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IfThen Software

Newsletter #16 - Bad Moderating Day

Posted by , 21 January 2009 - - - - - - · 243 views


There hasn't been anything news-worthy this past week.

From the Programmer
Written by Invisible

While working on the sound core, I ran into linker error LNK2019 with the CSoundCore::PlaySound() function. I tried the usual check-list for this error (make sure the declaration name and the definition name are the same, make sure they both have the same parameters, make sure that I don't have the function defined multiple times...) but nothing fixed it. Rather frustrated at this point, I asked for help in the #gamedev channel on AfterNet. Turns out that the problem was caused by the Win32 function PlaySound(), so I renamed my function to just Play() and it works perfectly. Thanks to species and MaulingMonkey for helping me out!

Community Spotlight
Written by pifreak

When InvisibleMan asked me to write this week's article, I really had nothing to say. Surprise! My evening was one of the most stressful and confusing nights of moderating, ever.

InvisibleMan and Ace conveniently went away for the night, and Roarman was playing a game. It was left up to me and a spam-filter in HAL.

There was a lot of rule-breaking, including swearing, avoiding the swearing-filter, impersonating moderators, and insulting moderators. I warned each of the rule-breakers that I was serious, but they did not listen... I ended up kicking them out many times, using the HAL auto-kick or temporary account ban, but that did not work.

BadGuy1 swore a bunch and said he was a moderator. I gave him a temporary ban, but he came in on another account and asked to be unbanned. Too bad his nickname was... A very bad word... *ban*

BadGuy2 came on with another account, but would not stop swearing. I told him he would get a temporary ban, but he logged into another character, and complained about the rules. A very foul nickname entered the game from the same i.p. address, involving someone's mother... *ban*

BadGuy3 was really bad. He swore multiple times and avoided the swearing filter.

After that, one of the angered players joined IRC and started cussing me out. Luckily KingSpore was there... *ban*

That was a pretty confusing-stressful-crazy night of moderating...

Dev Demo Report
Written by Roarman

Good news! Many many bugs have dwindled down to almost none. Almost, because a new npc movement/attack feature that was just introduced is slightly buggy. The jelly stops trying to chase you if you run away just as it comes in range and then stop moving. It reminds me of a staring contest. This new npc feature was introduced to go along with 'the melee system' we keep talking about. It will complement some of the aspects of our design quite nicely and spice things up a bit.

On a personal note, I will be going on vacation and will miss next weeks report. It is possible InvisibleMan will find one of the other misplaced testers to write the Dev Demo Report. Bye for now.

Newsletter #15 - Bug Week

Posted by , 14 January 2009 - - - - - - · 212 views


Because most of last week involved fixing bugs, the overall progress percentage has not increased. We are thinking of ways to fix this, but for now here is the progress page:

From the Programmer
Written by Invisible

I completely rewrote the lag simulator I mentioned in the last newsletter. The old system would only apply lag to incoming packets, not outgoing packets. To fix this, I made the lag simulator part of the networking core so that it could directly block incoming packets.

The lag simulator consists of 2 queues. One queue of incoming packets, and another of outgoing packets. Each packet has a dwLag variable that is set to a random value between 200 and 300. The first packet in each queue is delayed for dwLag milliseconds, then sent/received.

Enabling and disabling the lag simulator is as easy as commenting out "#define LAG_SIMULATOR". The lag simulator is enclosed in #ifdef/#else/#endif blocks to ensure that if it is not enabled, it won't affect the normal server. In light of the problem I explain in the last newsletter, the server now displays a red warning message if the lag simulator is enabled.

Community Spotlight
Written by pifreak

There haven't been many big events happening lately, but there is still activity in the community.

Here are some small things which may or may not have been mentioned in Twitter:

-The embedded mibbit client does not auto log you in, so you can choose a nickname first.
-When entering, people are put into #lobby instead of #loradon

-InvisibleMan installed Ruby into his Linux computer, so he is now hosting the HAL program.
-There are a few new clans and some new members being welcomed in.
-Still waiting the PVP tournament.

In Loradon 3.0 Development
-The melee system has been started and is still getting tested
-A lot of bugs have been found and fixed quickly
-Awesome Dev Demo Reports (see below)

Dev Demo Report
Written by Roarman

This weeks release had many bug fixes. Most of them were minor oversights that needed to be corrected. That is how I can tell the end is almost in sight. It seems that everything is being touched up before the rest of the melee system will be worked on. A few enhancements were suggested to make some features easier to use, like the chat box able to use mouse scrolling. Also a spawn point on a particular map moved so multiple users wouldn't get stuck. Everything is coming along nicely and we thank the community for their support.

Newsletter #14 - HAL

Posted by , 07 January 2009 - - - - - - · 246 views


The progress page has been cleaned up and features that are no longer in the preview have been removed. Due to this, the overall progress has gone down to 62%. It should get back up there quickly though!

From the Programmer
Written by Invisible

While testing the ping system, I found something strange: When connected to localhost, my ping is about 150ms. Naturally this is a bit higher than I was expecting it would be, so I spent a good part of Monday and Tuesday attempting to figure out what the problem was. After long discussions in the #gamedev IRC channel, and numerous code tests, I found the problem. Sometime around the beginning of this year, I coded a lag simulator into the server so that I could test the networking easier. After running the tests, I promptly forgot all about it... Until yesterday. Ooops. Apologies to the people in the #gamedev IRC channel that were completely confused by this problem, in particular Shadowdancer who went out of his way to code a test case.

Community Spotlight
Written by Lee and pifreak

Last week, a player named Dumaine started to play SAO. He then went ahead to create a variety of mods and helpful tools for the game. He designed and created a mod viewer program using Game Maker, which automatically displays SAO's image sprites as you update them. This allows players of SAO who like to create mods for the game, to view and edit them easily without opening and logging in.

Dumaine also created a piece of music for a SAO, which some players have been using as a substitute of the original game music. Along with this, he also created a mage sprite, and changed various other in-game graphics.

Sadly, he decided to leave the game after just one week of being here. But hopefully he'll be back. ;)

All of the clans within the community are currently remaining dormant, with not much activity happening within them.

In the Loradon community, the forums are fairly quiet with only the odd comment being posted. Various older Loradon players can still be seen within the IRC server however, and many are eager for the preview of "Loradon 3.0". :D

Ace has been gone for a while, and with him, his bot HAL. Not having HAL to help us moderate the in-game chat has shown us moderators how much we really depend on Ace's creation. The good side of this is that it has forced us to log into the game, and it was fun to see InvisibleMan's character. There were many noob wars against him, but they did not go very far since his character is invincible. It was quite funny to see.

Although it is fun to login from time to time, we still need HAL back soon. It is troublesome to be in the game 24/7 if you aren't a bot, and it is a lot better to hook it up with your IRC client. This also gives us an easy to access chat log, and an IRC client is easier to minimize than the game. This made me realize how much "Loradon 3.0" will need something similar, more likely in the form of a direct IRC relay programmed by InvisibleMan though. I would love to see the Loradon moderators getting this because they can do a better job and see everything that goes on in the game without necessarily being online or even at the computer. Whoever is chosen for the job, I wish much luck because I am planning on playing "Loradon 3.0" and I want it to be a fun, appropriate community.

Dev Demo Report
Written by Roarman

The bug tracker is working out better the longer we use it. There are a lot of aspects to it that increase efficiency and make it easier to work with reoccurring old bugs. Creating the topic for each bug correctly was a problem at the start, but with time it is working for the better.

This weeks demo brought an exciting new change. The start of the melee system overhaul has started with a new feature. Now melee characters have a chance to use this skill and not take as much damage like their archer and magic user counterparts. Most of the 'fixed' bugs were re-tested and some found to only be half fixed. Testing is a challenge sometimes, but I'm up for it. Til next time.

Newsletter #13 - Dev Demo Report Returns

Posted by , 30 December 2008 - - - - - - · 224 views


The Dev Demo Report is back! This article is written by the testers and is about the latest Loradon 3.0 demo released privately. Be sure to check it out at the bottom of the newsletter!

From the Programmer
Written by Invisible

Not really programming related, but I recently installed Bugzilla for tracking Loradon 3.0 bugs. I highly recommend it to anyone that needs a bug tracking system. It was easy to install, and their IRC channel was friendly and helpful.

As for the system itself, it takes a little getting used to, but works well once you figure out where everything is. One issue that had us puzzled is that there was no immediately noticeable way of getting a complete bug list. After a bit of trial and error, I found that the search system is actually what you are supposed to use for this. If you make an advanced search and leave it at the default values, it will display a list of all bugs that have not yet been fixed/assigned.

I also added the Twitter widget to this blog's header.

Community Spotlight
Written by pifreak

SAO has had a server update to make it easier to moderate. This fairly simple update included moderator commands to mute people, compare IP addresses between characters, send a server message, and also a fun command has been added for everyone to use, the /me. Everyone can use it and it sends a roleplaying style message in purple text. "/me dances" becomes:
*pifreak dances*

Moderators now talk in a gold colored text and a server message is in yellow. HAL, the IRCBot linked with SAO, talks through the server command so it does not have to have it's own nametag. This way, new players aren't confused why it says "HAL" or why different names show up. HAL has also been made invisible so that new players aren't asking "who is HAL and why is he in the ground?!"

HAL: InvisibleMan: Hello
HAL: Ace: Hi everyone

[Admin]InvisibleMan: hello
[Mod]Ace: Hi everyone

Dev Demo Report
Written by Roarman

It has been a few weeks since the latest demo report. Many small things have happened since then, and because of this, many small bugs have been found. If you were wondering why progress has been hovering around 62% for awhile it is because most of these small things have not been put on the page. As with all enormous lists of small things, once brought together they are bound to take up time. Due to the amount of bugs that are found, as in any game, Invis has decided to use a website for us to better track them. This has made it easier for us to keep everything in one spot and not lose any information in conversation.

Onto actual gameplay! Finding equipment has become more exciting. A feature I can't talk too much about, but it will make trading of items more common and player interaction increase. The character page has been redone into a wonderful display of talent from both the programmer and the artist. Mobs speed has been changed so that you can use strategy and skill to dodge and move around as some class' are intended to do. This has brought more intense fighting to the game and it is great to practice for pvp, although you are only dealing with a numb npc. These changes have brought better gameplay to 3.0 and I am looking forward to the legendary melee system.

Newsletter #12 - Not Dead

Posted by , 24 December 2008 - - - - - - · 218 views


Sorry about disappearing a couple weeks ago. We had to take a sudden break due to personal matters. However, we are now back in full force!

The Twitter widget is back! You can view it in the news on the Loradon Online website, or at the top of the forum index.

Overall progress on the Loradon 3.0 Preview has reached 62%!
Loradon 3.0 Preview Progress Page

From the Programmer
Written by Invisible

Aside from wrestling with the Twitter widget for an hour, nothing really interesting happened. Unfortunately, I will be starting work on the melee system soon, which means I will have to be even more tight lipped then usual. I will do my best to get something interesting into here each week though!

A word of warning to anyone that wishes to use the Twitter widget: Make sure you have the align property of the embed tag set correctly. I spent an hour trying to figure out why it wasn't displaying correctly, until eighty4 in the #html channel on freenode mentioned that align was set to middle...

Community Spotlight
Written by Lee and pifreak

This week I'll be honest, and say that SAO really isn't the best game in the world. It's fun and enjoyable, and some people even say it's addicting, but in all honesty there's not much to do whilst online. If you regularly read the newsletters it has probably been stated somewhere that SAO only has one map and two monsters.

Despite this, and one of the reasons I believe this part of the newsletter exists, the community is quite large and a fun place to be. Even though the most the game has ever been updated over the last couple of years is adding PvP, many people are still around within the community. People may think it's quite small on first viewing it, there aren't the most people in the world around here, not on the scale of some of the biggest MMORPG's anyway. But, looking at the size of the actual game itself, there is a very large variety of different and unique members, and the world (well, map =P) of SAO is usually full of people.

Overall, what I'm trying to say, is although it's been a very long time, a large number of people are still around, and as the game grows and expands in the future; this will hopefully not change.

SAO has been sort of a mess these past weeks. The problem is that a lot of people are disobeying the unwritten-rules. It is hard to enforce rules that don't exist in writing.

A player has been banned multiple times logging in at different i.p. addresses, and on an account that was locked out but somehow allowed to come back in.

New additions to the SAO system-

Stick Adventures Online now has official rules, basic as they may be, will provide a foundation for the moderators to justify actions and for players not to have an excuse at all.

Project 1337-filter
A problem with the swearing filter is one that is commonly abused; using spaces or dashes to say something that is blocked. Creative players even have resorted to using numbers as letters!
How the new system will be designed to work is very interesting, making the filter ignore multiple spaces and dashes thrown in-between words, and it might even consider certain numbers to be letters when checking to see if there is a "bad" word.
This would be quite a task for InvisibleMan to program, so we will keep you updated on when it should arrive.

On a happier note, pifreak has decided to release a new version of his snowy mod, since the Holiday season is approaching! It seemed to be popular so he made some additions, and improved the graphics. See the forum post and description here:

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