Category Archives: General

State of the Project Address

We’re making excellent progress, but we’re at the point now where we have a couple bottlenecks in the way of a few goals. I’d like to give a general idea of where we are with everything right now. I know what you’re all thinking, TL;DR. Sorry, but I had a lot to cover. ūüėÄ

Game Related:

Location tagging is done, and has been done for a while now, well ahead of its original estimated schedule. Great job taggers (LadyCeres and team) and Scheijan for creating and utilizing the great tools that were put together for this task!

The “Throwaway Server” is coming along great. We’ve got experimentation going on constantly in regards to what we want to consider the “correct” way to do things (go Aroha!). RethinkDB is plugged in and can easily be switched out with the file based persistence layer (woot JustinD!) and progress is constantly being made on the HTTP API functions and all of their dependancies (Joey rules!).

We’ve got a total of 3 servers currently in the group; Lem, Tii (both of which are being administered by Turnip) and “Scheijan’s awesome server of awesomeness” (written as SASA below). Lem is doing a great job hosting all of our tools and the website, Tii is anxiously awaiting the start of QA2 while the team experiments with LocoDeco in preparation, and SASA is our regularly updated playground where our team can play around to see the state of the system.

Website/Internal Tools Related:

The Blog is chugging along great with 5,145 all time views (528 in a single day with Sirentist’s great tagging overview being the main catalyst) and 95 total comments. If anyone has any requests for something they’d like to see, or something they’d like us to talk about, please let us know at contact_us@elevengiants.com.

Our internal wiki hosted by Trac has been slowly growing. ¬†For anyone looking for a simple, easy to use wiki and bug tracking system, I’d highly recommend checking out Trac.

GitLab¬†has been a tremendous home for our source control, and I know the upgraded Lem server is able to handle it a lot better; we’ve been able to get rid of a lot of the strange bugs in the transfer as well.

Trello has really helped keep the project organized. ¬†Without it, my job of keeping things together and running smoothly would be a lot more annoying and filled with lovely spreadsheets… ¬†Which really aren’t all that lovely… ¬†There I go with my hated ellipses again… ¬†Which if you couldn’t tell I hate… ¬†Not just ellipses themselves, but their overuse… ¬†I hate myself for this… I’m done now… Okay… Maybe I’m really done now. Yup, much better.

Lastly, but I’d argue most importantly, Slack, without which we’d have had a great deal more trouble getting organized into a functional group and keeping track of all of our thoughts. ¬†I can’t stress how uncommon an occurrence we’ve come across with the opportunity to work with such an amazing company as Tiny Speck. Can you think of any other commercial development group (game or otherwise) that not only contributes a great majority of their source and assets to public use in the most open form that they possibly could, but also helps a group of committed (mentally?) and talented fan developers take that contribution and give very constructive feedback and details to help fill in the gaps that they left. As always, “Thanks Tiny Speck team!”

Other Tools:

Our friend Scheijan has, with some helpful feedback and testing from other members of the group, come up with a great means to allow new developers on the team to quickly (in relative terms) set up a development playground on their own machines with a Vagrant box. This is enormously helpful because we have at least one item in our technology stack that is really only well supported on Linux (RethinkDB); this allows non-Linux users a very easy means of setting up a box that supports everything we’re currently working with.

Bottlenecks:

On to the current hindrances we’re dealing with: I’d like everyone to consider these a little higher on the priority stack, although not any higher than the other items that are currently being worked on by the active dev team. If anyone either has the necessary skills, or knows someone with them (no need to have ever played Glitch), please let me know so we can try to help kick start the process (slack@elevengiants.com).

Logo – CoreParadox came up with some great mock ups which will be a good starting point, but we need to narrow down the final design we want to use (even if we come up with a few variants), and get it ready for public consumption. He has had limited time to contribute lately, which has all been poured into the missing asset list, so progress has slowed. What we need here is a talented graphic artist (with a somewhat whimsical style befitting of Ur) to help work with him on finalizing his initial efforts.

Vanity and Wardrobe – Turnip has volunteered to take a stab at these tasks, but has expressed interest in finding someone that already has some experience with Flash to help the process along. We have a good high-level idea of what we need to do, along with some sample code from a deprecated version that Tiny Speck used to have residing on the client side, but we need to figure out the details. Some grunt work may also be needed at some point later on with this project (once we get a workable, if buggy, version of the tools) to help come up with the specific transformations that will need to be performed on the base assets in order to build the full spritesheets (although some of that might already be built in).

God Pages – Hirune has already volunteered to work with Scheijan on this implementation. No real need for any more help (unless Scheijan wants to jump in and correct me), but the QA2 project will depend heavily on at least a subset of the God pages, so I felt a need to list it here.

Authentication – Varaeth has been neck deep in researching what our best option is with regards to a single sign on style authentications system that can easily integrate the game, forums and other webbly bits. Once this is done, we can start setting up our public forums which will be vital for getting the community hooked in and interested in our project while we await a very early alpha (Vanilla is the top candidate after we ruled out NodeBB for being too young and immature for our needs, although still a cool option once it has some more features).

Pathfinding (not a bottleneck, per se, but something that should be addressed before an alpha if possible) – I had started working on some rudimentary pathfinding logic a month or so back which I’ve been unable to touch since due to outside obligations, so if anyone is interested in taking a stab at it, please let me know, otherwise, I’ll leave it on my to-do list.

Other Notes:

I know everyone is very interested in a demo/alpha version of the game that you can actually get into and play around with. ¬†You’ll note that most of the items listed above as bottlenecks directly relate to this bigger goal, so we’re working hard on making it happen. Even though administering an alpha style test setup will add a good bit of overhead to our team, I think it’s a vital task and worth said effort, even if we have to pull in somebody to specifically handle these kinds of things.

We’ve also been approached several times about monetary donations to our cause. This is something that I don’t think we want to consider at this point, at least not until we have our alpha system in place; if we need it at that point, we will only ask to gain enough money to take care of specific needs that we identify. If we start taking money from people outside of our group before we’re ready, it might change expectations in such a way that we’d prefer to avoid, at least for the time being. In the meantime, any monetary needs we have I’m pretty confident can be reached by the members of our team (which has been the case so far).

Some fun news that I don’t think we’ve shared yet: we’ve received permission to use (but not distribute) the music from all 3 of the main composers involved in Glitch (Danny, Brandon Brown and Xavier). Special thanks go out to all 3 of them for their generously Glitchy spirits.

I’d also like to give some special thanks to MacKenzie (Jade) here as well. She’s been invaluable in the QA processes thus far (as well as providing great input elsewhere) by allowing us to benefit from her wealth of information and experience regarding the QA process and tools that were used by Tiny Speck to help kick start our own QA efforts. Thank you!

Final Notes:

I’m very proud to be a part of such an amazing, driven and talented group of individuals. I don’t think there’s a single person on this team that shouldn’t be amazed at how much progress we’ve made in the short (almost) 4 months we’ve been working together. ¬†We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but also a lot to look forward to as we finish bringing the world of Ur back to life and start to put some of our own small touches to it. Stay tuned for more fun little updates of how we’re doing along the way.

Sincerely,

Eleven Projects “Chief Chicken Tamer”,

KaiyonAlatar

Imagining Up an Alpha/Demo

I know one of the big things everyone is thinking about when it comes to our little project has to be, “When can I play!?!” I honestly can’t blame anyone. I mean, our friends over at Children of Ur have a playable demo up, so why can’t we? Well, there are a bunch of good reasons, which I’ll gladly go over, and let you know what we have left that needs to happen before we can allow any level of public consumption of the game.

1) Logo

As you may already know, one of the restrictions Tiny Speck placed on the use of their code is that nobody could use the names “Tiny Speck” or “Glitch.” While “Tiny Speck” isn’t as big of an issue, “Glitch” has its logo front and center while loading up the game.

This means we need to come up with our own logo and substitute it in. We’re lucky enough to have some creative people in our midst who are currently working on this. CoreParadox came up with a great mock-up and he’s working with DanteAmaya to refine it into something that we’ll be able to replace the Glitch logo with. Once we have something a bit more finalized, you can be sure to see it here first.

2) Authentication

We currently don’t use logins to specify users on our test systems. Instead, we’re taking a somewhat hacky approach, which, for the security of our test systems, I’ll avoid describing in more detail than to just say it’s hacky. A side effect from this approach is that anyone would be easily able to access anyone else’s character. I know I personally would hate to think of someone else messing around with my character while I’m away.

The biggest issue we have to consider while researching the possible approaches to authentication, though, is that we need a single login to work for every part of the website: the forums and activity feed, the vanity and wardrobe, the game and the auctions, and more. The good news is we’re wrapping up this research and are close to a decision. Stay tuned for more details.

3) Avatar Creation

Some of the items that weren’t included with the code Tiny Speck released to the public are the Vanity and Wardrobe. While we could (and still might) move forward utilizing a default avatar or even allowing users to pull their characters as they appeared at the end of Glitch, one of the big draws of the game is the ability to customize your experience, from your avatar to the way you play the game to the way you build your /home.

What we do have, though, are all of the assets that are used to build the avatar; we’re just missing the code to put it all together. Once we’re further on in the process of rebuilding this, we’ll post here with some details.

4) User Number Limitation (Temporary Architectural Design Restraints)

While we’re in the early stages of development, any demo we put out will likely be somewhat unstable and running on lower-powered servers.

What’s that you say? You’d be willing to throw some money our way to help with better servers?

Well, that’s great and all, but why don’t you hold onto your money until we have a greater need and a more stable system. While a beefier server might allow more people to be logged on at once, the risk of encountering a system-crashing bug due to the current instability would only go up as well.

How about adding more servers, you ask?

The problem here is our framework is currently only set up to run on a single server as far as normal game processing goes, and some of the high-level processes are in what we’re considering a ‘temporary’ state so we can access the game while we work out some of the details. It’s something we need to address, but it’s a little lower on the priority stack while we get some more basic game functionality working. Once we have the mechanics of the game a bit cleaner, we’ll work on how to spread the load across multiple servers. You can look forward to a blog post from our friend Aroha giving some of the more nitty-gritty technical details of our current setup soon.

So now you want to know how you’ll be able to play?

There are a few ways we could go here. We’ve come up with a couple options and may think of more before we get to this point. One option would be to have a closed alpha where we allow so many users to have access to the game over a specified period of time, say, a week, before removing their access and allowing the next set of users in. Another option would be to simply restrict how many people are in the game at a time, so you’d just have to wait in line until someone else logged out and a spot opened up.

I personally would prefer the first option (closed alpha). It would keep users from having the hassle of waiting to see if and when a spot would open up, and instead would allow unlimited access (minus server down time) over a longer period of time. It would also be a lot easier to implement.

To summarize, we’re a long way away from having things done the right way, but we’re working hard to make sure the amazing Glitch-loving community will have something they can jump in and try out.

Want to help?

Do you know JavaScript?

How about JSON?

Willing to learn some new stuff too?

Did you love Glitch so much you would be glad to devote some of your free time towards bringing it’s amazing world back to life?

If so, then you’re in luck! While we’ve got a great group of coders plugging away at all the pluggy away…eey things, in order to bring the world of Ur back to it’s previous glory at a faster pace, we could use some more skilled individuals to help along with the process.

Edit: ¬†While the enthusiasm of the Glitch loving masses is amazing, I just want to clarify a bit more specifically what we’re looking for with regards to help currently. ¬†If the following points apply to you, you might have the skills needed to help contribute.

  • A working understanding of JavaScript Prototypical Inheritance.
  • A thorough understanding of JavaScript variable scope including use of closures. ¬†Also, why is¬†`function f() { g = 1; }` bad?
  • You know the difference between ‘==’ and ‘===’ in javascript why one is preferred over the other.

If you don’t think you fit this, don’t stress though, we’ll keep any opportunities to help out posted here on our blog, so keep watching.

Interested? Send a message to slack@elevengiants.com and a yoga frog will have it delivered to me in a jiffy.

A Wealth of Projects

I’ve noticed some chatter in the Glitch loving community about how they’re concerned about how the multiple efforts that are ongoing to bring back the world of Ur might divide the fan base and they would really wish to see the different teams collaborate on one project.

I can understand the concern, but I don’t see it as a problem so much. ¬†While all of these projects are trying to rebuild some level of the world we all loved so much, we all have different goals with different paths to reach those goals that aren’t all compatible with each other. ¬†Instead of seeing this as a short term problem of dividing a community, instead look at is as an opportunity for innovation for the future. ¬†The ideas and effort that are being poured into each one of these projects is bound to come up with something new and different, which can likely be integrated into other projects if some of them fail. ¬†In the end, once you account for all of the ideas and innovation being put forth by all of these groups, perhaps it will help bring about something that can be more successful than the sum of its parts.

All in all, look forward to the future! ¬†It’s not every day assets like this are released into the public, and only good can come from it. ¬†While I really hope that myself and this amazing team that we have here are able to be a part of this successful product that I’m envisioning, I’m proud to be a part of the journey if nothing else, and I wish nothing but the same to all of the other groups as well.

Also to help ease concerns a little bit, there have been at least a couple points of communication/collaboration between teams.

  • Children of Ur – Paul, their leader, is a member on our Slack instance, and we’ve had brief discussions of potential collaboration in the past, but don’t have any current plans.
  • Gourdian Knot – Turnip, their leader, is also acting as our systems administrator and has been an invaluable member of the Eleven team.

For links to a few other projects, check out our other projects page, and if we’re missing something, please drop us a line at contact_us@elevengiants.com with details.

Tiny Speck Launches Slack

I’d like to send congrats out to our friends at Tiny Speck for launching their amazing new team collaboration tool Slack¬†on behalf of the Eleven family!

For those who may not be familiar with it, Slack is a great team collaboration tool that can be used to more or less eliminate the reliance on e-mail and instant messaging tools between members of a team and it’s easily configured to interact in very convenient ways with a large (growing) number of third party tools including source control, bug tracking, project management tools and a host of other things (a couple that we use are Git and Trello). ¬†It’s where our team was formed to start and it’s been helping drive us forward at this great pace that we’ve been making so far. ¬†I can seriously say that I don’t think our effort would have made it this far this easily without it.

If anyone reading this is working in a team environment, I’d seriously consider giving Slack a try, you’ll be thankful you did. (No, we aren’t getting a kick back or any incentive for endorsing them, it’s just a great product.)

Blog launch!

While LadyCeres already said welcome, I wanted to expand a bit more on what you’d be able to expect from this blog and what we’re currently up to and who you can expect to hear from.

  • Screenshots! ¬†Any time we get something amazing working and want to show off, you can bet you’ll see it here first!
  • Status updates. ¬†We’ll keep you informed of where we are with regards to making progress on the various things we’re working on.
  • Technical overviews. ¬†If you’re wondering what technology we’re using to store all of the Eleventy bits or what exactly is driving that piggy cubimal to run a lousy 2 planks, we’ll give you a peak into how we’re doing those things.
  • QA work. ¬†We’re currently organizing our QA efforts to ensure all of the Glitchy bits translate well over to Eleventy ones. ¬†It’s actualy a very large and involved effort, which you’ll be able to learn more about as they make progress.
  • Help wanted! ¬†Every time we need someone with a specific skill to volunteer a bit of time to our effort or we need some extra people to test this or that, we’ll let everyone know here, so stalk the RSS feeds if you want to help out (you know you do).
  • Other Glitchy projects. ¬†If you’re wondering what else there is out there being built on the legacy of Glitch, we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. ¬†Over on the Other Projects page, we’ve already linked to a few of them. ¬†If you’re aware of any more that we’ve missed, let us know and we’ll be glad to add it.
  • And tons more!

Now for the blogging team!

  • KaiyonAlatar: ¬†That’s me! ¬†I’m working hard to keep this whole project organized and guide the directions we’re taking and jumping in on the coding where I’m able.
  • LadyCeres: ¬†QA lead on the team. ¬†She put together this first iteration of our website and has lead the effort to put everything back where it belongs in our beloved world of Ur while the techies get those things working properly.
  • Aroha: ¬†One of the resident techies you’ll hear from. ¬†He’s shoulder deep in the code building up the missing pieces.
  • Sirentist: ¬†Holder of tons of Glitchy knowledge. ¬†She’s bringing her vast stores of data to help rebuild Ur.
  • Scheijan: ¬†Another of our amazing techies. ¬†While he’s also got his hands in the code, he’s been building tools to help make the Glitch to Eleven transition easier.

To see the rest of the team, along with their ‘role’, head on over to the Team page. ¬†It’s still a work in progress, so not everyone is currently represented, but we’ll try to keep up to date as much as possible.

And last, but definitely not least, I just want to give a quick shout out to Tiny Speck. ¬†Without the amazing game that they built and decided to give the majority of its building blocks out for free, their brilliant new team collaboration tool Slack and some helpful guidance, we wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress as we have so far. ¬†Thank you!