This article was written by the god
and posted on January 05, 2010.
You may also wish to read Subtle's
in review article
As the head admin of Alter Aeon, my year in review revolves around the things
I did and saw as an admin. I'm not even going to pretend that my year in review
contains all the things that were important to the players; all I can say is
that these are the things that I found important when I looked back over the
past 12 months.
Our players have their own idea of what the last year was like, and I hope to
make some of those reviews available as well. And now, on to the lists!
In short, 2009 was:
- The year of Locane, when he started to really write a lot of code
- A year of newbie improvements
- A year of general playability improvements
- A year of the web pages, including XML and RSS interfaces
- A year of mapping and global area cleanup
- The year of a usable DClient
- The year of level 33 and level 34
So many changes were made and so many new features added that it's almost
impossible to list them all. You can get a detailed changelog from the
mud webserver at the following link:
Keep in mind that this only shows mortal visible changes! Even more stuff
went on at the immortal level, including huge changes to global infrastructure
and loads of builder improvements.
I also put a big emphasis on improving the new player experience, everything
from character creation to quests on the newbie islands and easier grouping.
Getting new players to make use of the improved new player experience was
another matter. A lot of effort went into improving the web pages and getting
links out there, but without a lot of result. At best, we held our own and
managed to not lose players this year, which is better than it sounds because
many MUDs are dying due to the growing popularity of MMOs such as World of
I have high hopes for 2010 though, but that's a story for next year's review.
And now, the big general changes, and a list of things organized by month!
General Updates and Changes
Gameplay improvements for blind players using screen readers continued
unabated. There was one particularly nasty incident involving letter
combinations that caused hard crashes of screen readers; these
combinations are now trapped out on the server side to prevent them
from reaching the buggy readers.
Huge improvements to the DClient, with releases 0.976 through 0.983.
The supported features have increased greatly, including:
- Big performance and interface consistency improvements
- Keypad walking
- Pushthrough commands (I still think this is a dumb idea)
- Big map improvements, including roads and trails
- Color palettes
- Initial layout customization and basic themes
- Landscape zoom in/out on scale changes
- Target hp bar
- Undockable automap
- Function key button bar
- Popup windows
- Clean mode, with only an input bar and main window
- Real time group status display
The new email system was installed and came into its own, almost completely
replacing the previous email system.
Massive improvements to safe rooms for PPK players, and fixes to help
PPK players group more safely. There have also been a handful of reworks,
primarily to reduce losses due to death and to limit PPK insta-kills.
Level 33 added in February, and level 34 added in September.
Permission lockdowns and god level changes for builders and immortals, to
help prevent abuse and allow many more simultaneous builders.
A lot of object building composite updates and cleanup. Object building in
general is more consistent and reliable now, with pretty much all items on
the game loading properly. Maxload is slowly being phased out to get
ready for a much larger player base.
Lots of improvements to RANDOM objects over the year, including super randoms,
always-random equipment, and exotic random enchants.
A handful of incidents came up involving persistent problem players and
player harassment. After all was said and done, the player Tyrant was
removed permanently from the game, and all characters of the player
Vivi have been permanently spammer flagged. This appears to have taken
care of most of the problems.
Along the way, we made a lot of improvements in the various administration
tools, including siteban changes, siteban autospreading, and spammer flags.
January - The Month of Microleveling
Microleveling was added, for all class levels 30 and higher. The
original goals of microleveling were to flatten the experience curve and
prevent higher levels from becoming obsolete too quickly; in reality, it
turns out that fame is a much more effective way of handling this.
Microleveling still serves to allow people to bank and 'work toward' advanced
levels, but the original timers have been
cut back drastically to allow players to level almost as quickly as they
can accumulate fame.
All of the int/wis costs for all spells were switched over to a calculation
function, instead of being manually set. In most
cases, the max stat increased by 1 while the min stat stayed the
same. This big change eliminated a lot of the guesswork and made
spell requirements more consistent. It also unexpectedly set some
of the groundwork for future class additions.
Around this time, the game started tracking the maximum that you ever
manage to learn spells and skills. This value is not reset on death,
and high level characters (level 100 and higher) are able to relearn
skills lost by death or fountaining, up to this maximum level, using
Added cleric 'resurrect' spell, which has been very popular.
Drunkenness was added for one of our system events.
Febuary - The Month of Findable Fame
Rough fame estimates were added to the 'where' command for high level
players. Prior to this, fame hunting was almost complete guesswork as
only the most organized players could keep track of all the areas and
creatures they'd visited.
The strength and dexterity spell limits were lowered from 6 to 5, as
discussed on board 8 back in November 2008. This started a month long
trolling firestorm on the boards, in spite of the three month warning.
Quest features were added to unlock specific spells or skills.
March - The Month of Cleanup
Two very old and extremely hard to track down bugs were fixed in the code
base. These bugs, while not particularly dangerous, had each been sporadically cutting
warnings and producing weirdness for over a decade, and in the space of about three weeks
both of them were found and fixed.
Other than that, March was primarily a month of web marketing, advertising, minor code
cleanup and bug fixes. Not a lot of new features were added.
April - The Month of Potion Bottling
Massive brew potion updates were added, including bottling and bottle throwing.
It was several months before all the side effects and bugs were worked out of
the bottling system, but we have a much better potioning system than before.
Shoplift difficulty and item price became automatically controlled based
on number of sold and shoplifted items.
Poisoning was changed, to make dying less of an issue. The lowest hitpoints
you can now reach due purely to poisoning is around half a dozen; but if you
have negative regen from other things, or if you get hit while poisoned,
odds are good you won't survive.
Ralnoth was remapped and expanded greatly. This allowed us to open a lot
more player shops in North Ralnoth.
A handful of high level warrior skills were added, including 'iron claw',
'revenge', and 'protector'.
May - The Month of Abbreviations
Name abbreviations were added, as well as object UUIDs. UUIDs were much
more popular than I expected, and pretty much all high level players now use a
UUID alias somewhere.
The idle timeout for connected characters was changed. In theory,
connected players now never time out, but linkdead players will be.
The Old Mud School and Mud U were declared officially obsolete.
Donation rooms were added to the web page 'shops and stores' list. I use
the donation room web pages all the time when I'm playing as a mortal.
June - The Month of Monster Lore
The various 'monster lore' skills were added, including 'dragon lore',
'undead lore', 'elemental lore', 'demon lore', and 'animal lore'.
Major updates were made to new character creation, including a customization screen
and characters starting out at level 1 and able to save.
The 'map' command was modified to work for blind players. In blind mode, it
will attempt to show what's explored and unexplored nearby, as well some
markers and nearby landmarks.
A safe and secure gold and equipment trading system was added.
August - The Month of Classes
August marked the first real round of infrastructure updates getting ready for
additional classes. This
included lots of skill checking consolidation, to help get ready for massive
numbers of new skills when new classes arrive.
These class/infrastructure updates also included revamping and synchronizing the
exp code for various classes and getting it merged into a common framework. As a
result, we turned down experience on a number of skills that were grossly out of
whack, which resulted in some of the most vitriolic and violent attacks on me from
players in recent memory.
Credits were added to help make game donations easier to handle. Watery set
up the first gold-for-credits trading board. You can also buy things like
clan dues and weightless expansions directly using credits.
Lots of equipment handling and parsing changes were added by Locane, allowing
more natural language use and multiple keywords for some commonly used commands.
September - The Month of Regeneration
The global healing/regen code was changed to a new, very different
system to better support future classes. This resulted in a two month long
firestorm on the boards, huge amounts of hate mail, multiple people threatening
to leave, and some really crappy behaviour from high level players who I had
expected better from. On the plus side, the new system works really well.
To help new players, leveling and training stats no longer required a trainer
up to level 25. This lets new players level and train pretty much anywhere and
at any time, which is really convenient. For levels above 25, you still have to
hunt down a trainer.
Massive updates were made to the 'where' command, to make it almost into a
directory or phone book for cities and towns. Nearby shops, stores, guilds,
trainers, teachers, priests, temples and banks will all show up for towns
that allow it.
Massive reorg of the Alter Aeon FAQ to add new sections and split up questions.
The FAQ was greatly expanded in the process.
The old 2003-era room mana system was recovered from backups and reinstalled.
The new one just wasn't working worth a shit.
Cursed objects were added, preventing cursed items from being unworn unless
remove curse is used on them.
October - The Month of Mapping
A huge amount of map code and global map changes were made in October, with
the result that the global map grid became good enough to actually calculate
area locations based on the rooms in the area, instead of the reverse. We
also started generating world maps directly from the room files for the first
As a side effect of this, some basic deep ocean boat code was added. The
code is still experimental, but gods can use boats right now to sail around
the mainland and between the islands. Look for player boats in 2010!
November - The Month of New Object Effects
New 'absorb' and 'luck' effects added for objects. These are the first new
object effects to be added in many years, and we have a few more on the table
Teachers and trainers world wide were updated to make them more consistent
and to make obscure skills and spells easier to find. This helped greatly
with the playability of the newbie islands.
In an abrupt about-face, new auto commands were added. Included were autoassist,
autogold, autoloot, autosac and autolook. This went directly against and
destroyed a many-years-long policy of forbidding auto features.
December - The Month of Grouping
Massive updates were made to to 'group set', which replaces 'group aim'. More
grouping utilities added, including 'group join' and 'group summon'
to help make it easier to form and manage groups.
Another grouping utility, the 'gwhere' command, was added to help keep
track of your group members. Most of these grouping updates came about because
I was trying to group with other people and simple things were way harder than
I thought they should be.
Minimum strength requirements were added for shields. This sets the stage for
other types of requirements on other items in the future.
The 'who' list became configurable, allowing selection of short and long
mode, disabling titles, disabling microlevels, and new style level/idle
sorting. New players see a very different who list now.
The first autogen area maps were released to the public.
The 'where' command for city mobs now shows a general direction, so you can
actually navigate to places you've never been to before.
Support for 'spell sets' was added, to allow players to see missing spells.
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