Timeouts, Vacation Days, Days Off and Game Clock
Playing turn-based games has many advantages: you don't have to come to the site at the same time as your opponent, you can play for just a few minutes each day, you can meet people from around the world. But there is also one distinct problem: what if your opponent suddenly stops making moves?


Intro to Timeouts. We have devised a system where each move has a certain time limit imposed on it. When a player does not complete a move within the specified time limit, that move is said to be a "Timeout", and one of two things happen: the player who times out forfeits either that move, or the entire game. Most people are familiar with the concept of a game forfeit for failure to make a move, but some are rightfully confused over the forfeit of a move. This document will strive to explain our reasoning for a move forfeit.


It's not in the rules. You won't find a provision for Timeouts in the standard Chess or Checkers rules. Indeed, most games assume that the opponents are face to face, and are sitting at the table together concentrating on the game. In such cases, a time limit is sometimes imposed on the entire game, but very rarely on each move. And when a player times out in those face-to-face games, usually the game, rather than just the move, is forfeited. So our loss of move approach to Timeouts may seem a little strange, especially to avid gamers who have often participated in tournaments. If this bothers you, there is always the option to play with forfeiture of games. You have a choice. All site sponsored tournament games are played with the forfeit option only.


It makes sense. Our approach to gaming is a bit different. We think that most players who come here are interested in playing games, and will probably visit the site once a day to make a move in each of their games. We understand, however, that these games are not the most important thing in each player's life. Nor should they be. Sometimes other things come up. Sometimes the computer or the modem or the Internet connection just doesn't want to cooperate. In these cases, we don't want to overly penalize either the player who cannot make it back to the game, or the player who is forced to wait. So we enforce a time limit on each move to encourage players to complete each move in a timely fashion, but the penalty for failing to meet that time limit is not as severe as ending the game.


How to avoid Timeouts. We have some provisions for avoiding Timeouts. First, Each player is allowed to select two days of the week as "Days Off," by default Saturday and Sunday. Second, each player is given a set number of days per year to use as "Vacation Days." The exact number of vacation days available to you depends upon your current membership level. If a game times out on a day that is marked as a day off for the offending player or while he or she is on vacation, 24 hours are added to the amount of time left for that move. Both Days Off and Vacations can be changed up to once per week from the Preference Pages.


How Days Off and Vacations work. When you set up your vacation days, our system takes into account the days you have selected, and you will not time out on those selected days. This does not mean that time freezes when you are on a vacation day, your time still continues to count down. Once your vacation day is over, the game reverts back to the time is was down to.

  • For example, if you had 12 hours left before a game timed out, and you set a vacation day, it would still count down that 12 hours, then once it reached zero, take into account that you had a set vacation day, add 24 hours and not time out.
However, once you no longer have a vacation day set, your game will be back to the zero that it counted down to. Our system then extends each vacation day and day off grouping by 12 hours, so that if your time left reaches zero before noon on a day after one of your days off or vacation days, you will be given an additional 12 hours to make that move. Please make sure that the clock in your Preferences page shows the correct time, because that is the time that is used to determine what day it is when calculating your days off and vacations.

Example of Timeout for a 3 day game which coincides with days off
Player 1 moved Weds at some point say 11:00 am. So 3 days from Wed. 11:00 am would be Saturday 11:00 am. (Day 1: Wed 11:00 am to Thur. 11:00 am; Day 2: Thurs. 11:00 am to Fri. at 11:00 am; Day 3: Fri. 11:00 am to Sat. 11:00 am). Player 2 has Saturday and Sunday set as days off. So therefore Saturday 11:00 am is during Player 2's day off. Which would automatically move the timeout to Sunday at 11:00 am however, Sunday being Player 2's other day off sends the timeout to Monday at 11:00 am. So Player 2 would get 5 days but only because of his/her set days off.

You are allowed 60 vacation days per year for a Platinum Level Membership, 40 vacation days per year for a Gold Level Membership, 30 vacation days per year for a Silver Level Membership, 20 vacation days per year for a Wood Level Membership, and 10 vacation days per year for Guest Status.

You get back your vacation days on the anniversary that they were used. For example: you used a vacation day on April 1, 2007, you will get that vacation day back April 1, 2008. You used another day on April 15th, 2007, you will get that vacation day back April 15th, 2008.

As a Platinum Member downgrading to Gold, you are now entitled to 20 fewer vacation days per year than before. If you have used up more than 40 vacation days in the past year, you will not get another one until the anniversary of the first one in the last 40.


How to Set Up Vacation. To schedule your vacation days in advance, go to the Options box in the middle of your game sheet. There, scroll down to the Preferences section and click that link. Click the Vacations link on the left hand side. From there you can see one year in the future to schedule new vacation days, or up to one year in the past to see when you last took vacation days by clicking the << or the >> links near the top of the calendar. Click the days you wish to take off, but take care as the database will not let you lift a set vacation day. Should you accidentally click the wrong day, just write GoldToken Support and we will happily remove it.

To prevent players from using their vacation days to help players gain advantage over their opponents in any manner, players are unable to set a vacation day within the next 24 hours, so be sure to set your vacation at least a day or two in advance. ;;up;;


How to Change Your Days Off. To change your days off, go to the Days Off tab of your Preferences page. From there you can easily change your days off by selecting the two days in the drop down list. You can change your days off once a week.


Emergency Vacation. We recognize that everyone has some events that make it impossible to get back to a computer. In light of that, we have implemented a policy that will automatically schedule vacation time if you time out in a game. How this works is that the first time you time out, our system checks to see if any vacation time has been used in the previous two weeks. If not, then it schedules two days of vacation time, and then extends your timed out game automatically for you. If you time out again, it will see that you have used vacation time in the previous two weeks, and so it won't automatically scheduled vacation time for you. This gives each player a little breathing room without unduly penalizing the other player.


What to do when your opponent times out a move. If your opponent does not complete a move in time during a game where the timeout penalty is a loss of a move, the turn is passed back to you. You will not see any indication on the board of a move having been made. At this point you are free to make your next move. However, if you wish to pass the play back to your opponent, you may do so using a link just below the game board. If your opponent times out again, you can either claim an automatic draw, or pass the move back once more. If you pass it back and your opponent times out for a third time in a row, your opponent loses the game.


Question:

  • My game got to the end and it didn't end. What happened?
Answer
The only way the game doesn't end is when a player has time scheduled off in their preferences. Players can set two days off a week, and depending on their membership level, a certain number of vacation days each year. When a game goes to time out, the database checks to see if the player has a day off or a vacation day set. If they do, then 24 hours are added.


Question:

  • When do I get more vacation days? I have been on here over a year now.
Answer
You get each vacation day back on the anniversary that it was used. For instance, if you took a vacation day on November 16, 2004, you will get a day back November 16th, 2005. If you upgraded your account, you will only be given the difference in unused vacation days that membership allows. So if you used 20 vacation days and the upgraded membership allows 30, you will have an additional 10 days to use.


Question

  • What is the clock at the bottom of the page in a game and how does it work?
Answer
The clock displays the total time that it has been yours and your opponent's turn since the game began. It is a running total. This helps to indicate how long it takes you to make a move. The numbers represent Days, Hours & Minutes. The clock at a player's name (also in multi player games) shows how much of the total time for the game it has been that player's turn to play. This means that if you move immediately after it becomes your turn your clock will only advance slowly, because the clock is stopped when it is not your turn. Let me try to clarify with an example. Players A and B both make 1 move a day, and B makes his move 5 minutes after A has made his move. This means that B's clock only advances 5 minutes per day while A's clock advances 23 hours and 55 minutes a day.

Example:

Underneath each game is the clock that denotes where you stand on time with that particular game. It looks like this:

White: xxxxxxx (1592 Friendly) [Clock: 4:02:10]
Black: gggggg (1675 Friendly) [Clock: 51:21:09]

The clock itself = equals days:hours:minutes

So this [Clock: 51:21:09] means gggggg has used 51 days, 21 hours and 9 minutes total in that specific game.


Question:

  • I am playing a three day game and it is my opponents turn. Why does the game say they have 5 days to move?
Answer
If you have a 3-day game and finish a move on, say, Thursday, and your opponent has Saturday-Sunday as days-off, the timeout will be 5 days. This is a feature, not a bug, these days-off are added to the timeout, so you get 3 days, plus 2 days-off, for a total of 5.


Question:

  • How do the 90 day limited tournaments work?
Answer
The tournament counts each players timers separately, so even if the timer of player 1 is at 29 days 23 hours 59 minutes, when it's the other player's turn, the timeout is based on the clock of that -other- player. Each player is allowed 90 days to use total to complete the entire tournament. So a two player game can potentially take up to 180 days to finish. If there are 8 players, it can be much more. It will work this way if the game/tournament is set to ignore vacation days. If not, they may kick in and make the game last a few days longer.

Warning: Whoever timeouts first on a 90 day limited game, loses. What this option does is that if the game has a 90-days limit and your clock is already at 88 days and 15 hours, you don't get the usual 3 days to make your turn. You only get whatever time is remaining until the 90 days - in this case, 1 day and 9 hours, and then you timeout and lose.

Question
  • My Games timed out when I had vacation days set, will you reinstate them?
Answer
Generally no. If we ever do have a database error with vacation days, days off or time outs, it will cause mass problems and not be limited to just one game or one player, and only then will we consider the reinstating of games that timed out.

If you put in a vacation day after the fact, the database will not back up the game to before the game timed out. Another misconception is placing a vacation day just before the game times out. You must place the vacation day at least an hour before the game is due to time out in order for it to take effect. This was set up to prevent players from trying to manipulate the system to drag their games on longer than each game allows. Also, some of our players have tried fiddling with their account clocks in an attempt to thwart the system. But the database can not be manipulated that way.

It May help you to understand how GoldToken's time out system works:

There are two separate places that look at timeout code.
  1. One when a new move is made.
  2. And another when the game times out.
When a move is made, the database counts up the number of vacation days and days off that are between now and the time the move would normally be due. These are not looked at as entire days. Instead, the database counts midnight of the day in question as the important time.

If the game is due after that time, then it counts that whole day, even if it's only 1 second past midnight. And yes, it is a bit confusing, because once it extends the time due, the database has to look again at any vacation days or days off from that original due date/time to the newly extended date/time, and extend it farther if necessary.

Basically, the idea is that when the move is made it should take a look at all your vacation days and days off, and set the time the move is due to be the total of the time you are normally allotted plus any additional days you have off. That way, when the game times out, the system knows you have been credited for all the days prior to the current date that it times out. Then, when the timeout actually happens, it looks again. But not in the past. Only at today. If today is a day off or a vacation day, it adds 24 hours. And this is also the place where it can choose to add an emergency vacation day.



What To Do If Your Opponent Isn't Playing On Time

You wait for the opponent to move. You watch the "time left" go through.....
...3 days
...1 day 1 hour
...23 hours 59 minutes (now it's in bold characters. Aha! I'll get my win!)
...59 minutes (We've gone to red letters! Holding my breath - I'm about to score!!)
...1 minute! still red! You can't breathe!!!!
...time out imminent! bold red, refresh, refresh.....

Zaboing! The game now says 23 hours 59 minutes! ;;cry;;

Go to your opponents profile page to see if they're on vacation or on a scheduled day off. More often than not, they are. If not, look to see when they last played. If it has been several days, you might send them a heads up, although if they're not on site they obviously won't see your message. Doing so has helped a number of "friendly" opponents save their games more than once, and taking the time to be a friendly opponent by caring about others goes a long ways in bettering GoldToken.

If you feel someone is abusing their vacation days, please report them to GoldToken Support for evaluation. We promise to look into it, and take appropriate action. Please keep in mind we will not share the results of our action due to GoldToken's Privacy Policy.



Auto Set Vacation Days

Platinum members have the special ability to auto set their vacation days in their preferences. These vacation days work just like emergency vacation days, and are only set one day at a time, when a game goes to time out as you need them. They are costly if you use them to save your games from timing out when you will already be here as they are not refundable. However, they will help in cases when you find yourself suddenly offline with no ability to play.

There has been expressed some concern regarding the abuse of this ability. GoldToken has actively chased after players who abuse the system by setting up vacation days to help them play on time. Many of the worst offenders of the past no longer play here by choice for this reason. However, it may also be known that a few who complained about others were entirely out of line as the one accused had the flu or went on a one time 30 day vacation. Remember, using extended vacation days in a one time instance once a year does not qualify as abuse however upsetting it may feel to you.

True, there are a few who might try to abuse the new ability, but I doubt there will be many. Especially considering that only Platinum players have this ability and are GoldToken's most responsible group of players. I suspect that to check the box, relying on it to save all your games while you take your time to play may diversly use up all your vacation days if you suddenly feel you can take more time than otherwise allowed. The intent is for times the power suddenly goes off and you can't get online. If used soley for this purpose, it won't save all your games as many games do not allow vacation days, but it will certainly help.

Regarding the Olympics, they now have a strict time limit applied, though they will allow you to use vacation days and days off. Once your total playing time reaches 60 days, you lose.

While the system has never been perfect, we are always working at improving things. Compared to years past, I honestly feel that most complaints about vacation abuse are unjustified these days. Especially as proactive as we have been in squelching abuse in this area. Players caught abusing vacation days today are first given a single warning, and if the problem continues, find their tournament games ended in favor of their opponents. If still abused, the player is banned from joining more tournaments and their vacation days taken, forcing the player to write in should they need to set up a vacation day.

If you feel someone is abusing their vacation days, please report them to ;;gs;; for evaluation. They will look into it, and take the appropriate action.

Mary aka ;;bg3;;





Please note:

  • GoldToken's database does not automatically assign site holidays outside of the emergency vacation days noted above. There are players from around the world that may or may not share your thoughts on what is or isn't a holiday. If you desire Christmas or other holidays off, you must use your vacation days to do so.

  • The database is set up to automatically place all timeouts on hold shall our hardware crash in any way. This means that when players are unable to log into the site due to a hardware crash, all games will not time out during the downtime. However, please note that when the site is back up and running, all timeouts start again from exactly where they were left off at. Due to database or hardware crashes being much like an event outside of human control, players are held responsible for checking back to play their games on time to avoid timing out after the fact. GoldToken will not add on extra timeout time to each game, if the downtime of the site is under 24 hours off line.

  • In the event of bad weather or power outages in your area, loss of Internet connection from your Internet Service provider for any reason, or having the unfortunate circumstance of your computer or WebTV crashing, GoldToken will not be responsible for your games timing out because you could not log on. It is a players responsibility to either place themselves on vacation ahead of time if possible, or to have a friend contact Goldtoken Support to request days to be set for them, shall these circumstances arise and you are unable to login to play your games before they time out. Unused vacation days can always be removed by contacting Support, if you arrive back sooner than anticipated and no longer need those days marked.

  • Signing up to E-mail notices for your turn to play, are not always 100% reliable. This can be due to many unforeseen reasons, and therefore can not be depended upon in order for a player to be made aware of when it is their turn to move on a game. Depending on 'cyber-space' to reliably deliver your e-mail on time, is risky in any situation or for any company or personal user. GoldToken does routine checks to ensure that their e-mail notices go out in a proper fashion, however once it leaves our database, many things can prevent it from arriving on your end. It is a players responsibility to check in on their GoldToken account to play their games on time, regardless whether or not you receive a "It's Your Turn" notice in your e-mail.
    • If you don't recieve GoldToken email when you should, check your spam folder. GoldToken sends out thousands of email notices every hour, and some ISP's regulations interpret this as spam, automatically placing such notices in your spam folders. Once you open such a notice, be sure to click the "This isn't spam" option provided by your email account so you no longer have to look in your spam folder for email from our servers.

  • GoldToken's games do not time out if you set your vacation days ahead of time. If you know far enough ahead of time that you are not going to have time to play your games before they time out, then please be sure to place a vacation day well enough in advance for the database to acknowledge it and secure the games that accept days off and vacation days in their set up. Setting up "same day vacations" are not allowed. **IMPORTANT**: Games that are set to ignore vacation days or days off will still time out. There is nothing you or GoldToken can do to prevent this.

  • GoldToken is not responsible for player's games that time out due to their own inaccurate measurement of time, representation, or mathematical time mistake. This also means that GoldToken is not responsible for players clocks that they have set in their Preferences. Players are responsible to ensure that their clock is set correctly to their time, and time zone. GoldToken.com is liable for timed out games, only if there is a database failure on our end.


GoldToken is not responsible for player games that time out due to their own error and/or doing. GoldToken will only be liable for timed out games shall there be a database failure on our end.