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. ūüėõ (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 ūüôā

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. ūüôā

 

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 ūüôā ¬†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.

It *is* a journey, not a destination! :)

I have said this once prior in this blog but my experiences this time around with the Realms of Despair is very much about the journey. ¬†I’m not sure I’m setting out to keep this in mind but it has been floating to the surface of my thoughts regularly of late.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of reviews and other user sites about the Realms, trying to get a feel for what’s been going on over the last few years, to understand with more depth about where we are.

Some themes appear over and over and I’ve been trying to give them some thought. ¬†I don’t expect to wave a wand and fix anything but I’d like to be part of the solution, not the problem. ¬†Some of these beefs pre-date the Shattering and I’m certain there are no simple, satisfactory fixes that will respect the near 20 years of Realms history and open a new future.

Text-Based Game

I come from the world of BBSing, so my own migration from text based games to text based MUDs was seamless. ¬†I know that this is a hurdle for some, however. ¬†With that said, familiarity with technology, texting, Facebook, email, etc, has never been higher. ¬†I don’t think that the game¬†necessarily¬†needs to be graphical to succeed, but there certainly needs to be an improvement in what is available client wise.

Returning to Realms one of the biggest challenges, after using the Java client was just getting Zmud or Cmud to keep me online reliably. ¬†It turns out that this is mostly the fault of changes to Windows over the years but if this is the new reality then the client should just deal with this¬†aggravation¬†free… New users won’t have tolerance to this.

Especially when it turns out turning on the tick timer does the job of a keep alive just fine. ¬†This is a lot better than setting up an alarm to save every 60 seconds for the simple reason that it doesn’t force the server to save your character to the hard drive over and over… less wear and tear on server hardware = good since we don’t have to pay to replace it. ¬†It’s also less spammy than using look or glance or whatever.

I didn’t talk about MUSHclient or Gmud but I think¬†I’ll talk about clients another time in more detail but I think this makes clear the case that there’s issues that can be addressed.

So even back in the day I was actively playing things like Heroes of Might and Magic, Diablo, Warcraft… ¬†I have always thought that Realms would be incredible graphically based. ¬†I think that there is tremendous potential for people to participate in using MSDP to improve the interface to the game even without eliminating the text based nature, without straining the server and without having to recruit a literal army of artists.

Baby steps! ūüôā

Pre-Avatar Play (Levelling)

In every game I play levelling is a challenge. ¬†In the games where you need to have multiple characters the word tedious usually floats up eventually. ¬†If you don’t think so go check out the QQ on the Blizzard Diablo 3 forums where there are only 5 character classes. ¬†Levelling the character to max level (60) means running through the full game 3-4 times (by the end of Hell Act 3 you’re probably done, but you can’t hit anything big until you get at least that far in Inferno). ¬†I can do it in about 12-18 hours per character depending on the character class because I took on playing hardcore mode for fun (1 death, death is permanent) but there are wide zones of levels that are just boring grinding because there is no new content. ¬†This doesn’t include the 100 levels of post level 60 grinding (more later).

So what does this have to do with Realms? ¬†I remember my first time levelling, it was Tharius the half-elf ranger, sort of based on Tanis from the Dragonlance series. ¬†I did have a bit of an advantage, I could use my friend’s avatar ranger Daltorak to follow me around invis and cast cure on me. ¬†No levelling spell bots, no major cleric army but still it was ahead of the curve ūüôā

I enjoyed the experience because everything was new and exciting.  I learned how to use my character, how to fight, how to die, how to CR by myself and so much more.

I think I applied to the Newbie Council around level 15 and got pointed instead to the Guild of Rangers.  Some of the items on my induction quest were above my level so I had to get to know other guild members to help keep them, another lesson quickly learned!  There were lots of helpful people around, people like Lopuis, Apollonia, Linda and many others.

I let myself get caught up in the idea that there were “levelling areas” and that I should get to avatar as quickly as I can so I can go on the big runs.

This discouraged me from exploring and instead I really stuck to the list of areas that people told me were the best for experience, unless I needed to side track to get a new piece of equipment. ¬†Many of those areas are still used today … Shattered Refuge, Tull Manor, Treetops, Coral Depths, Ocean Keep, Spectrum … I would encourage new players not to buy into this idea of hitting avatar as quick as you can. ¬†Loosing experience and having to eat and drink are all regular bothers, but the odds are, once you hit avatar you won’t ever put the same level of interest into levelling another character again. ¬†So explore a little … there are many new areas that are tailored to lower level players, especially below level 20.

Levelling secondary characters (alts) is part of this game. ¬†I agree that you cannot defeat all the different mobs of the game with a single character. ¬†I have never seen Seth run with a group of rangers, for example, rangers just don’t dish out enough damage quickly enough. ¬†They make superb tanks on other runs however. ¬†Everyone is allowed to have many characters and to play with their advantages and disadvantages accordingly.

As a new player I’d say it’s nearly impossible to make a good choice about class and stats right out of the gate. ¬†Tharius’ base stats still plague me to this day ūüôā ¬†I think that the help that’s available is better than it was in the past, but I’m sure that people still roll mediocre bases. ¬†Here’s something I believe to be true: a mediocre base will not stop you from running anything and may even improve your ability as a player. ¬†There is no doubt I’d rather play a 18 str/18 dex/18 luck thief on most runs but there is no chance that I’m not going to use whatever thieves I have in my stables regardless of their base. ¬†I’ll make it work, even if it takes levelling spells or whatnot. ¬†Yes, 100 extra hit points on your base helps. ¬†14 strength on a warrior class is sometimes tough to work with. ¬†Don’t let it stop you from doing anything you want to. ¬†Pre-shattering I had added 2 strength to a Dragonhide Breastplate just to get over the problem for once and all. ¬†There’s always solutions. ¬†Maybe that glory would have been better spent adding hit points for a character that didn’t have a stat problem, but in my view I was doing the best I can with my character and I wasn’t worrying about your character having more hit points than I do.

Sit back and make the most of whatever you create. ¬†If you’re lucky enough to find advice before you get very far into the game or if you’re lucky enough to roll good bases right off the bat, fantastic. ¬†Reroll is there to be used. ¬†If not, accept it as a challenge and deal with it ūüôā ¬†If you only compete against yourself I believe you will be much happier in the long run on or off Realms. ¬†You can certainly look at your first character as a throw-away if you choose, a waste of time even if you really want to be callous about it … or you can acknowledge how much you learned in 50 levels and apply that to your future¬†endeavors.

Post-Avatar Play (End Game)

So this is all pretty well advice I didn’t pay any attention to. ¬†It didn’t take long before I was trying to¬†accumulate¬†gold to buy big items I couldn’t run for. ¬†I’ll note that this is years before many of the helpful web sites were up to teach the soloable mobs, maps, directions and so on. Doing a run like Cern was an accomplishment, torques were not bad equipment. ¬†Working your way up to devout scales of the alpha and omega ¬†was an accomplishment (if you didn’t just outright buy them) … Buy them you say? ¬†Yes, because not only was levelling a “pain” but now there were runs that were “just a pain in the ass” … you know because you might have to do them a bunch of times to get the pop item…

For a new avatar the odds are this encounter is happening in a guild, which was my experience.  Experienced players, why would you want to discourage anyone from running anything?  Where does the next generation of good runners come from?  This, if for no other reason, is why you should help out in a guild and lead runs to mobs instead of teaching how to use auction and traffic.

Yes of course, if you’re an active player after you’ve av’d the odds are pretty good you’ll have run many of the lower avatar mobs many times but … really? ¬†You can’t go whack Bahamut or Justice for a while?

I enjoyed running with the Guild of Rangers as a newbie and probably even moreso as an experienced player with the Guild of Druids.

New players … my advice is to enjoy the growth curve. ¬†As you get further into the game amount of effort required for each improvement certainly goes way up. ¬†Maybe too much … but it’s a very fine line balancing a game like this and I won’t disparage the efforts of those who have worked hard to tune the game. ¬†They’ve dealt with all the challenges that mortals have thrown at them for years and many of the changes are to respond to particular problems.

Eventually you get to a state where you really need to rely on others. ¬†When the game is active that’s not so bad but right now it takes careful planning to get groups together. ¬†Hopefully things rebound and it gets easier again. ¬†Right now there’s the challenge of getting groups together so the “big mobs” aren’t being run much, so people want to have the mobs downed so that they can run them again. ¬†Then they’ll get spammed and need to be upped again … instead let’s work on getting anyone who wants to run some better skills ūüôā

So now what if you’re one of those experienced players? ¬†What is your end game? ¬†For most, it’s chatting and trying to hoard gold or glory or Seth sets or something. ¬†Here’s the devil … the end game is whatever goal you set for yourself. ¬†An open ended game like this always faces a problem with the top tier players, how do we fix it? ¬†It used to be that the top players moved from PVM to PVP … ie: pkill. ¬†With pkill at least you are always facing an evolving opponent, but it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea … which is why you set your own goals. ¬†For me, I like to go out and try to beat every area, create maps, stuff like that. ¬†Try your hand at building? ¬†It’s never been easier. ¬†Submit a quest? ¬†It’s up to you. ¬†I would LOVE to hear some opinions on more ongoing activities that could be added into RoD. ¬†I hear a lot of “quest for base increase” type ideas … but we sort of had this, it was stat-training, it went away for reasons that could probably use repeating. ¬†I hear about more levels … well that hasn’t worked so well in Diablo 3 (100 new levels) … it becomes a grind. ¬†I think there’s great potential using mptagging to create some longer term story lines and huge ongoing quests to help fill the game with more adventure but it shouldn’t feel mandatory yet it has to have a reward of some sort. ¬†I hope to have more opportunity to discuss this with people interested in making it happen.

The Economy

First off let me say that I tend to ignore the economy as much as I possibly can. ¬†I do this by trying to run for things that I want. ¬†Yet, I acknowledge that this isn’t always going to work out. ¬†Gold is worthless. ¬†It’s been the chanted creed since before the Shattering, you can always farm more gold… always… ¬†Yes, you can¬†accumulate¬†a mountain of it but the best use of it is for buying flasks for brewing so you can go adventure. ¬†This comes back to the idea that buying your equipment instead of running for it removes hours of content from the game … Ok well, yes, the reality is that buy, sell and trade are perfectly legitimate ways of gaining equipment … but if it’s your primary mode, haven’t you missed something?

Ok well, rant mode off, this is something that could be improved nonetheless. ¬†Outlets need to exist for lower level players to make more incremental gains. ¬†I like the idea of craftable objects a lot. ¬†In Diablo 2 this was a major end game outlet for a lot of players. ¬†As a mid-level Hammerdin I was able to trade with elite players because perfect gems were a currency. ¬†I had to adventure to get them (as did they) and they needed lots to create new items for their various elite builds. ¬†I think this is something that can be brought into realms wholesale. ¬†Ravenhill proved it works with Seth sets, I think it can be done at differing levels to provide a lot of stimulus. ¬†Why run Bahamut once you’ve got a bunch of Justices? ¬†Break his equipment down at the blacksmith for components. ¬†Of course the rate of return shouldn’t be 1:1 or what’s the point …. again an idea that I’d love to help develop.

 

Well this has gone far longer than I intended to, I think there are a lot of ways to stimulate the the game without losing the challenge. ¬†Let’s work together! ūüôā