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Journal of Raduprv

The guild merchant NPC

Posted by , 10 February 2006 - - - - - - · 174 views

Right now, I am working at the guild merchant NPC. Basically, there will be a small number of NPCs (about 10, but to be determined) which one guild can hire (one guild can have no more than one such NPC) and for a monthly fee that will be determined via some auctioning ingame system, they will act as the guild's store.

So a guild will be able to buy and sell items to other players.
Now, this NPC will serve the guild as a whole, not individual guild members. And the guild master will take the money, and it is up to him or her to distribute it across the guild, or use it for guild needs.
This NPC is not really difficult to program, but it's a LOT of work! So far I have completed only about 20-30% of the code, and a simple line count reveals 460 lines. Of course, many lines are empty, for formating, some lines contian only a "{" or a "}" or an else.
But still, it is a lot of code. Then there is the extensive testing and debugging, the auctioning system, etc.
I do however believe that such an NPC would make the game much more interesting and would add a new aspect to the social and economical interaction between players.

Later on, if this works well, I can implement some other neat things to help the guilds make the best use of their money, such as perhaps 'bribing' various gods for bonuses.

The business of game development

Posted by , 09 February 2006 - - - - - - · 177 views

So, today we went to an accountant, to find out the latest information about this year's taxes and some clarification about our legal status.
He just confirmed what I knew already, and I am going to enumerate some rummors for other game developers:
(keep in mind that this is for US, and the legislation might be different depending on the state)

1. You need a company if you make money.
Bullshit. You don't need anything.
If you operate under your name, and you are the only owner of a game (or if it is a familly business) you can operate as a sole proprietor, and nothing else is required.

2. You need to register with the state.
Not really. Only if you operate under a fictitious name. If you use your real name for the payments, there is no need to register.

3. You need a federal tax ID.
Not if you are a sole proprietor. You can use your social security number.

4. You are not considered a business unless you register with the state.
Not quite. Acording to the IRS, you are a business as long as you start something with the purpose of making money, wether or not you actually make money.

On other news, I am currently working at implementing a guild owned and operated merchant NPC, so that the guilds will be able to have their own ingame shop, with them in control of the items the NPC buys and sells, prices, quantities, etc.

Update done

Posted by , 06 February 2006 - - - - - - · 257 views

The update was done today. It went relatively smooth, although there were some incidents which were not really unexpected.
For example, the initial Linux binary crashed on most of the systems because of the latest feature we integrated, which is a semi functional auto update system.
A new binary was provided that now works.
Also, most of the animals and monsters were gone after the server was restarted, and after a little debugging and reading the errors log I found out the cause: Some of the new monsters in the monsters file had a wrong name, and the parser aborted reading the file in the middle (that's how it was designed to handle errors, it wasn't a bug).
So I fixed those problems, and now everything is fine, except for a few bugs in some map defition files that do not allow players to go in or out of some areas. The maps have been fixed, so I will restart the server again, tonight, to fix those issues.
And everyone loves the update, there are a lot of nice things in it (new maps, new monsters and animals, new items, new NPCs, summoning areas, etc.)

Regarding my side project, I did some work last night and a little today after the update. Now I have buttons that can be pressed and when they are pressed they call a function every so many MS (which is predefined in a variable).
Now the base view is almost done, and you can put new buildings, and allocate workers to build them.
Here is a screenshot with the superbe artwork that only a programmer and a 3 year old are capable of.

Tomorrow is the update

Posted by , 05 February 2006 - - - - - - · 216 views

Ok, so since no big bugs were discovered in the last few days, and the discovered bugs being all fixed, tomorrow we will update the game.
The Windows packages (full game and update) have been prepared and uploaded in advance, and the players were notified to download them so when we update they'll just install them, rather than have everyone crowd the web server and step on eacother's toes, so to say.

Of course, there are two omipresent things in the Universe: The hydrogen and the idiots. For example, some idiots downloaded the update and extracted it in a stand alone directory, and were complaining they can't connect to the server. Well, duh, morons, it's an UPDATE not a full install, and it should be installed where the game is.
Our installer even finds the game directory by itself (assuming you didn't erase the registry entries where the path is stored).
But as Murphy said, once you make a product idiot proof, the nature keeps up by creating a better idiot.

Oh well..
Updating the server is a relatively easy procedure:
1. Send a message to everyone playing that the server will go down for an update in 20 minutes.
2. Get 100 private messages asking you idiotic questions, ranging from what's new to "will we keep our characters?".
While I don't respond to them, it is still annoying.
3. Log out, wait for those 20 minutes to pass, send a final message that the server is going down, shut down the server.
4. Make a backup of all the players and persistent data, just in case something goes wrong.
4.5 Make a copy of the server and it's data.
5. Copy the binaries and config files and all the data from the test server to the main server.
6. Restart the main server.
7. Look on the forums and wonder how so many idiots didn't manage to install the update properly.

Of course, sometimes there are problems, so a few times we had to restore the backups because some bug or another was found.

One last thing, we broke the players online record again, today, having 560 players on + 50 player owned bots.

Regarding my side project, I didn't get the time to work much at it, but I am compensating now.


Posted by , 02 February 2006 - - - - - - · 187 views

The EL update is scheduled this weekend (Sunday, I guess), so in the past few days I was busy fixing some minor server bugs and adding a few new NPCs to sell some of the new items.
I am not really happy on the state the client is now (a few graphic glitches and it freezes on my computer every once in a while) but no one else (that I know) has stability problems with it so I guess it is a problem with my computer or ATI drivers.

Meanwhile my side project is going fine, I finished placing buildings in the base, and realized that I need a type of buttons where if you keep them pressed they will call for a specific callback function, so I have to make those buttons in order to be able to increase or decrease the number of constructors working at a building (by default, no constructors are allocated, the player has to chose how many should work).

Once I finish that, I will post a new screenshot.


Posted by , 31 January 2006 - - - - - - · 190 views

January seems to be the month of 'renewal' for me. I just updated my Gdnet+ subscription for another year, recharged my T Mobile prepaid account with 100 USD (and it was a few days too late so I lost my previous minutes), got new shoes, a nice leather jacket..
So much for saving money this year :D

Anyway, while waiting for the EL maps to be fixed and tested on the public test server, I am working at my side project (which is still without a name).
I managed to finish the "add building to base" thing, although there is still some work to be done, such as the allocating works to them so they can actually be finished, and various other things.
I will post some new screenshots soon, perhaps by the end of the week. Of course, I still have no real art, so the game looks like crap. I guess I will have to invest about 1K USD in art, perhaps on the CGtalk forums or something. There is no way I can get quality art for free.


Posted by , 29 January 2006 - - - - - - · 226 views

Yesterday and part of today I worked exclusively at EL, as we are going to update pretty soon (hopefully this coming weekend).
I fixed a few trade related bugs, added a lot of new items, and in general boring stuff that has to be done. Nothing really creative.

Speaking of EL, the new human players online is 551, the previous record, last week, being 548. Counting the player run bots, we had almost 600 connections. The server is runing at about 20% CPU, on a dual P3 1.1 Ghz. However, our server uses only one CPU.

Now I will start working at my side project, hopefull I will finish adding structures to base today.

Some screenshots

Posted by , 27 January 2006 - - - - - - · 224 views

In the last few days I worked a lot at my side project.
Right now, I am working at the "display base" thing, and "build new building" stuff.
I have two screenshots for you, which are work in progress, with my 1337 art. Please note that my bad art is done like that on purpose, so the text in some places is not very visible. I am doing that to test various colors, backgrounds, etc.
When I will use real artwork, rather than stupid mockups, I will get rid of the alpha blended windows in the base view, and have an actual approperiate background for the text.
Colors and fonts are subjects for change.
The base info thingy does not display everything yet, just a few stuff so that I can get a better idea on how much space I have, etc.
Ok, so now after all those disclaimers, here are the wonderfully cool (j/k) screenshots:

Base View (buildings not placed yet, they will be placed in the middle upper area that is currently white.

New building placement menu.
Note how the right middle display area changes from the standard base buttons to an info field about the structure under the mouse. The colors are:
Almost white means a building that cna be built now.
White is as above, but slected with the mouse.
Grey is a building you lack the money to build.
Red means that building requires some other building first that you don't have built in that base.

The map thin in the top right corner shows a zommed portion of the earth map where the base is (the base is in/near the center, but decided not to display it as a dot there). It is basically to give you an idea where your base is, in case you have like 15 bases.

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