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 Season Two: What I'm doing right now
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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 02:16 PM UTC  
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Well, this ain't fun at all. I thought man-flu at first, then I thought food poisoning, now... well, fucked if I know.

Apologies for shirking my Island duties for now... can't really concentrate on anything. I feel a hell of a lot better today than I did a couple of days ago, but my stomach still says "Food? Food?! Bourgeois capitalist decadence! OUT WITH IT!"

I'm gonna give it 'til Saturday (which is my next day at the Day Job of Distraction) and if I'm not able to keep a biscuit inside my body by then, I'll concede that it might be time to haul my sorry ass up the road and get plugged into an IV. Vein-food, yum!

(is it odd that my biggest fear of hospitals is having to go without Internet access? Yes, I think that's odd. Yup.)


 
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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 07:06 PM UTC  
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aaaaaaaand FLAT-HUNTING!

This week is fun!


 
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CavemanJoe
 Monday, March 30 2009 @ 01:38 AM UTC  
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Reworked the Stamina system slightly. Levels are awarded straight away now via a nice bold "You levelled up, well done!" style notification, rather than being quietly announced at newday. Processing the things you learn while sleeping might be more realistic, but it's not as emotionally or psychologically engaging or satisfying as that instant "Bam, you did good!" positive reinforcement thing.

Added stamina usage indicators to the Fight and Run links (which was about a million times more work than it should have been).

Levelling up and exp have changed considerably.

Example from before:

Normal Hunting
Max cost: 25,000
Min cost: 10,000
Experience per repetition: 100
Experience for level: 1,000
Cost reduction per level: 10
Experience held over through DK's: 2.5%

Example from now:

Normal Hunting
Max cost: 25,000
Min cost: 10,000
Experience per rep: (moot now - all talents come with 100exp/rep by default, this can be altered via Stamina Buffs (for example while fighting under the influence of a great mentor - or alcohol))
Exp required to reach level 2: 1,000
Exp required to reach each subsequent level: previouslevel + (previouslevel*1.08)
Cost reduction: 150 points
DK retention: (moot - all Actions-related experience is now permanent)

Example from above:

Level 2 exp required: 1,000
Lv3: 1080 exp required on top of the 1,000 you've already got, so you reach lv3 at 2080 exp
Lv4: 1166 + 2080 already got = 3246
Lv5: 4,506
6 5,867
7 7,336
8 8,923
9 10,637
10 12,488
11 14,487
12 16,645
13 18,977
14 21,495
15 24,215
16 27,152
17 30,324
18 33,750
19 37,450
20 41,446, and as an example, this means there's 3,996 exp points between lv19 and lv20, 8,627 between 29 and 30, 18,625 between 39 and 40, and so on.

As you can see, out of all the various actions, this is a relatively steep example.

Now, each talent tops out at a nice round 100 levels, rather than them all being different like before. Different talents have steeper or more gradual curves. The ones that you come across later - the ones that are taught to you by various NPC's - will be used less often, and will thus be easier to master. This particular example is from an action that you'll be using throughout the whole game, so I had to balance out making it easy to level up at first with making it a very, very lengthy endeavour to level up later on.

My benchmark was Tor NaGoth. With around 160,000 monster kills, 330 DK's and a total of 476,000 page views over the life of the account, he'd be at about Level 94 of the above example, assuming he'd chosen the same hunting options each time and his exp help/hindrance had worked out about equal. That seems about right to me; I want level 100 to be achievable, but not by just any Tom, Dick or Harry.

Still, the static amount of discount awarded after increasingly difficult levels does bother me slightly. Maybe I can find a workaround for that.

Yay for a fun afternoon / evening of code. My first in a while, and probably my last in a while too. Damned day jobs.

2:30am, and work in the morning. 'night, everyone...


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 12 2009 @ 11:23 PM UTC  
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Playtesting, tweaking, and bug-squashing.

Bugfixes in the World Map related to encounter rate. Level Up and "You're getting tired" messages added to the World Map. Race balancing via Stamina buffs in theoretical, spreadsheet-only form (Stamina can have buffs applied to both the action cost and the experience gain - Midgets, for example, can fight pretty well all day, with quite a big combat boost and some neat Limit-Break-style special talents, but being thick as pig shit they only get a quarter of the per-action experience as humans). In-combat HP bars have been broken since the move to the new server, and I'm not yet sure why. Flavour text enhancements.

General combat: Monsters now drop FAR less Requisition than before. Like, a fifth as much. Toying with the idea of eliminating the difference per level (so lv15 players will no longer get any more money than a lv1 player) and replacing with Glory-like mechanics so that The Watcher pays more for more exciting fights - but still capping at 50-or-so Req per fight, with 10-or-so being the norm. There will be other ways to make money.

Secret Feature: Bugfixes, Stamina hooking-in, level up messages, getting tired messages, getting tired outcomes, more flavour text. Usability enhancements so that most of its functionality can be accessed from a single page, so the tasks involved can go really really fast.
This is, honestly, about 90% done. It's my most ambitious coding project to date, and I hope very much that you'll enjoy it. I'm itching to spill the beans, but I'm gonna restrain myself. For now, at least.

New feature: Meat system, currently alpha. Not yet hooked in to Stamina, although the action has been written. Not yet hooked in to stats. Meat is not yet sellable (various restaurants and kebab houses will buy different qualities of meat - coming back to that "different ways of making money" thing I talked about earlier). Training at Kittania cookery school is not yet required. Unique values for each monster not yet implemented, they all default to 10 of each meat type. Meat type randomisation not yet implemented - every monster will drop 10 mouthfuls of each meat type regardless of your tiredness level, experience in carcass cleaning, or any other variable.
So what does work?
You can now clean the carcasses of monsters you've killed, and carry the meat around with you. You can cook and eat a meal out of this meat, using any combination of the three meat qualities. Very, very alpha. Plans include ability to rent refrigerated meat locker space so that this doesn't happen at the start of every new day:

Your Meat, exposed to the harsh tropical climate and various Improbable bacteria, is crawling away from you on a bed of maggots. You consider chasing it, but soon decide that neither you nor anybody else would want to eat it in its current state. With a heavy heart you wave goodbye as it slowly disappears into the jungle.


Aesthetics - text contrast increased on the new Leather theme, which is going to be default for S2. Much more readable now. Distractions and other popup windows fixed.

Other stuff - some of which is secret, some of which I've forgotten.

It's really coming home to me now just how long it takes to change gears. I've asked for fewer hours at the Day Job of Distraction, and that's helped - I can't just come home from the day job and start coding. If I work at the day job for three or four days, it takes a day to get my head back in gear and start coding again. And then, when I do code, I end up doing so for eighteen-hour stretches.

Right now I'm feeling very positive about S2 in general. I can actually see this being done pretty soon - I got up this morning, looked at my to-do list and went "Hell - I can get this done in a week!" Which is highly improbable, but I think that when I think "I'll get it done in a week," it spurs me into more furious action - when I think "It'll be done in a month," I'm more inclined to code a little less and take more breaks.

Which is good, for my well-being at least - but as any programmer will tell you, keeping going is far easier than starting. The longer I code for, the easier it gets. Taking an hour's break doesn't refresh my mind and let me come back to the job with gusto - it just makes it take longer for me to get back into programmer-head.

Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, it's been a productive weekend. Smile


 
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CavemanJoe
 Monday, April 13 2009 @ 12:20 PM UTC  
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eBoy's Trading Station now keeps track of stock. The availability of consumable items will be determined by the players selling them. This should make things a bit more interesting in a real-economy sort of way, and also help alleviate the sort of problems we might see with, for example, players finding a real good deal on One-Shot Teleporters and then using one to get to a faraway outpost and selling them for twice as much (without paying any Stamina cost == infinite money exploit).


 
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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 01:39 PM UTC  
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Started on a very, very basic implementation of the serialized item system after all. Turned out that once I'd gotten past one logical hurdle, the actual Doing Of The Thing wouldn't be too tricky for basic items.

I'm writing it in a sort of modular way, so its complexity can be rolled out in stages. For example:

Stage 1 (which is pretty well done!):
The player has an inventory that can hold items given by quests. The giveitem() function is implemented, and the module knows the difference between 'normal' items (things like grenades, where every instance of the item will be the same) and 'special' items (for example, a player might have five throwing knives, but some will be rustier than others) and store them in the player's Inventory array accordingly.

Stage 2:
Add use hooks to the item arrays. Define whether an item can be used on the world map, in the forest, in the village, in a fight etc.

Stage 3:
With a hook into the useitem() function, other modules can expand the complexity of the Serialized Item System. Write simple little modules to add buffs, heal the player, and change the player's location - this will be enough to replicate the current functionality of my hardcoded Improbable Stuff.

Why it it important to replace Improbable Stuff with a more flexible system? Well, Improbable Stuff - which handles things such as grenades, one-shot-teleporters, medkits etc - has all of its different items written out in one big file. It's not a database-driven thing. It's old, it's clumsy, and it was intended to be a quick job but has actually cost far more time - you see, every time I want to add a new item, I have to update the improbablestuff script as well as all the modules that interact with it (IE vending machines etc).

Also, when I open the game up to player-submitted modules (yes, there will be a sort of SDK and an area in each village for player-coded shops and adventures in S2), I'd like you guys to be able to send the player on wild goose chases trading items between NPC's at various points across the map. Smile

Of course, this is all going to add to the development time, but as long as I get done before...

Aw, poop.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, May 17 2009 @ 12:54 AM UTC  
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This has actually gone into Season One, but it's not really worth its own thread, so!

Commentary Icons has been tweaked a little - the online/offline bar works far more accurately, and the whole thing has been optimized so it now results in far fewer database lookups. Information represented in the commentary icons themselves should be accurate, as the cache for the viewing player is invalidated when the viewing player looks at a commentary area. So, if you're not logged in and thus not changing weapons or race, your data will be read from cache - and when you're looking at commentary areas and (potentially) changing weapons and race, your icons will be updated. I also went through and fixed one or two broken weapon images, and made it so that roleplaying players hiding their weapon and race (utilising the hidemyinfo pref) needn't hide their logged-in bar and donation status, so that the output isn't as jarring when hidemyinfo players are talking amongst regular players.

On the local test server, AJAX chat is now interfaced with the commentary icons with far fewer lookups, and I have to say it all looks far nicer on the S2 theme. I also fixed the AJAX chat module's lack of support for the /game switch (which also handles /special comments).

Village chat output was amongst the biggest offenders for high database load, so we should see a slight performance benefit. Perhaps enough to justify bringing back AJAX chat, now it works properly.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Saturday, May 23 2009 @ 08:32 PM UTC  
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My, that serialized item system is coming along very nicely now. This'll let us add lots more new items to the game, over and above the standard Grenades and suchlike. It'll give us a cool little inventory viewer too. I'm delighted at how easily this is all coming together!

...BTW, I'm now working on a local test server, installed on my own laptop. Is it tragic that the Improbable Island server, which lives many miles away, has a much larger database and has several dozen people logged in at any one time, is faster to respond to my commands than the webserver running right on this computer?

Should I buy a new laptop?

*turns out pockets*

No. No, I should not. Mr. Green


 
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Hermein
 Saturday, May 23 2009 @ 08:50 PM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

...BTW, I'm now working on a local test server, installed on my own laptop.



Consider a headless desktop machine as a server? Not only does that give you another CPU to handle the database, it provides a handy backup location (and big desktop drives are way cheaper than laptop drives).


 
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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, May 28 2009 @ 04:31 PM UTC  
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I've got no spare desktops right now. Otherwise that might not be such a bad idea.

Right now I'm writing some of the plot points for S2. Preview, from an early plot point:

As you head into the Outpost, something big and black appears in front of you, moving at speed. It impacts on your face, knocking you on your back. As you push yourself up onto your elbows, you try to make sense of what just happened.

You're not `ientirely`i sure, but you think... as strange as it sounds... it might have been someone's arse.

You replay the scene - yup. Someone's arse, in a black skirt. You only know one person on this Island who wears a black skirt.

The Watcher - or at least, the top half of her - leans out of the air. Her bespectacled eyes lock onto yours, and her face lights up in a huge grin. "Hey, it's you! Well, isn't this a coincidence!" She reaches out to you. You extend a hand, ready for her to help you up and, perhaps, explain where her legs are - and why she just beat you to the ground with her now-invisible posterior.

Nothing of the sort happens. She expertly steals a cigarette from your pocket, lights it, gives you a cheery wink and leans back, disappearing right before your eyes.

You lie for a moment, staring at the space she just occupied.

"RIGHT THEN!" you cry, in the vain hope that The Watcher could still hear you. Birds scatter from the trees. "So THAT'S the sort of day this is going to be! OKAY! Thanks for the heads-up!" You get to your feet. "I'll expect to be mugged by a floating pair of boobs any second now!"

A passing contestant looks your way, lip curled up in distaste. "Weirdo," she mutters, before continuing on her way.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, July 02 2009 @ 04:45 PM UTC  
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Updates to be posted here:
http://twitter.com/improbableislnd

This is one of the VERY few possible uses I can imagine for such a restrictive, substandard, let's-face-it-just-plain-crap method of communication. Twitter's enforced brevity reminds me that I should be devoting my time to coding, not to writing about what I've coded.

Naturally, if a feature needs to be explored in more depth, it'll be done here, where we can talk about it. Smile


 
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