Notes from the Undergrowth

Hi all! We’re still hard at work on this, but the current focus of development effort involves a bunch of server-side reliability and data consistency work which isn’t particularly shiny or fun to write about!  (Some user-facing stuff does make progress–aside from characters needing to be unstuck less, there are small bits of progress like the Greedy Street Spirit quest now working properly.)

The Eleven Giants forums are a much better place to stay a bit more up-to-date with what’s going on, or at least admire some screenshots. (Thank you, Eris Lord Freedom!)

Other eventual work involves recreating the locations (190 or so) that weren’t in the Tiny Speck asset release (oh, Gwendolyn!) and figuring out the future of the client, but until we can keep the game going for the current community of alpha testers (thank you for your patience!) without an extraordinary support load, reliability is where it’s at–this is super-frustrating for all involved since the basic mechanics of the game are all there, but a more open test right now would not be supportable.

On that note–if you are or someone you know is interested in wading through server-side javascript and figuring out data consistency problems with an eye towards performance and scalability, drop by the forums, it’d be great to hear from you!

There’s still time!

Just wanted to remind everyone who might want to sign up for the drawing that there’s still time to do so!

Post in this thread on the forum: —> LINKY <—

Need another reason to do this? Once we draw numbers for this round, I will continue to use the list to pull players for the Alpha.

So pretty please, register your interest on the forum. I am locking comments on this blog post so that there’s no misunderstanding. 🙂

I will update the forum with more details as to when the drawing will be. Monday night is looking good, though.

A spot in the Alpha could be yours!

So remember how we said we’d do something for people who couldn’t attend Dragon*Con?

We’re going to do a random drawing. Post in this thread on the forum for your chance to be selected!

Only one entry per person will be counted, and it will be a largeish group. My hope is to do the drawing next Monday September 26th, in the evening (East coast US). Firmer details on the above to come closer to the time.

Hope to see you enter, and good luck!

Update: I just wanted to be clear that you must post on the forum for a chance to enter, since the forum account is tied to your game name. We will also attempt to verify that entrants have played Glitch in the past.

DragonCon Ho!

Want to get into the Alpha?

In the Atlanta area?

Going to DragonCon?

You may be in luck! (If you answered no to those, don’t worry, we’re going to have some opportunities for others announced soon as well)

I’m going to DragonCon again this year, and if anyone happens to find me wandering around, just hook me up with your user name, and you’ll get an invite into the Alpha!

If you want to keep up with what I’m doing around the convention, or get an idea of who you’re looking for, follow me on Twitter; @elevenKaiyon.  I’ll be at the convention Thursday evening through Monday afternoon, and I’ll be wearing my Eleven t-shirt for at least part of that time as well.

Happy hunting!


AMA Results (A little late?)

Well, I started this AMA… months ago.  Whoops.

Here are the final results!


Retribution: What is the next milestone you are all working towards?

Kaiyon: One of the most recent milestones we hit (that I personally was pushing for, at least), was the release of housing for the alpha community to play around with, since it was my favorite feature. We’re currently discussing our next milestones, so I’ll update this answer once we can give you something a little more concrete.

Retribution: Bonus question: Since it’s Pi Day what is your favorite type of pie?

Kaiyon: Classic apple pie is my favorite.

Supershero: When will you go into beta and more of us can try it out?

Kaiyon: That’s a hard one to answer, to be honest. I’d like to be able to give you a firm answer, or even a lofty one, but I unfortunately don’t know. Because there’re typically only a hand full of us actively working on the project at any time, and those of us that are actively working are also balancing day jobs and personal lives (I have 2 young kids, myself), I know none of us are able to devote as much time as we’d like, and that amount of time varies wildly based on what else is going on. As is typically the case, things slow down a lot over holidays and exam times (we’ve got a few members working through school), and our day jobs often go through periods of time where they take over a lot more attention as well. The best answer I can give is, as soon as we possibly can, but that might still be a while. That said, we’re trying to regularly add new people to the testing team as often as we can. You can trust that we’ll let you know as soon as we have a more realistic timeline in mind.

Supershero: Is there a longer-term completion goal set at this point?

Kaiyon: Referring a bit back to the previous answer, nothing better than “as soon as we can”. Any time we do get a feasible sub goal with a reasonably realistic timeline, I’ll try to share that.

BribAnnie: The last server update required no restart of the game. Do you see this as continuing with future updates?

Kaiyon: We’ll definitely try to keep from resetting Ur as often as possible when updating the server, but there are likely going to be changes that will force us to reset back to the initial state.

Dubstepper: Are you still enjoying the journey?

Kaiyon: Yes! I enjoy it immensely. There’s nothing I’d rather work on, and I just wish I had more time to devote to it.

Snarkle: Do you ever just get to play?

Kaiyon: I try to make time for it, but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Right after we got housing up, I made sure to spend a good bit of time setting up a tower. Partly to get some SDBs set up to give easy access to common building materials, but mainly because housing was one of my favorite features of the game.

Delyth: Other than scalability and having an all-volunteer staff, what do you consider one of the biggest challenges for Eleven?

Kaiyon: While scalability and a volunteer staff are really the only major challenges that we can concern ourselves with, I’d say trying to keep our own overwhelming goals and expectations more down to earth and reasonable is a close third. Each of us working on this project are doing so because we loved the world of Ur so much, we not only want it to come alive again, but to prosper and grow in ways we can’t even imagine yet (okay, we’ve done a fair amount of imagining, to be honest). Knowing our own time limitations, and how much that keeps progress down to a slow, but steady, pace, it’s hard to reconcile against our hopes. We want to make this game so it can be enjoyable for as many people possible for as long as possible, which means stability, scalability and future proofing our technologies.

Cleops: I am just interested to know how many servers the game would need to sustain say a couple of thousand players?

Kaiyon: Good question, although a hard one to answer at this point. Right now our user base is 113, although we don’t typically see more than 20 logged on at once, and even that is somewhat rare, and we’re only running the game itself on a single very modest server, so, once we iron out some of the stability gremlins that plague the system, we should be able to run a decent number of people simultaneously on a single better built server. On top of that, we have 4 other servers with various purposes from web hosting, e-mail, source hosting, and test areas.

Cleops: Apart from servers (and testing) is it just wo/man power & time to support the game that is the only hindrance to a release proper, or is there other technical or gamer programming stuff behind the scenes that also needs to happen and be sustained on an ongoing basis.

Kaiyon: The biggest known hindrance right now would definitely be wo/man power and time, although, to be a little more specific, it’s sufficiently expertised wo/man power and time. There are plenty of technical challenges in the way, but, given the right amount of time and correct people working on them, none of them should be insurmountable, and there will always be ongoing work to help fix issues that arise, or tweak performance and stability, but that’s to be expected with any large project like this.

Cleops: Also, do you envision new content being added should the game ever be launched proper. I have been stunned by just how functional the game was from the get go and so frankly would be happy with it as it is forever, You said we could AYA 😉 Can that new content involve cheese sculpting as a skill. Like whittle it into furniture and statues of myself.

Kaiyon: We all have high hopes of making the game grow after the first phase is completed, and there’s a plethora of ideas, both internal and external, that we’d love to implement. We’ll have to see what ways we can make the team and the project grow and evolve until we get to that point. Regarding cheese sculpting: sounds like the right amount of Glitchy oddness. To the ideas forum (which we’ll definitely look over for any gems when we do get to that point)!

Cleops: I was also wondering what exactly it is about instanced locations that means they cannot be accessed at the moment. Is it because they are directly connected with the players ID in some way?

Kaiyon: The real reason many instanced locations can’t be accessed now is simply that we don’t have the location data. When our awesome friends over at Tiny Speck/Slack released everything open source, their data dump was missing the templates that make up a great deal of the instanced locations. While we don’t have much hope of getting the originals (not because they don’t want to help us, but because it would be very difficult to do so), we do plan on recreating all missing locations using the LocoDeco tool, and have even done so on a very limited basis so far, it’s just another one of those time consuming tasks that we’re committing as much available resource as we can justify to (which isn’t very much right now).

Gizzyglitch: Have you ever thought setting up account that we could attribute money to help getting a bigger server to sustain more people or funds to make what is needed to get it back up running for everyone to enjoy ?

Kaiyon: Of course we’ve thought of it. There are a bunch of problems with taking money in right now.

1) A bigger server won’t really help that much if the game still has stability issues. It would allow for more people, sure, but the errors would happen a lot more frequently with more people, and interfere with playing significantly.

2) In order to justify paying anyone to spend time working on the game would be difficult without a sustainable income model in place. We all have day jobs (or school, in some cases), which we can’t give up without a certain amount of guaranteed salary and security in place. Aside from turning it into a full time job, even paying people on a part time basis would require a level of overhead and such that we’re not currently prepared for.

Gizzyglitch: Maybe you can get us a KaiyonAlatar doll that says I like apple pie

Kaiyon: Not a question, but I like it. 🙂

Cleops: How do rook attacks work? Are they randomly instanced or something else? Will they be a part of Eleven?

Kaiyon: I haven’t honestly poked around in the mechanics, so I can’t say exactly, but they will most definitely be part of Eleven.

Tanjay: i’m just wondering if there’s a date the game will be in open beta. will it be months… years? any answer apart from we don’t know would be good… even if the answer start with (we are hoping). would be good enough

Kaiyon: Sorry, no date to give right now.  We’re working hard, but have limited resources with ever changing availability, so no great way to plan for anything other than short term.

ser wampus: Can you make “tweaks” on the fly, or does it take a new release to incorporate all the “tweaks”?

Kaiyon: Other than making changes to in game things through a REPL command line tool, the only way we’ve done code changes to this point have been through updates to the server, which require a restart of the game.  That said, TS had mechanics for rolling restarts that would help prevent restarts like that, we just haven’t had the need to implement them yet.

A: What do you most enjoy about resurrecting Glitch?

Kaiyon: Everything except the fact that I can’t work on it full time.

A: What are the technical limitations of your server?

Kaiyon: We haven’t really tested their limits, though we’re working on thing that should improve them either way.

EriaFae: When the webapp gets done, and all that’s left is the design- will you/your team model it after the Glitch website? It would be really nostalgic even if it was just similar.

Kaiyon: We’re actually working on upgrading the webapp right now.  While we’ll probably never copy the Glitch site, we’re certain to take inspiration from it.

Zotac: Do you still need testers? I’m hugely interested, and I have some free time I could dedicate to this for the next year! 🙂

Kaiyon: We add new groups of testers as often as we can.  Keep your eyes open for opportunities to join.

Hawkwell: How many alpha testers do you currently have?

Kaiyon: 127 registered testers

Hawkwell: I see from testers’ posts in the forum that houses and towers have been implemented. What major pieces of the game are still waiting to become part of Eleven Giants?

Kaiyon: Some of the main things that are missing at this point are the missing templates that we need to rebuild and some webapp functionality (activity feed, messages, auctions, etc…).  Most other in game content is implemented at this point.

Happy Alphaversary: One Year In

Wait… Has it really already been a year since we first invited our tiny group of testers in?  Huh… Who knew?  Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?

Well, we’ve certainly come a long way in that time.  There have been some major stability updates, most of the main game features are working, or very close to working, we’ve got a few web app screens close to ready, and our user base is getting close to 100 players… Wait a minute… I just said close to, didn’t I?  And 100 isn’t even prime, so why the heck would I even say such a number!?!  Let’s say 101, and let’s see what we can do to get up to that number ASAP!

Later today, I’ll open up a thread in the forums where I want as many awesome and crazy creative posts that you can imagine!  Good at drawing?  Make us a funny doodle.  Bad at drawing?  Scribble something anyways!  Like to write?  We enjoy all kinds of poetry and stories.  Whatever you do, just give it a piece of your heart, and you’ll be in the mix to get added to the alpha test group.

I’ll leave the thread open for about a week, and then a small group will comb through the submissions to find their favorites (and we may even pick a couple names at random).  The winners will be informed shortly after decisions are made.  If you don’t make the cut this time, don’t worry, we’re thinking up new ways to start adding people on a more regular basis as well, so stay tuned!

Happy creating!


P.S.: Let’s all take a brief moment of silence for Glitch in honor of the third anniversary of its shut down.  While what we are doing here wouldn’t be possible without it’s untimely end and the amazing generosity of those who made it, it’s left a gaping whole in the hearts and minds of so many people that we can only hope to fill again someday.

Only in Alpha: Temporary Home Streets

b3achy stands on a sunset Roobrik street, surrounded by icons, musicblocks, and other items.

Hi, I’m Scarlett Bearsdale, another lucky alpha tester turned guest poster! This will be a series of posts about things that could only happen in Alpha.

Something I’m keeping an eye out for in early Alpha are things to do and ways to play that just wouldn’t be possible at any other time. These differences in play are caused partly by the areas of the game that are not yet implemented on the alpha servers (like no instanced locations) and partly by the nature of alpha itself (for example, few players mean generally solo play.)

For now, (but hopefully not for much longer) we don’t have any access to proper housing, so we’ve been camping out all over Ur itself. These temporary home streets are the first thing about the way we play right now that made me think, “only in alpha!” Playing this way hearkens back to the long, long, ago – we essentially have no storage beyond what we can carry in inventory, except that there are no houses to buy. We have been taking over mostly dead-end streets and fellow alphateer Artemis has been keeping track of who’s where. In this way, we have a spot to dump our stuff at will – well, for some it’s more willy nilly than others.

A glitch stands in the mines of Pollokoo. Most of the ledges and platforms are covered with an assortment of items.

I meant to take better care of the place! But I ran out of places to put my stuff. It’s just like my old treehouse used to be, but with fewer convenient bushes to hide things behind. As usual I set up for a party on the middle platform.

One of the things I like about the temporary home streets is that although we may not run into one another much while playing, we can still leave gifts for other players. For me, play can sometimes feel a bit aimless once you’ve learned all the skills (again) and done the quests (again) because there aren’t very many long-term projects to work on. (That will change once we do get housing because that brings a lot of bigger, more time-intensive projects.) But right now, I’ve found that looking up and then hiking out to someone’s street is an enjoyable way to spend a play session and makes a productive and manageable goal for the day.  Along the way I can interact with trants, NPCs, quoins, and do other things that make the devs happy. It’s also nice when I unintentionally run across a campout as I roam across Ur. It can be fun to guess whose site you’ve happened across before checking the list. Whenever I find traces of other people’s activities in Ur I’m reminded that I’m not alone, and our paths are overlapping even though we can’t always see it.

Camping out in my temporary home street, Timtim Timm, is quite nostalgic for me personally. I feel a really strong connection to this street as it has been my true home in the game since almost the beginning. I discovered ‘Tim’ just after I joined, way back when the game opened after the first Beta.  I found there a great group of other miners and over time we claimed it as our own and made it our headquarters, party room, and base of operations. So “living” here during this stage of Alpha feels like quite a privilege to me because I know I could never camp out here like this during normal play, nor could I claim it to be just for me. In other ways, it does feel like it should echo a bit to have it all to myself! But ultimately, this space makes me feel more secure because it’s basically unchanged from the beforetime, even if the rocks haven’t been QA’d yet. So I haven’t really considered moving anywhere else – this is my spot and I’m sticking to it.

A snap of a glitchen standing on a mountain peak, surrounded by ledges containing a large amount of crafted drinks and meals.

Artemis says, “From when I lived at Zatar Matar and I cooked enough food for the army in Mulan. They’re not gonna turn into a man on an empty stomach.”

For other alphateers, like Artemis and b3achy, it’s the ability to pack up and move on at a moment’s notice that’s particularly appealing about the current system. After all, temporary’s right in the name! You can decide on a whim to move to a frozen Grumbla region because you’ve been chipping away at a lot of ice for drinks, and then after another reset you find you’re exploring the firebogs and tending the herb gardens instead. There is a certain freedom to  squatting on public lands that is also combined with a heightened level of mutual trust that is very alpha.

A glitch stands on a street in Jethimadh, beside a cliff with a large bottletree in the background. She is surrounded by musicblocks, gems, and other items.

b3achy says, “I’ve now had four temporary home streets in very different parts of Ur – Shimla Mirch, Roobrik, Massadoe and now Jethimadh. I get bored easily!” (PSST that’s also b3achy’s spot in Roobrik at the top of the post.)

Lots of alphateers keep their musicblock and cubimal collections at home both to get them out of inventory but also so that other players can pick them up and get the respective trophies. It’s this kind of trust and lack of possessiveness that were hallmarks of the game that was, and are particularly encouraged by alpha and facilitated by this makeshift system. We’re a small enough group no one is going to just up and take your stuff, and in any case we aren’t going to be able to keep it for long before the next reset comes.   I imagine that in the future we may keep our collections similarly on our actual homestreets for sharing when they are eventually imagined on our server.

A snap of a countryside in Salatu - there are a row of icons and an arrangement of cubimals floating in the air in the shape of a tent.

SmallChalet has made an art of cubimal arrangement on Dhab Habit.

We all can agree that there are both bonuses and drawbacks to these temporary home streets. Artemis pointed out that it’s nice to have a vendor of your choice and a shrine right at hand. However, we’re all struggling a bit with the organization which is negligible at best; finding a way to keep your piles straight is key.  Our camps also take up one of our teleport slots which, as alphateer Fidgety puts it, is quite a pain in the rear! Both of these drawbacks make things feel quite a bit like the old housing, but without the convenience of a cabinet. Some players are sure to pick a street with lots of ledges so that their piles and bags are somewhat sortable. Others use somewhat different criteria when choosing a spot to squat.

A glitch stands in a dingy basement, next to a group of 12 garden plots illuminated by a grow light. She stands in the midst of a large pile of different kinds of produce.

Fidgety says, “I live in a meth basement. It’s not so bad, really, once you get over the terrible smell. Sometimes, Rube comes to visit, and we watch “Rooking Rad” on GlitchFlix. I do a lot of gardening, and I’m thinking of branching out to the empire business.”

Fidgety, for instance, has set up in one of Ur’s more unusual locations. She’s been calling this dingy basement in Egret Taun home for a while in order to take advantage of the plots located under the grow lamps. And while no one has been living in literal Bliss, Ariaste was floating about May Soup in the Vortex of Random for a while. That’s an area that’s so beautiful I’d be glad to have an excuse to spend more time there! Maybe I’d finally figure out how the physics work.

But the best thing (in my opinion) is that for at least this short, nostalgic time, I get to live in Ur again and feel that a particular place is my home – where it both belongs to me and I belong to it. I’ve lived on Sini Shake and Lorme Rush, and now I can say that I’ve lived in TimTim Timm.  Not only that, but going forward I’ll always feel an even more enhanced sense of guardianship of this street due to having actually lived right here, among the sparklies we once named Old Faithful and Big Lick. I’m not trying to open up the new-vs-old housing debates – I love the homestreets system and I understand why we can’t really have links from homestreets to Ur directly.  That just makes this particular bittersweet aspect of “Only in Alpha” something to cherish while it lasts.

How Not to be Overwhelmed by Ancestral Nostalgia: A Friendly Guide (Part 1)

Hi, I’m Troy McClure Fidgety. You may remember me from such previous Glitch usernames as “girlthulhu” and “elfskinned”, my tower (“H.P. Lovecraftables”), or the person who handed out random Cubimals to strangers. I also clogged up Global with an inexhaustable stream of Simpsons quotes, and I once told somebody that they needed to fight Triangle Man in order to obtain a Teal-White Triangle Key (sorry about that). But if you don’t know me, that’s fine, too.

A few of us Alphateers have been given the opportunity to share our Eleven experiences thus far. I consider this an honor because not only does this allow me to combine my two great loves — writing and Glitch — but I’ve been entrusted by the devs to not cause their blog to spontaneously combust. It’s a responsibility that I’m taking very seriously, which is why I’m choosing to post a series of entries outlining a few salient points at a time instead of publishing an entire novella all at once. This will undoubtedly continue until my WordPress privileges are revoked.

First and foremost, I’d like to reassure my fellow Glitchen by quoting a song of my people — my people being ’90s goths who were never quite able to part with their black nail polish and Doc Martens. I cannot think of a better way to convey the good news when Peter Murphy phrased it so perfectly:

The little foxes were safe and sound
They were not dead,
They’d gone to ground.

When Ur was unimagined in a howling cacophony of imploding lines of code, we were all convinced that we’d never see our beloved second home again. Sure, we begged and pleaded on the forums; we left messages in proverbial bottles and lined our favorite streets with our heartbreaking notes, knowing full well that they’d disappear, too; we did our best to contain our grief in one form or another. And when none of that seemed to work, we would cry during private moments when we were sure that nobody could hear us. I was there, and if you’re reading this, then I know that you were as well.

I’m sorry if I’ve caused that pain — a very real, tangible pain that has knotted itself up in the space right behind your heart — to come rushing back to the surface; if I know this community as well as I think I do, I’m fully aware of the mourning each of us still carries. But that’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you:

It all lives on — all of it. Every paranoid Bubble tree, every chattering Cubimal, every curiously shaped mushroom in Groddle Forest (ahem, Kukubee). Every Giant, every hipster crab. The Rube, the Rook, and Uncle Friendly’s (Questionable) Emporium. And, yes, even the little foxes. They’re all safe and sound.

Well, sort of.

I deal in Cosma’s realm of airy and silly things like words and crazy ideas, not the solidly palpable domain of Tii, composed of math and programming and code, a confusingly logical language unto itself. So, as a non-tech person, I’ll try to explain this the best I can: The Eleven team came into possession of the original Glitch code and assets. Technically, everything still exists in that jumble of if-then loops and commands. Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, a few thousand lines are simply missing. Not only that, but at this moment in time, they’re running all of it on a very small and extremely temperamental server. In addition, this is all being done on a strictly volunteer basis; everyone has jobs, families, and otherwise important and pressing responsibilities. There’s only so many hours in a day, and even though they’d like to work on the Eleven project full-time, they simply can’t.

But what they have managed to get done is nothing short of impressive. I don’t know where to begin conveying my awe and gratitude. With each code push, Ur springs back to life, piece by glorious piece. What was fairly unstable and somewhat dead in January is finally starting to breathe on its own. Of course, some things are still missing or don’t work — the aforementioned foxes, for one, and housing; we still can’t overload the poor server with too many butterflies, and sometimes Helga doesn’t move as she should — but that’s fine. In fact, it’s better than just “fine”: It’s hopeful, it’s joyful, and most of all, it makes me tear up and sing all at once.

Right now, I don’t like to imagine that the Giants are growing restless and drowsy. No, I like to think that they’ve finally had their coffee, and they’re all sitting down to talk about the crazy dream that they all shared. “Was that real?” Grendaline would ask, and Alph would just smile sadly. “What about the Glitchen?” Friendly would offer. “Do you remember every one of their names?” “Oh, I do. I certainly do. Let me think for a second,” Lem would counter.

Eventually, Cosma will pipe up “Hey, let’s do that again.”

Someday. But until then, Tii is hard at work in the other room, pulling it all together and harnessing the beauty of imagination in stark lines of code. And everyone must be patient.

Author’s Note: The song mentioned at the beginning of the entry was “The Passion of Lovers” by Bauhaus, and it’s about the narrator falling in love with a banshee, but the relationship not working out for obvious reasons. It’s sad and haunting and beautiful, which is why it’s long been one of my favorite songs. If you’ve got a few minutes, I highly suggest checking it out.

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