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!

-Kayion

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!

-Kaiyon

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.

Dragon Con(test)

Going to Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia this year?  So am I!  Well, a small part of it…

Want access to the Alpha AND going to Dragon Con?  Hmm… maybe we can work something out.

Here’s the deal:

I’ll be at Dragon Con Friday, from around lunch to dinner time, and then I’ll be watching the parade on Saturday.  During those times, if you happen to find me wandering around in my Eleven t-shirt, I’ll be giving the first 5 (or so) people access to the Alpha!

Already in the Alpha?  Still come and find me, I might be able to hook you up with something too (after the con).

I’ll update this post with a picture of the t-shirt before the con, and I’ll try to post some updates to twitter during the event (@ElevenKaiyon and @ElevenGiantsMMO).

OMG, OMG, OMG – What Will Your First Day Be Like in Game?

KaiyonAlatar graciously asked a few of the alpha testers to be guest bloggers to share some experiences from our point of view. Hope you enjoy our articles from the “other side”.

I have to say, I distinctly remember when one of the Alphateers entered the game for the first time, and I was chuckling with glee as they posted to global (and frankly was also shocked at the time that the game did not crash since global was still being a bit persnickety at the time). The global chat box was filled with OMG’s and Squee’s at the total excitement of this new player. I think I enjoyed it so much because it was it was exactly the way I felt the first time I entered Eleven, but I did not vocalize it to the group. Truth be told, it is how I feel whenever there is an update with new stuff for us to test; except now, I am trying to be a bit better at sharing it with the other players and developers (devs) in global (which, by the way, is much more stable now – the game has come a long way in a few months).

So to write this article, I pondered back to my first day in the game. I remember choking up as the loading screen displayed and I heard that familiar tune. First, I was floored that I was a second round draft pick in Jan 2015. Since I did not really know this dev team, I honestly did not think I would be chosen until maybe closed Beta at the earliest. Second, I still could not believe that the game was being rebuilt. Third, I was excited beyond words since in a few moments I was going to experience the game again.

While waiting for the game to load, I remembered the “’Two Years Past’ or ‘Welcome Home’” blog by KaiyonAlatar that talked about being able to “roam a single street”, “having a long way to go”, and “the most minimal of functions” when they allowed the original alpha testers into the game in Dec 2014. So I thought when I got into the game, I would just see Gregarious Grange and that would probably be it. Maybe, if we were super fortunate at this stage (only a month later), they might have all of Groddle Meadow rebuilt. I remember being a late Alpha tester for Glitch and all we had was Groddle, Ix, and Uralia. So, being in early Alpha for this rebuild, I was expecting that we would all be predominately running around the one street, and just happy to see the game working and having fun with the other testers. It would be a big bonus if we could interact with the various items in game, and huge if we could roam around all of Groddle Meadow. I was nervous because I did not want to be disappointed with my grand expectations.

Holy moly!! Did I completely underestimate the progress this dev team has made – silly me. I could not believe that most of the persistent part of Ur was available to us to run through – not just Gregarious Grange, but ALL of the main map and the Ilmenskie areas. WOW! And then I had my own first day OMG and Squee moments…

OMG, I could change streets, and explore most of Ur again!

OMG, I could water trees.

OMG, I could pet trees.

OMG, I could harvest trees.

Squee, there were cool sounds (some that I didn’t remember) when harvesting trees.

OMG, I could plant seeds in community plots.

OMG, I could dig for peat and scrape barnacles.

OMG, the vendors were around, and I could purchase things from them.

OMG, bags, bags and more bags…and toolboxes too!

Squee, I could jump!

OMG, skills.

OMG, upgrade cards.

Squee, I could make food and drinks!

OMG, mining worked too!

When I started, we were not able to collect quoins. Oh how they taunted us. Hanging there so pretty. We could jump, but it did not have any effect since “collisions” were not implemented yet.  Eventually with one of the updates, the quoins did not taunt us any longer, and we were able to interact with them, along with various other portals. It was amazing to see how many things were interconnected based on the way we interacted with them in the game.

Squee, I could jump for quoins again.

OMG, I could now jump into the Big Hole to Ix.

OMG, I could climb the ladder to Groddle and get into Groddle instead of being stopped at the top.

OMG, I could now jump into the snow storm and enter the Wintry Place.

OMG, the dust traps now worked…which meant…Squee we now had herb seeds!!

In the early days of testing, we did not have animals (so sad), and the devs would drop us resources in Gregarious Grange. There were piles of meat, milk, and bales of grain that had to be regularly dropped off so we could test out recipes. Boy, we hated bugging the devs for more stuff to be dropped off since we all knew they had more important things to do to get the game running. At one point, they provided us a tester tool and one of the menu choices was “items” which provided us a stack of that item (meat, milk, grain, emblems, fiber, etc) into our inventories. Finally, the devs no longer had to babysit us for our perpetual resource demands. Eventually, when animals were added to the game, it brought a whole new set of OMG’s and Squee’s.

OMG, I could pet piggies.

OMG, I could nibble piggies.

OMG, I got bacon as an alternate drop to meat from piggies.

Squee, I could squeeze chickens.

Whoa, I could butter up chickens (when did that happen?).

OMG, I could massage and milk butterflies.

Squee, I can pet the helikitties!

Aw, the helikitties purr when you pet them!

However, even though we had animals, we were not able to interact with them in the ways we were used to because we still had some issues with the skills trees. So, the developers provided the testers a special option on our tester tool to be able to complete formerly uncompleteable skills (long story for another blog post maybe). We are now able to learn the higher level animal skills, and even more OMG’s and Squee’s were introduced.

OMG, I could name a whole street of piggies after famous Bacons – Kevin, Sir Francis, Nathaniel (yes, that is usually me).

OMG, I could name the butterflies “Flutter By” again (guilty).

OMG, I could name the chickens evil names because they still will not incubate our eggs yet.

OMG, I can finally get snails by feeding metal to sloths!

Squee, the sloths spit snails again!

There is so much that works in the game now. I cannot really begin to list everything. I still marvel at all the things we CAN do. In just the past few months, so many more things are working than when I first got into the game. While there are still many things for the devs to implement, they have come a long way to piecing Ur back together again for all of us. It is a glorious sight to behold, and they have done an amazing job to get Eleven to where it is today.

But, I am just wondering, what do you think will be your big OMG or Squee when you get back into the game?

State of the Project Address v3.0

Even three point o-ier than before!

So, it’s been a long while since my last big post… Sorry about that.  Time to rectify away, though!

Since my last State of the Project post (way back in August of last year!?!) we’ve accomplished a whole lot!  Time for a list (in pseudo-chronological order)!

Vanity/Wardrobe

We rolled out our combined version of a Vanity/Wardrobe system.  While we haven’t hooked it up to the account system yet, we’ve got a solution for integrating it with the game in internal testing/review right now.  In the meantime, you can save/load your creations via a bit of text.  If you haven’t checked it out, you can find it here.

Housing

While housing (along with the associated streets and friend signposts) is set up and working, there’s some architectural and infrastructure stuff keeping it (and other instanced areas) from working in anything other than a test environment at the moment.  I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this rolled out, but we’ll just have to wait a bit while we work out some of the other kinks.

Pathfinding

CubiRacing

Our NPCs can move!  While we still have a few bugs to work out here and there, most of the NPCs are fully functional, though we don’t have foxes working yet.

Namerizing

Eleven Wardrobe Namerizer

Eleven Wardrobe Namerizer

We requested some help from our amazing community to provide new names/descriptions to the items in the wardrobe, since that data has been lost to us.  While we might have been able to simply dig around to find the lost info somewhere, we thought it might be a good opportunity to put our own (and some of your) personal touch on things.  It’s closed down at the moment, but keep your eyes out for other ways you can contribute in the future (we may even open this, or something similar, back up)!

Throwaway Server – Thrown Away!

That old Throwaway Server we were always talking about?  It’s no longer being actively used for development.  Instead, we’ve pushed the real thing up on GitHub along with a couple of other repositories.  Full disclosure though, there are still a couple of repositories we’re holding private for the moment that are necessary to run the game (if you want access to contribute, just send us a message from the info over on the Contact Us page.

Alpha Release

Eleven Logo

We finally managed to get things to a point where we could welcome people into both the forums (public) and the game (private).  We’re continually adding more people to our testing group as activity levels and system stability allow, and we’re making loads of progress in getting things ready for bigger audiences.  An unfortunate disclaimer though, we’ve still got a long road ahead of us along with some major changes that need to be made to our core system in order to get things ready for that next level which I’ll address a bit more later.

This also gave rise to our forums (you are signed up… right?), which has had a great turnout of former Glitchen and new players excited to get in on the action.

MMOGames Editors Choice Award for February 2015

We won!  Thanks to our amazing community, we won MMOGames first ever Editors Choice Award voting, and had an interview (with yours truly) run because of it.  Check it out here.

 

Current Happenings

Architectural Issues

You may have seen our most recent blog post regarding some of the issues we’re working on, but I’ll summarize either way.  Basically, some of the features we’re taking advantage of in order to get our system working well in a distributed environment also make it perform insanely slowly.  While this kind of performance doesn’t hinder a very small user base much, if we were to increase the load on the servers, things wouldn’t go very well right now.

Some experimentation has been done in order to try and improve things without rewriting our entire infrastructure to avoid use of the problem features, which has had at least a little success, but we’re still working towards better solutions and closely monitoring the respective progress by the node.js/io.js teams (did I mention we’ve been experimenting with both, and are excited about the merging of the two projects back together?).

QA2

The QA2 process has started, which means our team is combing through every single level in the game and trying to make sure every barnacle is pointing the right direction, every vendor has a nice and consistent look, and a million other tiny details that these perfectionists are keeping a close eye on.  We’ve already rolled out one of the Groddle regions, and are slowly working through the rest.  I’ll get one of the team members to write something up for the blog soon.

Wrap-up

We’ve been making a good bit of progress on bug fixes while we’ve been trying to sort out the big issues.  We’ve also got a setup for an integrated vanity/wardrobe that we should be able to roll out relatively soon to the alpha testers and are trying to add more testers whenever possible; we’re currently up to 53 users, though there’s typically only a handful on simultaneously.

That’s all for now, folks!  While progress may have slowed down a bit due to outside obligations and our fun architectural issue, be certain that we are very much committed to seeing this through, so we’ll get it working one way or another.

-Kaiyon

Dev log 3: Always read the fine print

Yep, another one of these is long overdue, right?

Since the very start of the Eleven alpha, our dedicated testers are showing some serious commitment, and we have been able to identify and fix a large number of bugs thanks to their help. By now, most of the major game features have been ported from our prototype server to the new one — the notable exception being location instancing, which includes home streets.
But since without doubt the most commonly asked question is some variation of “When are you going to let more players in?”, I would like to give you an honest update in that regard from a technical point of view.

During the past three months, we very slowly ramped up the number of players, keeping a close eye on the system’s performance. While things are mostly working ok-ish (apart from crashes, numerous bugs and just generally being an alpha), it is becoming quite clear that as it stands, the server would not be able to cope with actual MMO-like player numbers.

After some analysis of the underlying issues, we now know that the problem is rooted in a core part of our architecture. Our general approach since day one has been “get the game running with as few changes as possible to the code released by TS”. In order to achieve this, we used a certain bleeding-edge Javascript language feature called Proxies to replicate how the original game server handled references between game objects and communication between server instances, because they are just perfectly suited for that purpose. In retrospect though, we probably should have paid more attention to the fact that their current implementation in Node.js is actually a dead end, and the topic is not a priority for V8.

To illustrate, here’s how “fast” some typical operations are on our server right now:

login_start: 4.12 ops/sec
groups_chat: 2,126 ops/sec
itemstack_verb_menu: 216 ops/sec
itemstack_verb: 316 ops/sec
move_xy: 4,787 ops/sec
trant.onInterval: 1,618 ops/sec

And in comparison, the same operations with the problematic parts taken out (just for the benchmark — the game would not work that way, obviously):

login_start: 6.34 ops/sec
groups_chat: 11,023 ops/sec
itemstack_verb_menu: 1,766 ops/sec
itemstack_verb: 4,454 ops/sec
move_xy: 126,096 ops/sec
trant.onInterval: 49,433 ops/sec

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution here: Reconsidering our early technology platform decisions would of course be a huge step backwards — but more intrusive modifications to the TS architecture and code, to be able to get rid of the “slow” proxies, are not a pleasant prospect either (remember, roughly a million lines of code).
We are of course pondering ways to tackle the problem more creatively, too, but without that liberating Eureka moment so far.

Sorry if all this sounds a bit bleak now, but we would rather be upfront about where we’re at, than raise expectations and then keep you in the dark about the challenges ahead. Rest assured that we are still working hard on Eleven (there are many other moving parts that are not related to this issue), and who knows, maybe there is a feasible solution around the corner that we just didn’t think of yet.
(We should probably donate to Tii more…)

%d bloggers like this: