Sunday, December 28, 2008


Looking at the recent keyword search terms, I've been finding some unusual entries. One in particular has been more persistent than I expected, and can be summed up as "bots for Alter Aeon".

I don't know who is searching for this, but from what I can gather it might be a spider looking for game cracks or cheats. So, I honor said spider by giving it a new article on the topic:

A Guide to Bots and Botting for Alter Aeon

If someone thinks it's important and it drives traffic, who am I to complain?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Propaganda followup

Something I noticed today and put into proper perspective for the first time was the groupings of the various search terms people use to find the Alter Aeon web pages. The bulk of the search terms boil down to three categories - people looking specifically for Alter Aeon, people looking for muds and text rpgs, and people looking for blind-friendly games.

The first group, people looking specifically for Alter Aeon, I can only assume is almost entirely existing AA players. There's not likely to be much I can do to increase that without increasing the playerbase itself.

The other two groups are smallish categories of people that are likely to only be a niche market at best. These two categories are also smaller than the main category of existing players looking at the web site - that's no good at all! The obvious realization is that I need to push the game into other markets; my plan in the short term is to try to push into the MMO/MMORPG acronym space and see if I can't get listed with more conventional games. Having the client download will help tremendously with this, as it starts to look less and less like a MUD, at least on first glance.

I'll keep things posted here regarding how well it works.


After several weeks of doldrums and lack of incentive, I finally appear to be in the mood to do something useful. Maybe it's because I changed coffee yesterday.

At any rate, it appears that after multiple months of updates and additions, the Alter Aeon web site is finally starting to see more traffic. The site itself is pretty comprehensive and useful, but the big problem is PR: I'm abysmally bad at it, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the personality for it. But no-one else will do it, so I have to get better or go nowhere.

I've done some of that over the last week or so, off and on. I got the pages listed in a handful of new locations, as well as some general entries at places like This stuff is the real secret - having the best, most useful web pages in the world won't help, because at its core I'm trying to sell something people don't really need: entertainment.

Things are different if you're selling people solutions to problems, like the SEO websites. The winning formula for an SEO company is to simply provide a lot of useful information on how to solve SEO problems, all the while mentioning that it's cheaper to hire an SEO expert in some cases.

The winning formula for a game is very different, in that you have to convince someone that your game is more entertaining than what they currently have for entertainment. Further, because there's so much entertainment around already, you have to actively push it instead of waiting for people to find you.

At any rate, I have done some active pushing, and hopefully it will pay off in a measurable way. If I could get even a small consistent increase over time, it would do wonders for my motivation.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Client updates

A whole bunch more client changes went in today, including getting the buttons on the right side working and making the view menu functional. Mouse click events in the main window also work right, and you can change the font at runtime. As usual, the client can be found at:

The next set of changes will hopefully involve turning the rather plain direction buttons into a compass that dynamically displays the exits from the 'autoexit' command. I also have a pretty decent bug list that needs to be taken care of, but not much in the way of showstoppers for release.

In other news, I found a handful more places to submit AA for promotion. It's funny how you can think you've tapped the market out and come back later to find loads of things you've missed. I really should try harder to stay on top of the propaganda campaign.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

People will be jerks

A lot of my players use a piece of software named 'Jaws', which is a screen reader for blind and visually impaired folks. Now it turns out that the guys who work on Jaws are either not real bright, not real dedicated, or simply short on funding - but either way, they have a serious problem on their hands and they don't appear to care in any way:

Certain words crash Jaws.

That's right. The very act of reading certain misspelled words no longer than 6 characters kills Jaws dead. Dead as in silently wonder why your computer has stopped talking to you, futz around hoping that you've tabbed to the right console, and try to restart it. Or blindly (sorry about the pun) hit control-alt-delete and pray for the best.

Normally, you'd very infrequently find words like this on professional, static websites. More commonly, you'd find it on boards and blogs. But when it comes to an on-line game, it becomes a serious issue.

Which leads to the title of this posting: people are jerks. My poor blind players have been having a hell of a time with this - especially when a particular jerk player makes use of it because he finds it amusing.

While none of this is technically my problem, my players are unhappy, and that makes it my problem. Therefore, 1) siteban lists now save across reboots to take care of the jerk player who quite frankly can find some other mud to annoy, and 2) the socket layer has a new filter to mask out the problematic letter combinations at the source, hopefully killing the problem for everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Even more client

I figured I'd leave a quick link to the client for people to take a look at. This is about a plain-jane of a client as one could expect; it connects to the game and it's better than the old PuTTY client, but not by much. I'll hopefully be adding the buttons and other things to it in the next few days, then automapping code after that.

It can be found at:

I've also started sorting the client versions by date in the downloads directory, just to keep a copy of all the relevant versions going forward.

Monday, December 15, 2008

HTML logfiles

I managed to get the logfile save routines working in the AA client tonight. The text version is trivial, but the html version was harder; nevertheless, I have an initial (buggy) implementation done, and you can see the output of it here.

[Update - the various minor bugs have been fixed and the logfile updated. It's now HTML 4.01 transitional compliant.]

If you look closely at this, you'll notice a number of bugs of various kinds: it's not W3C compliant, uses tags that are probably obsolete or nearly so, and doesn't escape important characters like <>. These are all minor inconveniences compared to the inconvenience of using this toolkit; the file selection dialog has so far been the only thing about this port that has been relatively painless.

Next on the hit list is to fix these issues, then try it out on the windows laptop to see if the screen reader part of it works. I'm going to try to get a usable blind-friendly client out first, then work on the pretty graphics part later.

Ok it makes sense now

Today was the day for success. I finally got the quit and disconnect dialogs hooked up in the client, organized the way I wanted, and started working on the logfile saving routines. This might take me a little less time, but there's an addition I want to make: logfile save to html with inline CSS.

I was thinking that this could be done really easily with the way that the rendering engine is set up, and further it could produce nice beautiful html with AA image headers. Something to think about at any rate.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This makes no sense

I finally got up enough incentive to put in time on the client, and as a result I got a fresh dose of why I avoid working on it: this toolkit makes no sense.

Or rather, it does make sense, it's just not documented. You pretty much have to figure out the internal state of the system from examples and experiments; this is very different from the QT tookit, which while a pain in the ass, at least was comprehensive.

So for my time tonight, I have a dialog box for logoff/disconnect/cancel that looks correct in the Linux build. I don't have any of the buttons hooked up, but that's a bit more straight forward. There's a handful of these dialogs that I need to build, so getting even one of them figured out and working properly is a huge step forward.

My current plan is to get the dialogs and history save working, then try to get it working with the screen reader on the laptop under windows. I hope I can get it working at least as well as other clients, so I can offer a preconfigured, functional client for the blind as well as one for sighted people.

One final note: I thought I had the dialogs and sizers figured out, and went to move the dialog out of the main window and into a subwindow. Shows what I know! Doing so broke the entire layout in weird ways I've never seen before. Clearly I don't understand what's going on yet.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I have returned!

After a rather hectic two weeks of travel and insane hours at my old workplace, I am finally back and catching up on Alter Aeon related work. The first things to take care of were various submissions and contributions from you, the playerbase (and godbase.) Thanks to everyone who sent me something; I'm churning through it right now trying to figure out the best place to put everything.

I've got some of these up already; in particular, a three-page guide to creating and being a tank, posted by Shadowfax, and a whole bunch of feedback on the newbie island thanks to Morpheus.

I also have an experimental audio walkthrough of the Outer Planar Ice World. This was really interesting for me to listen to, and gave me a view of the area from the outside that I don't normally get. Hopefully I get more of these; I'd be happy to host them on the server for blind and other people to use. If anyone wants to record walkthroughs of other areas, send them to me and I'll take a listen.