Enhancement: Create challenge link

I believe OGS would benefit from the functionality where a user can send a challenge in a link, and anyone who clicks it can play a single unranked game as a guest (as lichess has). My friends on Discord like playing things while we’re hanging out in the downtime, and have exhibited some interest in Go, but it’s hard to get them to make accounts and find/accept match challenges etc. Meanwhile, one of them might send out a lichess link and immediately start a match (this has turned them all into casual chess players).

I recognize this is a technical challenge as it includes some new functionality (especially guest accounts), but I believe it would be very well worth it! It would also distinguish OGS from other Go servers – I cannot find this functionality anywhere (and admit I – a supporter – would defect to another server offering it…).

I think US Go struggles with accessibility, and this would be a great way to introduce people to the game quickly. It’s really easy to make an OGS account (thankfully!) but it cannot be overstated how much easier it is to just click a link someone sent you. I have tried to introduce many people to the game but have only gotten two people to create accounts (and trying to start spontaneous games with them is a hassle – “ok log in” “ok do you see my challenge” “search my name” “what’s your username again” etc). Given what I have seen with my friends getting each other into Chess through lichess links, I am confident we can make Go more accessible with this feature.

I suggest the following conditions for the functionality, as a starting point:

  • Only registered users can create challenge links.
  • Whoever clicks on the link is granted a guest account (unless they have an account they are logged into already) for the duration of the game.
  • Games cannot be rated. Perhaps they are not even recorded/stored. (edit: previously called this “Private” which is a different function)
  • Games cannot be correspondence-length.
  • Games must be 9x9 (edit – suggested by claire_yang)
  • It might incorporate into the existing UI as an additional button in the Custom Game window that opens from the Create button on the Play tab. Left of “Create Challenge”, there might be a button saying “Create Guest Link”. Pressing it replaces it with the URL which one can copy + send out.
  • Anyone who clicks the link after the challenge has already been accepted is given a guest account where they can spectate the game. (edit – idea based on what shinuito said about more friends spectating)

Thanks for considering this – I already have some great memories on OGS and am always grateful for the site’s existence!

(Similar request here Request: Quick invite player via link but it’s locked and I would like to add my support/anecdote)

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I like the idea.

And If we want to experiment with this, maybe we can limit it with a small board first, like only 9x9 in a beta test run period. This way, new players won’t get intimidated by a large empty 19x19 board which probably needs hours to finish.

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I think its a great idea, i’ve suggested and supported this myself too couple of times ^^
Couple more older topics:

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I recently got a friend to start playing shogi (I also only recently learned the rules) and I’m certain the fact you can just invite with a link on lishogi (the new shogi equivalent of lichess) was a big factor that meant we could start playing fast without him having to sign up.

It definitely helps people get into casually playing the game, especially when they don’t care about rank/ratings etc.

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Does anyone knows exactly what guest account can do besides viewing a game?

Maybe just reserve some guest accounts that can accept specific type of challenges?

Thanks for adding your voices y’all! Seems like a lot of us have seen this feature get people engaged in other games. And I like the 9x9-only restriction, doesn’t seem unreasonable to have people make accounts if they want to play 19x19. Added that to my original post.

To be perfectly honest, I think most of us like the idea :slight_smile:, the main problem is that such a thing would require backend support and probably a lot of redecorating to the existing code and guest account restrictions…

Anoek is currently working on a lot of other stuff, so this is unlikely to happen soon, sorry.

For future reference though:

  • I don’t see a reason to make the games private, why?
  • And why would you limit those to 9x9 only? Up to the creator who they send the link to, and it will most likely be someone they know, so they should be able to judge the board size. As the games would most likely not be ranked I do not see any harm in allowing any board size… Or am I missing something?

Guest accounts can do pretty much anything apart from playing and communicating (no chat or PMs no reports)

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My thought is mostly about how the effect of promoting people to try for the testing period, where most likely links would be sent to people who has no idea even for the basic rules. I can say 19x19, even 13x13 would look intimidating. And if guests couldn’t even make their first moves, they might straight give up to play.

But maybe you are right, that we probably just have to put some description of the game when creating the links. And let the ones creating the games to worry about that. Or perhaps if guest games can change their board size before the game started, and don’t have to create new links for them? Can it can be done with existing OGS system?

The question is, does OGS want to store a bunch of unranked games linked to a max of one registered user.

The argument accounts couldn’t be deleted I thought was based in part that the games you play belong to both you and your opponent, and might be important for ratings.

In this case the game is unrated and potentially neither player will have an account.

Then again if OGS ever tries to make a feature like lichess where it generates puzzles based on games, the more games/data the better.

Not sure I fully get your point? Are we by any chance mixing up the terms - unranked vs private games?

Whether or not to store these games is a good question, but does not really seem dependant on them being private or not… Not that it is a big deal in either case probably, I was just wondering what the arguments were for making them private.

Oh, I just mean, even if we make them visible they probably are unlikely to show up even on the games page (assuming the sorting by rank was working) and I was mainly thinking about other site users watching.

Then again one might have friends that would like to watch a game played with other friends, which would be one reason to make sure it’s not private (I didn’t really think of that initially).

So they probably don’t need to be private. Then I was imagining maybe the game just disappears/expires after a certain amount of time. I’m not actually sure what lichess does in that regard, but they could still use the games for puzzles. I did watch a talk from 2017 where they had a massive game database in a fairly compressed format.

That said, circling back to making them private or not: Suppose guests still don’t gain extra privileges like chatting and it would be convenient to be able to chat to your guest opponent, making them private unless you have the link would make sense to isolate the guests from the rest of the community where they can chat about the game without having a registered account, and without modifying guest privileges elsewhere.

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Unfortunate but understandable that this isn’t a priority right now. I do think it would add a lot of value in terms of new users and supporters (I know I would pay money for this feature), when we can get to it. I think the first Go site to develop this feature will pull a lot of users.

RE: Private games – My original idea was that the games would not be recorded (to make things simple and completely low-stakes). I thought this was what Private did but I’ve never used that functionality myself, so I think I was mistaken. Going to edit the original post to clarify that spectating should be allowed.
RE: Limiting to 9x9 – I think it would be fine to trust the challenger’s judgment on what their friends would want to play, but I like this limitation just to keep things small and simple (and maybe encourages people who get interested to actually make accounts). I also just feel like clicking on a link should be a 1-10 minute commitment.

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I don’t know if restricting to 9x9 is a good feature. It would be then mostly for a specific category of games (beginners) when we could use it for people who don’t know about OGS but know how to play go.

If someone need to be invited each time to play, it will not take long for him to register so what’s the point?

It could create a temporary account keeping track of everything (game, chat) like a registered user but for a short time only, if the invited don’t register in this delay, pffitt OGS save his memory, no trouble. Only security needed is to have to keep to be invited.

Note that if security (trollers, cheaters or whatever ) is a concern, I think at reverse that if someone takes responsability to invite someone it’s much safer as someone who comes on his own and register!

I think I should further elaborate on what I’ve seen with lichess. I’ll be in a group Discord call with a handful of people, and we’re playing some other game. Someone leaves to go get a snack and the rest of us are waiting for a few minutes. Someone else drops a lichess link in the channel and it’s quickly accepted by someone as a fun quick thing to do while waiting. Everyone else wants to see and starts spectating and joking and so on. These people were not serious chess players – some of them might not even know e.g. en passant – but everyone quickly gets into it and has a good time.

My experience trying to get people into Go using OGS has been annoying in comparison. It’s nice that making an account is super quick, but trying to get new users to spell their username for you and then navigate the site for the first time to accept your challenge is extra steps that have strained the introduction. I don’t think this is a problem with the site architecture (which I really like), just missing functionality.

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O but I completely agree! I have same expectations from an invitation system as you think.

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Aye ok, I think I had misunderstood. Glad I wrote out the scenario anyway, for posterity :slight_smile:

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