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11 Months Later

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#1 Gymnasiast


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Posted 13 October 2022 - 01:04 PM


(scroll down for an update!)


Hi everyone,


Almost a year has passed since I took over and I wanted to give a brief overview about what happened since then, and what I plan to do in the future.


After moving the sites to my server, I started off by fixing rct2.com, which got broken over the years. I also restored several pages that were cut in the past for being outdated - as the whole rct2.com is a time capsule of the early-to-mid-2000s, cutting old content doesn’t make much sense. I also managed to get into contact with MidWestBoyInLA, the owner of RCT*Mart and started restoring that site too (the forums are still to be done, but the self-checkout works). I also added several others, mostly from the Internet Archive (which unfortunately did not always archive everything). All of these sites are accessible via HTTPS and have their encoding issues fixed, so they should work as well as they did in their heyday. You can visit the landing page for the archive at https://archive.rctspace.com/ . As always, if you have a backup of any relevant site, content, or something like that, please get in touch.


That leaves the forums. These run on IPBoard 3.4, which is outdated, not safe, and require the end-of-life PHP 5.6. The fact that it’s outdated is quite easy to notice if you ever tried registering in the recent past - it tries to use ReCaptcha v1, which has been unavailable for a few years. Uploading files to the Ride Exchange has also been broken for quite some time. There are basically two possible paths to update: I can buy a licence for a newer version of IPBoard and try to upgrade, or I can switch to other forum software. The latter is more involved, but avoids the large fees that come with licensing IPBoard. I also find IPBoard quite finicky to work with, and since I have to maintain it...


Anyway, whatever path I choose, it’s going to take quite some time. I might even write separate web applications that make the content that is currently available in the Downloads and Ride Exchange section available outside of the forum software. That would also allow me to add content from other archived sites (like ToonTowner, Amazing Earl), making it easy to download everything instead of having to hunt around several sites. There is also the possibility of cooperation with OpenRCT2 (for which I am a team member), as having a “Store” with rides, scenery, track designs etcetera there is a long-fostered wish.


Finally I should stress that, for the users, this forum will remain as much the same as possible, even if the code behind it all is massively changed. All old posts and topic will continue to work, you will be able to log in, it will look (mostly) the same. But I hope to end up with a much more secure codebase that also allows for extra features and functionality, and which fixes the stuff that is currently broken. We might never be as active again as we were in the 2000s, but I’m not willing to let it rot away.


To another 20 years of RCTSpace!



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#2 Sambo


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Posted 25 April 2023 - 01:43 AM

I am extremely happy at the progress and the long term vision. The RCTspace universe in in good hands. Thank you.

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#3 JV7


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Posted 19 July 2023 - 11:24 PM

I agree with Sambo! Thank you.

#4 Gymnasiast


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Posted 25 October 2023 - 06:26 PM

Okay, it’s time for a small update.

In the first post I said I wanted to make the content of the RCTSpace network more easily available - I call this project the “RCTSpace Store”, and that I wanted to move away from IPBoard. Both of these objectives require that I find some way to make the content that is currently saved in the forums available outside of it. So as a preparation for writing this new "store", I set about finding this out. Do note that all screenshots I post are of test code with a very bare-bones output - the goal at this investigative stage was to read the data correctly, not to make it look pretty yet.

For the Downloads section, this was not too difficult, but it required cross-referencing a few tables of data to make everything appear correctly.


The Ride Exchange, meanwhile, had fewer tables to cross-reference, but finding the correct ones was a bit harder - the feature has been rewritten a few times and the tables of older versions had been left in place, probably as a back-up.


Now, making the existing uploads accessible is good, but I also want users to be able to upload new stuff via this store. And it would be nice if people could just use the account they already have on the forum to do so. As such, I needed to figure how to verify a user’s password in the same way that IPBoard does. This required more digging. Finding the hashed password and “salt” was easy enough, and so was the PHP function that checked it against the password that the user had provided. So I tried it with my own password, and... it failed. It turns out that IPBoard mangles every input the user provides, which includes the password, in a very particular way. It specifically converts some characters like single and double quotes, which the password I tested with happened to contain. This meant replicating this mangling exactly, and trying again. And this time, it worked:


For a time, this new store and the existing Downloads and Ride Exchange sections will exist side-by-side, until the store has matured enough to outright replace it. My plan is to make it so that any track upload to the store will also be synchronised with the current Ride Exchange, so it will be available no matter where you look. This will be a bit more involved, as it will require new code to determine things like the ride type, statistics, etcetera. (Reusing the existing Ride Exchange code for this is not an option, as it hasn’t worked for a long time, and the source code has been lost.)


I hope I can post another update before the end of the year, but we’ll see - I have plenty of stuff to keep me occupied ;-)

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