The trials by fire and slaying of dragons all seem a distant memory locked safely outside the door.

Sometimes it’s nice to kick back in the house. Sometimes you’ve spent so much time in the house that the idea of dragons ain’t so bad.

We’ve been meeting a lot of players on Realms lately who have been cooped up at home, all of us doing our best to cope with … well … 2020. I swear if I see even 1 locust … I’m heading for the hills.

It has been a trying year for many, many people. Some of our players are feeling a financial crunch because they’ve been off work due to shutdowns. Some have had family members directly effected by the pandemic. Some are health care workers dealing with many patients and with the effects of the wildfires too. Some may have lost or been evacuated from homes and are playing from family’s homes or from hotels.

To everyone who is enduring everything that 2020 has lobbed at you, you’re doing a great job even if it doesn’t look feel like it right now. We’ll get through this together … at a distance 🙂

I was playing Realms in September 2001 when the towers were hit. It didn’t matter if you were Ringbearer or Guild of Druids or new or old. We knew, one way or another, that we were in it together. Then, as now, we have different ideas about what the best things to do are, or what the priorities should be. I have been glad to see that when the MOTD scrolls past so many have left their disagreements at the door, grabbed their text swords and tackled the problems that they could and left worry behind, if only for a while. I’m also glad when people have needed to talk about how rough their day was, or how shaken up their world is. I’m glad your virtual world is giving you something solid.

I hope we will all see each other in a reunion of one sort or another when this is all over, and we will toast having been through it. I think these challenging times bring out the best in many of us.

I’m glad you’re here. You are doing the best you can, and that is alright.

Hang in there, we’re in it together.

The portals to your adventure

When you journey to the Realms of Despair what portal transports you? Do you use the web based client at http://realmsofdespair.com? Do you log in through a piece of software like CMud, TinTin, or Mushclient? Maybe you’re using a mobile device and BlowTorch is more to your liking.

In 2014 I wrote a draft article called SMAUG HTTP. I never published it because I knew that the tremendous effort needed to convert the game engine that runs the Realms of Despair from a Telnet server to a HTTP based engine was unlikely to gain support. I speak only as an outside observer but I imagine that any of the handful of coders active on Realms would rather put their time into changes that will add more fun and adventure. Not at all an unreasonable point of view!

I abandoned that idea and looked at the Realms Web Client, which I think has been a phenomenal tool for allowing new players to experience Realms without undertaking the burden of installing and configuring a new client. It just doesn’t fit with today’s model of how software is delivered, does it?

When I started on Realms the idea of downloading software and spending an hour getting it set up before I played for 1 minute was absolutely standard. Now you log into a web portal and if you can’t have an account inside a few minutes, pfffft, next!

The problem we have in our community is that we are past the peak era when lots of people were actively contributing to projects. Not just SMAUG itself, but also the clients that are available. Zuggsoft hasn’t issued a new version of CMud since 2011 and seems very unlikely to do so. Mushclient was more recently updated in 2019 and is well supported on the forums. TinTin is in active development with the hopes of converting it to a commercial project.

The problem becomes that each has strengths and weaknesses and none of them hit it out of the park. CMud has a mapper that is hard to beat, and a relatively friendly window system, along with robust scripting capabilities. On the down side it is Windows only and full of very irritating memory/file corruption bugs. If you’re like me and able to work around those issues, it’s hard to beat. I may be biased, I started with Zmud more than 20 years ago, and the old dog likes to make maps.

Mushclient is, in my opinion, the most stable piece of Windows mud client software available with top notch scripting capabilities. Written by Nick Gammon the client makes it very easy to create a structure to share scripts between characters and suffers from no corruption issues I’ve ever encountered. I’ve used it for my bots and been very happy with it. Unlike CMud it’s much harder to see the active state of memory if your variables are involved, but like anything that is a trade off that can be worked around.

Most of its files are text based making for easy sharing and easy backups. The menus are not bad, once you get used to where everything is. I made a serious attempt to move to Mushclient full time but I just couldn’t live without the interactive automapper. Nick … if you’re listening, let’s talk about it 🙂

TinTin is an older product that has had new life breathed into it. Myrr reached out to me about getting involved with using it, and introduced me to it’s mapper. Like Mushclient its mapper is of limited interactivity. It records things that CMud’s does not, like terrain type, and attempts to auto generate a graphical map, which is very fun, but is ultimately more difficult to extract information out of than either of CMud or Mushclient. I think this is because this one is available on multiple operating systems and has a distinct linux feel to it. If you’ve been living in that command line world with no windows available then this one might be up your alley. It lacks new user friendliness, even setting it up for the first time is non-obvious. The names of files you need to edit aren’t documented and you find yourself on the Discord channel feeling like a fool trying to get the thing running at times, but I applaud the author’s determination to revive the software and make it not only useful, but progressive.

All of these products are computer based. I’ve used a couple of different mobile technologies which I’ve blogged about before. The biggest thing to say about playing Realms on mobile is that you better set up buttons for things. Where you can argue that fast typing can get you away from macros or triggers on a PC, even the finest Bluetooth keyboard is going to be a pain for mudding on a phone. Not introductory level, but absolutely cool once you’re ready for it.

Which brings us back to the Realms client. I’ve used it many times and though it suffers from some of the critiques I mentioned on the other clients it has the distinct advantage of being web based. Fire up a browser and go. It is developed and supported by the people who are working on Realms and so feature wise it can be tailored exactly to our game. I genuinely believe that it has the potential to be the client of choice for our player base.

To create an experimental development environment I asked some of my students to create a HTML5 Websocket client that could connect to Realms to try to play around with it and they did in just a couple of months time. Another project team chose to work on a web based mapping software for Realms that could read and render CMud’s map files. Another success. Bringing these ideas together and then expanding on them further could make the Realms client top notch.

I think that there are questions about this though, for example I have no idea how much server overhead administering the client creates. The client itself runs on your device, but it has to be back ended by a Realms server. Not only that but the original point I made about developer’s time … any time spent on reinventing the wheel with a client is time away from expanding the game itself.

I saw a recent TS vote pass that suggested multiple characters connected through the web client. This was part of my student’s project as well. We know that players need multi-character support. Whether it should be added to the Realms client comes down to the intention of that client: is it a vehicle to get people to try the game and then they will be vested to install a stand alone client, or is it an opportunity to demonstrate the full capabilities of a custom SMAUG installation on a 25+ year old adventure game?

Maybe there is a possibility of custom web clients in the same way people used to make stand alone executables. This one is problematic because you’d have to trust the person running the client not to steal your passwords or you’d have to have your own online database that you configure a connection to … we’ve done some stuff like this using DropBox or Google shared drives to sync our CMud profiles across computers, so it might not be that far fetched. Update (2020-08-05): One possible work around to the trusting someone with your passwords problem raised here has already been solved in industry. If the Realms server were willing to provide a third party login authentication service in a similar way that you can log in “using your Facebook account” to other sites, this could keep the control of your password between you and the Realms site while allowing a custom browser client to be built by third parties.

I still think the Realms client has great potential. If only the escape key would clear my input bar ala Z/CMud and not disconnect me routinely.

Have fun, stay safe!

Quarantine? Quest-antine!

Hi everyone, we might be stuck indoors but that doesn’t mean our imagination can’t wander through the Realms in search of fun and adventure!

I hope you and all the people around you are doing well. The pandemic has been a very challenging situation for most, we have been asked to voluntarily, and in some cases legislated, restrict our personal freedoms in the hope of serving the greater public good. I’ve watched this swirl around from the eye of the hurricane, I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to work from home and that my income has not been disrupted. Starting from that position something like wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience. I realize that for others who are at their wits’ end that it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, I hope you are taking good care.

Some have suggested that the whole COVID-19 emergency is a hoax, including one of my former colleagues who counselled his students to reject all the restrictions put on our personal freedoms. All I can say is that the people I know from Realms, and elsewhere, who work in the health care front lines would most strongly disagree with you. To those workers – thank you for all the extraordinary measures you have gone through these last few months.

With people stuck at home I’ve noticed an influx of new faces in the Realms of Despair. Some are returning players visiting to see if the lights are still on. Others have heard about the game word of mouth. To all of you who have shown up lately, welcome! We’re glad you’re here. There’s a great community of people around doing all sorts of things, find one that fits with your idea of having fun and run with it 🙂

That’s all for the moment, in the coming weeks I want to share some of what I’ve been up to the last 10 months and share some ideas of what I might get up to in the coming year. Right now I am scripting videos for running courses online in the fall and the thoughts of an online newbie guide is in my head – not only the game itself but the tools around the game: Mushclient, CMud, writing triggers and scripts, Discord, and so on.

If you’d like to be involved in any of that or have any ideas, please reach out to me in game or at tharius@realmsofdespair.info

Until next time, stay well, have fun, and may all your RNG rolls be perfect.

edmond openly traffics: triggers anyone?

I saw this today while an auction was taking place for Realms’ hottest commodity, a multi-class ticket to ride.

The auction was being quickly bid up with strange numbers when edmond made his comment and I thought it rather ironic.

You see … the gold to buy the tickets is probably farmed with golding bots, the characters the tickets are being used on are probably being leveled by leveling scripts … but this is where a comment is worthy?

Scripts were designed to eliminate being bored to tears while doing the grindy parts of the game. Slowing the XP gain to a crawl has only clogged up the most popular leveling areas with prestige characters grinding away using their triggers to avoid feeling any more of the pain than necessary.

Spoof ips to vote for Realms multiple times, script golding and leveling but for heaven’s sake, bid on the tickets manually. :thumbsup:

Game of Despair, Realms of Thrones

If you haven’t started season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, minor spoilers follow.

Jon Snow has at long last been reunited with his sister Arya, along with most of the other characters of the series who are alive, reuniting at Winterfell. The series has been structured around several strong, central locations like Winterfell, the Red Keep, and so on. As the series has progressed the locations have evolved and the nature of them changed. Right now you’re probably picturing the Starks at Winterfell, the last great fortress of the north, yet, just a short time ago it was the home of the Boltons. Same place, different feel.

At the same time there has been a surge of interest in fantasy games, material, fan literature, maps, and so on. Yet true new usership of the Realms seems elusive. It is undoubtedly only going to appeal to a fringe audience. In the era of readily available games with flashy graphics and sound, almost disposable in their nature – play for a while, win the game, chuck it and back to the app store, to state the obvious – Realms is a very different creature. Yet it does attract a certain type of user, and I would argue holds a great deal of entertainment value.

Persistent area building over the last 25 years has created a rich play environment with many different puzzles to be solved and despite the publishing of many tricks and walk throughs on RodPedia there are still many, many things to learn and a great deal of value in figuring it out yourself.
I wander the Realms mapping and trying to solve the Glass Menagarie puzzles, among other things. People like Sylphain dive deeply into a single area even trying to understand the connections in the way a builder crafts puzzles to discover yet unsolved mysteries in old areas. Some only care about getting new, more buff items and so their interest is in finding their way through the Southern Mountain Range Trade Route into the EisenCastle or fiddling with the altar in Winterlight beyond Bridgette for a daily trip into the abyss to grind for the elusive pop items.

Is this the end game? Waiting for glory quests for an incremental game or playing the RNG slot machine for increasingly rare gains? Chasing increasingly obscure esoteric knowledge?

Some time ago I talked with Belkira about the idea of expanding housing into user kingdoms. It was only a very rough idea, the broad strokes were that players would be allowed to add more vnums to their houses outside of the protected inner sanctum of the 5 rooms we currently enjoy. These public rooms could be invaded and played by others. The player could gain an income from their area but would need to spend some of it to hire guard mobs to protect it. Alternately the player’s area might simply be a place to ambush players, lots of thief mobs that steal from you, brigands, but then that might drive a bounty system where the players are motivated to come attack the mobs.

In this sort of system simply having everything cost gold would only increase the strain on golding areas but arming your soldiers by attracting blacksmiths and giving them thievesblades and shieldbreakers, doomgivers and kings crested swords … being careful to make the system support a very wide base of low-mid range gear to encourage people to revisit the old content… or maybe this just feeds grinding.

Watching people gold on PK chars lately in Coral Depths and seeing no one log in to attack them really demonstrates part of the problem, not only with golding but with PK. Sorry PKers, but it seems that PK is essentially a group of cheese tricks and buff gear to win instead of a real matching of wits between two players. I may be missing the nuance to it, I don’t PK, and no amount of cool skills or buff gear will ever attract me to it. Knowing that when I hit level 15 or so Joe is going to come kill me with his already prepared “level 15 killer” or that if I get to av the Arcanes crew will log to gang bang me doesn’t excite me. The pk-tag requirement on gear means you can’t be pk-casual. Yet at some level it is precisely the interpersonal competition that the PF “end game” seems to be trying to replicate. It’s not pk’s fault, the Realms combat system is inherently boring. Once you see the formulas, even in an interpreted, obscure way, you lose the fun.

As we have been drifting along missing the surge of interest in the fantasy genre during the promotion of Game of Thrones season 8 I ask, why? Lack of retention of new players and of the interest of older players. Older players can solo a lot of the stuff new players need and so there’s no incentive to be helpful yet if you make everything need 3 players people go back to the sitting at recall chatting “I’m bored, who wants to do stuff” days.

First and foremost is retention of new players. The Realms web client is a right minded step I believe. CMud is unsupported. Mush Client is a little too complex for the average user I think. None of them really integrate what a modern HTML5 web browser can do with ease. Unfortunately requests to access the appliance that goes between the Realms Website and the Telnet back end were denied. Anyone interested in doing development on features or creating their own client is shut out. So … no community building with diverse implementations to choose from. I can see some technical reasons for this based on how the Realms of Despair works, but we have reached the point where a person using a TOR browser could spoof IPs limitlessly. We need a better mechanism than IP checks to limit farming.

I had suggested account level tagging of gear. The motivation was to allow you to share your own gear among your own characters. Character tagging is a pain. If I level a new character I have to replay content solely for the “I need this item”, even if I’ve done it many times before. Why do I have to level new characters? It’s still the easiest way to improve stats, even in a post reroll 95 stat environment vs the old 102 based stat environment. Sect tags? Use the family name that is already available? Yes you want to allow players to add characters without this being totally abusable, what about 5 glory to add/remove someone from your family? Sure some might bite the bullet and pay it to exploit something, but at least we can start talking about it.

I had suggested we get away from the idea of strongly classed characters and instead move towards a holistic one character approach where people really deeply invest in developing the adventurer. No one wanted to even think about it yet I hear that edmond is putting some effort in that direction. For those wondering if we’ll lose the unique character classes Realms has, I’ll say we don’t have unique character classes or races in Realms. Everything is derivative of somewhere else whether it’s Vampire:The Masquerade or Dungeons and Dragons … it’s ongoing. Dragonborn are a 5th edition D&D race, variations of Draconians from DragonLance or even the basic idea of lizardmen. Nephandi? White wolf – Vampire the Masquerade people. The augurer and the fathomer might be fairly unique interpretations but they’re relegated to the sidelines. There’s been some other attempts at unique interpretations like the Kinux flavour of Barbarians or what I recall of the Julie and Moonbeam style witch class … but how do these things add flavour to our game? Everything is determined still by “what can I kill with this” and “what advantage does this give me”. Why are barbs half-orc? Olsen ears… why were thieves half-troll/ogre for so long? Froggy girth and res pierce. Big clumsy races as the basis for most of the highest dexterity characters.

Many organizations are so starved for activity that there is a feeding frenzy on a new player. I have witnessed this over the last few years, even to the point of chatting with new players who were quitting because they overheard organization leaders saying that they didn’t care about the n00bs as long as they could quaff and circle. Yet that org was vaacuming up every new player, dressing their characters in decent gear because of that heavy golding I was talking about, and moving someone only a few months into the game into the “end game” mentality .. this or that area isn’t worth looking at because there’s no big run mob there, or this or that isn’t worth doing because it’s hard, just gold and buy it. I commented on some of this during Oktoberquest where we had some groups that were forming and helping one another yet certain groups were more interested in promoting divisiveness in order to win the quest because the top 3 get the best prize.

If this continues we will have no one left to play with.

The second part is retention or re-attraction of old players. I think that removing autodelete for avatar characters is one thing that’s long overdue. Drive space is not at a premium and if certain Realms functions are horribly inefficient under large number of pfiles then they are long overdue for fixing. I was led to believe some of that had been moved to databases – in that case it shouldn’t be an issue at all. Modern computer science has long since solved these problems and even without moving to an object oriented C++ environment SMAUG should be able to handle these ideas in code. The evidence is on the Realms Facebook page – player after player modestly interested in returning but not excited about recreating their army.

Next is the idea of giving someone the ability to log in and do something other than grind a new character. At some point if you’ve played long enough you’ve got 4 of everything you want, or more, even people trying to trade Seth pops have a hard time – 25 years of farming the mob has taken its toll. Must be why some groups impose a no-public-trading rule on certain runs… break it and you get thrown off the run.

Orders and guilds are supposed to bring together people so they can get to know each other and work together. How many people would be logging into Inconnu or Dragonslayer daily if it wasn’t for the Vreesar run? What happens when everyone has their 9dr gloves? Do we need the next big thing? The efforts to go over current areas and add new content seems to fit with feeding this desire for new content. Whether it’s for actual gains or like the moldy pillow just for quality of life, this still has a shelf life, especially when the new items obsolete some other content. There was a renewed interest in La Chute with the new robes and rings, and what happened? Feeding frenzy then return to status quo.

Even with the unique recalls of these organizations we have failed to create a sense of uniqueness. Why can’t I have my character recall to Thul when I cast word of recall? Why isn’t that his “home”? I’m not suggesting everyone should just pick anywhere but the fixation with Darkhaven Square and Thoth’s rune suggests this tiny piece of the game is somehow key to everything and yet the content of the game does nothing to support it. After 20+ years of butchering the guards not a single thing has ever been remembered past a few repops.

I think user driven kingdoms that had persistence could change that. I think it’s a possible end game. I think that if a player doesn’t maintain it by playing regularly that it should deteriorate and become a ruin. A player returning can clean it up and resume – they pay a penalty for being away – but they don’t have to start anew. Think of Harrenhall – it’s a ruin but the Lannisters returned it to function and it still had value.

Perhaps nations and role play wanted to develop the rich stories of 25 years of game running. I think this has to be embraced not just as an exercise of the imagination and fan stories, but within the game itself. Regular areas can’t really do this – the idea of a dynamic, evolving story within an area is necessarily finite and though it can be quite possible it would be a massive undertaking. Would players respond well to an area where the actions of the last group through affected them? If you killed Dr. Frankenstein then the Frankenstein monster can never be spawned? What might the loot look like since right now we have the notion of repop so ingrained in us that we think everyone that goes on the run should eventually get a payout by grinding?

I don’t know, but what if the end game was more story and less grind? That you felt part of a world where your actions had impact instead of being continuously and consciously aware that a random number keeps you repeating the same farm over and over? I don’t know either, but it sounds like more fun.

This has been a diverse group of gripes that has been building for some time. It’s far rantier than I really set out to do. I think there are lots of creative ways to continue to enjoy the game for years to come, but I think it requires effort and openness. Some days it seems like it would be much easier to fire up the code environment and start from scratch but that’s giving up on 25 years of continuous game play and the rich history we have.

Oktoberquest 2018 Part Deux!

Well we’re getting into the home stretch!

Same old, same old fatigue is setting in and the leaderboard is very tight despite weeks of questing.

The competition is really tight and I’ve found it is not bringing out the best in us, or in me. One group has been paying people upwards of 50m coins/day to take them out to the player’s helper point fights. When 1 member of that group is invited they show up with a crowd hoping to be asked to join in the hopes of turning the 5 guaranteed available points into a lottery. They’re sending tells to anyone they see who is on the quest to solicit those helper points.

Ok, so yeah. There’s definitely a legit way to view the behavior I think: doing everything they can to aggressively try to get their team in the top 10. Competing as hard as they can.  I’m not sure I like their style, but ok.  In some way we’re all trying to manipulate the quest to our advantage.

I got a little wrapped up and over competitive this morning using quest channel to encourage people that if they’re sick of being nagged about their 6ths just to solo them, invite whoever they want, or invite a huge crowd and make it a random chance thing.

I’ll apologize for getting carried away with this. It’s unsportsman like. Fixating on that top 10 because in the past the top 10 has earned a piece of quest equipment. Forgetting that part of the point is to get out and meet some other people from Realms so that the rest of the year we might adventure together, kill something, solve some in game quest or riddle.

We don’t even know what the prize structure will be, we’re speculating based on the past 2 years.

Thank you to Zistrosk for his continued efforts to balance this quest and make it fair to as many different groups as possible.  For the people I’ve been teaming up with I’m enjoying exploring Edel quests, the Glass Menagerie rooms, and looking forward to some post-quest mob kills.

Let the pumpkin seeds fall where they may.

Oktoberquest 2018

Last year I didn’t participate in the Oktoberquest. I tried killing a white walker, it was absurdly hard. I asked myself, do you want a month of this? The answer was no and I quit.

The real answer is I wasn’t super motivated to be playing Realms, I was uber focused on Star Wars:Galaxy of Heroes and work and didn’t want to find the time to figure the quest out.

This year, because someone set up a Discord server, I was aware of Oktoberquest an thought I’d give it a go.

I’ll preface by saying Zistrosk puts a tremendous effort into making Realms fun for us and I appreciate his work. Whether the quest is a win or misses the mark, he is trying to design fun activities that are well balanced and I’m positive it’s not easy.

You can read about the quest itself at RoDPedia if you’re not familiar with it.

In 2016 we all actually lost sleep trying to compete. I managed to come in 2nd just because of feeding the OCD competitive demon that lives in my head.

In 2017 it looks to me like anyone who was on a team strong enough to defeat the Night King regularly walked away with the prize. The scores seem to reflect that.

The quest swung from a purely individual effort to something that seemed locked up to strong teams. I say seemed because I wasn’t there.

This year it’s falling somewhere between those extremes, so while there might be ground to criticize the execution there’s a clear attempt to balance this out. Your daily dose of points can be very individual. 21 a day and maybe a few from lucky kill blows on the big pumpkin mob.

The other, team based component has been from sharing points on the 6th challenge mob kill every day. Competition brings out the best and worst in us all I think. I’ve seen messages on channels almost cyber begging for 6th points. I’ve heard stories of people offering gold to be on teams to get 6th points, though it’s possible these stories aren’t true (I wasn’t approached directly and the person involved denies it). Someone even suggested that people were using alts to get to 6th and spoofing IPs to get IP1 points for their own characters. I’m not sure I believe it because it’s an awful risk to take to scam a point here and there.

There certainly was an initial reaction of jealousy at the tight team that Inconnu fields for every event. Some jealousy at the team that Dragonslayer is fielding. The question is what do you do with those feelings? One route is to get angry and frustrated: they’re cheaters or there’s no point in trying because they’re going to win.

Then there’s a different reaction, one that I have been witnessing all over the place. Probably one of the hoped for reactions. I see people from different, far flung, smaller organizations banding together and helping each other out. This quest is bringing people from disparate groups together and making them interact in order to be able to compete. It is my great hope that we continue to nurture these relationships after the quest and translate them into team building. Those Inconnu and Dragonslayer teams didn’t come out of thin air. They’ve worked together as a team for a long time and deserve to be doing well, even if they are making me really work my butt off to stay top 10! 🙂

In my post about IOPK I said there were probably too many organizations for the number of active players that we have. I still think that’s probably true, because membership in an organization tends to segregate us from other players – if by no other method than lack of a common channel to talk on. Yes we have av and other public channels, but it doesn’t put us on a playing field with people we always want to talk to. Sects and sect talk are good, but restricted to non-order players. It is time for something like a friendchat channel, but I don’t think there’s any motivation to create that in game. Instead I think it’s time to go back to an idea that worked in 2000 when we used ICQ to stay in touch with all our game friends. I think the day of a public Discord server where players can make their own semi-private channels is probably here. I think it would help players maintain the sort of friendships and connections that this quest has brought about.

In SW:GOH Discord is key to coordinating guild activities and activities between people who are not in the same guild. It’s not new tech, it was built for the express purpose of putting gamers in touch with each other.

Would you use an off game chat server to stay in touch with your in game friends?

IOPK (or Make Realms PK Again)

Hi all,

Questnews and Twitter and Facebook are telling me all about the Inter-Order Pkill Event that Gonnil will be hosting on May 8th and my personal response is that I’d rather slam my thumb in a door.

I’m not anti-pk so I’d like to establish a few points here

  1. I suck at pk due to a thorough lack of experience.
  2. I think that mk gameplay gets stale and boring and leads to mpdamage programs designed to make you scrap, to disrupt fight triggers, to muddle with your ability to quaff, to penalize you for normal gameplay.  Alternately the mob is placed somewhere that’s a royal pain to get to and/or highly sensitive to the game crashing and ruining a couple of hours of effort.
  3. PK is the only gameplay mode that actually offers any reasonable, sustainable challenge because human players are adaptive.

With that said I completely object to the idea of an Inter-Order event that allows game play on non-ordered alts.  Why not just make this a “teams” event an be done with it?  Well because the Order of Arcanes was recently revitalized from the ranks of PK players instead of being deleted from the game as it probably should have been.  Inactive organizations die out .. it’s not a big deal, it’s a normal thing.  We have 7 orders… given the playerbase … really that’s lots.

I spoke with Gonnil and his replies were along the lines of “anyone can have a pk character” and that nerfing the quaff speed of the PK characters was the biggest needed equalizer.

Maybe, but once more, why bother calling it IOPK?

Good luck to all who compete.  I know Arcanes will be solidly represented and I imagine so will Dragonslayer, pkJoe and pkJim leading the way.  I don’t know but I can imagine Inconnu being solidly represented.  Ringbearers is not an org with many pk people in it so it’s doubtful we’ll participate, but I hope that the event is fun for those who want to be involved.  All I can say is that if this was an attempt to engage with what little community exists on Realms and stimulate interest I think it’s a fail.

The Annual Blog Post

You know, I really have to visit here a little more often if I expect you to 🙂

My interest in the game waxes and wanes with how busy my life is and last year was a whopper.  Lots of changes, a 5 week strike at work, and just generally having to be selective in my choices with entertainment.  What brings me back to Realms once more?  News 1090 naturally.

About 3 years ago I was approached by Akael to work on an update to the Darkhaven Art Gallery.  I was really honoured to participate, I know that it’s such a pivotal area for so many newer players.  I felt that there was a lull in the levelling areas for the 30’s so that’s sort of where I put my focus.  I also looked at the gear in those levels and where I was still wearing academy equipment or other similarly low level stuff and thought, hey these are gaps to fill.  You can let me know if I hit the mark or not, but I think at least some people will be happy with the stuff that was brought in.

I’ve been around this week testing and helping to fix some logic errors in the area.  I can’t thank Destre enough for her efforts, that woman is devoted to seeing things in the game be top notch!  Thanks also to Akael, Ceirana, Zistrosk, and all the others who worked on this project in the background.  To my mind having such a great and diverse group working on these projects helps keep the quality up.

I’ve heard people in the past complain about how long these projects take, hey, there’s lots of time spent checking and rechecking and then fixing things.  Let’s not forget our imms are volunteers giving their leisure time to do these things.  I had to take the idea that “I did my part, it’s in their hands” … but it was exciting to see it ported.  This is the 3rd time some piece of work of mine has found it’s way into Realms and it’s a thrill every time.

The first was an IOQC area I wrote as a member of DS waaaay back in the day.  You had to find and return dragon eggs, but everyone just ended up killing the dragons… the only problem is the dragons used “murder” instead of “kill” and so the spam was unbelievable.  Also killing the dragons was ridiculously hard to discourage that behaviour but … when IOQC teams go at it, they are definitely determined teams and view challenges as things to be overcome.  It went … oh… 4 or 5 hours?  Intended time… 90 minutes?  Yeah.  Learned a lot about not assuming how people will approach the problems.  Sometimes when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail 🙂  Funny thing is that it was Destre helping then too, with an emergency assist from Moonbeam if I recall correctly.

Many of you may also recall I worked on the Guild of Spirits, stepping in to help with that project.  Though I didn’t have much to do with the initial design I am happy with the touches I left on it.  There are times I wish that I had been more active in the Guild of Origin build but you do what you can.

So what’s next for me?  To be really honest I don’t get a big thrill out of playing the game anymore.  I see equations when I look at the game… damage in, healing potential, damage out … scheduling problems like getting 4 people online who want to do the same thing etc.  These days I do continue to enjoy mapping as much of the Realms as I can, I do have a project underway that I put down 2 years ago that I think I should finish and share.  I also see a couple of unfinished building projects I think I may be ready to put my hands to and see if they can get to the finish line.  Of course there’s also more ideas … a totally new area … but finish one thing before starting the next!

I have not yet explored the other new paintings that my fellow builders worked on, I look forward to exploring them soon.  If you see one of them online, thank them!

Falc-on, Falc-off!

It’s fitting that here today on my 100th post I have good news to share.

Back in October I shared how Zistrosk’s quest mob managed to beat my repair triggers and cause me to scrap my Mask of the Master Rogue.

In November Kinux allowed the Falcon to be challenged again by those of us who had defeated him previously, to the delight of several of us.  I know at least 3 people who had retired thieves that went and have remasked their old characters.  Yet even with the news of the successes Lareawan continued to be told he wasn’t ready.

Frustrating?  You bet!  I thought perhaps it was because I had completed redoing the quest prior to Kinux’s announcement that I wasn’t tagged correctly or something to that effect.

The truth was much simpler… I wasn’t wearing the Falcon set.  When I first levelled Lareawan and obtained the set of course I wore the pieces, they were upgrades to what I was wearing.  I confess I missed the jade strand for a little while but after a while I got over it.  Now that I’m adventuring as a more mature character I’ve swapped out some pieces and had relied on the mask as my 3rd piece.  Well, back to storage I went and picked up the greaves from the floor and trotted back to Shadowport to try again.

This time … I wasn’t ready again … but at least it was the half screen of spam not ready message that came with trans back to the thieves’ guild!  A couple hours later I tried again and before long the magic words scrolled across my window:

Your pierce tears the Falcon!
The Falcon is DEAD!!
As The Falcon falls, his most prized possession falls from his face…
The Falcon says ‘You have done well to best me, Lareawan… You are a true master.’
The Falcon gasps its last breath and blood spurts out of its mouth and ears.
You get 10821253 gold coins from the corpse of the Falcon.
You get the Mask of the Master Rogue from the corpse of the Falcon.

Thank you Kinux.  Happy 100 all!