January 22: With browsers like Google Chrome adding more restrictions for websites that collect passwords over plain HTTP, Scott decides to give Funeratic an upgrade to the more secure HTTPS, ensuring a direct connection between the server and each end user. Funeratic is just a small gaming website, but its users deserve to have their data protected, especially as usage increasingly happens over public wi-fi networks. The change adds occasional slowness when loading a page on Funeratic, as an extra step must be made each time to validate the SSL certificate, but the change is the right thing to do by users and by the site, giving it a small boost in search-engine traffic at the same time.
April 23: Mistakes compound: When Scott fixes a bug in Rock Block concerts that has been processing the same code multiple times whenever Chris Lemler finishes a concert, he makes a small adjustment to the number of new artist ranks that Chris's opponents have earned, since a few players benefitted from defeating Chris "multiple times" in the same concert. This proves controversial, since a few players are now deprived of ranks that they had every expectation of being able to spend, so Scott corrects it by giving every player the same adjustment that the most adversely-affected player deserved, granting everyone a +6 bonus. But one fix that Scott put in place, code that auto-adjusts the ranks if they become incorrect again, does not help the matter, as players keep noticing slight fluctuations whenever the numbers auto-correct themselves. Scott is forced to make yet another change in how new artist ranks are calculated and recorded. What should have been a simple fix turns into weeks of corrections, but players come out of it richer, with extra artists in their labels.
July 31: Rock Block's previous tournament, a live videoconference-based competition taking place in a single afternoon in 2016, had been a lot of fun, but Scott struggles to find a time to do it again, barely able to secure a date in his own schedule let alone try to coordinate with all active players. He finally gives up and runs a simple tournament (based once again on a double-round-robin format, this time taking its name from the Rivingtons hit "The Bird's the Word"), letting it play out slowly over eight weeks instead of one afternoon. The competition is popular, inspiring Erik Bates to return to the game and for players to exchange friendly banter during concerts and in Tragic Comedy. The short tournament is such a success that Scott commits to running them much more often in the future, aiming to get close to the original plan for Rock Block to have a new short tournament every season.
September 3: Once again, it's time for Celebrity Goo Game to adopt a new scoring system to refresh itself, after years of lucky cats and pagodas. Scott appreciates how differently some players approach the game, and devises a system that will reward players for experimenting with different styles: Players earn badges (colorful icons) for accomplishments such as solving a consecutive streak and solving many goos on the same day and being first to solve a goo and so on, with the player who accumulates the most badges by the end of the season becoming the winner. Players approach the new system with gusto, devising stretegies to maximize their badge collections, but it soon becomes clear that the system is flawed, being static and uninteresting. A year later, the game switches back to the previous system, the Japanese pagoda and lucky cats model.
September 24: Members have had options to control Funeratic since the site first became interactive, allowing members to customize everything from whether icons are circular or square, to whether Rock Block prompts them with a confirmation before each turn in concert. With a project launched on this day, Scott unifies the various options scattered across the site into a series of "Options" pages, one per section, that give members control over how various pages display, some new and some pre-existing. And for members who like to live dangerously, there are two new options: In Rock Block, there is now the possibility of playing with trade rules in automatic concerts, and in Thorough Movie Reviews, plot spoilers can be displayed automatically instead of staying hidden by default.
December 2: Rock Block's tournaments, when there are enough players to hold them, have been won exclusively by Steve West, the most dominant player in the game. But the varying rule structure of tournaments creates an opportunity for someone else to get ahead. In the "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" tournament, named after Pat Benatar's propulsive 1980 hit song, each player starts with ten targets. For each victory in concert, a player can hit another player's target. Each player is eliminated when all ten of his or her targets have been hit, with the last player left becoming the winner. Steve is the first player eliminated in this format, with Scott close behind him, followed by Matthew Preston and Chris Lemler. In the end, it is Erik Bates who wins, unlocking a play rule and gaining bragging rights as only the second person to become a champion in the game. The format proves popular and is repeated in 2018 with a similar tournament based on AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill."
When a section of the site has an anniversary, the sidebar element announcing it now appears in the gray section of the site as well as in the section itself. The 20th anniversary of Thorough Movie Reviews came and went a few months ago without me saying anything because I didn't look at that section that day and I missed the message.
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