Formation Magazine
Volume One
1 November 2013
Issue One

World Go News

Go News From Around The Globe

Nova.gs, Open Go Server Merge (continued)

D. Cooper Stevenson


Akita Noek and Matthew Jones wanted a Go server that was different. They wanted a clean and advanced Go server that could be played by anyone, anywhere. The two wanted site-wide tournaments, real-time updates, and previews of the other games played on the server. Akita and Matt wanted no less than to bring Go to the browsers, tablets, and phones instantly and in real-time to people around the world.

Akita and Matt share a long-standing working relationship and both happened to have learned to play Go on OGS. Still, each found features that they would like to see on Go servers lacking. We wanted to be able to play live and in the browser, no matter what the time setting,” Matt recalls, We wanted the interface to be really clean and simple.”

We'd never turn our backs on such a huge technical challenge”

So, with the two itching to overcome a formidable technical challenge they struck out to build their server. Nova was born; Akita and Matthew created their vision.

Nova's brain parents soon faced, however, the uphill prospect of building a community around their system. Without community noone will visit the server, without visits to the server, there is no community; a clasic chicken-and-egg problem. The number one complaint by the users of the original Nova system was that they couldn't find games and matchups…and we had been running the site for months with very slow growth. Either we were going to have to settle with being a niche server with a low population or we were going to have to do something drastic and difficult. We'd never turn our backs on such a huge technical challenge.”

Akita and I were talking about how hard it is to get a steady stream of users and one day Akita just said, `Hey, what if we could take over another large server?'”

Akita picks up the story: ”…so when we felt that our technology was maturing well, we decided to aproach the OGS community and see if they were interested in merging. We saw it as a mutually beneficial arrangement: we would get a lot more players using our software (which we like), and the OGS community would get a snazzy new software stack. The timing was right for everyone as the OGS developers were ready for someone else to take on the development work, and we were ready to step it up to the next level.”

Shortly thereafter, Jon Markowitz, the founder of the Kuroneko Go School and longtime contributor to OGS, read the announcement that big changes were coming to the OGS server. While the site's administrators had the best of intentions, it was clear that OGS would require major retooling of the site's core components to move forward. Jon, not knowing yet of the merger, sensed bewilderment from his trusted friend's post.

Jon and the rest of OGS's contributors learned more about the proposed merger but many had concerns about the site's branding, features, etc. Over time, however, the contributors' concerns were satifsfactorily answered, in no small part to the trust that made OGS great. Damien did confirm that he vetted the [developers] extensively” Jon said, and also wanted to make sure that OGS was going to be in good hands for the next generation. We trusted Damien all along, so if he went ahead and did it, we knew he did his homework and would not have done it without demonstrating due diligence.”

Jon went on, When you flip the perspective around from OGS to Nova something major is discovered...when you take on an established community, even a small one, suddenly the entire game can change...the entire norm is thrown out the window."

So where do Akita and Matt want take Nova from here? For the most part it's about growth and features, You know, I think just like to continue to grow…we'd love it to be the go-to place for all things Go no matter who or where you are. So the goal now is to just get eyeballs on the site and continue to get opinions and feedback on what we can do better. I'd love it if I could never see another complaint again about it taking more than a few seconds to get a game any time day or night.”

OGS is dead, long live OGS!