wot-replays.org: A sort of open letter/request to World of Tanks developers
Basically, I'm writing this in the hopes that it gets through to whoever does the replays, and that there can be some meaningful dialogue happening. I'm not claiming to speak for all of us who do something or other with replays, but only speak for myself.
Replays, and what's not right
World of Tanks is realistically the first game I've seen that has the replay file functionality; not only is it a great way to share your battles with others, it's also a source of a lot of statistical data that can be used to not only "prove" your skill, but can also be used to analyze tank performance.
However, there's a few things that stand out as feeling "wrong" somehow; I'll address each one and offer a solution of sorts as well.
Please supply documentation
It would be a great thing for Wargaming to have a wiki for this, or incorporate the data into the existing wiki. Things like vehicle ID to name mappings, achievement ID to name mappings, what specific fields mean (I mean, what on earth is creditsContributionIn for? I know it's used when you receive compensation from team mates, but that used to be a negative value in creditsPenalty.
At the moment most of us replay file hosters/analyzers have to resort to decoding the encoded XML files or decompiling parts of the game client (which is against the EULA) to obtain said information, and it would be much easier (and non-EULA breaking) if we could just venture off to the wiki, and get it from there. I imagine an automated tool used during the client build process can easily be built to automate all of it.
Alter the block format
In versions before 0.8, the replay file consisted of 1 or 2 blocks, and a big wad of encrypted/compressed replay data. Now we have between 1 and 3 blocks, one of them being a Python pickle that contains the battle result.
The problem here is that the battle result is only placed in the replay file when you've sat out the entire match; since battle results are now also stored on disk to allow you to view the detailed report, it is theoretically possible to correlate an "incomplete" replay with a battle result, but this would require you have access to both, which for replay hosting sites is generally speaking not possible.
Correction: it turns out that the battle results are placed in a replay file as long as you look at them; obviously if you sit out the match, you see the battle results on your screen right away, which is why it's added. If you however exit the battle, and later look at the result, it's also added. The only change I would love to see implemented is that the battle result is attached to the replay regardless of whether you look at the battle result or not.
One drawback of the replay file format is that changes to the format (or removal or addition of keys in the JSON or Pickle objects) are not documented; generally it takes a few days after a major change to get a parser caught up to the new format, and often a new format is no longer "backwards compatible" with a previous format. It would be great if changes could somehow be put on the wiki or otherwise become a part of the change log for a new patch.
The ideas put forth here are, in my opinion, just a way to make life easier for everyone, and puts everyone on the same page. Not only does it make life easier for us replay hosters/analyzing folk, it also ensures that none of us have to break the EULA to obtain information that, realistically, should be available from Wargaming to begin with. It also allows Wargaming to capitalize on a horde of developers out there that are doing interesting things with replays; making that easier will only allow for that much more creativity to happen, which I consider a good thing.
Scrambled - wot-replays.org perl and replay ninja