The Busy Idler

So it’s been a while since I’ve been out and mkilling or adventuring much at all, yet it’s been a busy couple of weeks on the Realms of Despair. All of us are probably aware that there have been a couple of houses sold, a couple of apartments are up for sale. We’ve seen some code fixes come in to address some bugs that have been causing crashes and also to add at least one new skill for the followers of Tempus. There’s been some new eqsets added and a new area has found its way into the game. I have had absolutely nothing to do with any of these projects, yet I’m delighted to see these outwards signs of activity in our game.

What have I been up to? To my great delight I have completed my role in the creation of the Guild of Origin item quest. I undertook this project after the guilds were ported and decided to make it fairly elaborate on the programming side. The quest plays out reasonably from the user side, the extra programming was put in place to give the thing a little bit of replay value and so that each of the different classes in the guild will experience it slightly differently. With some luck we’ll see that come in before the end of the year, assuming that my code is actually reasonably correct (if it’s not, {RusselPetersVoice} somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad {/RusselPetersVoice}).

My RL has been fairly busy so I’ve shied away from adventuring too terribly much, I haven’t spent a lot of time chasing down clues to the new eqsets, from the response on avatar it seems that many people have been frustrated in their attempts. One clue we saw was that the pieces may not be fixed to specific mobs in the same way that previous sets have been. We will have to see how it plays out, I don’t think I have a Drow character, so there’s a bit of investment required to get into this.

Some people have gotten through The Wilds rather efficiently and I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the gear coming out of the area, I must say it seems like the items are quite worth the adventure. I have deliberately avoided the area because there’s too many people flooding it right now, but as it cools down a bit I look forward to checking it all out (I have also been attempting to avoid discussions about any puzzles … I’m not just sitting back to have the puzzles handed to me).

I have been doing some leveling, it’s nice to be able to pick it up and put it down. For those of you who have been involved with Syldir’s Rolling Project (what I call “Stoli Rollers”) it has provided me with a plethora of level 2’s to go work on. I have spent some time during this leveling to “smell the roses” by experiencing a surprisingly growing list of pre-avatar quests. If you haven’t gone looking for them I encourage you to try.

I have also been doing a fair bit of building when I’m around and I have been really pleased by the help and support of the immortal community, especially Gonnil who has endured my questions with great patience. Gonnil is visible most of the day, which opens him up to spam from all sectors, yet he is really quite good about replying if he’s not busy. Thank you Gonnil.

So that’s a bit of the news at this hour… I’m sure some of you noticed I brushed up recently, I will continue to work on that as time permits. Certainly I need to get my item database reworked (it is very technically correct but also exceptionally slow and unnecessarily rigid) so that we can all start to use the “Mr. Dressup” code I’ve enjoyed in my local application. If any of you are experienced at database design I’d love to bend your ear a bit and come up with a reasonably efficient way to solve this problem.


Happy Birthday Guilds!

This is the testament of Lareawan Dawnbreaker who was witness to the events of the great Dragon Raid of New Darkhaven and the destruction of the guilds. Much of what follows was greatly aided by the records of Zistrosk, his assistance is always appreciated.

Some will mark the time as 1 year ago yesterday but those inside the Realms know the time moves very differently, indeed over 4,000 years have passed in the Realms of Despair since these events.

Let us journey back to that fateful night.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Guards! Guards! There are dragons on the battlements! Everyone marshal together to defend New Darkhaven!’

Dragonslayer was still a ghost of its former self, Arete was in the Mountain of Lost Souls, and I can’t comment for the other Orders but it fell to the Guilds to defend themselves.

As adventurers fought against white dragons in the streets the first guild fell.

Several dragons breathe fire into the home of the Vampire guild, leaving it in ruins.

Duke Luther shouts ‘The Guild of Vampires has fallen… Quickly, rally around and help defend the Guild of Nephandi!’

As the adventurers ran here and there killing white dragons and typing help map to find out where some of the guilds they had not paid any attention to were, the Nephandi guild fell.

The dragons lay waste to the home of the Nephandi, leaving rubble everywhere.

By this time many adventurers had killed at least one dragon and realized that how many they killed might matter later on as they noticed this kill blow message: You take out a quill and mark one kill on your arm. Fight as they might, the impassioned Duke Luther continued to shout for assistance.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Both the Guild of Vampires and Nephandi are destroyed. Quickly, lend aid to the Guild of Augurers, they appear to be massing there!’

Even as the assault on the Augurer guild continued, more dire sights were seen over the walls of the city.

The dragons begin to invade en masse, building up their power for further assault.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Guards! On the horizon is a large dragon… coming our way. Man the battlements, bar the entry ways. It must not make it through!’

The dragons soar high above, then dive bomb the hall of the Augurers guild, leaving nothing but destruction.

In the midst of it all, Duke Luther abandoned his post. Some claim his guards forced him out of his throne room but I brand him a coward and a traitor to the guilds since no guard would forget to protect the Duke’s family!

Duke Luther’s personal guards force him from his throne room, to a safe location as the dragon attack increases.

Gilaeformo quests ‘they left your wife in the castle dude… :P’

With his wife still in the castle, Luther’s failure became complete.

Lightning cuts across the sky as Kilgharrah dives down and begins to attack Castle Darkhawk.

Kilgharrah, the ferocious dragon of Arthurian legend is here to make you pay.
Kilgharrah is shrouded in flowing shadow and light.
Kilgharrah is surrounded by a mix of ice-shards and sparking flames.
A younger looking white dragon is angered by the destruction of his kind.
A small white dragon is shrouded in flowing shadow and light.

Many brave adventurer went to face the great leader of the dragons, Kilgharrah, but no matter the power directed that way our greatest heroes could not defeat this power. In the midst of the distraction, the Cleric guild met its most dire hour.

Kilgharrah dispatches yet another fleet of dragons, this time heading straight for the sanctuary of the Clerics.

The swarm of white dragons race through the Clerics guild with alarming speed, destroying almost everything.

As adventurers grew frustrated by the Duke’s absence and the mysterious absence of the dragon ore weapons forged to combat just such an assault some rebelled. Hurley quests 'Maybe we should kill the little guys and just say screw the Duke.' Bratac quests 'he did pick this fight' Despite the slaughter of many white dragons, Kilgharrah maintained his strength.

Kilgharrah dispatches a new group of dragons which head straight for the ancient forest of the Druids.

After a long fight, one in which Zistrosk fought valiantly as leading as only a true Guildmaster can, the Druid guild fell.

Heaving fire from above, the dragons lay waste to the forest in which guilded Druids make their home.

Kilgharrah sat in Darkhaven Square, defeating all who opposed him. Clearly the dragon was in his glory!

Kilgharrah eyes the surrounding town, a destructive gleam in his eye…

Kilgarrah roars in satisfaction as it eats another Darkhaven guard.

Dark blue lights cascade across the nights sky as Kilgharrah launches another assault!

This assault was relentless and it ended with Jensen fighting barbarians such as Arastos who were killing dragons … in such times is not the enemy of my enemy my friend? It’s no wonder that the Fathomer guild fell in such a disorganized defense.

Captain Kidd rattles his sabre at the fleet of dragons in a final valiant stand… but the ship of the Fathomers is reduced to ruins quickly.

After destroying the Fathomers, Kilgharrah continued his rampage with the Paladins. Many stood and fought with great valor but it was all in vain.

Despite the heroic efforts of the Paladins, the guild is laid to waste like the others. Though their defense will be remembered for all time.

As the raid continued many guards panicked. Some even locked the adventurers INSIDE Darkhaven, somehow still concerned with a rumoured Balrog uprising to the south. Many felt the pinch of being unable to restock from donation rooms yet the brave shopkeepers of Market Street kept their doors open, charging full price … profits on their minds instead of gratefully supplying adventurers in their time of need. Another injustice, albeit a minor one. With the injustice of the destruction of the Guild of Rangers who noticed the small ones? With nary a whimper the first home of Tharius and so many others disappeared from the Realms of Despair

The Rangers guild is now no more, as the dragons’ fierce assault makes quick work of it.

The raid reached a frenzied peak with the oldest guilds in Darkhaven falling almost together. Mages, warriors and thieves fell in quick succession … who knows but perhaps this is why they found kinship in the Guild of Origin. Kilgharrah trapped the thieves within their guild, but many used their secret exit to escape outside the walls and rally in the defense of Darkhaven.

The dragons head toward the guild of Mages…

Kilgharrah directs the dragons to the guild of Warriors…

The hallways of the guild of Mages burn to the ground as Kilgharrath’s dragons do his bidding.

Sonoria quests ‘Aid the sick, aid the wounded… The Guild of Thieves needs our help as the last remaining guild!’

The castle of the Warriors now lies demolished.

Though it withstood a long assault, with all 3 of its leaders present in the fight, at long last the venerable Guild of Thieves fell, though it took Kilgharrah and not his minions to accomplish the task.

With a massive fireball, Kilgharrah succeeds in bringing the warehouse of the Thieves down to rubble.

Having accomplished his revenge, Kilgharrah left Darkhaven to pick up the pieces.

The mighty dragon Kilgharrah glows in victory, eyeing Darkhaven one last time as he prepares to depart…

Many more felt great anger towards the Duke, perhaps these wounds will never heal.

Gilaeformo quests ‘why destroy the guilds and leave darkhaven? the duke is the one really to blame…’

In all the time since many have rallied and build and bonded. The Guilds of Nature, Origin and Spirit have grown into reliable organizations. Many of the Orders who failed to come to the aid of the Guilds have been aided by the guilds as their recruits gained power and experience within the Realms. Many of the guilds now accept players barely out of the Halls of Knowledge and continue to serve as the first organization many new players experience.

If you have time, please consider spending some time in a guild. Lead a run. Host a quest. When the Guilds of Darkhaven flourish, we all benefit.

After the port … da guilds

So in January I had taken us up to the point of September 20 when Destre had set the new guild leaders.

As you can well imagine it was nutty.  The plan was to have people use their brands to auto induct to the new guilds but they generally did not work properly the first night.  In the interest of not alienating people we decided to throw the doors open and anyone who asked to join the guild claiming to be from an old guild was inducted on the spot.  I don’t think that was the universal decision, other guilds may have handled things differently but I wanted GoO to be as open and inclusive as it could be right from day 1.  So away we went, inducting almost automatically, no alt lists, no application notes, nothing at all.  I am certain some people would go nuts without an alt list, but frankly I don’t like rules that I can’t enforce properly and anyone can lie about their alts, so why bother setting something up that only honest people will follow anyway?

Prior to the guild destructions the immortals had transed all the known bots out of Darkhaven to a safe room.  The Guild of Thieves donation bot, Abelard, was transed in by Kinux to mind the new donation room and Ravith provided me access to Jarax, the former Guild of Mages potion bot who took up residence in the second donation room.  Over the next few days, with Destre creating passages for me and helping a great deal, I moved all the contents of the storage rooms into the Guild of Origin mostly by hand.  The largest challenge with a job like this is the capacity of the containers, which is far below the capacity of the room.  If you drop things on the ground you have to remember their keywords because get all does not work in donation rooms.  I got it all squeezed in, save 10k or so empty flasks and the house cleaning began.  When you merge 3 guilds you will end up with a very unusual mix of items.  It was no surprise that we had well over 100 Neptune’s Tridents but I was surprised that every bloody eyepatch and sharktooth necklace was high level.  To this day the low level stuff isn’t really well organized.  It’s a bit tough to gauge what is going to be useful to a leveling thief, warrior or mage and stock it, but we’ve manage to get rid of some of the garbage slowly but surely.

So with this state we were basically “up and running”.  With the help of Ceirana and Destre and the approval of the CoE we were allowed to increase our number of storage containers which tremendously helped with organization.  Hanging out and grabbing some mining carts helped too … I feel better when things are organized, you’d never know it but I’m a closet neat freak (no really, you’d never know it from the state of my office).

Well, that’s all about logistics and things that needed doing.  The flip side of this is getting to know people, something that was going on in all 3 guilds.  For my part I didn’t know a lot of the people in the Guild of Mages and only a few from Guild of Warriors so there were lots of new faces.  In turn I was new to them as well.  The new guy in charge … it’s not entirely comfortable being the leader when you’re new because people don’t necessarily trust you and some feel you shouldn’t the the person chosen to head things up.  Destre was a great source of reassurance, I bounced a lot of ideas off her about how to handle things and she really helped me grow into my role.  For the most part people were very helpful and friendly and it wasn’t long before we got some regular runs going.

Regular runs means getting some rules in place about pops and sharing which we decided collectively and with a lot of discussion.  As we started getting momentum we had to compete for people’s interest as there was a very active Seth run going on looking for warm bodies.  We had a bit of good and bad on that deal, lots of us participated in the run and came away with loot but at the same time it took away from trying to build up momentum in the guild, especially with 1 leader there constantly and 1 leader MIA.  This friction wasn’t isolated to GoO, I had a conversation with at least one other org leader who was wrestling with it.  At the end of the day people will go where the action is, I just look at a more long term picture of building up a good, reliable team and then moving on to bigger and better.  Some of the guys who went on the Seth run were fairly new players and one day they’re on a ‘bliv pop and the next day they don’t know how to favor their character because they’ve never had to supplicate before and they just died on a guild run.

Nonetheless a handful of good people stepped up and started leading some runs, we fielded some good teams at IGQC events and things started moving along nicely.  We started setting up some councils to help involve more people but in a lot of ways what we needed was to get finished with the transition leadership and move along to just “the leadership”.  With the guild’s approval we were ready, set, go for elections.

Oh and for the ever rabid Loril, sorry that my opening sentences are not topical, I’m not a remarkably formal writer 🙂

From Guild Port to Dragon Raid, only 3 1/2 months behind on my posts! :)

So when last we talked I got about as far as the guilds being ported onto the game port (aka 4k). At the time they had appeared there many immortals had gone over them with a fine tooth comb and they had been approved by the CoE. We were all asked to go back through the areas and start looking for typos and spacing issues, things that were introduced as part of respacing or editing. I’m certain that some made it into the game on the night the guilds opened, because Destre was busier than heck fixing things, but back to that in a moment.

The hint that things were getting close to completion was the appearance of the first of the “guild member” quests. I imagine the idea was to stimulate people who were not logging in on their guild characters to do so and it was at least topically successful. For posterity’s sake the quest was to gather vials of dragon’s blood from the white dragons of the Realms of Despair. The difficulty of the dragon decided the number of vials that would pop. When you returned the vials to Sonoria she would award you 1 glory to a maximum of 15.

This was the first time I’d seen a repeatable, automated glory quest so I had to inquire of some higher ups as to whether it was ok to repeat the quest on other guilded characters as normally you would only go at these things ip1. Some people seriously farmed the dragons to add the 15 glory to each guilded character they had. I’m sure there was more than one headache over this … the more obvious the more problems … Dragon’s Pass and Dragon’s Tower were zoos but Icingdeath and Phenn were less so.

During the second “guild member” quest everyone was instructed to find dragon ore which could be smelted and eventually forged into weapons. The particualr weapon you received would award 1 (dagger), 2 (sword) or 3 (halberd) glory. Through a small bug you could earn up to 17 glory (instead of the maximum 15) by getting to 14 and turning in a halberd. The in theme story line was that we were preparing for a dragon attack, which a few us knew would be the guild port (many suspected).

On the evening of September 19, 2013 the attack hit around 10:30-11pm. Having waited all day I was just wrapping up a Shades of Light run led by Jaxxon of Arete when the echos started appearing. I was heading to bed when this run wrapped up and was quite ambivalent about participating … after all, who the hell knows how long it would take. Still, wanting to see what it was all about, I jumped over to Lareawan and by the time I got myself organized GoV had already fallen. I ran around Darkhaven killing white dragons along with many others and it was well after midnight when we all wrapped up.

A few points about this quest… though officially kill stealing was not allowed, because you could draw the white dragons just by throwing a punch (yes, you can start a fight with another mob while you’re tanking one) if you didn’t kill steal you didn’t get many kills. For most of the quest I didn’t kill steal but when I saw people tanking 6 of the damn things, you’re darn right I started kill stealing… and since the biggest kill stealer got the biggest award a few days later when Kinux started handing out glory and noting people in the news, I can’t say I’m sorry I did it … should have started much sooner. 😛 (Ok, that’s a little childish but when you pat people on the back for kill stealing you do ruffle the feathers of the people who tried to follow the rules … it’s fair to say though that it was chaotic and I am certain Kinux and the other immortals had their attention going in a dozen or more different directions).

The weapons that everyone made during the second quest were never distrubted to the guards in contradiction of the second quest storyline and no in story explanation was ever given for their non-appearance. Of course it’s probably just an oversight, but what the heck, I can pick nits if I notice them :-> I hope to make reference to this in an IGQC quest. The other thing to note is that Kilgharrath was not killable and thus was not killed. I hope to make some reference to him in future IGQC quests as well.

While the quest was running, unknown to many, Ceirana was going crazy behind the scenes clearing out the old guilds of people and unlinking the exits. I think she was loading up people and transing them to Harakiem and force quitting them, but you can well imagine just how many people log out in a guild, so it’s equally possible she just put a program in each room of the old guilds to do it as you logged in.

As the old guilds fell the new leaders were installed. Myself as Guildmaster, Hubris (former Guildmaster of Guild of Warriors) as First and Mooq (former Guildmaster of Guild of Thieves) as Second. Due to the brands not working correctly we had to sort of make things up on the fly and at one point some people were even using induct triggers to handle the flood of requests (at least 1 level 2 got inducted!! since fixed!!) I didn’t get to bed until well after 2:30am, which makes for a very early morning since I was back up at 6am with my little boy.

This seems as good a place as any to put a pin in things, lots of things run through my head as I’m recounting but we’re well on the way to getting my point of view on the mergers out … I look forward to getting current so that I can post Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and not feel like I’ve jumped ahead :->

From working on the database to working on the guilds …

I am still working away at some trigger problems, so I’ll return to that topic soon enough, but now for something completely different …

When I returned to Realms one of the first things I did was ask Gonnil to port an area that Julie had almost completed before she died.  I want to see it completed and in game to honour her but I also don’t want it to be too pansy and need to be tweaked and updated to accommodate the new reality of the Realms (for example barbarians weren’t in the game when the area was designed).  Part of that education has been to learn what tactics and techniques are currently used and work them into my design.  That’s still an ongoing issue.

In the mean time as I discussed building things with people I was steered to approach Melindora and Zistrosk about contributing to the guild overhaul.  As I understand it the guild revisions had been proposed quite a while beforehand and should have been completed by March 2013 according to the original timetable.  As it was early May and they were not done we can safely assume timetables be damned but there was an urgency to getting this project completed.

So a bit of backstory.  It’s not widely known but it’s not secret either.  I was passed a log of the meeting at which the changes were announced to the leadership of the guilds and I must say I was not surprised by resistance to the idea of the merger but I was disappointed with the way that rather than contribute to the new ideas some of the guild leaders elected to abandon the project and even their guilds.

After this announcement many guild run programs became idle as no one wanted to accumulate points towards gear and not have those points recognized in the new guild.  This led to wholesale inactivity in guilds as far as I can tell.  I think that if people had continued to be active in their programs and had gone forward with an agreement to honour the old point systems then perhaps the merger would have gone on with a more active userbase but … it didn’t happen.  With some notable exceptions people abandoned the old guilds and moved on.

When I joined the project my original idea was to work on Guild of Origin but I was happy to contribute to the Guild of Spirit build.  At that point Guild of Nature was well developed and a lot of what you see today was already there.  Zistrosk was in full shine and polish mode, though through working together and using each other as sounding boards some things evolved.

Melindora had already established the layout of the Guild of Spirit and I started a process of adding extra descriptions and programs into the guild, polishing each room description as I went along using Melindora’s original descriptions as a guideline.  We have differences of style but what eventually came out of it and is in the game now I’m quite pleased with.

I think that at first there was an outpouring of effort but that as personality conflicts arose people dropped off the project.  By the time I was working on Zist’s port it was not uncommon that only he and I were on.  In time Bern stepped in to help get GoO completed and Malkatov dropped in to start designing the guild port quests.  The whole while there was a ton of support and consultation with Ceirana and Destre (hand holding too sometimes).  Gonnil was a big help with unkinking some programs.

As I worked on the guild project I really got the chance to brush the dust off my creative side and take it out for some exercise.  I originally was uncertain about revising an area but it really did leave a lot of room for creative expression.

When we were finally finished with the builds they went back to the Build Council and finally the CoE for approval, some things got nerfed but some the important things stayed.  Zistrosk and I were asked to find suitable locations to put the guilds within Darkhaven and had some idea of the timetable as we moved into September.  When the guild only quests started we felt sure that the time was near for the ports 🙂

I think my involvement with this project is the reason I was asked to step from Guild of Thieves First into the Guildmaster of the Guild of Origin role.  Leadership is a verb and if you’re not actively out there leading, then you’re not doing the job.

I will find some more time to reflect on this time period soon but this gives you an idea of what the behind the scenes process was.  A thank you to everyone who did contribute positively in any way including constructive criticism before the port and since.  Some of the things I put in GoS were boneheaded (Joy should have had sneak and should have had a lower % on her progs!! Sorry guys and gals!!) but I learned. 🙂


All that’s old is new again …

I reflect a bit on my recollection of being a new player, indeed I have blogged about it a bit.  The goal of this recollection is to try to keep myself open to the experience that new players are having with Realms so that I can try to keep useful ideas floating to the surface for new player attraction and retention.

I think it’s important to separate them because getting people in the door means nothing if we can’t keep them and keeping 100% of a very low attraction does little to help the overall situation.  Of course both attraction and retention are two-fold, attracting new players versus re-enticing older players and retaining new players versus retaining the existing player base.

Attraction is a matter of advertising I think.  Traditionally I’ve felt the best method of advertising is word of mouth.  If your friend plays and helps you get up to speed then you’re likely to give it a go.  This is how I was recruited into the Realms of Despair by Daltorak so many years ago.  For this to be effective as a primary strategy there needs to be a critical mass of players and at present I believe we are probably below that threshold but it’s still a very good way of introducing new players.  Are you involved in role playing website?  Are there people there who might enjoy Realms RP?  Perhaps you have some friends who are big fans of retro gaming, does their interest extend into text based games?

We certainly need to get the word out among the people who are already interested in muds as well, that is why voting on The Mud Connector and Top Mud Sites is so very important.  We’ve languished around 25th for some time and recently we’ve beaten our way back into the top 20, but that’s not good enough.  I think that we’ll need to keep pushing for the top 10 before this will become a good source of new players, but again every little bit helps.

There has been a great deal of posting happening on the Facebook Realms of Despair group.  I think this is lighting a bit of a fire under some old players to come back in and check things out again.  An important question is why did they leave originally?  I think that topic could fill a few blog posts, but I do think it’s important that we listen to them.  Not everything can be addressed but perhaps things that didn’t make sense 5 or 8 years ago would make sense now.

So what about retention?  It used to be that the first stopping place of a true new player would be a guild.  I always thought that leaving them on their own until level 15 or even 20 was a little tough.  It’s the first little while when you need the most help.  Of course when channels were active and there were lots of NC online that helped to balance things quite a lot.  I am hopeful that the new guild builds will give a good home to new players again.  I also hope that the entry level is set somewhere to maximize the feeling of belonging and help.

New players are quite welcome in Arete but it is certainly not the order’s goal to replace guilds as a first stop for new players.  Not only do guilds offer a place that is more specialized towards learning a particular class but in principle there would be more people of similar level who you can join in leveling.  Nonetheless I think a sense of community and home for new players is important in helping with retention.  Everyone who answers questions or even says hello on channels is helping that sense of community.

I’ve seen a great deal of comments about “don’t level too fast” or “enjoy the adventure” but the fact is that when you don’t have an avatar, your goal is to get an avatar.  Your whole climb up the ladder is about entering the land of yellow spam and never having to eat, drink or sleep again. *eg*  I agree that there are a lot of interesting areas out for lower level players but I don’t think they get visited unless there’s a reason to go there.  If a new player is told there’s a piece of equipment that will help their leveling they’ll go there.  Unfortunately like Diablo, by the time you can get the equipment sometimes you no longer need it.  Still everyone’s going to do things differently.  The introduction of lowbie quests have been fairly well done I think there’s room to keep growing along these lines.

What about avatar engagement?  The classic problem.  There is no end game for Realms… the goals are what you set for yourself.  In an age of many players online, you have your choice of runs to attend to help you dress an army of characters.  This is something every player, new and old, can contribute to improving.  It is frustrating trying to get a critical mass of players together to go topple the next mob.  A system that scales mobs attacks and defenses by the number of characters in a room or an area could help this.  Any mob that is a tank switcher would need hardly any modification to it’s attack style and any mob that locks onto a single tank while the hitters beat it to death is probably due for an upgrade anyway.  So now a single player could reasonably go fight a wider range of mobiles.  It shouldn’t be easy.  You should be able to be insane and go one on one with Danbala and have a shot to win.  It shouldn’t be easy.  It should be a bit easier with multiple people to encourage the social aspect.  Hey can’t we just take multi checks off things and get to the same place?  Maybe.  Multi checks do help restrain some of the really over the top behavior that we’ve seen over the years and by keeping things solo we still support the idea that a new player has an equal shot at things.  Yes, better equipment will help a veteran, but that’s the privilege that you earn for playing.  The Falcon’s Quest is something I think is extremely well done, it gives something that is genuinely worthwhile to your character.  More things like this would help.

Fully automated quest system?  No… I think that’s overreaching, the quest council does a good job being creative.  Let’s untie their hands and give them a little more ability to give out cool prizes.  Glory is helpful but unique quest prizes are very nice too.

One of the biggest comments I’ve heard is that our areas are static and that stifles the ability of players to feel like they’re interacting with the game.  This is true and valid, from my point of view.  There is little interaction between areas because of the structure of objects and area files.  You have to be trusted to a certain level before you can figure out the numbers to use to make areas interact with one another and you create couplings that can break if one area changes out of lock step with the other.  With modern source control these text files can easily be tracked and dependencies maintained.

I say more interactivity and some source code help in allowing minor edits to an area.  When working on the Guild of Spirit I realized how stupid it is that the garden will be lush and green even when Realms tells me it’s snowing.  I would have to write another room with the winter description and a program to silently trans everything and everyone in the room to the winter room and then open and close passages so the exits would still work.  It’s quite doable.  I may even try to put some of this sort of thing into an area.  Who would want to do this for more than a few rooms however?  I think a high level of interactivity with some sort of overarching story within Realms can help.


Oh well, this is getting long in the tooth.  I’d love to hear from anyone reading this with your ideas on how we can make Realms better.


Here, There and Everywhere

It has been a little while since I popped in here to leave a few words, and I thought I’d share what’s been going on.

As many will already know June 13 brought the RoDpocalypse… the couple of weeks of downtime when the server decided to go for a permanent coffee break.  It started with a few updates, a force quit by Conran and apparently the server just couldn’t take it any more, went out for cigarettes and never came back.  I will say that bringing up an alternate port was a good idea, I’m not a huge fan of Helter Skelter mode but it certainly got some people interested in player killing (PKill), so huzzah, and allowed the rest of us to stay in touch at least.  I will express my thanks to everyone who worked hard to bring the game back up, especially to Thoric (Derek Snider) who has been keeping the lights on for almost 20 years.

The RoDpocalypse had little affect on me personally, as I was renovating and painting our new rental house and honestly had very, very little time for any online activities.  I did lose 2 level 2 rerollers, good stats but nothing I can’t roll again 🙂  The biggest disappointment … no birthday cake!  Ah well, maybe next year.

So that’s a little of it… the other part is that I have been hanging out on another SMAUG mud … yes, I’ve been unfaithful… but it’s not what you think!  I’ve been over on Zistrosk’s port helping to get the Guild of Spirit built.  The guild merge has been coming for a long time and I think one of the problems that’s been stalling it is too many people starting and quitting over personality conflicts.  That’s just an opinion, I haven’t been around this since the beginning so I can only comment on the little I’ve seen.  GoS also suffers from the fact that some of the guilds that are merging into it are, in this author’s opinion, the most inactive guilds on RoD.  I have observed that at least one of the guilds that could have really chipped in and made this area something special chose to simply oppose the entire merge idea.  It’s too bad because their headquarters was one of the nicer written headquarters and their input would have been valuable.  Notwithstanding, I’ve worked as much as possible to incorporate them into this new guild and I really hope they participate, but I won’t hold my breath.

I’m excited about the guild merge, I think it’s a good thing.  I will say I’m impressed with the new Guild of Nature, kudos to Zistrosk, Elendure and all the others who worked on it.  If there was a guild I was going to be critical of, this would be it, having been long time members of both Guild of Rangers and Guild of Druids.  I think it has a new feel to it but does work to incorporate a fair amount from the old guilds without feeling cut and pasted.