History - The Valkal's Shadow Era

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November 2017

November 2017 marks the beginning of the ‘Earth Eternal – Valkal’s Shadow’ Era.

On November 11th, 2017, after almost two years of preparations, the Valkal’s Shadow server is opened to the public. Events and more greet the players as things finally get underway.

On November 11th, the dev team preps the live server for the unveiling of Valkal’s Shadow. Last minute bug fixes and quest tests are performed using new Sage characters which reveal a few outstanding quest issues with some of the Swineland quests among other lingering problems. Bugs are fixed up until the designated time for the opening up of the server to players which is at 5PM Eastern, 10PM GMT.

As the players finally begin logging in, a few issues with some event items crop up as the devs get the main event ready. This results in Emerald implementing more fixes and having to restart the server at least two times, forcing players to wait an additional hour and a half to two hours for the main Event of the Opening day. The players are permitted to resume their usual routines until the Event is ready.

Liska notices that Rictar has decided to login and asks him about their previous discussion. Rictar basically tells him that he had blown off steam the previous evening and was ready to help with the Event.

The devs and Sages begin porting all players to the area around the Swineland Bridge (which is now a ‘broken bridge’ for the event) while a few intrepid players manage to arrive there on their own.

The Event kicks off to a bit of a rocky start as players struggle to arrive. Shadrel, Emerald, Rictar and Heathendel serve as the event ‘players’ with Shadrel roleplaying as the player Leader requesting items to ‘build the bridge’, Heathendel acting as the guide and Rictar roleplaying as the ‘bridge builder’. As the players go off to gather the requested items, things really heat up.

A rapid series of five server crashes in the middle of the Event due to a few serious bugs threaten to derail the fun, but in the end, the event manages to be completed in spite of the issues. The latter part of the event includes Rictar ‘rebuilding’ the bridge so the players can cross, defeating a special Troll boss mob and guiding players from the Grunes Tal border to the Swineland city of Wartown for more ‘story’. As part of the event, the players are given up to five Keys to grab items from the Treasure Chest placed near the Swineland Bridge on the Grunes Tal side. This is the same Chest and the same Keys also placed in the Event version of Mushroom Isle.

A much more serious bug makes itself known during and after the event which wreaks absolute havoc on the server. Being dubbed the ‘inventory bug’, this bug liberally corrupts the items in players’ inventories, on their characters, in their Vaults and in their Buyback pages often resulting in these items mysteriously disappearing. Among those affected is Liska’s new Sage character who loses nearly all his items.

Following the Event, and also due to recurring issues involving the inventory bug, activities fall to a minimum though players continue to login. Those players who missed the initial Event are permitted to get Keys for the Treasure Chest either in Mushroom Isle or by the Swineland Bridge. For the latter chest, the Sages willingly pass the Keys out to the players.

Liska’s new Sage gets further ravaged by the inventory bug to the point the character appears with a pink skirt item and a hat item on his back where a shield would normally be even though none of these are in his inventory or on his character. Further, this character no longer loads on the character selection screen.

Emerald investigates several inventory bugs including Liska’s Sage inventory issue. As it turns out, two of the issues are actually different bugs. The one bug involves the Sage command /giveall not working on more common items such as the ‘Dragonbone’ items. Emerald discovers a change she had made to ‘activate ability actions’ is causing this one. Liska’s issue turns out to be part of the much worse inventory bug issue, but, is caught fairly early. This bug involves item IDs and character IDs being reset after being moved.

Another strange bug appears where everyone in a zone ‘jumps’ if someone logs into the game or ports to someone.

Liska notices that his new NPC in Nottingham is not only missing all it’s equipment, but is also the wrong race.

A player reports being unable to run the Camelot Bounty Boards which seem to have closed a level or two early. This is later revealed to have been an intentional change by Heathendel as he has implemented more difficult and challenging Boards for Camelot with new targets. While the same boards and rewards are currently used, the Camelot Bounty Boards are now part of the new ‘Daily’ Bounties system.

A sixth server crash happens late in the evening, though it seems to occur from a different issue than the earlier five which were discovered to have been caused by changes Emerald made to the server for the event.

On the 12th, Emerald fixes the Inventory bug but not before it causes more damage. Several other issues found within the World Editor force Emerald to take it offline pending some severe bug fixes.

Various mobs and NPCs lose their appearances forcing the dev team to track these down so that they can be restored.

Being tired of the issues surrounding the /setbuildpermission admin command, Emerald tweaks the server so that the dev team members can build freely anywhere so long as the ‘admin’ tag is active on their accounts.

Several more Swineland quest bug fixes along with a few other bug fixes are rolled out in a few more restarts of the now-live VS server.

Liska asks Emerald about the last crash from the previous day and she tells him it was likely unrelated to what caused the five during the event. Oddly a log is not created by the server for the last one.

As Rictar had been having difficulties setting up the ‘completed’ Swineland Bridge during the previous day’s event, Heathendel and Emerald decide to tear down the one Rictar erected in the event and replace it. The result is a custom built ‘Junk Bridge’ that better fits the theme of Swineland’s Warpigs. Liska, while often critical of Heathendel’s ideas, finds himself really liking the new junk themed Swineland Bridge and feels it blends in nicely with the entire area. In addition, the event Treasure Chest is moved next to the bridge rather than directly on the path where it had been during the event and the area mobs are reactivated.

Due to fewer players logging in on the 12th than on the 11th, the city events in Camelot and elsewhere are scaled down and some events never take place, though Keys for the Treasure Chest are still passed out.

On the 13th, more bug fixes are rolled out both for the Swineland quests as well as a number of other outstanding issues.

While running quests, Heathendel discovers the World Boss, Kilvath L’Vithian has also been affected by the rampant bugs and has lost his appearance, prompting Heathendel to report it in a Github issue. He charges the entire dev team to start combing the entire server for any and all creatures that have lost an appearance.

Player Ranni Whiteroost reveals to Liska that various items from prior to the live server update to Valkal’s Shadow have gone missing from his Buyback among other places.

A player reveals to Heathendel that Charms equipped to players do not expire prompting Heathendel to create a Github issue for it as the player did not create a bug report.

On the 14th, Emerald continues to roll out bug fixes and regressions to changes that have caused the issues of the past few days. She tells Liska in the website chat that while there are still quite a few issues, the ‘worst’ is likely over with and things are settling down.

Liska notices that two of the shopkeepers in Swineland’s city of Wartown have been moved and changed. The General Merchant was swapped out for another NPC and the second General Merchant had been changed to an Armor Merchant. He also notices that both the Armor Refashioner NPC and Weapon Merchant NPC windows show as loot chests rather than shops.

Liska notifies Emerald who is puzzled about the Refashioner NPC as that one supposedly had been fixed already. After verifying it on a personal server, Emerald locates the issue and fixes it on her side.

After learning he could build again, Liska adds the General Merchant NPC that had been swapped out of Wartown to the Redeemer’s Camp instead. He notices this NPC, too, has the ‘loot chest’ issue. Liska then checks up on the General Merchant NPC in Front Line Camp as well and, sure enough, that one has the same issue. After notifying Emerald of these, she asks him their names and he gives them to her. She then fixes those NPCs as well.

After a server restart to roll out the latest fixes, Emerald gets online to verify the shop NPCs in Wartown are correctly displaying the proper windows for their shops. She also laments that there are no level 40+ Shop weapons. Liska mistakenly confuses the merchants in Deadwood as Weapon Merchants only to discover upon investigating to verify, that they were Armor Merchants instead.

Liska unintentionally hurts Emerald’s feelings after he blames many of the recent series of problems on her World Editor program. He tries to correct himself by telling her the program is still a very good one, but, that it still has lots of bugs to iron out that are making it difficult to use. Liska finds himself regretting his choice of words though.

A player reports having issues with getting the new Grunes Tal Keystone Sanctuary to work. Emerald goes to investigate the claim but, is unable to reproduce the issue. She asks others to try and verify if there is a problem or not.

Liska discovers that the Camelot Graveyard and a portion of Camelot are playing the ‘Undead’ environment instead of their original environments. Emerald ports to him and is able to verify this oddity.

Early on the 15th, Liska is invited into Rictar’s groves to see what he has been doing since late on the previous day. Rictar shows Liska two areas in his grove that are essentially ‘concept’ ideas for a ‘side area’ in the currently inaccessible areas around Frost Peak, specifically the area where Heathendel has built a few things in the past. Rictar asks Liska to help him sort out any lore issues with his idea and Liska hears him out then outlines a counter-idea that would be lore friendly but follow a similar vein.

Later in the day, Emerald fixes a few more bugs, but, holds back on restarting the server. Among the bugs fixed are the ‘jumping’ bug, the long awaited Ear and Tail Size reversion bug and more Swineland quest issues.

Emerald is finally made aware of several bugs already reported and adds them to the ‘to be fixed’ pile. She adds that all these fixes would be in the next server restart.

Emerald also helps Liska finally ‘outfit’ his Sage now that the inventory bug is resolved, as up to this point, the new Sage character has been mostly nude thanks to the inventory bug.

Heathendel comments while building ingame that it would be nice to have ice planes similar to the water planes currently in the game. Emerald tells him the more recent versions of her IceTerrain program just might be able to create such a feature. She does mention, though, that as she hasn’t worked on them much, the most recent versions have never been made available to the other developers on the team. After Heathendel asks about this, Emerald just tells him that she would likely do that ‘soon’. Emerald does point out that the newest versions can now properly align misaligned terrain tiles which excites both Heathendel and Liska at the prospect of finally fixing up broken up regions such as the tiles for the three Spain regions.

Having noticed a Git issue regarding the /refashion command in his email notifications before logging into the game, Liska asks Emerald about it. She tells him that she has removed the command and replaced it with two new items in the Credit Shop. Due to the wording of the Git issue, though, Liska gets confused as to whether there are two or three so-called ‘Refashion Device’ items. Emerald reassures him there are only two and that one of the three names was actually the description for both items and not the name of a third.

The one use temporary item would be obtainable as either a craftable item or purchasable in the Credit Shop for 5 Credits. The permanent item would be sold in the Credit Shop for 1000 Credits. Liska tells Emerald he isn’t so sure the temporary item should be obtainable in two ways as the craftable method would likely be used instead of the Credits method. He suggests combining them so that players would have to purchase a ‘crafting plan’ for 5 Credits and then craft the temporary Refashion Device item with the needed mats. Emerald tells him she would think about the idea. Liska notices the items are not in the Credit Shop and Emerald tells him they will be part of the next server update.

Emerald then mentions that she has found the issue with the Camelot Graveyard and Camelot environments. She adds that she has also found and noted that the day/night cycle in the area seems to be changing too often and that that will be addressed as well.

At this point, Liska asks Emerald if she has fixed the spammed messages in Grunes Tal and she admits to not recalling that issue. Liska reminds her that he had mentioned it back when they were setting up the Grunes Tal Keystone Sanctuary and the Swineland Henge. He adds that a player had notice it was still happening even after Valkal’s Shadow was rolled out to the live server.

He then goes to the area so Emerald could investigate and she ports to his location. Emerald quickly finds the origin of the issue, which turns out to be a residual environment prop that had not been removed after the region’s environment was upgraded in Scourge Of Abidan, and deletes it causing the spammed error messages to immediately cease. Liska speculates that the prop might have been placed there either by Planet Forever’s admin when he restored the region or by Sparkplay when the region was first set up. Emerald agrees with him.

A bit later on, the server randomly crashes and Liska promptly brings it back online. Heathendel and a few others including Liska wonder if something Heathendel did caused it. He mentions trying to pass out a Key to one of the players at the time the server came down. Liska points out that he had given a number of them out in the past few days so they chalk it up to happenstance.

While exploring later that evening, Liska discovers that all four World Bosses have lost their appearances and not just Kilvath as reported by Heathendel earlier in the week.

An article about The Anubian War EE project, team and the recent release of the Valkal’s Shadow expansion is posted up on the website MassivelyOP. This seemingly innocuous article about the TAW private server surprisingly garners a number of views and draws new people to the game for the next several days. This article is quite possibly the very first one written about Earth Eternal in any form on a major gaming website since the demise of Ikimonogatari and Earth Eternal Reborn back in 2011.

On the 16th, a player going by the username MGMGTech on the forums posts on the ‘Help Wanted’ thread inquiring if they could help with Earth Eternal as they mention being an ‘avid supporter of fan-made private server reboots of MMOs’ also stating they had run an ‘Ultima Online’ private server themselves. MGMGTech then lists a bunch of things they have worked on and emphasize they have done 3D Modeling in these projects. They ask if the Team is interested to send them a message. However, while the team does show interest in this individual, no further communication, likely outside of emails with Heathendel, take place.

Liska and Heathendel chat ingame regarding the new Winter Dawning content. Liska points out one planned mob in particular that Heathendel has called the ‘Holiday Horror Tome’ and states that this name does not fit the overall theme of the event and would be more suited to a Halloween event than a Christmas one. At first Heathendel thinks it’s fine, but, tells Liska to suggest a new name if he thinks it would be better. Liska does toss up a couple ideas that follow more a ‘caroling’ song book theme.

While trying to think up an alternate name for the book mob, Liska comes up with an idea for a ‘themed’ NPC with a notable double reference attached. Heathendel likes the clever wordplay and asks Liska to come up with more for later. He also asks Liska if he could write some Books for the event and Liska tells him he will try to come up with something.

Very early on the 18th, Piggypops drops in on the live server for a bit. He and Liska, who is online at the time, chat for a few minutes. Andrew reveals that he has seen the article on MassivelyOP and congratulates the team on the release of the Valkal’s Shadow expansion. He also says that he would bring it up with Matt and try to get him on the server as well. As in the past, no further communication with either Andrew or Matt takes place.

Throughout the week, Heathendel and Emerald continue focusing their energies on the Winter Dawning event content and other bug fixes and improvements respectively. During this time, all the mobs found to be missing their appearances are fixed.

On the 19th of the month, Heathendel shows Liska around the Spain region. Heathendel reveals that he has been working to fix up the unfinished Spain terrain tiles and that it’s starting to look like it was intended. The two explore the region and Liska expresses mixed feelings about Heathendel changing up the terrain and not simply putting the tiles together. Heathendel counters that this is because the ground doesn’t seem to match the maps, but, Liska disagrees stating it appears that way only because the overall area is much larger than others they have dealt with and that it is likely SPM had already gotten the general layout setup but had not pieced everything together.

In spite of their disagreements, both are able to locate the general area where the exit for the Cazador Tunnel is meant to be and follow the area around in the hopes of locating the general areas for the specific locations found on the maps.

On the 20th of the month, a strange series of server crashes happen. Players Sharlexia and Horsey report it in Discord chat while Rozene attempts to restart the server each time. It starts to become apparent that the two are somehow triggering the crashes but the exact causes remain unknown. Rozene inquires if they were in a party and possibly setting off the Party Loot bug, but, while they admit to being partied, both deny using the party loot options. Both also admit to porting to Stonehenge at the same time during one crash. Rozene states that Emerald will likely have to be notified of the issue.

Later in the day, Liska gets on Discord and sees the mayhem of the day. The server crashes once more after Liska gets on the server.

On the 21st, player Horsey makes a complaint on the Discord chat regarding the character color palettes in Character Creation stating that they were not permitting solid white or black colored characters. This small detail leads Liska to speculate that for some reason the ‘Closed Beta color palettes’ that had been restored back during Planet Forever, might have somehow been reverted to the ‘Open Beta palettes’ during one of the VS updates. Liska suspects one of Emerald’s recent tweaks to the game might be the cause.

The strange crashes continue to plague the server for the second day in a row. Both Rozene and Liska bring it back online each time, Liska later apologizes for having to leave for a bit before being able to bring it up again during one of the times Rozene had to restart the server earlier in the day. When asked if Emerald is the only one who can investigate the crashes, Liska replies that Emerald is, indeed, the only one who had direct access to the server console itself.

After a few more crashes, Liska asks the two players that appear connected with the crashes if they have been partying up and if so, have they been using party loot options. Both verify they have been partying but have left the ‘loot options’ as Free For All and not even bothering with them. Getting back ingame, Liska decides to try and isolate the cause of the crashes and begins asking the two players involved exactly what they would be doing at the time of each server crash.

Player Sharlexia reveals that she has been using various healing and buffing skills nearly each time on her partner player Horsey. She also states that she is starting to suspect a certain heal skill and Liska asks her to test the condition on which both believe it happens on. Sure enough, using the skill Healing Breeze while in combat immediately crashes the server again. In Discord, Liska warns everyone not to use that skill until the cause of the issue is fixed.

Soon after, the server crashes yet again and it is revealed that the Resurrect skill appears to have the same problem as Healing Breeze. Further crashes point to at least one more skill, Vigor of Sargon, also causing the crashes. With Healing Breeze and Vigor of Sargon crashing the server when used during combat and Resurrect crashing it at any time, these three skills become unusable. Liska asks the two who discovered this issue to create a bug report detailing the problem as these tests reveal that the use of these skills, along with who knows how many others, are likely the source of the crashes of the past two days.

On the 22nd of the month, Liska and Heathendel discuss the Winter Dawning content and Liska mentions that the NPC he had come up with some days prior had not been created yet. Heathendel tells Liska to post it’s name on the Discord chat as a reminder for him for later on. Later in the day, Liska posts in the Discord chat as requested.

While exploring the Winterland zone, which has now been moved to it’s own region and is no longer in the New Bremen zone, Liska notices that several of the NPCs in the town portion are original Winter Dawning NPCs that have been repurposed by Heathendel to fit in the newly created region’s content. While a bit disappointed that the original content is systematically being dismantled, Liska decides to wait and see how things will work in the finished event region when the event is rolled out.

Emerald rolls out a server update with a few bug fixes. Among the fixes includes a fix to the skills that have caused the server crashes the previous two days.

On the 23rd of the month, Rictar manually spawns a few Turkatrice King bosses around Camelot, Bremen and Heartwood for players to fight in lieu of skipping the Harvest Fest event this year. He informs the team about this action in Discord chat and Liska reminds him to despawn them later on. Rictar replies early on the 24th that he was planning to keep the holiday boss mobs spawned until at least December 1st. He also posts about it on the TAW developer forums and Heathendel replies to the post on the 24th.

Shadrel asks Liska for permission to hold an event ingame where players would have to hunt for him to get a prize. Liska mentions that this suggestion reminds him of what player Bakuhatsu often did way back during the Sparkplay days prior to the 0.8.6 patch where he would hide and award players 100 gold for finding him. Shadrel points out that he doesn’t know how to give out money but suggests a pet instead. Liska suggests maybe a scroll reward ‘or something’ would work too, but, Shadrel states a pet would not affect gameplay other than looking ‘cool’.

When Liska expresses concerns over repeat winners, Shadrel reassures him that it would be a one time only reward per player. On Liska’s concerns over which regions Shadrel’s event would take place in, Shadrel replies that he would create some new characters for it. When asked about his Sage, Shadrel replies that he might use all his Sages as well. Liska decides Shadrel’s ‘event idea’ would at least give players something to do since the dev team was unable to roll out the Harvest Fest event this year, having rolled out the Valkal’s Shadow expansion barely two weeks earlier.

More concerns over the three skills that have crashed the server in previous days arise and player Aureus reveals in Discord chat that the Resurrect skill works fine now and doesn’t crash the server, at least outside combat. He adds that Heathendel had revived him with it without issue since the server update the previous day.

On the 24th of the month, Shadrel starts his ‘fox hunt’ event and informs everyone in Discord chat that he will be ‘hiding’ a character in every region starting with Anglorum. Those who find his ‘clones’ will be awarded a free pet. Those who manage to find the ‘real’ Shadrel will also get an additional reward. He considers a scroll or other ingame item at first, but, then decides on a special (albeit temporary) title in Discord instead. Players Sharlexia and Horsey are among those that win this round. Shadrel announces the next part of the event will be in the Midlands of Europe on the 26th.

Several players decide to take on Shadrel’s ‘Road of Death’ challenge that he had announced during the rollout of Valkal’s Shadow. Players Sharlexia and Bel Aldur end up completing it, while player Horsey comes up short. A server crash interrupts the fun this time, but, does not affect the progress.

On November 25th, Heathendel puts a message in the Discord chat that all devs should warp to the ‘New Bremen’ instance. He mentions that his terrain edits were nearly done and the ‘boundaries’ for the ‘holiday event’ area were nearly set. He adds that the area needs points of interest such as forests and also needs populating with mobs, NPCs and the like. Heathendel also mentions there are only two spawn packages currently available and the latter of these includes all those made for the event so far and that he will be adding more to serve as quest targets. Heathendel also thanks Liska for the NPC suggestion reminder.

In response, Shadrel tells Heathendel that he is only good for acting during events. When Heathendel asks him how good at building he is, Shadrel replies that he doesn’t build but is able to do other things. Although Heathendel offers to help Shadrel learn to build, he also tells him the team needs builders at this time. Heathendel adds that the team will use Shadrel later when the event is rolled out but states it will be a bit different than the Valkal’s Shadow rollout event.

Heathendel also states that the event will not be aimed for around Christmas as most everyone will be busy with the holidays at that point, so the ideal target time would be sometime soon after Christmas. He adds that this is why he is trying to get everything done before the holidays so there would be enough time to ‘get everything ready and test a lot more’.

Later in the day, Liska and Heathendel chat in Discord regarding the Winter Dawning event. He mentions adding more quests and that he has decided Liska’s disputes regarding the name of a certain book mob was more accurate than previously thought as it gave off a more ‘horror-themed’ vibe than intended. Heathendel states he will change the name to the one Liska had suggested via the World Editor in time for the next server update.

During their discussion, the VS server begins acting weird. Heathendel asks Liska to shut the server down and explains that strange things have been happening ingame including level 10 mobs dropping level 50 legendary items. While these items have already been destroyed, the server continues to be doing strange things.

Liska goes to shut the server down but discovers it already claims to be ‘down’ yet it is still very much online. Heathendel is able to confirm this as he is already online and states he has instructed the players to all log off pending investigation. Liska verifies that he, too, is indeed able to login.

Afterward, Liska tries repeatedly to restart the server but it keeps crashing soon after. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Liska comes to the conclusion that as both the ‘Legacy’ server and the ‘Live’ server are crashing at the same time, that one or both have somehow hung.

Heathendel suspects it might have been something he did as he had been on his main character running the Blood Keep instance when it first came down. Heathendel gets back on with one of his Sages to check the mobs. He discovers most of the bosses do not have the correct drop rates save for the Vaj bosses.

As the server continues to have issues, both decide the server may have to remain down for the remainder of the night. Soon after, the server does crash again and Liska decides to try starting the Live server first before the Legacy server. However, doing so, Liska discovers that for some reason the Live server refuses to restart.

Oddly enough, players are still able to login here and there even though the Live server claims to be offline. Players even report having item and inventory issues during this time. To make this worse, Liska comes to the realization that players may likely have been logging into the Legacy server without knowing it and wonders if Emerald had ‘crossed the wires’ as it were when rolling out the new expansion. Both Liska and Heathendel decide that, in light of these odd issues, they would shut the servers down for the remainder of the night and email Emerald about the problem.

Liska suggests having Heathendel open up a Git issue with the tag ‘Extremely Critical Bug’ so that Emerald will be sure to see it. Heathendel replies that he will copy and paste the email into a Git issue. Liska then informs the players in Discord that the server would be down for the remainder of the night or until Emerald can fix the issue.

Shifting gears, Heathendel tells Liska that he has a few quests done for the new holiday event area called ‘Winterland’ and asks if Lisks would want them sent to him. Liska inquires how many quests would be intended for the area and Heathendel tells him. Liska wonders if that is a bit much, but, Heathendel points out that the event is meant to last a good month and the ‘region’ is pretty large area.

Heathendel then goes into an explanation of what the holiday event backstory supposed to be and outlines various questlines. He even posts a quest he has finished to show Liska the general idea for it and asks for feedback when Liska is able.

On the 26th, Emerald investigates the issue regarding the server problems of the previous evening and discovers the cause. She then works to resolve it and then brings the live server back online. Later in the day, Liska asks Emerald about it and she reveals that what had happened was that a random bot had hit the server with a ‘drive by’ DDoS attack while probing for server vulnerabilities and looking for specific protocols such as HTTP and so forth. Emerald adds that this has happened several times in the past already, with the previous night’s being the latest one.

Emerald states that she has added in several countermeasures to combat the problem but is not certain how long before it happens again. She does reassure Liska that the attack was indeed merely a bot and not some hacker trying to crack into the servers of a virtually unknown private server of a long dead MMO.

When Liska notices that there have been changes to the Server page where the dev team ‘controls’ the servers, Emerald tells him that she completely restructured the Server page and completely removed the Legacy server altogether as it is no longer needed now that Valkal’s Shadow has been rolled out to the live server. Thus the developer server version of VS is considered officially retired. Both the ‘Legacy’ and ‘Live’ servers are now officially ‘merged’ together and the old SOAD name is renamed VALD to denote that Valkal’s Shadow is the live server. Emerald tells Liska that what had happened on the Server page was that the Legacy and Live servers were indeed running together which is what was enabling players to login even though one of the two was offline. With the merging of both, this issue is considered resolved.

While in the middle of the discussion with Emerald, Liska relates the news to the players on Discord chat at the same time so that they are made aware of what had been happening the previous evening. Rozene admits to suspecting the same thing in regards to the servers running together when Liska mentions it.

A bit later on, the live server again hangs forcing Liska to restart it. This time, no majur issues are involved and it restarts normally.

On the 27th, player Karistina discovers a bug in the new refashion devices preventing them from refashioning shields. Liska asks her to report it so Emerald can address the issue.

Shadrel reveals he forgot to hold his ‘fox hunt’ event the day before and states he will do so at a later date.

The server crashes during the day and Heathendel brings it back online.

Emerald adds a new Winter Dawning milestone to Github. She then posts on the developer forum on the TAW website asking all devs to use it. She adds that if she has missed anything in the milestone to add it with a ‘to do’ tag attached.

On the 28th, the server crashes a few more times causing players in Discord to wonder if the server was being attacked again. Liska brings it back online each time. Following the last crash, both Heathendel and Liska bring the server back online with Liska accidentally restarting it after Heathendel, kicking him off the server in the process having not realized he was online at the time.

That same day, Heathendel posts on the General forums on the TAW website announcing the upcoming Winter Dawning Festival. In the post Heathendel talks about Winter Dawning being an EE tradition and that this year the dev team has planned a much more expanded version of the event that includes an entirely new zone with new enemies, bosses and rewards. He adds that while the team wants everything ready prior to December 25th, due to how busy the holidays tend to get, a solid release date will not be set.

Heathendel and Liska chat again in Discord. Heathendel asks Liska if he has created any Books for the Winter Dawning event, but, Liska states he hasn’t yet as inspiration has not hit for the area. Heathendel suggests starting with Grindle’s lore but Liska counters that that already exists in the original quests for that boss.

At this point, Heathendel outlines the general ‘story’ for the new Winterland zone.

On the 29th, the server again crashes repeatedly forcing Liska to restart it each time. However, it crashes once again while he is away and it isn’t until later that it gets restarted finally, this time by Emerald directly.

Liska and Emerald chat and she reveals that the latest round of server crashes were most likely related to the new mob AIs that had been implemented in the last update. She disables these and updates the server again while adding in more of Heathendel’s items for the Winter Dawning event.

 

December 2017

Late in the evening on the 1st of the month, the server crashes yet again; however, Liska doesn’t restart it until the early morning of the 2nd having not noticed the crash until sometime after midnight. He apologizes to the players for the extended downtime.

Later in the day on the 2nd, at least two players complain about not being able to complete quests for some reason. Heathendel investigates the issue having a hunch as to what might be causing it and Liska asks the players to submit a bug report about it. A bit after, Emerald pops in on the Discord chat and informs players she has taken down the server and it’s taking a bit longer than usual to bring it back up which confirms Heathendel’s hunch.

Emerald posts again revealing that she had missed a spot where the server needed to be adjusted to allow for more quest objectives. She also half-complains about the client taking so long to compile lately and she half-jokingly blames the piles of terrain edits that Heathendel has been sending her of late. After a bit of time, Emerald announces that the server is back up, but, that players should restart their clients so it will download the needed updates. This update will end up being the final client ‘maintenance release’ update of the year.

On the 3rd of the month, the server again crashes and Liska wonders if Emerald is updating things again as she has been rolling out updates quite regularly in the past week, especially due to the recent crashes. After checking, he restarts the server. A bit later on, it crashes a second time. This time, Heathendel restarts it.

Following a third crash, Heathendel announces to players in Discord that Emerald has been working on a fix to the crash and that she is currently updating the server with it. The cause is revealed to have been involving the new books inventory system that was implemented to give players a place to store their new Books, ingame.

After the server is restarted, players are dismayed to learn the /craft command for Advanced Crafting has been removed. Heathendel explains that Emerald moved the command’s functionality to the Craft Artisan NPCs and would be handled just like normal crafting.

Player Horsey complains on Discord chat about crashing the server while trying to use the Vault in Camelot. Heathendel investigates after the server crashes a few times. It turns out that one of the items in Horsey’s Vault had been the cause.

The server again crashes twice more and it turns out to be the /books command this time as confirmed by player Bel Aldur who tests it.

During the last server update, a special ‘weekly’ Bounty Board quest created by Heathendel is added to the game and hidden in Great Forest. This very special Bounty quest requires players to defeat all four of the World Bosses for a prize. Due to the content involved, however, only top level players are expected to run this quest. Oddly, no rewards beyond gold are created for this quest even though the quest offers a special token to be used at a chest that does not exist.

Heathendel messages Liska on Discord chat and tells him about a ‘new discovery’ involving the unused region of Frost Peak, stating that Sparkplay might have ‘started to work on Frost Peak more than we realized’. Heathendel states that about ‘90% of the base land mass and it’s just the actual landscape’ was done but there was a small part still remaining that would still be a large undertaking yet ‘the template is already there’.

Heathendel adds that he walked around the terrain following the map and the terrain almost perfectly lined up. Areas he had dismissed previously had turned out to be where a river was meant to go, but, it was only lacking the water.

On December 4th, Shadrel admits in Discord that he still needs to do his ‘fox hunt’ event sometime as he has not yet gotten around to continuing it.

On the 5th, Heathendel and Liska chat in Discord again. Heathendel inquires if Liska got his previous message and Liska states he did. Heathendel admits to being disappointed that Liska did not seem to be as excited with the news of his latest discovery as he had expected. Liska replies that he had not been home at the time and had just barely read the message. He adds that the very idea is indeed fascinating and he’ll have to check it out himself later.

Liska then changes the subject and mentions that the new ‘weekly’ Bounty Board is missing a Chest. Heathendel replies that it isn’t going to have a chest and will have a NPC give the reward instead. Unfortunately, the World Editor is bugged again and he is forced to wait on Emerald to fix it first.

Heathendel then asks if anyone has found the Bounty Board adding that player Vlad had been looking for it. Liska verifies that he was there when Vlad indeed found it. When asked if he had helped Vlad locate the Board, Liska tells Heathendel that he didn’t know where it was either. Heathendel admits he didn’t remember if he had told Liska or not and Liska replies that the Board had not yet been added the last time he had been online. Heathendel then states he doesn’t expect Vlad to finish the quest before he finishes the NPC reward.

Liska then states Vlad has no idea about the changes made to the World Boss L’ough Garoum, but, Heathendel counters that it isn’t just L’ough anymore as all the World Bosses are now tougher. Heathendel states he had gotten L’ough down to about 10% health with his Main but, was unable to beat the boss because the server crashed at that point. As for the other World Bosses, two of them took him two tries to beat each and that the third one was ‘tough’.

Liska points out that the quest suggests it be done with 3 players and adds that it should take that many just to beat each World Boss. Heathendel counters that two good players could do it, but, that all four Bosses also have group-oriented AI. He even states that L’ough is perhaps the strongest against a group due to the skills it uses. Liska jokes that he hopes they bring a Fire Mage along.

Heathendel then changes the subject and mentions that as the Winterland content is nearly done, once it is finished and the event over and done with, the team can then turn to getting the next update underway. He casually adds that this update he calls the ‘dungeon/starting zone update’ is good because it not only finishes ‘endgame’ content but also puts a dent in the early levels as well.

This news blindsides Liska and he asks about that detail. Heathendel reminds Liska about the ‘teaser/trailer’ the team was planning on making for TAW and Liska says that it was for TAW and not VS. Heathendel states that Liska misunderstood when he and Emerald had discussed it and that releasing it on the VS server was Emerald’s idea.

Liska gives three reasons why he does not like this idea. Heathendel counters that again it was Emerald’s idea and mechanics would be no issue. Liska offers a fourth reason which is that he had been under the impression the ‘teaser/trailer’ would be a standalone not attached to either TAW or VS and that it would end after completing the Earthend content.

Heathendel again counters that the three of them had discussed it and tried to figure out how to get it on the live server and Liska had agreed that if it was pitched like a trailer, the players would be aware the ‘demo’ would end after Earthend content. He adds that the starting zones need replacing and that the team must either cease work on the planned content and focus on TAW content or ‘build the game up more before transistioning to TAW’. Liska states he will have to discuss this with Emerald first as this was not how he had understood the whole deal.

The two argue back and forth for a bit before the topic partially shifts to the class and skill system. Heathendel’s comments end up leaving Liska confused.

Things then go quiet for the next several days due to the holidays approaching.

On the 9th of the month, player Winterbeast complains in Discord chat about an issue regarding the new character slots. He states that he had purchased one in the Credit Shop but, while his credits were taken, the game claimed the new slot was unavailable. Both Rozene and Liska tell him Emerald is the only one who could find out what is going on. Liska adds that it is possible the new slot exists but for some reason is inaccessible to the player.

On the 10th of the month, player Horsey discovers that the color palette in Character Creation appears to be fixed. Liska confirms that Emerald had indeed fixed that issue during the last server update.

On the 11th of the month, Emerald announces on the General forums of the website that she has asked for the project to be included in the new PlayOnLinux 5 project called ‘Phonenicis’ which is not yet fully released. She invites all Linux users who manage to get hold of this version of PlayOnLinux to try it with Valkal’s Shadow. She adds that it has been ‘very stable for me’ and that it is a ‘very very very easy way to play EE on Linux’. She then gives directions on how to install it and offers a picture for illustration.

Rictar finally removes the Turkatrice King mobs from the game after allowing them to remain spawned for around two weeks.

Liska chats with Rictar ingame and he reveals that both he and Heathendel had come up with several quest ideas for the now mostly complete Winterland zone. Rictar then shows Liska around pointing out the new prop additions that have been made for the quests. This gives Liska an idea regarding the still not yet added NPC that he had suggested and decides to pitch the idea to Heathendel the next time he is online.

On the developer forums, Emerald creates a post regarding a new feature she has been working on while being ‘quiet’ for the past week: an achievement system. In her somewhat lengthy post, Emerald first apologizes for being quiet as the holidays had kept her busy but also states that it was a good opportunity to ‘step back and see if the server stays running now’. She is pleased to announce that it has remained online for an entire week now without a single crash. A set of parameters are shown in the post to which Emerald explains that the ‘Dec 03’ is the date the server was last restarted.

Emerald states that she ‘has not truly been idle’ and has put time into ‘a new fun thing’ – Achievements – which Heathendel had suggested the team ‘should consider doing’. Emerald continues saying that she has started on the feature and that it comes in four parts, half of which she has already finished. She then outlines her goals for fully implementing this new feature into the game and shows off a video she made detailing an example of how Achievements and Achievement Objectives might work.

Here she says that she needs a complete list of triggers for objects and asks the other devs to add their input to the idea.

Emerald adds in an edit afterward that while making the video and, due to using similar animations for the achievement objectives, she has re-enabled the functionalities of the Supercrit, Critical and Level up animations as seen at the end of the video. She further states that the /dps screen now works as well.

Liska replies to Emerald’s somewhat long post with a much longer one. He bluntly states that he dislikes the idea of an achievements system in Earth Eternal and gives very long explanations as to why the idea can be both good and bad for the game. Liska does admit in the course of the very very long post that, while he isn’t completely against the idea in general, the way ‘achievements’ are handled in nearly every other game out there that has them, he has become very wary of such a system being added to EE as well. In spite of his misgivings, though, Liska does offer constructive criticism and even a few ideas and examples how an EE Achievements system could properly work.

Emerald replies to Liska’s very long post by reassuring him that much of what he has pointed out was already expected and that he did make some good points. She then explains how difficult implementing the system would be and that ‘it won’t be done piecemeal’ for the very reasons Liska has mentioned. Emerald adds that because of this, full implementation of an achievements system is likely still quite a ways off. She mentions that the implementations might very well increase maintenance overhead, but, that it can also be minimized if done properly.

On the 12th, Heathendel replies to the Achievements post and disputes many of Liska’s claims in his long post from the previous day. Heathendel points out that Achievements can be used in various ways and often helps players when content is low. Almost point for point, Heathendel dismantles Liska’s complaints and tries to illustrate why achievements can be a good feature. He also adds that achievements are ‘secondary content’ . At the end of his post, he tells Emerald that everything done so far ‘looks awesome’ and that he had not expected her to get things ‘up and running so fast’.

A bit later that same day, Emerald posts another forum post in the developer section. This time it involves a brand new developer server she has set up for Valkal’s Shadow to handle all VS content changes going forward. She emphasizes that this new server is where all further development, including the Winter Dawning content, would be made and stresses that no further development is to be made on the live server from this point on.

Here, Emerald outlines a set of directions on how the team can access the new server, create their accounts and then have Emerald upgrade those accounts to ‘admin’ permissions when made. Emerald includes a special ‘tester client’ download link, but, also adds instructions on how to link an existing client to the test server.

Upon reading the post, both Liska and Heathendel create their accounts on it and Emerald activates Liska’s account the same day, though Heathendel is forced to wait till the next day.

While ingame, Liska reminds Heathendel that he still has yet to add in the NPC that he had come up with and Heathendel admits to forgetting about it. Liska then outlines an idea he had some days before when Rictar showed him around with some of the ideas that Rictar and Heathendel had come up with. This idea involves making his own NPC related to that of the ‘miser’ NPC of this other chain. Heathendel at first is skeptical until Liska clarifies his idea and decides it could work after all.

Heathendel also tells Liska that he has repurposed the original Grindle lore story by partially rewriting it to fit the theme of the Winterland area after Liska mentions seeing the ‘Vargan’s Book of Lore’ item in the new zone.

Heathendel posts a lengthy post regarding ‘Post Valkal Content’ on developer forum on the website which he states is a duplicate of the Github issue of the same name. In it he outlines the tasks which are to be done gradually over time and each task would be crossed off upon completion.

On the 13th, Emerald updates Github with a fix for ‘still some mismatched inventory name mappings’. Later in the day, Liska notices a typo in one of the areas in these fixes and mentions it to Emerald on the website chat.

On the 14th, Emerald asks Liska about it and Liska replies with the details. However, no reply from Emerald comes thereafter.

For the remainder of the month, the entire dev team goes quiet as things get busy for the holidays.

On the 21st, severe lag spikes begin to plague the live server again. Eventually it lags out and is believed to have crashed. Rozene attempts to bring it back up and is temporarily successful, but, the server soon crashes a second time. After a bit of time Rozene informs the players on Discord chat that the server appears to be having connection issues as he has attempted to restart it but has been unable to even reach the Server page on the website this time even though the other pages on the site load just fine.

Sometime later, Liska joins in and, after being asked if there was any progress, goes to check. Rozene states it seems to be up again and that Liska might have fixed it, but, Liska replies that he barely had caught up with chat and hadn’t yet done anything, so suspects a few server hiccups. Rozene agrees that it was either that or Emerald is ‘watching us in a time-alloted manner’.

A bit later, another player states they can’t get in so Liska goes to check on it, but, gets distracted for a moment before more reports convince him to investigate. Sure enough the server appears to have hung again and a bit after, Liska attempts to reset it. Unfortunately, Liska discovers that while he is able to shut down the live server he unable to restart it. Worse, he is even unable to get to the Chat page on the website. This tells Liska that it isn’t simply the live server that is affected but all of them.

He asks Rozene if he has had any luck but adds that it seems all the servers have crashed indicating it might be a host issue that is at fault. If this is the case, they would not be able to restart any of the servers until that is resolved. Rozene verifies this is the issue he had dealt with earlier.

Liska states that the servers were likely running just fine but that as the host itself is likely preventing logins or any other action which is why Liska had been able to shut down the live server but had been unable to bring it back online again. Liska suspects that if the host itself hung, then the three servers likely crashed soon after. He suggests giving the server some time for the host to sort things out before trying again. Liska adds that only the servers seem affected by this issue and not the rest of the website. Rozene verifies that the server page had also been affected, but, seemed ‘fine now’.

Liska states he will probably send Emerald a message if things don’t sort themselves out soon. A bit later, when the outage continues, Liska makes good on his promise and states he will send Emerald a message even if things resolve themselves on their own. He then emails her regarding the issue.

A few hours later, Liska is asked if the server is online again and he states he has yet to check on it in awhile. He states he had been giving it ‘some time’ before trying to restart it again, but, says he will check again. Sure enough, the server is finally able to be restarted and Liska brings it back online. He speculates that maybe the host had been ‘doing maintenance or something earlier’ and adds that hopefully Emerald can enlighten everyone when she gets back. He also apologizes for the downtime.

Late on the 25th, Christmas, while trying to help player Jarred Stone get back ingame, Liska discovers that the password reset page had not been redirected from the old Scourge Of Abidan page, which is now a dead link, to a new Valkal’s Shadow page, which apparently had never been made. This prevents Liska from resetting Jarred’s password, but, he resolves to bring it up to Emerald as soon as able.

On the 29th, Jackuul posts in the chatbox of TerraEternus that someone has spammed the website and caused it to crash. He eventually tracks down the IP and it seems to have been from Russia. In response to this issue, Jackuul decides to restructure TE for the first time in several years. He then archives most forum sections and combines all the forums related to Earth Eternal into one section. He also creates a post asking those few people that are still around if the website should be considered dead or not.

Jackuul also expresses in chat that it may be time to finally let TerraEternus die as the site’s activity has been virtually nothing for the past several years. Over the next several days and into the new year, several post that while the site is pretty much dead it still has use. Player Bluepaw points out that he has created a Discord server for TE as a sort of spiritual successor for ex-EE players and TE users to gather and keep in touch. User Hippy Treehugger also insists that he is still attempting to redirect the TE site’s focus to other games besides EE and bring in interest and traffic from his livestreams.

On the 30th, Liska spends some time cleaning house on the website and makes liberal use of the banhammer, eliminating over a dozen spambots that have taken residence on the server. He also notices a new type of spambot that has been showing up in the previous few days and had been waiting for confirmation that it was indeed a bot type before taking action.

 

January 2018

On the 2nd, player Winterbeast informs Liska that he had discovered some days earlier that his new character slot was available and has been using it for some time. He asks if it had been fixed and Liska states he has not heard from Emerald so could not say.

On the 4th, Liska attempts to assist a new player who is having trouble creating a Valkal’s Shadow account. In the process, he discovers an odd nuance with the Valkal’s Shadow signup page that prevents users not logged in to the TAW website from being permitted to select from the server dropdown menu, thereby preventing a game account from being created. Eventually the player figures out their problem and is able to login. While the player’s issue is resolved, Liska finds this signup nuance to be a potential issue of its own, yet wonders if Emerald set it up this way intentionally to stop bots from gaining access to the game servers.

On the 5th, Liska chats with Emerald for the first time in nearly a month. He updates her on everything that has happened during the month that the dev team was mostly idle and she expresses concern regarding the mention of the new type of spambots Liska has had to deal with at the end of the year.

In regards to the recent incident on the TerraEternus side of things, Emerald tells Liska that if Jackuul does decide to finally close up the venerable fansite after all these years, that perhaps she could negotiate a way to gain a clone of the website which she would then host on TAW’s domain. This would then resolve Liska’s concerns about all that EE history stored on the old fansite from being potentially lost should Jackuul decide to finally pull the plug.

Changing subjects, Emerald then reveals that she has only just returned from the Holidays and is trying to get back into the swing of things, EE side. She also reveals that she has not been idle during the Holidays and has made some more progress with The Anubian War side of things. Emerald reveals that she has figured out how Shards work and has finally managed to get a version of it working on her personal copy of the TAW server.

This interests Liska and Emerald further reveals that, instead of being set up all in one location, the TAW version of ‘Shards’ would essentially be more a server cluster using a system that would permit ‘regional’ shards so that players from each region would have their own more ‘local’ shards to help mitigate Ping drops from the regions far from the server host.

Liska counters that the ‘regional’ part of the idea might be counter-intuitive as the whole point of EE is to get everyone all over the world playing together. Further, while the idea of ‘regional Shards’ is interesting, it could potentially be misinterpreted by players as a subtle hint that the dev team may be trying to segregate players by local region in exchange for a small boost in ping speed for players from this region or that one. Emerald concedes that issue, but, also assures Liska that the model idea could still be used to handle Shards in such a way that it could reduce server load by spreading it out over a cluster even if it isn’t ‘by region’.

Shifting focus again, Emerald tells Liska that she has also been looking at the old Iki/EER Lobby System and has been considering restoring that feature as well. Liska vehemently states his opposition to this idea and points out that the Iki/EER Lobby System was nothing more than an enhanced version of SPM’s ill-fated and ill-implemented ‘port to player’ option from Patch 0.8.8. He further reminds Emerald of what ‘port to player’ did to the game in SPM’s final days. He reminds her of the flaws and issues it had, resulting in many players exploiting those flaws and causing havoc and mayhem for those trying to enjoy the game.

Liska then reminds Emerald that the ‘port to player’ system, and later that very Lobby System that Emerald has been considering, had rendered the Henge system of travel worthless and had eliminated one of the things that made EE different. Worse, the Lobby System version, while different in that players would ‘unlock’ locations as they leveled up, could still be exploited once a player was high enough level to unlock all the options, which again, would render the henges worthless. In the end, Emerald concedes that Liska has a point, but, also points out that if done properly, the Lobby System could still work.

Emerald then tells Liska about a new server setup that she is trying that will greatly improve things and reduce server load. During the lengthy and technical discussion, Emerald tells him that this same system would enable many things to become much more possible such as the newly restored Shards along with the previously discussed Achievements idea among others. She tells Liska that she will begin converting the TAW server to this new system in the next few days.

The two then discuss a few other things including the Winter Dawning event that still has yet to be finished and rolled out. Emerald tells Liska that she will email Heathendel and see how that is coming along. Hopefully, they would be able to roll that event to the live server before the end of the month and it would not have to be canceled for another year again.

On January 9th, Emerald updates the Github page for The Anubian War server with the first round of changes to prepare for the new dynamic loading system’s implementation. Among these changes are the complete removal of several files Emerald has deemed no longer viable for The Anubian War server, and thus obsolete. The server source and documentation folders originally made by the PF admin are among those removed as both the server source code and documentation for TAW have deviated far enough away from the original PF versions that they are now completely different from what is contained in the now-removed files. She also begins the removal of the autotools at this time.

A random server crash takes place out of nowhere, forcing Liska to restart it. It crashes a second time causing players to wonder what is going on. Liska restarts it again and player Kitsune Cavalry reveals he had been attempting to put pages for the Books into the bookbinding section to make a Book when it crashed the server. Liska tells him to report the bug as he wasn’t aware of that issue. It is later determined that because the Books mechanic is still unfinished and because the bookbinding portion of the mechanic along with at least one component for binding has not yet been implemented, that the server had crashed as these items were missing.

Sometime after the server restart, players Bel Aldur, Sharlexia Springpaw, Arcadius Rosenvelt and Aureus Seitaro, along with assistance from Liska Quicksilver, manage to defeat the boss “It” after several attempts. Shadrel Foxen gives the players a temporary tag in Discord to commemorate the event. While the players along with Shadrel claim this to be the ‘first player run defeat’ over this maligned boss, Liska contends that, as he had lent assistance and being one of the dev team, it likely would not completely count. The players and Shadrel all disagree with him and continue to celebrate in Discord their hard earned victory. The players call “It” the ‘hardest boss in the game’ but Liska counters that while that was true before, now that VS was rolled out, the boss Valkal is MUCH harder than even “It” and so the title goes to him. The players again try to keep Liska quiet so Liska decides to let all the matters go and let the players involved in the latest victory over “It” enjoy their time in the sun.

On January 10th, Emerald again updates the Github page for TAW with more changes made in preparation for the changeover to the dynamic loading system and autotools removal.

On the 11th, player Aureus mentions to Liska that one of the Skrill mobs in the Skrill camps, the Hivedrones, do not aggro even when attacked. Getting on the live server to verify this issue, Liska is able to confirm the claim and realizes the mob has apparently lost it’s attack AI script during one of the recent updates and asks Aureus to make a bug report on it.

On the 15th of the month, the server again crashes for a bit, with Rozene restarting it sometime later.

The same day, several players and Liska begin discussing in Discord chat the idea that some players want to begin cataloging various things in the game. Liska mentions everything he has cataloged through the course of Planet Forever, but also points out that none of his work has been posted anywhere. Several players including Lyah Freetail, Kriss Spire, Sharlexia Springpaw, Horsey among others insist they want to catalog things as well but Liska points out he’s done much of the work already save for the newly opened zones of Grunes Tal and Swineland along with all the changes made since the team got hold of the game including many of the newer quests, dungeons and other content.

It takes some misunderstandings and arguments on all sides to eventually convince Liska to allow the players to help. However, this also convinces Liska that perhaps it may be nearing time for him to finally hang things up with EE after so many years of effort. He points out that growing disagreements between him and the rest of the team along with other factors are beginning to convince him it may be time to move on. The players, however, disagree and more negotiations ensue as these same players try to persuade Liska to stay, insisting his work is highly valued. In the end, he agrees to stick around, but, also to allow for ‘assistants’ or ‘Loremaster apprentices’ so that the players get the chance to help out. This also would help lessen the load on himself as Liska admits to taking on too many projects regarding EE in an attempt to do it all himself.

A bit later in the discussion, player Kriss Spire reveals that he had once somehow managed to get EE to run on an old PC running Windows 98 SE. Both Liska and other players in Discord chat boggle at this and wonder how he managed to pull that off.

On the 16th, player Lyah reiterates his offer to help catalog things and lists things he could work on. Liska lists the things he has already cataloged but also reiterates that many things he had cataloged are now obsolete with all the changes the team has made.

Both Sharlexia and Horsey show off a Google doc where they have already compiled some data. Lyah then agrees to catalog the new player zones, though Liska points out he has already done those zones save the changes to Mushroom Isle. Sharlexia offers to allow those who wish to help catalog things, including Liska’s own efforts if he chose, to edit her Google document.

In response to an issue regarding the Shops in Swineland’s Wartown made by player Aureus, Liska gets on the live server to verify his claims. While Liska is able to put some of the concerns to rest, he does discover that several shops in Swineland do have problems. The General Merchant in the Redeemer Camp has no wares and a duplicate of that NPC is somehow spawned in Front Line Camp as well. The Front Line Camp General Merchant’s shop, by contrast, possesses the contents of two General Merchants and an Armor Merchant. Wartown’s Weapon Shop still carries armor instead of weapons, an issue the developer team meant to resolve, but, never did. Liska creates a Github issue mentioning these problems.

On the 17th, both Sharlexia and Horsey reveal they are planning a fanfic comic of EE. Liska tells them to make sure it’s lore friendly and they mention it’ll be more ‘present day’ or ‘game time’, but, admits to taking liberties on some things. This inevitably causes some discussion and a bit of argument with Liska as, being a hardliner with some things, he refuses to accept the idea of adding new races that do not exist in the game or ‘variants’ of a species that could potentially be a race of it’s own at some point. After a bit of back and forth, the issue is eventually resolved in two Discord channels and the matter is dropped.

For most of the month, the dev team remains quiet on the development side and by the 22nd of the month, questions as to whether or not the Winter Dawning event will happen or not continue. By this point, though, it is likely to once again be put off until the next year.

Liska notices a large upswing in the appearance of spambots, most of them being the new types, on the TAW website throughout the month and finds himself dealing with several per day.

On the 23rd, Heathendel finally returns to development after nearly two months. Chats with Liska in Discord reveal that in addition to the Holidays, issues in real life in the last few weeks has prevented him from working on the game as planned. Due to this, the Winter Dawning event will be put on hold until the next year once again. Heathendel freely takes responsibility for the event’s failure stating that, although the team had a proper timeline, as the ‘content lead’ who is suddenly gone for a month, it’s hard for the rest of the group to say ‘let’s finish things up’.

Liska comments that although the team ran out of time for the Winter Dawning event again, since most of that content was already finished, it shouldn’t take too long next time. He jokingly adds that this is provided Heathendel doesn’t redo everything yet again. Heathendel is quick to reply with a ‘no’.

While discussing the failure of this season’s Winter Dawning event, Heathendel and Liska discuss issues with both the Anglorum Daily targets and Emerald’s latest round of absences. Liska updates Heathendel on when he last chatted with Emerald and is told Heathendel has sent her an email but is waiting on a reply from her.

Using the World Editor, Heathendel fixes and double checks the four Daily targets in Anglorum. Liska then brings up the issues with the Swineland content that both he and several players have reported in Github. Heathendel tells Liska he can probably fix most of the issues and get them ready for the next server restart. He adds that the Skrill Hive AI is one thing he had meant to fix sometime back anyway.

Investigating the Skrill mobs, though, Heathendel realizes he is unable to fix them properly due to the mobs being in packages. Further, several other mobs in the Skrill set seem to have similar settings with the affected Hivedrone mob. More mysterious is that both it and the other Skrill all have their scripts in the World Editor. The two consider a temp ‘fix’ for now, just to get things working until the proper fix can be put in.

Heathendel discovers that the Hivedrone is not only having AI problems, but, it is missing it’s weapon. Liska states that the mob should still attack even without a weapon, but doesn’t. Both continue discussing this issue before deciding a ‘tedious’ temp-fix could possibly work.

Liska then mentions the players’ complaints regarding the overworld quest boss Borris. After investigating the boss mob, Heathendel states that, being a boss, Borris should be pretty tough, however, he admits the damage output might be a bit too high. Heathendel then tweaks Borris, lowering two stats and the overall damage output a bit. He also decides to make the quest recommend at least two players ‘to be safe’.

Liska takes the time to mention that a player informed him that there is a story loophole in the quest that sends players from Nook Town to Clint’s Camp where players could end up doing the quest before defeating Boss Hawg in his quest chain, yet still be told by the receiving NPC for this quest that ‘you’re the one who defeated Hawg’ even if they have not yet done so. He suggests to Heathendel that perhaps making the Junk Palace quest a prerequisite quest to this one would help close the loophole. This way that Nook Town quest could not be accepted until Boss Hawg had already been defeated by the player.

Heathendel counters that while that might work, the Boss Hawg chain and quest chains at both Nook Town and Clint’s Camp are completely separate. Players would do the Nook Town quests and then be stuck in progression until they finish the Boss Hawg chain. Worse, they might not know that they should go back to Nook Town after defeating Boss Hawg.

Liska then offers the idea of a new ‘link’ quest that sends players to Nook Town after they have defeated Boss Hawg. He posits the idea that the NPC that gives the player the quests to defeat Boss Hawg is actually from Nook Town and that once they have accomplished this task, the NPC sends them to Nook Town to deliver the ‘news’. This would then close that story loophole.

Heathendel likes the suggestion and decides to go that route as it would essentially make the entire Swineland storyline come full circle without interruption, since, as the quests currently stand, Boss Hawg’s quest set goes nowhere beyond it. With Liska’s idea in place, it would also fix the Swineland story progression as a whole as that is also broken in the current setup.

Heathendel makes Liska’s requested changes to the Spreading the Word of Nook quest and also asks Liska if he could come up with the ‘bridge’ quest that would tie everything together. It would not necessarily have to be immediate as they would still have to wait for Emerald to return before the changes could be rolled out.

During this same exchange, Liska also points out the quest marker problem with The Junk Palace quest ender and Heathendel fixes that as well.

Finally answering one of Liska’s earlier questions, Heathendel tells Liska that far as the Daily quests go, he still wants to create boards for each region, possibly even in both Grunes Tal and Swineland as well.

Starting late on the 23rd, Piggypops appears on the Discord server for a bit. In spite of remaining seemingly online for the next several days, Andrew never responds to any comments directed his way by those in the EE Discord server.

On the 25th, player Tupik returns to the game briefly and joins the Discord server. He is disappointed to discover, however, that he is unable to build in his grove and Liska verifies that both /togglebuilding and /creaturetweak are currently broken for both players and devs on the live server. Liska adds that Emerald is aware of the issue and will fix it when able.

On the 26th, Heathendel tells Liska in Discord that he was finally able to talk to Emerald and that she would hopefully be on during the weekend.

On January 27th, Heathendel and Liska chat in Discord and Heathendel tells Liska that while he briefly chatted with Emerald earlier in the day, she didn’t have much time but would likely be on all Sunday.

Heathendel then tells Liska he is working on a forum post ‘outlining the goals of our next patch’. Both of them would then start planning and working on that content along with any of the ’part-time devs’ who might want to help. He adds that Emerald is going to be working on fixing several bugs before joining the two of them with the content of the next patch.

This reminds Liska of the grove issues and he tells Heathendel that Emerald will need to fix those as well. He adds that with grove building out of commission, it lessens what players can do ingame. Heathendel asks for details on that and Liska explains the problems with players and developers both being unable to build or creature tweak on the live server. Heathendel agrees that that issue would be Emerald’s priority in the bug fixes if that was the case.

Liska then asks Heathendel if he could verify whether or not those issues were in the new Valkal’s Shadow test server as well. Heathendel struggles to get on that server and Liska also logs in to make sure Heathendel logs in to the test server and not the live server.

While trying to login to the VS test server, Heathendel posts up his ‘post-Valkal’s Shadow’ thread on the developer forums. In his post, Heathendel indicates that the main goals of the upcoming update to Valkal’s Shadow would mainly be a dungeon update and that while it was originally meant to complete currently unfinished content, as the team began to work on things such as the Books system, the team began to ‘discuss more and more things to add to dungeons to not only give them more life but enhance replayability’. The idea being that it would have a ‘two pronged effect’ as new players would get ‘a richer experience’ while more experienced players would have more reasons to re-run them, which would hopefully help with co-op play.

Among the goals Heathendel reiterates from his original post from the previous year is the completion of several still incomplete instances such as the Iron Maw and Old Underground dungeons and the adding of new environments/sounds to the dungeons and/or to effects. Other goals include the development of new dungeon mechanics, the addition of puzzles, hidden loot chests and secret bosses, building on the Book system and any other additional ideas that the team might come up with.

He also reiterates the goal of fully updating all the other dungeons in the game so that they are brought in line with the newer ones. He states that the ‘first step’ would be to review all dungeons beginning with those in Corsica and Earthrise and go forward from there while determining what changes and mechanics the team would like to see in each. He asks the team to post about dungeons or content they would like to see added.

After managing to join Liska on the VS test server, Heathendel reveals that he is able to build freely on the test server and begins working on the dungeon updates beginning with the Southend Passage instance. Liska joins him in the Passage and the two begin discussing how to make the Valkal’s Shadow version of the Passage more challenging without being too difficult for players running it. The restoration of the newer bosses in the instance along with the addition of new mechanics for the boss fight is brainstormed and partly tested. Both discover that neither one possesses full admin privileges on the test server either so are unable to do much beyond light testing.

Once the ideas for the Southend Passage are laid out, the pair move to the Earthend dungeon and come up with various changes there as well. Following that, both move on to the Underhenge dungeon and outline mechanics for both the quest boss and dungeon boss along with a puzzle idea both had been considering for awhile.

On the 28th, Heathendel messages Liska on Discord. He mentions that Emerald likely never got around to coming online and he would try to get hold of her some more. He tells Liska that while he didn’t get as much done that day as the previous one, he had done some work in Underhenge along with doing some investigating in the Abandoned Monastery.

While in the Monastery, he hit on an idea while reading Liska’s Books and wanted to make a few changes to some of the lesser seen bosses in the dungeon, among which was promoting one of them to a ‘secret boss’ that players would have to find and fight. He outlines the general idea to Liska and asks what he thinks. Liska replies that while the idea sounds good, as he never really understood why that section of the Monastery even existed with seemingly no purpose, which was why he gave them some background in his Book pages, perhaps a simpler idea using existing mechanics would do the job. Heathendel disagrees stating that those had been done repeatedly in EE in regards to the various dungeon bosses and he wanted to offer a longer path and richer experience for players.

 

February 2018

The first half of February is rather quiet for EE and the TAW dev team.

On February 9th, amidst a few debates with various players on Discord regarding the current issues with Earth Eternal along with known plans, Liska finally breaks the silence regarding some details. He reveals to a few of them a few things regarding the perceived direction of the game and the fact he has felt a tad outnumbered in some of his less popular opinions regarding the state of ‘Classic EE’ over the course of the entire time the TAW team has held the game’s assets.

In light of some of the information Liska reveals to players, both in public and private chats, player Sharlexia decides to create a poll to get a general opinion from the players. Liska requests that the poll be posted on the TAW forums and linked back to Discord for better exposure.

The response to the poll is surprising to Liska and mostly silent players suddenly turn active as they all begin expressing their opinions. In response to the sudden flood of discussion and debates, Shadrel creates a Debate channel on the Discord server so that those who want to vent their frustrations about the game or otherwise debate or argue over this or that would have a place to do so.

Among the frustrations that gets revealed to Liska is the fact that some players see the game as too hard while others feel the changes are needed. Other players reveal that the game is becoming too ‘party-centric’ and that because the overall community is extremely small, this is resulting in fewer and fewer people wanting to stick around. They argue that being unable to find others their own level to group up with is a major driving force in the loss of players on the server. The players also reveal to Liska that many of them actually enjoy the more solo aspects of the game and don’t want to see that gradually taken away in favor of more content that forces an already small community to party up just to progress.

Liska tries to explain the TAW team’s intents but is quickly countered by the players pointing out that while the team is doing great in keeping the game alive, they are also doing quite terrible in fixing the overall issues plaguing the game. Worse, one of the players insists that Liska is the only developer even listening to the players and that the rest of the team is silent over their concerns. Worse still, the same player claims Heathendel either dismisses or actively ignores their complaints. Liska knows this isn’t the case, yet is not sure how to get this across to the players.

The debate/discussion turns to the preceived ‘plans’ for The Anubian War and the ‘changes’ expected for that version. Liska tries to reiterate what he knows regarding the plans and the fact said plans are not yet set in stone. The players respond by pointing out areas that they have issues with and offer alternatives that could work.

At one point, the players insist to Liska that they want the game as it currently stands to be fixed and would prefer to see no new content added until the game is ‘playable’ again. One of them emphasizes this notion by parodying President George H.W. Bush’s famous tax quote with “Read my lips: No New Content”.

Over the course of this exchange, Sharlexia restarts her poll several times as more information gets revealed to the players by Liska in case the opinions of some players are changed by answered questions.

On the 12th, Liska finally gets hold of Emerald. During their chat, Emerald reveals that, in addition to the Holidays, various other things in real life have kept her away, along with the usual 'takes-some-effort-to-get-back-into-EE-syndrome' as she puts it. Emerald admits to having planned to get back into working on Earth Eternal that weekend, but, it didn't work out in the end.

After a bit of side chat, Liska tells Emerald that things have been mostly quiet on the EE front. He adds that he had spoken to Heathendel some days before and that Heathendel had mentioned sending Emerald a few emails but had gotten no replies. Emerald admits to seeing one and replying to it, but, also seeing a second from before she had left for the holidays and had made the 'I'll respond to it later' decision and ended up never responding to it. Emerald does state that things aren't as bad as previously with the registration key emails and that the new registration system seems to be working well in spite of things being quiet.

Liska then tells Emerald that he and Heathendel had been discussing a few things and had had one dispute with him on an issue that Liska had apparently misunderstood the intents of. He adds that besides this one problem, both had gotten on the VS test server and did some brainstorming and work on some of the planned dungeon upgrades. Liska then states that soon after this, things 'went dead again'.

Emerald states that she will try to get on the server soon to see where the two 'are'. Liska then tells her that Heathendel had also done a bunch of work on the World Editor that still needs rolling out to the servers. Emerald replies that she was aware of this as Heathendel had mentioned it in his email, but, that she still needs to add the 'final piece of the puzzle' to enable Heathendel to roll out changes made in the WE himself.

Liska then brings his misunderstanding dispute with Heathendel up with Emerald telling her it involves the 'TAW Preview' idea and outlines the problem to her. She admits to not recalling the full details and that far as she was aware, it was not going to be asset changes so much as 'more mechanics and other non-gameplay improvements'. Liska tells Emerald that he had been told something different from what he had understood initially and Emerald replies that it seemed wires were 'crossed everywhere' and for Liska not to worry about it.

Liska points out that this confusion is the result of the TAW team not coordinating as they should have been and that the result is that none are 'in sync' with anyone else as to what the plans going forward are. Emerald states that her motivations 'were mostly technical' and that she had wanted 'classic EE' to run on 'TAWD' which didn't imply that it would mean the TAW content itself.

At this point, Liska tells Emerald that he had finally 'cracked' some days before and decided to take the problems to the players themselves. He then tells Emerald about everything that transpired regarding the players and the new player poll that player Sharlexia had posted up in response without directly mentioning the player's name. Liska states that he had hoped finding out what the players were wanting to see the team do with EE would help them 'get back on track'. Emerald tells him that she doesn't object to player feedback so long as they understand that the team will not do 'exactly' what players request.

Here, Liska partially shifts gears and starts bringing the players' concerns to Emerald's attention. Among these are the fact that there is a distinct lack of communication between the dev team and the players. Liska adds that it has gotten to the point the players are under the presumption he is the only TAW developer who listens to them and that, while Liska knows the presumption is false, the players seem to believe Heathendel either doesn't communicate, or outright ignores their concerns when both Liska and Emerald know he's likely just busy. Emerald replies that she realizes it 'isn't fair' to Liska and that Heathendel is already aware this issue is a problem and feels the same about it.

Here Liska admits that maybe he had jumped on Heathendel himself a bit as it has seemed of late as if most decisions have been his with nearly zero input or feedback from the rest of the team. In response, Emerald tells Liska that she does tend to defer to Heathendel most of the time as he was the one who carried the vision of TAW forward from the start. Because of this, Emerald has tried to stay out of everything storyline and general direction related including mechanics, leaving that for Heathendel as she does not feel qualified for it. That said, Emerald does admit that Liska's point about not being involved is 'fair enough'.

Liska adds that the rest of the team tends to be left in the dark half the time and Emerald replies that she doubts the problem 'is technical' and adds that she has tried many times to have Heathendel 'do everything' in the developer forums on the website so the entire team can 'be involved', but, adds that it is 'too easy' to have conversations in ingame private chats that get forgotten or via emails that no one else sees. Liska points out that, in addition to that, the 'most important' feedback, the players, is being left out of the loop. Liska adds that he has come to realize in the last several days that the TAW team's work would likely end up 'fruitless' if they repeated the mistakes made by both Sparkplay and TurnOut in regards to the players.

Emerald reiterates that she had figured it was safe to ignore the TAW storyline as it was to be a new game. Then came the idea that wasn't communicated properly, the details of which she admits to not being able to recall the details of at this time. Liska reiterates that coordination hasn't been the best in regards to the dev team and no one knows where everyone else is. He tells Emerald that he is at least trying to 'sync' the two of them, and maybe a bit of Heathendel as well.

Emerald states that she will try and arrange for Heathendel to show up that weekend and hopefully Liska as well. Liska admits to trying to get hold of Emerald but never could catch her online up to this point. He adds that in spite of all these things, it's been rather quiet in Earth Eternal save for players reporting bugs here and there. Liska adds that some players did ask to help but Emerald states that it might not be a good idea to accept such offers until the team is active again.

Liska states that some players wanted to help catalog things while others wanted to assist the team in some way. Unfortunately, as things were still 'dead', Liska states he couldn't just randomly accept and instead wanted to defer such decisions to Emerald since she is still the server Admin and has the final say on such things. Emerald agrees and mentions being a bit confused as to what exactly happened with the 3D modeller the team nearly brought onboard. Things had been looking promising and then the person stopped responding to emails. Emerald admits to wondering if Heathendel had tried them again or not.

When Emerald states that 'until we get a functioning team again', Liska points out the 'team' has been him alone '75% of the time' of late. At this point Liska finally confesses to coming very close to giving up and walking away from Earth Eternal both the month prior and again some days before. He tells Emerald about his frustrations and how on the day some of the players wanted to help with things, it nearly caused him to throw in the towel completely. Liska states that it took a bit of persuasion from the players to sort that particular issue, but, that it also made him realize that none of the team can 'do this solo'. In this, Liska admits to coming to understand some of the feelings of Planet Forever's admin.

Liska mentions having told one of the players how there have been times in the past when the team would make decisions that he was often the one lone dissenting vote and that these decisions would sometimes cause him to consider leaving the team. As an example, Liska mentions when he had first learned about The Anubian War idea and how it nearly caused him to quit then as well, even though back then the team had barely had the EE assets only two months at the time. The only thing that kept him from leaving back then was his love for EE and because the team didn't want him to go. Liska states that it feels 'alienating' when it seems one's own opinion does not seem to count for much.

Hearing this, Emerald states she isn't sure what to say but for Liska to 'hang in there'. He reassures her that he might have gotten close to 'falling off the cliff' as it were several times in the past month but that he has managed to find a way to stick around. Even still, Liska admits that the 'lone sentry' can only do so much. Again, he reiterates that he feels like he understands Planet Forever's admin a bit more, yet, unlike the PF admin who insisted on going it alone most of the time, those running TAW and VS aren't going it alone and actually love the game itself as do the players.

Emerald reminds Liska that what they are doing isn't easy, since EE is an MMO and they are running it as a hobby project in addition to this fact. Liska then points out that the MMO genre itself is almost dead these days and as a result, players have been showing up who actually want the solo aspects of the game more than the multiplayer portions or at least insist that the community is still way too small for the team to focus on party-play as few are able to locate players their level to play with. Emerald agrees that has always been a valid argument.

Here, Liska apologizes for venting on Emerald during their discussion but Emerald tells him she needed the 'kick in the arse' to get going again. Liska tells her that if she does get things going again, there is still the issue of grove permissions to deal with. He tells her he did discover they could build on the test server but groves in the live VS server was still a 'no go'. This upsets Emerald who states she thought that had been fixed before the Holidays and will make a mental note of it.

After another bit of chatting, Liska tells Emerald that the bug reports have also been piling up in her absence and she notes that as well. Changing topics after that, Liska tells Emerald that he had been discussing the game's possible direction to players some days earlier and had been told most seem to want what already exists in the game to be fixed before the team adds any more content. Emerald states she needs to get her bearings first and as far as she knows nothing in the game has changed that drastically. Still, Emerald states she needs to know what Heathendel is 'getting at'.

Liska retorts that the entire team needs to know what everyone on the team is 'getting at' and need to get on the same page as currently none of the team knows what the rest are thinking or doing. Worse, even the players have differing ideas as to what they want to see the team do with Earth Eternal.

Here Liska asks Emerald if she would object to periodic 'player feedback' threads on the TAW site offering as an example that the team gets an idea but runs it by the players first to see if they like it or not. Emerald replies that she does in fact mind such an idea as she does not want to have to vote on every single idea be it major or minor. She emphasizes that such a thing would likely paralyze the team even more than it already is currently.

Emerald adds that she does not mind feedback such as questions on planned features to get 'a general feeling for worthiness' but not everything. Liska concedes but states that he is just worried the lack of communication between the players and the TAW team would only serve to eventually drive players away if the team creates something they don't want. Emerald agrees that the team should communicate more, but, tells Liska that she just doesn't want to be developing a 'designed-by-committee' game in the end.

Emerald reiterates that she needs to get her head around the perceived changes from the 'original' accepted plan. Liska admits to no longer knowing what the original plan was anymore and Emerald states that it the original plan was that The Anubian War was to be a separate Earth Eternal game and that the team would also support 'classic EE' as far as they could.

Emerald tells Liska that as far as she is concerned, the idea isn't all that different. What she had wanted and had apparently told Heathendel was that she wanted to use the TAW server and so could, but not necessarily would, use some if not all of TAW's new mechanics. She emphasizes that 'separately', she wanted to show off to the players what has been done in TAW so far in a sort of preview. Emerald further states that she had not expected the plan to turn into moving TAW content, such as the newer zones, over to the 'classic EE' server.

Liska then connects the dots and infers that Heathendel had likely misinterpreted the idea to mean 'let's move our TAW ideas over to VS and slowly transition'. Emerald states that while the idea does have merit, she doubts she would have agreed with it in the end. Emerald adds that she might have agreed with Heathendel, but, didn't understand him. Liska points out that this only underscores the lack of communication and/or misinterpretations between team members. He adds that it has gotten to the point where it is as if all three have been 'working on three different puzzles' instead of each having pieces to the same puzzle while mistakenly believing they were all working on the same one which isn't the case. Emerald reassures Liska that the team would sort things out.

On the 17th of the month, Liska, Emerald and Heathendel meet on the VS test server to try and discuss what has happened and where all three 'stand' as far as the plans to move forward in development. After expressing their initial concerns and issues, it is agreed that all three would present what they believed the plans were so that everyone could compare the differing ideas and see where the team ended up getting split on.

Emerald tells how she understood things first, then Heathendel does the same. Liska goes third and it is soon decided that, while some details were likely misinterpreted by each, for the most part, the team is mostly still on the same page. Real life interrupts Heathendel and while the other two wait for him to return, Liska brings up the problems with some developer commands on the test server to Emerald and she soon fixes these for herself and Liska at least stating that the missing permission was a separate one from the permissions she had already set, so it had been accidentally overlooked. When Heathendel does not return, the meeting breaks up hoping to reconvene the following day; however, that doesn't happen.

Later the following week, Liska chats with Emerald again and the two briefly discuss the failed meeting the previous Saturday. In the end, both agree that while they never got around to deciding how to proceed going forward, all three did at least catch up and sort out where things likely went wrong so that all are now likely on the same page regarding what the plan is supposed to have been.

The remainder of February ends up rather quiet for Earth Eternal outside a few bug reports by players on the live server.

 

March-April 2018

As with the latter half of February, the month of March remains quiet for Earth Eternal outside the occasional bug report by players.

Finally, on the last day of March, Heathendel messages Liska on Discord for the first time in several weeks. Heathendel tells Liska that although he has been busy the last several weeks, in the last few days he had been trying to get back into his routine and managed to somewhat finish an outline for the Knight sub-classes in the planned class and skill tree revamp. Heathendel admits that he feels a few more abilities could be added in and lists off the various ability totals for both the Knight core class and each Knight sub-class.

Heathendel adds that Liska would be happy to know that all pre-existing skills made it into at least one of the Knight sub-class skill trees with a few receiving alterations in their damage multipliers as players will tend to fight more than one enemy at a time and need to deal out more damage to each. Heathendel does admit he has yet figure out at which skills would be at which character level. He adds that while some are obvious, others are less so. This includes things such as Might costs and charges for some skills, though some newer skills might have cooldowns and cast rates if applicable to the skill.

Heathendel states that he plans to work on the Rogue class and sub-classes next. He adds that he hopes to get at least one of the sub-classes done but admits the entire Rogue class is going to be taxing and likely a bit tougher to work on than the Knight class had been as it will probably require quite a few new skills to be added.

Liska replies that it has been about a month since he had heard from any of the team and adds that he, too, had been rather busy in the last few weeks and expected a few more before things settled down. He does ask Heathendel if he had heard from Emerald recently and Heathendel replies that he had sent her a message earlier regarding the 'alpha plan' of the class and ability system created by former Planet Forever player Disaster Master as he had been making them from scratch with her plan in mind, but, had wanted to see the original as it had been a 'good starting point'. Liska states that he had thought it had been posted on the developer forums on the TAW website around the time it was set up but Heathendel replies he had thought it had been put up on a Github page not involved with the TAW project.

Heathendel mentions that the ability system only has four settings that the server allows when creating new abilities: enemy_alive, enemy_dead, ally_alive and ally_dead. He adds that, because of this requirement by the server, some interesting outcomes could be made such as a possible necromancy skill or some other type of reanimation skill set for the Death Druid subclass as an example. Such an example could have skills that could summon an undead ally of an amount of time and include a similar skill or higher tier upgrade that could be an AOE version of the same.

Heathendel points out that Disaster's original plan had the Druid class include the long missing summoning skill subset and that the Ranger subclass was meant to summon animals. Heathendel adds that while he had not yet begun work on the Druid class, his work on the Knight sets had 'got the gears going' regarding that.

Liska states that it would likely require quite a few new animations, particle effects and so on to pull off such an example and Heathendel agrees adding that Emerald's Iceparticle system has already been shown to be up to such a task as the team's previous work with it on the abilities of the Valkal boss has proven. So, while such things would be a large task to implement, it would still be in the realm of possibility. Heathendel also points out that the team had already expected the class and skill revamp to be a huge task which is why it kept getting put off and Liska agrees. Heathendel then adds that this is why he is so motivated to keep the existing skills in the game 'in some form or another' and whether they need some adjustment 'to keep them relevant or not'.

As Heathendel states he has been using the Knight class as an example, the two begin discussing details on the class and subclass changes. Among the details Heathendel reveals to Liska is that he has settled on the idea that players will choose their sub-class at level 10. Liska inquires if the Tier 2 skills that currently open up at level 6 would then have to be pushed to level 10 or if they would remain as is. Heath then reveals that the UI for the skill trees might end up looking very different from the existing ability window. Liska agrees it'll definitely look different since the existing cross-class skills are being eliminated which, in itself, would open up real estate on the existing window alone.

Heathendel lists off some of the abilities he's brainstormed for the base Knight class and reveals at least two new bow skills. Liska thinks these skills sound more for the Druid class instead. Heathendel agrees and points out that one of the Druid sub-classes would have many of them, which Liska points out as being rather obvious for that particular sub-class: Ranger.

Returning to the newly-proposed Knight bow-skills, Heathendel outlines what they are and what they would likely do. This results in Liska having an idea to help keep things balanced in the game. He explains this idea to Heathendel as an ability limitation based on what particular weapon is used.

While outlining the ideas for some of the other Knight skills he's drawn up, Heathendel points out that while Liska's idea has merit, it has the potential to 'open up a can of worms' that might end up hindering a player's ability to set up a particular build if taken too far. Liska counters that that would be why only a few specific skills per class would have such restrictions. Heathendel agrees that at least for the skill the two had been discussing such a restriction would make sense.

Liska adds that the restrictions would be similar to the Knight skill Disarm except it would be more in regards to the weapon vs. ability itself rather than a duration where a player couldn't use the attack at all. This reminds Liska that Disarm itself could use a time duration extension and Heathendel replies that he's already thought of it and made the change.

The two then get into a discussion regarding the old versus new durations and whether or not a player should be unable to attack when Disarm is active. This turns into a debate on how long a 'proper' duration should be which results in Liska making an observation that the skill itself has one inherent flaw in it's execution.

Heathendel then hits on something that Liska points out as an idea that would be a solution to the problem being discussed. Skills such as Disarm shouldn't completely immobilize players when the debuff is active and should instead still permit them to continue attacking, but their damage would be calculated based on the Base Attack Stat instead of including any modifiers that boost the stat such as what would be on their currently equipped weapon. Liska points out that this change would resolve the issues with not only the Disarm Knight skill but all other skills that utilize similar 'temporarily remove weapon' mechanics. Heathendel agrees and makes notes of their agreed upon changes for later use.

In light of this new idea, Liska asks whether or not weapon speeds should be reinstated and Heathendel replies that they should. He states that he wants subclass weapon stats to be much more vital. Heathendel offers the example that weapons such as a warhammer should not be able to be swung by a character as easily as a dagger. Liska replies that he would like to see that idea refined a bit such that certain weapons, when equipped by certain classes, could have the weapon's speed altered based upon specific sub-class skills that would enable, for example, a normally slow speed weapon, such as a two-hand weapon, to be utilized like a different weapon type, such as a one-hand weapon, thus taking on the weapon speed of that weapon type instead.

Heathendel likes the idea and the two begin discussing the Knight sub-class used in Liska's example. He then changes the subject and mentions considering restoring the PF admin's old Mercenary system idea as players in TAW would only have companions for certain missions. Liska admits that he thought the team planned to include that anyway and asks if there were plans for a 'mercenary guild' or such. Heathendel thinks so and states that mercenaries would be useful to players not on missions that don't include a storyline companion or when they can't find someone to party with.

The two begin discussing mercenary types and options to consider. As the discussion extends into the early hours of April 1st, Heathendel reiterates that the new class system is badly needed as, while the existing cross-class system 'is a really cool concept' as, 'in theory' it gives more options to the players; but, what ends up happening is it creates 'a bunch of players that are lacking in almost every area'. He adds that rather than being really good at 'a certain type of combat', they end up 'being mediocre at everything'. Heathendel even offers an example of a Mage player who, according to him, didn't seem to understand how to properly utilize the cross-class system to their chosen class's advantage.

As their discussion draws to a close, Heathendel offers Liska a couple diagrams detailing his ideas for the new Knight Class-Tree Outline. The first one offers a rough idea how the base Knight class skillset would look while the second offers a rough concept of the Paladin sub-class option's skillsets.

The month of April, like March, is quiet on the development side of things. Players continue to login periodically and still occasionally offer up the occasional bug report.

On April 23rd, players Aureus Saitaro, Sharlexia and Horsey get online to play for the first time in awhile. Liska also logs in with a Sage sometime later to see how many are online. As it happens, the trio of players have decided to take on the boss of one of the newer dungeons, Kerakura's Lair, at least five levels below the recommended player level, with Aureus being the only 'at level' player in the group. Curious how this would play out, Liska ports to watch how they handle that dungeon's boss.

Successful in their run of Kerakura's lair, Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey all decide to tackle all four World Bosses to see how they would fare. Surprisingly, they are able to defeat Ni'Lania Vexus without too much trouble and aim to go after the other three. At this point, Liska, still using his Sage character, becomes intrigued and decides to follow after the group to watch their progress. He reaches the group as they battle Kilvath L'Vithian in Anglorum and have the boss down to 48% by the time he arrives.

Being successful in defeating two of the four World Bosses, the group decides to go after the other two and Liska offers vague hints as to their locations. The trio heads toward L'ough Garoum first and, after wandering New Badari for a bit, finally locate the boss. Liska again watches the fight, this time from the start, to see how this intrepid group would handle the newest of the World Bosses. It takes the group some time, but, they manage to take the third World Boss down. Afterward, they head to Deadwood to confront the last of the four.

Liska again watches the trio from the start of the fight, and in a short span, even Thara Vikath falls to them. Liska does admit to the group afterward that Thara was probably the weakest of the four World Bosses. This does not change the fact that all four World Bosses had been defeated by a group five to ten levels below them which makes these three the lowest level players to take down all of them.

After proclaiming their victory on Discord, Shadrel restructures the 'special tags' belonging to Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey into a single achievement role. The trio are also given ingame rewards of their request for this achievement. Aureus is given a sword item for it's model and both Sharlexia and Horsey are given four additional VS Keys which they had somehow missed out on during the event, having only gotten one instead of five.

Horsey also makes an interesting 'discovery' regarding the ice wolf model used for L'ough Garoum during that fight which seems to reveal that boss as a she-wolf. Images are posted in Discord to prove this 'discovery' and a small discussion comes out of it there. It reminds Liska of certain other rather mature appearances found on several of the female Beast models.

 

May 2018

The almost complete silence and lack of activity from the TAW team enters it's third month in May.

On May 2nd, while discussing various things regarding the game on Discord, player Aureus and Liska get into a private chat over some of the game's content gaps. One of the things the two discuss is the NPC Turgan Gergandol in Camelot who has a rather abruptly terminating quest chain that was never continued by Sparkplay.

Liska had revealed in a previous discussion elsewhere that he had wanted to continue that quest chain and Liska informs Aureus that he still indeed planned to do so at some point. His idea was that it would span all levels much the same as Dekker's 'Ring' chain.

Liska reveals he had considered a few specific 'spots' to pick up the unfinished gather-quest chain including two 'return to Anglorum' spots in the Europe quests. Aureus agrees that these would be a good place to add quests for the NPC but adds that there needs to be more, perhaps with a secondary NPC 'taking over' at some point.

The two toss around ideas and eventually consider the NPC Kismet Cherie as a candidate for a split-chain based on that NPC's existing quest chain's lore. This would then have Kismet fill Turgan's gather-quest chain role while players remain in Europe without needing to trek all the way back to Anglorum just to take a quest from Turgan that they may or may not even know has opened up. Liska even posits the idea that both Turgan and Kismet could have gather quests in tandem near the end game when players would normally head back to Anglorum to fight in the Ironstone area.

The discussion shifts from ideal places to bind while in Europe to take on these proposed gather quests, to possible quest targets, to a few neglected stepup spawn mobs in Anglorum, to issues regarding the buff/timer bug.

On May 5th, after months of silence, Rictar posts in the Discord developer channel that he has not even thought about Earth Eternal in the last several months, either to play or to moderate. As such, Rictar announces his decision to completely depart the game as he has moved on and tells those who read his message to go ahead and strip him of his GM account. This sudden announcement catches both Shadrel and Liska by surprise.

On May 11th, Liska and Heathendel chat again on Discord for the first time in about six weeks. The two update one another on their current statuses and Heathendel informs Liska that he has finally gotten hold of Emerald and she has regretted being away and really wants to get back into EE development again. The two had arranged to hopefully meet that weekend for a developer meeting and Heathendel adds that Liska is usually available, so he would hold of him when it's time. Liska counters, however, that things have been a bit different recently as real life obligations have kept him busy the last two and a half months and he still expects to remain busy by that obligation another couple weeks more.

If the team does meet, Heathendel states that, even though the servers are rife with bugs that need addressing, the team should probably consider 'working on something fun to rejuvenate ourselves' first, rather than just diving into maintenance. As the server has had little activity, partly due to the team's own inactivity, such a project should be easy to 'figure out'.

Liska informs Heathendel of Rictar's recent departure and Heathendel admits that as the server is merely a volunteer hobby project 'if you don't have the time, you don't have the time'. Liska also admits that he has tried to get hold of Emerald and his last several attempts were unsuccessful. Far as the planned meetup that weekend, Liska states he is unsure he will be able to make it as the 'allotted time' for it is likely to overlap the 'available time' that Emerald has that weekend. He does admit the team really does need to meet up again and get back on track once more as the last meeting was met with only minimal success. That success being the team seeing where everyone stood so they could get back 'on a unified track'. Beyond this very small progress, Liska states things have been 'completely and utterly dead' and Heathendel agrees.

Changing subjects, Liska tells Heathendel about the player achievement made a few weeks before by players Aureus, Horsey and Sharlexia in regards to the Kerakura's Lair dungeon and the four World Bosses. He adds that he witnessed most of their feat so could verify it happening. Liska states that for the feat, Shadrel gave them a special Discord role and Liska provided in game rewards for each as per their requests.

Liska also mentions the 'discovery' made by Horsey in regards to the World Boss L'ough Garoum which Heathendel inquires about. After Liska provides a few details including mentioning Horsey's screenshots made as 'proof', Liska adds that when he saw that image, he wondered if that might have been the reason Sparkplay chose not to use the mob's model. Heathendel finds the new information funny and Liska agrees that it was.

Again switching topics, Liska mentions to Heathendel the bug report regarding the mob target Pawl. Heathendel tells Liska that he had already seen the bug report and had tested it himself earlier in the day. Heathendel surmises that the issue is in the spawn package itself. Liska inquires how that could be and Heathendel tells him that Planet Forever's admin had scripted the mob's package to 'act as a trigger'. This news causes Liska to state that the team might have to check up on the packages of some of the other stepup mobs in the game 'to see what is different and if some of them also have the problem'. Liska does add that the stepup mobs in dungeons likely won't need fixing as the 'minion mobs' don't respawn in dungeons; however, he adds that overworld stepups such as 'those in Anglorum', might. Heathendel agrees on these as well.

Again, switching gears, Heathendel tells Liska he's trying to think up 'what might be fun' to work on and suggests Groves. Liska reminds Heathendel that the entire Grove mechanic is currently completely broken and that Emerald would have to fix the issue first. Heathendel agrees that is a problem as Groves are a big draw to the game as players tend to get 'lost for hours' in them which helps to boost the population. When Heathendel asks what is wrong with it, as it's been awhile, Liska tells him that permissions for both Grove building and Creature Tweaking have been broken either from the time Valkal's Shadow was rolled out or 'from one of the followup updates'. Heathendel surmises that shouldn't be a huge fix and that it was 'probably something Emerald overlooked when she was solving one of the big problems from when we updated'.

Liska admits that, at first he thought the issue involved both the players and the developers but later discovered the Sages could still build and tweak. He adds that he had brought it up with Emerald back during his last chat with her, so she is already aware of the issue, provided she hasn't forgotten in the long interval. Getting back on the subject, he agrees the team does need something to show the players the development team is back in action and won't simply 'say we are then vanish for three months' again. Heathendel agrees and states that once Groves are up and running again, that could be made into 'a pretty fun project'.

Heathendel states that the team has 'done nothing with Groves' since PF's admin made them beyond adding them to the Credit Shop. Liska inquires what Heathendel had in mind wondering if he meant either making a special grove or region for players to temporarily play in or if Heathendel was referring to a special playground for the developers to 'go wild with ideas' using the game's assets. Heathendel counters that he is referring to Groves 'in general and not in terms of an event'.

Liska asks if he meant things like actually expanding Grove functionality or something and Heathendel states that 'to some degree that'd be part of it'. Liska inquires what else he had in mind so Heathendel states that he and Emerald have wanted to work on Groves 'for awhile now' and that currently Grove building is 'kind of a separate entity from the game'. He adds that the interface is one thing that needs to be fixed and, while it's fine for the developers as the team is 'familiar and efficient with it', that is not the case with most players and, 'even with the assistance of the Mod panel, it's still not very user friendly'. He then posits that a new user interface for building would be one thing to add.

Another thing Heathendel mentions is the idea of removing Groves from the Credit Shop entirely and placing so-called 'property vendors' of some sort in all the major cities. This would include a 'tutorial quest' to introduce players to Groves and 'help them access and learn the new UI functionality which would hopefully be 'much more cosmetically pleasing and easy to use'. Liska inquires that he thought the team was already planning a tutorial quest for Groves in The Anubian War; but, also adds that a 'property vendor' NPC is definitely an idea, further adding that perhaps they should be called something like 'Grove Broker' instead.

Heathendel likes Liska's name suggestion but also states that these were things already planned for The Anubian War and he's simply trying to come up with fun projects to get the team 'back in business' and if Groves ended up being one, it would simply be 'moved up the list' as it were.

Heathendel mentions that another part of the idea that needed figuring out is the props themselves. Heathendel adds that both he and Emerald had tossed around the idea of prop vendors and vouchers for props being dropped by mobs while also adding a crafting angle to things so players aren't just given the items themselves. He admits not wanting to jump in and say that Emerald was all for it even if it was, as he recalled, partially her idea. Heathendel tells Liska that many MMOs don't just give players 'access to everything and unlimited amounts'.

He clarifies that this idea would now require players to actually play the game 'and do certain things' in order to get what they want for their groves. He adds that 'packs' of random props would also be available in various 'rarities' as well. Heathendel concedes that Groves are currently being ghost towns and this might be a good turn. The flip side of that coin, though, being that so-called 'grove hermits' might not like the idea of not having 'access to everything'. Heathendel offers an example of how the system might work, in this case purchasing some 'seeds' for trees or bushes from a vendor, then placing it in the grove, which would then spawn a full grown tree.

This gives Liska an idea but he admits it might be 'a bit troublesome' for both the players and developers. Heathendel expresses concern over that, but, also states if it is, the group could still try and find a way to make Liska's idea work. Liska then outlines his idea regarding a 'Tutorial Grove' stating that it would include tutorial quests that lead players to a special grove where NPCs require the player to perform certain building tasks via quests. At the end of the quest chain, the players would be rewarded with things like the unlocking of their first Grove as well as a 'care package' containing basic props to help them get started.

Heathendel counters how such an idea is troublesome and Liska replies that it's more the quest chain part that would be troublesome not the whole idea as MMO players generally tend to dislike games with 'super long tutorial sessions'. Heathendel counters that such a quest chain does not have to be long as there are not that many steps in building in a grove and the team could always add optional more advanced tutorials as well.

He further makes the point that grove building is nothing more than 'pick prop, place prop, rotate until happy' and far as buildings go it would simply be 'choose building, choose Skin (ATS), place prop, etc'. Spawns would be 'just as easy' and 'with a better AI' not require a long quest chain. Liska then reiterates that that is essentially the gist of his idea. That an NPC 'needs something' and 'teaches' the player how to place a building, spawn a mob/NPC or place a tree and so on. Heathendel states he doesn't see why the team can't do such an idea and it was similar to what he was also thinking.

When Liska asks what Heathendel thought of his 'reward idea at the end', Heathendel states a 'care package with basic props is perfect' and adds that it could include something like 'a stack of 10 trees, 10 plants/bushes, 10 rocks, maybe a small cottage, etc'. Liska tosses in 'maybe a fence or two' as an aside addition to the example. Heathendel then adds that this 'starter Grove' would be non-upgradeable unlike later ones the player might get and Liska agrees with that idea.

Liska also suggests a possible series of quest chains at various experience levels. A 'beginner's course' at level 10, an 'intermediate course' at level 15 and an 'advanced course' at level 20 or higher as an example. He even suggests making it so players cannot purchase more groves until they become either an 'intermediate grove builder' or an 'advanced grove builder' or in essence, have completed the quest chains for these. Heathendel counters that he's not really 'crazy' about the idea of preventing players from buying more groves until they have done the tutorials and states that, while he agrees the beginner tutorial should be mandatory, the others should be optional as there really isn't much to teach players anyway. Liska concedes this admitting he's only trying to come up with ways the development team can 'do this'.

Heathendel then offers examples of what might be seen in a more upgraded version of Groves. Players would 'have a selection of properties/groves' and the player can choose what they like. The templates would already be set up with 'expansions' already made and players could simply sink gold into opening up each new 'wing' of their grove, eventually having a 'nice big grove to show off'. Liska replies that the only problem with such an idea is the team cannot 'publicly' edit terrain 'on the fly' in groves just yet. Heathendel counters that Liska misread his idea and that each grove would have preset expansions and all that would be needed is for them to be unlocked by the player.

Confused, Liska replies that he 'sees' the idea as that there are already 'pre-existing grove types as is'; full entire 'regions' players can choose from. He states that Heathendel's idea 'seems to indicate players would be able to alter an existing grove' 'region' after their initial grove. As this is what is throwing him off, Liska asks Heathendel to clarify the idea for him.

Heathendel then offers an example of a grove surrounded with mountains, which Liska points out sounds like the 'Blend' tileset already in the game. Heathendel agrees it would pretty much be like that, but, Liska points out that the Blend 'region' is currently the 'grove default'. Here, Heathendel tells Liska to 'imagine creating an opening in a mountain that has another Blend sized area'. With both now connected, there is suddenly more space.

Heathendel continues by stating that 'concept' that the development team would work with would be to build a grove 'with all the expansions already made' and in a template. Players wouldn't have access to these expansions until they were purchased, however. This means the team would have to 'block off' each individual expansion until the player has purchased them. Unfortunately, this also means that editing the terrain would come into play as Liska has already pointed out. Heathendel states this could be done with 'triggers and props'. If that doesn't work, the development team could 'try to develop a different way to open it up when purchased' that would be a bit more 'fancy' if possible. He admits that this is just another 'part of the creation process' for the team.

Liska counters that Heathendel is forgetting one minor detail, and that is that players would have access to Build mode in groves, permitting them to bypass any blocked off content. Heathendel also counters that 'we don't know what the new UI will look like' when the dev team is finished working on it. He also adds that as the dev team is the dev team, they can 'build things to our advantage'; but, in the event it 'works the same' as before, all that would need doing is to 'adjust the build permission coordinates'.

Liska again counters that this would be the same issue as what had been seen during the Sparkplay days when players had been able to sneak into both Grunes Tal and Swineland when those regions were blocked off by the SPM dev team. He adds that the future Planet Forever admin had been able to roam the areas in build mode even back then. Liska does agree that while the team doesn't know what the functionality of the new UI would be like when it would be done; there is still the possibility of players managing to 'circumvent any barriers' the team sets up once they 'know how to access Build mode and figure it out'.

Heathendel points out that the team can 'get around build perms' as an issue and could simply restrict the player's permissions to within their 'designated zone'. This would also make it so that even if the players managed to sneak into one of the other areas, they wouldn't be able to build in it. Heathendel comments that at this point, they could simply 'take a tour' which might convince them to buy the expansion areas. Liska clarifies that what Heathendel means is essentially that the players have to 'gain build access to each new area' systematically rather than the whole grove at once.

Heathendel states that it would be both build permissions and coordinates as they would be essential to preventing players 'from building in areas they haven't purchased'. Heathendel adds that he would like to try and see if the team could design grove expansions so that they are unveiled when purchased but he isn't sure 'how that would look yet'.

Liska admits to Heathendel that while he is trying hard to visualize the ideas, he keeps 'running into obstacles that would be exploitative'. Liska then offers up some alternatives. One idea being that players get full access to their entire grove for exploring and roaming; but, it would also require some sort of pre-requisite for players to 'expand their building permissions' beyond the 'main' location, size to be determined for each. The other idea being the development team could offer up 'terrain tile upgrades' that would permit players to expand their grove's overall size on purchase.

Heathendel agrees, but, tells Liska how developers should approach hurdles such as this. He adds that Emerald 'is pretty resilient and has developed some pretty awesome things, so, 'who knows what sort of system' the team could make if groves become the project worked on. Liska agrees, stating that he likes the concept idea as it would 'add a whole new dimension to the game'.

Heathendel agrees again stating that there 'is a lot of potential' for what could be done. He offers ideas such as Smithing stations players could buy or acquire for their grove 'where players could craft from inside' or 'an Alchemy station for potions. Liska offers up the idea that such places could also provide building materials as well. Heathendel adds that farms could be set up where players harvest supplies. Essentially jobs would be added such as farming, logging, fishing and so on. He further adds that Pets could 'somehow' be added to groves giving them more purpose.

Liska agrees but points out that a Fishing mechanic would be difficult 'due to the way the game handles water planes' currently. Heathendel concedes that it would indeed be a hurdle, but, he is sure the development team could 'find a way around it'. Liska then points out that various issues need to be resolved before any sort of proper fishing mechanic could even be feasible. These would include resolving the Y-axis issue and after that resolve the various issues with traveling across water via things such as swimming, boating, and so on.

Only after all of these are dealt with would any sort of fishing mechanic, mechanics involving anything aquatic such as fish and undersea mobs beyond the current crabs and snails or underwater locations to explore become even possible. He adds that none of these ideas would be easy to implement even then. Heathendel agrees that until those issues are resolved any fishing would have to be done in groves; but, Liska counters that these issues would need to be resolved in groves as well.

Going back to the idea of fishing, Heathendel offers a concept idea for how fishing might work in a grove. It might have 'a station set up' so players would 'purchase and have a fishing pond added' to their grove, basically a CL prop that is interactable. Players would then interact with the pond and have an option to cast a fishing rod. From there 'it would be a percentage game' that the developers set up which would offer things such as different types of fish, percentage to catch a fish, different fish 'rarities', and so forth. Liska pitches in on the idea adding in suggestions for things like percentages to catch nothing at all; chance of a fish escaping, breaking the line, etc; the line getting caught on something underwater and/or fishing up 'some random object be it a piece of junk or a good item'.

Heathendel adds that groves have a lot of untapped potential and Liska agrees that this is very much so. Heathendel states that he's 'having fun' just thinking about these ideas and getting very excited, hoping that this would be a 'fun project' to work on. Liska also points out that, in spite of being very broken, the EE Lore itself mentions that Groves are supposed to be 'idyllic gardens etc in another dimension where time flows differently'. He emphasizes that the 'idyllic' part 'seems to indicate that groves would be chock full of things' that 'any Beast could or would need to live'.

As such, Groves as they currently exist as a game mechanic are very very lacking in content, being nothing more than a 'separate region with all the dev tools unlocked for the owners' in it's current state. So, it does make sense that Groves definitely need expanding and revamping.

Here, Heathendel switches gears again and this time brings up the idea of Casinos and such being another option for a project. He does admit it 'might be too much' for Emerald since it would require the team to create a bunch of mini-games and Heathendel isn't sure how much coding would go into such things as poker, roulette and so on.

Liska then points out that the development team has a 'much newer hurdle to consider' on that front. He reveals to Heathendel that in recent months, there have been quite a few crackdowns on games that include forms of gambling or gambling-like mechanics in their content. Liska states to Heathendel that the 'absolute last thing' the TAW team wants is to 'attract unwanted legal attention'. Hearing this, Heathendel states he had not heard about this news and there are a lot of games with that sort of content. He also agrees that the team 'definitely don't want to get in that boat'.

Liska informs Heathendel that these actions are mainly over 'on the Europe side of things' which is where both Emerald and many players hail from. He emphatically agrees that it's 'a can of worms we do not want to open'. Liska admits that he doesn't know all the details yet and it's still possible that so long as real currencies are not used or exchanged, that games that include gambling 'might be given a pass'. Still, Liska states he would 'rather play it safe and nix it all until more information and details are clarified. To basically 'err on the side of caution' until further notice. Heathendel agrees on those terms.

He then tells Liska that he'll try and contact him should a meeting take place the following day. Liska asks to be messaged so he knows around what time to be on, even if he is unable to make it.

The next day on May 12th, Heathendel messages Liska that he hasn't spoken to Emerald yet and she hasn't shown up so maybe the meeting will happen the next day instead. In the meantime he has 'built a starter grove that is tropical'.

On May 16th, Andrew Sipotz (formerly Piggypops during the Sparkplay days) posts messages on the EE Discord informing everyone of his intent to turn over the official Earth Eternal Facebook page to the Anubian War development team. He requests someone to 'bark their Facebook URL' to him. Andrew points out that he has noticed things have slowed and hopes that perhaps 'an influx of players' would help.

Shadrel responds by trying to get the attention of Liska, Rozene or one of the other members of the development team or even some of the more 'trusted' players. Unfortunately, the players called out express disinterest in Facebook and the dev team members are silent. Both Liska and Heathendel appear online later on in the day, but, both miss or do not reply to Andrew's message. One thing Liska does notice, though, is that Andrew's Discord nickname reveals he is now working with none other than the famed Triple-A developer Ubisoft, possibly as a project manager.

Things again go quiet until May 27th when Liska finally is able to get in contact with Emerald. Chatting with her, Liska discovers Emerald and Rozene have encountered each other on another platform outside of Earth Eternal and have gotten to know one another better. A bit later, Liska, Emerald and Rozene all get together and begin chatting.

Liska updates Emerald on the past months and mentions both the recent flood of spambots on the Anubian War website in the last three weeks and his efforts to smash them all. Emerald doesn't like the idea of a large influx of spambots on the website and expresses gratitude that Liska has been keeping 'on top of that'. Emerald also tells Liska that she has been preoccupied with other projects outside Earth Eternal of late but hopes to 'get back into EE development' in a couple weeks time if all works out.

Chatting with Rozene, Liska learns that Rozene has spent the last couple months finally 'getting to know the mysterious Emerald' and that Emerald was 'getting to know the mysterious Rozene' in turn. At this point, Liska and Emerald are both told something neither were aware of.

Up until now, Rozene has felt out of place in the TAW development team and had presumed everyone to be a bit less than friendly. When queried about this, Rozene reveals that back when Heathendel had recruited her, it had been perceived as more a forceful amount of coercion rather than friendly persuasion. Not expecting this bit of news, Liska tells Rozene that as far as he had been aware, Heathendel had negotiated with Rozene regarding joining the Anubian War EE Team after discovering Rozene's own EE server, Earth Eternal Reboot.

Liska had been under the presumption that, although initially hesitant to join the TAW team, Rozene had been successfully persuaded to come aboard, which is why he had tried to be welcoming when Rozene first joined. Rozene tells Liska and Emerald that this was not what had happened and that Heathendel had, though not verbatim, essentially told her 'join our group or we'll force you to shut your server down'. Rozene states that she had been under the impression that the TAW team did not want 'competition' from other Earth Eternal servers and was viewing her Earth Eternal Reboot as an obstacle to be removed.

A bit blindsided by this revelation, Liska counters that, while he and Heathendel had been in discussions regarding the EE Reboot server and Rozene joining the team, he had been under the impression Rozene's recruitment to the TAW team had been voluntary. He admits that while the idea of competition had been discussed, the two had agreed it was probably for the best to try and keep as much of the old EE community united as possible.

As far as Liska was aware, this decision was not meant to 'crush the competition' so much as trying to keep an already fractured community together under one roof. This was the reason Liska had been all for convincing Rozene to join the Anubian War project. Still, the very idea that Rozene had been essentially forced to join comes as an utter shock. Emerald agrees with Liska stating she, too, had been under the impression Rozene's decision to join had been voluntary and knew absolutely none of this.

Rozene goes on to say that the reason she had been so distant up to this point was she had been under the impression the rest of the team was just as unfriendly as Heathendel had seemed to be and was actually too intimidated to try and get to know the others. More discussions reveal that Rozene was very fond of her Earth Eternal Reboot server and had found it very hard to give it up. This had sown the seeds of bitterness between Rozene and The Anubian War development team as she had perceived them. This bitterness had remained all this time and none of the others had seemed to care.

Both Liska and Emerald reveal they are appalled by this unexpected revelation regarding their recruitment of Rozene and both profusely apologize to her for being unknowing participants in her anguish. Liska informs Rozene that neither he nor Emerald knew the exact details behind the 'negotiations' between Rozene and Heathendel back then.

Feeling absolutely terrible about this revelation, Liska and Emerald offer Rozene a new beginning with the development team along with more apologies for being unaware of the truth for so long. Rozene tells the two that she is willing to start over and accepts the metaphorical olive branch offered by both. Emerald and Liska both re-welcome Rozene to the team, this time with past sins, both known and unknown, hopefully now forgiven.

They also inform Rozene that, as far as they knew, while Heathendel does have a tendency to be a bit overzealous at times, and sometimes even forceful, he by no means intends actual harm or cruelty. One thing Liska tells Rozene is that there have been a few times in the past where even he had butted heads with Heathendel when Liska would be at odds with some of the ideas brought before the Anubian War team that he disagreed with. This bit of information, along with the offer of a new beginning, seems to reassure Rozene that she can now move forward and finally put the ill feelings of a past wrong to rest.

A bit later on, Liska, still feeling absolutely terrible about the unwholesome bit of information revealed earlier, chats again with Rozene. This time he yet again profusely apologizes for unknowingly causing Rozene pain and making her feel out of place. Liska reveals that he had been aware of some of the other details but only to the extent that Rozene had been reluctant to join at first, then later had been persuaded. Still, Liska admits to feeling partially to blame as both he and Heathendel had been chatting at the time of those 'negotiations' that resulted in Rozene being coerced into joining the TAW team.

The two talk a bit and Rozene tells Liska that she has accepted his apologies and feels as if she can finally move forward past what had been a very bitter and painful experience. Here, Liska asks Rozene if there was a way to further mend fences by perhaps partially reviving Rozene's work, what little had been done, on Earth Eternal Reboot and possibly merging it with The Anubian War project. Even if it was only a few asset changes, borne of limited knowledge, but a love for the game, Liska states if the possibility exists, would Rozene be willing to try that. Rozene replies that she could try and locate her files on EE Reboot sometime.

In spite of these many revelations, Heathendel himself is not present at the time of these discussions, so his side of this unexpected revelation remains unknown at this point.

On the 30th, Liska and Emerald chat again. He informs her about the continuing spambot problem on the Anubian War website and again reiterates that he has spent the last three weeks alone blocking as few as two to as many as at least a dozen or more spambots per day. This news upsets Emerald and she goes to investigate. Liska's information verified, she tells him that the Drupal backend has been needing to be updated and she hasn't gotten around to doing that yet. She adds that hopefully, at least one of the updates might stop the spambots in their tracks.

After Liska blocks another round of spambots during their chat, Emerald decides to go ahead and update the Drupal backend of the TAW website. This task done, she suggests to Liska to go ahead and completely delete all blocked accounts from the website. A bit hesitant at first, not wanting to accidentally corrupt something, Liska verifies that the updates to Drupal are indeed finished before proceeding to systematically eliminate all spambots in the accounts list. This task accomplished, both hope that the spambot tide will be slowed if not completely stopped.

Liska also brings a few other things to Emerald's attention. Among these are the recent offer of the EE Facebook page from Andrew Sipotz and the two issues with the game that player Sharlexia is struggling with. Far as Andrew's offer goes, both quickly agree that Heathendel would be the best fit for taking over the Earth Eternal Facebook page as he is the one team member most active on Facebook.

As for Sharlexia's inability to gain experience in battle and the fact she has never gotten any Daily Rewards since around the time of the Valkal's Shadow update, Liska asks Emerald to investigate these and hopefully find the cause. He tells Emerald that he suspects Sharlexia's issues might be residual problems from the asset issues that happened right after the VS update. Emerald admits to finding this information 'odd' and makes a note of it for later.

A bit after, Emerald has a bit of technical difficulties on the website and finds herself unable to get back on. She leaves Liska a message on the TAW chat window in case he sees it. Unfortunately, it takes Liska just over a week to notice it.

On May 31st, in spite of Emerald's updates to Drupal the previous day, Liska is dismayed to discover the spambots continue to plague the website. Worse, Liska realizes that not only has the update failed to stop the spambots, but, that with the old spam accounts now deleted, a new flood of spambots are joining the website and filling that void.

A bit later, Liska tells Emerald of the failed attempt and Emerald isn't happy. She also reveals that there were apparently a few more updates to Drupal but she doubts that they would resolve the spambot issue. Both begin to try and think of alternatives to stopping the spambot flood.

The same day, player Yaz resurfaces on both the TAW website and finds their way onto the EE Discord as well. Yaz mentions in both a post in the developer forums as well as in Discord that she is still very interested in helping out, but, has been aware that things have been quiet. Liska replies to Yaz on the website but then notices she has joined the Discord right after.

The two chat a bit and Liska informs Yaz that the team is still very interested in a 3D Modeler which they still don't yet have. Yaz mentions that she has not talked with Emerald since near the end of 2016 and wasn't sure if the offer to help was still open. Liska tells Yaz that much has changed in the game since the last time she saw the server during the Scourge Of Abidan, especially now that the Valkal's Shadow expansion is live.

Yaz asks Liska a few questions regarding what Earth Eternal was programmed in and Liska tells her the various languages and engine that makes up the game. Liska asks Yaz if she has ever used 3dMax, the program Sparkplay had used to make many of the game's assets. Yaz replies she had not and also that the program was too expensive anyway. She tells him she prefers Blender and the two begin chatting about that program. Yaz even offers up a few art pieces made in Blender as examples which are warmly received on the Discord server.

 

June 2018

In spite of the discussions between most members of the Anubian War development team during the month of May, June proves to be the fourth month of general inactivity and the sixth month of next to no updates regarding Earth Eternal.

On June 7th, Liska is dismayed to see the Anubian War website again flooded with spambots and proceeds to eradicate them. Later chatting with Emerald regarding this problem, he suggests that perhaps when he deleted all the accounts the previous week, all the previously blocked combinations of 'Grove names' had once again become available allowing for new spambots to replace the deleted ones. Emerald concedes this might indeed be the case. As such, Liska decides not to delete any others on the off-chance actually deleting the spambot accounts are only worsening the already bad situation.

While chatting, Emerald reveals to Liska a rather unexpected bit of news that had taken place the previous week. As it happened, Microsoft had purchased Github and Emerald states that she is worried they will mess it up. Liska does not like this bit of news and flatly comments that they would likely ruin it like they did with other programs like Skype. Emerald retorts that the moment a single ad appears on Github she is relocating all Git projects to another program. Liska inquires if everything gets moved, where would it be relocated to. Emerald replies that there are a number of options including more open source Git programs out there.

Later in the evening, Liska and Heathendel meet on the Valkal's Shadow test server and chat for a bit. Heathendel reveals that he has been considering some ideas for the class and skill revamps that might actually allow the TAW development team to preserve the cross classing options in some form.

Liska points out that this would have to be a bit restrictive to prevent breaking the game such as in it's current state. Heathendel agrees but offers a few examples from the Knight skill trees. This gives Liska an idea and he outlines it to Heathendel. Using the popular RPG series Final Fantasy as an example, Liska points out that in the very first title of that series, the three mage classes offer a perfect example for a potential solution to the problem.

While Liska admits things are different in MMO titles, he states the concept could still be useful. Both he and Heathendel bat ideas back and forth and Heathendel points out a few flaws in Liska's suggestions but also states the idea has some merit. Heathendel even uses Liska's own example for another scenario. Still, the prospect that the TAW team could actually find a way to mostly preserve the cross-classing mechanic of Earth Eternal in a more limited form excites them both.

One of the ideas that Liska suggests is expanding the range of Mage spells beyond the existing Fire and Ice elements. He points out to Heathendel that the EE Lore itself mentions many other forms of magic that are never seen in the actual game. As the team is trying to revamp both the class and skill systems, this would be a good opportunity to add more elements and other magics into the game. Heathendel agrees that this would make the game more interesting, especially since the Lore already supports it. Both agree that it will require some thought on how to make it work though as the team would have to make everything for them from scratch.

Liska takes this time to bring up the offer from Andrew Sipotz the previous month and tells Heathendel that both Liska and Emerald already have agreed he is the best fit for taking over the official Earth Eternal Facebook page. Heathendel is excited by this and tells Liska his Facebook name. Liska counters that Heathendel should send Andrew a message on Discord.

On June 12th, Liska and Heathendel chat briefly on Discord. Heathendel tells Liska that he thinks he might have found a way to keep cross classing in Earth Eternal. He adds that it would be different for certain classes, though, as some of them would have no affinity to magic at all while others would not have any affinity to physical combat. This idea intrigues Liska a bit.

Heathendel continues his idea by stating that how the idea would 'essentially work' would be that 'certain physical classes from different core classes, where appropriate, can tap into a pool of different abilities that are also accessible to other classes of a similar type'. Using an 'easy example' in Bows, Heathendel points out to Liska that the new 'Ranger' Druid sub-class 'will obviously have the richest pool of physical ranged abilities' but that other classes that can use bows might also want to 'have their character have a little more edge in range'. Heathendel then posits the idea of a Berserker or Guardian Knight sub-class having a cross classing pool that might offer 'a few more range abilities or other sub class traits'.

Heathendel states that while cross classing would be a bit different for all classes, the developers could 'potentially allow every class to dabble in a way that won't break their class'. Liska states the concept sounds plausible.

Heathendel then tells Liska that he's been making each class's outlines and that he 'ended up going in a whole new direction for the mage classes' than the 'original alpha plan had laid out'. He states that the idea came about as a result from their discussion a few days earlier 'regarding different schools of magic and how the lore mentions that there are many'.

Heathendel states that the Battlemage sub-class is pretty much mostly the same as before which is a 'tank option for magic users' that are 'adept in physical and magical attacks' and are 'often using their magic to augment their physical attacks' and so on. The other two sub-class options; however, are the ones that have been changed. Heathendel tells Liska that he has combined the Pyro and Cryo Mage options into a single sub-class he now calls the Arcanist. This class is described as a 'master of the Arcane arts and uses both elements in both protection and destruction spells'.

For the new third Mage sub-class option, Heathendel states he has now added a 'healer option' for Mages called the 'Oracle'. This class masters 'Divine magics' and use their connection to Gaia 'to call upon the earth and water to fuel their power'. Heathendel adds that the Oracle would be more a support or healing class that 'uses different elements' than everyone is used to.

Lastly, Heathendel tells Liska that he is 'finishing up Druids now', but, his plan for the Ranger sub-class 'is fairly straight forward'. They would be 'very deadly with a bow' and 'prefer to use bows and attack from a range'. Being very close to nature 'they can also call upon animals to help them in battle'. This would often include 'acting as a buffer between the ranger and his/her foe'.

A short time later, Heathendel notices that Andrew Sipotz is online in Discord and asks Liska if he is chatting with him. Liska replies a bit after that he was not aware Andrew was even on and suggests that Heathendel message him. Due to the lack of a reply, Liska does not know if this ever took place, however.

On the 13th, Liska, Emerald and Rozene chat again. He tells Emerald the spambots are still a problem on the TAW website and that he has stopped deleting accounts. As expected, a slowdown in spambot appearances does take place, but, not by much as they are still frequent. Hearing this, Emerald decides to look for a solution to stop the spambots. Liska suggests possibly expanding the 'Grove name' minimum character requirement from two to maybe six or eight. His reasoning is that this might make it more difficult for the spammer to sign up or at least take them a bit longer to figure out the new setup.

At first, Emerald looks to see if there is a way to make the suggested changes without any coding. When this fails, she looks for a 'plugin solution' that could be installed into Drupal to add that functionality. It takes Emerald a bit, but, she succeeds in finding one and installs it on the website. Unfortunately, when Emerald goes to use the new plugin to make the suggested change, it doesn't work. Rozene even offers a few ideas, but, in the end everyone is left unable to come up with anything.

A bit later, Liska asks Emerald if he could make a request on behalf of the players. This granted, Liska states that in the last several months, a number of players have been trying to use the Game Guides available and often cannot 'access' that part of the website. Both Liska and Emerald know this is because that section has always been intentionally made mostly inaccessible and hidden from regular users. Liska points out to Emerald that this was due to the team originally planning to make various guides to fill it out with, but, this for the most part, has not happened. So, Liska asks if Emerald would be willing to open up the Game Guides section to the public, but, remove any dead links to unfinished areas. Emerald states she is all for the idea and says she will keep it in mind.

On the 18th, Liska and Emerald chat and Liska points out that because Emerald has been busy all month, she would likely not get back into EE development till perhaps July. Emerald agrees with him, especially since she is going to be off on a trip the following week.

Discussing this, Liska posits that, Emerald could use her 'free time' to do some programming on Earth Eternal during her trip. He suggests things such as perhaps some bug fixing or working on some ideas using a local version of the game that didn't require an internet connection. Emerald likes the idea and states she just might do that.

Liska then suggests perhaps Emerald could even go so far as to doing a bit more work on the Linux and Mac ports of the game. Emerald replies that would be a good idea too. Regarding the ports, though, she reveals that it would still be a number of months of long work before they would be 'ready' to even load much less run and months more just to work properly.

Liska then suggests perhaps she could do more work on cleaning up the game code instead and the two end up in a discussion regarding the possibilities of upgrading the game engine itself. One hurdle Emerald reveals as an obstacle to both the engine upgrades and a Mac port of the game is that Mac support for OpenGL is being phased out in the newer models in favor of Vulkan support.

Emerald checks and reveals that Vulkan support in Ogre is a rather recent addition and Liska isn't surprised as Vulkan didn't even exist back when EE's version of Ogre was built. Both quickly realize that incrementing the game engine would have to come first before even considering Vulkan.

Still, Emerald states she will try and get some stuff done with EE while on her trip and proceeds to 'get a few things ready' to take with her.

The remainder of the month is mostly quiet on all fronts, with Liska still tending to the bots on the TAW website which slow down in appearance during the last few days of June. The only major thing of note that takes place during this time is the departure of player Aureus from the EE Discord server on the last day of June, his reason being that the Discord server is 'devoid of activity' and he doesn't play the game much anymore. He does tell Liska that he might consider coming back once things get going again, but, that he needs to pare down his Discord server list and doesn't feel 'I need this one anymore'.

 

July 2018

On July 1st, players Horsey and Sharlexia decide to finally make the push to level 50 and begin finishing off the last remaining quests in the game. Liska asks Sharlexia if she is getting XP gains again and is told she has been. This indicates to Liska that Emerald had likely returned from her trip and had quietly addressed the issues regarding Sharlexia's character; however, without speaking to Emerald yet, this goes unconfirmed. One detail Sharlexia does mention is that she is still not getting Daily Rewards.

A bit later in the day, Horsey and Sharlexia join Liska's Sage Kurama in Liska Quicksilver's grove so he can show off the place. During the 'tour', Liska as Kurama manages to spawn both the "It" boss for Horsey to fight in response to a joking challenge made by the same. To Liska's surprise, Horsey is able to defeat "It" in spite of the fact the boss should be invulnerable without the 'Hell' Twelve NPC to dispel the barrier it erects. This forces Liska to presume that certain mechanics are being bypassed outside the boss' dungeon.

Spurred on by Horsey's victory over "It" in Liska's Grove, Liska decides to have Kurama spawn Valkal and give the two players a 'preview' of what they will be up against once they get to the Blood Keep dungeon. As it turns out, Liska spawns the weaker of the two versions of the Valkal boss which Horsey also defeats.

Interestingly, as a result of the test fight with Valkal, Horsey is inspired to create some EE art involving a number of creatures and characters in the game.

Late on July 2nd, Horsey and Sharlexia are joined on the VS server by player Aureus who has agreed to play for the sake of crossing off the last dungeon in the game: Valkal's Blood Keep. While chatting with the three in game, Liska discovers that they have only accepted one quest for the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. Knowing there should be at least a second quest, he asks them if they had seen any other quests and receive a 'no' from each. Investigating the quest files, Liska discovers that the three Blood Keep quests had been accidentally set up to open up after the previous quest had been completed, effectively making them a quest chain. Liska informs the trio that this was not intentional as all three quests were meant to be taken at the same time for obvious reasons. Liska states he will bring it up with Emerald next time they chat.

On July 3rd, Horsey, Sharlexia and Aureus finally run the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. Unfortunately, an unexpected server crash during the second stage of the Valkal boss fight brings their progress to a halt. After Rictar, being online on Discord at the time, restarts the server, the trio tries again. Once again, the server hangs in the second stage of the boss fight.

Liska comes online on Discord around this time and inquires if the server has been restarted again before trying to login himself. Realizing it is still down, he restarts it again. Chatting with Horsey and Sharlexia on Discord, Liska decides to test out the Valkal boss himself with Sage Frostheim. This takes at least an hour, even after using developer powers to skip the first stage fight entirely, mainly because Liska has apparently forgotten certain other developer commands to make the fight easier. Liska also notes that for some reason the team for some reason forgot to remove the debug messages from the boss fight before releasing the VS expansion.

After awhile and deciding the fight with Valkal's second stage was taking too long with no results, Liska asks the group if they would be willing to help him out as Frostheim is unable to replicate the server hang alone. While grouping up, Aureus mentions that he suspects the server hangs are happening because Sharlexia tends to be 'not in combat', being the party's healer. Liska tests this out as they once again try to defeat Valkal. Sure enough, by the second stage of the fight, the server hangs immediately after Aureus is killed by Valkal. Liska also notes that Frostheim had been kicked out of combat immediately prior to Valkal using his instant-kill attack. While the trio point out that the crash happened earlier in this fight than the previous attempts, Liska suspects Aureus' theory might be at least partly on target.

On July 4th, Liska creates two bug reports regarding both the server hang during the Valkal fight and the issue regarding the quests for the Blood Keep in general.

That same day, after about 2-3 days of work, player Horsey posts up an Earth Eternal banner they had been working on. This picture includes representations of various in game bosses, the 'Hell' Twelve NPC and a Skrill mob. It also includes caricatures of Horsey's character Arcadius Rosenvelt, Sharlexia's character, Aureus' character as well as both Liska's character Liska Quicksilver and his Sage Kurama character. Liska surprises Horsey by posting the image in the TAW website's Media section, though due to issues, it gets put in the wrong part of it.

Liska notices the spambots have begun to increase yet again in the last few days and on July 5th, is forced to deal with more than 30 of them in a 24 hour period.

Around July 8th, the EE fansite TerraEternus suddenly breaks resulting in the entire site spamming error messages both at the top of the webpages and in the chatbox. This gets to the point users are no longer able to login. At this point in time, the cause of the issue has yet to be revealed.

On July 10th, former SPM player and former EEF/TE Moderator Volk Dragoona signs up on the TAW website. He soon locates the EE Discord and joins it as well.

Around the same time that Volk Dragoona joins the Discord server, Liska and Shadrel make a few changes per a request from several players. They convert the volunteer Discord role, the EE Welcome Guide, to a full Role class by itself and grant all those who possess the old role Moderator powers. Among the newly appointed EE Discord Mods are players Sharlexia and Saint, the former of whom had only just barely been added to the EE Welcome Guide prior to its conversion to a Moderator role.

When Volk Dragoona shows up in Discord soon after the changeover, Shadrel immediately grants him the Welcome Guide role simply because he was a former TerraEternus moderator. Although it is sudden and abrupt, with only a few minor concerns posited by both Liska and Volk himself, no one objects with his inclusion on the newly formed EE Discord Mod team. As per a request, Shadrel creates a new Moderator channel, sets out four Moderator rules and pins it in that channel.

When asked about the issues currently plaguing the TE website, Volk reveals to Liska that he has not been in contact with Jackuul in years and lost his moderator role during that time, so has no clue what is currently happening.

On July 11th, Jackuul is notified by player Hippy Treehugger about the now-days old issue with the TerraEternus website. By the 12th, Hippy receives no reply from Jackuul; however, later in the day, the TE site is restored to functionality.

The next day on July 13th, Jackuul reveals in a forum post on the TerraEternus site that what had happened was that he had attempted to upgrade the website to PHP72 but that it had messed up the forums and that he has now fixed the issue.

On July 17th, amid concerns that the EE Discord server might be turning into a spam server, Sharlexia, at Liska's request, sets up a new anonymous survey to try and determine how many players on the server view it's current status and if they have any suggestions for improvement. The early results are very telling and it makes Shadrel concerned that others think he isn't a good server owner.

In response to the survey results, the Mods begin discussing changes to emotes and how many should be allowed along with the need for a proper set of rules for the EE server itself. Because Shadrel admits to not being very good at that sort of thing he offers to expand Mod roles so they can handle things themselves and even agrees to let them create the new rules. Given the go ahead, Sharlexia creates a set of rules and has the other mods view them. After getting approval from both Liska and Shadrel, Sharlexia updates the existing rules with a newly written set. This is tweaked a few times before the day is over.

In addition to the newly added rules, Sharlexia asks for and is given permission to make changes to the EE Discord server channels. Before the changes are made, Shadrel creates an image of the original configuration in case it needs to be restored later. While changes to the channel configuration are made, discussions in the Mod channel continue involving what to do with the rules and announcements channels and the hidden developer channel. It is hoped the revamp of the EE Discord server will help it focus more on Earth Eternal than what it apparently had been turning into in recent months.

On July 20th, more EE Discord server restructuring is made based off suggestions from Volk, Liska and Shadrel. Shadrel creates a voice channel for the Mod team and Sharlexia adds a channel description list to the Rules channel. The survey gets more responders which help influence the latest changes to the server. A new 'welcome' channel for new users to start off in is proposed and briefly implemented; however, Saint points out that such a change would require a new Discord invite link. This idea is ultimately scrapped in the end. Further changes are made to the Rules channel as things are ironed out.

On July 22nd, amidst concerns brought to Liska's attention regarding continued emote spamming on the Discord server, Liska proposes a few changes to the first Rule in the list that addresses spam so that it reinforces the new 'no spam' policy the now active Mod team is now trying to implement. In response, Sharlexia updates the Rules with Liska's proposed changes. At the same time, Liska also proposes a new set of disciplinary measures that should be followed and enacted in the case of problems.

These are met with approval with a few alterations and amendments to make things clearer. At the same time, Liska also suggests a 'record clearing' timeframe so that those who might have done things in the past, then went inactive, don't return and end up right where they left off since they might have cleaned up their act during that inactive period. This, too, is met with approval and changes are made accordingly.

Due to issues involving the group of 'inactive Mods', Sharlexia sends each one a message informing them of their still-new status as Mods, as many of these were included in the Volunteer welcoming group. Most of these request to be demoted back to a regular player and Liska removes the Mod role from them. In the end, only three Mods remain from the initial group that had been promoted to the role when the Welcome Guide role was promoted to a Moderator team. This is increased back to four Moderators when Liska promotes player Horsey to the still-new Moderator team after the same offers to help.

Volk brings more server complaints to the Mod team's attention made within the newer survey results. These had been made after the recent changes to the server and it spurs the team into a new round of revamps to try and address the issue. This time it is decided to try and merge many of the server channels so that fewer crowd the server while deleting others. Among the channels that are met with mixed reviews is a recently added music bot that Shadrel had put in. The bot ends up staying by the end of the latest round of revamps.

The Mods also debate about how to restrict the use of emojis and two Discord commands that have notorious abuse in other servers. In the end, it is decided to simply allow the new rules put in place to take their course. During this same discussion, Horsey adds a new Rule to the list and the others approve it.

To help bring the EE Discord back to focusing on Earth Eternal, Liska posits one more change that he is aware is not going to be very popular. To his surprise, all the Mods agree with his latest suggested alteration and, after a bit more debate, the change is made.

Sharlexia adds a new survey to determine the how the players view the changes and soon a few replies indicate the changes are being mostly met with approval. However, at least one player feels some of the changes are bad and it causes them to leave the EE server. Upon discovering the changes made to the EE Discord, Shadrel is upset about it at first and vents his frustrations on the new Mod team. Later on, after cooling down a bit, Shadrel admits he's actually happy to see the new Moderators doing things on their own but adds that they need to run things by him first before acting on major decisions.

On July 23rd, Sharlexia proposes more Discord server channel merges; however, Shadrel vehemently opposes the ideas and even tries to invoke his four Moderator rules he had set down prior to the EE Discord's revamps pointing out that he is still upset about the changes made the day before. This pits both Sharlexia and Horsey against Shadrel in a bit of an argument. Things are diffused, however, when Liska jumps in a bit later and points out the reasons for his own opposition to this new idea. Faced with more reasonable reasons for rejecting the newest proposed ideas, Sharlexia retracts them herself.

That same day, Sharlexia, Horsey and Aureus crash the Valkal's Shadow server after making another unsuccessful attempt to fight the Valkal boss. This forces Liska to restart it again. They try again the next day on the 24th and once more crash the server, this time during the first portion of the fight. As before, Liska restarts the server again. The information garnered from this last run, gives Liska a few clues as to what might be the cause and he keeps this information for later when he gets the chance to mention it to Emerald.

On July 25th, in response to helping player Karistina with the Rare Statuette quest, Liska offers to post up images of at least four of the five locations of the item he had made way back when he cataloged most of the game during Planet Forever's run. Unfortunately, Discord doesn't play nice and Liska decides to try and post the images on the TAW website instead.

Using the images as an excuse to do more work in the Game Guides section of the website, Liska decides to go ahead and open it up to the public while adding new subsections where he plans to place the images. Unfortunately, this results in him realizing he might not be able to upload files to the webserver itself. He's forced to try again on Discord, which finally lets him post the images.

Afterward, Liska decides to login to the game itself for a bit to try and relocate Statuette location number four. This results in his discovering that locations three and four were, in fact, the same location that was accessed from two different areas. Liska realizes this meant he only had screenshots of three locations and not four as previously believed. In spite of this, Liska takes a new screenshot of this same location as a reference.

On July 27th, Liska chats with Emerald for the first time in weeks. While they catch up a bit, the topic of Earth Eternal isn't brought up until later. Emerald reveals at this time that, although she really wants to get back into development, the gargantuan tasks involved in doing so leave little for motivation.

On the 29th, Liska again chats with Emerald about Earth Eternal and is told that during her trip, she was able to get approximately 2 percent more done on the project she had been working on at that time, but, does not specify which one that was. Emerald also tells Liska that she is willing to sit down and discuss EE related things with him the next day when she would have more free time to focus on it.

Finally, on July 30th, Liska manages to get Emerald a little bit back into EE development. He tells her of the issue involving the Valkal boss and is told it is going to take the better part of a day of programming to track down the issue. This is helped along, though, when Liska reveals his suspicion of the bug occurring somewhere in the portion of the boss script and possibly the instance script as well that handles the disengagement and re-engagement of the boss during certain parts of the fight. In spite of this, Emerald tells Liska that she will not look at it on that day and states that this will be done when she has more time. This is so Emerald can perform tests on her personal servers in an attempt to duplicate the issue.

Liska then brings up the problems he has been having with uploading images to the website and Emerald gives him instructions on what to do. She also creates a new folder specifically for files related to the newly opened Game Guides section. As a test, Liska uploads his images involving the locations of the Rare Statuette item for the quest of the same name.

Throughout the month, Liska deals with more spambots on the website as they appear, though, in the last few days of July, the spambots dwindle in number again.

 

August 2018

August, like the previous months of the year thus far, begins with little to no activity from the development team.

The first week in August sees tensions begin to arise in the newly revamped Discord server once again, this time between the new Moderator group and the server owner Shadrel.

August 5th sees Heathendel reply to a player's post on the TAW forums to answer some of their questions. It is the first activity from him in more than a month. In spite of this, no contact with him is made by other members of the dev team.

Late on August 6th and into the early hours of August 7th, Liska attempts to help fix player Karistina Selene's characters who have had their ears and tails messed up during the character creation process. Although he tries several times with Kurama to fix Karistina's mage character, Liska finds that he is unable to target anyone but himself for some strange reason. After awhile, the two decide to give up until Emerald can intervene when she returns to active development.

A bit later on August 7th, Liska tries to post up the images he had uploaded onto the website. However, he discovers that the webpage refuses to properly display the images when inserted into the page. After several failed attempts, he gives up, choosing to wait until he is able to have Emerald investigate what is going on.

Trouble in the Discord server erupts again between the Moderators and Shadrel on August 8th. This time over what to do with one of the players, in this case, player Kriss Spire. In the midst of a disagreement, Shadrel kicks Kriss from the Discord in what is viewed by some of the moderators to be a bit premature of an action. This results in a division among the moderators themselves as some believe the action was justified, while others feel Kriss wasn't given a fair chance, even if he had indeed been causing problems.

Further problems arise when it is pointed out that the recent ruleset put in place the previous month was being ignored by this rash player removal. Both Volk and Liska manage to get hold of Kriss and explain the situation to him. While Kriss states he will continue playing on the Earth Eternal servers, due to general disagreements with Shadrel, he declines the offer to come back unless or until changes are made.

In light of this unexpected new round of drama, some voice the opinion that a change of leadership on the Discord server might be in order; or failing that, a migration to a new Earth Eternal Discord server might need to happen. When these sentiments are brought to Liska's attention, he expresses hesitation to take such extreme measures as he fears it would risk dividing an already half-dead community completely. Instead he suggests trying to find ways to convince Shadrel to listen to reason before pulling such a last resort action.

Things don't cool down much when Shadrel reappears later but seems to choose to ignore the problems of a few hours before, to the ire of some of the Moderators as it appears to them that he is ignoring a bad situation. While Shadrel does acknowledge that he might have made a hasty decision, he chooses to distract from the problem by offering another subject.

This new subject is a fanfiction work by someone Shadrel knows and he wants to add bits of Earth Eternal and/or some of the player characters or an alternate universe version of the same to this person's project. While a discussion about this does take place, with some being optimistic or curious, there are those who feel the Discord server's owner is merely trying to ignore the drama from earlier on.

On August 9th, the concerns of the previous day still linger on the Discord server but, to a lesser degree.

Later on, Liska chats with Emerald for a bit. He manages to convince her to address some of the bugs on the Valkal's Shadow server and is told she has still not been able to isolate or duplicate the bug with the Valkal boss itself. Liska suspects that the bug doesn't manifest until there is a group fighting the boss, so those trying to solo it, don't encounter the bug. The two eventually decide to meet that weekend on the Test Server to see if they can't replicate the server hang; though, Liska adds that if that doesn't work, they might have to try it on the live server with those that have been testing it so far.

Afterward, Liska manages to get Emerald to tackle the problems involving the bug in the earsize and tailsize issue he discovered a few days earlier while trying to help one of the players. Emerald tells him he had typed in the commands wrong, having omitted a needed letter in the command. She adds that the bug in character creation itself is a much more difficult bug to fix, however.

Liska then brings the now-longstanding Grove building and creature tweaking permission problems to her attention. With a bit of information provided by Liska, along with a new bug report made by the same for the issue, something that had inexplicably got ignored this whole time, Emerald resolves the issue and adds it to what will be the next server update. This would be the very first bug smashed in the entire year and a great start to getting Emerald back into active development.

Finally, Liska has Emerald help him with a bit of a problem he encountered a few days earlier when attempting to post up the added images to the website. This issue, too, is resolved after a bit of effort on both sides.

Very early on the 10th, Liska convinces player Karistina Selene to let him try fixing her characters' earsizes and tailsizes with Kurama again now hopefully armed with the correct commands. Sure enough, this attempt proves successful and also serves to inform Liska that the commands given to him by Emerald only hours before do indeed work.

Later in the day, players Sharlexia and Horsey ask Liska in Discord chat if they could organize a player run event in the game on a weekend later in the month so that most would be able to attend. The main intent is to try and get many of the EE Discord users to become active again as the long lull in activity on the development side has caused most to become inactive or simply remain offline. Liska gives the go ahead and Sharlexia posts up an announcement for it. They determine that the weekend of the 25th and 26th is the most ideal time to hold this event.

After being informed by Liska that Emerald is addressing both the Valkal boss bug as well as the earsize/tailsize bug in character creation, Volk Dragoona decides to experiment a bit in the hopes of helping to isolate what triggers the earsize/tailsize bug. After a number of throwaway test characters are 'donated' to the experiment, it confirms to Liska that the likely issue is, as long suspected, a numerical value swap between the earsize and tailsize values between character creation and actual play of the character and/or the first relog of the client.

Early on the 11th, Shadrel posts an addendum to the event announcement offering a new Discord role to participants. This, however, is met with mixed feelings by the event's planners.

Later in the day, Liska updates the Acknowledgements page on the website for the first time in months and adds a new entry as well.

Emerald attempts to get on the VS test server with Liska to try and replicate the issue with the Valkal boss that is hanging the live server. Unfortunately, Emerald discovers that her Windows emulation programs on Linux are outdated and Earth Eternal does not seem to work on the latest versions of the programs. Emerald is further hampered by a Windows client installer link that is apparently broken on the website along with issues trying to relocate the weblink address the test server is on.

While the latter two issues are somewhat resolved, Emerald finds herself unable to get a game client to work, even though Rivers had managed to get ingame with a newer version of one of the programs even though the game had no sound. The test is cancelled afterward due to these issues along with other personal issues that get in the way in the interim.

Late in the evening, Liska spots Heathendel on the TAW website and locates him on the VS test server. After a bit of waiting, Heathendel finally greets him and they chat a bit. Liska updates Heathendel a bit regarding some of the recent events and Heathendel reveals he also wants to get back into working on the game.

The two talk about a various ideas which include some of the recent issues on the server. When Liska mentions the new EE Discord Moderator team, Heathendel brings up an idea of possibly pitching an offer to see if any of them would be interested in helping with the game in a sort of Volunteer/Contributor role. He describes this new role as "not exactly a dev, but, just above a Sage". Liska informs him there are already two he has in mind for such a thing, but, he would wait for a go ahead before pitching an offer to them.

This then brings to mind for Liska one recent issue that he feels needs Heathendel's input on. Liska reveals that a few people on the Discord server have complained to him about it's owner Shadrel and asks for Heathendel's input. Revealing that he really hasn't been involved with the Discord much himself, Heathendel states he isn't sure he can do anything. Liska counters that because Shadrel was also made a Sage by the Dev Team, the problem directly involves them as well.

Convinced that Liska has a point in that regard, Heathendel agrees to get on the Discord and see the problem himself. Liska points out the two channels where the recent incidents between the Moderators and Shadrel took place and Heathendel agrees Shadrel's actions were unwarranted and unbefitting a server owner. Heathendel then convinces Liska to confront Shadrel directly if possible.

Liska chats with Shadrel soon after and informs him of the issues at large. He informs Shadrel that because of these issues, he has decided to have Shadrel make good on his original intentions regarding the Earth Eternal Discord server upon it's creation and turn ownership of it over to the TAW Dev Team directly. In spite of a bit of progress on the matter, Shadrel requests time to further negotiate such transfer of ownership the following day. Liska grants this request.

On August 12th, Liska chats with Shadrel again regarding the transfer of ownership of the EE Discord server. This time, Liska is told by Shadrel that he would like to chat directly with those who have grievances against him to see if he can resolve the problem and possibly retain ownership of the server by striving to be a better owner. While on the surface it appears to be a step backward, Liska accepts Shadrel's request and agrees to pull some of those who have issues into a group chat so that they could all discuss things.

It takes a good while, but, eventually the group is gathered. Heathendel joins in soon after the discussions begin and those who have grievances against Shadrel outline his good points and his bad points. They point out that while Shadrel is great at helping out with events and offering rewards both in the game and on the Discord to keep players interested, more than a few of his other actions as the server owner have had the opposite effect, to the point some people were driven away from the game because of his actions.

Shadrel admits to his faults and also states he has been forced to own up to them recently. He also confesses that upon review of his other actions, some of them were indeed not performed properly. After Heathendel offers his own opinions of what he has read of the recent incidents, Shadrel agrees to give up the EE Discord and pass ownership of it to Liska, whom everyone involved seems to agree would be the best member of the Dev Team to have it. Even in this, though, Shadrel again requests time to reflect on things and then arranges a time the next day for when he would give Liska ownership of the EE Discord. While there are some who disagree with this request, Liska yet again accepts it.

Shadrel also agrees to be given a new role as an event Planner so that he can still help out with Earth Eternal and still be involved with the Discord server in some way once the transfer of ownership is complete.

A bit afterward, Heathendel asks Liska about the two individuals he had in mind for the possible Volunteer/Collaborator type role and if they were interested in helping out with the game. Liska then points out both Sharlexia and Horsey and the four end up in a group discussion about possibly being offered the chance to actually work with the developers themselves. Both readily accept the offer and the four jump on the Valkal's Shadow live server. Here, both Liska and Heathendel give the two a general tour of the new starter zones and outline the general direction of the game to be seen in The Anubian War version of Earth Eternal.

While the versions of these regions are far less complete than their TAW server counterparts, Liska and Heathendel do what they can to get the two caught up in the starter zone storyline. They get as far as halfway through the Earthrise content before calling it a day, agreeing to continue the next day.

On August 13th, Liska patiently waits for Shadrel to come online to complete the EE Discord transfer of ownership to him as agreed. It takes a few hours, but, Shadrel eventually shows up and the two get the transfer underway. The process is quick and Liska posts an announcement on the EE Discord that starting on this day, he would be the one in charge of the server.

To Liska's surprise, the news of the transfer is met with a warm reception. However, having never before owned a Discord server, Liska enlists the help of Shadrel, Horsey and Sharlexia to help him 'learn the ropes'. It takes a bit of doing and a few mistakes, but, Liska makes good on his promise to Shadrel to grant him a new Planner role so that he can continue to help out.

Soon after, Heathendel comes online and the four move to the VS live server again to pick up where they left off the previous day. The 'tour' of the TAW content ends at the end of Earthrise content and, due to further things being on the TAW server rather than the VS server, Heathendel offers to give Horsey and Sharlexia a tour of a few unreleased dungeons instead.

The offer is warmly received and they visit the Iron Maw to start off with. A bit after, following a suggestion from Liska, Heathendel takes the group to his unused grove dungeon that he had created back during Planet Forever's run. The group then tours the dungeon grove and is even given the opportunity to fight the boss at the end. During the tour though, Heathendel discovers that a modification to a mob he had made sometime back had resulted in it losing it's appearance in the process. After fighting the boss, everyone relocates back to the Great Forest henge where questions are asked regarding other bits of content.

Sharlexia and Horsey also reveal to Liska their intent to offer up a completely rewritten Earth Eternal Lore for the team to inspect later. Although hesitant on this at first, as Liska had planned to do the rewrite himself, Liska concedes that the Lore needs it from the ground up. Even then, he still feels their ideas for such a rewrite are a bit extreme, but, chooses to let them have a go at it anyway.

 

 

 

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.