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GamesGrid vs FIBS

From:   Jim Cochrane
Date:   24 January 1999
Subject:   Re: GamesGrid or FIBS?

I am sure that there is no lack for inputs on this subject. My own
opinions are somewhat qualified I think by my experience points on
these two servers: 16,816 on FIBS, and 24,953 on Gamesgrid.

I could go on and on with details, but I'll try hard to summarize.
First I'll comment on your text, Then offer a comparison.

> I'm sure there is no 'right' answer to this question, but I am
> interested in others opinions.

Yes it is quite an individual matter. They are both good in different
ways, and in some of the same ways (i.e. the other choices for BG have
trouble competing).

> Which is the 'best' server, Gamesgrid or FIBS? Here follows my
> unscientific experience.
> I've used GamesGrid on and off over the last 6 months. Generally quick
> easy to use and a friendly place. But server reliability is patchy.
> This reliability problem is tough to swallow when you have to pay.
> I started looking around for an alternative.
> I used FIBS for the first time today using BBGT 4.0 beta. A 5 point match
> took 1 hr 30 mins to complete. My opponent referred to the delays as lag.
> (He was friendly). Is this typical on this service? Being free, I can't
> expect too much or complain too much. Was I unlucky? Stupid? Using the
> wrong client? Or did I get value for money? Should I keep trying FIBS?
> Or am I wasting my time having being spoiled by GamesGrid speed and
> slicker client?

I think that the servers are approximately equal in reliability. Most
problems, lag, etc., are related to ISP's, your setup, or the net. As
for response times I think GG has an edge, but no biggie.

As to paying, Kit Woolsey subsidizes FIBS out of pocket. Although he
doesn't actively solicit contributions, long time FIBS players know
that it survives only through this generosity, and make voluntary
contributions to its support. If you value FIBS you help. But while it
survives, you can play for free if you like.

> Any of your opinions and flames are well appreciated in advance.

The choice very much depends on individual priorites. I like both
servers, but play a bit more on GG. Here are some factors:

If you are an avid player, and the sexy features of GG sufficiently
add to the quality of your experiance, then it all depends on how much
$80/year means to you (or the difference between that and what you
contribute to FIBS, if anything).

A strength of FIBS has been that there were significantly more of the
world's strongest players active there. This difference has attenuated
with time and is no longer a large factor. (Some GG players wonder why
their big ratings declined by 100 or so over the past year. The shift
in population accounts for much of that).

A strength of GG is the feeling of community among the members, and
the many events, such as the monthly T-shirt tourneys and the blitz
tourneys for BG, Nackgammon, and hypergammon, which have membership
extensions as prizes.

A strength of FIBS is the stability of a mature, robust system, and
the ability to play without irritating interruptions. The GG client
software still crashes under certain circumstances. Just one example
is if you change your options at match end and the opponent leaves
before you accomplish it, your computer crashes big time. During play,
many modal dialog boxes appear in the center of the screen (and you
must OK them, e.g. a birthday announcement, in order to proceed -
Heaven forbid you were typing at the time, never mind the interruption
in concentration other times). If you are typing something in a chat
box and an invitation comes in, the cursor focus is stolen and your
typing goes to a different window, etc. etc. etc. It is windows
intensive to a fault.

A strength of GG is the ability to record a match and easily review it
later, offline or online. You can even back up during a match and view
and discuss former positions, including previous games of the match.

A strength of FIBS is ability to signify your status, differentiating
between "away" (with message) and "not ready". GG is quite deficient
in this fundamental area. There is much they could do in this respect,
including acceptance criteria, etc, so that players don't hide behind
the "not accepting" status.

A strength of GG is the fact that players have an dollar investment in
behaving like ladies and gentlemen, and cannot assume multiple
identites, change identities, frivolously drop matches, and the like,
without hurting their reputations. There are always a few bad actors,
but the easy and free entry into FIBS unfortunately spawns a
significant number of jerks who play unethically with the system and
the honest players.

A criticism I have of GG is that the designers and programmers seem to
have been directed to focus on cosmetics and gee-whiz features, at the
expense of fundamentals. Most crashes should have been fixed by now.
The abuse of surprise modal dialog boxes should stop and be replaced
by a window requiring no response. I've already mentioned the status
indicator deficiency. I am an experienced (way-experienced) programmer
(whence "codedaddy") and have pointed these things out, but have seen
nothing, except that the modal problem has decreased somewhat.

Another feature I am critical of are the money tournaments. Perhaps
the organiztion of jackpot and other money tourneys is too costly to
be included as a feature of an $80/year membership; perhaps not. As it
is there is a 90% return. No physical facilities are required as for
face-to-face tourneys. So why 90%? If not 100%, at least why not 95%
or more, or a dollar figure to cover operation costs, like $2
regardless of prize fund?

Dang! I have rambled on and have just scratched the surface. Better
stop here and add other things later if they spring to mind.

Bottom line: If you are an avid player you should play on both
servers, esp. if the dollars are not a big bite for you. Thus far for
me, it amounts to less than a penny per experience point. That ain't
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     


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