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URL [1]
a.k.a. FunSockets
Type Game
Founder(s) Ted Griggs, Kevin Binkley
Admin(s) Goko Team

Goko is an HTML5 gaming platform which holds the rights to create online versions of a variety of Euro style and other games. Initially known to the Dominion community as FunSockets, Goko's Dominion is the official online implementation of the game; other online platforms, such as Isotropic, were asked to shut down. The platform is now managed by Making Fun.


[edit] Goko Dominion

[edit] Gameplay

[edit] Features

  • Goko features AI in the form of a variety of different bots to play games against. There is also a campaign/adventure mode where the players have to overcome disadvantages to win the game. There are rumors that the product will eventually offer some way for users to create AI's.[1]
  • Goko Dominion features two separate leaderboards, a Pro Leaderboard and a Casual Leaderboard. Based off of discussion with Goko,[2] [3] their skill rating system is functionally very similar to Isotropic's ranking system which is based on the TrueSkill system.
  • The promotional swipe cards which come inside of the recently released Base Card expansion and Dark Ages allow you to receive a free promotional pack of 5 cards for use on Goko's platfform.[4] The cards included in this pack are Nobles, Haven, Hoard, and one card each from Hinterlands and Dark Ages. It is said that you can also get these cards by accessing Goko through the website https://www.goko.com/games/promocard.
  • Goko provides a single-player campaign mode titled Dominion Adventures that serve to introduce players to the cards of each expansion in a storytelling fashion.

[edit] Cost

  • The base set is free for the public to play with. To offset this free play, there will eventually be a video ad [5] once every 15 minutes or so between game launch and start of game.
  • In addition to having free access to the base set, users are able to play with other expansions provided that the person hosting the game owns the expansions. This is comparable to someone owning a physical copy of the game inviting friends over to play with their expansion.
  • Cards from the expansions can be purchased for use a half set (or full small set, about 13 cards either way) at a time. These mini-sets currently cost about $4 each. The cheapest way to get all currently available cards is buying the Ultra Pack, which gives every set for 450 Gokoins ($45).

[edit] Ratings

Goko appears to use an adaptation of the TrueSkill rating system, just as Isotropic did for its level and leaderboard system.[6] The system assigned players a level rating based off of their results against other players, factoring in the skill level of all players involved in each game. Among the attributes of the system:

  • Beyond the win/loss status, end of game score has no bearing on rankings. A one point nail biter is worth just as much as a 100 point blowout.
  • A win against a highly ranked opponent increased your rating more than a win against a lower ranked opponent. Conversely, a loss to a highly ranked opponent damages your skill rating less than a loss to a very low ranked opponent.
  • The scale of the ranking system is much larger than on Isotropic, with ratings from 0 into the 1000's instead of 0 to 60.
  • A player's displayed skill level was the result of subtracting a player's variance from their skill estimate. In contrast to Isotropic's system, the level ranking appears to update after each game. Coupled with the larger scale of the level ranking, this helps cater to a more casual gaming community by giving immediate feedback on skill after the result of a game.
  • For some players, their level calculations would actually fall below 0 because their variance was larger than their small skill rating. On Goko, players ratings as displayed does not go below zero, but their actual skill rating can still be below zero. This can lead to some players seemingly getting "stuck" at the 0 skill level even as they start to win more games.[7]

[edit] Praises and Criticism

The praise seems to be overwhelmed by the criticisms at this point, though there are various examples of each. Many praises and criticisms tend to compare the product directly to Isotropic and other online implementations.

[edit] Praise

  • Official Card Art
  • Ability to play against AI opponents

[edit] Criticism

  • Purchasing product twice - Many who own physical copies of expansions do not feel comfortable paying the full price for their online counterparts. Supporting views range from wanting a discounted price all the way to having the product be made free.
  • Cost - There are objections to the cost of the product with some feeling that the total cost is too high. A few others object to the pricing structure.
  • Slow Gameplay - Game speed is frequently cited as being slow in comparison to Isotropic.
  • Lack of matchmaking - Goko has stated that this is one of their priority items, but as of this point there is still not a functional matchmaking system. This can make matchmaking difficult for many players.
  • Lobby structure - The multiple lobby format and user limit in lobbies can make finding games challenging. These complaints should be minimized with the implementation of a matchmaking system.
  • Access issues - Many people have complained about having trouble accessing the site. Some have no issues and some struggle to make the site work, even when using similar devices or browsers.
  • Lack of offline play - Though Goko offers fairly competitive AI/bots to play Dominion against, there is no way of playing against these bots (or friends) while offline.

[edit] History

[edit] Speculation

Speculation about the eventual existence of an 'official' online version of Dominion began years ago, likely before the existence of the blog and forum. Unfortunately, for a very long time little was known beyond that. Individuals would try to piece together information from comments by Jay and Donald X. but nothing was known for sure. Speculation was wide ranging and rampant, and led to the creation of "rrenaud's Law", an observance of how much Dominion discussion inevitably descended into speculation about the eventual online version. Isotropic creator dougz was informally approached about taking the job of creating the official online version but he turned down the offer.[8][9]

[edit] FunSockets and Beta Testing

Putting an end to some speculation, Jay Tummelson leaked some information in May 2012 about the official online Dominion platform in a BGG thread discussing the Origins Convention. He revealed that the name of the company working on the game was Funsockets, adding that there would be playable versions of the game on display at the convention.[10] The first images of the game leaked[11] during the convention, prompting further discussion. Though Jay reported that the platform was near its release point, there was no further word on that front for a few weeks.

In late May 2012, it was noted that there was a change on the FunSockets website.[12] The site offered a form to sign up for further information when it became available and offered a contact address for questions. A week or two later rumors sprang up[13] about BGG having access to some Beta test accounts. Dominion Strategy Forum members were immediately interested in taking part in the testing, prompting the creation of an unofficial list of interested individuals.[14] Just days later, theory announced that Beta tester signups would occur on the blog, with preference being given to individuals who wrote articles for the blog followed by a mix of first come first serve and active Forum members.[15]

Beta testing was slowly rolled out to the Dominion community starting in late June[16] and continued through the eventual release in mid-August 2012. Beta testing was attractive to many Dominion fans as it allowed them the chance to be among the first to use the new Dominion platform. Later in the Beta testing cycle, interest was renewed when it was revealed that Dark Ages cards were available to the Beta testers.

[edit] Failed Release

The official online version was expected to finally launch to the public on August 16, 2012.[17] This date was chosen to coincide with the release of Dark Ages at Gencon, and Goko's press release found its way to the front page of blogs and news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Kotaku, and Mashable.[18][19][20] However, there were a host of issues at the time of release, including security issues,[21] server load troubles,[22] failure of the game to load,[23] and inability to register.[24]

Goko attempted to keep the site running but had difficulty doing so, working through the night and emailing users to apologize for the issues with their service.[25] After realizing that they could not keep up with the maintenance of the site, they eventually decided to bring the release back into beta status.[26] There are a number of blog posts/articles and forum threads related to the failed release and return to beta status.[27] [28][29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

[edit] Public Beta Status and New Release Date

On September 21, 2012, Goko quietly released their Dominion product in a public Beta.[34] At this point, there are still a number of bugs, and updates are still coming regularly as the problems are solved. They are at a point where they are accepting money for the purchase of expansions, with the prices significantly reduced (from ~$6 to ~$4 per half set) from the previous release.[35]

Goko has at this point not released a date for an official full release. The continuing uncertainty has led to forum members (prior to the beta release) making a guessing game of when the product will fully release.[36]

[edit] Goko Interaction

Much to the dismay of many on these forums, there has been little information flow from FunSockets about their product, a problem which dates back to the first hints of an official implementation. Fortunately, the volume of interaction has increased in recent weeks. There have been two separate completed Q&A sessions so far with a third upcoming, both exclusively catering to members of this forum.

At this point, Goko is the only place to play Dominion online. Unofficial implementations such as Isotropic have been shut down.

[edit] Making Fun and Steam Greenlight

In 2014, Goko was quietly acquired by Making Fun, whose logo began to appear on the Dominion Online loading screen. They promised to completely overhaul the existing code for the game from the ground up, implementing many of the features added by the Salvager plugin. In February 2015, Dominion appeared on Steam Greenlight, in anticipation of release to Steam, as well as to mobile devices. It is expected to release in Spring or Summer 2015.

[edit] Future Features

  • Matchmaking - Expected date unknown
  • Offline App - beta version seen at GenCon 2013, release date unknown

[edit] References

  1. Jay Tummelson, "IOS", BGG Forums
  2. "FunSockets Livestream", Dominion Strategy Forum
  3. Trisha Lantznester, "FunSockets Q&A - Part 2", Dominion Strategy Forum
  4. "How the promo card in Base Cards/Dark Ages works", Dominion Strategy Forum
  5. Trisha Lantznester, "FunSockets Q&A - Part 2", Dominion Strategy Forum
  6. Trisha Brooke, http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=6707.msg185148#msg185148 "Q&A with Ted Griggs and John Smith (Goko)"], Dominion Strategy Forum
  7. http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=6819.msg189088#msg189088 "ratings on Goko"], Dominion Strategy Forum
  8. dougz, "dougz Reddit AMA", Reddit
  9. Donald X., "All previous turns occasionally visible in Isotropic games", Dominion Strategy Forum
  10. Jay Tummelson, "IOS Version", BGG Dominion Forum
  11. "Live Report From Origins", Dominion Strategy Forum
  12. "ZOMGZ The Dominion Online website is doing something!", Dominion Strategy Forum
  13. "ZOMGZ The Dominion Online website is doing something!", Dominion Strategy Forum
  14. "Unofficial Interested in beta list", Dominion Strategy Forum
  15. theory, "Dominion Strategy FunSockets Beta Signup ", Dominion Strategy Forum
  16. "Dominion Strategy FunSockets Beta Signup ", Dominion Strategy Forum
  17. "Official Version Launching 8/16?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  18. Russ Garland, "Goko Emerges From Stealth to Launch HTML5 Gaming Platform", WSJ Blogs: Venture Capital Dispatch
  19. Mike Fahey, "The Age Of True Platform-Free Gaming Begins With Goko", Kotaku: Australia
  20. Chelsea Stark, "Board Game Classics ‘Settlers of Catan’, ‘Dominion’ Invade Your Social Networks", Mashable
  21. "Do we know when exactly it's going up?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  22. "Do we know when exactly it's going up?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  23. "Do we know when exactly it's going up?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  24. "Can't Register", Dominion Strategy Forum
  25. "Goko email update", Dominion Strategy Forum
  26. "Back into Beta?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  27. Owen Faraday, "Launch of Zynga competitor Goko marred by technical problems", Wired UK
  28. Owen Faraday, "Dominion Online makers Goko un-launch, retreat back into beta", Pocket Tactics
  29. "Do we know when exactly it's going up?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  30. "Back into Beta?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  31. "Bonfire", Dominion Strategy Forum
  32. "Interesting article on Goko launch", Dominion Strategy Forum
  33. "Another article on Goko Launch Problems", Dominion Strategy Forum
  34. Trisha Brooke, "so this is out?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  35. Trisha Brooke, "so this is out?", Dominion Strategy Forum
  36. "The Goko Dominion Release Prediction Contest!", Dominion Strategy Forum

Dominion community
Sites and venues AndrominionDominion Strategy (Forums; Qvist rankings) • GokoisotropicDominion simulators
People Donald XRio Grande Games (Jay Tummelson) • Doug Zongker
Community in-jokes Bad AdvisorBlue dogMarinScout jokesRrenaud's Law
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