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Old 06-30-2020, 01:22 PM   #1
Tue
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Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Hi there,

A lot of people are starting to use Backgammon Galaxy. Do you have any questions about it? Suggestions for the site or just any feedback? You can ask me anything - even about “rigged dice”

Please join our Facebook groups “Backgammon Strategy” and our popular “Backgammon Memes”.

(And while you’re at it check out our new-ish store shop.backgammongalaxy.com)

Btw. I’m not Marc Olsen who is the main guy running the show
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Old 06-30-2020, 03:50 PM   #2
Robertie
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

I think you guys have done a great job. I'm recommending the site.
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:22 PM   #3
_Z_
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

First of all, great job on creating the site. The ease with which players can sign up and find a game is unparalleled and a wonderful thing for attracting new players to the game. It's great for experienced players too.

I'm curious about how you decided on the rating system, and whether you considered just going with the GridGammon/FIBS method. I think I'm in the minority, but I prefer the GridGammon method. The idea behind the GG method is that if everyone is correctly rated, then it doesn't matter who you play and how long your match is, the expected points won/lost per match is exactly zero. (That's how it works in theory anyways, I know it's not perfect in practice.) Not so with the Galaxy method, it matters a lot who you play.

Easy suggestions --

Please get the greedy bearoff option working. I assume it will work identically to the auto bearoff function on GridGammon. You'll need to turn it off for players by default, otherwise you'll get lots of complaints from people saying the computer made the "wrong" move for them (though auto bearoff is almost never wrong). Once someone turns it on, it should stay on even between matches/sessions.

The time controls seem a little weird to me, such a huge difference between normal and casual. I'd speed up casual significantly.

Maybe this one is harder than I think, but it be nice if you had a search function to find someone's match (or your own if you get disconnected) since people are running tournaments on your site. Though it is very helpful you can always get to a match by going to the match's URL.


Harder suggestions --

It would be nice to have a chat box/log, where both players and watchers can comment. And players can see who's watching. Of course you'd need a way to boot a watcher from the chat box if they're being obnoxious.

Adding the ability to set up a tournament would provide tremendous value. It looks like you guys might be working on this, so that's fantastic.

Also, I've lost my last 8 matches, so turn off the bad dice switch for Z!
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Old 06-30-2020, 09:37 PM   #4
RolldUpTrips
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Love the site and have 2 suggestions and 1 question:

1. Auto-resign when gin (speaks for itself)

2. Please Please Please add mute/block functions

3. Have you published anywhere the correlation between PR and Galaxy rating? I think you should be able to map it 1:1 the way the system works so I'm just curious and I think it would be good information to have.
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Old 07-01-2020, 05:53 AM   #5
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

To: __Z__

I wrote you the most epic long answers and then I was kicked in the balls by my internet.

Here goes again:

The rating system: It’s inspired by a Danish tournament called XG masters where you get a point for PR, MWC and winnning the match. We simplified this format because MWC is not a very gamifiable metric for most users. PR’s are just more fun. Furthermore, we use this rating format to take some of the variance out of the game (not all of it) so it’s more like a sport such as tennis. I could never win over Roger Federer just as a low ranked player can’t beat Mochy. So yes, with our system you can’t play everybody but should choose someone fairly within your rating range.

Greedy Bear: I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE IT. However, we are working on existential issues. This is nice to have and not even difficult to make. I like your suggestion that people will complain if it’s turned on by default.

Casual time setting: This is something we made for complete noobs - the other two “normal” and “speed” are using the official time settings from live games adjusted to take into account rolling the dice are instant online.

Player search: It’s coming very soon! We have a volunteer working on it (Thanks Peter!) and it’s 70% done!

We have a community chat when streaming on Youtube. I can’t see us making it for our platform any time soon, simply because there are much more important goals to reach currently.

Tournaments: Their are coming soon! We have some huge news to share soon! This will be a game changer!

Your rigged dice : I’m resetting the matrix and giving you some special dice. Sorry for the bad luck streak!
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Old 07-01-2020, 05:57 AM   #6
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Quote:
Originally Posted by RolldUpTrips View Post
Love the site and have 2 suggestions and 1 question:

1. Auto-resign when gin (speaks for itself)

2. Please Please Please add mute/block functions

3. Have you published anywhere the correlation between PR and Galaxy rating? I think you should be able to map it 1:1 the way the system works so I'm just curious and I think it would be good information to have.
1. We will make this at some point! Right now we don’t have the time for it - working on some epic things.
2. We do have a mute function in the burger menu (yes it’s officially called a burger menu). We need to do something about abusive language and I have many solutions, but we lack the resources right now.
3. This is a study that could be done right now. Maybe we should get a volunteer to do it. Could make a great piece of content for our users. We are also going to do some data analysis about our dice to officially show they are not rigged!!
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Old 07-01-2020, 06:58 AM   #7
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Heart Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

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Originally Posted by Robertie View Post
I think you guys have done a great job. I'm recommending the site.
Thanks Bill!
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Old 07-01-2020, 02:06 PM   #8
thecantonkid
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Been a member of the FB site for over a year. Every day there are players of all levels posting positions and getting feedback. Among world class players, Neil Kazaross is one who is always giving free advice and sometimes we are fortunate to get insights from Mochy, Michy, Thomas Kristensen, Zdenek Zizka, Tim Cross, as well as some of the top US players. When you add to all this the Galaxy you tube channel, you need look no further for your BG education.
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Old 07-01-2020, 03:14 PM   #9
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

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Originally Posted by thecantonkid View Post
Been a member of the FB site for over a year. Every day there are players of all levels posting positions and getting feedback. Among world class players, Neil Kazaross is one who is always giving free advice and sometimes we are fortunate to get insights from Mochy, Michy, Thomas Kristensen, Zdenek Zizka, Tim Cross, as well as some of the top US players. When you add to all this the Galaxy you tube channel, you need look no further for your BG education.
Thanks! Our community is definitly one of our greatest assets. We are just getting started. When everything hopefully gets consolidated and we have a steady revenue stream we can invest some time in making a lot of free learning resources.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:22 AM   #10
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

What else do you plan to add to the shop in the future?

One suggestion for the site: there should be a centralized place to find out about all the special tournaments that Galaxy runs without having to trawl through old social media posts or futilely dig through pages of irrelevant Google search results. For example, there are all these ongoing country championship tournaments on Galaxy (today the South African one was streamed, there was a US one a while ago, a Swedish one, etc.) and I was curious if my country (Canada) would be holding one (and if so, when), but was unable to find any information at all; the answer might be contained in some very old Backgammon Galaxy Facebook post or something, but search results were unsuccessful and I did not want to spend ages trying to chase down information that might not even exist in the first place. As another example, there was mention during the South African Galaxy Championship live-stream of there being another tournament in the future featuring all the national winners, but I was unable to find any information on this either.

It would be great if there was a place on the site that contained info for these tournaments. I wasn't familiar yet with Backgammon Galaxy at the time of the UBC 2019 or the qualifying UBC 2020 matches, but I suspect the same problem exists with that as well - there's some UBC rules stuff buried in the "Academy" tab, but seemingly nothing else except social media posts - and having a tournament page on the site somewhere with a big UBC info section on it would probably help with promoting it.
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Old 07-02-2020, 04:28 AM   #11
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesa7171 View Post
What else do you plan to add to the shop in the future?

One suggestion for the site: there should be a centralized place to find out about all the special tournaments that Galaxy runs without having to trawl through old social media posts or futilely dig through pages of irrelevant Google search results. For example, there are all these ongoing country championship tournaments on Galaxy (today the South African one was streamed, there was a US one a while ago, a Swedish one, etc.) and I was curious if my country (Canada) would be holding one (and if so, when), but was unable to find any information at all; the answer might be contained in some very old Backgammon Galaxy Facebook post or something, but search results were unsuccessful and I did not want to spend ages trying to chase down information that might not even exist in the first place. As another example, there was mention during the South African Galaxy Championship live-stream of there being another tournament in the future featuring all the national winners, but I was unable to find any information on this either.

It would be great if there was a place on the site that contained info for these tournaments. I wasn't familiar yet with Backgammon Galaxy at the time of the UBC 2019 or the qualifying UBC 2020 matches, but I suspect the same problem exists with that as well - there's some UBC rules stuff buried in the "Academy" tab, but seemingly nothing else except social media posts - and having a tournament page on the site somewhere with a big UBC info section on it would probably help with promoting it.
We are working on some Official backgammon galaxy backgammon boards. We are smoothing out the details and making quality checks, but they will soon be ready for a reveal. They will be wooden boards but the first edition will be painted black to resemble our main color theme. The surface will be filt, so you don’t get the normal excessive noise of wooden boards. The most interesting aspect will be that we are seperating the checker/cube area into a standalone unit. It will fit easily inside the board with magnets during transportation.

About a tournament schedule and streaming. I fell your pain! We probably should add a streaming channel group on facebook. We should also think about making a seperate schedule page on the site as you suggest featuring ongoing and upcoming tournaments. All the little nitty gritty tournaments and posts on facebook gets lost easily.
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:15 AM   #12
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

First and foremost, simply thank you. Backgammon Galaxy reinvigorated my interest in backgammon.

One suggestion, and it's probably a "nice to have" if it's even possible, but numerous times, I've been in the middle (or maybe even beginning) of a match and had a tough decision to make (for me). I try to make a mental note to look at that move after the match, but I'll forget, have difficulty finding it, whatever.... Unless the decision I make is an error, I ultimately don't always see the move I meant to review. So, a button that allows you to mark a move for later review would be nice. Maybe something that allows you to hit a button and the match review will put a little blue dot next to the move or something when you review your match.

Again...thanks!!!!
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Old 07-03-2020, 03:30 AM   #13
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Good idea! Ill pass it on.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:02 AM   #14
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Awesome, thanks for the reply. Thanks for all the work you've put in to the site so far.
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Old 07-06-2020, 05:29 AM   #15
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Love the site. Design is really great. Joy to play and use.



If you had a monthly subscription option (in the $5 to $15 range pcm, or $40 to $80 annual) that added a few nice to have features, I would subscribe, and I'm sure many, many others would too. I see you're gearing up for some kind of 'coins' monetization strategy, so i just wanted to throw out the monthly sub idea. Could provide a smooth way to monetize and support an excellent site.

Some ideas of premium features I def like to pay for:

- easy way to download your whole history, or the last X games, as a zip file
- permanent history of your PR in each match (it seems only the last 40 matches have analysis, then they are scrubbed?)
- deeper XG analysis (I often get a really wide margin between XG World Class analysis offline, and BGG. Up to PR +/- 2 either side. I realize you have to optimize this in a server situation, but making this a premium feature for XG++ analysis makes a lot of sense and would cover the cost of more servers to crunch the analysis fast)
- Fun extra - star next to your name for bragging rights

General platform request: Switch to an auto-match system rather than the "lobby list" you have right now. Something like lichess.org has - a grid where you have "speed" on the X axis and points on the Y axis. Then its super quick to click "5 point game, speed" or whatever. You can set your min/max difference in rating for an opponent. The server auto-matches you to a player also in the pool.

As the site grows, I think this is going to be essential. Already the last month or two I've found it hard join join a game as the lobby list moves so fast, you got and click the button and all of a sudden it jumps down and you've clicked another game. And if you slip down to the next page it's never going to be seen.

Realize that auto-matching functionality is not a simple problem to solve, but I think it will become a necessity if the site keeps growing like it has.


Agree with comment upthread about speeds: Normal I find v fast and have timed out a couple of times (which is a huge PR disaster!!). Casual is super slow.

Side note: I don't know much about normal tournament timings, but I wonder if something that adds on time each game would work. Because I find on a really slow grind on a 7 point match where every game is 1 point, the "normal" time is really really hard in the latter stages of the game and basically gives no thinking time.

Would like the ability to offer a gammon resignation

Last edited by Hood; 07-06-2020 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:40 AM   #16
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Hood:

We are actually gearing up for a real money site AND play money. We’ve been lucky enough to get a special arrangement set up that I can’t elaborate more on at the moment.

However, as you suggest we will soon launch three packages: Analysis, Tournament and Combo. I cant remember the pricing exactly, but it’s quite reasonable. Analysis will have much better analysis settings and some extra board colors to choose from. At the moment it doesn’t make sense to ramp up analysis settings without some revenue coming in.

I really want to prioritize a statistics page when we have the time. I think it is something many people find enjoyable - a clear and total history for PR in all time settings and more.

Regarding matching in the lobby...I wouldn’t say I didnt predict it, but at the time I couldn’t convince our team to go with the auto-matching feature as default. We have smaller fix coming for the lobby clutter.

Regarding time-settings. Now I’ve heard it a couple of times regarding casual settings that it’s too slow...Maybe we should cut some time from casual settings. The normal and speed settings we probably won’t touch because their are related to the official offline rules.

Having enough time in the end of match is a matter of getting experience. As a relative beginner it’s natural to lack time because many more positions have to be analysed. With experience it becomes easier.

I’ll pass on the suggestions!
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:05 AM   #17
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Galaxy is a great site. Extremely intuitive, fluid play, and visually appealing. Also, Marc is a great representative for the backgammon community. Wonderful demeanor and teaching style for professionals and novices alike. Congrats.


Suggestion 1: An option to create a game without displayed pip counts.

Suggestion 2: Decrease the "bounciness" of the lobby. The games at the top of the lobby often bounce around so quickly that mis-clicking is common.

Last edited by fullerene; 07-09-2020 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 07-10-2020, 03:54 AM   #18
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Thanks for taking the time to respond to all the points! Your packages idea sounds good. I look forward to becoming one of your first customers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tue View Post
Regarding time-settings. Now I’ve heard it a couple of times regarding casual settings that it’s too slow...Maybe we should cut some time from casual settings. The normal and speed settings we probably won’t touch because their are related to the official offline rules.
One thing to be mindful if you speed up casual is that I use this setting with (IRL) friends to play when basically we want an untimed game. It is slow enough that you don't have to ever be concerned about the clock.

If you speeded up this setting, you'd lose that. Maybe added in a fourth time control between normal and casual?


Oh one other tiny bit of feedback regarding this - I may be in the minority, but coming from playing a lot of internet chess, "casual" to be implies "unrated." I assumed that this was the case on BGG for quite a while.
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Old 07-10-2020, 04:28 AM   #19
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hood View Post
Oh one other tiny bit of feedback regarding this - I may be in the minority, but coming from playing a lot of internet chess, "casual" to be implies "unrated." I assumed that this was the case on BGG for quite a while.
I do faintly remember consider calling it “slow” (kinda the inverse of speed) instead of casual. Casual implies something about your intention rather than the feature (which is having more time).
It’s a good little insight about the chess world since we do want to convert some players from chess to backgammon.
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Old 07-10-2020, 04:33 AM   #20
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

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Originally Posted by fullerene View Post
Galaxy is a great site. Extremely intuitive, fluid play, and visually appealing. Also, Marc is a great representative for the backgammon community. Wonderful demeanor and teaching style for professionals and novices alike. Congrats.


Suggestion 1: An option to create a game without displayed pip counts.

Suggestion 2: Decrease the "bounciness" of the lobby. The games at the top of the lobby often bounce around so quickly that mis-clicking is common.
Hi fullerene!

1. We do have the option in the burger-menu, but the functionality is not implemented yet. Should be an easy task

2. Yes we are working on a fix for the lobby. It’s kinda a product of us not completely visualising the dynamics when we did the UI.

I’ll pass the kind words on to Marc. That’s his main talent - being a good communicator and networker combined with world class backgammon skills. I couldn’t do his job for sure
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Old 07-10-2020, 04:37 AM   #21
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

For anyone stumbling across this post in the future (hi person in the future) I realized I should have added a link to the site if you are interested:

www.backgammongalaxy.com

And we might have our app ready in the app store so check that out too (not ready currently)
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Old 07-10-2020, 01:04 PM   #22
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Sent you a bug report through PM, let me know if you didn't get it and I can email it.

Here's another, it's pretty nit-picky, but should be easy to fix --

The software doesn't allow you to select "Single Game" resignation unless you have a checker off, which makes sense. But lets say you have none off and you make a play that takes a checker off, but you don't pick up your dice and end your turn. The software then allows you to select the single game resignation, but when you click on Confirm, it doesn't actually resign, it just brings you back to your play.

So the test for allowing you to select single game resignation is different than the test that actually allows you to resign.
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Old Yesterday, 12:34 PM   #23
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Hi Tue,

Great site, congrats...Just a couple of things I would suggest (which are probably already in the works I imagine): 1) additional board schemes, and 2) the time setting that I and I think a lot of others are most comfortable with, which is standard ABT timing, pts x 2 with 12 sec delay.

These are minor quibbles. You guys have done a great service for BG...Thank you
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Old Today, 04:10 AM   #24
Tue
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Z_ View Post
Sent you a bug report through PM, let me know if you didn't get it and I can email it.

Here's another, it's pretty nit-picky, but should be easy to fix --

The software doesn't allow you to select "Single Game" resignation unless you have a checker off, which makes sense. But lets say you have none off and you make a play that takes a checker off, but you don't pick up your dice and end your turn. The software then allows you to select the single game resignation, but when you click on Confirm, it doesn't actually resign, it just brings you back to your play.

So the test for allowing you to select single game resignation is different than the test that actually allows you to resign.
Thanks!!! I’ll pass it on! Very useful
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Old Today, 04:11 AM   #25
Tue
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Re: Co-founder of Backgammon Galaxy AMA

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Originally Posted by Solaris19 View Post
Hi Tue,

Great site, congrats...Just a couple of things I would suggest (which are probably already in the works I imagine): 1) additional board schemes, and 2) the time setting that I and I think a lot of others are most comfortable with, which is standard ABT timing, pts x 2 with 12 sec delay.

These are minor quibbles. You guys have done a great service for BG...Thank you
We have additional board colors ready. You will soon have access to them!
In a sense we do have ABT timing - but we have adjusted them for the fact that digital rolling of dice is faster than real life rolling. De facto, it’s very close to being the same as ABT rules.
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