Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Maps Available!

I finally got the server to generate what I consider an acceptable quality map from the live game data. These maps show a rough outline of where areas are, with lines for roads, trails, and rivers, and area fill for water. I'm actually really proud of these - a year ago I wouldn't have really thought this possible.

This would pretty much have been impossible without all the mapping work that has been going on, but that mapping work couldn't have been done without previous versions of the mapper. Either way, things are looking pretty good these days.

You can find the new maps listed as 'trade route' maps on the main maps page:


Or, see these links for individual map pages of Sloe, Kordan, and Archais.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Various updates

It's been a while since I posted, so I thought I would just drop a general overview of what's been going on in the last couple of weeks.

The largest major change, at least in terms of useful functionality, has been updates to the grouping code. I've been playing a lot, and I've noticed that putting together groups is a lot harder than it really should be. This is a social game, after all. Getting people together into fun, functional groups is part of the process.

After that are changes to the who listings. I quickly prototyped a 'who idle' command on request, but within about five minutes of first using it I was in love. I ended up adding a bunch of who list configuration switches; see 'set who' for options and status. You can now change from the default who display to idle time based, list short or long form, and enable or disable microlevels and titles. I haven't even gotten any complaints about it.

One big yet unobvious change had to do with the PRNG (pseudo random number generator) upon which the game is based. For quite some time now, I've been using a pretty fast lagged fibbonacci generator instead of a linear congruential. On a whim, I downloaded the diehard PRNG tests and tried them out. As expected, the old random number generator failed a lot of them horribly.

So, I ripped the old one out and put in a new one that does actually pass the tests. Other than monster lore sends changing, noone will ever notice - and I can rest slightly more assured that there's not hidden correlations lurking in my generator that are causing weird behavior.

Last on the list of big ticket things is, of course, mapper updates. We've got global area maps that are almost ready for general public display. I'd really like to have oceanography working first, so maybe I'll work on that a bit tonight.

All in all, a lot more getting done than I expected. It's been a good week.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Alter Aeon Article

People sometimes send me articles for the web site, and sometimes those articles get lost. I recently found one in my mailbox from somewhere around April. Without any further ado, I present:

Morpheus' Guide to Running and Finding Gold

This newbie-level article talks about the basic ways to get gold in the game, and gives things for new players to do that will help them acquire enough gold in game for the occasional purchase. It also touches on trading with other players, which is usually where the large transactions take place.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New DClient release

Version 0.983 is out. This is mostly a bugfix/maintenance release:


The center direction/scan button now does a customized scan/look.
Function key presses now release scroll lock.
The 'you are here' diamond in the automap is now thicker.
Add 'mini status bar' menu option to allow hpbar above input window.
Minor updates to group status bar look.
The vote menu can now be updated from the server.
Added 'check for updates' option under 'help' menu.
Minor improvements to url clicking in the main window.
Improve road and trail display in the automap.
More fixes to 'disappearing text' bug in input window.


As always, it can be downloaded from the Official Alter Aeon Website.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weeds, heading off into them

I've been on a big DClient kick the last few days, with intent to get a new 0.983 release out probably by this weekend, and a 1.0 'official' release by January. I'd managed to pare down the feature list and clean up a number of niggling bugs.

This morning when I woke up, I knew I wanted to do DClient work. But I couldn't quite recall what I was supposed to work on, and before I could look it up my brain spotted a nice looking patch of weeds and headed into them, full steam ahead.

Instead of working on the newbie 'demo mode' of the client, I somehow ended up working on audio. I've been avoiding sound and audio for months now, yet for some reason I decided today was a good day to do it. It took me about four hours, but I've got audio working on my Linux dev machine, and I implemented a full mixing stack as well to allow an arbitrary number of sounds to play simultaneously.

The only problem is, now that I can play audio, what do I do with it? The initial implementation pretty much only does one thing: it plays a short algorithmically generated 'click' whenever a command is sent to the server. While great for testing, it doesn't really add to the gameplay experience.

Now I have to find both ambient background music as well as triggered audio samples for various events. I'll also have to get the audio layer working on Windows, which could take anywhere from a couple of hours to several days.