Interview with Dentin, Creator of Alter Aeon
This interview was done on Dec 27, 2009 by the Alter Aeon player
. It is also printed in
Issue 5 of 'The Ralnoth Times'
This version of the interview has been edited, to fix minor typos and
reorder answers so that question and answer are in well-defined blocks.
For the original, unedited version of the interview, please see
Ouch: okay we are in a year in review with the great Dentin, creator of Alter Aeon, for the year 2010, the review of 2009
Ouch: interview date dec 27 09 and system time 839 pm
Dentin: and now comes the part where someone asks me "when did the email system go in" and I respond with something that makes me look retarded, like "we have an email system?"
Ouch: actually, two email systems, will one die?
Ouch: Dentin, overall, has the year been positive?
Dentin: the year has had its ups and downs actually. It was definitely a year of experimentation
Dentin: it started out with a massive web/advertising push, at least massive compared to previous pushes. That settled down around march, and appeared to have a decent impact though far less than i was hoping for
Dentin: things kinda tapered down mid year, but then something strange happened
Dentin: I think, looking back, that what happened is I pissed off a certain very high level player, and the resulting propaganda in the player base drove off a lot of people
Dentin: the player base has recovered over the last couple of months, but its still very unusual. Still figuring out the social dynamics of that one
Dentin: most recently has been very good though, mostly because I've been playing a lot and I like it when i play and it doesn't suck
Ouch: are we talking about the tyrant situation?
Dentin: no - another situation having to do with the mana regen changes. Changes which were fought viciously, and now not even questioned. its almost universally considered an improvement
Ouch: about the emails... is the new email to allow for better messages, for better sorting, and most of all, does it block messages form people on ignore?
Dentin: yes, the newer email system is superior in a lot of ways. Locane seriously needs to improve the parser though, a handful of the conveniences in the old email still don't work right in the new
Ouch: when will teh old system be destroyed?
Ouch: (email system)
Dentin: it probably wont, i like the email god
Dentin: he's cute
Ouch: you dont feel its too confusinig to new players that we have 2 email systems?
Dentin: a good rule of thumb is not to nuke stuff unless its a maintenance hassle, if there's a cost in keeping it. The email bot really has no associated cost, he just runs on autopilot
Dentin: I've separated the commands and notifies as strongly as i could. Honestly, there's a point where I give up - if the player really wants to push uncooked waffles into the cd drive, then perhaps playing a video game just isn't meant for him
Ouch: I have noticed this year a total increase in skills/spells, areas, commands, socials, etc. Can you confirm atht as far as expansion of the game, it has been a year of expansion?
Dentin: no, not really
Dentin: about the only part of that that's seen a massive expansion in my opinion is the area/world map
Dentin: command and social changes have been pretty minor compared to the total, and skills/spells are almost completely locked down pending class changes
Ouch: but of the new spells and skills - is it normal to see such an increase?
Dentin: what new spells and skills? compared to previous years, where I'd consider there to be strong, active development, I didnt really think there were that many
Ouch: okay we were going to ask about that... when are the class changes going into effect? This on TRT staff has been imparative about making sure I ask... rofl
Ouch: and what classes will they be?
Dentin: as would be expected, i gave people minimum time schedules for when it theoretically could be done, and everyone assumed that would be the due date. in reality, a lot of other stuff has happened too, and we're not even done with all the infrastructure changes yet, much less complete new spell and skill trees. So I'd give it a couple months and see what else we manage to get in
Dentin: there's a lot more high priority things that I think are short term important - fixing up the newbie areas and improving the new player experience, getting the client into shape, and getting our name out there so people can find AA and want to play it
Ouch: what classes are we talking about?
Dentin: I have three pretty clear classes in mind, at least at the moment. Draak hates the names, but what I see in my head matches my definitions of these words, so I use them. I envision a paladin, druid, and necromancer class, because they're separate enough that I think they can be done without hugely breaking everything
Ouch: so... we will still have the other 4 classes but we will add these 3?
Dentin: I planned to add the first couple of classes with minimal damage to the others, kinda like how diablo II did it. Complete new spell/skill trees, separating things out as necessary from existing classes but hopefully without causing major problems
Ouch: has the player increased this year?
Dentin: its gone up and down. For the first half of the year, the player base was up quite a bit. There was the dip later as I mentioned, and we're back about where we started right now
Dentin: about the only positive I can pull out of it is that we didn't decline, where a lot of other games have. If most of your competition is sinking, treading water doesnt look so bad anymore. It is disheartening though
Ouch: what about gods? clans? articles on the website? have those increased?
Dentin: clans are player base constant, articles of course, there's a date stamped index on the web site (keyword indexes now too, heh)
Ouch: so the website and teh client have improved?
Dentin: as for gods, I think the overall number of active gods remains about constant. They come, they go, etc
Ouch: any new god appointments?
Dentin: yes, website and client are definitely way better. My personal client builds have xp bars in them too, heh
Dentin: number of admin gods has decreased, and I rearranged all the god levels not too long ago. I'm gradually getting to where there's very little admin power required for normal game operation
Ouch: how come Wyvren is not on much? I heard its a big secret only you and her know
Dentin: you'll have to get that information from wyvren or her mortals, thats an internal affair and not up for discussion by agreement
Ouch: heh - so i guess we confirmed only you and her know
Ouch: okay... so what new areas have come about?
Dentin: most of the actual new areas that I can remember have come from morpheus and draak/shadowfax. I know other builders have built stuff but my impression is those three are responsible for most of the new integrations this year. The southeastern combine area has had a number of huge expansions this year
Dentin: I think though that the expansion is a lot less important that the overall architecture
Ouch: what are you most proud of - that when all was said and done you were very happy either with yourself or with others?
Ouch: in terms of everything this year
Dentin: a LOT of work has gone on this year to get the world map straightened out, and get things flattened out. This lets us do a lot of other neat things, like the experimental boat code for example. The latest area maps on the web pages are another example of the neat shit we can do with these changes
Dentin: the global map changes havent made a huge impact on the players - yet - but they will. It's like having a solid foundation to build on, finally
Dentin: im probably most happy with the world maps and the client. Both have turned out to be a lot better than I expected
Ouch: so overall, would you say the game has been streamlined?
Dentin: yes, but I wouldnt say that has anything to do with the map part of it. Certainly the introduction/newbie islands/low level experience has been streamlined and is much more polished than it used to be. But the islands were already largely mappable by design
Dentin: its kinda the wrong adjective to use when describing the mapper. The mapper has made things sane, not streamlined. The streamlining has happened elsewhere
Ouch: like where?
Ouch: and where did the streamlining occur then?
Ouch: about the streamlining... where did it occur?
Dentin: id say the most streamlined aspects are definitely on sloe, getting new players into the game and up to the level 10 range. I've also put a lot of work into the mid level ranges, between 15 and 25, but I still feel the range where kordan lies is pretty weak
Dentin: keep in mind though that I don't usually play in the level 30 or higher range, I've been very focused on lower levels to try to bring in new people
Ouch: would you say the AA team itself is stremalined as far as working together and what to expect?
Dentin: as much as you could expect from volunteers who have a life outside of AA, yes :)
Ouch: and do you consider this year particularly challenging?
Dentin: like I said, it was a year of experimentation, success, and failure. Some things worked, some things didnt, and some stuff worked better than other stuff
Ouch: what do you think of the system events that took place this year? Any thoughts on that?
Dentin: my only regret with them is that I didnt make time to do them monthly, all year. The fact of the matter is that they consume a pretty big amount of time and effort, even when mostly automated, and that sucks. Even just putting up event reports can take several hours, because I hate to put up reports that have typos or look stupid
Dentin: consider it my personal OCD failing - I dont like to put stuff on the web for the world to see if it's going to suck. I feel it makes me look bad
Ouch: what was yoru favorite event this year?
Dentin: my personal favorite was the lack of events in the middle of the year. Like I said, they're a huge amount of effort and very draining
Ouch: so dentin the million dollar question is ... what is our mission for 2010? what do you want form us?
Dentin: from the players, all i can really expect is for the players to have fun and pull in other people if they like it. Spreading the word and getting more people playing is what I'd consider most important, but that's incredibly hard to get people to do
Dentin: its really hard to get players to do really useful things, because a lot of the really useful things for AA either require advanced technical skill or they crappy, unfun things people don't want to do
Ouch: dentin we have the 15th birthday coming up on january 15... can we get in on the party planned? any details you want to share?
Dentin: nope, its a surprise. I still need to talk to fionna and see what other ideas she has for some of the time slots
Dentin: I figure for a fifteenth birthday, its kinda important, so we'll see what we can do :)
Ouch: well dentin we thank you for a great game... and we apreciate all the efforst of the builders and gods and of course all the hours of fun of the players...
Dentin: that was my plan when I started, its nice to see it work out that way. I'd really like to be able to afford to do it full time, but if it's not meant to be, I can always go back to doing what i used to do :)
Ouch: do you have any closing remarks or anything you want to say in praticular to The Ralnoth Times or its readers?
Dentin: sure! LINK THE CRAP OUT OF AA! PUT IN ALL YOUR BLOGS AND MAKE IT YOUR EMAIL SIG SO YOU SEND IT TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW WITH EVERY EMAIL MESSAGE! REMEMBER THAT DENTIN SUCKS AT MARKETING!
Dentin: feel free to disregard that, its probably a bad idea. After all, I suck at marketing :)
Ouch: so we enter the year 2010 with an overall recruiting mission...
Dentin: its as good a mission as any other. If the players recruit, then I can get around to building more interesting aspects of the game
Ouch: system time is 913 pm... thank you for sparing us some of your time Dentin
Dentin: no problem, thanks for the interest
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