A cruel way to the lose the lead ... my submission to VR
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-12 | 12:46:59

In the vain hope that it might make some difference, this is what I just submitted to VR just now ...


I am MidnightFoiler, winner of Mini en Mai 2019 and the bug I am reporting happened when I was in the lead of La Solitaire Urgo 2.

Please, I beg you, respond to this message with something more than we will "forward this to the developers" or have the developers respond (en Francais c'est ok). I am a software developer and would be happy to advise how to fix the issues that can make playing this wonderful game very frustrating. Je vais aussi traduire cela en français si besoin.

Being a software developer in a small company I have a lot of sympathy and I understand that you need to pay the bills rather than fix bugs (although fixing some of these bugs would I'm sure retain more paying players). At the end of the email are some ideas for the VIP subscription that I would actually be willing to pay for.

I had a gybe programmed at 11:54 (UTC + 10) and the gybe occured as expected. Then 14 minutes after the gybe at 12:08 I moved a progammed course change forward 1 hour. This then sent a message to the server to gybe back as well as moving the programmed course change forward. I have attached a screenshot from VR dashboard chrome extension which proves this. There is NO possibility that I did this myself as this was the last gybe into Lands End and on to France.

Therefore my boat sailed for 25 minutes in the wrong direction until I noticed. When I rejoined the 2nd place boat I had lost at least 0.6nm and was now in 4th place. (Note DTL is not accurate because the "leader" was taking an inside track).

To fix this the developers could make one or more of the following changes:
1. When future programmed course changes are sent to the server NEVER send the current course as well
2. Always update the current course from the server updates (both the displayed course and that used to move the boat in the client)

The other bug that I'm sure you would have had reported because we all now to avoid it (by exiting the race while passing through waypoints) is that if you watch your boat sail through a waypoint it will often go past and then start sailing back in the opposite direction. This should not matter because the server should just carry on correctly BUT the client then seems to send a message to the server re-submiting the waypoint and so presumably the server then starts sailing the wrong way also.

This could be fixed by only ever sending a waypoint message to the server when the user makes a change - but I suspect this message sending has been done to try to fix some other issue.

I would be happy to describe a number of other issues and how to fix them including the instability of the rankings that annoys everybody and must create a lot of support tickets in Zendesk.

Here are my ideas for VIP Subscription:
1. A method to convert a programmed course to waypoints (and reverse but that is less useful). This would save a lot of time in the middle of the night, especially when tacking along a shore ;-)
2. More accurate (not longer) routing
3. Ability to set the course to an exact degree e.g. 65.0 TWA (or randomly within 0.05 of the request). We waste a lot of time achieving this when the polars make it desirable.
3. A discount on full pack price

I hope this is all helpful and results in some improvements.

Simon Liddington

commenticon 18 Comments
Post by iconPost by YourMomSA | 2019-06-12 | 15:05:58
I'm having trouble not smiling about this. Please don't get me wrong - I understand your frustration and I really hope you get a good response from VR. My smile is because it reminds me of when I used to do the same thing roughly 3 years ago, when I was in the top 10 and trying to get to #1. A time before I gave up on wanting evidence that VR cares about what the top players have to say. And I can tell you that you are not alone. Most top players have these kinds of frustrations at least a few times a year. Toppen, Mangina, and I collaborated in the early days of VRO3 to provide feedback to VR on what we considered to be the most serious flaws at that time. I never personally heard back from them, but I think Toppen got a response. Anyway... they did some of the things we pushed for, but it was never really clear if it was because we pushed for it or because they chose to anyway. For example, my biggest issue at that time was that the first version of VRO3 required you to play the card game. I hate the card game. I hate having to choose whether to spend more money or not while racing. The solution to that (and the biggest reason I didn't quit entirely at that time) was when they included unlimited cards in the full pack. Although now the full packs seem to be getting more expensive, so I find myself playing the card game more (and the resulting reluctance to lay out detailed programmation schedules is why I'm doing so horrendously in Urgo Leg 2).

Anyway... They might listen to some of your suggestions, but you probably won't get direct communication about it.

I recall plenty of situations like this in the past where the response was a "c'est la vie" type response, along the lines of "relax, it's only a game!"... Which only makes people angrier. It reflects a failure to understand the time and emotion (and money) people have invested to try to win. I think they've actually gotten a little better about that attitude... but I'm not sure because I don't look at the VR forums much anymore.

If it helps you to not feel alone in this... here's a rough list of debacles I've had over the years...

-Years ago, server crashes at the start of major races like Volvo were common.
-Two Spindrifts ago, they changed the minimum windspeed from 4 kts to 2 while I was in the doldrums, and it killed my time relative to those who had already finished (and impacted many others) because they defined that parameter at a global level and couldn't adjust it at a single race level, and they didn't take the time to think of alternative solutions.
-I won Mini en Mai 2017 because the boat ahead of me had four sailchanges in the final hours (during the French night) due to autosails and "gust mode". (Was "gust mode" ever real, or is it just how they explain the difference between the server and the GUI?). I felt bad for him.
-There was a recent race... Maybe Odyssey Leg 4, where I was very close for 1, 2, or 3, and then switched from waypoints to VMG beating as we turned the final headland. And then a few minutes later, it decided I had sailed 4 or 5 more minutes along my original reaching line before making the turn, so I dropped to 5 or 6 with no hope for the front. I think it added a double sailchange too, but I'm not sure.
-There was a Hobart-Whitsundays Clipper leg where the best route involved short-tacking inside Maria Island, and behaviors like the one that impacted you hit everyone who tried to do it. Several boats ran aground. Speedo and I escaped first and match raced to the finish (he won). I think we were both impacted too, but not as badly as some others.
-There was a race involving short-gybing up the east coast of Taiwan, where "phantom gybes" like the one you encountered happened a lot. I recall gybing away from shore and then the system gybing my right back two minutes later and I was aground before I could re-gybe. I think the problem was far worse then, and that they've made some improvements to make it occur less often. They just haven't gotten to "never" yet.
-In VRO2, there was a cartography issue that led to land not being represented the same onscreen as on the server, so you couldn't trust your eyes. In some places, you could sail over the beach, and others, you could run aground in blue water. That was eventually resolved (although I've heard people talk about occasionally running aground in open water... which seems to be an unrelated issue).

I'm sure I could come up with more, and that many others could too. Again - I respect your frustration and concern. I'm just trying to offer consolation that you aren't alone in the frustration. My best advice is... if you get to a point where it isn't fun anymore, skip a few races. It isn't worth it if it isn't fun.

Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-12 | 15:36:30
Thanks Mom, I appreciate you taking the time to write all that. I'm still having fun, I'm even having fun trying to get back past them before the finish ... kind of more fun than worrying about being overtaken ;-)

And yes, all that sounds much worse so I feel better and thankful that someone managed to get through to them to some degree. I at least know what to do to work around the issues I generally see... although it wasn't fun having to choose between watching waypoints or leaving the race and maybe not getting back in! Thank god they seem to have fixed that one, although one of our team still seems to have issues on iphone/ipad.
Post by iconPost by lorenzo | 2019-06-12 | 15:47:36
Hey Simon, please tell us you did get the "forward this to the developers"
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-13 | 01:31:21
Not yet!
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-13 | 07:22:27
Well blow me down with a feather duster ...

Jessica (Virtual Regatta Offshore)

Jun 12, 19:22 CEST

Hello Simon,

Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback!

This issue is something the developers are currently working on. It happens pretty rarely, and only experienced players are able to spot when it happens. This being said, in addition to the explanations you thought about, the developers have additional therories they are testing as well. Recent logs are very helpful, so the fact that you contacted us quickly is very valuable.

I made sure the developers saw your feedback, and they told me that it was pretty high on their to-do list.

About your other suggestions: everything you listed is already in the works, except for one suggestion that they really liked - I can't promise that it will become a feature, but it's a start!

I might have to get back to you at some point if the developers have questions for you, but for now they have to go through your data first.

Have a great day,
Post by iconPost by zezo | 2019-06-13 | 09:14:35
Wow! Never seen such an answer from VR support before.
Post by iconPost by zezo | 2019-06-13 | 09:12:36
Interesting race condition. The developers haven't heard about transactions. Another frustrating thing is the client-side timestamp for the command.

My PCs run NTP, of course, but it's not guaranteed for every user out there.
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-13 | 11:23:51
Yes, I have had to sync my time before despite windows supposedly doing it for me. NTP I could count on back when I ran Linux :-) My new computer seems much better thankfully.

They still need a timestamp though to prevent something like a PC waking from sleep after a battery drain sending a message from hours ago.

I suppose they need to fetch the time from their own server but just like NTP it would need to work out the adjustment for message delivery which isn't that simple. Must be a common problem with solutions out there though. Although we only need accuracy to a few seconds.
Post by iconPost by lorenzo | 2019-06-13 | 13:18:47
definitive proof: they do follow Zezo forum!
I have to hold my sarcasm this time but I truly happy they answer that
Post by iconPost by YourMomSA | 2019-06-13 | 13:44:18
Great sign that you got such a good response! Maybe it's an indication of a new level of commitment to customer service and quality of user experience. Probably ties in with the escalated service level associated with the VIP Membership.
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-13 | 14:51:40
Yes, lets hope the winds are a-changing :-)
Post by iconPost by mcmgj | 2019-06-13 | 20:16:22
HI MidnightFoiler,
You wrote "The other bug that I'm sure you would have had reported because we all now to avoid it (by exiting the race while passing through waypoints) is that if you watch your boat sail through a waypoint it will often go past and then start sailing back in the opposite direction. This should not matter because the server should just carry on correctly BUT the client then seems to send a message to the server re-submiting the waypoint and so presumably the server then starts sailing the wrong way also.

This could be fixed by only ever sending a waypoint message to the server when the user makes a change - but I suspect this message sending has been done to try to fix some other issue."

Je répond en Français, je traduirais ensuite.
Le "client" envoie au serveur l'ensemble des Way-points à chaque changement de position de l'un d'entre-eux. Il semblerait qu'il y ait une temporisation de 1 à 2 secondes entre le moment où le way-point n'est plus bougé et l'envoie du "premier" message, mais il arrive que le message soit envoyé plusieurs fois (en cas de problème réseau ?).

Si le serveur est occupé, ou si il y a une désynchronisation entre les serveurs, le message reçu risque d'être traité après le passage du Way-point c'est sûrement pour cela qu'un rayon d'interdiction a été mis autour du bateau. il n'en demeure pas moins que le WP n'est effacé sur l'interface qu'après avoir été passé, il est donc encore présent coté client, et est renvoyé en tant que tel si vous touchez un autre WP.
Si vous l'effacez volontairement pour pouvoir mettre en place une programmation, l'itération entière passe sous la nouvelle direction du bateau, l'itération considère donc que le bateau a viré plus tôt que le moment où il a passé le WP, c'est un cas d'échouage systématique.
Pour éviter ce désagrément, il faut quitter le jeu et y revenir de façon a "certifier/dater" la position du bateau (à la minute qui précède).
Cette action se voit dans le Dash avec une ligne de positionnement. Si cette ligne n'est pas présente, la position n'a pas été envoyée (moins d'une minute d'écart avec le précédent envoi).
J'espère que ceci vous éclairera comment éviter de tomber dans ce bug et de le contourner".

=== English reply :

The "client" side sends to the server all Waypoints at each position change of one of them. It seems that there is a delay of 1 to 2 seconds between the moment when the waypoint is not moved and the sending of the "first" message, but sometimes this message is sent several times (in case network problem?).

If the server is busy, or if there is a desynchronization between the servers, the message received may be processed after the passage of the Way-point is surely why a prohibition radius was put around the boat. the fact remains that the WP is deleted on the interface after being passed, so it is still present client side, and is returned as such if you touch another WP.
If you delete it voluntarily in order to set up a schedule, the whole iteration goes under the new direction of the boat, the iteration therefore considers that the boat has moved earlier than the moment when it passed the WP, it is a case of systematic stranding.
To avoid this inconvenience, you must leave the game and come back to "certify / date" the position of the boat (at the minute before).
This action is seen in the Dash with a positioning line. If this line is not present, the position has not been sent (less than a minute difference with the previous send).
I hope this will enlighten you how to avoid getting into this bug and getting around it. "
(I wrote some dash functions)
Post by iconPost by theo | 2019-06-15 | 12:17:17
Hello guys
I stopped 2 more times playing VR because I stopped having fun. I know several guys from the top 50 that has quit the game (or quit and coming to quit again) after having enough from loosing their position, after long effort done, from extras that we all pay and buy so we can go to sleep or work for some hours. The game is unstable and many times gives you random problems out of nowhere (like never seen it before) while continues in other bugs that are more constant. This you need some time to ..learn or you cant do anything. The problem lays where MUM has ..spot it. The owner and CEO of VR does not respond to what the players report as very important. Seams like they do not give a dime to what their most valuable costumers are thinking for the game. It is strange because to most companies that is valuable ..feedback!!! They do fix some bugs here and there, but the respond to bugs is so slow that when they fix some of the old (never all) many new are ...getting old already.
Last race Solitaire 2, after a mistake I've done, I was back to about 35-40 spot (you never know exactly) and we were approaching the south of Island of Man which was also the north turning point. The programmer did crazy stuff as the one you MidnightFoiler have just described. I never had that before. It was very early morning. I was sleepy and I had to go back to sleep. It was clear to me, that near the rocks was the advantage, but I couldn't trust the programmer after what it just 20 min ago (responded to a boy that was deleted more than 10 min before??? ), so I thought to go secure and keep north my course, sleep 2-3 hours and then wake up to make a later tak towards the island. The result was bad and I ended up near 100 spot (lost a lot within 2 hours). I underestimated the result of avoiding the early tak. I thought I will loose a bit but the loss could be huge if the programmer send me to rocks, or if I start sleeping on my k-board. This is why I say that was partly my mistake, but we can be sleepy or tired (part of the game). This is why we pay the extras, to make it through in difficult situations, like being sleepy or so. If that extras can not be trusted, then what? This is a small story that is like the stories many of us are experiencing usually more than once in every race. This game is like no other in one MAJOR thing. In this game the players effort is build hour to hour, day to day and often in weeks, spending endless sleepless hours in order to achieve at the end his goal. If a bug comes at the end of this ..building for days effort, and destroy it, the impact to the player is as huge as the effort done and more. This is a crime!!! The majority of the other games the effort build never exceeds a few hours and often only minutes, so if a bug kill you or destroy your game in any way you just rebirth your avatar or whatever is the game about and you take it were you left it. Mr Philippe is either ignorant of his product and the way it interacts with the players, or incapable for managing the company, or his sensitivity for his costumers is no more than a donkey's one, ...or could be all 3 together. I will race the other 2 Solitaire(3 and 4) and then I think to stop again, at least for some time. The fun is way less than the disappointment, but we sailors have the ...disease. We need to go sailing ..even with a VR yacht...lol.
Excuse me for such a long message. I realized when was finished.
Theo (bewareth IST)

Post by iconPost by theo | 2019-06-15 | 12:48:35
I just red you ve got ..respond which is great news. Although the main reason I visited the forum was because tfor a long time none pf my browsers can find the site of VR I get a signal 404 NOT FOUND. Additionally during the Solitaire 2, so many times the game crushed, or crushed with the message "unexpected problem occurred etc etc. I hope there is not any major issue and soon we can load in VR. I turn here to forum to see if there is a chat about not finding VR site and I show MidnightFoiler's message and replay to his topic about the in game endless issues and forgot why in 1st place I have visited this forum. Now after such a long time I still cant find the site of VR. Anyone knows anything about that?

Post by iconPost by theo | 2019-06-15 | 13:14:04
WOW!!! GOOD NEWS!! I finally logged in the page and I also had to go through the beginner's guide and then I got a message that surprised me, ..nice I must say. They have ready a new platform much lighter and way better in all aspect -as they say- from the previous one ready and on the air!! Maybe this is why I couldn't log in for so long time. Anyway, I hope to this one, they have done a good job especially to what matters for the racers. I don't care if the waves leak the ground nicely while the programmer misfunctions, etc
Post by iconPost by elwin | 2019-06-15 | 13:40:50
Have experienced many issues with WPs, bit reluctant to use 'm. At start of Urgo leg 1 I was doing some real sailing (old but still quite fast Farr45) and decided to use a WP at buoy 1 for mainboat and NMS (ElCheapo). When I returned I had a look to see how I was doing, NMS was nicely on its way to buoy 1 but mainboat had set-off in the opposite (????) direction for a lengthy BBQ
Post by iconPost by MidnightFoiler | 2019-06-16 | 14:59:25
Thanks mcmgj, I'm afraid I don't quite follow what you are saying.

I understand that exiting the race and re-entering gets the server to recalculate and re-send an updated position (although in my experience only after the start of the third minute of the 5 mins cycle - at least dashboard only shows a new position in this case).

I also understand it sends the whole route of waypoints if you are editing them but the case I am talking about does not involve editing them it is simply watching the boat as it sails through a waypoint.

Note this is different to what happened to me in the last race, that was "programmation" not waypoints but would have been worked around by exiting and re-entering the race to refetch the current course from the server which the client had remembered from before the previous gybe.

It would seem however that the only safe thing to do is to exit and re-enter the race before and after every course change - very tedious!

Post by iconPost by moricz | 2019-06-17 | 03:52:54
It thrush happen to me too in La Solitaire URGO 3 around 3 buoy. 3 minutes of drifting..
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