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Development Updates

Crashing - May 2021

Crashing has been a problem with the WorldsAway technology since the 90’s and under previous management the causes of crashes were never dealt with. Crashes are actually a controlled stop designed in the software to halt the world to prevent any further problems and this happens when something goes wrong, which can happen for a lot of different reasons and is an extremely slow process to replicate and fix.

The VZones database has data going back from 2004 and in 2017 we transferred over a large amount of data for past members from New Horizons and older Dreamscape backups pre 2014 which caused stability issues in early 2017 due to the data being moved over. An early example was custom “doors” which was a feature sold under previous management that allowed members to purchase a door to teleport from location to location….however if the destination had been removed it would cause a world crash. This was a feature we removed in 2017 and then corrected the code to not crash if a destination did not exist. This is just one of many types of data transfer issues. The majority of 2017 and 2018 was spent clearing up bad practices from the past which resulted in WorldsAway being mostly stable for 2018, 2019 & early 2020.

The other type of crash is caused by an outside attack or an inside (member in world) attack which was happening a lot in late 2020 and early 2021 by a former VZones member. We have fixed the bulk of exploits and since then we have managed to avoid this type of crash. We are however left with recurring database corruption that we have been working to fix all of 2021 & have made a lot of progress in the past months.

For the latest updates on the fixes please follow: https://www.vzones.com/updates/

Restart Time

While our goal is to resolve all crashing for the future, there will still be times when things go wrong…when this happens, we want to be back online and operating as quickly as possible. When things go wrong now, 90% of the time is spent waiting for various checks to complete. This is caused by the amount of data we have and something we are taking steps to solve. This is a long slow process.

Member Satisfaction

Interruption to service is not something we want and members not being able to access WorldsAway and do what they love day to day is to be avoided at all costs. Before the 14th May we are going to release some major updates to the service which we believe is going to make all members very happy and give you lots of things to do.

Cooking

While this may seem such a basic feature it’s actually very complex. Its a feature which has never been supported in the past and creating a lot of new things for the future of VZones. After weeks in development, we released the first cooking features which unfortunately due to an old bug in the Market Co Op vending machine, caused a crash and an early end to the cooking demo. This bug is lower priority and will be sorted in coming weeks. Cooking will hopefully return before 14th May.

Hunting Season

The duck hunt reward for collecting all the ducks will be available from Monday.

Second Kingdom

Level 4 quest was due to be released on Friday, but with a view of keeping the world stable and all our efforts focused on fixing he issues we have delayed this. This is a very advanced quest with the groundwork for heavy questing in the future and includes features never before available in VZones.

Seducity

Seducity was an old adult world that was running under previous ownership before 2014 and due to the adult content is not a world that will be coming back. We restored the main streets and buildings without any adult content into WorldsAway to allow members to visit the older area and have a night/dark style area to visit. We understand members have items in turfs and would like this restoring to WorldsAway which unfortunately incurs the following issues:

1) Stability
The turfs contain a lot of items that are not supported in WorldsAway/VZones anymore due to bad practice. Manually sorting through regions which can contain up to 30,000 items is not a possible option that we could do based on the number of turfs and members. This would mean moving the items over, having stability issues and crashing that we would then need to work to fix each time. This is a very unknown situation and could last months or years.

2) Adult Content
As adult content is not supported in VZones we would need to manually go through 15,000 different items to work out what is not allowed and then globally remove it. This is something which would require full time work for months to be able to do and currently not a viable option.

3) Members waiting for DS/NH Content
In 2016/2017 when we restored VZones we had a transfer period where we had all staff working around the clock for days, weeks and months moving data over. The entire focus for the business and all staff was moving content over. We still have members and new members joining on a regular basis that would like content restored from past worlds and backups. To avoid causing upset and disappointment to all members who want content moved or looked for we have advised everybody that at this current time we are no longer restoring data from any world or database.

4) Storage Issues
Moving turfs from past worlds takes up a lot of storage space. 413 turfs that were manually moved from DS/NH to WorldsAway in 2017 were abandoned by members and since removed. We have seen turfs with 30,000 + items which means we would be moving millions of old items into WorldsAway which in itself is a problem.

4) Time
Moving a single turf excluding the issues around the content can take anything from 5 minutes to 5 days depending on how complex it is, where it needs to go to and more. This was why when it was done in 2017 it was done by all team members for a fixed period of time. It’s simply not viable to continually look & restore data from the past 20+ years and at the same time continue to provide a day-to-day service with new features and things to do.

5) It’s more than just moving items
If you imagine moving a real life town and all citizens from one town to another. The first thought is moving physical items from a to b. Consider that to be able to get to the point where you could move one town to another you have huge amounts of unseen work to do before the move and after the move.

The future for old data

We have listed a number of obstacles of why we are not moving old data currently, but we still understand that we have a number of members that would like to get old items. Our current long-term plan is not finalised but is a multi-step approach over a long time.

Step 1) Resolve the stability & storage issues to support mass amounts of items in a short period.

Step 2) Provide a facility where members can store important items used on a regular basis and store less important items another way. Example in real life you have an attic for items you would like to keep but do not need access to on a regular basis.

Step 3) Provide an option where members can access old turfs and pick out items they would like to transfer over. Items would be checked and then transferred.

As of 4th May 2021 we have no date of when this will be started.

Development Updates

VZones Staff - Chris

Official posts from VZones Staff.

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