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