working hard to make it better every day.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Universal Transverse Mercator Coordinate System
Today we are starting our junior developer on a project to make improvements to the public API. These changes are being made to address several items. The audience of this post is intended to be developers and GIS enthusiast. My apologies in advance for the technical nature of the post. This is intended to give API developers notice for the coming changes.
First, Gadgerson has asked that I inform people that http://Qommnd.com is not owned by QONQR, but rather is one of the most popular public API projects by one of our players. She says we often get emails with questions about Qommnd.com, and thus wanted me to make the clarification.
In the coming API changes, we are removing the Capturer codename and Leader codename from the API calls. Many people have expressed concern that their business and vacation travels can be mapped based on the zones they capture when away from home. We want our players to be able to play QONQR while away from home, without making it easy for someone else to know when their home is empty.
We are adding a minimum 1 hour delay to all zone counts. Many people have lamented over the past year that the Command Center application and some of the applications that players have built based on the public API have removed all strategy from the game. The ability to perform a surprise attack on a zone and establish a beachhead has been eliminated due to the tools available for monitoring the zones every few minutes. The API and Command Center application will now receive “old” battle reports. Every attack has the opportunity to queue a report to be shared on the API. If the attack is 1 hour after the queued report, that report is “popped” to the API, and a new report is queued. There will always be a battle report queued for delivery on the API, and it can only be released if it is at least 1 hour old and a new attack has happened. Therefore all API stats will be at least 1 deployment behind. In highly active zones, bot counts available through the API should always be between 60 minutes and 119 minutes old. The only exception to the delayed reports will be in the event of a zone’s capture. The battle report for the zone capture will be immediately available.
Tuesday’s map outage was a result of the public API. SQL server “parameter sniffing” caused the database to build an execution plan to ignore the index. We have taken steps to fix the parameter sniffing issue and added index hints. However, it is now clear that we should build alternate ways of getting Zone data, beyond using a latitude and longitude bounding box.
Developers have asked for a more standardized way to request data in an area, even a standardized set of zone “areas”. We have found the Universal Transverse Mercator Coordinate System, or more specifically the Military Grid Reference System, and feel like an adaptation of this system is a great option for QONQR. The MGRS was developed as a global military coordinate system by the United States Army and is currently used by NATO forces. There are many excellent maps available for the UTM, which makes the top level coordinate system fantastic for quick reference. For example: the London, England zone is in UTM grid 30U. A limitation of the UTM is that a further breakdown of the official UTM grid, unfortunately transitions from lat/lon coordinates to meters. We need a simpler system that maintains a grid purely by lat/lon. [Larger Image]
We have developed a method that accomplishes this. A UTM grid box is 8 degrees of latitude tall and 6 degrees of longitude wide, or in other words, 48 lat/lon boxes that are 1x1 degrees. We have developed a system that is highly flexible for API developers to break down the world into smaller grid references.
This images shows two UTM boxes, 30U and 31U, which cover most of the United Kingdom and some of northern Europe. Developers will be able to call the API asking for the most recent zone activity in 30U. However, 30U contains thousands of zones. This is perhaps too large of an area to request for a single API call.
We have defined a custom extension to break down the grid box into smaller areas. If you want pull all the zones in 30U in two requests, you can request the zones in the top half of 30U and then the bottom by calling for “30U1H” and “30U2H” in two separate API request. The “H” indicating the “half” of the grid box to pull. Each half is 6 degrees wide by 4 degrees high.
Still too many zones in this area? The halves are broken down into 6 Sectors. If you are interested in the two Sectors that cover the east and west of London, you would request “30U2H3S” and “31U2H1S”. These UTM extended coordinates correspond to the 3rd Sector (of 6) in the bottom half of the 30U grid box and the 1st sector of the bottom half of the 31U grid box. Each sector corresponds to a 2x2 lat/lon box.
Finally, for those that want to get down to a 1x1 lat/lon grid. We have divided the Sectors into 4 Quadrants. The London metro area is covered by two Quadrants. “30U2H3S2Q” and “31U2H1S1Q”.
This naming convention may seem obscure at first, but to developers, every two characters below the UTM grid reference defines a new level of fidelity and will allow developers to pull data in precise, yet standard, blocks of zones. It allows for 4 different levels of “zoom” allowing developers to pull zones in clusters that fit their needs.
Other interesting patterns may develop from this new grid. Developers may begin to track Grid, Half, or Sector activity patterns. Finding that the entire 53J grid reference needs only to be pulled once per day, because the remote parts of Australia are not very active. However they may also see that the Sectors in lower New York should be pulled every 30 minutes to keep up with the changing zones. They may also find that New York may only need the aggressive 30 minute polling for 16 hours of the day, and can be pulled back to a 2 hour interval overnight. I fully expect the API developers may use this new grid system to develop a heat map of the world to identify the optimal way to pull data, in what size blocks, and on what interval, to maximize their API call limits, and reduce the impact on our servers. Finally, I’m excited to see if any developers build custom map projections to show world control by these grids.
We are optimistic about what game expansions this may allow. In the United States, many of the states are larger than most countries in Europe, making regional “control” nearly impossible. Now we have new layers of “territory” between the zone and region level that can create new game objectives. Players may fight to control all of “12S1H5S,” a 2x2 grid reference (covers an approximately 25 to 30 mile radius) to show their dominance in the area.
For now, we will test this new grid system with the API and evaluate whether we should create new game objectives around the UTM/MGRS grid.
Final Dev Notes: We are not obeying the two official UTM exceptions for 31V & 32V, nor 31X-37X. These UTM Grid references will be on the standard 6x8 grid pattern for QONQR. Old API requests for zones will remain in place for several months, so there is no mandate to adopt the new system at this time. Capture Codenames and Leaders and any player Ids will be missing in a coming release, but all other information should be present. We will publish new API specifications when they are ready. We also plan to add the ability for developers to ask for all changes in a grid reference after a specified date, to avoid getting zone updates they have already pulled.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Breaking Out of Sync Lock
Today we are releasing the ability for players to break out of Sync Lock by “fixing” the launch pattern that caused them to be locked. We have heard from many families that they have tried hard to avoid Sync Lock with mixed success. Those that do end up locked to another player may have often just barely passed the threshold to be locked.
Today’s new feature will allow players to break the lock by launching away from each other (or separating by time - currently 15 minutes). If you are infected with Sync Lock, you can visit https://portal.qonqr.com/SyncLock
You will see an indicator letting you know you are currently infected. Clicking this link will take you to the summary screen that will show you who you are infected with, and the time left before the infection expires. Here you will have the option to attempt to break the lock, or purchase inoculation.
If you click “Break Lock”, the same process that was used to lock you, will be re-run. If the Sync test fails, the Sync Lock will be broken. If the test indicates that you should be still Sync Locked, the lock will remain in place.
A new chart has been added to help families understand how close they are to passing the Sync Lock threshold. If either player passes 100% vulnerability, the two players can be Sync Locked to each other. The chart extends to a maximum of 200% to give players an idea of just how badly they are currently over the threshold, and which of the two players must exhibit more independent launches. In the example below, the top player “Leg13” must perform some launches that are away from the bottom player to reduce his vulnerability below 100%.
Players infected with Sync Lock can revisit this chart as often as they like to see their progress of moving there launches below the 100% vulnerability. Both players must be below 100% vulnerability to be unlocked. Purchasing anti-virus doesn’t lower your vulnerability, it protects your overheat. An inoculated player may have to take action to help their partner get unlocked. Be careful with your launches after you break the lock. The player who locked you will be notified you broke the lock and will probably attempt to sync you again in the hopes that you slipped back over the 100% mark.
To protect player privacy, these charts are only visible if both players have checked the new setting for “Allow Launch Data Review” in Account Settings. Additionally players can only see these charts if they are currently infected with each other. These charts are not available for players who are not infected. This should avoid any concern of enemies using these charts to triangulate another player’s location in the real world. If this is a concern for you, do not enable the “Allow Launch Data Review” option. You can still break the lock without this option checked, but you and the other player to whom you are Sync Locked will not be able to see the gauges or information on launch counts.
UPDATE ON NEW CLIENTS: The Windows Phone update to show infection and inoculation status has been approved my Microsoft and we will release it as soon as one of the other clients is closer to being released. We expect the iPhone updated to be submitted to Apple in the next few days. Android is nearly complete as well. These updates will give players the ability to reduce the 2Km radius to as low as 50 meters (150 feet), which should also make it much easier for families to break a Sync Lock by going for a short walk to show separation. You can see in the screen shot above, the test devices we used were reporting very good GPS accuracy.
We hope this helps. We are continuing to do our best to address the needs of our legitimate players, while reducing the impact of multi-scoping.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Sync Lock - A week in review
The past week has been one of the most “unique” weeks of QONQR’s existence. I doubt anyone reading this will find that surprising.
In the past 8 days I’ve chatted with hundreds of players via GroupMe, Forums, and email, including a friendly wakeup call from the UK Legion at 4am on Sunday morning, which turned into a nearly two hour chat. No worries, I’ve only slept past 4am twice in the past week, and the early morning chat was a very good conversation. The chats have been productive and influential. I’m confident Sync Lock will gain better improvements over the next few weeks.
Over the past week, we have simplified and refined Sync Lock instructions to avoid Sync Lock.
Make sure at least half your deployments are 2Km away from your friends, or stagger your deployments by at least 15 minutes.
We are also encouraging cross faction communication to encourage players to get to know each other, and play honorably by not Sync Locking people they feel confident are not multi-scoping. This good sportsmanship approach is having mixed results, but it is definitely creating cross faction discussions, which has also lead to some good feedback for Sync Lock improvements.
We feel like the next biggest change that can be made is to reduce the 2Km distance. This should have a big impact on many of the legitimate players who are currently suffering. Starting today I am “going dark” as I did last week for 2 days. I’ll be pushing hard to get the mobile clients updated. I’ve been very responsive to all requests over most of the past week to jump into group me conversations and respond to support emails. Beyond a few scheduled chats, I will be hard to reach in the next few days as we rush to get the next client release out.
I would also like to also announce that we are planning to add a few more items to the next release. Because we hope to release the next round of client updates at nearly the same time, we are going to take this opportunity to try and add some features that will require each platform to get an update in the same week (or two). We feel like these changes will bring the players some long awaited features, and should not delay a client release for Sync Lock improvements by more than an extra day or two. If the delay is any longer, we will probably hold some of these features for a later release.
Sync Lock updates:
- Show infected / inoculated on the HUD
- Add GPS accuracy information with launch request to reduce the 2Km range in Sync Lock formula
Additional Features we hope to add:
- Zone Search by name and Zone Id
- A list of zones currently visible on the map, and sortable by name, distance, or faction control
- The ability to “Attach” a zone link to an in-game message
Much of the plumbing is in place for these additional features and we hope we can push them out quickly so they can be included in the next release.
Once again, thank you to everyone for their contributions to the Sync Lock discussions. While the frustrations have been clear, the conversations have nearly all been moving toward a common goal. I am extremely grateful to the community as a whole. We build this game for you, and you make it possible for us to keep working on it every day.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Sync Lock Changes
We have posted a video on our YouTube channel to explain changes we are making to Sync Lock. The video shows a visual representation of how sync lock works now, and Silver talks about what we are working on for the future of Sync Lock. Thank you to everyone who has contributed ideas and feedback in the GroupMe groups that Silver has been visiting. We appreciate you and ask for your continued patience while we work to make QONQR better.
Sync Lock Day 3
An update on the community feedback. Yesterday I chatted with 100-150 players over an 18 hour period. I feel very good about the outcomes of the day’s conversations. I wanted to hear people’s concerns, but more importantly to collaborate on solutions. The conversations were tough, but constructive.
As a result of the conversations, Gaderson (support), GungHo (founder & originator of QONQR concept) and I worked through improvements to make based on feedback.
- We will simplify the formula for determining a sync lock between two players by dividing all launches (locations where you are sitting at time of launch) into buckets that are 2Km by 2Km grids on the map. We will count all the buckets that have Player A alone, Player B alone, and both players together. If over 50% of either player’s launches are in the shared bucket, a sync lock can be established. There is no longer the ability for you to closely coordinate launches while separated for a short amount of time to prove individuality. While the old math worked very well for us to find multi-scopers in our support tools, the guidance for how to avoid being locked was too complicated. Just make sure half your launches are away from each other and you will be fine.
- We will look back at your last 1000 launches for this new 50% rule, but will go back no more than 4 days. Going back up to 4 days will limit the impact of the weekends or working from home one day a week.
- Players will now get a message (and we will fix the current message bug) that says they are locked and which faction locked them.
- All players will be able to see a list of players they have locked who are still locked. In addition to this list, you would have the ability to “recall” the virus, to unlock the two players you previously locked.
- Sync Lock will only be effective as long as both scopes continue deploying in the same location. (More about this below.)
We want Sync Lock to be used to combat multi-scoping. Let me first address the question, “Why are you letting people buy their way out of Multi-scoping if you don’t want it at all?” People are going to multi-scope. We cannot keep up with the growing user base. We have seen that we cannot avoid this unfair advantage using the old model of reporting multi-scopers to QONQR support. The options are to let it happen for free or pay. If someone is going to use multiple devices to beat you, don’t you at least want them to pay for it? Since only 5% of players spend money, this takes 95% of your enemy out of the running for multi-scoping. While it isn’t stopping it completely the impact should be noticeable.
So why the 5 changes I have listed? We want Sync Lock to be used to stop unrestricted multi-scoping. Our experience over the past year has shown us you can’t build an algorithm to accurately tell the difference between one person at their desk with three phones, and a family sitting on a couch. This new method still makes it difficult for multi-scopers to avoid detection, but gives legitimate players some options.
In an ideal game, this is what I would like to see: QONQR returns to the mostly friendly and generally polite rivalry that was common a year ago, sportsmanship and good-natured fun. It is a game after all. Unfortunately much of the world has devolved to a mean and ugly place. Players have no reason to be anything more than foul to each other, because there is no incentive to be polite. I asked several people today, “Give me the name of one of your opponents you respect that you could reach out to for help with a problem. Someone who plays with honor.” I was saddened to find that nearly all said, there isn’t one.
We are going to add the ability for those who do want to play in the nature of good sportsmanship, the ability to do so. Now players will know another local player has locked them and which faction they play for. They can reach out to a friendly contact in that faction and say, “One of your players locked my son and me today. You know us, and you know we don’t multi-scope. Could you ask around, see if you can find who locked us, and see if you can help us get unlocked?” Knowing the GroupMe groups like I do, I suspect it will be common to find the players involved. Over time, perhaps players will slowly become more civil towards each other, now that there is a reason to have some friendly cross-faction relationships
What if that isn’t possible? What if players still refuse to be civil? Let’s say you are playing with a bunch of jerks who lock you and your son every chance they get, or perhaps your family are the jerks and that is why you get locked. Now what do you do? We are planning to make it so Sync Lock only has an effect while you are in the same zone as the person you are locked to. Leave the zone and your scopes are too far apart to be able to share overheat. So if you get synced with family, you will be able to deploy from work normally, but will by synced again when you return home, if your infection hasn’t expired.
This does not fix the issue for everyone. There are still a few moms and dads who stay home with their kids all day, husband and wife teams that work together, people who work within a mile of home, or students co-located on a college campus. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. We are working very hard to address the needs of our players, and we will continue to do our best. Until we can truly separate the individuals in the same location, you will have to use diplomacy in an attempt to avoid Sync Lock. We’ve given the community the ability to do the right thing, we can only hope some take the opportunity to rebuild relationships.
The work on these changes starts immediately. Thank you for the constructive conversations. Thanks for playing QONQR.
Sync Lock Day 2
I have spent many hours in the forums chat and in many GroupMe groups in the past day. In this post I will take the time to summarize the top conversations.
Q: I can’t believe you said it was OK to multi-scope. Why are you telling people to do this?
A: We are still against multi-scoping. We think multi-scoping creates an unfair advantage and we don’t like it, which is why we didn’t just let it happen for free. We are not promoting multi-scoping, we are saying we are no longer going to ban people for doing it. We want to continue to discourage multi-scoping, which is why we implemented Sync Lock.
Q: How did it get to this point? What caused you to think Sync Lock would be a good idea?
A: We hired a full-time employee, basically to handle the multi-scoping concern. For a company with 2 full-time employees, that is a massive investment. However, it was an investment important for us to keep the game fair. In the past few months, the public perception of multi-scoping has grown very dark. The player forums are toxic with accusations of cheating. Facebook and Twitter have seen an increase in the volume of negative comments, stating we allow cheating and the game has become a corrupted system.
What was seen publicly was only the tip of the hate and negativity that we saw daily. We spend 20 minutes to 2 hours for every multi-scoping report we receive. We review location reports, launch history, and player to player messages in an attempt to a do a fair and accurate assessment. Unfortunately in recent months, most players began to disagree with our assessment, calling us incompetent or accusing us of supporting cheating.
This negativity had become a cancer in the community. Despite our continued dedication to maintaining a fair environment, the community began to reject the outcome. The perception of fairness was gone. Our support costs were growing rapidly, but the positive impact was no longer there, making the continued investment of our limited resource a bad business decision.
QONQR has always thrived because of the positive gamer community. We saw this community degrading rapidly and felt this change was necessary. We knew it was going to be a black eye for us for a while, but felt like it was necessary for the long term survival of the game.
Q: Why not just allow multi-scoping and tell people do deal with it instead of hurting families?
A: Whether it is “legal” or not, one person using multiple devices will always be considered an unfair advantage. Players are willing to accept being beat by someone who cubes, but won’t accept defeat by those that are “cheating” or not playing fairly. We needed to remove the “cheating” aspect of multi-scoping. Now we can take our resources from the cheat-to-win problem and put them on building game expansions that offer new things to do in QONQR where buying cubes has little or no impact.
Q: This is just a money grab. You guys are greedy.
A: We did not implement this change to increase revenue. This change was about reducing costs and the managing long term culture of the community. Multi-scoping was a huge drain on our time and cash flow and was hurting the enjoyment of the game in an unmanageable way. If we could have found a motivation to reduce multi-scoping without using cubes we would have taken that route.
Q: This isn’t going to work because all the multi-scopers will just pay for their second device.
A: Only 5% of the players that play QONQR spend money. This eliminates 95% of the potential multi-scopers from being able to have an unfair advantage. While some in that 5% of spenders may play on multiple accounts, the total number of multi-scopers will decrease.
Q: Other games allow one person to have multiple accounts. Why can’t you?
A: The best examples of player-versus-player or player-versus-everyone games that allow multiple accounts are also games that require a monthly subscription. We do not want to be a subscription based game.
Q: This is a huge impact on the game. Everyone I know is Sync Locked.
A: In the first day of Sync Lock, 7% of the players who launched during the day, were Sync Locked. There were more failed sync attempts than successful locks. Approximately 100 “couples” were infected with Sync Lock. Only 39 Anti-virus packs were purchased. The Chicago area was the most impacted with just over 20 players synced. However most states/regions had an average of 4 players that were Sync Locked. Although, being synced is a huge impact for those that suffered the lock, overall it was not nearly as big of an impact as players predicted.
Q: Fine, I get why you felt you had to do it, but why are you anti-family?
A: We hate that legitimate friends and families are hurt by this change. Unfortunately, we could not devise a way for our software to know the difference between 4 people at the kitchen table each with a device, and a multi-scoper sitting alone at the same table with everyone’s devices. It is the later that is exactly the reason we are in this position. Multi-scopers claiming to be a family, but launching on four devices in the middle of the night. As with all things in QONQR, this game evolves based on community feedback. We are open to new ideas for how to solve the family issue. In four months of contemplation, we could not come up with a solution that couldn’t be tricked by a cheater, and did not involve an email to QONQR support (a flawed system that got us here). We welcome all suggestions for improvement, but we request that you include with your description of the change, a list of all the ways a cheater could get around your system and continue to multi-scope unrestricted.
Q: You guys are going to lose so many players. You are killing your game. Everyone is quitting.
A: We see the messages that people are quitting. It is disheartening and we hope that people give Sync Lock a chance. However, what people haven’t seen is that many more people have emailed us over the past two months saying they are quitting because they are tired of spending money on a game where cheating is allowed. The threat of losing players is not new. The difference is that nearly all of the players that threatened to quit previously were paying players. With only 5% of our player base spending money, this was a much bigger threat to the survivability of the game. We don’t want anyone to quit QONQR. It may seem like this change is causing people to quit, but multi-scoping had been forcing people to quit at a greater rate. It just wasn’t as visible to the community as it is now.
The new change will force some people to adapt their gameplay. Some people won’t adapt and will decide to stop playing. We wish we had made multi-scoping work as it does today with Sync Lock from the very start. But we didn’t know then what we know now. We felt this change was necessary for the long term survival of the game. We expected the issues Sync Lock would cause, but are looking to the future. We hope you stay with us, but we understand how hard change can be.
We have always tried to be open with our players. I’ve spent most of my past day talking directly to players in the forum chat and GroupMe. I am happy to directly answer any questions. If you would like to include me in your GroupMe discussions, please contact support@QONQR.com and we will connect. As always, thanks for supporting QONQR.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Sync Lock - The End of Multi-Scoping
Can’t stand reading these long blog posts? Read the summary in the forums.
Today QONQR is announcing we have lost the battle against multi-scoping. We have spent several hundred hours of developer time over the past year building tools to detect and analyze player behavior, tools to gauge the likelihood of someone cheating and tools to penalize those that multi-scope to gain an advantage. Even with all this technology, in reviewing Christie’s time card for the first 6 months of her employment, we were disturbed to find that over 50% of her support time is spent researching multi-scoping claims.
This alone isn’t a problem. It is very important to keep everyone on an even playing field. However in recent months public sentiment has become very dark against QONQR support. When we investigate a claim, most of the time we find enough individual activity to respond to the person reporting that the activity doesn’t look suspicious, or looks as if a family or work colleagues are playing together. While many people respond to our notices with appreciation for checking, many more have begun to hurl claims of fraud, incompetence and bribery. Some have threatened lawsuits. In some cases the people who are reporting cheaters and unwilling to accept our answers, are hurting the QONQR community more that the cheaters themselves.
In response to this business challenge, we are stopping all player bans for multi-scoping. Any accounts previously banned for multi-scoping can now be reactivated by emailing support@QONQR.com. Accounts banned for other reasons will stay banned.
Today, we are also announcing a new feature called “Sync Lock.” Each day at midnight UTC/QST (5 PM Pacific Daylight Time) all players will receive a free Sync Lock Packet. This network packet pair is a QONQR Virus (not a real virus that will hurt your phone) that you can use to infect two other players in QONQR.
Scopes that spend too much time in proximity become susceptible to Synchronization Lock. Sync Lock is a virus that can infect scopes, causing them to combine overheat metrics, resulting in rapid overheat on both scopes. Scopes become susceptible to “Synchronization Lock” when deployments happen together, within the same GPS proximity. Scopes that have been jail broken or rooted have greater risk of being infected based on common launch patterns. All players are issued a Sync Lock packet daily. Players can attempt to sync lock two opponents by sending the sync packet pair to the targeted players. If the scopes can be infected, the packet pair will returned indicating the outcome of the Sync Lock attempt. Returned packets can be reused to infect additional players. If the two scopes cannot be paired for sync, the packets will be destroyed in the process. There is no limit to the number of players that can be infected with the same packet, if it is not destroyed. Players can purchase a new packet for qredits if they are unwilling to wait until a new packet is issued the next day to infect more players. Players can protect themselves from Sync Lock infection by purchasing inoculations in the depot.
Players that rarely play in the same location as other players should have no concern for being infected by Sync Lock. However multi-scopers will find this feature a new challenge to their previously easy road of holding their zones by getting “their wife and 3 children” to play with them 12 hours a day. For families who legitimately play as individuals there are two options. Purchase anti-virus in the depot, or make sure at least 80% of all your deployments for both players are 2 Km (a little over a mile) apart or that 20% of your “same time” launches are over 2Km apart. “Same time” launches are launches that occur within 30 seconds of each other. It may take some good coordination, but family and work friends can avoid sync lock without buying anti-virus through well-coordinated attacks when apart. There is also the option that you stop being a complete jerk to your enemies, meet them for beers after work, show them that you are a fun loving group of work friends and perhaps you won’t get Sync Locked every day.
Scopes qualify for Sync Lock based on the previous 24 hours of activity, and Sync Lock infection lasts 24 hours. Sync Lock Anti-virus comes in 24 hour and 30 day protection. Attempting to Sync Lock two players can currently only be done through the web portal at https://portal.QONQR.com/SyncLock.
Antivirus can be purchased through the portal or the phones. If you attempt to purchase anti-virus but are already inoculated, the purchase is blocked (you won’t waste your funds). In future version of the clients on iOS, Windows Phone and Android, an indicator will make it easy to see if you are infected or inoculated. We are working on the client updates now. You will receive an in-game message if you are infected. The web portal will show who is infected or inoculated. Player profiles will look the same as always if they are neither infected nor inoculated. http://portal.qonqr.com/Player/Search
Still don’t get it? Here is an example. Scott and Christie play QONQR together all day. Someone discovers this and Sync Locks their scopes. In the past hour Scott has deployed 5 times and Christie has deployed 21 times. However since both scopes are now Sync Locked, it is as if both scopes have had 26 deployments in the past hour. Christie is in maximum overheat anyway, since she has already deployed over 20 times in the past hour, and the extra 5 deployments from Scott’s scope has no impact. However, Scott, who had previously no heat on his scope with only 5 deployments, is now also in maximum overheat and suffering from the painfully slow bot and energy refreshes.
Q: What if my kids only play 1 hour a day, when they sit with me and watch TV after dinner?
A: Well, if your kids are a big threat, an enemy will probably Sync Lock you every day, but an hour after they stop playing, their scopes will not have any impact on your overheat. Since your overheat is calculated based on the deployments of both scopes in the past hour. Your deployments + no deployments = your deployments.
Q: So you are saying if I keep guessing right, I can infect dozens of players for free every day?
A: Yes, until you guess wrong and pick two players that don’t qualify for Sync Lock, you will be able to use the same Sync Lock Packet over and over to infect more players. Once you lose your packet by selecting two players who don’t qualify for Sync Lock, you have to wait until midnight UTC/QST to get a new packet for free, or buy a new packet.
Q: Can I be synced to more than one device at the same time?
A: Yes, there is no limit to the number of devices that can be Sync Locked together. However if you are attempting to Sync Lock players A,B,C and D all to each other you must sync each pair. A to B, A to C, A to D, B to C, B to D, and C to D. If all players are synced, emptying the scope once for each player would put everyone in (or near) maximum overheat.
Q: My friend and I are infected, I bought an inoculation, is my friend safe too?
A: No, your overheat will no longer be impacted by anyone else’s scope, however your friend will still be impacted by your scope. Additionally, other people can still be locked to your scope despite your inoculation, but only they will be impacted.
Q: If I try to infect two players and they are both protected from Sync Lock, will my Sync Packet be destroyed?
A: No, the Sync Packet will establish a connection based on the proximity vulnerability, but fail to embed in the scopes. The packet will be returned to you if the connection is established, regardless if the infection works.
Q: I’m going to a party with a bunch of QONQR players, how do we avoid getting Sync Locked
A: Deploy all day long before you get together, while you are still apart.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to best use Sync Lock?
A: Yes, create a “hit list” and share it on One Drive, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Every day work as a team to sync lock your opponents by taking turns working down the list until you lose your packet. Then let the next person take over on the remaining players. Re-organize your list to maximize lock potential. Avoid buying more packets by working as a team to Sync Lock your enemies. As a multi-scoper, randomly take days off for one of your scopes, to cause your enemies to waste a packet on you.
Q: My husband and I buy a lot of cubes in QONQR. This sucks that we have to spend even more to play together. Did you realize that you are hurting us?
A: Yes we did. If you are buying the 550 cube pack the cost for you to keep enjoying each other’s company in QONQR every day is $0.18 a day or $3.67 a month for those that buy the 30 day inoculation. We know this new feature hurts legitimate players who play together. As a cuber, we hope you find this as a new weapon to use to keep the game fair. Many players have emailed us saying, “I’m a paying player. I pay your bills and I don’t cheat. You are letting people who don’t help QONQR survive as a company, push me out of the game through cheating. If you don’t stop the cheaters, you will lose all your paying customers and your company will go out of business.” We have been living the pain of stopping multi-scopers for a long time. We don’t think there is ever going to be a perfect solution to the problem, but we hope you agree this is better.
Deciding to make this change was a difficult choice. Many people predicted that as QONQR grows we would never be able to stop multi-scoping. While you may not like this new feature, we hope you agree removing the multi-scoping restriction was an inevitability. We hope you agree this solution is an acceptable one. To the families of free players, we spent many hours working through the scenarios to make sure there was a way for you to continue to play for free and avoid Sync Lock. It will take you more effort now, to have the same attack ability as before, but it was important for us to maintain the fun of QONQR, without the necessity to spend money.
As always, we appreciate your support and will endeavor to make QONQR better every day.
-Scott (aka Silver)