Maybe you’ve gone to the MORE page from within Crush Crush and seen the SPS ID. Or, perhaps you’ve e-mailed customer support and we’ve replied asking for your SPS ID. Or perhaps you just seen the title of this blog post, and you too are wondering what an SPS ID is! To arrive at the answer there is first a bit of history to unravel.
On February 9th, 2016, Sad Panda Studios launched its first game on Kongregate, Crush Crush. We weren’t sure if the game would do well, and didn’t know how to service a game like Crush Crush. A free to play game with new content, limited time events and frequent updates requires some infrastructure that a typical game. For example, a typical game that you purchase a single time and play might never receive an update. However, Crush Crush has been updated over 700 times, with major new content updates, bug fixes, events during holidays, and more. To deliver this content efficiently, Crush Crush needs a connection to a server to get the latest art assets, events, etc.
With this knowledge in hand, and knowing that Crush Crush was a success, we took off to the 2016 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Armed with his laptop, Programmer Panda approached several kiosks to discuss a solution to live servicing Crush Crush. One kiosk stuck out, and that week Programmer Panda added PlayFab support to Crush Crush. PlayFab allowed the Pandas to set news updates, store player sessions (important on the web!), hand out items to users, perform customer support, change store prices, set events, and more.
If you played Crush Crush around this time on Kongregate, you probably noticed the addition of a PlayFab ID on the MORE page. Our customer support team would have asked for this information to restore a save file, etc. PlayFab also supported the necessary server infrastructure for managing in-app purchases on Steam, which was helpful when we were scrambling to just keep up with content updates to Crush Crush. Remember, we were only 3 people at the time, all of us with full-time jobs outside of Sad Panda Studios.
Migrating away from PlayFab
Over the months and years, PlayFab didn’t offer us all of the tools we needed to do our job. It helped us when the game was new, but was now holding us back on the type of content and updates we could make. We were already writing our own server software to support in-app purchases on platforms like Kongregate and Nutaku, and we had our own tools for customer support and save files at this time as well. A decision was made to migrate away from PlayFab, starting in 2018. Little by little, features that used to rely on PlayFab were relying on our own server software instead. In 2018 both Crush Crush Kongregate and Steam dropped support for PlayFab entirely, and now work using our own server software. In 2019, the Nutaku version of Crush Crush finally dropped PlayFab for user session storage, switching the last game over to our own server software exclusively. Blush Blush, Hush Hush and Kitty Catsanova never used PlayFab, and have always used our own server software.
When you first install one of our games, a unique ID is assigned to your account. That ID is your Sad Panda Studios ID (or SPS ID for short). That ID will live with your account and should be the same ID across all of our games. So, if you play both Blush Blush and Crush Crush on Steam, you should find that both games show the same SPS ID. This allows us to enable features like the Panda Pass, which allows you to have inventory items across multiple game titles. Cool!
There are a lot of pros and cons when writing your own server software. The obvious con is that any downtime is probably attributable to us. It’s one extra thing we need to worry about, and something we need to plan for. Maintenance? That’s on us. Server costs? That’s on us too. On the plus side, the server costs are much cheaper now that we have migrated away from PlayFab. Another benefit is having full control of the data that we store. We’re very keen on privacy, and we want to store only the information that is necessary for you to enjoy our games. For this reason, we don’t log IP addresses, or associate your geographic information, IP, computer type, or any other personally identifiable information to your SPS account. The only information we store is your account ID for whichever platform you are connecting on. For example, if you connect on Steam, then we store your Steam ID so that we can link that to your SPS ID.
So, if anyone ever asks you about the SPS ID, you can confidently tell them that it’s a unique identifier used by Sad Panda to link your gaming account with your user data and inventory stored on Sad Panda servers. It allows us to keep bringing you new content, new events and fun updates, hopefully for years to come! Thanks for playing Sad Panda games, and we hope you enjoyed this blog post!