September 2015 represents the transistion from the 'IceEE' Era to the 'Earth Eternal – The Scourge Of Abidan' Era.
At the beginning of the month, following several months of preparations, bug fixes, new features, etc, Emerald finally rolls out “Earth Eternal – The Scourge Of Abidan” onto the Main Server for players to enjoy. It is a mostly quiet affair though.
A couple last minute additions are made to the expansion before the rollout to the main server. The first of these are three new 'buttons' added to the Minimap: A 'Grove' button which allows players to access the Grove menu without the need to type /grove any longer and two buttons to toggle between “PvE Mode” and “PvP Mode” at any time, anywhere. For the “PvP Mode” button, players can only 'attack' other players who are also in “PvP Mode”. When “PvE Mode” is selected (which is on by default), no players can attack that player. The other addition involves a 'player level up' notification using Emerald's 'Green' messages seen in world outside of chat. A little chime accompanies this feature, though some players find this chime to be a bit annoying.
An update to the main server is made a couple days later to address various bugs and other issues that managed to crop up in the rollout. Among the fixes are a NPC name issue, a minor issue regarding the experience level hard cap, credits not dropping from named mobs as intended, and various Earth Sage “permission” issues preventing them from fully employing their abilities.
A rumor spreads on the main server regarding the liklihood of a character wipe pending the new class and skill systems once completed. This rumor appears to be true but has yet to be confirmed by Emerald. If it happens, it will likely coincide with the initial release of “The Anubian War” content as a way to 'reset' players so unexpected possible issues regarding existing characters is avoided.
Dekker returns to the dev team after a several month hiatus due to being very busy. He makes it known he plans to finally finish the long-overdue final portions to his long sidequest chain that currently terminates abruptly with the “It” quest and boss fight.
Work on the new Mushroom Isle side area project begins on the dev server.
More bug fixes and additions are made the remainder of the month to both servers.
The Kerakura's Lair dungeon finally debuts in Dustshore along with the associated quests made for it. The dungeon lacks the intended boss mechanics and one sub-boss at this point.
Emerald announces to the dev team the creation of a new 'The Anubian War' website that will be the successor to the existing ArmourEE which she plans on finally retiring after 5 years online. While still in it's early stages, the website will be the closest thing to a full on game site similar to SPM's or TOV's EE official websites.
More work on the website 'theanubianwar.com' is made dev side which includes both ingame region chat integration to the site and online player integration. A bug in one of these causes the dev server to crash after a certain time resulting in a few tests to discover the cause. It is determined to be a buffer issue with the chatbox after a number of tests.
Near the end of the month, Liska presents two ideas to the dev team (first to Heath, later to Em and Ric) to both resolve the old story/new story continuancy issues with the new 'Anubian War' main story plot as well as introduce a new method of player travel. These ideas, though intertwined in one spot, bring the dev team back together fully with everyone now completely onboard with the new plot.
On Sept. 28-29, Liska begins a new project: Attempting to finish the Earth Eternal Lore long left unfinished by Matt Mihaly due to Sparkplay's untimely demise in 2010. This proves to be a bit more challenging than anticipated though, due to the need to integrate other lore documents such as the Race Lores and the Age of Beasts Timeline as well as resolve discrepancies in each to bring them all in line.
On the 3rd of the month, Emerald restructures the new 'The Anubian War' website to work with her new game installer and the dev server. She sends emails to the dev team announcing the changes made and that all data on the dev server has been completely wiped as a 'preview' of what players will be experiencing in the official EE-TAW content rollout when the main server's character wipe will take place.
As part of this 'preview', all developers are told to once again sign up on the website and to download the new installer as the old clients will no longer function on the dev server due to the changes made. Emerald adds that she plans to publicly unveil the new website in the coming days which is why these new changes have been made at this time. After a bit of tweaking the following day due to a few issues that crop up with some devs, the still-as-yet-to-be-announced-publicly new EE website starts to come alive.
Liska takes point on the EE Lore content and this game history and, with a bit of help from Emerald, posts them up on the TAW website to help fill out the empty spaces.
Around the middle of the month, a few crashes on the main server and a few eternal load screens on the developer server force Emerald to update both with fixes and changes to hopefully resolve these issues. For the dev server issue, a 'bad' prop in the as-yet-unfinished revamp of New Corsica is determined to be the underlying cause of the eternal load screens and is removed.
Temrin Sanjem returns to the game and is recruited by Emerald to assist with the TAW website content. Alhough warmly welcomed by the dev team, Temrin's exact status on the development side of things as either simply a volunteer or a new developer is, at this point, yet to be clarified. A mysterious user account appears on the forums a couple days later that isn't a known 'dev' username.
Lots of additions and changes to the new 'The Anubian War' website are added by Emerald, Liska and Temrin during the remainder of the month. The website begins to fill out more as sections are added, expanded and revamped. Emerald enables website Private Message notifications to be viewed ingame on the dev server as a prototype.
Late in the month, Emerald copies over all the content from her old ArmourEE website server to the new TAW website server in preparation for the old server's approaching retirement. She also adds in Leaderboards, Player and Character profile page game/website integration and Smilie functionality to the TAW website during this time along with a new website Editor.
On the Main Server, more bugs are identified during this month as the timers to various Buff abilities prove to bugged, the Alimat boss has yet to be fixed and the quest for Sonny 'The Snail' cannot be turned in.
Another mysterious user appears on the TAW website near the end of the month. Neither they nor the first one make any move to identify themselves as either alternate accounts of existing users or entirely new users. This is especially concerning as the TAW website has yet to be unveiled during this period of time.
At the end of the month, Emerald adds rudimentary Chatbox functionality to the website integration with the dev server. This allows users to chat in the game's chat channels such as Region, Sage, Trade, etc on the website itself without having to log into the server. While not as yet fully implemented as intended, it has enough functionality to permit live chat on the website.
A day later, a bug is found and fixed on the new Chatbox that involves the use of apostrophes.
Also at the end of the month, Liska restructures the Lore pages of the website a bit and proceeds to fill in the empty chapters of the Official Lore itself ripped right out of the Lore.pdf, while also fixing a few typos and grammatical mistakes.
Liska also locates the Original pre-Beta Earth Eternal Lore on the Wayback Machine along with other bits of pre-Beta data and salvages them.
A third mysterious user appears on the TAW website. Like the other two, this person; remains silent and it is not known if any of the three are dev alternate accounts or 'new users' who somehow stumbled upon the website.
Another server crash on the Main Server also happens at the end of the month, though the cause isn't known.
On the last day of the month, Emerald manages to fix the bugs in her new Website Chatbox and adds three new pages to the website for three things: Clans, Guilds and the Credit Shop.
Liska gets more of the Lore posted up as well as an audio file he ripped from the original SPM EE website pages on The Wayback Machine, but, a chance discovery of the 'composer' on the file upon uploading it to the site prompts Liska to look for and eventually locate the studio the composer is a part of. As it turns out, this composer, named Jeff Simmons (who may very well be the Dev players of EE once knew in game during the SPM era as 'Vanrey Ven'), belongs to the studio named 'Chasing the Sun Productions' and is indeed the musician behind the music of Earth Eternal. He even has five pieces of EE music and sounds posted on the site for visitors to listen to.
Inspired by this development, Liska decides to delve into his own old EE archive files in the hopes of locating the missing pieces of music currently noticably absent from the game.
Also on the last day of the month, a fourth mysterious user appears on the website. Emerald finally confirms that all four of these 'mystery individuals' are likely 'player accounts' of people who somehow located the website and signed up. She mentions that, in spite of this, they cannot access the dev server, post on the forums or otherwise do much of anything on the website in it's current state and/or until the website goes officially public.
Liska gives Emerald the files to the old SPM EE flash game 'Shroomie's Search' that was part of Greth's released files set. With these, Emerald hopes to get the old flash game up and running on her website. When this is done, the game will be available for play for the first time since the Sparkplay Era.
Overlapping the last day of October and the first day of November, Liska, with a bit of help from Emerald, manages to delve into his old game archives and makes a few discoveries. Among these are the fact that Earth Eternal has a total of 35 Music tracks, that, when put in a continuous playlist, give a total play time of approximately 50 minutes and 48 seconds.
Also discovered is a large group of Voice files in his old EER archive that are surprisingly absent from even the Planet Forever archive. These files were originally used in both Iki and EER as new gibberish 'voice overs' for the NPCs of Bastion Island, New Corsica, New Earthrise and the 'new' NPCs of Camelot in Anglorum. Planet Forever it seems, had in it's own archive, though unused, the Voice files likely taken from Ikimonogatari's archive. As if to confirm Liska's suspicions here, his own Iki archive possesses exactly 20 Voice files, the same number found in his PF archive. In contrast, his EER archive possesses exactly 69 Voice files, more than triple the number of the other two.
A third discovery here is that at least 15 'ability' sounds are inexplicably missing from the archives of all five of his EE versions, the earliest of which are pre-0.8.6 files. All five archives from all five versions of the game possess the exact same files in that particular sound folder from the exact same .car file. This indicates that the 'missing' sound files may very well have been 'lost' or removed early on in the Sparkplay Era for whatever reason.
Liska makes it known he plans to post up zip files for both the Music files and the Sound files after testing all of them. These will be put up in the Downloads section of the website for everyone to access.
Emerald fixes the 'Buy' button on the new Website Credit Shop page that had been causing issues. It takes her all day to sort it out.
Temrin offers to create illustrations for each Lore chapter to give the Lore section more flavor. This idea is welcomed by both Emerald and Liska.
Liska finally posts up the last of the Official Earth Eternal Lore, complete with fixes and a few changes where needed to eliminate continuancy issues.
At Emerald's request, Liska also again slightly restructures the main Lore page so that the 'fourth wall' isn't broken for readers and helps with immersion. Liska posts up his first attempt at this on the 2nd of the month.
After a bit of a stay of absence, due to being busy, Heathendel posts up a 'to do' list on the website to get started on many of his own projects and asks the assistance of any willing to help with any of the items on the rather long list.
Two more player accounts appear on the website.
Emerald finally gets Shroomie's Search up and running on the website, though the scoreboard does not function yet. Also, a permissions issue is discovered by Temrin that causes an error to appear on the minigame's webpage if the user is not logged in and/or has not yet created a character ingame.
Emerald cleans up the Downloads section of the website making it more user-friendly.
Liska creates the 'Earth Eternal Original Soundtrack', a zipped folder containing all 35 music pieces, though still in .ogg format at this point, pulled right out of the game's music archive and puts it up for Public Download on the website. He adds a notepad document detailing what track is what and where it is typically heard.
On the 4th of the month, Liska tackles one of Heathendel's 'tasks' and populates Earthrise with non-Anubian mobs, though only gets three Named Mobs to 'move' via pathing. He also adds NPC shops to all towns and camps as well. As it turns out, Liska had used the 'wrong' method of spawning mobs, due to not quite knowing the exact 'method' for setting up the spawn packages ingame. Emerald reassures Liska she will fix the spawn packages for all the spawnpoints as it involves something on her side of things.
Emerald adds the first announcement to the announcement forum on the website. It is directed at the players who have managed to find the website long before it's ready to open to the public. While polite and warmly welcoming in tone, the announcement advises these players to avoid creating accounts, especially if they had existing accounts in either Planet Forever or the Scourge of Abidan, as these would have different methods of logging in that would also grant these returning players special perks for being veterans of these previous iterations of the game. She also warns in this announcement that creation of an account on the site prior to the implementation of this system would void their ability to be granted these rewards as the accounts would not match once the system was added.
Liska fixes a few mistakes in the new Credit Shop prices present in both the dev server and main server so that they are more accurate. These include two armor pieces that have been given the wrong pricing along with a typo present in the description of one of the offered pets.
Having discussed this with Emerald before the changes and being given the go ahead, Liska also adjusts the pricing on the Dragonscale Backpack Credit Shop exclusive bag so that it better falls in line with the other bags being sold in the various Container Merchant shops ingame and does not render these lower tier bags worthless.
While making the above changes, Liska also notices the entire 'new' Pet section of the Credit Shop only appears on the website page but not on the ingame window. As it turns out, this is on both the dev server and the main server although for the latter, it is likely purposefully turned off for now.
Liska continues with the process of populating Corsica and Earthrise adding in Anubian mobs in the northern part of Corsica and adding NPCs to the Earthrise Camps of Wayside Warcamp, the new Highpoint, the new Beast Camp on the southern hill and Earthend.
Two more player accounts appear on the website.
After a series of more intermittent server crashes on the Main Server, Emerald devises a 'fix' and updates the Main Server with this fix. Unfortunately, a bit of a coding mistake results in all quests in the game breaking so that they automatically 'auto-complete'. This occurs for all quests both already existing in players' quest journals and those that are picked up after the update. After being made aware of the issue, Emerald fixes the coding mistake and has players retake the quests to make sure the issue has been resolved.
Emerald builds a mockup version of an early model for an Auction House and Auctioneer NPCs on the Developer Servers.
After nearly a week of work, Emerald finally gets the new Auction House for the most part set up on the Dev server ready for testing. A couple new Web Chat bugs manifest themselves around this time as well.
Heathendel creates a new account on the TAW site due to having problems logging into the dev server with his old one.
After a failed attempt by Liska at fixing Sonny 'the Snail' on the Main Server, Emerald tackles the broken NPC and discovers it is one of a small few 'special spawns' that require specific tweaks. This helps her to fix the NPC in time for the next server update.
Around the middle of the month, Liska proposes to revive the old Harvest Fest and Winter Dawning Content for the new EE-TSoA players and future TAW players and outlines everything Emerald needs for this task.
It is decided that the holiday event updates would be a good time to roll out a bunch of bug fixes to the Main server along with each holiday event. The first batch would be with Harvest Fest, and the second with Winter Dawning. A third round could then be rolled out following the end of the Winter Dawning event.
A bunch of bug fixes are added to the Harvest Fest event. Among these are:
A fix for Alimat's ongoing issues.
The fix for Sonny 'the Snail'.
A spawn issue that was discovered that was causing Gork the Elder Goliath and who knows how many other mobs to randomly despawn, even midfight, due to an overly large wander radius. With this one resolved, Donk is revisited as a possible related mob to Gork's issue. Sure enough, Donk is finally restored to wandering the entirety of his very long wander path between the border with Grunes Tal and Listerm.
The quest 'The Five Flames' is adjusted so that any spelling of /worship so long as it spells out the word correctly causes the emote to register for the quest.
Liska spends a couple of days revamping all the quests listed in the QuestAnglorum.txt file in both the TSoA and TAW branches of the server code on GitHub. Among the quest fixes are:
Bandit Connection? quest – For the longest time, the quest text for this quest was vague and obscure. Although it was easy for players to find their way through the objectives, the 'story' seemed to be missing important data causing a huge plothole. Late in the Planet Forever Era, Liska stumbled across the quest's missing data in the Journal where it has been for who knows how long while cataloging parts of the game. Liska resolves this and, at long last, the quest text that was stuck in the Quest Journal is moved to the main quest window. He adds new text to the initial act of this quest to fill the gap created by the removal of the quest text from the Journal.
BOUNTY: Steppe-Slimer quest – This Bounty Bpard in Camelot has often been missed by players due to it's level range being that of the Fort Stonehenge Boards rather than the other Camelot Board making it easy to outlevel by the time players arrived in Camelot. Liska readjusts it's quest levels so that it matches the other Camelot BB rather than the Fort Stonehenge set.
Basic Duty quest – This quest should not have been made available until the player has completed the quest 'The Militia House' in Camelot. As the Militia House quest chain actually begins with the 'Speak with Sir Kay' quest given by King Arthur, this 'break' in the chain has needed fixing. Liska adds in the needed requirement for 'The Militia House' quest's completion before any of the Militia House content can be taken, thus relinking the above two quests to the rest of the chain. Seems extreme, yet, this is how it always should have been.
Assaulting the Keep quest – This quest, historically, has caused quite a bit of gender confusion with players regarding the kill target Konin Graves by referring to Konin as male when the model has always been female. Liska has resolved this long standing issue at long last by changing the quest text to refer to Konin as the female she always has been.
The Treasure Map quest – Perhaps the most infamous EE quest of them all, this quest was removed early in the SPM Era as players often complained how hard it was due to extremely vague clues and no quest markers to guide them. Worse, the reward for finishing the quest, a mere Ring, was considered lackluster and not worth the trouble. This reward was moved to the previous quest, 'The Fate of Baron Unger', after The Treasure Map's untimely removal from the game. In the hopes of one day seeing it restored, Liska has taken the liberty of adding in 'story' hints to the quest in the hopes it helps guide players where they need to go without the need for markers so that the quest's challenge is mostly preserved. Now all this quest needs for full revival is more appropriate rewards for the trouble of running it.
The Gloom Witches quest – The long-running Red/Blue gag with this quest and associated dungeon has been long established among EE veterans. This quest would indicate the questgiver's 'soul' piece was sealed in a 'Red Bottle', yet when players would run the dungeon, the Bottle in question was actually Blue. As the prop and questline were never brought in line, players just got used to the idea and it became a running joke. Liska has finally put this joke to rest as at long last the Blue Bottle within Coldstorm Cavern is now referred to in the quest by its correct color: Blue.
Trouble in Nottingham quest – This quest has actually had very few problems, yet a bit of a story plothole has existed within the quest text itself. When the player would accept this quest, they would be directed to go meet Robin Hood as per the quest's objective. Oddly, the questgiver, Master Sergeant Illius, never even mentions Robin Hood in the quest text much less asks them to meet him at all! After spotting this story plothole, Liska extends the quest text to fill in this previously missing information.
These bug fixes repair long-standing issues and, in the quests' case, ends many 'eras' among veterans as the old jokes, puns and mistakes have been so infamous in Earth Eternal as to become legendary over the years.
Liska cleans up the QuestEventHarvestFest.txt file on all branches of the server as a last minute change before the event rollout.
The Harvest Fest event content along with the first round of bug fixes is tested and then rolled out to the main server on November 20th.
Late in the month, Heathendel begins work on building new versions of Grendle's Lair for the unrestored Winter Dawning Grindle quest chain. He decides to expand the idea of the Grindle story to be more 'Grinch-like' as the holiday boss mob was a refrence to the Grinch character. This results in making a slightly larger cave for Grindle as well as a 'winter wonderland' type 'outside' area for players to explore on their way to defeat Grendle.
Emerald adds more features to the Auction House functionality as it nears completion.
Heathendel and Rictar toss around ideas for a sort of 'Whoville' type environment in the 'Winterland' area leading to Grindle's Cave.
Heathendel continues work on the 'Winterland' area and further expands on the concept of a larger area for players to explore. Mobs and NPCs are added during this time.
Liska joins in and volunteers to create quests for the new holiday event area as well as offering up ideas for mobs and NPCs including NPC names. He also cleans up the quest text for both QuestEventWinterDawning.txt and UNUSED WINTER DAWNING QUEST.txt on both the TAW and TSOA branches in preparation for the upcoming event.
On the 3rd of the month, Jackuul, the site owner and admin of longtime Earth Eternal fansite Terra Eternus, formerly known as Earth Eternal Forever, posts a specific announcement on the fansite. In it, he states that, due to the mostly dead nature of the website in recent times, along with the fact most old fans of Earth Eternal itself have moved on including himself; the TE website would likely remain to see all of 2016, but he is unable to guarantee the site will exist beyond the upcoming year.
A few players along with both Heathendel and Liska discover a major scenery botch had been made when rolling out the Harvest Fest event content. This rather massive accidental error essentially rolled back all the progress on Grunes Tal and Swineland to their pre-open half-complete versions along with the recent Credit Shop fixes from the previous month among other things.
Yet another player signs up to the TAW website.
The Auction House nears completion at this time and many more bug fixes are made.
Due to sudden personal reasons, around the 10th of the month, Emerald ceases development for what is initially determined to be only a week or two. The rollout of the Winter Dawning event is scheduled for the 20th at the latest in spite of this.
Around the middle of the month, it is decided by the rest of the development team that the Winter Dawning event would be put on hold both for the upcoming Holidays and Emerald's lengthening silence and ongoing personal reasons. As Emerald is temporarily unavailable, the rest of the dev team decides to take a break from development until her return. All this would later be posted on the Earth Eternal Facebook page for the sake of letting players know why development on the game has temporarily ceased.
Around the same time, two new player accounts appear on the TAW website, one of which actually makes a 'test post' in one of Temrin's threads.
A few days before Christmas, Terra Eternus suddenly goes offline due to a SQL server error and is not brought back online. Due to a post on the site's old Facebook page around the 30th of the month a rumor spreads that site admin Jackuul has decided to allow the mostly dead fansite to finally expire rather than bring the site back online. This rumor is later proven to be false.
Another new account shows up on the TAW website on Christmas Day. This one, though, does not follow the pattern of the other players or developers who made accounts up to this point. It is confirmed to be a player's account after a bug report using the account's name is posted on GitHub on the 28th.
It is expected that active development of the game will pick back up in January and that the Winter Dawning event which was originally scheduled for the middle of December would be held after the New Year instead.
A few bug fixes and changes are made during the month, including shortly after Emerald is forced to take a break from the game, but just prior to everything being put on hold.
On the 3rd of the month, fansite Terra Eternus finally comes back online after more than two weeks offline. A post from site owner and admin Jackuul simply states that he was never made aware that the site was down. Replies from others indicate that no one could get ahold of him during the downtime as the website email gave a 'no reply' address to them.
The same day, the first player account of 2016 appears on the TAW website.
On the 5th of the month, TAW Admin Emerald Icemoon returns after nearly a month-long hiatus and explains to the other TAW developers in a post on the TAW website the reasons for her long absence and her plans for the new year. Among these plans is the decision to finally open up the The Anubian War website itself to the public the following weekend. To do this, Emerald explains she must get quite a few things polished on the site prior to it's official unveiling.
A strange quest bug shows up on the main server that causes the client to crash upon completing quests or collecting items for quests. Emerald adds a bunch of diagnostic tools to try and isolate it.
The main server is updated to a non-event state officially ending the Harvest Fest event, though the planned Winter Dawning event ends up being cancelled due to ongoing server bugs following the update. The near month-long content botch is rolled back in this update, restoring all affected content that had been accidentally reverted to a state from two years prior.
The Anubian War website finally opens to the public on January 9th 2016. Only four new accounts are created on what turns out to be a mostly quiet opening day. Things pick up a bit the next day and a number of new accounts appear on the site over the course of the following week.
Near the middle of the month, Emerald spends a week fixing bugs for The Scourge Of Abidan branch of the game and updates the main server to roll out the fixes. Alongside the bug fixes, Emerald adds in two new Credit Shop armor sets and a missing set piece from the Wanderlust set already in the Credit Shop. The two new sets are one SPM Credit Shop set and one of the winning player sets from PF.
During the week of bug fixing, Emerald migrates the last bit of existing content from ArmourEE to The Anubian War's website and updates both the Homepage and the News page of TAW to reflect the currently live version of Earth Eternal on the main server – The Scourge Of Abidan in addition to the upcoming version of The Anubian War. On the Homepage, a button for the TSOA client download is added as well.
On the 15th of the month, Emerald updates The Anubian War website again and adds in a new Poll page linked to a new post on the News page where players can begin voting on developer-selected player sets from the old player-made armor set pool posted in a thread on TerraEternus back in 2013 when Greth held the Planet Forever set contest.
In a sort of revival of the PF contest, the TAW developer team decides to hold this poll each week allowing devs and players alike to vote on a new grouping of these sets every week. The poll ends each Wednesday with the winning set, along with the runner up set, being added into the game the following Friday. The following week's poll is then put up on the site for voting on Saturday. The first of these Polls, which is set up on the 15th, is scheduled to end on the 20th of the month.
More website updates are made the following weekend and week. During this time, Emerald restores functionality to the minigame Shroomie's Search so that it finally saves player scores and then opens the minigame to the players via a link on yet another post on the News page and a button added to the Homepage placed alongside the recently added TSOA section.
The website itself receives a formatting change so that it is more properly viewable on mobile devices in addition to PCs. The 19th and 20th is spent sorting out the various issues that result from the changes for Mobile functionality.
The first armor set poll finally ends at the end of January 20th with a runaway winner. The winning set, and the runner up set which only received two votes, become the first two brand new sets added to the game since the end of Planet Forever.
The same day, Emerald resumes work on her Ice* project suite and updates the TAW website yet again to add a 'Developer Tools' page for downloading each program of the suite. Icebility, her skill system modification program, becomes the first program updated and put up for download with a tab for IceDesign put next to it.
Also the same day, Emerald updates the dev server and officially sets Bastion Island as the new starting zone for The Anubian War in preparation for the eventual completion of the revamped new player zones. While still incomplete in it's own partial revamp, this change officially restores the second starter zone to Earth Eternal and once again retires the classic Mushroom Isle zone which is planned for a revamp of it's own into a side-zone that is not exactly necessary to progress in the storylines of the new version of the game.
After a bit of discussion, Emerald and Liska decide that the new Credit Shop armor set Polls should run every other week so that Emerald does not have to work on a winning pair of brand new CS player sets every single week which would cut into regular game development. Instead, CS armor sets would be oscillated with one week adding in developer selected old SPM CS sets and PF created Player sets and the following week then having a Poll to decide which two brand new Player sets would be added into the game. The week after, the developers would select another round of SPM CS sets and PF created sets with the week following that running a new Poll and so on.
Late in the month, Heathendel, Rictar and Liska get into a discussion about how to finish out the Corsica content. Liska's main concern involves the Southend Passage dungeon and how to properly bridge the new versions of Corsica and Earthrise together while using the new 'helper NPCs' mechanic required in the story plot. Heathendel also reveals a few ideas for the Earthrise portion of the new story progression including the possible loss of a 'helper NPC' along the way.
For the Southend Passage issue, after a bit of idea tossing, the three devs hit on the idea of a sort of 'escort' mission involving the lighting of braziers at intervals to allow the 'escorted group' to follow the player's group after the mobs are cleared from the area. All three agree that a 'darker' Passage would be more realistic since it is supposed to have been mostly abandoned and the need to light the braziers would give the instance greater story depth and impact.
A few days later, Heathendel, Emerald, Rictar and Rivers meet in the dev server to work on the TAW content. Heathendel outlines his new Corsica quests and a general overview of how the progression through the region would go. Because the new content will require several new game mechanics to make things more interesting for players, Heathendel asks Emerald to work on these. Because the conversation is so detailed, Emerald also decides to post up a transcript of the discussion on the forum for the developers to further discuss and to use as a sort of checklist.
Emerald unveils two new quest mechanics on January 27th she dubs 'Open Ended Quests' and 'Quest Outcomes'. Open Ended quests are 'special' types of quests that do not require an NPC questgiver for either the beginning or ending portions of the quest and are activated by the player through various means while interacting in the game such as 'attacking a neutral NPC' or such. Quest Outcomes is a new 'quest branching' system that allows the player to make 'choices' during a quest and to 'reap what they sow', as it were, by having the quests and quest rewards change based upon what the player decides to do during the quest. Both of these new mechanics open the door for much greater flexibility in quest creation and variation.
Three more SPM sets are restored to the Credit Shop along with the SPM CS helm item, the Flaming Crown. The two items from one of the previous week's winning sets that had been messed up are also fixed.
Heathendel decides to revamp Dekker's quest chain both due to Dekker's long absence and because players continually have difficulty with the quest chain. In addition, he does more work on the new Corsica and Earthrise content on the dev server.
After a bit of a hiatus, Rivers returns to the game to get back into development.
Emerald finally finds and fixes the Leaderboard page bug on the website that prevented Liska from viewing the page.
On the last day of January and first day of February, the dev team works on getting the new mechanics for the Southend Passage instance put in to make it ready for the new Anubian War questline that will involve it. Some of these include lighting the dungeon's braziers in a sequential order, allowing the intended accompanied NPCs to follow players as the braziers are lit and setting up a pair of ambush locations in the dungeon to make the dungeon more challenging.
During this same time, Heathendel, Liska and Rictar toss around ideas revolving around a new NPC players will encounter while traveling through Earthrise and beyond.
Following a more-than-a-day-long server crash on the Main Server, during which time Emerald was not available to reboot it, Liska suggests to Emerald if there is a way to add website integration for both the developer server and the main server in the event another server crash occurs while Emerald is away for an extended period of time. She agrees and makes an attempt to do this. Her initial attempt fails, though, and she shifts her attention to other things again.
Emerald adds in some of Heathendel's quests to the new Corsica region and partially rewrites the last Bastion quest so that it seamlessly fits with the new Corsica quests.
Emerald's changes to the way players are teleported from Bastion Island to Corsica cause unexpected server crashes and Emerald is forced to find a solution to the issue. Liska offers to help and figures out how players were originally teleported from Mushroom Isle to the old Corsica region currently still active on the live TSOA server.
Several days later, with a bit of assistance from Emerald, Liska integrates his changes with the server and Emerald later manages to resolve the teleporting crashes with that quest.
Liska and Heathendel chat a bit regarding various aspects of the game Lore and the new main storyline. Both notice a figure mentioned in a few original Bastion quests that is not seen anywhere in the game. Heathendel decides to repurpose this figure to someone more prominent and the two decide he'll be a recurring figure only vaguely interacted with throughout the storyline.
A couple days later, Liska and Heathendel chat again. This time, both sort out a timeline for a portion of the Earthrise quest events that includes both the new NPC discussed earlier in the month and the repurposed figure in it's plot.
Around the same time, Liska spends about three days fully updating and cleaning up the quest files QuestMushroomIsle.txt, QuestCorsica.txt, QuestEarthrise.txt and QuestNewCorsica.txt.
The most significant changes involve the Corsica quest “Anglor Dren” and the three Highpoint quests of “The Summoner and the Beast”, “Redwine Flowers” and “Saving a Sister's Spirit” in Earthrise. All four of these are partially rewritten to more accurately fit the existing game lore. The latter three are only tweaked so that they loosely imply that 'Shards of the Spirit Mother' still fall from the sky from time to time.
This change was made because when SPM originally created these quests, the 'timeline' for when the Shards fall to Earth had not yet been solidly established. Once this event had been established, these quests were never updated to align with the changes to the lore. Either that or these zones were being retired by the time the changes were made to the lore so quest alterations were deemed unnecessary. Either way, Liska's changes to the last three quests are more a stop-gap solution to a story plothole for the duration of TSOA's run. All four of these quests will no longer be active when The Anubian War is released.
Other quests with major changes involve several Bastion Island quests. These include renaming a quest to avoid player confusion with the previous quest which originally possessed the same name and changing the name of 'Archmage Ramses' to 'General Akhom' in the quests 'Destroy the Catapults', 'Defeat Warlord Scarrus' and 'Travel to Corsica'.
Liska discovers that for whatever reason, the Bastion quest set is inexplicably merged with the new Corsica quest set in QuestNewCorsica.txt. Talking to Em sometime later about this, Liska is shown how to create a file in Github and he create the documents QuestBastionIsland.txt and QuestNewEarthrise.txt. He adds both of these to the document QuestPack.txt. At this time those two remain empty pending the move of Bastion's quests to it's new file and the creation of the new Earthrise quests.
A few days later, Emerald works on some new Sidekick mechanics and both she and Rivers test them out. A bit later that day, she and Liska chat a bit regarding these new mechanics along with other concerns regarding how Sidekicks would work ingame. These include: How Sidekicks would work when players are partied up, what sort of 'aggression' the Sidekicks would have during each quest, what happens to them after they die during an enemy encounter, and how the Sidekicks 'level up' as the player does.
At the same time, Liska creates an Acknowlegments page on the TAW website to credit all those who have worked on or influenced the game at some point in time during the game's long history.
On Valentine's Day, Emerald does more work on the Sidekicks mechanics and tests these on the developer server.
During the week leading up to and including Valentine's Day, a major increase in account registration key requests takes place. At Rictar's and Heathendel's behest, Emerald generates a new batch of keys on Valentine's Day as the existing batch nearly runs out from the week-long surge of new players.
The same day, Emerald links Liska's new Acknowlegments page on the TAW website to the 'The Team' page of the site. A few hours later, Liska expands the Acknowlegments page to include more individuals to be given recognition.
Due to several player issues regarding the instance entrance for Zhushi's Lair on the main server, Heathendel and Rictar tweak the instance entrance so that it is more accessible than previously.
Heathendel reveals that at least one of the players he sent a registration key to mentioned having found the game via posts on Reddit and MMORPG.com. As no official announcements for either The Scourge Of Abidan or The Anubian War have been made outside The Anubian War website and the TSOA server, Heathendel, Rictar and Liska search the web for posts made by anyone who might have found the server and reported on it.
Although a section on Reddit is found mentioning the TSOA server, it is four months old and links to the old ArmourEE webpage announcing TSOA. No other references to a private EE server are found anywhere else save one other site with no information on it other than the name 'Earth Eternal'. All references to the game on MMORPG.com date from SPM EE and Iki/EER, but nothing more recent. Mystified by the seeming lack of information by any of these sources, Heathendel emails the player asking for verification on where they learned about the TSOA and TAW versions of Earth Eternal.
The next day, Heathendel locates the article in dispute. It turns out that it is located on Reddit's MMORPG subsection in a thread about 'Under-the-radar MMORPGs' people had been playing. One of the first replies to the OP on this thread mentions the old Planet Forever emulator but includes a link to the ArmourEE Scourge of Abidan page.
Liska adds more content to the Acknowlegment page on the website over the next couple days.
Later the same day, Emerald begins working on the New Corsica quest mechanics while improving the mechanics for the Sidekicks. At the same time, Liska begins cleaning up the New Corsica quests and moves the Bastion Island quest content to the file he created several days earlier.
On the 18th, Emerald decides to revisit the server status web integration idea posited by Liska earlier in the month. Her reasoning is that she would be absent over the weekend and this would allow the other devs to be able to reboot either server in the event a crash occurs while she is away. She spends the entire day getting the programming set up and, after several attempts at getting it to work by testing the functionality with both Liska and Rictar, Emerald manages to get the server status page completely set up. She informs the two that this webpage has Sage permissions so that all developers with Sage permissions or higher will have access to the page.
The same day, Liska cleans up more of the New Corsica quests and adds them in. Due to a likely-accidental quest omission on Heathendel's part when writing the original batch of New Corsica quests, Liska takes the liberty of creating the missing quest to bridge the gap. He then adjusts the quest IDs accordingly so that the new quest does not cause problems for all the quests that come after it.
Just prior to departing for her weekend away, Emerald posts up the second Player armor set Poll on the forums. It is scheduled to run a full two weeks from February 19th through March 4th. At this point in time, the original weekly Poll idea has been partially ignored due to various factors.
A double server crash on the 20th of the month puzzles both Rictar and Liska as it is rare for both the developer server and the main live server to go down at the same time. Rictar is on hand to reboot them both at the time of the incident. Although Liska suspects the crashes might be due to the brand new website integration, the actual cause is not confirmed. Upon Emerald's return a few days later, she offers up a possible cause
Later the same day, while watching a set of game review videos, Liska discovers most of the original quest sets for the Bastion Island starter zone are shown off in both. Both reviews were from MMOHut.com and featured gameplay from both the SPM version and EER version of the game. To his surprise, in the older SPM version of Bastion Island, all quests save for the very first one were all named “The Anubian War”. By EER, all of these save for the second quest had been renamed. The quest “Welcome to Earth Eternal” turned out to exist in Bastion Island as well as Mushroom Isle. The newer Bastion Island version of the quest was much different than its older Mushroom Isle counterpart.
Further surprises are made as Liska notices that all of Sir Lancelot's quests had much different quest text in the SPM version than they did in the EER version. One final surprise comes as it was discovered that an aggressive mob group, the Anubian Troopers, originally wandered the beaches of Bastion near the catapults in the SPM version; but for whatever reason, by EER, all of these had been replaced by more of the neutral Anubian Scouts seen in the middle of Bastion.
In light of these discoveries, Liska decides to fully restore the early Bastion quests to their original state, pending Emerald's approval, which is given upon her return. Following this approval, Liska completely restores these quests and adjusts the quest IDs for every Bastion quest accordingly to accommodate the restored 'Welcome to Earth Eternal' quest which had been missing from the group.
From the 20th to the 23rd of the month, Liska takes the time to hunt down, review and add many Earth Eternal videos to the Anubian War website's Media section. Upon Emerald's return from her weekend break, she adds the 'Fan Video' tab to the Media section of the website so that Liska can separate official videos from fan videos.
A second server crash on the main server occurs on the morning of the 23rd, forcing Liska to reboot it this time.
Liska adds a few more names to the acknowlegments page later that same day and Emerald works on fixing a few more bugs, including a teleporting exploit known by the dev team.
A couple more server crashes occurs with both servers toward the end of the month. The first time, the dev server crashes but Liska is unable to restart it due to a bug that was causing the button command to create a second server instead of restarting the original as the server wasn't properly shut down. The second crash is on the main server two days later. Rictar has to restart it twice before the server registers the restart due to a bug in the website integration.
At the end of the month, Emerald starts making major backend changes to The Anubian War server. This will continue through the beginning of March. Included in the changes for the end of February is the transition from pulling the source files directly from Git and compiling them on the server to pre-compiling the binaries in Git first before uploading them to the server. This change is meant to help bring server downtimes to a minimum during upgrades.
Rictar proposes resurrecting the long forgotten 'event-that-never-was' Bounders Day and offers it up for debate.
Emerald continues work on the major backend changes to The Anubian War server through the beginning of March. She retires the Windows GUI Console at this time.
Along with the backend changes is a resolution to the series of server crashes seen in late February. It would seem the Leaderboard web integration thread was interfering with the server web integration thread preventing proper shutdowns of the servers. This fix by Emerald hopefully resolves the problem.
In the first two days of March, Emerald works on getting the developer server to automatically reboot following a server crash while outputting a log file for each crash.
Also on March 2nd, Emerald and Liska discuss the Bounder's Day event proposed by Rictar days before. Due to very sparse details regarding this unreleased SPM event, it is almost a blank slate that can easily be filled in by the TAW team.
Rictar discovers a bug thought squashed is still partially alive and well on the main server.
On March 4th the second Player armor set Poll ends with a winning set and runner up set. For whatever reason, the website doesn't automatically close votes on it though, forcing Emerald to manually do so. She doesn't fully update the webpage, though, until the day the two sets are added to the Main Server.
Due to player Heroic Bunny's expertise on the Player-made armor sets, along with being the primary 'creature tweaker' going all the way back to Planet Forever, Emerald decides to allow Heroic to work on the armor set icons for each new player set added into the game from this and all future Polls.
A series of server crashes on both servers starting near the end of February and continuing through mid-March perplex the TAW developers. Information from players on the Main Server points to one, possibly two, different bugs: one in the dungeon party loot system and one in the quest interact system that are causing the crashes for that server.
As for the Developer Server crashes, Emerald makes the discovery that the first one in March is due to hostname issues. To eliminate this issue once and for all, Emerald makes a post on the TAW forums telling everyone that the server hostnames for both The Anubian War server and The Scourge Of Abidan server are being relocated off the original hostname and on to hostnames hosted locally.
The developer server on which The Anubian War content is being worked on, had already been relocated previously, but, the TSOA server had not. Players are instructed to either download a fresh client which would connect via the new hostname or, if using the batch file method, to simply change the hostname address in the batch file so that it points to the new TSOA hostname instead of the old one.
Because both the developers and some of the early players of both the IceEE and TSOA servers have clients that connect with a batch file containing the actual IP address of the server itself, (this given out around the time IceEE first opened up) these clients are not affected by the hostname changes.
Rictar creates a test-NPC for the Bounders Day event.
Emerald fixes a few bugs on the main server. These include the bug Rictar discovered was still active earlier in the month, a Credit Shop issue and a longstanding exploit. The winning player armor sets from the second Poll are added to the main server at this same time.
Heathendel returns after a near month long hiatus. He reveals that although busy for the past month, he managed to get a large portion of the New Earthrise quest content done. Unfortunately, he again disappears for most of the month soon after, likely for the same reasons.
Emerald ports over some of the bug fixes from the main server to the developer server. These include the Credit Shop issue and the exploit issue. The second Poll winning sets are also added to the developer server as well.
Around the same time, Emerald mostly completes the backend changes to the developer server. The only item left on the list is the series of skeleton animations which proves to be a challenge.
Around March 8th both Liska and Rictar discover a serious chatbox bug on the developer server that freezes up the client preventing it from updating the player log. Emerald is also able to verify this bug and, after a series of tests over the course of a day, is able to resolve it.
Liska works on a test quest containing lore for the upcoming Bounder's Day event. Due to length being a problem, he and Rictar come up with the idea of creating book 'volumes' of lore to be found by players, each containing a portion of the lore of Bounder's Day.
Having gotten the idea from Liska and Rictar's book 'volume' idea, Emerald adds a 'book' mechanic to the dev server. While basic, it is a first step to having actual readable documents in the game.
At this same time, Emerald reveals that, due to the difficulty of it, she likely wouldn't make any backend changes to the animation skeletons and just leave those as is while everything else has been updated.
Around the middle of the month, and due to the number of crashes happening on the main SOA server, Emerald, Liska and Rictar test the dev server to see if the two bugs likely responsible, the 'interact object bug' and the 'party loot bug', also exists there. Sure enough, both bugs are found to exist on the dev server as well.
Emerald, Liska and Rictar first test out the 'interact object bug'. As it turns out, both it and the 'party loot bug' appear to have a related cause. This cause is determined to be players who are currently in a party with at least one party member being offline at the time. After a few tests and some fixes, along with several logging tools added to find the exact causes, Emerald manages to get the 'interact object bug' crash resolved. The 'party loot bug'; however, proves to be a bigger challenge and harder to fix.
Emerald rolls out the 'interact object bug' crash fix to the main server after it is found to work on the dev server. In addition, she adds more logging tools to the dev server while further testing for the cause of the 'party loot bug'.
Along with Liska and Rictar, Emerald isolates the 'party loot bug' to at least the 'Round Robin' option while at least one party member is offline. In the process, though, other issues with the party loot system, along with a few bugs in the new logging system itself are discovered.
Emerald and Liska continue testing for the cause of the 'party loot bug' and further isolate it to certain functions that handle party messages when a player is offline. Emerald fixes the bugs found in the logging system as well.
Emerald and Rictar brainstorm about the Bounders Day event content with Rictar spearheading the efforts on it.
Emerald finally completes the changeover to the new logging system and implements a few fixes for the 'party loot crash bug' on the main server. Unfortunately, this does not fully resolve the issue as the server crashes again the very next day. The reported cause involves the Need Before Greed party loot option this time.
Rictar creates a few NPCs and quests for the Bounders Day content. He also adds in a special 'surprise' item for the event.
Due to likely needing the new 'book' mechanic on the TAW dev server, it is determined that perhaps Liska's lore idea for Bounders Day would best be held off until a future event.
On the 20th of the month, Emerald reveals the need for a developer TSOA server so that TSOA events can be worked on and implemented without causing another game content disaster such as what happened during the Harvest Fest event several months prior.
Emerald sets up the TSOA developer server and helps the other devs login to it over the course of the following day.
Emerald and Rictar busy themselves on getting most of the Bounders Day stuff created and added to the TSOA developer server.
It is decided that the Bounders Day event will be held on the Easter weekend of March 25th through March 28th to allow for enough players to be able to attend the event.
Liska cleans up the QuestEventBoundersDay.txt file on GitHub in preparation for the event.
Liska adds more names to the Acknowlegments page on the website.
Although he has been busy through the month, Heathendel reveals late in the month that he has managed to keep up with account registrations and has continued work on the revamp of the “It” boss.
Emerald, Rictar and Liska finish up the Bounders Day event content on the 25th of the month; however, due to a long series of issues that plague the final push as everything is set up and activated, the event is delayed until the following day, March 26th.
At Rictar's suggestion that it would be a waste to cut out Liska's well-written lore piece from the event, Liska revises his Bounders Day lore idea from earlier in the month and agrees to use it as the 'announcement' news post on the TAW website and Facebook page for the event. At least in this form, the lore behind Bounders Day would see the light of day.
On March 26th, Emerald updates the TSOA main server with the Bounders Day content and posts up the announcement for the event.
Because the Bounders Day event was delayed a full day, it is permitted to run for the entire week up through the beginning of April.
A series of server crashes happens throughout the week with varying causes on the TSOA main server. The TAW developer server also experiences a few crashes during this time.
Development slows down during April as most of the developers find themselves too busy to work on the game for most of the month.
It is decided that the now extended Bounders Day event would end on Friday, April 1st; however, due to extenuating circumstances including being kept busy, Emerald is not able to end the event until April 6th.
Early on April 2nd, an account named simply named Asp appears on The Anubian War website. As it turns out, on April 6th, the account is confirmed to have been created by none other than former SPM and TOV Game Manager Asp who stumbled across the existence of Emerald's private server of EE. This marks the first time the former Lead GM has made an appearance since the final day of Earth Eternal Reborn. Although the visitation is, sadly, all too brief, Asp appeared to enjoy seeing Earth Eternal once again. The former Lead GM also reveals to the few online at the time, that the Sage tools found in the game had been their creation and seemed pleased to learn these had been restored.
Just prior to the removal of the Bounders Day content, Liska decides catalog the event content before it is removed from the game. It is the first time Liska has cataloged anything since late in Planet Forever.
The third Player Set Poll begins on April 6th and lasts until April 15th. The winning sets are set to be added on April 22nd. Following the closure of the polls, Heroic gets to work and creates the icons for the two winning armor sets.
In the middle of the month, Heathendel makes another brief appearance and lets everyone know he's still working on the main quests for New Earthrise in spite of his busy schedule. He sends Liska a rough outline for how the quests would progress from beginning to end. The next day the two chat about the content and toss ideas back and forth.
Having also gotten rather busy for most of the month, Emerald returns late in the middle of the month in the hopes of getting the ball rolling again now that she should have more free time.
Due to a strange issue with the Server status page, Liska notices that the last few crashes of the Main Server occur quietly. Although the Server is, in fact, down, the status page continues to report the Server is up. Liska also notices the only way to detect if the server is really up or down is by actually attempting to login as this issue with the Server status page renders the 'Daemon' control currently unreliable regard to the Main Server's status.
Worse, with few keeping track of things during this mostly quiet month, the Main Server ends up crashing at least three times for an extended period of time before it is either reported on the forums by players unable to login or Liska discovers it is down and reboots the server himself.
Near the end of the month, Liska discovers that the issue with the Main Server Deamon is also happening with the Anubian War Development Server Daemon as well. With this Daemon though, crashes are more easily spotted thanks to the website Chatbox and the website wide Dev server status icon at the top of each page.
Talks with Emerald at the end of the month reveal that Emerald has had trouble getting motivated again following the extended periods of being busy. After Liska updates her on a player issue, she discovers that the Hard Disk on which the game servers are located has run out of space and is not sure how long the disk had been full. At least two players' accounts are restored including the player having the issue and Emerald finally isolates the cause of a major bug in the server logging function which is the likely source of the loss in disk space and fixes it. Due to the nature of this particular issue, it is hoped that fixing it will resolve more than simply the hard disk space issue.
May starts off quietly although Emerald finally gets around to fixing a few bugs around May 2nd.
Emerald reveals to Liska that, among the bug fixes which have yet to be rolled out to the servers, a partial fix is included that hopefully helps finally isolate at least one of the now-infamous 'Buff Bugs'. Liska provides additional information regarding this old issue getting Emerald motivated to work on that a bit more.
The TAW Dev server crashes twice at the beginning of the month forcing Liska to restart it both times. This eliminates the hope that the fix to the server logging bug would also fix that issue, revealing that something else is the likely cause.
On May 9th, Rictar briefly returns to the dev team after a month long hiatus.
On May 11th, after several players report having issues creating an account or logging into the Scourge Of Abidan server, Liska gets hold of Emerald who discovers, upon investigating the issue, that a host domain mixup was the cause of the problem. A change meant for the TAW server had somehow been applied to the SOA server by mistake. Upon resolving this mistake, Emerald posts on the News page and sends an email to all players who had signed up from between March 2nd through May 11th, the maximum span of time likely affected by this issue.
On the same day, a random Main Server crash helps Emerald discover that, although the Main server had indeed crashed and was down, the server process was still up and running. Both Emerald and Liska surmise that this is likely the true cause behind the false online reporting from the two Server Daemons. Since the server process would still be running, the Daemons would not 'know' that the server had, in fact, suffered a crash so their 'online status' would not change.
On the 15th of the month, Emerald is notified by Liska of yet another player account issue, this time involving all of a player's characters being lost after deleting a character from their list. Investigating this issue, she discovers an anomaly in the accounts of those affected. While all characters in the affected players' character lists still existed in the account data, upon the player's deletion of one of their characters, the other list also handling the character data was indavertently getting corrupted. This resulted in either part of, or the entire second list's character data being deleted rather than just the data for the intended character to be deleted. Because the first list remained intact, the characters were not truly lost as the affected players believed; but, due to the second list becoming corrupted, the player could no longer 'see' the affected characters, believing them to have been also removed along with their intended deleted characters.
Further investigation on a hunch confirms a suspicion as to the cause, which as it turns out, was due to some of the changes Emerald had made to the client in order to expand the number of available character slots from six to eight at the beginning of The Scourge Of Abidan's server run. Although Emerald fixes this bug and restores the 'missing' characters to the known affected players, it is unknown as to why this bug remained mostly undetected for so long or precisely how many players it affected prior to the bug's discovery and elimination.
On the 17th of the month, Emerald updates the TSOA main server with several bug fixes including the fix for the character deletion bug resolved two days prior.
The last few Credit Shop sets from the Sparkplay days are added to the Credit Shop, with the exception of the Quillbone set, near the end of the month. Emerald reveals that the Credit Shop is nearing the maximum capacity originally programmed into it; however, and steps will need to be taken to resolve the issue before space runs out.
On the 23rd of the month, Liska decides to expand The Age of Beasts Timeline and correct any mistakes in it so that he can hopefully resume working on The Age of Beasts section of the Official Lore. The brainstorming that results from this enables Liska to complete a new chapter in the Lore along with resolving a few issues that halted progress previously.
At the same time, he discovers a serious story conflict between the ingame tale of the Rotted's creation, the Age of Beast Timeline notes and the Race Lore for the Sylvan race's account of the same tale. While the Timeline follows the ingame story account, the Sylvan Race Lore account, while much more detailed, is much different. Due to the depth of the conflict in the two plots for the same account, Liska realizes that he will likely have to rewrite the Sylvan Race Lore so that it falls in line with the other two accounts.
On the 24th of the month, Liska's renewed attempts at working on the lore result in the decision to completely go through the entire lore as a whole and correct any mistakes found in the original lore pdf. This would also serve to hopefully clean up the formatting issues that has plagued the website pages where the lore chapters have been posted from the time they were added to the site.
Following a 2-3 day issue where some players are unable to login to the main server, even though it remains online, and the developers are unable to access the server controls page on the website, Emerald informs Liska that this was likely caused by the players' clients still connecting to the game server from the old server domain. She reveals that she has chosen to maintain the old server domain, from which she had migrated the game servers two months prior, active until the vast majority of players have trasferred over to the new domain. This way those who have yet to migrate can still play and enjoy the game.
On the 26th while investigating a few more minor issues, Emerald discovers a website page creation bug that is causing any newly created page to be posted on the News Page as well. A secondary website permissions issue is also discovered while looking into the page creation bug.
An inexplicably omitted SPM Credit Shop two item set is added to the SOA server on the 27th following an ingame inquiry regarding the items the day prior.
Two crashes on the TAW and SOA servers take place on the 26th and 28th respectively.
On June 1st, after multiple hiatuses between February and May, Heathendel finally returns to the team actively. To get back into the swing of things, Heathendel tackles the Iron Maw dungeon in the hopes of finally finishing it.
The same day, a post on the EE Facebook page results in some confusion with one of TSOA's players. Upon investigating the source, it is revealed that one of the two EE servers that had appeared alongside the IceEE server the year previous, Earth Eternal Reboot, has become active again. Heathendel decides to contact EE Reboot's admin in the hopes of a possible collaboration to the mutual benefit of both EE Reboot and The Scourge Of Abidan/The Anubian War; however, by June 2nd, it becomes clear that EE Reboot's admin wants to keep EE Reboot autonomous.
Seeing the resurgence of EE Reboot as a bit of competition, Heathendel and Liska decide to up the ante and not only finish the Iron Maw dungeon, but, also finish out both Kerakura's dungeon, which is only lacking one mob, its mechanics and boss chest items and complete the region of Swineland, which is already more than three-quarters finished as well. While having been already on the table for a good while, EE Reboot's new activity gives incentive to move these projects back to the forefront of development before active work resumes on The Anubian War's content.
On June 3rd, Heathendel and Liska exchange quest information regarding Swineland's content. Heathendel also works to finish out the last few mob and NPC models that remain unfinished in the region.
On June 6th, Heathendel manages to convince the small population playing on Earth Eternal Reboot to try out The Scourge Of Abidan's server and gets a positive response from them soon afterward. Although flustered, EE Reboot's admin, Rozene Kitsune, chooses to negotiate with the TAW dev team the following day. To Liska's surprise, the EE Reboot admin had been playing TSOA himself for at least the previous week prior and had made his EE Reboot announcement after the fact.
On June 7th, at least part of the TAW dev team decides, upon discussion, to let the EE Reboot admin join the team as a conditional developer, pending Emerald's approval of the idea, while he hones his skills dev side. He will continue to be able to play on The Scourge Of Abidan's server at his leisure. Purportedly, EE Reboot itself would be voluntarily shut down as Rozene is added to the TAW dev team's roster, effectively merging the one-person EE Reboot 'team' with the TAW team.
The same day, Heathendel announces on the website a new EE expansion on the main server beyond The Scourge Of Abidan, which he dubs 'The Vampire Clans', that will include and involve the region of Swineland. He invites willing volunteers to assist with concept art and other materials that might get used for the client's splash screen and backgrounds. Liska later discusses this with Heathendel and clears up a lore discrepancy in his idea, but is not opposed to it.
In a counter-proposal in favor of this newly announced expansion, Liska offers two names to replace Heathendel's 'lore errant' working title and Heathendel approves of only one of them. After tossing ideas around, both decide to settle on the first of the two proposed titles, 'Valkal's Shadow', as the name of the new EE expansion that will include and involve the region of Swineland.
Reactions from players on the main server indicate they are excited for the newly announced content and are told that it is quite possible the main server would get one or two more expansions, which includes the Valkal's Shadow expansion, for 'classic EE' before the release of The Anubian War itself.
Although development slows again in June, Rictar assists players on the TSOA server with grove building off and on. Liska busies himself with expanding the early sections of this game history and further cleaning up the existing lore.
On June 20th, after another hiatus, Emerald reappears for a brief time to inform the other developers that she will be getting back into things around the last day of the month as the 'usual things' have kept her busy again throughout June. She says she will make a post to the forums to detail what has been going on.
The same day, Rozene Kitsune is finally granted access to the developer server as the TAW team's newest member.
On the 28th, Heathendel walks Rozene through the TAW developer server to familiarize him with the new content for the upcoming EE remake. He also mentions planning to do more work in Swineland the following day.
On the 30th, Emerald reappears after almost half a month of absence and mentions to Liska that she is finally getting back into things. Emerald also adds that she has been doing a great deal of work on the Ice* Project and has made quite a bit of progress on it. Liska updates her on the state of things and some of the changes decided on in her absence.
July 1st sees most of the dev team finally getting things going again. Emerald posts onto the forum that she has finally copied over all the remaining content of ArmourEE onto The Anubian War website and, while ArmourEE technically continues to exist, it is now hosted on a new TAW sub-domain rather than its old one which at long last is being retired. A link to ArmourEE's new location is added to the TAW website so everyone can access it directly from the main site.
The same day, Emerald and Liska chat a bit and she helps him verify if he can now pass out account keys which is mostly verified. At the same time, Rozene has Emerald check on an account issue he is having and it is, for the most part, sorted out. Emerald also creates a new Git server branch in preparation for the content changes in the new Valkal's Shadow expansion of Earth Eternal and starts work on a new Valkal's Shadow Daemon which will control the new EE-VS server.
Emerald then has both Liska and Rozene test out her newly updated Ice* Project downloads and suggests trying IceTerrain and/or IceParticles. As it turns out, Liska has quite a few issues while trying to get either file; but, after a few experiments on both his and Emerald's sides, it seems the issue refuses to be resolved. Incidentally, thanks to Rozene, it is soon discovered that the common issue between Liska and Rozene is the Avast Antivirus program's ability to block .exe files as a barrier against viruses, though, in this case it is a false positive as the files are not signed.
Unfortunately, while Rozene is able to get the program to install and load, Liska, who finally manages to get the file after it is zipped up, still encounters technical issues. These range from graphical glitches to the program itself refusing to customize settings. At one point, Liska is even forced to regedit the program's key entries to reset the settings. Although most of the tests end in failure, a few bugs with the program are identified.
Later in the evening, Liska and Heathendel chat on the TAW dev server while Heathendel gets to work on the Swineland content. The two toss around various quest ideas and add in a new location to resolve a quest progression issue. They also decide to expand the Valkal's Shadow expansion to now include a full quest enhancement whereby all level gaps in the game would be addressed and hopefully filled in with new content. While this will extend the expansion's length of development time, it is determined that the additions will also serve to further enhance the game, even carrying over to TAW development.
On the 2nd of July, Liska tries the IceTerrain program again and finally gets it to load properly after messing with it a bit. However, while the program now loads mostly correctly, using it proves a challenge as many settings and options show to still either be in development, are broken or just plain mess up while the program is in use. This is, of course, expected of a very-much-unfinished product, yet still is a tad frustrating.
Later that day, Emerald finishes setting up the Valkal's Shadow development server, finally bringing it online. In the announcement Emerald posts on the forum, she offers dev keys for those developers working on the new 'legacy' expansion.
Emerald also announces in the same post a brand new feature added to both IceClient and the Scourge Of Abidan client installer. This feature is a 'server selector' of sorts allowing the user to choose which EE server to connect to. While the new SOA client update is released to the public, only the developers will be able to connect to the TAW and 'legacy' Valkal's Shadow dev servers both also shown in the new 'server selector' feature. Emerald does mention in her announcement that this new feature also enables the possibility of being able to select and login to other EE servers beyond the Ice team's projects.
Heathendel and Rictar are quick to establish accounts after Emerald on the new Valkal's Shadow server so they can get to work on the new content.
Liska creates two new Anglorum quests on July 3rd as he begins work on closing the content gaps that have long plagued the game.
The same day, Rictar reworks many of the 'markers' set up around Swineland on the new Valkal's Shadow server so that they are brought up to date.
Emerald, Rictar and Liska all chat on July 4th regarding various things ranging from getting IceTerrain working properly to a few issues with the new Valkal's Shadow server. Liska finally gets set up on the new VS server at this point. The TAW chatbox begins to act up late in the conversation, eventually ending it.
Liska tweaks the second Anglorum quest created the day before so that it blends in properly with the quest chain it is meant to accompany. After a half-rewrite and a few more adjustments, this new quest is finally set aside.
Liska attempts to login to the new Valkal's Shadow server early on July 5th but encounters an eternal load screen. The log reveals a few assets being missing among other errors. Redownloading the archive, as recommended by Emerald the next day, resolves this issue.
Later the same day, due to seeming interest in some sort of Chatroom or program for players and devs/sages to hang out and chat in, Emerald creates two IRC channels for EE - #game for players and devs to hang out in and #dev for developers to meet and discuss more private developer-oriented topics. She adds an IRC page to the website so that those interested in trying out the new channels know how to get started.
Early in the morning of July 6th, a strange series of very severe lag spikes hit the SOA main server. Far as those online are aware, it is the first time since the Planet Forever days that such lag spikes have been encountered. The cause for the spikes are revealed later that evening to have likely been due to Emerald uploading IceClient files to the server around the time the lag spikes hit.
According to Emerald, during that particular time of day the server is usually empty of players, so she had used that time to upload the IceClient files. She adds that as she had not checked to see if anyone was online at the time, it had been a rather unfortunate accident that the lag spikes happened and that she would be sure to check if any players are online prior to any file uploads in the future.
Also that evening, Liska, Heathendel and Rictar join the two new IRC EE chatrooms created by Emerald two days prior. Rozene shows to have already joined both chatrooms and one player has also joined the #game chatroom.
Heathendel finishes most of the Swineland quests up to the beginning of Wartown content. He also makes it known that Rozene has now been online enough to take on a wider role in development. As such, he, Liska and Rictar can give Rozene bigger tasks to speed things along.
On July 7th, Emerald informs those few currently on the IRC channels that she has finally completed work on one of the core features of her Ice*Project tasks.
Liska cleans up more chapters of the Earth Eternal Lore after almost two months of holding off. On July 9th, he discovers previously unnoticed timeline issues in various spots within chapters 17, 18 and 19.
At least two players on the Main Server discover a major issue with overworld PvP on July 10th. While players are able to fight each other with no penalties in the PvP Arenas, the still somewhat newer voluntary overworld PvP option Emerald had added to the game several months earlier is discovered to cause defeated players to drop items from their inventories including 'bound to character' items.
After Liska, Rozene and one of the players involved, Church Michaelis, discusses the issue on the main IRC channel with Emerald, she agrees to turn off player drops from overworld PvP until the issues with it is resolved. While overworld PvP in general is meant to carry a risk for the players participating, 'bound' items are not supposed to be among the dropped items a defeated player leaves behind. As PvP participation in general has been very sparse, even among the development team, this bug somehow had slipped through due to very little testing of the feature.
Heathendel begins work on a Skrill dungeon instance for the Cracked Rock Skrill on the new Valkal's Shadow dev server.
On the 16th of the month, Liska begins researching the various world pantheons for EE lore purposes, particularly in regards to the events involving the gods during the Age of Beasts.
Late in the month, Rictar busies himself with working on the Swineland overworld spawns, filling in space as needed, starting around Nook Town and going east on the map.
A rather impromptu Sage trivia event in the spirit of the old SPM event from 2010 is held on July 25th. Particpating players are rewarded for each correct answer given.
On July 30th, Jackuul announces on the TerraEternus website chatbox that, due to medical and other bills eating up his funds, he might not be able to keep the old EE fansite online for much longer. Jackuul expresses his willingness to pass the website off to anyone willing to keep it running, otherwise it would vanish into history forever. Former players Sly and Hippy both express interest in trying to keep the site going but even Sly states he cannot do it himself as his own bills prevent this.
In response to Jackuul's message, Sly creates a forum post asking for feedback from those who might want to keep TE running. Another former player along with Hippy express interest in keeping TerraEternus going; however, they emphasize that retaining the hallmark of Earth Eternal might not be in the old website's interests any longer – a sentiment that has been spreading through the few remaining regulars to the old fansite in recent months.
On the 2nd of the month, after an entire month of silence due to being kept very busy, Emerald makes a very brief return in which she states she plans to return to game development sometime during the week. However, as with the previous month, she disappears again after this appearance, likely for the same reasons.
On August 3rd, all three Earth Eternal servers crash and the Server webpage becomes inaccessible. Liska determines it is likely due to Emerald not paying for the old web domain, which is still online, on time. A few hours later, Rictar restarts all the servers, likely sometime after Emerald made the payment, even though she does not make an appearance to verify this.
Heathendel also reappears for a brief time starting on August 4th. In a forum post, he outlines the specific 'roles' for each member of the dev team in regards to the Valkal's Shadow expansion content since the team has had difficulty meeting up during the last several months.
Rictar gradually continues working on the Swineland overworld spawns getting a good third of the region's mobs updated by around the 8th of the month.
Heathendel informs the players on the main SOA server that progress on Valkal's Shadow is progressing well and that the new expansion will probably be released by either the end of the month or sometime in September.
Liska updates The Team page on the TAW website to include Rozene, making it known he is indeed a full member of the dev team.
On the 7th of August, Rivers makes a very brief reappearance on the TAW dev server. He disappears again soon after.
On the 10th of the month, Liska learns that the bug supposedly fixed in Character Creation back in May might not have actually been fixed as one of the players affected by that issue still cannot 'see' their missing character that was supposed to have been restored by Emerald's fix. He begins to wonder if this issue is related to the bug in Character Creation discovered only days prior. With Emerald being absent again, though, Liska is unable to verify his suspicions until her return.
Between the 17th and 21st of the month, Emerald finally reappears after another long hiatus. During this time, she tells Rictar, and later Liska, that during her free times in the month, she has been slowly working on a new UI program for the IceProject which she has dubbed 'Icetone'. The name is a play on words crediting both herself as well as the original program's creator with whom she collaborated with in its design, which Emerald later reworked for use in the IceProject. With much of this UI being coded for CSS, Emerald hopes this will enable graphic designers to eventually create 'skins' for the EE UI within the game.
Rictar continues working on the overworld mobs of Swineland on the Valkal's Shadow server off and on, the progress only slightly into the southern portion of the region by the 18th of the month.
Emerald also tells Liska on the 21st that she hopes to get back into working on Valkal's content and other tasks sent to her from Heathendel 'soon'.
On the 24th, the main server experiences a rather slow crash likely due to a process hang. It is believed to have been the first time since Planet Forever that such a crash has been experienced.
The next day, August 25th, the entire The Anubian War website domain goes offline. After being contacted about the issue, Emerald manages to get the domain and all affected parts of the website back online. Luckily all three game servers are unaffected by this issue.
Liska learns from Emerald on the 28th that she plans to add a few minor things to the servers including the content previously requested by Heathendel along with map updates for the region of Swineland and possibly even Grunes Tal as well.
Rictar continues work on the overworld mobs of Swineland on the Valkal's Shadow dev server on the 4th and 5th of September. He invites others to join using the TAW chatbox on the website but gets no reply as everyone else is still busy.
Earth Eternal – The Scourge Of Abidan silently celebrates its 1st anniversary as logins are still medium to low and the dev team is still busy with other things throughout early September. As a result, this occasion slips under the radar nearly completely unnoticed by both the players and the dev team.
On September 12th, Temrin briefly reappears after another lengthy hiatus. She updates the dev team on the situation via a forum post regarding the long absence and indicates the intent to do concept work for EE is still very much there even though life keeps getting in the way. At the end of the post, Temrin asks Heathendel for pictures as points of reference. In response to this, Heathendel reappears briefly to offer up links in a sepearate thread to two images posted on Facebook.
The next day, September 13th, Heathendel adds all the Swineland quests he has worked on to Github and chats with Liska about them. During this discussion, a longstanding dispute regarding the name of one of the Swineland towns is finally resolved by the two. Liska offers a bit of impromptu 'lore' to solidify this resolution and to tie it to the quests involved in the town. As a result of these discussions both on and off the Valkal's dev server, Heathendel does work on the Junk Palace compound to prep it for the instance that involves it.
On September 14th, the old EE fansite TerraEternus goes offline due to a SQL database error. It remains offline until Jackuul brings the site back up on the 18th of the month.
Rumors abound throughout the month as to the exact time the now-mostly-quiet TAW dev team plans to release the new Valkal's Shadow expansion. Some players indicate that Heathendel revealed plans to release Valkal's Shadow sometime between late September through the end of October.
Several players are caught in the 'Grove prop bug' that has been afflicting a growing number of groves throughout the year. Among those affected is veteran player Church Michaelis.
Player Spectre Husky is spotted having joined the TAW website near the end of the month. It is the first time Spectre has been seen since before the end of Planet Forever's run.
The remainder of the month is mostly quiet due to both the devs and most players being occupied with life or other things.
On October 6th, in attempt to get things going on his end again, Liska begins revamping his old EE Strategy Guide project. Having been stuck in a bout of writer's block since mid-July, Liska hopes to have a breakthrough in time for the unveiling of Valkal's Shadow which is planned sometime soon.
On October 8th, Spectre Husky is spotted logging in to the SOA server. As suspected by Liska, who is online at the time, it turns out he is yet another victim of the 'Grove prop bug'.
In the hopes of helping the TAW developers garner interest for EE, player Shadrel Foxen creates a Discord chat server for Earth Eternal early in the month as the IRC chat channels have pretty much gone dead at this point. In spite of this effort, though, few actually sign on to the new chat server throughout the month of October.
While messing around in game, player Shadrel Foxen shows Liska how to get inside the castle props for the Nottingham Castle without actually entering the instance. While this takes quite a few attempts to pull off, Liska spots an unused Boss Chest and several other hidden props placed inside the castle prop itself.
The arrangement of these items makes Liska wonder if perhaps what was being seen was a long abandoned idea from the Sparkplay devs during the original building of the Anglorum region. While the Boss Chest itself is simply a prop rather than a spawn as required for either a boss essence chest or a dungeon token chest, it raises the questions as to whether this was what happened to the long lost Nottingham Castle token chest or if perhaps this was an abandoned idea involving the secondary epic boss Maudlin the Witch which would have given her a boss chest with items just like the Sheriff.
If one of these was the case, why was the token chest hidden from view or could it be the original plan was to storm the Castle from the courtyard before entering the Keep from the inside door after defeating Maudlin the Witch only to have the early idea scrapped in favor of the current setup for the instance?
Still trying to get things going again, Liska manages to work a bit on The Age of Beasts lore section on the 20th of the month. Unfortunately, an unexpected lore conflict slows progress.
Logins continue to remain low throughout the month of October. The 'reveal' of Valkal's Shadow is pushed back to an undetermined time as those working on it continue to be mostly kept busy and unable to work on Earth Eternal much.
Starting around the 28th of the month, Liska begins work on a full Earth Eternal general timeline for the Lore, the Age of Beasts Timeline and the Beast Race Lores. In the process, he discovers many previously overlooked errors plaguing the texts and begins completely taking apart the stories to hunt for everything wrong with them.
Liska continues taking apart the Lore, Timeline and Race Lores while trying to sort out the events that make the full story. Quite a bit of progress is made in coming up with a sequence of events for a general timeline for the complete Lore. By the 3rd of November, Liska has sorted the majority of the main story and a few of the Race Lores.
Player logins continue to be very low due to seeming lack of activity on the servers. The TAW dev team continues to remain mostly preoccupied with things not involving Earth Eternal and overall progress of the game appears to remain at a standstill.
Doing a bit of lore research, Liska stumbles upon a copy of Matt Mihaly's comments regarding the Age of Beasts Timeline and what exactly the Shroomies were searching for on an old EE post on the TerraEternus website where it had been quoted from the original EE website pages. This leads Liska to hunt for the original pages on the Wayback Machine archive. Sadly, while the majority of the thread was indeed saved, the one page that held that critical information was not, rendering that quote on the TE website thread the only surviving copy of that data. Further exploring of the WBM archives turns up interesting bits of information compiled by a number of SPM players involving the origins of many of the names found in both the EE Lore and the game itself.
On the 11th of the month, Liska convinces Player Shadrel Foxen to post a link to his Discord server on the TAW website so all interested players can have the opportunity to join and not just those who hear about it via word of mouth.
After a nearly two and a half month hiatus, Emerald finally makes a reappearance on November 12th. Emerald informs Liska that while she was unable to do much of anything of late in regards to Earth Eternal, that would hopefully change in the upcoming days and weeks.
Liska makes Emerald aware of several of the issues that has begun to plague the main server during her absence and she states that she will deal with them as and when able. She also joins the Discord chat server along with Rivers Slypaw, bringing the total number of developers available there to three. Spectre Husky, who had previously joined the Discord server, through a bit of negotiation, is officially upgraded to at least half-developer status on the TAW website thanks to his role in Planet Forever as the brains behind the Pet system and his intent to create more. Player Yaz is also added to the dev team as 3D Modeler.
Several more notable players join the Discord server through the week.
Emerald attempts to sort out Liska's still unresolved issues on the TAW website and hopefully put an end to the 'posting to the News page when a page is created' problem. Unfortunately, while this latter issue is indeed fixed with a bit of work, a new one preventing Liska from assigning page paths to any created pages, surfaces causing new frustrations for both Emerald and Liska.
The next day, the 13th of the month, Emerald attempts to finally get to the bottom of the grove prop bug; however, she is stymied by an issue that breaks EE on Wine-Staging for all Linux users. As this issue is part of the newer versions of Wine-Staging itself, Emerald spends most of her available time trying to rebuild EE so that it once again can be loaded on Linux distros. The issue is finally isolated to a specific version of Wine-Staging.
Unable to proceed with that fully, Emerald switches gears and focuses on getting all players in the known affected groves moved out of those areas, then turns to locating the props being affected in these groves. Emerald manages to gain more insight into the bug and what might be part of the cause, which she suspects involves, at least in part, the Fastload account permission. As Admin, this bug does not affect her, but, those with player accounts, are affected. As the Admin and Sage permissions are less likely to be part of the issue, the Fastload permission becomes a more likely candidate to be investigated on.
At the request of one of the players on Discord, Emerald posts up the Discord server link, now on the TAW website for other players to see, onto the server's ingame news page itself. This effectively renders the previous IRC chatrooms obsolete.
In the middle of the month, Liska begins work on separating all new quests created during Planet Forever and beyond from the QuestGrunesTalSwineland.txt file that do not involve those two regions and creates a new QuestAnglorumExt.txt file to hold all new quests that are made for that region. As PF's former admin had apparently already created a similar file for Europe at some point during that server's run, Liska decides to move all new quests for those regions into that file instead.
Late in the month, Heathendel, Rozene and Liska begin work on a Sage event that will replace the traditional Harvest Fest event for the year due to Emerald's continued absences.
Near the end of the month, Heathendel manages to put together a story for the event along with outline the rewards which will include many of the Harvest Fest rewards. He then posts about the event on the website so that players are made aware of the upcoming event.
By the end of November, all the TAW developers except for Rictar, who remains absent at this time due to real life, has joined the Discord server along with a number of players.
Due to Emerald's continued absence, the dev team runs out of registration keys to pass out to new players. Heathendel manages to use the few remaining keys he had been holding onto as well. As Emerald is the only one able to generate a new pool of registration keys to pass out, the rest of the team is forced to wait until she reappears to help new players create their accounts.
At the beginning of the month, Heathendel does more work on the Sage Harvest event and posts in Discord that it is 'nearly done', but, does not specify any specific 'time' to run the event.
Like in the previous months, Emerald is kept busy in real life and maintains a large absence in spite of repeatedly trying to get back into EE development.
Work on Valkal's Shadow has been put on hold until either the holiday events have passed or Emerald becomes more active again.
By the first week into December, the TAW devs are still unable to pass out registration keys to new players. They hope Emerald will make an appearance soon so that a new key pool will be generated allowing them to resume passing them out.
Rictar makes a brief appearance on the TAW website for the first time in three months and leaves a message regarding a possible workaround for the issue regarding the registration keys. Two days later, Heathendel replies to Rictar's message and reveals he has been using old keys that he has been holding on to in order to keep helping players get ingame.
On December 12th, none other than the real Piggypops, Andrew Sipotz, himself appears in the Discord EE chat channel to the shock of Liska who is online at the time. Andrew reveals that he had found an old magazine that had mentioned Earth Eternal the same day and remembered the TAW server which had been mentioned to him some months before, so he decided to come and check it out.
Beyond this, Andrew also reveals that he wanted to do a livestream of Earth Eternal and offers a link to his Twitch channel for those who wish to watch him play. Having already gotten a registration key, he begins playing with several of those online heading over to his Twitch channel to watch. In the course of this four hour playthrough, Andrew attracts none other than both Matt Mihaly himself along with the former SPM/TOV Art Director Chris Turner who join in to chat with everyone in the Twitch chatbox and revel in the nostalgia.
During the course of his playthrough, Andrew reveals various details regarding the failures of Earth Eternal, both during the Sparkplay days as well as the TurnOut Ventures days and mentions some of the reasons why the teams working on both versions were unable to fully realize their visions for the game.
A bit later on, a fourth surprise visitor appears in Andrew's Twitch channel – none other than former player Ripper McGee who has not been seen since Iki/EER's run more than five years before. Having found the TAW website, Ripper does mention to Liska, upon inquiry, that a minor error had been made in the Acknowledgements page as it was he, and not McSpeedfreak, who had the alt character 'Croak Andagger'. Liska later updates the page to fix the error and add in more entries to the growing list.
A week later, on December 19th, Andrew livestreams Earth Eternal for the second time. During this stream, he reveals more about the circumstances behind the failure of Sparkplay and many of the restrictions placed on him and the TurnOut team later on. Among these restrictions is a mere three week timeframe in which to completely revamp the region of Earthrise which at long last reveals exactly why that region was a complete mess during the course of Ikimonogatari and Earth Eternal Reborn. The silly quests and inundation of pop culture references were mostly added in haste while knowing the Japanese players would likely not understand many of the references following the translations from English to Japanese.
Another detail Andrew reveals about his time with Turner is they they had wanted to make Earth Eternal more comedic rather than the somewhat more serious, yet still family friendly, game it originally had been so that it would fall in line with many of their other products. He also mentions that originally there was never meant to be an English re-release of the game. This latter detail confirms the fears many former SPM players had had prior to Earth Eternal Reborn's announcement.
Andrew also reveals that while with one of the later companies he had worked for after Turner, that company's dev team had attempted to purchase the Earth Eternal IP from Turner in the hopes of resurrecting Earth Eternal officially yet again. Even though the negotiations had been pretty far along, Andrew and his team had become busy with other projects they were involved with and the deal fell through. While brief mentions of this deal has been known previously, this is the first time certain details regarding it have been revealed to everyone.
Just prior to ending the stream, Andrew makes his Facebook image folder temporarily public so that Liska and others can view some old Ikimonogatari press release images that he still had there. Liska later takes the liberty to copy these in the hopes of posting them to the TAW website at some point.
On December 20th, Emerald finally resurfaces and reveals that she has three weeks free to work on Earth Eternal. The first task dealt with is creating a new batch of registration keys for Scourge Of Abidan followed by answering at least 50 key requests in her backlog. She reveals to Liska that she plans to tackle all of Heathendel's requests the following day and to really get things moving again with the game over the course of the next couple weeks.
On December 23rd, Emerald gathers what Heathendel had sent to her previously and adds what she can find to the Valkal's Shadow dev server. Some of these items Heathendel ends up having to resend due to a few getting somehow 'lost' at some point in time.
Emerald creates a Valkal's Shadow client installer and tests it with Liska. Liska has her update the Direct X9c distro package in the VS client installer from the March 2009 version which both it and Scourge Of Abidan were using to the June 2010 final version so that it falls in line with the SDK file linked to on the website.
On the TAW website, Temrin and Emerald arrange for Temrin to work on the splash screens for both the login and client launch screens for the upcoming Valkal's Shadow expansion. The image in the client installer's installation window is later added to this discussion. Emerald arranges to have Temrin join the Valkal's Shadow dev server so that the latter can visit Swineland directly to collect images for use in the discussed images.
Emerald, Heathendel and Liska all do a bit of work on the Valkal's Shadow expansion itself. Liska sorts out a few quests not part of the Swineland region so that they are fully activated, though it takes a few tries to get these working. He also adds the Junk Palace instance entrance to the Junk Palace compound. Heathendel creates boss scripts for the dungeon bosses Boss Hawg and the Skrill Queen and sends them to Emerald.
Emerald and Heathendel decide that, although technically long overdue, the unveiling of the Valkal's Shadow expansion would finally take place sometime in mid-January 2017.
On December 24th, Emerald adds the Winterland event content to the Valkal's Shadow server and begins sorting out some of the still outstanding issues regarding the as yet unfinished content.
Liska assists Temrin in getting started on the data gathering in Swineland for the intended splash screens and installer image. During this exchange, the idea for a Valkal's Shadow promo video and trailer video is brought up and Temrin later pitches the idea to Emerald on the website soon after. Temrin includes the idea of creating one for Scourge Of Abidan as well; but, Emerald points out that a promo video and trailer for Valkal's Shadow's debut would be the better option as the expansion is near completion anyway.
Dekker Wilder, who had reappeared on the Discord chat server the month before, reveals some information to Liska regarding some of the severe bugs found in the EE client including both the Grove prop bug and the 'hidden' player characters bug. As it turns out, what had previously been attributed to several of Emerald's mods to the EE client following her continuation of the PF project's work, which would later become the EE-TSOA, EE-VS and EE-TAW projects, is revealed to have affected Dekker's own copies of the EE assets which, like Emerald's, were copies of the Planet Forever assets.
Dekker reveals he had discovered what was happening while modding the client with some custom assets some months prior and was hoping the TAW team had found a solution to the issue. Liska admits these same things have plagued the TAW team's servers as well and that the team had not yet isolated the causes mainly due to the team being preoccupied all year with things other than Earth Eternal.
According to Dekker, this issue acts like a 'cancer' to the game assets. He mentions that it stems from a parameters issue and that it only happens when certain situations are met which causes some of the code to be overwritten. The longer the code is running, the more data gets overwritten. Worse, it delves deep and affects both memory and hyperthreading among other things. If Dekker's analysis is accurate, then it is possible many of the severe bugs the TAW team has dealt with might all have the same origins.
On the 26th, Emerald discovers some of the quests fixed a few days earlier had ID conflicts with several other pre-existing quests. She resolves this by reassigning quest IDs so that they no longer conflict with one another.
On the 27th, Liska creates a forum post regarding his conversation with Dekker on the 24th for the rest of the dev team to read and discuss.
Emerald reveals to Liska that she has been working on updating an old project called the 'World Editor' that allows the dev team to edit just about anything on the server. According to Emerald, she started this project long before the Ice*Project and that it was originally intended to be used in conjunction with the Planet Forever server. She mentions that she had started on this early project soon after the PF server was opened to the public, but, that circumstances changed and the project was eventually halted. Now having modified it to work with the Valkal's Shadow dev server, Emerald hopes it will greatly assist the dev team once all the issues with it have been eliminated.
Emerald begins working on the two dungeon boss scripts Heathendel sent her several days before.
On the 28th, Emerald spends all day working on the World Editor before focusing on the Skrill Queen's boss script and mechanics. With some assistance from Liska, Emerald gets the main functions of the boss's script to function and even fixes a minor issue regarding the Swarm skill that was preventing it from working for both mobs and players due to it not targeting the ground for some reason.
On the 29th, Emerald spends another full day working on the World Editor. While she finally finishes getting it ready, a minor issue with the installer prevents her from rolling it out for general developer use. She tells Liska that the Editor will be able to connect to all server versions and those using it can both create content and push out the changes to GitHub so that more 'manual' changes are no longer needed. Emerald reveals that the idea is to make it so that her own role in this process is eventually removed completely and the other devs can more actively work on the server content without having to wait on her to update the servers with their changes in Git.
On December 30th, Emerald finally fixes the installer issue of the previous day, finishes up some final tweaks to her World Editor and rolls it out for use. She creates a forum post announcing it to the other developers.
Emerald then turns her attention to the Skrill Queen boss once again. Using the new World Editor, and to test it, she creates a minion mob meant to be a part of the boss fight that had not yet been created. Afterward, Emerald resumes work on the boss script.
At the beginning of the new year, January 1st, Emerald continues work on the Skrill Queen boss script and manages to finish up both it and the accompanying instance script. She then turns her focus to Boss Hawg's boss script and the mechanics to be found in the Junk Palace dungeon.
At the same time, Emerald updates her post regarding the new World Editor to outline certain features that have yet to be finished.
On January 2nd, Emerald continues to work on the scripts for both Boss Hawg and the instance itself. Liska joins Emerald on the Valkal's server to help test the new instance mechanics that will involve both the players as well as the boss. After several tweaks and adjustments, along with a few tossed around ideas, both feel the dungeon will now hold a bit of 'risk' to challenge the players.
Later, Temrin jumps on the Valkal's server to grab more images for the planned screen images; however, due to a missing model on the Valkal boss itself, this is hampered until the issue is resolved.
On January 3rd, Emerald continues to work on the scripts for Boss Hawg and the Junk Palace.
Heathendel makes his first reappearance in the new year and mostly approves of the proposed ideas for both the Junk Palace and Skrill Queen's Lair dungeons. He also reveals he has sent Emerald newly recreated models for several NPCs that were still lacking them. Heathendel admits that many of these had previously been finished but never released, but, he had lost the original appearances forcing him to recreate them.
Heathendel also tweaks the newly created minion mob for the Skrill Queen's dungeon as they were meant to be 'glass cannon' types that players can easily defeat while fighting the boss.
After Emerald updates the VS server with the changes and new models, she has Liska hop online to verify these were successfully added. While the vast majority are indeed verified to have been added, Liska discovers quite a few areas in the overworld region that have not yet been finished. He agrees to create a list of what is still lacking and post them on the forums so everyone can see what is remaining to be done.
Early on January 4th, Liska explores the entire Swineland area along with the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon to determine which mobs and NPCs still remain without appearances and what areas remain to be finished. He compiles this information into the agreed upon forum post, arranging the items by location.
Both Emerald and Heathendel later comment on it, with Heathendel insisting the Vampire mobs were already finished and the Valkal's dungeon was never worked on outside the boss itself.
Liska hops on both the TAW and VS servers in an attempt to compare the two and see what items were actually done on the TAW server but not carried over to the newer Valkal's Shadow server. Emerald later joins him on the VS server to figure out why certain mobs supposedly already had appearances, yet were showing up in neither the TAW or VS server.
Emerald discovers an old issue that reveals the major reason for this oddity. As it turns out, new creature IDs were being created every time a model's appearance was being added to the server instead of the appearance being applied to the original creature's ID as intended.
This results in Emerald having to isolate all known cases of this issue, at least in regards to the Swineland overworld mobs and dungeon mobs, and correct them. She then restarts the server to again roll out the changes. This done, she checks up on the three dungeon bosses, as they were among those creatures affected, to sort out any issues that may have cropped up with them.
Liska meanwhile, goes around the Swineland region itself to check up on those mobs he had listed in the forum post earlier. Having verified that most of these had been resolved, he updates the post with these changes. Meanwhile, Emerald struggles with resolving the issues that have cropped up with the dungeon bosses, Boss Hawg, in particular. While she spends a good amount of time attempting to sort out the problem, it proves to be a rather stubborn issue and ends up being put off till later.
Later that evening, Heathendel and Liska chat on Discord regarding the day's progress and Heathendel is pleased to learn at least most of his Vampire mobs have been retrieved and added. Heathendel mentions doing some work on the boss mechanics for Valkal himself which leads to a discussion regarding the boss and dungeon. Both toss ideas back and forth and come up with an interesting scenario fitting of a 'grand finale' boss fight. Liska also mentions his suggestion regarding the two Vaj mobs in the overworld, which he had pitched to Emerald earlier in the day, to get his opinion, which is met with approval.
Heathendel also reveals to Liska that during Planet Forever's run, he and that server's admin had begun work on a new area for Valkal's Blood Keep as both had felt the original SPM dungeon was too linear and 'boring'. The project never got off the ground and Heathendel states he believed that he had later deleted the 'special room' since the idea was later scrapped. Now, with the new idea for the Valkal boss laid out, Heathendel mentions that perhaps he could recreate the room from memory so it could serve as the stage for the final portion of the fight. He states he would get started on that in the next few days.
Early on the 5th, Liska gets on both the TAW and VS servers again in an attempt to add the overworld instance entrances to both the Mausoleum and the Skrill Queen's Lair instance locations. The first one proves to be a bit of a challenge as it actually already existed in the TAW server's version of the Mausoleum, but, manually mimicking the position of that version proves to be a bit of a hassle.
Liska also discovers the Mausoleum's props were more 'complete' over on TAW whereas they were only half there on the VS server. On the Skrill Queen's Lair side, Liska discovers a mob had been turned off in the VS server version, which he then reactivates, before adding the dungeon's instance entrance.
Liska then turns his attention to the still-yet-unfinished Junk Palace Compound and proceeds to fill it out with spawns and paths. In the process, he discovers one of the mobs for this area was given the wrong appearance while the rest still have no appearance.
Liska later notices an NPC had been inexplicably removed from Wartown/Old Junktown on the Valkal's Shadow side and readds it. He then updates his forum post again with all the changes made.
Later in the day, Emerald edits Liska's post crossing off the completed items in the list.
Emerald adds a new mechanic to the VS server enabling 'on the fly' creature appearance creation in creature tweak and uses it to fix the mob with the wrong appearance. She has Liska, who is online at the time, verify that he can see the changes which he does. Afterward, Emerald continues sorting out the issues with Boss Hawg for a bit, the mechanics for the instance proving a bit uncooperative.
When Liska points out that the mobs of the Junk Palace Compound need a proper spawn package, Emerald agrees to show him one of the functions of the new World Editor and, with a bit of difficulty, Liska is able to create a spawn package for theses mobs using the new Editor.
Later that night, Liska and Heathendel chat on Discord and Heathendel inquires about creating spawn packages in the World Editor mentioning he had created a spawn package for the main set of Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon mobs. After Liska mentions he had just barely learned how to use the very same feature from Emerald earlier, the two work to sort out Heathendel's issue regarding it. In the process, Liska inquires about the named mobs of the dungeon and Heathendel states he has added them, though Liska mentions they should have their own packages.
Heathendel then informs Liska that he did not have time to recreate the special room that he and the PF admin had originally been working on, but, also mentions that he actually discovered the original room they had made still exists on the server and had not actually been deleted as he had believed.
Both Heathendel and Liska log into the Valkal's Shadow server and begin exploring the room which turns out to be a bit larger than Liska expected. Heathendel explains that he and PF's admin were not sure how to integrate the new area to the main part of the dungeon and so it was left unfinished. Now, with a new idea for the boss fight laid out, the room is explored and both Liska and Heathendel debate on where the final portion of the boss fight would take place.
After some changes to the mini-zone, a bit of debating between both Heathendel and Liska, along with a minor argument over where things should go, a general setup is finally settled on and the two see potential in what is meant to be the 'grand finale' of the entire expansion. Both also notice the model for Valkal has a gimpy left leg, something Liska had thought was due to its placement on a bone pile prop in the main dungeon; but, as it turns out, appears to be a flaw in the actual model appearance itself.
On January 6th, Liska begins to apply the spawn package he created the day before to the mobs of the Junk Palace Compound. In the process though, he notices that Emerald's changes to the mobs at the entrance to the Compound did not 'stick' and they had reverted back to the incorrect appearances as if nothing had been done. Further, to his dismay, Liska realizes they already had been part of a pre-existing spawn package and he had added them to his new one as well.
Emerald is later informed of the mob issue but also reveals she had forgotten the entrance mobs had their own package. She resumes work on getting the Junk Palace script to work properly and finally manages to fix it.
Liska mentions the new chamber for the Valkal's Blood Keep and convinces her to look at it. After explaining how things were to go in the new area, Liska also mentions there had been an instance entrance that for some reason vanished before Heathendel left the area the previous day. Emerald readds it having already planned to work on connecting all the instance entrances in each Swineland dungeon to the overworld.
Since this tiny room was to be connected to the Valkal's Blood Keep, Emerald decides to start that task off by linking the room to the Ouroboros placed next to the Valkal boss in the main dungeon. During this process, it is revealed that the room was actually in the same instance as the rest of the Blood Keep dungeon, placed only a short distance away from the original dungeon's layout.
Having not linked instances for a good long while, it takes Emerald a bit to get reacquainted with the process. After a few failed attempts, a few server restarts and both the discovery, and subsequent fixing of, a bug in the World Editor, the two portions of the instance are finally linked. Unfortunately, the interact prop on the main dungeon side proves to be troublesome as, unlike any prevous instance entrance, this one is placed on the floor on top of a 'trap door' next to the throne behind the boss. After a few more tweaks, server restarts and experiments, Emerald finally gets the interact to sit properly.
During the tweaks for the trap door 'instance entrance' portal, another issue regarding the Valkal boss itself makes itself known. While mildly humorous, seeing an 'Elite' Valkal indicates for both Emerald and Liska that it was time to nip that issue in the bud. Emerald sorts out both the Valkal boss along with a few other named mobs and the other two instance bosses the Skrill Queen and Boss Hawg. To seal this issue, Emerald makes all three dungeons full instances.
After the trap door portal's interact prop is fixed, both Emerald and Liska realize another issue regarding a possible exploit involving the portal could disrupt the intended progression of the boss fight. They decide to close the exploit by making a multi-stepup spawn setup for the entire boss fight sequence in which the portal would not become available for use until after the boss had been defeated in the first phase of the proposed two-stage fight. Emerald reveals she can make this fix without a server reset, but, it takes at least one to get things to work properly. She tests the boss itself to make absolutely certain the portal interact only becomes usable after the boss' defeat and not any time prior.
On the 7th, Emerald finishes linking up the other instance entrances to the rest of the Swineland dungeons, save for the still incomplete Mausoleum instance. She also finds and fixes the issue involving the Junk Palace Compound mobs that had had their appearances revert to the incorrect ones after having changed them.
While testing the first phase Valkal boss to get him to retreat to the portal as per the intended mechanics, an issue crops up where he does not disengage the players when he is meant to stop fighting and flee. Several attempts by Emerald fail to resolve the issue.
On January 8th, Emerald spends the day performing a massive back-porting of most of the Valkal's Shadow changes over to the TAW server. This latter task proves to be huge only because it had been put off for way too long.
She then continues to attempt to figure out what is causing the issue preventing the Valkal boss from disengaging the fight at the end of the first stage where he supposed to retreat to the portal. Emerald comes to the conclusion that one of his abilities is the culprit but is unable to resolve the problem or figure out how the ability might be triggering the issue. Liska briefly joins her on the VS server to help in testing Valkal's mechanics and trying to isolate this issue, but, to no avail.
During an interval between the Valkal boss fight tests, Liska spots a mistake in the exit message for the Valkal's Blood Keep main instance entrance and brings it to Emerald's attention who then fixes it.
On the 9th, Emerald spends most of the day working a bit on her old project of sorting out the TAW server's code and optimizing it piece by piece.
Later, while discussing a possible solution to the rather troublesome issue regarding Valkal's intended disengagement from the first stage portion of his boss fight, Liska and Emerald get on the VS server again to test it. Unfortunately both this idea along with several others are also met with failure; however, this round of tests also reveals that the ability that Emerald had suspected as being the culprit really was not the root cause. This leaves both Emerald and Liska at a loss.
On January 10th, Emerald finally isolates and fixes the cause of the Valkal boss's refusal to disengage the fight according to the script. She then begins work on the series of minions that will be summoned during the course of the boss fight. Both Emerald and Liska test this batch a number of times to get them to appear and engage players accordingly.
Also, for some reason, the appearance for the Valkal boss gets changed, yet it isn't known if this was an intentional change or an accidental one.
January 11th has more additions added to the Blood Keep dungeon. Among these are the various sub-bosses that Heathendel had made appearances to. He set these up in their respective locations, save for one who still lacks a creature entry. This one is temporarily replaced by a brazier spawn to mark the yet-to-be-created mob's intended location.
Emerald ports over the new 'Books' mechanic originally meant to be one of the new features in The Anubian War version of EE to the Valkal's Shadow version and gets it working.
Upon finding Heathendel's newly added bosses, Liska creates a few shortcut markers at each location so Emerald can inspect them. He also helps test the newly added Book feature which results in a bug that is fixed afterward.
Later on, Liska and Heathendel discuss Emerald's addition of the Book feature, agreeing on the idea of having tidbits of Lore scattered about the various dungeons in the game as being a nice little side item for players to find. Liska points out that this gives players a reason to finally fully explore the larger dungeons that, up to now, have often been largely left unexplored once the quests regarding them have been completed. In spite of this, Heathendel feels the secondary idea of offering subtle hints about the various dungeons and how they work would undermine the intent of the dungeons and be immersion breaking. Liska concedes to these points and scraps that portion of the idea.
On the 12th of the month, Emerald fixes one of the issues regarding the two bombs in the Junk Palace dungeon. She also fixes a creature definition that somehow got messed up by her new World Editor tool.
Emerald begins work on the Valkal boss' intended adds that are meant to spawn during the course of the boss fight. Liska helps Emerald test these adds to make sure they properly target the players as intended.
Liska begins work on a new project: creating 'books' for all the instances in the game from Corsica up through Swineland. These include all dungeons and the friendly instances. Each instance would have a certain number based on its overall size. Single 'room' dungeons would have one-page writings while expansive dungeons would have multiple 'pages' of a 'book'. As agreed upon with Heathendel, Liska chooses to add bits of lore and other story text into these rather than dungeon hints or spoilers that could affect the overall 'effect' of the dungeons themselves.
On the 13th, Emerald continues work on the mechanics for the Valkal boss. She updates the appearances of two Blood Keep mobs and fixes an issue with the altered Valkal mob that resulted in the boss appearing as a Normal mob rather than a Legendary mob.
Emerald continues work on the adds but also begins work on the Valkal boss' intended 'special' abilities.
On the 14th of the month, Emerald does more work on the World Editor and updates the forum post outlining the progress with it.
Emerald completes the functionality for at least two of the Valkal boss' 'special' abilities.
Later that day, Emerald and Liska discuss progress on the Valkal's Shadow server. During the course of the discussion, Liska reveals to Emerald his new 'books' project and that he had chosen to make sets for all instances rather than just those in Swineland.
The discussion switches to the two quests Liska had created several months prior and a missing mob that has been left out of the Wilhelm's Crypt dungeon since late SPM. Emerald locates this mob, the High Ritualist, and verifies it lacks spawnpoints. Liska mentions having tried getting Planet Forever's admin to restore the creature during that server's run but that this never happened.
Emerald reveals it might likely have been removed early in SPM and the SPM 0.8.1 Patch Notes do reveal this creature had been 'removed from the non-heroic' section of the dungeon. Liska interprets this to mean the existing quest's portion of the dungeon rather than the entire dungeon. With the possibility of restoring a 'lost' mob to a dungeon, Emerald agrees to add the High Ritualist mob back in, though at a later date.
Motivated by the discussion regarding his unreleased quests, Emerald helps Liska create a new NPC for his 'bridging' quest using the new World Editor's creature creation functionalities. Although Liska struggles with the new tool, he is eventually able to create the NPC creature. Unfortunately, an issue with the Editor results in the newly created NPC to appear nude rather than clothed even though the NPC shows as having clothing attachments in creaturetweak. Emerald uses this new issue as an excuse to also show Liska how to directly copy the appearance of one creature over to another in order to fix the messed up NPC while ingame.
Liska revisits the two quests he created for both the new NPC and the Wilhelm's Crypt dungeon while looking over his 'book' entries. To his dismay, he discovers he had made a mob misidentification in both the Wilhelm's Crypt quest and the entries in his new 'books' project involving the same instance.
Emerald completes the second of the Valkal boss' 'special' abilities but struggles to get it to work.
On the 15th, Emerald locates and fixes a longstanding bug that prevented the official City Maps from being displayed in the full Map while the player is in a City.
On the 17th, Heathendel creates spawn packages for the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon along with a set for the Skrill Queen Lair and tries to push these changes to Git all through the World Editor.
Emerald continues working on the 'special' abilities of the Valkal boss and manages to get at least two of them set up.
Heathendel begins to fill out the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon with mobs.
Early on January 18th, Heathendel sends Liska a request to fill out the Skrill Queen Lair dungeon with mobs while he does the same with the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. He indicates to Liska that with these out of the way, and with Emerald nearly done with boss mechanics, the time to test/release the new expansion draws ever closer.
Later in the day, Emerald begins work on one of the last 'special' abilities of the Valkal boss, but, fails to get it to function. With the help of Liska and Heathendel, the other 'special' abilities are tested until they are verified to work save for one.
Both Emerald and Heathendel discover that the creature appearances he had supposedly pushed to Git the previous day through the World Editor did not actually go through. In spite of Emerald trying to help him get this functionality to work in the World Editor, it is eventually determined that the Editor itself is bugged and Emerald disables creature creation and modification from the program until the issue is fixed.
Due to the disaster of the failed appearances, Heathendel is forced to redo his appearances as for some reason they did not get saved. In addition to this, one appearance was apparently saved to the wrong mob.
Heathendel reveals to Liska that the Valkal boss' 'new' appearance was likely an accidental change to an experimental version that was not done by him and that it was likely mixed up with the second version of the boss.
Talks between Heathendel and Liska regarding the status of the Valkal boss' adds results in a compromise where the originally selected mob would be used to populate the boss room prior to the boss fight itself and a brand new mob would be created to fill in the role as boss 'adds'.
By proxy through Heathendel, Liska helps player Silvermane get through a series of issues that have been preventing him from logging in to the game on his new computer. With both Heathendel and Silvermane having spent an entire night unable to get Silvermane's client running, Liska succeeds in this endeavor in under an hour by pointing out the files needed and where they were linked on the Downloads page of the website. Both later only half-joke while on the main server that Liska should be 'tech support' for the game from then on.
Liska gets ready to work on the mobs of the Skrill Queen Lair dungeon on the Valkal server and Heathendel reveals that, due to the issues with the World Editor, he was unable to create the appearances or the spawn package for the mobs of the dungeon. Unable to get motivated by this time, though, Liska sets the task aside for later.
Early on the 19th of the month, Liska does more work on the 'books' entries and fixes the 'creature misidentification mistake' in the Wilhelm's Crypt entries. The error in his quest is not yet adjusted with a corresponding change, though.
From January 20th through early in the day on the 21st, Liska fills out the Skrill Queen Lair dungeon with spawnpoints and paths. He also adds a Sanctuary to the dungeon.
Later on the 21st, Liska adds the Skrill mobs to the spawnpoints in the Skrill Queen Lair dungeon and adds a Sanctuary in the Junk Palace dungeon. Heathendel continues filling out the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon with mobs. Liska adds a few entries for the 'books' as well.
On the 22nd, Emerald adds location data to the newly placed Sanctuaries and does more work on the instance mechanics of the Valkal boss fight. She also fixes a few issues with the Grunes Tal region's environment and ambient music.
Liska adds a Sanctuary to the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. Heathendel goes through the Skrill Queen Lair dungeon and gives all spawnpoints and the Sanctuary proper orientation in the instance. He also resizes the Blood Keep's newly added Sanctuary to better fit in the chosen spot.
On January 23rd, Emerald adds functionality to the three instance Sanctuaries so that players can now respawn there after dying. She also reorients and resizes the one in Junk Palace as needed.
Emerald rolls out more of Heathendel's changes as he is still unable to 'push' any of his changes on his own via the World Editor. Due to a bug, at least one of the mobs is given the wrong color forcing Emerald to fix it and restore the mob to its intended appearance while rolling out the rest of the appearances.
Emerald also fixes the issues affecting the appearance editor in the World Editor program.
After several days of work, Heathendel finally finishes filling out the Valkal's Blood Keep with mobs. Emerald continues working on the instance mechanics for the Valkal boss fight and hits a snag. After debating the situation with Heathendel and Liska it becomes clear an alternative idea may need to be considered instead.
Liska adds a few more sets to the 'books' project he's been working on and runs the ideas for some of them by Emerald who expresses interest in reading them once they are finished.
On the 24th, Heathendel finishes the appearances for each of the Skrill mobs along with creating the four sub-bosses for the dungeon.
Heathendel and Liska chat a bit and quickly come up with both mobs and a storyline for the last remaining overworld area that has yet to be filled out.
Temrin reappears after a few weeks indicating she plans to get around to making the images for VS but inquires if the Valkal boss had its appearance so pics could be made of it. Heathendel verifies the boss is there now.
On the 25th, Heathendel creates a bunch of NPCs for Wartown/Old Junktown and Redeemer's Camp in Swineland. He also creates the mobs for the newly recreated Cracked Rock Skrill dungeon which has been reported 'missing' since the Sparkplay days. For this instance, he requests a quest or two for it from Liska. He also creates the mobs for the upcoming Mausoleum dungeon in Swineland.
Later, Emerald adds all of Heathendel's changes to the Valkal's Shadow server. Again, though, the appearances are messed up even after many of Emerald's fixes. As it turns out, the attachments for many of them are being stripped off the creatures for some reason. Emerald spends quite a bit of time fixing the bugs in the World Editor to address these issues.
Emerald also adds and fixes up a music track she found that she thinks might work for the Swineland region ambience, even if just on the night cycle of the environment.
Temrin replies to the forum thread again asking if Valkal now has an appearance and Liska verifies the boss does but adds that he isn't sure it is the correct one intended for Valkal. Temrin decides to hold off until final confirmation has been made that the boss has the correct appearance before proceeding to work on the VS images.
Heathendel adds the mobs he created the day before to the empty town area on the Swineland overworld dubbed the 'Nuclear Path'.
After a few failed attempts at creating the Mausoleum instance, Heathendel has Emerald do this for him. Later on, Heathendel builds the Mausoleum itself, then fills it out with props and mobs. Liska points out that the name of the boss meant for the Mausoleum dungeon is an accidental pun on the name of both the VS server and the new EE expansion itself.
Liska and Heathendel exchange ideas regarding the Cracked Rock Skrill instance and the quest progression that will involve it.
Heathendel adds the named sub-boss to the front of the overworld portion of the Mausoleum. He then goes to the Skrill Queen Lair to try and fix the mobs that lost their attachments and create the spawn packages for the set.
Heathendel attempts to work on the sub-boss Wyrmtongue in the Kerakura's Lair dungeon, but, is stymied by an odd issue rendering this boss neutral instead of hostile.
On the 26th, Heathendel posts up a fix for Valkal's appearance in reply to Temrin's forum questions from the previous two days. He adds Temrin can tweak Valkal for the correct appearance until Emerald adds the appearance fix to the server.
On the 27th, Heathendel attempts to return to working on the Iron Maw dungeon which had been put on hold for several months. For some reason, the content for the dungeon had not been carried over to Valkal's Shadow. Liska and Heathendel discuss this and Heathendel indicates the dungeon is intact on the Scourge server while Liska insists it is also on the TAW server.
Both also discuss various mobs likely meant for the original instance meant for Fengarian that later got converted to Grimfrost's Lair by SPM.
On January 29th, Liska and Emerald chat a bit. Emerald is made aware of the Iron Maw issue and during the discussion, Liska realizes the reason for the missing assets is because these were in the grove devIronMaw which Emerald reveals does not exist in Valkal's Shadow.
Further investigation by both reveals that the version of devIronMaw with the more complete dungeon lies on the TAW server. The version of the old dev grove on the Scourge server had last been edited back in 2014, meaning it had not been modified since Planet Forever. These same files on the TAW server, however, had last been modified as recent as 2016.
It takes Emerald several tries, but, eventually the near complete version of the Iron Maw dungeon is properly ported over to VS. She also connects the dungeon to overworld Grunes Tal at Liska's request while also activating the dungeon's Sanctuary. A minor mistake to the warp text when entering the dungeon from Grunes Tal claims the player is entering Junk Palace instead of Iron Maw.
On the 30th, Liska and Heathendel completely fill out the Iron Maw dungeon with spawns, paths and mobs save for one location requiring new mechanics. One area is even tweaked a bit to accommodate one of the sub-bosses and its mechanics.
The two also discuss ideas regarding planned changes to the crafting system and Heathendel reveals some of these changes might make it over to Valkal's Shadow alongside The Anubian War. Heathendel also reveals he has been creating armor sets for the level 51 range and both he and Liska begin tossing ideas around on how to get armor sets both new and pre-existing to be added to the game for levels 51, 53 and 55.
On the last day of the month, Heathendel begins looking at various unused content to add to the Valkal's Shadow expansion. He asks the other members of the dev team via a post on the website where a reasonable location for the unused legendary dragon boss Fengarian would be. Liska replies to Heathendel's post and, through various discussions both in the thread and on the VS server, the two both agree that an instance within a future Avalon mini-region instance would be the most ideal location for this unused boss and its mob set, though this same choice would require the most effort.
On February 3rd, Liska does more work on the dungeon 'book' sets.
Spurred on by the discussion regarding Fengarian and a possible Avalon instance being made, on the 5th of the month, Heathendel begins looking at the other unused dungeon instances to see which ones could be finished to help fill the gaps in game content. He makes another post on the forums asking the dev team's opinions and once again, Liska replies offering reasons why this instance would work or that one should be put off for later.
As a result of their conversations via the forum posts, Heathendel begins work on fixing up the Old Underground dungeon starting on the 6th of the month. For some reason, like the Junk Palace dungeon, the Old Underground instance had retained its props but somehow lost its dungeon tiles. While the latter was completely revamped, it is decided that the Old Underground instance would be painstakingly retrofitted with dungeon tiles closely matching the intended appearance. This task proves challenging at best.
In addition to the Old Underground instance, Heathendel indicates he plans to also work on the Wild Caverns instance which both he and Liska have decided could be tweaked later on to work with an earlier planned idea meant for The Anubian War content.
In response to Heathendel's query about what would be encountered in the Old Underground, as many of the props seem to indicate a Vampire presence, Liska corrects the misconception by stating it was likely meant to be an undead instance that just so happened to have a whole lot of coffins and that SPM simply used the 'vampire' version of these. Liska then explains the various bits of Lore mentioned in the Age of Beasts timeline along with the Cyclopes' race lore that likely pertain to the backstory while filling in gaps as necessary to 'set up' the scenario for the dungeon.
Liska also points out that the dungeon boss would likely be at the entrance as evidenced by the props placed there. To avoid a repeat of the Haunted Grove's placement of it's dungeon boss, he suggests making it so that the Old Underground's own dungeon boss will not spawn until the dungeon's sub-bosses are all defeated. While skeptical of the idea, Heathendel admits that that could be a possible solution.
Heathendel continues work on the Old Underground on the 7th getting a good portion of the retrofitted dungeon tiles pieced together. He decides to work on the 'west' side of the dungeon this time.
Very early on February 8th, Rictar reappears briefly on the SOA and VS servers for the first time in several months. Talks with Liska on the VS server reveals Rictar has, for the most part, lost interest in the game, at least for the time being. Rictar states he is 'burned out' and has been since the last time he worked on Swineland content just prior to his extended absence. Having been the only one working on the game while the other members of the team had been preoccupied with other things, along with their own burn outs during those months, Rictar eventually caved and could not continue alone.
Still being unable to return to Earth Eternal peaceably, at least for now, Rictar entrusts his last unfinished Swineland project to Liska and outlines what he had planned to do regarding it. This project, of course, involves making the overworld mobs 'wander' freely as they do in other regions of the game. Rictar had gotten a large portion of this task done but had 'burned out' before he was able to finish it.
It is currently unknown whether or not Rictar has decided to leave the TAW dev team or is just taking a very extended break from Earth Eternal in general before attempting a comeback.
Later in the day, Heathendel continues working on the dungeon tiles for the Old Underground on the middle and 'western' sections of the dungeon. Liska updates him on the situation involving Rictar and the two agree on giving him time as Liska had also suffered a burn out for several months late the previous year.
Due to issues with the two types of dungeon tiles being used in the dungeon along with height differences when aligning the tiles, Heathendel finds it difficult to blend the two sets together. Liska and Heathendel had planned to have the two major tunnels of the dungeon connect to one another via a series of caves, however, due to the issues Heathendel has with these tiles, this proves almost a futile effort even after tossing around possible solutions with Liska. Another issue is a tile gap in one of the side rooms which Heathendel attributes to just one of the many problems with these dungeon tilesets.
Continuing work on the dungeon's tileset on February 9th, Heathendel and Liska discuss how to resolve the existing issues and toss around more ideas. While it takes a bit of doing and some careful selections on Heathendel's part, he finally manages to connect the two parts of the dungeon with one another via an alternate route partially lined with some of the pre-existing props.
Deciding to finish the 'western' side of the dungeon before returning to the 'eastern' section leading to the entrance, Heathendel fills in the area with dungeon tiles for a planned extended area save a few spots. While examining this area, Liska points out an issue with one tile's doorway which for some reason cannot be passed through. This is resolved with a bit of clutter props and Heathendel's original plan for the area beyond is tweaked a bit for a new idea both he and Liska come up with.
As existing dungeons up to this point have been 'nothing special' far as layout, Heathendel reveals a 'hidden' side passage he has added for players to discover. He and Liska bat around ideas for how players can access it and they settle on a puzzle scenario that players must solve to open it for exploration. Heathendel then fills in the areas around both the new 'hidden passage' and the planned puzzle's location. Both decide the 'hidden area' should have a special 'hidden enemy' that players can fight should they figure out how to access location.
Heathendel then returns to the main section of the west side of the dungeon and begins work on getting the rest of the dungeon pieced together. While setting up the last few passages connecting the two major tunnels of the Old Underground, Heathendel adds another new 'hidden area' which he tells Liska will include a 'hidden loot chest' for players to find. As with the previous hidden area, Heathendel expresses to Liska the desire to make the dungeons of the game more interesting and less 'direct' as they have been up to now. Heathendel's alterations to the existing Old Underground layout, via trying to bridge the sets of pre-existing props in areas where none were located, also both enlarge the dungeon as well as make it less of a direct instance.
Heathendel and Liska continue to chat and discuss various ideas while Heathendel adds further sections of the dungeon to link up with the East Tunnel up through very early on the 10th of the month. Along the way, another minor snag in connecting the two areas is sorted.
Heathendel also reveals to Liska he would like to see the Old Underground have a large optional area, mainly located in the West Tunnel section. Further, as players would likely warp out of the dungeon after supposedly 'clearing it', they might miss the actual dungeon boss if the original idea posited by Liska is set up. Both debate this issue and come up with an idea for various 'warp points' deeper in the dungeon where players could then be warped to near the entrance. Liska also suggests adding some 'message' that lets players know something has been 'disturbed' once the last of the required sub-bosses is defeated so that they are aware the dungeon isn't finished yet.
On February 12th, Heathendel finally finishes setting up the Old Underground's dungeon tiles and sorts a few other issues involving some newer props along the way.
Later in the day, Heathendel begins to fill the dungeon with many new props to more fully flesh out the instance's intended 'environment'. Liska partially objects to the lighting as he feels the dungeon should have been long sealed and so lighting doesn't make sense. In response, Heathendel begins to alter some of the lighting but explains that many of the props with fires and lights can't really be altered as they are part of the overall propsets being placed.
Due to this new delimma, Liska begins brainstorming a solution which results in a new idea to further a storyline that Sparkplay never continued: The Hyperion Apostasy and the Thornbringers' involvement in it. Liska pitches his new idea to Heathendel who loves it and both begin trying to figure out how it would work.
Both hit on the idea to make the dungeon's new 'secret boss' a part of this new direction and Heathendel returns to the area it would be located in and proceeds to tweak the dungeon tiles to accommodate the new idea's plot. Liska and Heathendel discuss what the boss should be and what it should be named. These decided upon, the overall boss difficulty in relation the rest of the dungeon is also discussed along with what rewards that players could get from defeating the hidden boss. Names for both rewards and drops are tossed around with a few decided upon.
Liska places the dungeon's Sanctuary in the first passage beyond the entrance, resulting in Heathendel questioning why it was put so far away. The two debate about this, but, Liska insists there are other dungeon instances where the Sanctuary wasn't placed right next to the entrance, but, also adds that the room he placed this one could serve as the 'portal hub' for their earlier idea for warps to the entrance located deeper in the dungeon.
On the 13th of the month, Heathendel continues to fill the Old Underground dungeon with new prop sets. He focuses on the West Tunnel and one of the rooms leading to the East Tunnel. He also creates the various items and rewards for the secret boss.
Later, Heathendel reveals to Liska that while looking through the assets and items, he had discovered various items beyond level 50. In addition to this, he had discovered that Sparkplay had made plans for two additional tiers in the skill system: one at level 60 and one at level 70. Each of these two tiers had new skills for the Mage, Knight and Rogue. However, the Druid had no new abilities in these tiers. Beyond the class skills, there was a new Resurrect skill and two henge ports, one for Swineland and one for a 'location 6'.
Heathendel and Liska agree that while the Swineland port would be put to use once Valkal's Shadow was released, 'location 6' was likely located in one of the Spain regions. Liska suggests the Shimmering Coast as the possible intended spot for henge 'location 6'. Liska also surmises that these two new tiers were the reason the leveling system allowed a maximum of level 70 at the top most level cap which is currently only accessible to developers and sages.
After discussing the significance of Heathendel's discoveries, Liska suggests holding these back in the skill system revamp so that ready-made skills would be available for when the team works on Lurker's Vale and the Spain regions. Heathendel, however, insists that with the Skill System revamp, these skills could simply be added to the pool, their levels adjusted and then used at a lower tier. Then later on when those regions are worked on, the team could simply create new skills to fill in those two new tiers. Although skeptical of this idea, Liska concedes that could also be doable.
On February 17th, Liska cleans up his new quest for Wilhelm's Crypt so that it falls in line with the bits of Lore regarding the dungeon and those in it. Afterward, Liska begins working on a quest for the Old Underground instance, but, hits a snag that forces him to stop until the intended lore for that dungeon is sorted. Unable to resolve the quests for the moment, Liska begins investigating around the overworld portion of the Old Underground looking for an ideal location for a new questgiver NPC or two while on the main server.
On the 19th, Rictar reappears on the main server having decided to do some 'building for fun' in one of his groves. Still not motivated for any sort of dev work or serious grove projects, he tells Liska that this bit of groving is basically just something to do really. Liska, and later, Heathendel, visit Rictar in his Bastion Island grove. Seeing the rather neat 'shipwreck fort' Rictar has been working on indicates that even though he is unmotivated, Rictar can still come up with interesting ideas.
Rictar and Liska do lament that neither Sparkplay nor TurnOut had left much variety in the ship props available nor had created a 'broken' version of the Anubian Gate prop. Not even a prototype that could be refined later had been made of these. Both grimly agree the team would need a skilled 3D modeler to make such items.
After seeing Rictar's random building, and also being a bit unmotivated to do further prop work in the Old Underground, Heathendel turns his attention to his 'hidden chest' idea and heads to the Broken Tower instance to find a good spot to add one of these. He creates a new room where both a hidden chest along with a hidden boss will reside. Showing this room to Liska, Heathendel and Liska begin batting around ideas to explain the boss and find a way to get it to fit with the existing 'story' of the Broken Tower.
On the 20th of the month, Heathendel, still not motivated to work on the Old Underground tweaks the Abandoned Monastery and Nottingham Castle instances to include a hidden room with a hidden chest. Later on, he shows these to Liska and explains the ideas behind each. This gets Liska thinking and he expresses the idea to add more to the Wilhelm's Crypt, Underhenge and Coldstorm Cavern instances.
A bit later, Liska scouts out all three dungeons and discovers that, at least for Coldstorm Cavern, Heathendel's boss room addition for Stormwitch Cyclona had not been carried over from either the TAW or SOA servers, the instance having been the original, unaltered version. Wanting to confirm whether or not the Abandoned Monastery has the same issue, Liska attempts to port there once again, but, for some odd reason is unable to do so, leaving his suspicions unconfirmed.
On the 23rd, Heathendel begins scouting out the Goliath Ruins for a potential site for a 'hidden chest'. He enlists Liska's help in coming up with ideas for this dungeon's new hidden chest. Afterward, Liska takes Heathendel to both the Wilhelm's Crypt and Underhenge to explain his ideas from several days earlier. While surveying the locations that Liska had in mind, the two come up with ideas on how to make a 'hidden chest' work in both dungeons.
At the same time, Liska mentions his discoveries regarding Heathendel's boss room additions to Coldstorm Cavern and the Abandoned Monastery. Heathendel states that if worse comes to worse, he can easily recreate them on the VS server rather than worry about possible changes to the two dungeons conflicting with the earlier alterations that would be on the other servers.
Originally planning to create a few quests on the 25th, Liska ends up taking notes and laying out a basic 'outline' for the lore of the so-called 'Hyperion Apostasy' and fills in gaps left out by both Matt's Age of Beasts Timeline and the 'Priestess Claira' Underhenge quest that mentions two figures neither seen nor mentioned anywhere else in the game or the lore.
Rictar goes to continue his grove building on the SOA server, but, encounters the prop bug in the process. Using his Sage character to pull himself out of his own grove, Rictar relocates to another of his groves and later informs Liska upon inquiry that, due to the prop bug, he can no longer continue building on his 'for fun' project and by the time Emerald is able to remove the offending prop from the affected grove, his muse will likely have already gone. Both express the wish that Emerald's new World Editor could allow any of the devs to locate such props and remove the items themselves without the need for Emerald herself to directly intervene.
At the end of the month, late on the 26th, Heathendel and Silvermane decide to challenge the “It” boss officially for the first time since Planet Forever. Their first two attempts fail, the second just barely. Liska then joins in, hoping his assistance would be enough to push the other two over the edge to victory. Rictar also joins in, having both his 'grove' play character and Sage online.
Sure enough, with a balanced plan and a two knight, two druid setup, all four of them at long last defeat “It”, the three devs in the group using their regular play characters. This is the first official defeat of the “It” boss fight since Dekker had him created late in Planet Forever. It also marks the first official defeat of the boss since Heathendel reworked the boss' mechanics after the TAW team got the game's assets.
While this boss had been “defeated” using a rather cheap method just before the PF server came down, most never really counted that as an official victory since overpowered equipment and experience levels currently out of reach of the general playerbase had been used.
Fresh off their victory over the formerly 'undefeated' boss, Heathendel, Rictar, Liska and Silvermane decide to do an official full run of the Wailing Crypt dungeon as well. Rictar uses his Sage character to port the four of them directly to the dungeon entrance in Grunes Tal, though he does not do anything else using dev powers. He later logs out of the Sage character during the dungeon run. The four make their way through the Wailing Crypt dungeon all the way into the early morning of the 27th and, after 3-4 hours, finally succeeds in defeating The Wailer boss.
Heathendel believes this is the very first time this dungeon has been successfully beaten, though Liska claims at least one other all player team had already done so previously. Heathendel states he had figured they had never bested The Wailer, but, is pleased to know it is possible the dungeon was indeed doable by another group.
The group also points out and considers two minor issues with the Wailer's boss mechanics that could be tweaked a little by the dev team and decide it would help improve the experience.
Later in the day on February 27th, Liska and Heathendel chat on the SOA server about the previous night's two milestones in regards to the boss “It” and the Wailing Crypt run. Heathendel reveals the two dungeon runs, particularly the “It” fight, got him thinking about the Shadow Legion and the Grey Circle, and how to continue their stories in Dekker's unfinished quest chain.
Doing lore research regarding the Shadows, Heathendel and Liska get into a minor dispute over how the Shadows fit into the lore and how much of their story should be accessible to players as quests and defeatable enemies. Getting sidetracked a bit, the dispute leaks into other bits of lore regarding the Grey Circle, and the Mystarch fortress.
After the dispute is put aside, Heathendel reveals that he has been in contact with Dekker and the two have been talking about Dekker's quest chain. Dekker reveals to Heathendel his plans regarding the next 'stage' of the quest chain that is meant to involve the Broken Tower instance. After hearing the idea, Heathendel abandons his Shadow continuation ideas in favor of getting Dekker's original idea to work.
He further reveals that Dekker has been in contact with Planet Forever's former admin and the two have become interested in possibly making a partial return to Earth Eternal as minor members of the TAW dev team. The caveat with this surprise information is that the two would make brief appearances on the servers to say 'hi' once a month or help with working on the game here and there.
Heathendel also reveals that apparently the PF admin's attitude regarding 'certain individuals' in his final 'rant' just prior to that server's closure, it turns out, was mostly directed toward Rivers Slypaw. The former PF admin had blamed Rivers for his constant complaints about the game and this was one of the largest contributors to his loss of interest in working on it. Knowing he was also a target of the former admin's 'rant', Liska inquires if his presence on the team would drive him away again, and Heathendel states he isn't sure as Liska wasn't mentioned.
As the two discuss this new development, Heathendel further reveals that he questions Rivers' own role as a legitimate member of the TAW dev team as Rivers has not really contributed much since the team was formed. While Liska insists Rivers should still be considered a member of the team as real life has simply kept him preoccupied, Heathendel holds the opinion he's more the occasional volunteer helper than a full team member. Liska also states in Rivers' defense that both he and Rozene were often mostly idle simply because they were waiting for the rest of the team to give them something to do in the game.
Later on, Heathendel and Rictar discuss his role on the team as revealed in an accidental 'wrong chat' message on Rictar's own part. This same message seems to indicate Rictar also considered Rivers a longtime member of the dev team.
Yaz reappears after a few months to again request access to the developer servers so she can help with the game. Still interested in being the team's 3D Modeler, Yaz returns to playing the game in the evening and both she and Liska begin chatting off and on. They resume chatting about the game up through the early morning of the 28th, with topics ranging from what programs and languages the game is made from to various bits of game history mostly involving Sparkplay Media's run.
This month marks the two year anniversary of Emerald Icemoon's private EE servers.
The first day of the month sees Heathendel and Liska discussing new ideas Heathendel has. Liska also relates to him a new idea for the Old Underground dungeon boss that involves a quest NPC similar to the setup seen in The Down Below dungeon. Heathendel likes the general idea, but, wants to do the transition from NPC to boss fight a different way. Rather than argue over it, both agree to let Emerald decide which idea is better upon her return after a month long hiatus.
Heathendel then reveals his latest new idea for added content, a fourth World Boss to be created and placed somewhere in the game world for players to find and fight. Liska likes the idea and helps him decide which mob model to use, along with the creature's name. Heathendel also reveals his intention to upgrade the other three World Bosses in addition to the new one so they aren't as easy to defeat as it has been up to this point. The two toss ideas for 'unique skills' each one would use back and forth.
Later, Heathendel reveals to Liska he still wants to continue the Shadow Legion storyline even if it doesn't continue Dekker's quest chain. Both begin tossing around ideas and Heathendel takes Liska to a spot in New Badari where he has begun building a set of ruins for a new Shadow Legion-based quest chain and dungeon.
Heathendel begins to outline a rough quest idea that would involve this new dungeon and that it also involves the Grey Circle group. At first, Liska is both interested, yet a bit skeptical, as to what this would entail; however, when made clear that this is to be a quest set not involving Dekker's chain, full interest takes over.
Filling gaps in Heathendel's impromptu 'story' and also helping with suggestions as to what the dungeon would be, Liska starts coming up with ideas as well. Heathendel reveals that he wants a Down Below style dungeon where players have to go from location to location, but, that it would also involve a much older idea that Liska had put forth for the Cazador Tunnel dungeon. That idea, of course, involves a 'mirror' dungeon instance that is empty once the players clear it and players have the option of selecting either the newer 'friendly' version or the original hostile version.
For Heathendel's new instance, he reveals he wants a similar setup that allows for players to run the dungeon in 'stages'. As each 'stage' instance is cleared, players would then have the option to either re-run the earlier 'cleared' portions as hostile dungeons or enter a 'cleared' version of these 'stages' which would now be filled with friendly Grey Circle NPCs instead of hostile mobs.
This allows players to run the full dungeon at their leisure and also over a span of experience levels. While Liska does like this setup idea, he points out to Heathendel a minor flaw in his plans – that being the beginning experience level for the dungeon. As Heathendel originally wanted it to begin around one of the two level gaps in quests located in the early to upper 30s, Liska points out that this would wind up taking place same time before players would run the boss “It” in Dekker's quest chain, rendering his story ideas with a serious plothole.
Instead, Liska suggests making the quest chain take place at the higher experience levels beginning at between 45 and 50. This would then account for all previously existing quests that involve the Grey Circle while also filling in more high level content as players would gradually run the dungeon at different experience levels.
Heathendel agrees this is a better option as it would also allow for players to gain access to new content in the level 50-55 range as well and would satisfy the gradual increase in difficulty with each section of the dungeon.
At this point the two then begin deciding on how to break up the dungeon properly as well as what it was to be called so that Heathendel could create the dungeon instance in preparation for building it. After batting around a series of names back and forth, the two eventually settle on the name 'Cursed Cathedral' as Heathendel expresses the intent for it to be a 'cathedral' type dungeon which has yet to be seen in the game.
The only other two dungeons that reflect a place of worship up to this point are agreed to be both the Abandoned Monastery in Anglorum and the Dark Depths in Great Forest, as pointed out by Liska. The Cursed Cathedral would then be a 'new' dungeon following this vein.
While Liska does like the ideas of more content, though, he does express concern that all these new dungeons and other ideas Heathendel has been putting forth would inevitably result in another delayed release of the Valkal's Shadow expansion. Here Heathendel reveals to Liska that, in all liklihood, it would probably be best to go ahead and release the Valkal's Shadow expansion with only the Swineland content along with a few other tidbits included. The new dungeons and even further new content would then be released in a later content update once these things were finished.
Liska is skeptical about yet another delay in the Iron Maw's dungeon release as that one has been put on hold repeatedly since the latter part of Planet Forever's run. Heathendel reassures him that one might make it into the initial VS release along with the new World Boss.
On the 2nd, while on the SOA server, Heathendel, Rictar and Liska are asked by a few players why they are not able to purchase more Ability Points for their characters. Liska replies that this functionality was never restored when the PF admin worked on the game and Heathendel agrees that the original functionality from SPM to “buy Ability Points” for characters was very likely not to make a return. Rather than disagree with the two, Rictar later posits an idea to Liska in private chat about a possible resolution to the issue.
Using another MMO as a model, Rictar's idea involves using a non-PvP version of Camelot Arena or some other unused area to allow players to run special quests that reward players with a set number of Ability Points rather than XP and Gold. Further, these quests would be one-time-only like all other quests in the game save Bounty Boards to avoid exploitation. He adds that the unused PvP props and NPCs could be used to give these quests and that only a set number of AP would be offered all told. In addition, a new 'quest marker' could be created to differentiate these quests from the rest.
On the 3rd of the month, Liska is made aware of an odd out of place holiday prop in Camelot by one of the players who mention it on the Discord server. Investigating this indicates that a Winter Dawning Tree has indeed been spawned in Camelot for some unknown reason and Liska investigates the other two cities of Bremen and Heartwood to see if they, too, had this strange issue. Confirming they did not, Liska mentions this to Heathendel who joins him in Camelot and removes the prop upon confirming it is indeed there.
Heathendel reveals to Liska that Emerald will be returning soon but that the only things she has done with EE so far was to create a new registration key pool, as the previous pool had been nearly filled, and fix a few bugs.
Later on, Liska assists Yaz with a problem while running the Earthend dungeon. During Planet Forever's run, the PF admin had fixed the quest 'The Assault-Reclaiming Earthend!' so players did not have to re-run the quest over and over again if they accidentally killed a quest target before the objective was active. For some strange reason, though, General Akhom did not respawn after being defeated before he was supposed to.
With a bit of trouble while using his Sage, Liska respawns Akhom for Yaz. For some reason, though, Liska is unable to login to the World Editor at this time and he suspects Emerald might have disabled it to work on it.
Developer side, Yaz indicates she still awaits being given an account on the developer servers.
Later in the evening, Liska creates the opening quest portion of what would be part of the Cursed Cathedral chain using the ideas both he and Heathendel outlined two days prior.
On the 4th, Heathendel begins building the new Cursed Cathedral dungeon but encounters a problem. He continually winds up in the negative coordinate numbers no matter where he tries to build. Liska suggests maybe he created a smaller instance by mistake, but, Heathendel insists he used a dungeon size similar to that of the Skrill Queen's Lair. Unable to continue, Heathendel puts it off for later.
Heathendel also shows Liska a map he made of the general layout of the dungeon. Liska later shows Heathendel his partly made quest for the same dungeon.
March 5th sees a welcome change. While Heathendel had mentioned in previous days that Emerald would be returning soon, she finally reappears on this day. Liska catches her online and, upon inquiry as to what she had been up to, is told that she has been fixing bugs in the World Editor and has finally been making new progress on her old IceClient project. The only major hurdle remaining is the large task of getting combat going. Emerald expresses the hope that, with the new amount of progress done, the IceClient is now looking to actually become a fully realized reality.
Both Rictar and Heathendel appear for a time and it is noted that this day is the first time all four members of the core dev team had been online all at once in over half a year.
Heathendel asks Emerald about his problem with the new Cursed Cathedral dungeon and she helps him sort out the issue while on the VS server. As it turns out, the issue was a simple mistake as to where the 'origin' point of a new dungeon is located. Liska and Heathendel then take Emerald around to show her all the new content they had been working on throughout February along with mentioning their new dungeon mechanics ideas.
Rictar reminds Liska about his AP quest idea posited days before, but, Liska admits he had forgotten about it. Reiterating his idea for both Heathendel and Emerald's benefit, the former states he likes the suggestion as adding more options for players is always a good thing.
Later in the day, Heathendel is found by Liska to be running the Down Below instance who reveals that he has never actually run the quests for the dungeon since the days of Sparkplay. Heathendel's other reason for being in the dungeon are, as Liska had surmised, to get an idea as to how the dungeon is set up as a few reference points for the way the new Cursed Cathedral dungeon would be set up.
Helping Heathendel, Liska joins him in Down Below and the two race around the dungeon while Heathendel finishes the quest content and then explores the portions of the instance that most players never bother with due to no quests taking players there.
At the end of this, Heathendel reveals to Liska that he has decided to put the Cursed Cathedral on hold and return to finishing the Swineland content. He states that he wants to hopefully get these things done before Emerald's upcoming ten day planned hiatus. One of the major things still needing doing is the quests and Liska states he has been intending to clean those up for awhile and Heathendel offers to send the finished quests to him after he tweaks them and partly fixes them up himself.
On March 7th, Heathendel works up some ideas involving the first portion of the Cursed Cathedral dungeon along with a few quests for it. This continues through the early part of the 8th when Heathendel and Liska get into a long discussion on the Discord chat about Heathendel's ideas for the Cursed Cathedral which include a few quests and a general bit of progression.
One of the ideas involves an unused game mechanic that Planet Forever's admin had created but never implemented during his server's run. While Liska is skeptical about revealing too many 'new mechanics' before The Anubian War itself is ready to be unveiled, citing one of the mechanics seen in TAW's starter zones as an example, Heathendel insists the mechanic that sends ally NPCs into the fray along with players is already in the game via the “It” boss fight. While the unused mechanic, which Heathendel calls the 'merc mechanic', is similar, it has many differences that make it much different than what will be seen in TAW, which he calls the 'Companion system', or the “It” boss fight.
Heathendel also mentions he has borrowed ideas from both The Down Below dungeon along with Liska's ideas for the Old Underground and has come up with something for the Cursed Cathedral. Part of that includes three Shadows that will act as a sub-boss, dungeon boss and a possible secret boss that plays a quest-giver role earlier on. He outlines some of his ideas to Liska who at first has a bit of difficulty piecing together the intended progression. Both toss ideas back and forth regarding how players would navigate this portion of the Cursed Cathedral dungeon.
Later in the day, Heathendel creates a post on the website's developer forum and assigns various roles to the currently active members of the team. This is meant to help with the last few pushes to get as much done for the Valkal's Shadow expansion before it is finally rolled out.
In Discord chat sometime after, Heathendel reiterates the progression for the Cursed Cathedral for Liska. He then switches gears to finishing up the Swineland content and the two begin trying to sort out the Wartown/Old Junktown quest chain as previously outlined some months prior. Heathendel had partially forgotten where the idea stood and the two spend some time recreating the scenarios from memory. Heathendel's original quest progression involved an instance, but, Liska's added ideas completely changed the idea so that the instance portion was no longer deemed necessary.
Due to the length of time between that discussion and this one, both struggle to retrace their steps and get out a coherent storyline for the quest progression mostly following Liska's ideas that were agreed upon would be used. Further, due to that same length of time, Heathendel's copy of the quests that he could relocate had his older ideas rather than the newer ones. This results in both agreeing that one or two quests would likely have to be scrapped to remove any discrepancies.
While Liska does offer ideas that could perhaps reincorperate the old instance idea, Heathendel deems this unnecessary as Liska's original ideas were more interesting and actually progressed the story.
The discussion then switches gears again and the two discuss the needed NPC shopkeepers in Swineland along with somehow getting hold of Temrin, who has been busy with other projects, and have them finally work on the various backgrounds for Valkal's Shadow now that everything to be showcased in the images has pretty much been finished.
Soon after their long discussion in Discord chat, Heathendel sends Liska the list of Swineland quests that need to be cleaned up and fixed in preparation for the Valkal's Shadow rollout which is expected to be soon. Unfortunately, upon looking at the list, Liska finds himself unsure if the list is the correct one or an earlier version.
On March 10th, Rictar posts a reply to Heathendel's assignments post that offers pointers to Rozene who has been assigned to finish up his unfinished task of working on the overworld Swineland mobs.
Two days later, on the 12th of the month, Heathendel and Rictar chat in Discord and Heathendel reveals he has finished most of the NPCs for Wartown along with most of the remaining Redeemers. He just lacks names for them.
Heathendel also reveals he has been working on boss essences and dungeon loot for the Swineland dungeons and that he had stumbled across a bunch of Warpig weapons that were higher level than the Dunkelhimer Brewery dungeon in New Badari yet their levels were scattered all over the place. He adds that he tweaked their levels and planned to use them for the Junk Palace dungeon.
Further, Heathendel reveals a new idea for the Skrill Queen dungeon that involves a set of Skrill equipment that could possibly drop for players complete with stats associated with the player's own class.
Heathendel mentions to Liska in another chat that he has finished the boss rewards for the Valkal boss and that there would be the same number of items as what is seen with The Wailer's boss chest with one item for each class. The items in Valkal's chest would also be Legendary ranked due to the difficulty of the dungeon.
He also posits the idea that perhaps boss rewards could be scaled based on the time it takes to run the dungeon and the overall difficulty. This would mean bosses like The Wailer would be guaranteed to drop epic ranked loot for an at-level party and other bosses like Boss Hawg might drop rare ranked loot at level. For bosses like Valkal, though, Heathendel is undecided whether or not the drops should be powerful epic ranked loot or legendary ranked loot due to the dungeon's very high difficulty.
A little later on Discord, Liska inquires about a problem now several days old. He had sent registration keys to several players, sometimes twice, and none of the keys worked. Inquiring about this, Liska learns from Heathendel that, as suspected, the entire batch of registration keys that Emerald had created before a two week hiatus was likely all bad as Heathendel has also had the same problem with issuing keys. As a result, they cannot issue further registration keys to players until Emerald returns and creates a new key gen pool to replace the one that is quite likely all bad.
Heathendel reveals he has nearly finished all the dungeon loot as well as the level 51 equipment sets.
Liska inquires about the quest list Heathendel sent him several days prior. Being unsure how current the list he was sent is, Liska mentions to Heathendel that he had not yet done much to it. Heathendel reassures Liska that the list is as close to current as he could make it and that the quest IDs were all valid. He had also removed the 'instance' quest prior to sending the file. Although Liska has concerns regarding two quests that seem to indicate involvement with the scrapped instance idea, Heathendel clarifies that those only refer to the location of the mobs and not the scrapped instance idea.
On inquiry as to why the Greysun quest chain was included in the file, Heathendel mentions they were there because they are to be part of the VS expansion. Liska tells him that he had already split off all non-Grunes Tal and Swineland quests from the actual Git file several months prior. Heathendel adds that so long as the quests were added in the update then it was fine.
Heathendel then mentions that they need to tweak the Nuclear Path quests to account for the direction the two had agreed upon several weeks before as the existing quest chain didn't include the new ideas so a few more quests might have to be made to account for the changes. More than that, Heathendel reveals that the quests he sent to Liska only go up to the Redeemer's Camp just before the Valkal's Blood Keep chain as those were not made yet and the Redeemer Captain NPC had not yet been created at the time those quests were made.
Returning to the discussion of the level 51 armor sets and the dungeon loot, Heathendel reiterates his ideas for the Skrill Queen dungeon and the Skrill set. He also mentions which level 51 set batches he had mostly finished. At Liska's behest, Heathendel searches to see if the Skrill Leather armor set had any associated weapons or side items with it as many SPM era sets often came with a shield, totem and/or a weapon or so. Sure enough, a shield is found for the Skrill set.
At this point, Heathendel hits on the idea of going ahead and giving the Skrill Queen boss a boss chest with loot while making the Skrill Leather set to be more or less a crafting set instead of it being dropped by the dungeon's mobs. This would then give players an incentive to collect the sort of 'junk loot' materials dropped by the Skrill mobs that would then be taken to a special NPC that would then craft the Skrill set pieces for the player using a set number of the materials.
Heathendel, Liska and Rictar all debate about this idea potentially serving as a possible prototype option for the eventual return of the game's long unused Junk Loot drops as potential items to be used in more versatile ways including use as crafting materials among other things.
Heathendel then inquires of the other two about a 'Legendary' rank equipment set called 'Grand Gears' and asks if it was supposed to go to some unused boss or NPC or such. Heathendel reveals there are two of them. Rictar only knows of a boss Dekker had wanted to add for his still unfinished quest chain but doesn't know of any others. Liska wonders if this 'Grand Gears' was supposed to be some not yet created NPC or boss to be seen in some unused dungeon in one of the unfinished areas of the game.
Liska is surprised about this set, though, as he previously had no idea any 'legendary' ranked equipment even existed aside from what was seen in Planet Forever when that server's admin added both the Legendary and Artifact ranks. In response to Liska's queries about this, Heathendel reveals that Sparkplay did indeed create a few legendary ranked equipment sets. He adds that Piggypops himself had revealed to him that SPM had, toward the end of its run, begun work on so-called 'Elite Dungeons' and that these dungeons would have offered higher quality equipment than what could be obtained in the overworld.
A little bit after, Heathendel states he has finished all the level 51 equipment sets.
On the 13th, Heathendel and Liska chat for a bit in the SOA server. Here Heathendel tells him that he has begun work on the rest of the 50+ equipment sets and some of the 45+ sets. As they talk, Heathendel also adds that he has begun work on the 50+ Crafting Plan sets as well.
Here Heathendel reveals he has decided to focus on completely revamping all the Crafting Plans in the game and filling the gaps where needed. Both Liska and Heathendel agree that one of the biggest hurdles the dev team faces as they move closer to finishing The Anubian War is that of the Crafting System revamp. Heathendel states that he wants to go ahead and get that done so that at least one of the major hurdles is eliminated while the team is still focused on the Valkal's Shadow expansion.
Afterward, the two debate awhile regarding the viability of the Master Crafting Plans as these items have been a rough spot in the game from the time Sparkplay first added them. While Liska wants to keep them as Plans in some form or fashion, Heathendel reveals these items are just too 'special' to simply be sold in a NPC shop.
He adds that they do not really fit in the game short of either eliminating their special glow or spin effects thus rendering them more ordinary; or simply allowing them to be ultra rare drops in the top level dungeons rather than be purchased as the 'best' weapons in the game. Other than that, he adds that it might be best to just remove them from the game altogether.
While Liska disagrees with this last option, as he feels removing anything from the game is a bad idea due to the past reactions from content removals, he does concede that these weapons are more or less obsolete and very much broken in their current forms and something does need to be done to remedy the problem.
Liska and Heathendel also discuss the problem with the bad registration key pool. Both decide that those players who are forced to wait for a new key should be compensated for the inconvenience. They bat around a few ideas including some special apology item to be attached to these accounts once Valkal's Shadow goes live. At the same time, they don't want to alienate the other players so try to come up with something that is fair for all parties. Unable to settle on a solid idea, Liska and Heathendel put this idea aside for later. Both do agree that the players need to be told about the bad key gen pool and why no new keys are being passed out. Posts in both the website forums and Discord chat are suggested.
On the 14th, Heathendel creates a forum post outlining to players the current issue with the bad registration key gen pool. It asks them to be patient while the dev team waits to get a new pool from the admin. The post also requests players who wish to have a registration key, or a replacement key for a previously sent bad one, to post in the thread so the team knows who to pass out keys to once the new key gen pool is created.
On March 15th and 16th, Heathendel continues working on the various items in the game. A bit later on the 16th, he posts a reply to the dev assignments forum thread that he has finished the dungeon loot and essences for the Swineland dungeons as well as creating the loot packages for them. He states that, aside from the proposed idea for the Skrill Queen dungeon, which likely needs assistance from Emerald along with a number of overworld quest rewards, the item creation portion is pretty much completed.
On the 19th of the month, Heathendel reveals in Discord chat that he has spent the last several days fixing most of the Armor Plans to make them better than before. During this process he discovered that there were much fewer plans than he had previously thought which has made this process progress much faster than expected.
One of the things Heathendel states he has been doing is bring all 'odd level' sets into unison so that there are no more pieces of a set at one level while other pieces are at another. Rictar suggests adding more pieces to the Black Wolf set as that one was a popular Armor Plan set among players. Heathendel states he will fill in the missing pieces for each armor set once he has finished the stat boost for the existing armor set items. Heathendel adds that the idea is to make the Armor Plan items better than the same ranked items found as normal drops.
Heathendel adds that he plans to do the same thing to the various “Old” ranked items that were removed by SPM but readded during Planet Forever. Liska indicates he has a few issues with this idea as some of these items are unique items that can only be found in the new player zones or in Isa Tiria's boss chest in the Hollow Tree dungeon. Heathendel clarifies that he is referring mainly to all those items that are not unique so he can fill the level gaps.
Liska inquires if this includes the armor sets that SPM removed that were later restored as randomly generated looks during Planet Forever and Heathendel states these are exactly the items he is referring to as these sets were looks only and not true items proper. The two agree that as these sets were already planned to be readded at some point to the game officially and Heathendel states he has decided to make some of them armor plans to fill in the large level gaps. After that, the remaining unused sets could then be restored and added to the drop tables at a later time, though at this time he is working on crafting.
Liska then inquires about the weapon plans and the unused weapon drops and Heathendel states he can 'mow through' the weapon plans easily. As for the unused weapons, they will all be added in so long as there is a capacity for them.
Liska, Heathendel and Rictar reminisce about how poorly the SPM item revamp had been handled and how, as a business, it was mainly about making money for the company. As the current team isn't trying to make money, as the game is a hobby project, the team can fix the 'bland and boring' items that plagued the last patches under SPM.
Just for Rictar, Heathendel finishes the Black Wolf set. Going from bottom level to top level, Heathendel continues working on the stat revamp of the various armor plans. At the same time, the three discuss the fact many sets only have a few pieces rather than a full set and that during SPM many rumors were spread about non-existant armor set pieces resulting in players spending many hours fruitlessly hunting for them.
Heathendel adds that he is still in the stat adjustment phase and the 'set completion' phase is the longer and much more tedious phase. Because of this, anyone is free to help out in making them. Beyond creating the items, though, Heathendel states he also has to create the Plans themselves and add them to the drop tables.
While Heathendel mentions the dungeon nameds dropping these items, Liska points out that there are many overworld named mobs too. Heathendel replies that these can drop multiple items from a single set easily. The three then discuss the fact many old sets lacked a helmet, shoulders or belt. The early level sets lacked the first two because originally shoulders didn't start dropping until level 20 and helmets didn't until 25. For the mid-upper level sets, they were just missing.
As Rictar mentions how the region Cracked Rock used to be a favored place to grind for sets during SPM, it reminds Liska that the Cracked Rock region needs to be made viable again as it is, for the most part, rather empty. This prompts Rictar to suggest having certain armor sets only drop in certain regions or from certain mobs in those regions.
Suggestions to improve Cracked Rock's content include more quests, drops, expanding the Stone Lion 'story' as that massive group is only barely touched on and equipment plans from the named mobs. Heathendel mentions the Skrill dungeon and the quests to be associated with it.
Rictar suggests a new storyline for the Stone Lions and Carrionites, but, Liska counters that the existing quests associated with the two dungeons and their bosses already halts that idea. Rictar then mentions the Crystal Lake area needs more content and Liska agrees that while a few quests do go there, it does need expanding on.
Heathendel posts up a crafting thread on the developer forum stating that Rictar had made a good point regarding completing the Black Wolf armor plan set and that all the other existing crafting armor sets with missing pieces also needed completing. As this is a huge task, Heathendel says it is open for everyone and that the thread can be used as a general checklist for each set. Creature Tweak and the World Editor would be used as well as the existing set pieces as templates for the missing items. As each set is finished, it would be crossed off the list so the others would know that one is done.
Later that evening, Heathendel announces in Discord chat he has finished the stat increase on the armor plan sets from levels 11-45. He adds that he's created a new set for level 13 so far. Liska expresses concern that all the plans from levels 10-15 would be almost useless due to the fact players can easily gain those levels during play and it would take too long to gather the materials before the sets were outleveled.
Heathendel reassures Liska that that is easily remedied by lowering material requirements and increasing the drop rate. He adds that the gear would be superior to normally dropped equipment so players could potentially use the lower level crafted items for several levels unless they wanted another set.
Liska revisits the old idea of placing a NPC shopkeeper that sells crafting materials and Heathendel agrees. He does add that the reason for improving the crafting sets isn't just to encourage players to craft but because the dungeons tend to have most of these sets. This gets players to run these dungeons for superior content rather than grinding the same mobs for hours in a loop.
Heathendel adds that this is especially true if the team is revamping the dungeons and adding 'individualism' to them. Because of this, he suggests having about two sets per level with some 'milestone' levels having more sets due to Sparkplay creating extras.
Liska does posit concern for crafting material prices at any NPC placed in the major cities as they should be neither too cheap nor too expensive. If too cheap, players wouldn't bother with the drops and if too expensive, they just wouldn't bother with crafting. Heathendel offers a solution to this by suggesting perhaps having one material per crafting level tier be unable to be purchased at a NPC shop. This way it cuts down on the time players need to get the crafting materials while also not simply giving the materials away.
Heathendel posits another option in the form of the classic MMO feature of Mining. As there is an emote for it, he offers a possible idea to have certain materials like Raw Iron, Iron, Steel, etc be items to be mined in various locations. Heathendel does admit he doesn't really care for this idea much, though, due to its general overuse in other games, being popular to some groups in them even.
Liska suggests allowing the most commonly dropped items be unavailable at these NPC shops as an option. Heathendel adds that it would also be preferable if some items only dropped by certain types of mobs such as hides being obtainable from furred mobs like the wolves, bears and such. Ores could be mined while the more common items like mushrooms and such would be purchaseable from the NPC.
Returning to the mining idea, Liska points out that the team would have to create 'safe' mining locations for players to gather if that option was used. Heathendel offers two possible areas in Midlands and New Badari, but, Liska asks about the other regions and where such would be there.
Heathendel offers, at least for Anglorum, an option regarding a spot he has wanted to modify the terrain at. While Liska doesn't know the exact location indicated, he expresses misgivings about the spot.
Further misgivings are expressed involving the potential for 'grinding' at 'mining points' by players. Having seen this in other games, Liska isn't so sure such an option would be good for Earth Eternal. Heathendel agrees that he doesn't care for such features in games but that they are common and many people seem to like it in those other games. Further, such a thing would be an alternative to grinding mobs for materials that 'have no business' droping from creatures. Liska counters that the same could be said for equipment dropping from non-humanoid mobs. Heathendel agrees but states that wouldn't be feasable as the game stands.
The two then discuss the general three groups of MMOs – the grinders, crafters and raid runners – and why there is a case for alternative ideas in the case of crafting.
The discussion spills over to the early hours of the 20th and shifts to the fact EE is lacking in every major area compared to other MMOs. As players need things to interest them between expansions and EE doesn't have that hold.
Heathendel then mentions this is the reason why he wants more variety in the game. As EE players tend to generally come back, a simple mass email announcing the next expansion once it is released would hopefully result in a bunch of players logging in, even if only temporarily. Further, if they stayed online and attracted other players, maybe it would help to hopefully keep them around.
Liska expresses concern that the poor retention rate doesn't offer much and Rictar offers that Heathendel is referring to The Anubian War itself. Heathendel states that is definitely in the long run; but, even with the Valkal's Shadow expansion, by fixing the Crafting System, even as Emerald will be adding Mount vendors and more transformation options, the expansion also adds both new dungeons as well as new content in the old dungeons as well.
Liska agrees that the team is upgrading the game steadily, but, he needs to add his two Anglorum quests to the mix as well.
Rictar changes topics here asking whether or not the team planned to hold the Bounders Day event this year. Liska agrees that he too had been wondering on that and Heathendel states that the team should prep the event when Emerald returns. Rictar suggests moving the hidden Egg too.
Here, Heathendel admits that one of the signs of life in a server is to have regular updates or maintenance as it tends to keep players around. Liska admits that this is one of those things EE does not have. Heathendel states the need for regular update notes each time the server is updated and Liska says he has been partially doing so in this History.
Heathendel states that even if the majority of Valkal's Shadow will be high level content, offering regular update notes might help keep players around longer. Heathendel then reminds everyone about the crafting sets and if they want to help to post on the forum.
This reminds Liska about another thing needing to be added that involves the items in a dungeon chest. The vague comment causes Heathendel to respond that, if Liska is referring to all the generally useless equipment, then yes, they need work too. Liska, however, clarifies that he meant a specific dungeon in particular: namely the missing token chest for the Nottingham Castle dungeon. Heathendel agrees that he'll get on that one if he can remember to do it.
On March 21st, Liska finally gets around to working on cleaning up the Swineland quests that Heathendel passed to him the week prior. He copies the text into a separate document and ironing out the quest data for each quest listed. In spite of their discussions of the previous days and months regarding several quest chains, Liska finds himself unable to fill the gaps as needed but cleans up the existing quests in preparation for the eventuality.
Liska also discovers Heathendel had made plans for a Yeti quest chain to be given by a NPC in Old Junktown that is only briefly mentioned within a quest in another chain. The only quest chains he is unable to work on is the sets for the Yeti and Valkal's Blood Keep which Heathendel had not gotten around to making yet. Due to the existing quests for the Wartown/Junk Palace quest chain being ambiguous, he finds it hard to fill the gap and also becomes confused with the 'Nook-le-are Path' chain which includes quests from Heathendel's older quest chain idea that had been scrapped.
Finally sorting the quests he is able for Swineland, Liska decides to work on the Grunes Tal quests and get them cleaned up for the expansion as well. In the process, he discovers that, for some odd reason, the quest 'Just Havin' A Laugh' is actually missing its return quest data in both the VS dev server and the SOA live server. Due to this unexpected snag, Liska decides to hold off until he can ask Heathendel if this quest's return data exists but had simply been omitted or if it had been overlooked entirely and had never been created.
On the 24th, Heathendel reveals in Discord that Emerald, who had planned to return after a ten day hiatus, will be gone for awhile longer due to unforeseen and unplanned for circumstances. He adds that she hopes to return by the weekend to address the registration key issue but cannot promise anything. In spite of this, Heathendel adds that Emerald is eager to get back to working on the game when next able. Heathendel reiterates his announcement regarding Emerald's extended absence the following day, the 25th of the month.
On March 28th, Heathendel creates a post on the website developer forums outlining what he wants to see in the upcoming Valkal's Shadow release of Earth Eternal. As the planned rollout of the new expansion is expected to fall sometime in the following month of April, he suggests integrating this year's Bounders Day event with the VS release and outlines various other non-Bounders Day event related things for players to do in the hopes of attracting and retaining players.
While most of the event related additions would be to 'celebrate' the release of the Valkal's Shadow expansion itself, one of these, which he calls 'Attack of the Bunnies', would be an event within the larger Bounders Day event itself. In this event, players would fight wave upon wave of bunny mobs in the Camelot Arena for prizes.
Another event that could be 'intertwined with Bounders Day' would be a sort of 'treasure hunting' event. Heathendel admits that the 'treasure hunt' quests made by Sparkplay in the past, while challenging, had issues including not having proper directions which made it very frustrating and annoying to players. Worse, all players got were mediocre to 'garbage' rewards for the effort of doing them. In spite of this, players who completed these quests often held that completion as sort of badges of honor if nothing else.
For his proposed 'reintroduction' of these types of quests, Heathendel suggests a sort of 'easter egg hunting' type quest chain for the Bounders Day portion along with non-event related treasure hunting quests that could give decent rewards to players that could help accellerate their progress through the game.
Heathendel also confesses that, having done some research into previous Earth Eternal events, many players expressed, not to his surprise, a general dislike of the game's previous events as rather 'boring' with 'stupid' rewards. Further, these players stated that they would prefer doing much more difficult tasks that offered much more worthwhile rewards in the game. These rewards could be anything and not necessarily something specific like weapons, armor or other forms of equipment. Such rewards could be something players would generally consider worth their time. Examples offered include gold, credits, ability points, unique mounts, unique potions and/or buffs, exp tomes, etc. He invites the other developers to suggest other items as possible rewards as well.
Also, for the treasure hunting event idea, Heathendel offers the following examples of 'hunt counts' per major zone for dev consideration: 1 hunt for Corsica and Earthrise, 2-3 hunts for Anglorum and 3-5 hunts for Europe. All devs are encouraged to 'make their own' hunts and Heathendel adds that many of these should be event themed as there are many 'holiday themed' items already in the game to use. He further adds that not all hunts need be for Bounders Day as a few non-event themed ones would work 'if inspiration strikes'.
One of the events meant to celebrate the expansion would be a sort of '2x XP' type event that would offer either 2x or 4x experience points for all kills and quests for a period of two weeks. This would allow those in the lower levels to more quickly catch up to the new Valkal's Shadow content while also making it so the tedium of leveling a character is somewhat eased during the course of the event.
Lastly, Heathendel suggests a 'Bounty Hunt' type event. He admits this idea is something he wants to see be a more permanent feature in TAW via guilds or added in SOA/VS in some other manner. For the event though, this idea could take the form of holiday themed 'infamous characters' that have bounties on their heads issued by the Crown. Players would then be able to pick up and run quests that 'hunt' these individuals. The mobs would be of moderate difficulty with the 'bounty rewards' for defeating them being an amount of credits and gold. An example given for bounty mobs are 'mobs of epic difficulty but with so-so AI scripts' that offer a reward of 50 credits and 2 gold per kill.
Heathendel admits that some of these ideas might not make it into the expansion and event, but if all of it could be successfully added, it just might make players both old and new a bit more happy. He speculates some of them might even be more willing to stick around longer than they would otherwise and that effect would hopefully 'snowball' while the team works on the next expansion/release of EE.
Sometime after posting on the forums, Heathendel and Liska discuss his post in Discord chat along with other bits of progress in the previous days. Heathendel mentions that he has worked on one and a half quests so far among other things. Liska mentions his progress with cleaning up the Swineland quests and the issue with the Grunes Tal quest he discovered, though Heathendel fails to notice the latter as the topic shifts to Heathendel's post.
Having read the new forum post, Liska expresses skepicism over whether or not the team can cover all that ground in a mere two week period, especially in light of the lengthy periods of hiatuses that Emerald has dealt with throughout March. Heathendel states that Emerald will returns soon and that the expansion can be released anytime from early to mid to late April if necessary so there would be plenty of time to complete this content. He then comments that his only doubt is in his 'treasure hunt' idea which might have to be skipped.
This brings up something for Liska and he states that he has reiterated this particular argument since the latter part of Planet Forever in that he wants to restore the SPM quest 'The Treasure Map'. He further states that during the early months of the Scourge Of Abidan, he had cleaned up The Treasure Map's quest text and added in location hints for each Act in the Quest Journal in preparation for when the quest is restored after proper and much more worthwhile quest rewards are eventually made for it. Liska adds that the quest currently sits quietly in Git all commented out waiting until the time when those quest rewards are made for it, so it can be just as easily 'reactivated on the fly'.
Heathendel states that he didn't want just 'one' treasure hunt quest though and that the idea was for more. Liska replies that he was merely mentioning that particular quest since Sparkplay had only created two 'treasure hunt' type quests – The Treasure Map and The Rare Statuette – during their run and no others were ever made. Further, the former quest had been removed early on by SPM while the latter quest remained active in the game even up to the current SOA server.
Heathendel states that, as he post says, each region would have a set number of quests and that some would be event based, while the rest would be non-event based and would probably remain in the game after the event has ended. This reminds Liska of the two Anglorum quests he had made, but, had yet to add to the server. Heathendel reassures him both would be included in the release.
Heathendel mentions he wants to add already finished content into the game as well as have a more well rounded event that offers more than 'hammers made of hams'. Liska comments that SPM's 'joke event items' for Harvest Fest and Winter Dawning were indeed rather silly, but, still all in good holiday fun and were not meant to be taken seriously. In spite of this, Heathendel states that many players thought the events themselves were rather lame and that they didn't care when these events had been held in the past.
Changing the subject, Heathendel states he has completed the items for the Valkal's Shadow expansion except for a number of overworld quest rewards. He also had 'picked at' the mob placement task in Swineland but says he isn't sure how much Indigo (Rozene) had done on that front. Heathendel states that that should go quickly anyway and that he has already worked on the last of the quests. With all these parts of the VS expansion done, the rest of the team can focus on the event stuff while Emerald works on her portions of the expansion content.
Rictar briefly joins the conversation and states that the mob placement task takes a very long time and Heathendel shouldn't 'underestimate it'. Heathendel concedes Rictar's point but states the areas both of them had already covered were the 'more open' areas of the region and that the remaining areas were in smaller 'patches' around the various Vampire camps and areas. In spite of this, Rictar points out that the Swineland region is much larger than the Grunes Tal region which felt like 'a lot less ground comparatively'. Further, Rictar points out that the mob locations in Swineland are much more messed up and in need of being moved than in Grunes Tal, making the overall task take much longer per general area. Heathendel concedes this point as well.
Heathendel then states that as the team 'closes down' other parts of the expansion, more devs can be reserved for other areas and as, time allowing, the team finishes the rest of the expansion on their side, more time can then be devoted to the event content as there are only a few parts of the events themselves that 'require tough work'. He does admit, though, that most of this all depends on when and how soon Emerald is able to make it back from her hiatus which is hopefully by the end of the week. However, due to the more recent circumstances behind her continued absence, it would be understandable if she held off a bit longer.
Heathendel does state that if and when Emerald does return, the team could get all of these plans done. He also adds that Emerald does like his event ideas while he hopes the arena idea even works.
Rictar leaves Heathendel a minor warning saying that Heathendel can treat the mob population as if it is nothing but, as it is such a big undertaking, Rictar cannot help him with it anymore. He adds that treating a big thing as nothing will bite him in the ass. Liska jokingly suggests having Heathendel practice on the mobs of The Down Below dungeon.
On the last day of the month, March 31 st, Heathendel gets on the VS server to finish out the mob placement in Swineland. He asks for assistance from Indigo (Rozene) and Liska in Discord chat, but, neither one are available until later in the day. After a few hours, Heathendel completes the task and leaves a message in Discord offering to assist Liska with the Swineland quests that evening. Heathendel then updates his forum post regarding dev tasks to cross off the Swineland mob population.
That evening, Liska and Heathendel get together in Discord chat and begin sorting out the remaining quest chains in Swineland. Before they begin, Liska brings up the issue regarding the Grunes Tal quest he had discovered was missing the end quest data. Having forgotten who made the quest, Liska reminds Heathendel that the Grunes Tal quest in question was one of those made by SPM; but, like all their quests for both unreleased regions of Grunes Tal and Swineland, the current team had to finish these quests as none of them had end quest data.
After Liska tells him which quest is affected, Heathendel tells him 'good catch' and suggests trying to find out how it ended. Liska states that the reason he mentioned this quest was because he wasn't sure if Heathendel had made the end text in the past and it had simply gotten omitted or if the quest had somehow been overlooked completely. Heathendel states that while he might have, if it wasn't in the data he had sent Liska previously then he probably doesn't have that data anymore. Liska says he would check to see if he still has a copy and that he didn't want to complete the quest himself until he was sure it wasn't finished already.
Heathendel then returns to the main task and tells Liska that he needs his input on one of the last quests. After Liska asks if it was for after the chain for Valkal's Blood Keep, Heathendel replies it is for one of the quests in the Blood Keep chain itself. He tells Liska that after the players finish the Skrill quest chain, they would be sent back, via a letter, to the Redeemer's Camp for the Valkal's Blood Keep chain.
Here Liska stops him and inquires who would give the letter and how would they know the player was in the area. Heathendel says he figured it would either be Clint or someone else, unless Liska had another idea. Liska responds by positing another idea and states that while cleaning up the quests he stumbled upon a quest or the mention of some that seemed to involve the two Duke brothers NPCs who send the players way down south to deal with the Yeti groups. Liska does comment as an aside that such a chain would likely be better found in Front Line Camp rather than Old Scraptown though.
Heathendel replies that he had forgotten about those and to show them to him again as he was thinking he'd set up a different scenario for Clint and the Dukes where they had a feud but that he likely scrapped the idea. He mentions recalling wanting to do something with the Yeti but couldn't remember what it was or why those two send the player to them. Liska states he couldn't figure that part out either and what really puzzled him was why two NPCs way up in Old Junktown would send the players far to the south to deal with creatures much closer to Front Line Camp instead of having a NPC in that location give those quests.
Heathendel responds that the reason was because while Front Line Camp would be more ideal for those quests, the NPCs there are more concentrated on the Vampires and that that area already has around ten quests for it whereas Old Junktown only has a mere five quests thus far. Further, as Wartown/Old Junktown is a major city, it made sense to give the quests to NPCs there, but, he couldn't remember exactly how they were supposed to go.
Heathendel then asks if Liska was wanting the 'bridge quest' in question to be in Front Line Camp instead of Wartown, but, Liska replies he figured the quest would be given by one of the Duke NPCs at the end of the Yeti chain and offers an impromptu quest scenario to get the idea across. Heathendel replies that Liska idea is much better especially since Old Junktown/Wartown is where the Redeemers had sent the player to the NPC Elvis in an earlier quest and that is the place they would most likely look for the player's character.
Liska adds that Clint was supposed to send the player to the Dukes NPCs after the Skrill set anyway, but, then after checking his quest list adds that the only mention of the Yeti are in a quest called 'Payment in Full' by the NPC Duke Bodine. Heathendel inquires that the quests weren't made, only mentioned and Liska states this is the case adding he was only bringing this up again as this is the spot where the 'bridge quest would most likely be located at.
The 'bridge quest' issue now somewhat resolved, Heathendel moves to the main problem he is having. This involves the continuation from the earlier quest chain where an item is given to the Redeemers to study. Heathendel mentions his original idea for the results of this study and what supposed to happen but states that this idea backed him into a corner as the events that would surround the idea posit problematic issues.
Here, Heathendel posits a related idea that could possibly resolve the issue which includes sending the player to the Dambat Door camps before the Blood Keep itself. Liska, however, while also wanting the player to go to the Dambat Door camps first, sees a major flaw in Heathendel's overall scenario and speculations involving the vampire lord Valkal himself. The two then debate back and forth over this issue regarding Valkal before Heathedel finally concedes to Liska's point on the matter.
This issue resolved, they return to the issue of the artifact and Liska posits an idea involving this item and offers a scenario that summarizes the entire quest chain up to entering the Blood Keep dungeon itself. Heathendel, however, points out a flaw in Liska's ideas here and the two begin debating how the Dambat Door portion of the idea would work. Both toss ideas back and forth trying to resolve the issue before finally settling on a scenario that seems the most plausible.
Heathendel and Liska then turn to the actual dungeon quests and decide the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon would have about 3-4 quests total. Heathendel suggests the Vajs and Valkal would have two separate quests but Liska posits having them in a single quest comprising four Acts. The two agree the second quest would then be for the other sub-bosses in the dungeon. A third would be some sort of gather quest for something or an 'eliminate' whatever in the dungeon type quest and the fourth would be a generic 'kill x vampires' quest.
With the Valkal's Blood Keep quest chain now sorted out, Heathendel states he will get the quests set up and create the 'vampire courier' mob over the weekend. He then asks Liska if he can do the Yeti quests and fix the Grunes quest with the missing end quest text. Liska adds that the Yeti set and the 'Nook-le-are Path' chain are the only issues left, along with the missing Wartown quest in the Junk Palace chain. Liska then says he will look to see if the Grunes quest has any existing quest end text or not and if not, he'll fix that while cleaning up all the quests for Grunes Tal.
Heathendel then posits an idea for the Yeti camps saying they can serve as a sort of foreshadowing of the yeti quest chains to be found later on in the as yet unmade Frost Peak region. While Liska thinks the idea is interesting he also comments that the missing Wartown quest is a bit bothersome as the quests surrounding its intended location in the chain make it difficult to figure out how to 'link it' and 'what it should entail'.
Heathendel says this part is easy and reiterates the general idea step by step so Liska can get a better idea for that 'bridge quest'. Rictar makes a brief appearance and asks Heathendel about the intended 'yeti instance' they had planned on making. Heathendel replies that they hadn't settled on a location and also, in regards to Rictar's idea, Emerald had previously stated that it might not work in these versions of the server. Heathendel then adds that the yeti quest chain had not been made yet, so if Rictar still wanted to create that instance, they could. However, doing so would result in pushing back the release of the Valkal's Shadow expansion a bit and that they still need to find a location for the dungeon. Either that, or they could save the dungeon for TAW content where Rictar's original idea could be worked on.
Heathendel then moves on to the Nook-le-are Path quest chain and tells Liska that they had already planned for the newer Boris/Norris idea. Liska replies that that setup had not been added yet and the existing quest text is different. Heathendel tells him that any quests that don't follow the new quest chain idea should be scrapped or turned into side quests.
Liska asks about the 'strange group' mentioned in one of the quests and Heathendel states that that would have to be scrapped as the 'strange group' is now known and all of that would need to be replaced with the new Boris/Norris chain. He adds that if necessary, to move a few quests around so that the NPC Norris gives the Boris chain. Liska comments that the 'strange group' is mentioned in the first quest and posts up the final line of the quest. Heathendel agrees that it needs to be replaced as the 'group' is not 'looters' anymore but 'extreme cultists'. Liska then posts the full quest text so Heathendel can read it.
Heathendel comments the rest of the quest text 'is gold' but the last line needs to be tweaked and the reference to looters is to be erased. Liska also comments that the reference to 'Old Junktown' should be changed to 'Wartown' as the former is the 'old town' of the latter but situated to the north of the main portion of the city.
Heathendel agrees and then posits a scenario for the Boris quest set also mentioning it should be broken into two quests rather than the one. Liska takes Heathendel's idea and posits a different scenario. Heathendel likes Liska's idea, saying this way the original quests are merely tweaked with the addition of only one new quest rather than having to scrap the entire thing.
Heathendel then asks Liska if he could create the Yeti chain, but, Liska says Heathendel will have to do that as he does not know what the plans for that chain are supposed to be. Heathendel agrees and says he will work on those along with the Blood Keep set, but, asks Liska for one more task.
He asks Liska to go through all the quests in the list and select which ones need quest rewards so he can make the last few items. Heathendel adds that dungeons should not have quest rewards as they already have essence and dungeon loot, but, quests with long chains or those with 'named kills' might. He further adds that if Liska decides to have them, rewards for the Nook Town chain could be added.
Liska then inquires about the progress of the Nottingham Castle token chest items and Heathendel says he hasn't gotten to them yet as he has been focusing on the VS stuff but will do so.
Heathendel adds that now that the mob population has been crossed off, all that is left to do is the quests and last few items, along with getting all the remaining NPCs into the database. With those done, the VS expansion is pretty much done and the team is on the homestretch.
Liska suggests making quest rewards for Norris to give the player upon completing the Boris chain. Heathendel asks what sorts of items should the rewards be and Liska suggests either totems, rings or amulets. Here, Heathendel asks if all classes can use totems, but, Liska doesn't recall as he has never used them. Liska adds that they would have to look to see which classes are able to use totems.
Heathendel says that he'll try to get all these done over the weekend and with all of these along with Emerald getting both Valkal and the second Valkal battle set up, the entire VS expansion is pretty much done. Both agree that they did good work and solved each other's quest snags in the process.
On April 2nd, Liska and Heathendel put their heads and minds together while on the Valkal's Shadow server. Heathendel asks Liska to help with formulating the quests regarding the Yeti in the southern part of Swineland. This is somewhat delayed for a bit as Liska ends up disputing a few details that Heathendel had meant to hold off on until further down the road. This dispute lasts a good while but in the end both manage to sort out the issue and move on.
Both during and following the dispute, Liska manages to outline a rough idea for a bit of lore for the Yeti as a race and both he and Heathendel sift through related ideas for as yet unmade Frost Peak region to get a rough handle on what the Yeti in Swineland would be up to.
For the intended Swineland quests associated with the Yeti, the two sort out potential targets and quest items for them. They also decide to make room for Rictar's Yeti instance idea, even if in a slightly different form and Heathendel adds the location for this future instance onto the overworld.
These tasks continue into early on the 3rd and afterward the two begin discussing development plans for after the Valkal's Shadow release. While it is agreed that development on The Anubian War content would resume following all releases of VS content, Heathendel mentions that discussion as to where development of the game would continue from here needs to be made.
TAW, after all, would eventually include the three Spain regions which have not even been worked on yet at this point and Heathendel points out that an eventual conflict in content level is likely to occur if discretion isn't taken. This is because The Anubian War storyline does not include the content in regions such as Grunes Tal, Swineland, Lurker's Vale and Frost Peak as these would be part of separate storylines.
Liska points out that just as Sparkplay halted progress further to refine the lower level content before continuing with new zones, the team should probably do something similar while also ensuring players have plenty of content. Heathendel suggests a 'chapter-based' storyline with the game divided up into sections based on TAW storyline 'chapters' so as to allow for more development in each area while also pushing players down a specific road rather than just having them aimlessly running about.
Liska and Heathendel brainstorm over how a chapter-based system would work mechanics-wise and Liska suggests a text-based notification system that Heathendel refines into a 'text cutscene' idea. Using a few impromptu examples provided by Liska of the general idea, the two settle on this as a good way to bring The Anubian War content into a more gradual, yet consistent, multi-release.
Touching on the chapter-based idea, both decide that TAW content would likely end in the Spain regions as planned, but, any further excursions with the Anubians would likely be the subject of later storylines in future expansions.
Later in the evening on the 3rd, Liska works on the quests for the Junk Palace and Nook-le-are Path chains and gets those finished.
Things fall quiet with the dev team for the next few weeks.
On April 12th, player Kovai posts up a link on the TAW website for a new Earth Eternal Soundtrack compilation that has been converted to .mp3 format. Included with this set is a single track that plays all the music in one go. Liska posts a reply to this thread inquiring if Kovai had used the files from the original game files Liska, himself, had posted up on the website more than a year before. Two days later, on April 14th, Kovai replies that this was indeed the case.
On April 18th, Temrin resurfaces briefly on the dev forums to inquire if content was complete enough to begin work on the client backgrounds and splash screens and a possible promo video. The next day, on the 19th, Liska offers suggestions for items of interest that could be used in a promo video.
On the 27th, an odd issue crops up on the The Anubian War website that appears to take the entire website domain offline. Oddly, the game servers surprisingly remain online even though the website itself is inaccessible. Concerned it might be a serious issue, Liska sends Emerald an email regarding the issue. The domain comes back online a couple hours later with next to no explanation as to what happened and Liska does not get any replies from the still long absent Emerald.
As with April, May ends up being a mostly quiet month for both Earth Eternal and the EE-TAW dev team as issues not related to the game keep everyone busy.
By pure chance at the beginning of the month, Liska meets with Emerald for a very brief chat. She admits to having been very busy over the past month and apologizes for the long delay. Emerald tells him that while she has been really wanting to return to EE, every time she has extra time, something happens that keeps her away.
Liska updates her on the still unresolved login issues and Emerald tells him she is very backlogged on emails and is hoping to begin addressing them that weekend. Liska then mentions the website issue from several days earlier and she admits to not having seen his email; however, Emerald does inform him that that sounded to be about the day she had begun moving the site over to a https server and it was likely around the time Liska had noticed the site was down.
Emerald states she does hope to return very soon, but, needs more time.
On the 11th of the month, Heathendel decides to make a more official forum post regarding the Discord chat server set up by player Shadrel Foxen. Unfortunately, the invite link he provides doesn’t work as pointed out by Temrin prompting him to offer a second link later in the day. Noticing this link, too, is broken, Liska posts up the correct Discord invite link two days later on the 13th.
Using the link that Liska had posted, Temrin finally manages to join the Discord server on the 17th of the month. Chats between Liska and Temrin a little after indicate that Temrin has been very busy with more pressing projects and her promised works for the upcoming Valkal’s Shadow version of Earth Eternal have had to wait until she gets more time. Temrin does indicate it likely would not be until around mid-to-late summer, possibly July or August, when she would have much more time to both play EE and work on those items for EE-VS.
A bit later the same day, Heathendel reappears in Discord and updates Liska about the situations regarding both his own absence and Emerald’s continued long absence. Heathendel says that while he has not had much contact with Emerald, she has remained ‘positive and super-apologetic’ regarding her long absence. Still, the team needed to remain patient with her and wait until she has time. Of course the first thing for Emerald to deal with upon her return would be the still as yet unresolved registration key issues that continue to plague the dev team.
Heathendel states this problem has become excessive and the list of people wanting registration keys has become rather daunting. Worse, without a resolution to this issue, the project would likely be ‘dead’. To try and reassure players the project is still alive, Heathendel has been trying to get as many players onto the Discord server as possible.
As for Heathendel’s own activities, aside from non-EE things keeping him busy, he has been focusing on trying to further the story for The Anubian War itself as the Valkal’s Shadow content is nearly done. Liska does inquire if Heathendel had gotten around to finishing the Swineland quests, but, Heathendel replies that he hasn’t as it has been much easier to focus on TAW of late since the team has spent so much time away from the main project. Liska does reply that the whole point of VS, though, was to ‘finish unfinished business’ such as Swineland, several unreleased dungeons and so forth.
Heathendel informs Liska that he’s been piecing together the Anglorum portion of TAW’s main storyline and reiterates what happens during the Corsica and Earthrise portion as the jumping off point.
Liska asks Heathendel if he recalled the idea the two had come up with some months to around a year earlier as to the bridge ideas where the Earthrise story and beginning Anglorum story connect, specifically the early events in Camelot and those in Fort Stonehenge’s area.
Heathendel tells Liska that he has decided that the Anglorum portion would focus on the player trying to locate their now-missing comrade who escapes Earthrise with them. The player would gain intel regarding their friend along the way and that a few ‘refugee camps’ would be set up across Anglorum that would carry the TAW storyline forward. Heathendel adds that his current problem is figuring out around where these camps would be located. As the team had already planned for one near Fort Stonehenge, that left at least one or two others to be placed around the region.
Heathendel states two possible locations for a second camp could be somewhere near either Bath or Nottingham, but, Liska counters the ‘local issues’ in Nottingham would likely make that a dangerous location to have a camp nearby along with likely story conflicts that would result. Heathendel concedes this point. Heathendel does state that the TAW main storyline would have three key locations for its quests and that it would try to follow the usual quest progression to guide players from one location to the next.
Later on, Heathendel and Liska resume their chat in Discord and pick up where they had left off. Heathendel tells Liska that while the protagonists and other benevolent characters have ideas for them, he has been having difficulties with the antagonists’ portion of the story.
Heathendel posits an idea for how the Anubians enter Anglorum, but, Liska reminds him of their original idea on how they enter the region. The two banter back and forth over this part as Liska refreshes Heathendel’s memory, then Heathendel asks about what would happen afterward.
Liska suggests a few groups the Anubians might find that might ‘sympathize’ with them or at least be willing to strike a deal with them in return for aid. Suggestions include the Bog Rats, Avalonians, the Gloom Witches or a completely new group as possible ‘allies’ for the enemy forces. He also posits the idea of the Anubians hiding in their own little group somewhere pretending to be reformed which could be a good place to have a certain ‘ally’ hide with while acting as a spy for the Beasts. Heathendel isn’t sure with this idea though.
Another idea Heathendel tosses in is the ‘mad’ Sheriff, but, Liska quickly shoots this idea down pointing out that Wilem Grays, the Sheriff of Nottingham is in the thrall of the Faeries and they do not care for any on the Earth save themselves. Those like the Sheriff would be used as pawns to further their own goals and it would be more likely any Anubians in the area would wind up just as enthralled by the Faeries as the Sheriff himself.
Instead, Liska points out the Avalonians would likely be the best option for allies for the antagonists as this group would likely see an opportunity to tip the balance of power in their favor in a ‘you help us, we’ll help you’ circumstance, but, with both sides carrying ulterior motives.
Heathendel counters that, while the Avalonians are indeed the best option, putting the hiding Anubians on Avalon Island would be a problem with the world boss Kilvath L’Vithian roaming around the island. Liska replies that Kilvath is indeed a problem, but, if he was moved or made a neutral mob, that should eliminate him as an issue, something the team has discussed previously regarding all the world bosses. In fact, Liska states he’d prefer it if all the world bosses were made neutral mobs as they would be super tough, but optional, bosses for players to fight without any requirements to defeat them. Heathendel agrees that at least Kilvath will need to be moved at some point.
He then shifts gears and says he wants the ‘last major conflict’ in Anglorum to be up north, probably at the ‘unused forts’ next to Hadrian’s Wall. This gives Liska an idea and he reminds Heathendel of the ‘camp’ he had set up at the far western end of the Wall itself. Both toss ideas back and forth but settle on a scenario involving the ‘camp’, the ‘forts’ and South Shield, where the player discovers a plot to shuttle the enemy from one to the other via a spy in town.
After another interlude that day, the two again resume their Discord chat. Heathendel says he’s just trying to piece it all together and admits the whole thing is tricky as ‘espionage is a lot of detective work’ and a little luck. So, the team will want to keep the player engaged in certain locations just long enough to complete all the local quests as well as find some sort of ‘clue’ that furthers the TAW story.
Here, Heathendel offers a scenario for the Stonehenge refugee camp but, Liska suggests backing up and starting from the beginning point as a brief overview to get a good idea as to a proper ‘sequence of events’. However, Heathendel’s run through confuses Liska as it seems very different from how they planned it and points out the carriage mechanic that had been planned. The two banter back and forth as Heathendel counters that it is irrelevant to the story, but, perhaps have it drop the player off at the camp midway so that the player begins in Camelot, goes to the Stonehenge refugee camp and then Fort Stonehenge. Eventually, Heathendel adds that the carriage ride to the Camp would be a one-time-only trip which finally settles the minor dispute.
Resuming the story ideas, Liska picks up where Heathendel left off when the carriage issue was brought up and summarizes that the player would go to the Camp searching for their missing friend only to be told he isn’t there. The player would then be sent to Aarn Hamen in Fort Stonehenge where they would then do the local quests there. Heathendel adds that this would be so the officers in the Camp can do a ‘search of the books’ to try and locate the missing ally.
Liska points out that one detail might need adjusting as the exact point for the player to ‘return’ to the camp is not specified. Heathendel offers perhaps around the quests such as ‘Quality Bows’ but, Liska counters that those type quests are simply one offs and that the TAW storyline would be better served if it follows alongside the local storyline quest chains.
Heathendel agrees and asks if it would follow the River Runner quest to kill Jek. Liska tells him the player would run the Thornbringer/River Runner chain until they get the quest to go to Camelot. At the time this quest would be accepted, Aarn would get a quest that tells the player to return to the refugee camp. Heathendel states that setup would be ideal as the player would be going back to Camelot anyway.
Here, Heathendel outlines the general storyline setup for Camelot itself and that it would then send the player all the way to Bath. Liska then points out that a few interludes appear to be in play as the main story appears to be jumping character experience levels and says the storyline needs to be set up such that some of these quests will open up in the ‘proper spots’.
Heathendel tells Liska to think of anything based on what has been told so far; however, Liska never gets around to it for the remainder of the month.
The remainder of the month remainds quiet on both the developer and player sides and registration key inquiries continue with no change to the issue.
On the last day of the month, Rozene states in Discord chat that he is tempted to attempt to generate registration keys from his old server setup to help resolve the problem, but, isn’t certain any keys made that way would be compatible with the Scourge Of Abidan server setup.
Rozene also surmises that it would not be surprising if the TAW team has lost a number of potential players as a result of the registration key problem. He even asks about the registration page, which seems to be unresponsive, though Liska tests it out and it appears responsive on his end.
The registration key issue continues to be a problem through early June and some players begin wondering if a new admin is needed or at least have the other developers be given access to registration key generation. They are told the latter was something Emerald had been planning for some time, but, never had the chance to actually set up.
June remains a mostly quiet month for Earth Eternal.
On the 20th of the month, Rozene decides to go on extended hiatus due to personal reasons. He departs the Discord chat completely stating that he will return once Emerald comes back and Valkal’s Shadow is rolled out.
On the last day of the month, Heathendel returns from his own hiatus and posts on the dev forum regarding Emerald’s absence. In this post, he asks the dev team on their thoughts regarding the current situation with Emerald and the registration key problem. He suggests possibly shutting the Scourge server down temporarily until Emerald’s return and posting an announcement on the forum to inform the players of the decision, however, he asks for the team’s thoughts before making the post.
Liska responds to Heathendel’s suggestions in a rather lengthy post by emphasing that while ‘coming clean’ regarding the current issues plaguing the team is a good idea, it would be a terrible idea to shut down the live server. He offers several reasons why this would be far more damaging than helpful and suggests a few alternative options that wouldn’t hurt the dev team’s efforts or potentially mislead players.
Liska also agrees that working on The Anubian War content during the indeterminately long wait would be a good idea.
Temrin also responds to Heathendel’s post agreeing with Liska’s points and offers further suggestions for keeping interest in the game going such as an ‘art contest’ or something. Temrin adds that she would be involved in such an idea as well if possible but, due to a bout with tendonitis/carpal tunnel, it would likely prove difficult.
On the first of July, Heathendel replies to Liska’s and Temrin’s responses to his post on the dev forums conceding to their points regarding possibly shutting down the SOA server but mentions the only reason he considered that as an option was as a possible way to have a big comeback when Valkal’s Shadow would be rolled out. He also adds to Liska that the two of them could do more on the TAW side than just quests and storyline work during the wait for Emerald’s return.
Heathendel also points out that the entire team is full aware of their biggest problem which happens to be that it is a rarity for the entire dev team to be all together for any sort of collaborative effort due to varying reasons. As a result, the team is usually fragmented when working on the game. He suggests finding ways, upon Emerald’s eventual return to the game, of setting things up so that rest of the team has access to various functions such as registration key pool generation and minor server content updates such as adding quests, NPCs and the like. This way the rest of the dev team can keep things flowing during the times Emerald is unavailable again in the future.
Heathendel adds that he will be working on TAW content on the TAW dev server off and on in the meantime. He also suggests trying to get hold of Emerald in some of the other outlets she is involved in in the hopes of getting back in touch with her and figuring out what to do with the server.
Liska replies later in the day that he occasionally uses one of those outlets and has been trying unsuccessfully to cross paths with Emerald on that platform since the last encounter with her. Liska also adds that he’ll have to regularly check out the Chat box for TAW off and on if Heathendel plans to be on over there again as it has been a good while since the team has used it due to everyone frequenting the Discord channel of late.
On July 2nd, Heathendel finally posts the planned announcement in the General forums for the players to read. He then posts in the thread on the dev forums that the announcement has been posted even though he isn’t much of a speech giver. A bit later in the day, Liska reads through Heathendel’s announcement and adds his own post to clarify some of Heathendel’s comments as well as add a few more points for players to consider. Afterward, he posts a link to the announcement on the Discord server for players frequenting the chat server to view.
The consensus mentioned by both is that while The Scourge Of Abidan server would remain online for those players able to login, the team would cease passing out registration keys for new accounts until such time that Emerald would return or the new Valkal’s Shadow expansion is completed. While development is now in a ‘limbo’, work still continues on The Anubian War side of things. Both Heathendel and Liska emphasize in their posts that ‘This is not the end.’ and the TAW team, hell or high water, will do what they can to keep Earth Eternal alive.
On July 3rd, Heathendel asks Liska in Discord dev chat if he could put the TAW Anglorum storyline the two fleshed out several weeks prior into some sort of ‘hard copy’ that isn’t just the brainstorming part. This way any new ideas he brainstorms won’t conflict with what the two already established. Liska replies that Heathendel can simply use Discord’s own Chat History of the discussion stating that not much had been discussed in that channel since the discussion took place.
A bit later, Heathendel tells Liska that he found the information and, in reply to the question as to whether or not he had come up with more, says he was merely wanting to revisit what the two had discussed so he could get back to working on the TAW server content. This is briefly interrupted by a few client issues encountered on Heathendel’s end but eventually these resolve themselves.
The two discuss the content in Corsica and Earthrise and Heathendel finds himself impressed as to how much the team had already done up to this point. Liska mentions that quests had ended at Corsica and that Emerald had been working on the quest mechanics for one of the earlier quests in Corsica before the team shifted their focus away from TAW and to the content that eventually became part of the Valkal’s Shadow expansion to SOA. Liska mentions remembering this due to the fact he had cleaned up the Corsica quests that same day and had navigated around the quests Emerald was busy making the mechanics for.
Heathendel asks about the level range for Corsica and wonders at what level Earthrise content should begin. He mentions trying to fill in the Anubian camps and Liska comments that he would have done that himself already except that, at the time that he’d set out the mobs of Earthrise, he wasn’t sure which mobs were to be placed in which of the Anubian camps just yet.
Heathendel comments that he had the story all planned out for the region and that the team just needed to add whatever mobs would work for each camp. Liska tells Heathendel that while he had planned to show Liska the full details of the quests in Earthrise, he never got around to it and they had only discussed the ‘gist’ of the storyline but never went beyond that. Because of the lack of details on that front, Liska had completed the rest of the region’s mob placement while leaving the Anubian camps empty.
Heathendel then inquires as to how many Anubian mobs have the word ‘anubian’ in them. Liska replies that most will have
Heathendel then states he might go ahead and repurpose his Island Temple mobs as low level mobs then simply have Emerald tweak them when she returns since that idea was scrapped. Liska does wonder if that idea could actually be salvaged and reused using a different, possibly even custom, map at some point in the future rather than the one used for it. Heathendel admits that would be a possibility as he did like the story made for it and Liska agrees commenting he had already made a quest for the now scrapped idea.
Returning to the Anubian mob list, Liska asks which ones Heathendel wanted. He is told that all unused old and new Earthrise Anubians were requested and anything outside of those, such as the ones in Europe, were to be rejected. Liska replies that he has images for all the old Corsica and Earthrise Anubians, but, not those from New Corsica or New Earthrise as he did not start cataloging the game until Planet Forever which used the old regions. He offers to also include the named mobs as well as what locations the mobs are found in. Heathendel states that all those would be perfect but adds that he also needs the Simian mobs in addition to the Anubians.
Finding his pictures, Liska rattles off the list including the two Anubians from Corsica. Heathendel mentions watching the old EER walkthrough videos to try and get any other mobs from the newer regions. Liska tells Heathendel to let him finish the list and he can grab those mobs afterward. He then rattles off the rest of the mobs including those from the Earthend instance and the wind elemental named from the Summoning Circle for completion. Liska then comments that he remembers the invincible level 30 Anubian Abomination mob from New Earthrise and states that that mob shouldn’t be used.
Heathendel becomes nostalgic while watching the EER walkthrough videos and comments that he wished the team could use the tree props from that version. Liska replies that he did give Emerald a copy of his old EER archive so those props should exist somewhere.
Heathendel states that those trees look ‘so much better than ours’ to which Liska replies that it was part of the upgraded EE appearance and that that was one of the few good things to come out of Iki/EER’s versions. Liska adds that he wasn’t sure if the PF admin had fully ripped those files, and far as he knew, only the Anglorum files were ever ripped, but, admits to possibly being mistaken.
Heathendel comments that he hopes the team has the files to which Liska again states he should have them in his EER archive, but, the major problem is the actual audit of each region, that is, to where each prop would be located in which part of each region. Heathendel retorts that if need be the team could do it manually, though that would probably take forever.
Liska reminds Heathendel of what player Yon Fildibeck did when helping the future PF admin restore the game by manually rebuilding the Corsica region prior to discovering the original regions in the audit files during the time when that server was still a secret and states ‘now imagine doing that to the entire game’.
Agreeing, Heathendel thanks Liska for the list stating he has enough mobs to fill out the camps without the need for new mobs. Liska does mention as an addendum the EER Anubian end boss mob that had replaced General Akhom when Earthend had been taken out during that version of the game even though that mob’s name escapes his memory at the time.
On July 8th, Heathendel messages Liska on the Discord chat that he would be finishing up the Corsica mobs and then begin work on the Earthrise set. He later adds that if Liska is able to log on, they could discuss the full storyline of Earthrise in more depth. Unfortunately, Liska misses this meeting to his regrets.
On July 10th, Heathendel states he would be on the TAW server for the next couple days and that he is now working on the actual quests for Earthrise where as before it was just the storyline itself. Liska asks if the Anubian camps had been filled out and Heathendel replies that he is filling them out as he makes the quests. He adds that he’s working on the first camp and that he needs a free NPC for a food stall.
Having forgotten where that was, Liska asks about it and Heathendel refreshes Liska’s memory as to where the ‘ruined fishing village’ was. Heathendel then gives Liska a synopsis of the questlines for the location which is where the players would have their ‘starting mission’ in Earthrise.
Liska gets confused regarding the role of the nearby Lighthouse that would play a role in one of the quest plots and the two begin to go back and forth debating how that would play out. Eventually, Heathendel’s idea wins out for the most part as Liska had overlooked a rather crucial detail that would make that idea more plausible. This lengthy debate lasts up to and into the early morning of the 11th of the month.
This debate resolved, Liska inquires what would be next and Heathendel mentions the next quest which would be a typical kill quest. He then mentions that although no quests have been made for it yet, the player would then be sent to make a path to proceed which involves the Slave Camps. Discussing this angle, Heathendel mentions wanting to make more interactive quests as things would be rather linear up to this point. Both then get a bit sidetracked again as Liska inquires about Heathendel’s placement of the mob Sek the Slavemaster.
Once that is set aside, the two resume with the discussion as Heathendel admits to having problems coming up with ‘good elements’ to the story in the Slave Camp area as the idea is to have the allies be outnumbered. Liska points out that that could be the whole idea in itself and offers a scenario that could fulfill this role in a sequence of events. Heathendel states the idea is good and that he will make notes of it.
Heathendel adds that he will try to get the rest of Earthrise done questwise later in the day and Liska points out that the story should be interesting at least up to the Anglorum content.
Heathendel then tells Liska he finished the Slave Camp but Liska asks about a second having recalled that both Old and New Earthrise had two of them but had forgotten the TAW Earthrise only has the one, something Heathendel reminds him about.
Heathendel outlines the storyline for the northern war camp and mentions that one of Rictar’s ideas would come into play at this point. Liska asks about this idea as he has forgotten some of the details for the early Earthrise quests. Heathendel continues to elaborate the scenario which jogs Liska’s memory. When Heathendel mentions a mechanic that would function like the Rogue skill Walk in Shadow, though, Liska asks how this would work under the current skill system setup, rather than the future skill system revamp, because the Walk in Shadow skill is known to be broken and a source for many complaints by Rogue players. He adds that that would need to be addressed before such a ‘copy over’ would be viable.
Heathendel responds that the new skill system would be in place by this point, but, Liska further inquires how that would then work during quest testing by the dev team while using the old system. He states that obviously more testing would be required under the new system anyway. Heathendel replies that the entire game would need to be retested under the new system but, that if tweaks needed to be made then that would be fine.
Heathendel then tells Liska that the Slave Camp is done and that he would send Liska the quests made thus far. After this, Liska shifts gears and inquires if content was done up to Highpoint, which Heathendel replies that quests aren’t even close to that yet. Heathendel states there would probably be a number of quests after the Slave Camp’s content before the player reaches Highpoint.
Heathendel then posts up the four quests he’s worked on in a post on the dev forums on the website.
On July 18th, Heathendel informs Liska on the Discord chat that he finally got to chat with Emerald. Liska asks Heathendel how he managed it as he had tried all week to get hold of Emerald himself. Heathendel replies that Emerald had probably replied to an email he sent her a week earlier and the two began to chat a bit. He then posts Emerald’s reply to him.
The email indicates that Emerald is ‘sorry’ and that ‘things are just about back to normal’ and that she would be ‘back on the case’ soon as her real life obligations complete ‘this week’. Emerald adds that the email would be brief and that she ‘s ‘still here’ and has ‘been hibernating’ but that she plans to show up sometime during the week and ‘reply properly’.
She adds that the emails in her email account has piled up to ‘about 400’ messages and that she’ll sift through them and see ‘what’s important’, adding that Heathendel’s email ‘seemed the most recent from you lot’ and that she’ll ‘have to take a deep breath before starting to deal with them’ as it ‘has never been quite this many’. She closes by stating she ‘misses you all’ and that the team would ‘hear from me properly soon’.
Liska inquires to Heathendel if Emerald was returning at last and he replies that ‘it seems like it’. Heathendel adds that he told Emerald to ignore all registration key request emails as he likely has all the same ones and to ignore any bug reports until the reg key issue is fixed. Liska agrees that the registration key problem is the number one priority for the moment.
He then asks if Emerald was planning to return by the weekend and Heathendel replies that Emerald planned to ‘touch base’ with everyone after her last real life obligation was done. Liska jokes that it would seem more waiting was to be done and Heathendel agrees that they have no choice for now. He adds that it was at least nice to hear from Emerald again and that he thinks the team will hear from her again soon.
Heathendel adds that the team will have a ton of registration keys to give out and Liska agrees that that will be ‘real fun’ as they will have to go through all accounts requesting keys from the beginning of March through July – a full four and a half months of key requests and waiting players.
Heathendel hopes they will still be around as that would be a lot of players and Liska agrees as that would be a good stress test for the server. Heathendel adds that hopefully the Valkal’s Shadow expansion can be rolled out quick as well. Liska states it should be as that expansion is 99% complete so shouldn’t take that long. He adds that at least the team finally has ‘good news’ after such a long wait.
Shifting gears, Liska asks Heathendel if he has made any progress with The Anubian War content. Heathendel replies that he has been busy so hasn’t done much of anything on that front. Liska states that he was just curious since there was the chance that the TAW server could be updated around the same time that Emerald gets around to adding all the new things to the Valkal’s Shadow server, thereby ‘killing two birds etc’.
Liska also confesses to not doing much in the previous two months and still has not yet cleaned up the Grunes Tal quests even though he got all the Swineland quests done save the quest content that was never finished.
Heathendel then tells Liska that looking at the way TAW experience gaining will probably be through questing that the level cap might need to be raised. Liska inquires if he meant the regional level cap or the game’s level cap itself. Heathendel replies that he was thinking both as looking at the Corsica and Earthrise content he is beginning to think with all the content in just these two areas, players might reach between levels 12-15 after doing everything.
Liska points out that even in old Corsica and Earthrise, players have been known to reach levels 11-14 before heading to Anglorum, including himself. Heathendel agrees stating that that was indeed the case even with the content in those currently used regions being much fewer than what is planned for TAW.
Liska then wonders about the ‘issue/non-issue’ regarding those players who choose to deliberately ignore content and simply grind out their levels, but, Heathendel states players should have that option if they want to do that.
Returning to the level cap discussion, Heathendel states that it is hard to say as, currently, with the level cap is at 55, level-wise, even with the addition of Swineland, quests only takes players to 47 with the remaining content taking them up to 50. While wondering if the ‘extra levels’ will ‘cover us’, Heathendel comments that Anglorum content at the very least needs a bump up in levels.
Liska asks if the newbie zones of Bastion, Corsica and Earthrise would take players to level 15, would that mean Anglorum content should be bumped up to level 15-25. Heathendel agrees stating that Bastion content would take players from 1-3, Corsica content, including extra kills, would take players to around level 8-9, and with Earthrise being larger, the planned content taking them to level 15 would be a ‘safe bet’.
Liska then points out that the existing region of Corsica is able to bring players up to level 7-8 by the time they reach Southend and the Southend Passage and Earthrise content, on average, is in the 7-10 level range even though players have managed to reach levels 11-14 by Earthend. Heathendel agrees and mentions that the difference between ‘then and now’ is that he is a bit worried players would reach that point with quests alone. Being that players always could and can choose to overlevel themselves, if the quests alone can bring them to this point, this would then result in players always being ahead of content. He adds that this why the team should raise the content levels so as to ‘keep players that are doing quests in line with the content they’re at’.
Liska points out that this issue is present in most MMOs and RPGs in general. Heathendel says that is ‘just fine’, but, the team should probably go ahead and raise the starting zones to levels 1-15 and Anglorum to levels 15-25 as discussed. He comments that, if anything, it would likely also solve the existing level gap issue.
Liska then asks about the later zones. With the existing regions of Midlands taking players to level 25 and New Badari taking them to level 30, he wonders how the level bump of Anglorum to 25 would change things and how would the content levels of those two be adjusted.
Heathendel states that the higher level the players get, the slower the climb, so all that would be required is minor tweaks of things until everything eventually evens out. He adds that Midlands would probably become 25-28 in level range with New Badari becoming 28-31/32 in range. At first, Liska thinks that sounds a bit ‘uneven’, but, while Heathendel says it is ‘not really’, Liska begins to try and list out hypothetical level ranges for all the regions beyond Anglorum.
Midlands would be at 25-28, New Badari would be at 28-32, Great Forest perhaps at a possible 32-36 range, Dustshore would possibly range from 36-40 with Cracked Rock partially overlapping at a level 38-42 range and then Deadwood would have a possible range of 42-46. Lastly the newer zones of Grunes Tal might wind up with a range of 45-49 with Swineland finishing things off with a possible 49-55 range.
Heathendel states that it would be ‘around there’ but he doubts Swineland would have a six level range nor Grunes Tal with four, though it might be possible to have a proper climb to 50 in Swineland without the Bounty Boards which he adds he wants to change from Exp farms to something else. Liska jumps in pointing out that the team had already come up with ideas for those, which Heathendel agrees on.
Liska adds that he’s also aware of the story changes planned for both Great Forest and Dustshore and Heathendel points out that both Midlands and New Badari are ‘similarly affected’. Liska states he is just trying to get a rough idea as to the possible alterations would be in level range.
Heathendel points out that, plotwise, ‘the Anubians even with allies wouldn’t have much reach’ in the regions north of Great Forest, whereas Dustshore would have an invasion gone horribly wrong. He also adds that he would like to have the Dustshore plot be somewhat similar to what is planned for Corsica and Earthrise. Liska points out that this is not including any assumptions of planned new regions that may or may not be added to the mix in the TAW storyline.
Heathendel agrees and says that this would just be for the existing regions but he isn’t so sure if the TAW story would have players entering Grunes Tal or Swineland at all. Liska then points out that the team has brainstormed previously the possiblity of tossing in the three currently empty Spain regions which is why it was now being brought up. Heathendel responds by pointing out that they really weren’t optional as they wouldn’t really be tied to the TAW storyline as it’s about the Anubian War. Liska points out that those three regions would cover ‘who knows how many levels’ and ‘who knows how much possible content’.
Heathendel then outlines what he thinks will happen. By the time players would reach Dustshore, they would probably be in their mid-30s and the like. Also, both Dustshore and Cracked Rock would be ‘much bulkier regions content wise’ than they currently are. Liska points out that Cracked Rock is currently the biggest problem as it is ‘half-devoid of content’ and a whole lot of grinding.
Heathendel then offers a scenario that once the Beasts ‘win’ back the entire Dustshore/Cracked Rock front, the Anubians would be pushed back to Cazador Tunnel. This would then be the ‘end’ of The Anubian War content as the Beasts have successfully driven the Anubians out of the Beast controlled areas. From here, players would be able to run new content involving the characters they have met such as the ally Anubian or another ally NPC.
Liska, however, counters that wouldn’t the Spain regions be considered Beast controlled regions too as, lorewise, those areas are the ancestral homelands of the Atavians. Heathendel agrees but points out that it would be a ‘temp cut-off’ as those areas aren’t made yet.
Heathendel then mentions he has been brainstorming the story of the ally Anubian eventually joining the Redeemers. Liska, however, points out various lore and story issues that would hinder such an idea. Among these are the fact this NPC is formerly an enemy which would result in most Beasts being hesitant to trust them, some Beast races doing so simply because this NPC is an Anubian.
Heathendel counters that this ally would likely have recommendations from reputable beasts such as Merlin and Lancelot and that, along with the various interactions with the player, by this time would have gained a reputation. He then points out that even if such a scenario doesn’t work, another ally NPC could be used instead. Heathendel then discovers an unavoidable plothole in his idea in which one of the other ally NPCs would need to be used instead of the ally Anubian.
At this point, Liska comes up with an idea. He says that if the team is going to halt the TAW storyline at Cazador Tunnel, perhaps they could toss in a ‘little time skip for the next part’. Heathendel asks about it and Liska lists off a possible scenario.
With the Beasts having defeated the Anubians at Cazador Tunnel, the Anubians have been pushed back to Andalusia.
At this point a stalemate occurs between the forces (this would borrow from the original Age of Beasts Timeline but altered somewhat to fit the TAW storyline). Several years pass since the Anubian War ground to a halt and other issues crop up in the world. Among these would be incursions of the Pact of Decay in Deadwood and the Undead forces of both Abidan and Lord Palatine Drakul in Grunes Tal and Swineland and perhaps even Lurker’s Vale if the team decides to go that far.
Meanwhile in the Spain regions the Anubians have not been idle during the stalemate having begun to formulate a plot to re-invade Dustshore.
The group of Beasts in Andalusia, having been cut off from the rest of the Beast Nations up to that point are only faring so well and are just ‘barely’ hanging on’ to the supply route opened up by the victory at Cazador Tunnel at the end of the previous storyline.
After dealing with the other three groups (even if the main enemies of each are not dealt with), the player receives news that the Anubians have begun a campaign to overrun Shalefall Valley in an attempt to wipe out the Beast resistance there and make a new bid to reclaim Cazador Tunnel for the Pharoah.
The player is then sent to that region to drive out the Anubians from Andalusia once and for all.
Liska adds that this scenario gives the team a whole new arc to play with that succeeds the original TAW story. Heathendel likes the idea and thinks it could be doable.
On July 19th, Shadrel Foxen posts up a link to a Poll on the TAW website to see which Beast race is the most popular among players. He then posts the same link in Discord chat. By the 20th, the results of Shadrel’s poll seem to indicate the Foxen race is the most popular so far. By the 21st, the results indicate that the Foxen race is still in first place followed by the Fangren, Atavian and Ursine races in second with all other races trailing in third.
What will be fixed, changed and added during this month?
Earth Eternal has had a long and hard road in all of its official versions and its unofficial private server versions.