All posts by KaiyonAlatar

Testing… Testing…1, 2, 3, Testing…

Is this thing on?

Ah, good, it is.

Well, as I’m sure you all know (you do, right?) we’ve let a small group of 13 people into the game to start playing around and testing.  This has been a great success, with many improvements being made to help improve the stability and experience while some other work is ongoing in order to bring over some more features.  Thanks in no small part to these improvements, we’re bringing in another small (but bigger!) group to help with the process.

How’s 18 sound, making a total of 31 alpha testers?  We’ve already picked those new people and let them know.  If you weren’t part of the group this time, just hang tight while we tighten things up more.

And now for some feedback from our testers (They provided a lot of material for this part, but in the interest of not facing TLDR issues, I picked out a few comments.  They can yell at me later.):

“I feel at home and the nostalgia is overwhelming!”

“Incredible!! I didn’t expect it to be identical to Glitch which it is.”

“(S)ome days there are no new bugs(yay) and other days there are quite a few, and often they cause reloads but it’s all part of the process.”

“It’s good to be there, to almost feel the heart of the Giants. Just like if I went through a portal that brought me in Ur a few glitch-years after the events that put an end on Ur. Back in a broken but fixable world, because we have the technology, we can repair it. A bit of a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, if you have the imagination.”

“Things that arent working yet, npc, and emblems, and such. I can’t do basic quests without simple ingredients like butterfly milk and grain.” (Regarding what’s annoying)

“Default Glitchen æsthetics. Bare, bald, grey, and not being naked. Generic! Although we could be wireframed. Generic might be good then, the pants are superfluous.” (Regarding what’s annoying)

-Kaiyon

‘Two Years Past’ or ‘Welcome Home’

It’s been exactly 2 years to the day since we thought we all lost the world of Ur forever.  It most certainly was a sad day for me, and I’m sure I can say the same for the rest of the team (those that played at least).  Little did we know at the time that just under a year later, we’d be given the opportunity to bring it back…and that exactly a year later, we would be able to walk around in Ur, even though it was only on a single street.  It’s been a year of hard, but fun work, and while we’ve got a long ways to go, significant progress has been made.

Welcome Home

Eleven Logo

As those that have been keeping up with the blog may know, we started work on our ‘true’ server, the one that’s going to be for keeps, a while back.  Since we’ve had a chance to figure out how most of the main game functions work, the true test there was going to be getting the overall system architecture set up in such a way that we’d have the stability and organization we need in order to bring the world back together as we left it 2 years ago, and allow a full load of players.  Well, while only a very minimal set of gameplay functions have been implemented in the ‘proper’ way on this new version of the server, we feel we’re ready to open up, albeit to a very small group to start.

It may sound like a tiny number, but we’ll be welcoming 13 people in to start.  How are we going to choose those 13 people?  This first group will be a mix of people we’ve identified as good testers and 5 people brought in based on their levels of interaction with our group via social media (Facebook, Twitter and here on the blog).  Different rules will likely apply to future groups coming in, such as contests and/or first-come-first-serve registration, but those 5 people will be identified and notified shortly.  For now, one of the most important things to remember for testers is: Alpha is really not about playing the game at all, but often rather tedious testing and enduring crashes and bugs and… stuff…

How are we going to let people in to the game?  Well, that’s where the web app piece comes in to play.  Our shiny new forums are launching today as well!  Everyone will be welcome to register and chat on the forums for now, and those chosen to participate in the Alpha will be given access to the game through the same login along with a special Alpha only forum.  The forum url will be announced in approximately an hour via Facebook and Twitter. (Update: look here! http://humbaba.elevengiants.com )

While we’re glad to start bringing people in, please remember that this is a work in progress, and we’re likely to experience some growing pains as we move forward, and since this is a volunteer project, please bear with us while we work these things out.  As always, your best source for updates, whether they be related to issues we’re having, rules for bringing in the next batch of alpha testers, or announcements for new functionality being rolled out will be right here on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.  Further information for how you can help out as an Alpha tester once you’re in will be found in the Alpha forums.

Again, welcome home,

-Kaiyon

P.S.: Please look forward to follow up posts from some of the key team members that have helped make this happen.

P.P.S.: Special thanks go out to Aroha, Joey, JustinD, LadyCeres, Scheijan, Turnip and Varaeth for their contributions to this last push towards Alpha, and of course to the rest of the team for all of their hard work on the rest of the project.

A Year of Fun

Well, okay, I may have missed the exact date, but in my defense, my family was fighting a severe case of the plague (that may be a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like it).

Just a few days over a year ago (November 21, 2013), our little team started to form.  At that point, there was no “Eleven” and there was no project, just a group of people picking around in the assets released by Tiny Speck to try and make sense of what was there, and just as importantly, what wasn’t. While this discussion started up on a private Facebook group (amongst other places), it quickly transitioned over to this amazing product called Slack when Ali (LittlePoundCake) joined the discussion and opened the doors for a few of us to help manage a group of people similarly interested in figuring this whole thing out.  From there, we quickly decided we wanted our main goal to be filling in the missing pieces and bringing the amazing world of Ur back to life.

It’s been an incredible experience so far, and while I know we’ve put a ton of work into it, we’ve a long road ahead to fully reach that goal, and then we’ve got the future to consider!  I could reminisce for several paragraphs, but I’ll leave that out right now (you can always look back at the blog archives).

I know it’s been pretty quiet on our social media front over the past month or so, but please don’t take that as a sign off stagnation.  In fact, it’s just the opposite; we’re working very hard to bring some big things to you all, our loyal followers and displaced residents of Ur.  While I’d love to spill the beans now, please bear with us just a bit longer; announcements will be made soon (don’t you love that term?)…

-Kaiyon

Running the Routes

I know the resource routes were a bit of a polarizing game feature.  Most people either loved or hated it.  Well, here’s a quick video showing a short one in action!

A couple quick notes:

  • We only have the one street template to work with at the moment which I tried to piece together from a full street snap of one of the old ones.  We’re working with TS to see if we can get access to the original templates.
  • Butler motion is still a little buggy.  Most of them are standing still next to the house, but one of them (the one on my street) is stuck in front of my tower.

-Kaiyon

State of the Project Address V2.0

Hi everyone!

It’s been a good 5 months since I last gave a nice overall summary of our progress on things, so here we go.

Game Related:

You know that throwaway server we’ve been talking about?  Well, we’re just about ready to throw it away!  Well, not really throw it away; it’ll still be a playground to figure things out for a while, but we’re actually ready to start working on the actual thing!  Aroha has put a lot of work into the high level design while we’ve been picking away at the throwaway server, so keep tuned for further details soon.  (I’ll pester him into making another one of his Dev Log posts.)

Of less importance, but more fun, is the fact that we got a lot more features working.  Just some of the highlights include the home streets and interiors along with towers (expect a video from me soonish!), hi5 signs, GPS features on the main map, triggers (physics and such), and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch!

The QA team under LadyCeres is still tweaking the locations of different items with input from their fake forums while also cataloging the way street spirits should look around the world of Ur.  To put that second part into perspective, each street spirit is made up of several customizable parts, which leads to an absurd number of possible combinations, but only a smaller subset actually make any sense, since some of the different styles simply don’t physically match up. You an expect a blog post about how the world of Ur is coming together soon!

Eleven Logo

We have a new logo made by none other than Kukubee himself!  He was awesome enough to make us our very own logo with similar styling to the Glitch one, but with it’s own unique feel to it.

eleven hq

Work has even started on the Android version of the Eleven app based on the Glitch HQ app that TinySpeck had.  Gafanhotz has been hard at work making it look really slick while the server infrastructure is still being developed to help drive the app.

Website Related:

eleven_forums

The forums are getting very close to internal testing, which means they’re also close to a public release!  Varaeth has been hard at work getting the whole website infrastructure set up to allow us to incorporate the forums with the game, vanity, wardrobe, etc…  I can hardly wait to be able to start interacting with everyone in a more direct manner.  Expect an update soon when internal testing starts.

I’m sure you’ve all already seen Joey’s video showing off the new combined wardrobe and vanity.  If not, what are you waiting around for, get over there and take a look!  Gone are the days of having to go back and forth between two tools to update your overall appearance; it’s all in one now, baby!  We’re still considering some extra features, such as customizing the color of some of the different pieces of clothing, so let us know what you think.  This is even something we could consider rolling out to public testing soon.  Stay tuned for more details!

skills

We’ve got an early concept for our skills page as well, thanks to RedBirdo.  Once we get the forums rolled out, we can begin integrating these important game-related features with the rest of the website.

Bottlenecks:

I’ll go over some of the bottlenecks from my last big post along with an update on where we are (some of which may have been mentioned above already), along with some new things.

Logo – Done!  Thanks Kukubee!

Vanity and Wardrobe – Mostly done!  Turnip started off the efforts to determine how it worked in the background for TinySpeck, and Joey helped finish it off by creating an amazing new interface.  We’ve got a little more behind the scenes work to handle in order to get the spritesheets generated (and put in the right spot for the game to pick up), but the main work has been finished!

God Pages – We’ve stalled a bit here, but have a small set of pages to start from.  Soon, we’ll need to pick this back up as a higher priority, and really start to consider the scope we want to include in our version of the system.  We’ll try to blog some details of this effort at some point.

Authentication – Just about done!  Varaeth is just working out some of the last details before we can start the forums testing.

Pathfinding – Still waiting.  There have been bigger fish to fry, so it keeps getting pushed aside.  If anyone has some experience in this area and would like to join our little team to take a stab at it, let us know!

Other Notes:

“Can we come it and play yet?”  – Unfortunately not yet, but we’re getting closer with every step we take.  The rollout of the forums and wardrobe/vanity and the fact that we’re gearing up to start working on the ‘real’ game server should be good signs, so keep your eyes fixed here.

“Shut up and take my money!!!” – Patience, friends.  We still don’t have a great demand for income, since servers are really our only expense right now, and we’ve got that pretty well covered.  We’re also evaluating options on how to take donations once we start needing them, as well as considering options for Eleven merch.  As always, stay tuned here for more details.

Final Notes:

Again, I’d like to thank all of our amazing friends.  Tiny Speck, Kukubee, Jade, Danny, Brandon Brown, Xavier and many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Things are slowly coming together, and I’m still insanely proud to be able to lead such a great team of people.  It’s amazing how well people can work together when they have a common goal!

Sincerely,

Your Chief Chicken Tamer,

Jim ‘KaiyonAlatar’ Condren

Fun With Logos

Ladies and gentleglitchen, I’m very proud to unveil a very special something from a very special someone…

Our new official logo created by none other than Kukubee himself as his own personal contribution to our efforts!

Eleven Logo

 

We’ll be working to get this integrated into the game and rolled out to our website and social media outlets, so be on the lookout!

-Kaiyon

Unique Challenges

Seems your chief chicken tamer has been quiet for over two months.  Seems a good time to change that.

We’ve been asked with increasing frequency about a time line for an alpha test, and, while my previous post highlighted some of the tasks that sit between us and opening up, I haven’t touched on some of the challenges that a team like ours has to face which make even rough estimates on a timeline neatly impossible until we’re much closer to that goal.  What I’m talking about here is at the very nature of this project; we’re a volunteer only operation made up of rabid fans.

Volunteers
Every single person on the team is working on it as a labor of love. We don’t get paid for it (nor do we want to be currently, before offers of funding start flowing in), and just about anyone with a desire and applicable skill sets are welcome to contribute.  This leads us to a few of our major challenging points; availability, disappearances and missing skills.

Availability
Most of the team hold down full time day jobs (myself included) or attend school at the university level full time, with at least one notable exception. Bundle that with some having familial (I’ve got a wife and 2 small children, personally) or other outside obligations, and some of us are lucky to find spare time to work on the project in a given week. If we had even a handful of skilled people that could dedicate their efforts full-time to the project, things would move along a lot faster. In fact, Aroha has recently had the fortune to be able to devote nearly a full time effort, split with a personal project, and has helped advance several tasks much faster than would have otherwise happened. On the flip side, final exams, school projects, moving and starting new jobs (something I’m personally in the middle of) have caused several key team members to lessen their contributions significantly over the past few months.

Disappearances
If you look at the number of people we’ve brought into our team (91), you’d think we’d have enough people to move things along at a decent pace. Unfortunately, only 20 or so have actually continued to contribute past their initial excitement. It’s hard to say what exactly causes this to happen. Perhaps they find they don’t have as much time as they thought they did, aren’t quite as skilled as they thought, or maybe they just lose interest.  Either way, it can be difficult to deal with someone disappearing without notice, especially if they had a desired skill or had committed to a task already.  Unlike a paid job, the incentive to keep us up-to-date on what’s going on doesn’t seem to exist for some. Fortunately, we haven’t had to deal with this situation too many times, but it has caused some setbacks.

Missing skills
There are a very talented group of people committed to getting this project completed, which is amazing; there are a few areas where the skill sets are missing or held by too few team members (or team members that aren’t able to contribute a significant amount of time).  A couple examples of this situation are graphic design and significant AS3 experience.

Butting heads
I honestly think we’ve been incredibly lucky with regards to how well our team gets along, even though the occasional disagreement had occurred. So, while this hasn’t been a huge issue, there has been at least one notable exception where someone didn’t mesh well enough with the group that they felt they had to leave the project. It was an unfortunate situation, but I was quite happy that it was able to be resolved in a very peaceful manner, and I’m quite hopeful that we won’t see any worse situations in the future.

Internationalization
While it seems most of the team is based in the US, there are a good number of team members hailing from other countries around the world, including, but not limited to, Germany, the UK and Brazil. You’d think the time zone and language barriers would be a bigger obstacle, but aside from some people mentioning where they’re from or that they don’t know the best way to say something, you’d hardly be able to tell.

Managing expectations
Everyone is excited, probably our team more than most. Truth is, this is a massive undertaking, and, especially when you take some of the above into account, it’s going to take time. We have some talented and driven people working on it, but that won’t make it go that much quicker. The only realistic way to get things done faster would be to have all of us quit our current jobs/school and find a way to get paid fair wages from this project, which isn’t something that we want to do and don’t feel is viable long term. If you look closely at the discussions that Tiny Speck had regarding the shut down, you’ll see that the game had to not only support a current staff level at a fair wage, but also compensate for the time in development when no money was coming in. This is a hole we’d prefer not to get ourselves in, and if we decide to build up a paid team at some point, it would likely be under a different kind if structure to help make the game more viable.

So, while we know you’re all excited to get in and play, it’s going to take some time. Don’t worry though, our key contributors are very committed to making this happen; when we finally let you in, be certain that we’re giving you the best built game we can. Tiny Speck gave us a great starting point from which to rebuild Ur.