Dev log 2: To the GitHubs!

So, it’s programmer mumbo-jumbo time again! Sorry, I wanted to do another one of these much sooner, but there always seems to be so much else to do, too… anyway, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes during the past couple of weeks. In fact, one of these things concerns coming out from behind said scenes a bit: since creating an open source GlitchEleven game server has been the plan all along, we finally started moving parts of our code to GitHub. What you can see there right now is actually the humble beginning of the “real” game server — no more throwaway prototype code.

Now, before you fire up Git: this is still in early stages, and does not support the actual game client yet. You can marvel at unit test results if that’s your thing, though! Besides, it is just one of several components we are working on; another big one being the webapp, parts of which you have already seen in screenshots or demos (the new vanity/wardrobe and the skills interface). An important next step will be integrating these components and having them talk to each other. This game sure needs a lot of stuff!

Testing can be fun, too.

Unit tests can be fun, too.

Also, a couple of new people have joined the dev team recently, and I want to specifically mention two of them who already contributed some great work. Amabaku has been making steady progress on the long-neglected topic of NPC movement, and it makes working on other parts of the system so much more enjoyable when you get to see the world coming more and more to life in the background. Meanwhile, Egiantine started looking into creating a better AMF library for Node.js (AMF being the data format of the messages exchanged between game server and client). The existing options all turned out to be lacking in one area or another, but her initial benchmark results look very promising. With the library we are currently using, the server process simply cannot keep up with the messages from more than a handful of clients, so this really is a key piece of infrastructure.
While it is still easier to try and test these and other new features in the existing prototype server (being able to fire up the game and all), step by step they will be ported over to the “real” server in the coming weeks and months. Moving forward 🙂

Asset Parade, Street Spirit Edition

This is the start of a (possibly short, but maybe longer) series to show off some of the amazing assets in this game. This first post will be in appreciation of our Street Spirits.

Let’s start with our Groddle spirits. You may remember our poor mismatched friend from one of the first posts on this blog:

Signs of life...

This was a result of our attempt to randomize their appearances, which we quickly realized would not be an ideal solution. When it came time to figure out how we were going to get these guys looking more like their old selves, I dug my heels into the assets and figured out what all the pieces were meant to look like so we knew how they went together.  Once I identified each element, I made a big spreadsheet to catalogue their original appearances by street so we could do some scripty magic and get them back to they way they looked at the shutdown. I became fascinated with how the elements went together and just how much variety was possible.

Each spirit is composed of 5 unique elements: the skull and base (the body parts), top and bottom (their adornments) and eyes. There were no actual rules here. All the pieces fit equally on every type of spirit with one or two exceptions. I had thought that there were set “outfits”, but no! Every piece was mixed and matched to make some very unique spirits, but there were some clear regular favorites per region as well. Some wood assets ended up on dirt spirits and vice versa. All of the examples here are just ones that I put together to attempt to demonstrate every available option.

First we have our dirt spirits:

Note: the flower skirt does not "fit" on the third spirit.

Note: the flower skirt does not “fit” on the third spirit.

The dirt spirits had two different skulls, and two different bases to choose from; they were labeled “0” and “1”, but they could be interchanged to give us these four different shapes (the last two in the row are actually the same shape, but their clothes give them different looks). In my investigations, the spirits with the shorter bottom did not have other adornments – this flower skirt was left on the spirit as an example as to why randomizing the assets would have not been an option (if it wasn’t already obvious by the mismatched fellow in the first picture). Each spirit here has a different style of eyes, numbered 1-5.

The wood spirits were a bit simpler, in that they only had one style of head and base:

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 4.23.54 AM

However, notice their eyes: it’s still the same five styles, but they are spaced differently. So in all, there were TEN different styles of eyes to choose from! The first and second spirit here both have “type 1” eyes, but with different spacing and vertical alignment. The eyes could appear on any style spirit, and are only displayed this way for the purpose of this demonstration.

You can also see the rest of their outfits represented.  With ten different tops, and nine different bottoms, the potential for variation was huge. Just because one was wearing the lotus top, did not mean it was also wearing the lotus bottom (the first wood spirit is wearing both of these). I seem to have missed the dirt seedling top, which looks an awful lot like the wood twig (third wood spirit) but with a dirt base.

I discovered that there were three different types of Firebog spirits, although only the largest one ended up in the game as far as I can tell. Behold the two lesser spotted ones!

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 3.45.12 AM

And finally we have our Uralia/Ilmenskie spirits:

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 3.48.15 AM

I never noticed that their caps had different designs before! Sadly, there weren’t too many of these in the game at all, which is a shame because they are rather pretty! In fact, when I tweeted this image last month, Kukubee informed me that there were actually more than these four, but they never made it into the game.

I hope you enjoyed this deeper look into the Street Spirits!

We need your help!

Yes, it’s this time of the year again. I know many of you have been playing with Joey’s awesome new Vanity and Wardrobe page. As you will have noticed, we are still missing quite a few things on that page; while we got all of the assets and the categories (like shirt or hat) from TinySpeck, we’re missing all names, descriptions and tags of all the wardrobe items.

This is where you come in: we built a little website so you, the community, can help us in getting all the funny names and whimsical descriptions back.

The Eleven Wardrobe Namerizer

Do you remember some names from all the time you used to spend in the Wardrobe to dress up your Glitchen? Perfect! Do you even have screenshots which show original names or descriptions? Even better.

For the creative among you: you think you have the one and only Glitchy description for the “Polka Dot Bikini Bottom”? Or a great idea what the “Steeltoe Boots” should actually be named? Go ahead and add it.

Have you ever wanted to look less strange sitting in the grass and munching on carrots?

Have you ever wanted to look less strange sitting in the grass and munching on carrots?

However, even if you (like me) don’t remember anything, don’t have any screenshots and aren’t the creative type – we still need your help! Vote for the suggestions others have made. Help us tag everything, so we can create more comfortable ways for you to search and navigate the wardrobe pages.

You will find instructions and a few guidelines on the startpage of the Namerizer. If you have any questions or feedback please post them in the comments section here.

Happy Namerizing!

Have you seen this quoin? Peons request #2


Back in February Sirentist explained the tagging process being undertaken by the QA team and asked you all for help locating snaps containing quoins. Sirentist asked for Glitchen to root through their folders of snaps from the game, tissues at hand, and to upload anything that would be useful to our Peons forum. Now we want to explain how we used that information and why we are asking you again to search through your snaps and videos for us.

We had many incredibly useful snaps as a result of this initial request and we have incorporated this information into the streets we have been tagging. Thank you to all those who contributed to this initial request for snaps, and especially to the wonderfully productive Zoi and MissCoco who appear to have been documenting Ur in the middle of the night given some of their quoin-complete street snaps! Their photography skills augment the street snap archives we have been using provided by Cleops, Ecats and the Glitch Tribute Blog.

Over the last few months Sumi and I have been revisiting all the streets in order to fill in a giant spreadsheet which formally documents the snaps that contain the quoin images for a particular street. (Yes, I know we should have done this on the first pass through tagging, but excitement at saying ‘Tag, you’re it!’ got the better of us and we neglected to keep our documentation up to date). You can see the details of the task by looking at the page for Aranna, which shows that for Khubbani Siggara, the snap documenting 9 of the 10 quoins can be found in Cleops’ dropbox:


(Maybe you can see why we overlooked this administrative task in the initial excitement of recreating the streets ready to be walked through again!)

We have dedicated ourselves to filling in this spreadsheet for the whole of Ur for several reasons. Firstly the next stage of the QA process involves us going through each street in turn, fine tuning the position and parameters of each item on the street. This will mean that rocks will no longer float a few inches above the ground, sloths will hang from trees in a manner consistent with the laws of physics (and biology). We will also need to set the type of each quoin – energy, mood, currants, iMG, time, favour – along with how quickly it regenerates and the payout provided. The information on the quoin type can only come accurately from snaps – otherwise it will have to be guessed (maybe we could flip a quoin for it).

Secondly it became clear that as people responded to this initial request for snaps, that we needed to be much clearer about what we still needed for each street. For example it emerged that people found it useful to know how many quoins are predicted for a street as well as how many are missing; this allows you to grin like the Rube has just offered to trade a tomato for a Grand Ol’ Grinder, when you find a snap with all the quoins on it.

We have just finished this giant task of documentation and the Peons forum is now complete for all regions of Ur. This hall of shame contains entries for all streets which contain more quoins than those identified by the snaps we have currently in our grubby little mitts. Here is the page for Aranna and the third entry is that for Khubbani Siggara previously mentioned.


As you can see we’re still missing a lot of quoins, particularly the location of those pesky Qurazy Quoins (or QQs). We are also very interested in snaps which include the high value quoins at that moment when they popped and revealed the treasure therein.

However, although snaps continue to be indispensable for quoin placement, they rarely tell us much about the value of the pictured quoins or their spawn frequencies. Another tool that has proven helpful to the QA process are a number of video clips uploaded to the net by former Glitchen. Looking through these videos has helped us re-learn how certain quests or the odd basement street used to work. We are also using these videos to provide an indication of how we should consider configuring quoin spawn rates and values during the next phase of QA.

So we are now asking you to take part in one final push to help produce an ultimate repository of snaps and videos which mean we can repopulate the streets with quoins that are as near to the Uriginal (sorry couldn’t resist that one!) as possible. Please can you dig a little deeper into your memories and archives to see if you can find any more snaps or videos which can help us in our quest to recreate the streets of Ur as accurately as possible.

Please bear in mind the following points as you excitedly search for the lost quoins of Ur that are listed on the Peons forum:

  • We would welcome any quoin-containing videos that are not part of the video archives we have already identified. So if you spent some of your time in the game filming your travels around Ur, we would greatly appreciate it if you could link to your video or archive in the video section of Peons along with a brief description. Just use the ‘PostReply’ button at the bottom of the  Peons page to do this.
  • Using the power of Google™ we have already searched all the published snaps which were taken before Glitch closed down – the snaps that appear when someone clicks the “All Snaps by (Username)” link. Whilst this has been very hard work, it has been heart-warming for us to come across so many familiar faces and be reminded of the many creative events that took place before the end of the world. So you don’t need to upload any of these snaps for us.
  • Now, we are requesting any snaps that you didn’t publish, as well as screenshots taken using a method other than the in-game snapshot feature. For example you might have taken street snaps of your favourite locations and then saved them on your hard-drive. If this snap contains quoins which might be relevant for our search, then please let us have them by posting on the Peons forum.
  • We are particularly keen to receive full street snaps as these make placing the quoins accurately much easier because they are free from parallax effects. However partial snaps are still useful, especially if they contain the elusive QQs.
  • If you have snaps that document any of the high value quoins then please upload those for us to use – otherwise they risk being lost for ever!
  • You would also make a QA peon very happy if you could check that the snap you plan to upload doesn’t duplicate a snap that someone else has already posted for that street.
  • The title of the post for each street indicates the number of missing quoins and/or QQ. So for example ‘missing 1 quoin (of 4)’ means that we are searching for a standard quoin, whereas ‘missing QQ’ means we are searching for the Qurazy Quoin. Obviously ‘missing QQ + 1 quoin (of 4)’ means we are searching for the QQ and a standard quoin.
  • The entries for each region will be listed with the most recently changed post at the top. This is not ideal but is what you get when using a forum which costs no currants to run. However you can re-order the posts in the familiar alphabetical order by using the drop-box menus (sort by ‘Subject’ ‘Ascending’) underneath the list of streets.
  • Finally, please, please upload images to the Peons forum by following the instructions outlined by Sirentist. So avoid using the tempting “Img” tab on the reply window or the “Add image to post” as these use a 3rd-party to store the image … and sometime soon thereafter the link becomes dead. Instead please use the less obvious “Upload attachment” tab underneath the reply window because this provides a permanent link to the image. Go read Sirentist’s post as it is way funnier than this bullet point.
  • Note that there is a 5MB limit on the size of images that can be uploaded to Peons. If your street snap is bigger than this – and this might be true for areas such as Jal – then the file can be converted to a smaller size by following these instructions.

Rest assured, all posts will be looked at and responded to by the QA team as we use them to restore the streets to that glorious era before the end of the world took place (excluding the forehorsemen of course). The title of each post will reflect the number of quoins still being searched for – once we’ve found everything we are looking for, the post will be changed to say ‘|done|’ and donations made to the QA person’s favourite giant as thanks for the snaps and videos which made this possible.

Soon Ur will be back in all its former glory thanks to the efforts of people like you!

P.S. You might be wondering why there are so many bad puns throughout this blog. Whilst it might be a reflection of the kind of person who becomes obsessive about quoin location on a remote street in the Ancestral Lands, it is also a homage to the wonderful rhymes you’ll find on a few of the early posts on the Peons forum (see Toma Traverse for instance). Unfortunately it soon became clear that the completion of Peons would be severely delayed if we maintained the rhyming couplets and so that practice was soon abandoned.