Small World Tournament Style
The main point of this upgrade is to revamp the asynchronous online play in a way that (finally) delivers the best of real-time and asynchronous online play. Version 2 introduced asynchronous games to play Small World with friends. It was a different approach from the real-time gaming that we have in Ticket to Ride, because Small World games play very differently. Ticket to Ride games revolve around micro-turns and the overall duration of games, especially 2 player ones, can be extremely short. On the opposite, Small World has much smaller number of game turns, but each game turn is much more meaningful and necessitates a commensurately greater amount of reflection. Implementing online games on top of an asynchronous server addresses the problem, but the feed-back we received from players encouraged us to take it to an even higher level. Small World 2.5 will bring the best of both worlds, mixing the real-time features that Ticket to Ride users have enjoyed for the past 10 years with the asynchronous gaming of Small World.

New Features

Full-featured Lobby (called "Online Arena") with real-time chat, list of connected players, game creation and list of open games to join. This will help building a thriving community just like what happened with Ticket to Ride.

Two types of games : "Single Session" games and "Multi Session" games.
The single session game is real-time gaming la Ticket to Ride, with AI taking over if a player quits the game. This will allow players to play quick real-time games and be sure to finish them even if a player "rage-quits".
Multi session games are the asynchronous gaming that already existed, but with the new system described below.

Tournament-Style Multi-player "Player Clock". This is the real new feature of SW 2.5. The player creating a game decides in advance how much time will be allocated to each player for the entire game. It works much like a Multiplayer Chess Clock, with the difference that if a player runs out of time, a AI takes over for that player until game end. The player that runs out of time loses no matter what (i.e. even if the Bot that steps in her shoes to complete the game wins the game), but the other players can finish the game to completion and see how they fared against each other. This resolves all kind of issues. Bad players won't be able to spoil the other players' experience by dragging their feet when they lose. It allows different styles of play, from "quick fix" to "deep strategy" games. It also sets proper expectations right from the start in terms of how fast or slow a player wants to play a game. And finally it paves the way for some future major features, such as tournaments.
A Player Clock will govern both style of plays, albeit with different preset durations.
Player Clock duration is adjustable to the minute, with a number of preset durations available for tournament play as well as more leisurely games.

Additional improvements in the online gaming area. This implements the most important requests of players:
ranking, private games, karma filtering, starting player selection when creating a game,
persistent in-game chat,
chat at the final score screen, with possibility to add the other players as Buddies right away,
an improved invitation system for "games with friends".
A detailed statistics screen at the end of each game to analyze how each player performed with the various race/power combinations.

Other improvements:
be able to skip in-game animations to move faster
game rules engine bug fixes
AI improvements