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 month of March remains quiet for Earth Eternal outside the occasional bug report by players.
Finally, on the last day of March, Heathendel messages Liska on Discord for the first time in several weeks. Heathendel tells Liska that although he has been busy the last several weeks, in the last few days he had been trying to get back into his routine and managed to somewhat finish an outline for the Knight sub-classes in the planned class and skill tree revamp. Heathendel admits that he feels a few more abilities could be added in and lists off the various ability totals for both the Knight core class and each Knight sub-class.
Heathendel adds that Liska would be happy to know that all pre-existing skills made it into at least one of the Knight sub-class skill trees with a few receiving alterations in their damage multipliers as players will tend to fight more than one enemy at a time and need to deal out more damage to each. Heathendel does admit he has yet figure out at which skills would be at which character level. He adds that while some are obvious, others are less so. This includes things such as Might costs and charges for some skills, though some newer skills might have cooldowns and cast rates if applicable to the skill.
Heathendel states that he plans to work on the Rogue class and sub-classes next. He adds that he hopes to get at least one of the sub-classes done but admits the entire Rogue class is going to be taxing and likely a bit tougher to work on than the Knight class had been as it will probably require quite a few new skills to be added.
Liska replies that it has been about a month since he had heard from any of the team and adds that he, too, had been rather busy in the last few weeks and expected a few more before things settled down. He does ask Heathendel if he had heard from Emerald recently and Heathendel replies that he had sent her a message earlier regarding the 'alpha plan' of the class and ability system created by former Planet Forever player Disaster Master as he had been making them from scratch with her plan in mind, but, had wanted to see the original as it had been a 'good starting point'. Liska states that he had thought it had been posted on the developer forums on the TAW website around the time it was set up but Heathendel replies he had thought it had been put up on a Github page not involved with the TAW project.
Heathendel mentions that the ability system only has four settings that the server allows when creating new abilities: enemy_alive, enemy_dead, ally_alive and ally_dead. He adds that, because of this requirement by the server, some interesting outcomes could be made such as a possible necromancy skill or some other type of reanimation skill set for the Death Druid subclass as an example. Such an example could have skills that could summon an undead ally of an amount of time and include a similar skill or higher tier upgrade that could be an AOE version of the same.
Heathendel points out that Disaster's original plan had the Druid class include the long missing summoning skill subset and that the Ranger subclass was meant to summon animals. Heathendel adds that while he had not yet begun work on the Druid class, his work on the Knight sets had 'got the gears going' regarding that.
Liska states that it would likely require quite a few new animations, particle effects and so on to pull off such an example and Heathendel agrees adding that Emerald's Iceparticle system has already been shown to be up to such a task as the team's previous work with it on the abilities of the Valkal boss has proven. So, while such things would be a large task to implement, it would still be in the realm of possibility. Heathendel also points out that the team had already expected the class and skill revamp to be a huge task which is why it kept getting put off and Liska agrees. Heathendel then adds that this is why he is so motivated to keep the existing skills in the game 'in some form or another' and whether they need some adjustment 'to keep them relevant or not'.
As Heathendel states he has been using the Knight class as an example, the two begin discussing details on the class and subclass changes. Among the details Heathendel reveals to Liska is that he has settled on the idea that players will choose their sub-class at level 10. Liska inquires if the Tier 2 skills that currently open up at level 6 would then have to be pushed to level 10 or if they would remain as is. Heath then reveals that the UI for the skill trees might end up looking very different from the existing ability window. Liska agrees it'll definitely look different since the existing cross-class skills are being eliminated which, in itself, would open up real estate on the existing window alone.
Heathendel lists off some of the abilities he's brainstormed for the base Knight class and reveals at least two new bow skills. Liska thinks these skills sound more for the Druid class instead. Heathendel agrees and points out that one of the Druid sub-classes would have many of them, which Liska points out as being rather obvious for that particular sub-class: Ranger.
Returning to the newly-proposed Knight bow-skills, Heathendel outlines what they are and what they would likely do. This results in Liska having an idea to help keep things balanced in the game. He explains this idea to Heathendel as an ability limitation based on what particular weapon is used.
While outlining the ideas for some of the other Knight skills he's drawn up, Heathendel points out that while Liska's idea has merit, it has the potential to 'open up a can of worms' that might end up hindering a player's ability to set up a particular build if taken too far. Liska counters that that would be why only a few specific skills per class would have such restrictions. Heathendel agrees that at least for the skill the two had been discussing such a restriction would make sense.
Liska adds that the restrictions would be similar to the Knight skill Disarm except it would be more in regards to the weapon vs. ability itself rather than a duration where a player couldn't use the attack at all. This reminds Liska that Disarm itself could use a time duration extension and Heathendel replies that he's already thought of it and made the change.
The two then get into a discussion regarding the old versus new durations and whether or not a player should be unable to attack when Disarm is active. This turns into a debate on how long a 'proper' duration should be which results in Liska making an observation that the skill itself has one inherent flaw in it's execution.
Heathendel then hits on something that Liska points out as an idea that would be a solution to the problem being discussed. Skills such as Disarm shouldn't completely immobilize players when the debuff is active and should instead still permit them to continue attacking, but their damage would be calculated based on the Base Attack Stat instead of including any modifiers that boost the stat such as what would be on their currently equipped weapon. Liska points out that this change would resolve the issues with not only the Disarm Knight skill but all other skills that utilize similar 'temporarily remove weapon' mechanics. Heathendel agrees and makes notes of their agreed upon changes for later use.
In light of this new idea, Liska asks whether or not weapon speeds should be reinstated and Heathendel replies that they should. He states that he wants subclass weapon stats to be much more vital. Heathendel offers the example that weapons such as a warhammer should not be able to be swung by a character as easily as a dagger. Liska replies that he would like to see that idea refined a bit such that certain weapons, when equipped by certain classes, could have the weapon's speed altered based upon specific sub-class skills that would enable, for example, a normally slow speed weapon, such as a two-hand weapon, to be utilized like a different weapon type, such as a one-hand weapon, thus taking on the weapon speed of that weapon type instead.
Heathendel likes the idea and the two begin discussing the Knight sub-class used in Liska's example. He then changes the subject and mentions considering restoring the PF admin's old Mercenary system idea as players in TAW would only have companions for certain missions. Liska admits that he thought the team planned to include that anyway and asks if there were plans for a 'mercenary guild' or such. Heathendel thinks so and states that mercenaries would be useful to players not on missions that don't include a storyline companion or when they can't find someone to party with.
The two begin discussing mercenary types and options to consider. As the discussion extends into the early hours of April 1st, Heathendel reiterates that the new class system is badly needed as, while the existing cross-class system 'is a really cool concept' as, 'in theory' it gives more options to the players; but, what ends up happening is it creates 'a bunch of players that are lacking in almost every area'. He adds that rather than being really good at 'a certain type of combat', they end up 'being mediocre at everything'. Heathendel even offers an example of a Mage player who, according to him, didn't seem to understand how to properly utilize the cross-class system to their chosen class's advantage.
As their discussion draws to a close, Heathendel offers Liska a couple diagrams detailing his ideas for the new Knight Class-Tree Outline. The first one offers a rough idea how the base Knight class skillset would look while the second offers a rough concept of the Paladin sub-class option's skillsets.
The month of April, like March, is quiet on the development side of things. Players continue to login periodically and still occasionally offer up the occasional bug report.
On April 23rd, players Aureus Saitaro, Sharlexia and Horsey get online to play for the first time in awhile. Liska also logs in with a Sage sometime later to see how many are online. As it happens, the trio of players have decided to take on the boss of one of the newer dungeons, Kerakura's Lair, at least five levels below the recommended player level, with Aureus being the only 'at level' player in the group. Curious how this would play out, Liska ports to watch how they handle that dungeon's boss.
Successful in their run of Kerakura's lair, Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey all decide to tackle all four World Bosses to see how they would fare. Surprisingly, they are able to defeat Ni'Lania Vexus without too much trouble and aim to go after the other three. At this point, Liska, still using his Sage character, becomes intrigued and decides to follow after the group to watch their progress. He reaches the group as they battle Kilvath L'Vithian in Anglorum and have the boss down to 48% by the time he arrives.
Being successful in defeating two of the four World Bosses, the group decides to go after the other two and Liska offers vague hints as to their locations. The trio heads toward L'ough Garoum first and, after wandering New Badari for a bit, finally locate the boss. Liska again watches the fight, this time from the start, to see how this intrepid group would handle the newest of the World Bosses. It takes the group some time, but, they manage to take the third World Boss down. Afterward, they head to Deadwood to confront the last of the four.
Liska again watches the trio from the start of the fight, and in a short span, even Thara Vikath falls to them. Liska does admit to the group afterward that Thara was probably the weakest of the four World Bosses. This does not change the fact that all four World Bosses had been defeated by a group five to ten levels below them which makes these three the lowest level players to take down all of them.
After proclaiming their victory on Discord, Shadrel restructures the 'special tags' belonging to Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey into a single achievement role. The trio are also given ingame rewards of their request for this achievement. Aureus is given a sword item for it's model and both Sharlexia and Horsey are given four additional VS Keys which they had somehow missed out on during the event, having only gotten one instead of five.
Horsey also makes an interesting 'discovery' regarding the ice wolf model used for L'ough Garoum during that fight which seems to reveal that boss as a she-wolf. Images are posted in Discord to prove this 'discovery' and a small discussion comes out of it there. It reminds Liska of certain other rather mature appearances found on several of the female Beast models.
The almost complete silence and lack of activity from the TAW team enters it's third month in May.
On May 2nd, while discussing various things regarding the game on Discord, player Aureus and Liska get into a private chat over some of the game's content gaps. One of the things the two discuss is the NPC Turgan Gergandol in Camelot who has a rather abruptly terminating quest chain that was never continued by Sparkplay.
Liska had revealed in a previous discussion elsewhere that he had wanted to continue that quest chain and Liska informs Aureus that he still indeed planned to do so at some point. His idea was that it would span all levels much the same as Dekker's 'Ring' chain.
Liska reveals he had considered a few specific 'spots' to pick up the unfinished gather-quest chain including two 'return to Anglorum' spots in the Europe quests. Aureus agrees that these would be a good place to add quests for the NPC but adds that there needs to be more, perhaps with a secondary NPC 'taking over' at some point.
The two toss around ideas and eventually consider the NPC Kismet Cherie as a candidate for a split-chain based on that NPC's existing quest chain's lore. This would then have Kismet fill Turgan's gather-quest chain role while players remain in Europe without needing to trek all the way back to Anglorum just to take a quest from Turgan that they may or may not even know has opened up. Liska even posits the idea that both Turgan and Kismet could have gather quests in tandem near the end game when players would normally head back to Anglorum to fight in the Ironstone area.
The discussion shifts from ideal places to bind while in Europe to take on these proposed gather quests, to possible quest targets, to a few neglected stepup spawn mobs in Anglorum, to issues regarding the buff/timer bug.
On May 5th, after months of silence, Rictar posts in the Discord developer channel that he has not even thought about Earth Eternal in the last several months, either to play or to moderate. As such, Rictar announces his decision to completely depart the game as he has moved on and tells those who read his message to go ahead and strip him of his GM account. This sudden announcement catches both Shadrel and Liska by surprise.
On May 11th, Liska and Heathendel chat again on Discord for the first time in about six weeks. The two update one another on their current statuses and Heathendel informs Liska that he has finally gotten hold of Emerald and she has regretted being away and really wants to get back into EE development again. The two had arranged to hopefully meet that weekend for a developer meeting and Heathendel adds that Liska is usually available, so he would hold of him when it's time. Liska counters, however, that things have been a bit different recently as real life obligations have kept him busy the last two and a half months and he still expects to remain busy by that obligation another couple weeks more.
If the team does meet, Heathendel states that, even though the servers are rife with bugs that need addressing, the team should probably consider 'working on something fun to rejuvenate ourselves' first, rather than just diving into maintenance. As the server has had little activity, partly due to the team's own inactivity, such a project should be easy to 'figure out'.
Liska informs Heathendel of Rictar's recent departure and Heathendel admits that as the server is merely a volunteer hobby project 'if you don't have the time, you don't have the time'. Liska also admits that he has tried to get hold of Emerald and his last several attempts were unsuccessful. Far as the planned meetup that weekend, Liska states he is unsure he will be able to make it as the 'allotted time' for it is likely to overlap the 'available time' that Emerald has that weekend. He does admit the team really does need to meet up again and get back on track once more as the last meeting was met with only minimal success. That success being the team seeing where everyone stood so they could get back 'on a unified track'. Beyond this very small progress, Liska states things have been 'completely and utterly dead' and Heathendel agrees.
Changing subjects, Liska tells Heathendel about the player achievement made a few weeks before by players Aureus, Horsey and Sharlexia in regards to the Kerakura's Lair dungeon and the four World Bosses. He adds that he witnessed most of their feat so could verify it happening. Liska states that for the feat, Shadrel gave them a special Discord role and Liska provided in game rewards for each as per their requests.
Liska also mentions the 'discovery' made by Horsey in regards to the World Boss L'ough Garoum which Heathendel inquires about. After Liska provides a few details including mentioning Horsey's screenshots made as 'proof', Liska adds that when he saw that image, he wondered if that might have been the reason Sparkplay chose not to use the mob's model. Heathendel finds the new information funny and Liska agrees that it was.
Again switching topics, Liska mentions to Heathendel the bug report regarding the mob target Pawl. Heathendel tells Liska that he had already seen the bug report and had tested it himself earlier in the day. Heathendel surmises that the issue is in the spawn package itself. Liska inquires how that could be and Heathendel tells him that Planet Forever's admin had scripted the mob's package to 'act as a trigger'. This news causes Liska to state that the team might have to check up on the packages of some of the other stepup mobs in the game 'to see what is different and if some of them also have the problem'. Liska does add that the stepup mobs in dungeons likely won't need fixing as the 'minion mobs' don't respawn in dungeons; however, he adds that overworld stepups such as 'those in Anglorum', might. Heathendel agrees on these as well.
Again, switching gears, Heathendel tells Liska he's trying to think up 'what might be fun' to work on and suggests Groves. Liska reminds Heathendel that the entire Grove mechanic is currently completely broken and that Emerald would have to fix the issue first. Heathendel agrees that is a problem as Groves are a big draw to the game as players tend to get 'lost for hours' in them which helps to boost the population. When Heathendel asks what is wrong with it, as it's been awhile, Liska tells him that permissions for both Grove building and Creature Tweaking have been broken either from the time Valkal's Shadow was rolled out or 'from one of the followup updates'. Heathendel surmises that shouldn't be a huge fix and that it was 'probably something Emerald overlooked when she was solving one of the big problems from when we updated'.
Liska admits that, at first he thought the issue involved both the players and the developers but later discovered the Sages could still build and tweak. He adds that he had brought it up with Emerald back during his last chat with her, so she is already aware of the issue, provided she hasn't forgotten in the long interval. Getting back on the subject, he agrees the team does need something to show the players the development team is back in action and won't simply 'say we are then vanish for three months' again. Heathendel agrees and states that once Groves are up and running again, that could be made into 'a pretty fun project'.
Heathendel states that the team has 'done nothing with Groves' since PF's admin made them beyond adding them to the Credit Shop. Liska inquires what Heathendel had in mind wondering if he meant either making a special grove or region for players to temporarily play in or if Heathendel was referring to a special playground for the developers to 'go wild with ideas' using the game's assets. Heathendel counters that he is referring to Groves 'in general and not in terms of an event'.
Liska asks if he meant things like actually expanding Grove functionality or something and Heathendel states that 'to some degree that'd be part of it'. Liska inquires what else he had in mind so Heathendel states that he and Emerald have wanted to work on Groves 'for awhile now' and that currently Grove building is 'kind of a separate entity from the game'. He adds that the interface is one thing that needs to be fixed and, while it's fine for the developers as the team is 'familiar and efficient with it', that is not the case with most players and, 'even with the assistance of the Mod panel, it's still not very user friendly'. He then posits that a new user interface for building would be one thing to add.
Another thing Heathendel mentions is the idea of removing Groves from the Credit Shop entirely and placing so-called 'property vendors' of some sort in all the major cities. This would include a 'tutorial quest' to introduce players to Groves and 'help them access and learn the new UI functionality which would hopefully be 'much more cosmetically pleasing and easy to use'. Liska inquires that he thought the team was already planning a tutorial quest for Groves in The Anubian War; but, also adds that a 'property vendor' NPC is definitely an idea, further adding that perhaps they should be called something like 'Grove Broker' instead.
Heathendel likes Liska's name suggestion but also states that these were things already planned for The Anubian War and he's simply trying to come up with fun projects to get the team 'back in business' and if Groves ended up being one, it would simply be 'moved up the list' as it were.
Heathendel mentions that another part of the idea that needed figuring out is the props themselves. Heathendel adds that both he and Emerald had tossed around the idea of prop vendors and vouchers for props being dropped by mobs while also adding a crafting angle to things so players aren't just given the items themselves. He admits not wanting to jump in and say that Emerald was all for it even if it was, as he recalled, partially her idea. Heathendel tells Liska that many MMOs don't just give players 'access to everything and unlimited amounts'.
He clarifies that this idea would now require players to actually play the game 'and do certain things' in order to get what they want for their groves. He adds that 'packs' of random props would also be available in various 'rarities' as well. Heathendel concedes that Groves are currently being ghost towns and this might be a good turn. The flip side of that coin, though, being that so-called 'grove hermits' might not like the idea of not having 'access to everything'. Heathendel offers an example of how the system might work, in this case purchasing some 'seeds' for trees or bushes from a vendor, then placing it in the grove, which would then spawn a full grown tree.
This gives Liska an idea but he admits it might be 'a bit troublesome' for both the players and developers. Heathendel expresses concern over that, but, also states if it is, the group could still try and find a way to make Liska's idea work. Liska then outlines his idea regarding a 'Tutorial Grove' stating that it would include tutorial quests that lead players to a special grove where NPCs require the player to perform certain building tasks via quests. At the end of the quest chain, the players would be rewarded with things like the unlocking of their first Grove as well as a 'care package' containing basic props to help them get started.
Heathendel counters how such an idea is troublesome and Liska replies that it's more the quest chain part that would be troublesome not the whole idea as MMO players generally tend to dislike games with 'super long tutorial sessions'. Heathendel counters that such a quest chain does not have to be long as there are not that many steps in building in a grove and the team could always add optional more advanced tutorials as well.
He further makes the point that grove building is nothing more than 'pick prop, place prop, rotate until happy' and far as buildings go it would simply be 'choose building, choose Skin (ATS), place prop, etc'. Spawns would be 'just as easy' and 'with a better AI' not require a long quest chain. Liska then reiterates that that is essentially the gist of his idea. That an NPC 'needs something' and 'teaches' the player how to place a building, spawn a mob/NPC or place a tree and so on. Heathendel states he doesn't see why the team can't do such an idea and it was similar to what he was also thinking.
When Liska asks what Heathendel thought of his 'reward idea at the end', Heathendel states a 'care package with basic props is perfect' and adds that it could include something like 'a stack of 10 trees, 10 plants/bushes, 10 rocks, maybe a small cottage, etc'. Liska tosses in 'maybe a fence or two' as an aside addition to the example. Heathendel then adds that this 'starter Grove' would be non-upgradeable unlike later ones the player might get and Liska agrees with that idea.
Liska also suggests a possible series of quest chains at various experience levels. A 'beginner's course' at level 10, an 'intermediate course' at level 15 and an 'advanced course' at level 20 or higher as an example. He even suggests making it so players cannot purchase more groves until they become either an 'intermediate grove builder' or an 'advanced grove builder' or in essence, have completed the quest chains for these. Heathendel counters that he's not really 'crazy' about the idea of preventing players from buying more groves until they have done the tutorials and states that, while he agrees the beginner tutorial should be mandatory, the others should be optional as there really isn't much to teach players anyway. Liska concedes this admitting he's only trying to come up with ways the development team can 'do this'.
Heathendel then offers examples of what might be seen in a more upgraded version of Groves. Players would 'have a selection of properties/groves' and the player can choose what they like. The templates would already be set up with 'expansions' already made and players could simply sink gold into opening up each new 'wing' of their grove, eventually having a 'nice big grove to show off'. Liska replies that the only problem with such an idea is the team cannot 'publicly' edit terrain 'on the fly' in groves just yet. Heathendel counters that Liska misread his idea and that each grove would have preset expansions and all that would be needed is for them to be unlocked by the player.
Confused, Liska replies that he 'sees' the idea as that there are already 'pre-existing grove types as is'; full entire 'regions' players can choose from. He states that Heathendel's idea 'seems to indicate players would be able to alter an existing grove' 'region' after their initial grove. As this is what is throwing him off, Liska asks Heathendel to clarify the idea for him.
Heathendel then offers an example of a grove surrounded with mountains, which Liska points out sounds like the 'Blend' tileset already in the game. Heathendel agrees it would pretty much be like that, but, Liska points out that the Blend 'region' is currently the 'grove default'. Here, Heathendel tells Liska to 'imagine creating an opening in a mountain that has another Blend sized area'. With both now connected, there is suddenly more space.
Heathendel continues by stating that 'concept' that the development team would work with would be to build a grove 'with all the expansions already made' and in a template. Players wouldn't have access to these expansions until they were purchased, however. This means the team would have to 'block off' each individual expansion until the player has purchased them. Unfortunately, this also means that editing the terrain would come into play as Liska has already pointed out. Heathendel states this could be done with 'triggers and props'. If that doesn't work, the development team could 'try to develop a different way to open it up when purchased' that would be a bit more 'fancy' if possible. He admits that this is just another 'part of the creation process' for the team.
Liska counters that Heathendel is forgetting one minor detail, and that is that players would have access to Build mode in groves, permitting them to bypass any blocked off content. Heathendel also counters that 'we don't know what the new UI will look like' when the dev team is finished working on it. He also adds that as the dev team is the dev team, they can 'build things to our advantage'; but, in the event it 'works the same' as before, all that would need doing is to 'adjust the build permission coordinates'.
Liska again counters that this would be the same issue as what had been seen during the Sparkplay days when players had been able to sneak into both Grunes Tal and Swineland when those regions were blocked off by the SPM dev team. He adds that the future Planet Forever admin had been able to roam the areas in build mode even back then. Liska does agree that while the team doesn't know what the functionality of the new UI would be like when it would be done; there is still the possibility of players managing to 'circumvent any barriers' the team sets up once they 'know how to access Build mode and figure it out'.
Heathendel points out that the team can 'get around build perms' as an issue and could simply restrict the player's permissions to within their 'designated zone'. This would also make it so that even if the players managed to sneak into one of the other areas, they wouldn't be able to build in it. Heathendel comments that at this point, they could simply 'take a tour' which might convince them to buy the expansion areas. Liska clarifies that what Heathendel means is essentially that the players have to 'gain build access to each new area' systematically rather than the whole grove at once.
Heathendel states that it would be both build permissions and coordinates as they would be essential to preventing players 'from building in areas they haven't purchased'. Heathendel adds that he would like to try and see if the team could design grove expansions so that they are unveiled when purchased but he isn't sure 'how that would look yet'.
Liska admits to Heathendel that while he is trying hard to visualize the ideas, he keeps 'running into obstacles that would be exploitative'. Liska then offers up some alternatives. One idea being that players get full access to their entire grove for exploring and roaming; but, it would also require some sort of pre-requisite for players to 'expand their building permissions' beyond the 'main' location, size to be determined for each. The other idea being the development team could offer up 'terrain tile upgrades' that would permit players to expand their grove's overall size on purchase.
Heathendel agrees, but, tells Liska how developers should approach hurdles such as this. He adds that Emerald 'is pretty resilient and has developed some pretty awesome things, so, 'who knows what sort of system' the team could make if groves become the project worked on. Liska agrees, stating that he likes the concept idea as it would 'add a whole new dimension to the game'.
Heathendel agrees again stating that there 'is a lot of potential' for what could be done. He offers ideas such as Smithing stations players could buy or acquire for their grove 'where players could craft from inside' or 'an Alchemy station for potions. Liska offers up the idea that such places could also provide building materials as well. Heathendel adds that farms could be set up where players harvest supplies. Essentially jobs would be added such as farming, logging, fishing and so on. He further adds that Pets could 'somehow' be added to groves giving them more purpose.
Liska agrees but points out that a Fishing mechanic would be difficult 'due to the way the game handles water planes' currently. Heathendel concedes that it would indeed be a hurdle, but, he is sure the development team could 'find a way around it'. Liska then points out that various issues need to be resolved before any sort of proper fishing mechanic could even be feasible. These would include resolving the Y-axis issue and after that resolve the various issues with traveling across water via things such as swimming, boating, and so on.
Only after all of these are dealt with would any sort of fishing mechanic, mechanics involving anything aquatic such as fish and undersea mobs beyond the current crabs and snails or underwater locations to explore become even possible. He adds that none of these ideas would be easy to implement even then. Heathendel agrees that until those issues are resolved any fishing would have to be done in groves; but, Liska counters that these issues would need to be resolved in groves as well.
Going back to the idea of fishing, Heathendel offers a concept idea for how fishing might work in a grove. It might have 'a station set up' so players would 'purchase and have a fishing pond added' to their grove, basically a CL prop that is interactable. Players would then interact with the pond and have an option to cast a fishing rod. From there 'it would be a percentage game' that the developers set up which would offer things such as different types of fish, percentage to catch a fish, different fish 'rarities', and so forth. Liska pitches in on the idea adding in suggestions for things like percentages to catch nothing at all; chance of a fish escaping, breaking the line, etc; the line getting caught on something underwater and/or fishing up 'some random object be it a piece of junk or a good item'.
Heathendel adds that groves have a lot of untapped potential and Liska agrees that this is very much so. Heathendel states that he's 'having fun' just thinking about these ideas and getting very excited, hoping that this would be a 'fun project' to work on. Liska also points out that, in spite of being very broken, the EE Lore itself mentions that Groves are supposed to be 'idyllic gardens etc in another dimension where time flows differently'. He emphasizes that the 'idyllic' part 'seems to indicate that groves would be chock full of things' that 'any Beast could or would need to live'.
As such, Groves as they currently exist as a game mechanic are very very lacking in content, being nothing more than a 'separate region with all the dev tools unlocked for the owners' in it's current state. So, it does make sense that Groves definitely need expanding and revamping.
Here, Heathendel switches gears again and this time brings up the idea of Casinos and such being another option for a project. He does admit it 'might be too much' for Emerald since it would require the team to create a bunch of mini-games and Heathendel isn't sure how much coding would go into such things as poker, roulette and so on.
Liska then points out that the development team has a 'much newer hurdle to consider' on that front. He reveals to Heathendel that in recent months, there have been quite a few crackdowns on games that include forms of gambling or gambling-like mechanics in their content. Liska states to Heathendel that the 'absolute last thing' the TAW team wants is to 'attract unwanted legal attention'. Hearing this, Heathendel states he had not heard about this news and there are a lot of games with that sort of content. He also agrees that the team 'definitely don't want to get in that boat'.
Liska informs Heathendel that these actions are mainly over 'on the Europe side of things' which is where both Emerald and many players hail from. He emphatically agrees that it's 'a can of worms we do not want to open'. Liska admits that he doesn't know all the details yet and it's still possible that so long as real currencies are not used or exchanged, that games that include gambling 'might be given a pass'. Still, Liska states he would 'rather play it safe and nix it all until more information and details are clarified. To basically 'err on the side of caution' until further notice. Heathendel agrees on those terms.
He then tells Liska that he'll try and contact him should a meeting take place the following day. Liska asks to be messaged so he knows around what time to be on, even if he is unable to make it.
The next day on May 12th, Heathendel messages Liska that he hasn't spoken to Emerald yet and she hasn't shown up so maybe the meeting will happen the next day instead. In the meantime he has 'built a starter grove that is tropical'.
On May 16th, Andrew Sipotz (formerly Piggypops during the Sparkplay days) posts messages on the EE Discord informing everyone of his intent to turn over the official Earth Eternal Facebook page to the Anubian War development team. He requests someone to 'bark their Facebook URL' to him. Andrew points out that he has noticed things have slowed and hopes that perhaps 'an influx of players' would help.
Shadrel responds by trying to get the attention of Liska, Rozene or one of the other members of the development team or even some of the more 'trusted' players. Unfortunately, the players called out express disinterest in Facebook and the dev team members are silent. Both Liska and Heathendel appear online later on in the day, but, both miss or do not reply to Andrew's message. One thing Liska does notice, though, is that Andrew's Discord nickname reveals he is now working with none other than the famed Triple-A developer Ubisoft, possibly as a project manager.
Things again go quiet until May 27th when Liska finally is able to get in contact with Emerald. Chatting with her, Liska discovers Emerald and Rozene have encountered each other on another platform outside of Earth Eternal and have gotten to know one another better. A bit later, Liska, Emerald and Rozene all get together and begin chatting.
Liska updates Emerald on the past months and mentions both the recent flood of spambots on the Anubian War website in the last three weeks and his efforts to smash them all. Emerald doesn't like the idea of a large influx of spambots on the website and expresses gratitude that Liska has been keeping 'on top of that'. Emerald also tells Liska that she has been preoccupied with other projects outside Earth Eternal of late but hopes to 'get back into EE development' in a couple weeks time if all works out.
Chatting with Rozene, Liska learns that Rozene has spent the last couple months finally 'getting to know the mysterious Emerald' and that Emerald was 'getting to know the mysterious Rozene' in turn. At this point, Liska and Emerald are both told something neither were aware of.
Up until now, Rozene has felt out of place in the TAW development team and had presumed everyone to be a bit less than friendly. When queried about this, Rozene reveals that back when Heathendel had recruited her, it had been perceived as more a forceful amount of coercion rather than friendly persuasion. Not expecting this bit of news, Liska tells Rozene that as far as he had been aware, Heathendel had negotiated with Rozene regarding joining the Anubian War EE Team after discovering Rozene's own EE server, Earth Eternal Reboot.
Liska had been under the presumption that, although initially hesitant to join the TAW team, Rozene had been successfully persuaded to come aboard, which is why he had tried to be welcoming when Rozene first joined. Rozene tells Liska and Emerald that this was not what had happened and that Heathendel had, though not verbatim, essentially told her 'join our group or we'll force you to shut your server down'. Rozene states that she had been under the impression that the TAW team did not want 'competition' from other Earth Eternal servers and was viewing her Earth Eternal Reboot as an obstacle to be removed.
A bit blindsided by this revelation, Liska counters that, while he and Heathendel had been in discussions regarding the EE Reboot server and Rozene joining the team, he had been under the impression Rozene's recruitment to the TAW team had been voluntary. He admits that while the idea of competition had been discussed, the two had agreed it was probably for the best to try and keep as much of the old EE community united as possible.
As far as Liska was aware, this decision was not meant to 'crush the competition' so much as trying to keep an already fractured community together under one roof. This was the reason Liska had been all for convincing Rozene to join the Anubian War project. Still, the very idea that Rozene had been essentially forced to join comes as an utter shock. Emerald agrees with Liska stating she, too, had been under the impression Rozene's decision to join had been voluntary and knew absolutely none of this.
Rozene goes on to say that the reason she had been so distant up to this point was she had been under the impression the rest of the team was just as unfriendly as Heathendel had seemed to be and was actually too intimidated to try and get to know the others. More discussions reveal that Rozene was very fond of her Earth Eternal Reboot server and had found it very hard to give it up. This had sown the seeds of bitterness between Rozene and The Anubian War development team as she had perceived them. This bitterness had remained all this time and none of the others had seemed to care.
Both Liska and Emerald reveal they are appalled by this unexpected revelation regarding their recruitment of Rozene and both profusely apologize to her for being unknowing participants in her anguish. Liska informs Rozene that neither he nor Emerald knew the exact details behind the 'negotiations' between Rozene and Heathendel back then.
Feeling absolutely terrible about this revelation, Liska and Emerald offer Rozene a new beginning with the development team along with more apologies for being unaware of the truth for so long. Rozene tells the two that she is willing to start over and accepts the metaphorical olive branch offered by both. Emerald and Liska both re-welcome Rozene to the team, this time with past sins, both known and unknown, hopefully now forgiven.
They also inform Rozene that, as far as they knew, while Heathendel does have a tendency to be a bit overzealous at times, and sometimes even forceful, he by no means intends actual harm or cruelty. One thing Liska tells Rozene is that there have been a few times in the past where even he had butted heads with Heathendel when Liska would be at odds with some of the ideas brought before the Anubian War team that he disagreed with. This bit of information, along with the offer of a new beginning, seems to reassure Rozene that she can now move forward and finally put the ill feelings of a past wrong to rest.
A bit later on, Liska, still feeling absolutely terrible about the unwholesome bit of information revealed earlier, chats again with Rozene. This time he yet again profusely apologizes for unknowingly causing Rozene pain and making her feel out of place. Liska reveals that he had been aware of some of the other details but only to the extent that Rozene had been reluctant to join at first, then later had been persuaded. Still, Liska admits to feeling partially to blame as both he and Heathendel had been chatting at the time of those 'negotiations' that resulted in Rozene being coerced into joining the TAW team.
The two talk a bit and Rozene tells Liska that she has accepted his apologies and feels as if she can finally move forward past what had been a very bitter and painful experience. Here, Liska asks Rozene if there was a way to further mend fences by perhaps partially reviving Rozene's work, what little had been done, on Earth Eternal Reboot and possibly merging it with The Anubian War project. Even if it was only a few asset changes, borne of limited knowledge, but a love for the game, Liska states if the possibility exists, would Rozene be willing to try that. Rozene replies that she could try and locate her files on EE Reboot sometime.
In spite of these many revelations, Heathendel himself is not present at the time of these discussions, so his side of this unexpected revelation remains unknown at this point.
On the 30th, Liska and Emerald chat again. He informs her about the continuing spambot problem on the Anubian War website and again reiterates that he has spent the last three weeks alone blocking as few as two to as many as at least a dozen or more spambots per day. This news upsets Emerald and she goes to investigate. Liska's information verified, she tells him that the Drupal backend has been needing to be updated and she hasn't gotten around to doing that yet. She adds that hopefully, at least one of the updates might stop the spambots in their tracks.
After Liska blocks another round of spambots during their chat, Emerald decides to go ahead and update the Drupal backend of the TAW website. This task done, she suggests to Liska to go ahead and completely delete all blocked accounts from the website. A bit hesitant at first, not wanting to accidentally corrupt something, Liska verifies that the updates to Drupal are indeed finished before proceeding to systematically eliminate all spambots in the accounts list. This task accomplished, both hope that the spambot tide will be slowed if not completely stopped.
Liska also brings a few other things to Emerald's attention. Among these are the recent offer of the EE Facebook page from Andrew Sipotz and the two issues with the game that player Sharlexia is struggling with. Far as Andrew's offer goes, both quickly agree that Heathendel would be the best fit for taking over the Earth Eternal Facebook page as he is the one team member most active on Facebook.
As for Sharlexia's inability to gain experience in battle and the fact she has never gotten any Daily Rewards since around the time of the Valkal's Shadow update, Liska asks Emerald to investigate these and hopefully find the cause. He tells Emerald that he suspects Sharlexia's issues might be residual problems from the asset issues that happened right after the VS update. Emerald admits to finding this information 'odd' and makes a note of it for later.
A bit after, Emerald has a bit of technical difficulties on the website and finds herself unable to get back on. She leaves Liska a message on the TAW chat window in case he sees it. Unfortunately, it takes Liska just over a week to notice it.
On May 31st, in spite of Emerald's updates to Drupal the previous day, Liska is dismayed to discover the spambots continue to plague the website. Worse, Liska realizes that not only has the update failed to stop the spambots, but, that with the old spam accounts now deleted, a new flood of spambots are joining the website and filling that void.
A bit later, Liska tells Emerald of the failed attempt and Emerald isn't happy. She also reveals that there were apparently a few more updates to Drupal but she doubts that they would resolve the spambot issue. Both begin to try and think of alternatives to stopping the spambot flood.
The same day, player Yaz resurfaces on both the TAW website and finds their way onto the EE Discord as well. Yaz mentions in both a post in the developer forums as well as in Discord that she is still very interested in helping out, but, has been aware that things have been quiet. Liska replies to Yaz on the website but then notices she has joined the Discord right after.
The two chat a bit and Liska informs Yaz that the team is still very interested in a 3D Modeler which they still don't yet have. Yaz mentions that she has not talked with Emerald since near the end of 2016 and wasn't sure if the offer to help was still open. Liska tells Yaz that much has changed in the game since the last time she saw the server during the Scourge Of Abidan, especially now that the Valkal's Shadow expansion is live.
Yaz asks Liska a few questions regarding what Earth Eternal was programmed in and Liska tells her the various languages and engine that makes up the game. Liska asks Yaz if she has ever used 3dMax, the program Sparkplay had used to make many of the game's assets. Yaz replies she had not and also that the program was too expensive anyway. She tells him she prefers Blender and the two begin chatting about that program. Yaz even offers up a few art pieces made in Blender as examples which are warmly received on the Discord server.
In spite of the discussions between most members of the Anubian War development team during the month of May, June proves to be the fourth month of general inactivity and the sixth month of next to no updates regarding Earth Eternal.
On June 7th, Liska is dismayed to see the Anubian War website again flooded with spambots and proceeds to eradicate them. Later chatting with Emerald regarding this problem, he suggests that perhaps when he deleted all the accounts the previous week, all the previously blocked combinations of 'Grove names' had once again become available allowing for new spambots to replace the deleted ones. Emerald concedes this might indeed be the case. As such, Liska decides not to delete any others on the off-chance actually deleting the spambot accounts are only worsening the already bad situation.
While chatting, Emerald reveals to Liska a rather unexpected bit of news that had taken place the previous week. As it happened, Microsoft had purchased Github and Emerald states that she is worried they will mess it up. Liska does not like this bit of news and flatly comments that they would likely ruin it like they did with other programs like Skype. Emerald retorts that the moment a single ad appears on Github she is relocating all Git projects to another program. Liska inquires if everything gets moved, where would it be relocated to. Emerald replies that there are a number of options including more open source Git programs out there.
Later in the evening, Liska and Heathendel meet on the Valkal's Shadow test server and chat for a bit. Heathendel reveals that he has been considering some ideas for the class and skill revamps that might actually allow the TAW development team to preserve the cross classing options in some form.
Liska points out that this would have to be a bit restrictive to prevent breaking the game such as in it's current state. Heathendel agrees but offers a few examples from the Knight skill trees. This gives Liska an idea and he outlines it to Heathendel. Using the popular RPG series Final Fantasy as an example, Liska points out that in the very first title of that series, the three mage classes offer a perfect example for a potential solution to the problem.
While Liska admits things are different in MMO titles, he states the concept could still be useful. Both he and Heathendel bat ideas back and forth and Heathendel points out a few flaws in Liska's suggestions but also states the idea has some merit. Heathendel even uses Liska's own example for another scenario. Still, the prospect that the TAW team could actually find a way to mostly preserve the cross-classing mechanic of Earth Eternal in a more limited form excites them both.
One of the ideas that Liska suggests is expanding the range of Mage spells beyond the existing Fire and Ice elements. He points out to Heathendel that the EE Lore itself mentions many other forms of magic that are never seen in the actual game. As the team is trying to revamp both the class and skill systems, this would be a good opportunity to add more elements and other magics into the game. Heathendel agrees that this would make the game more interesting, especially since the Lore already supports it. Both agree that it will require some thought on how to make it work though as the team would have to make everything for them from scratch.
Liska takes this time to bring up the offer from Andrew Sipotz the previous month and tells Heathendel that both Liska and Emerald already have agreed he is the best fit for taking over the official Earth Eternal Facebook page. Heathendel is excited by this and tells Liska his Facebook name. Liska counters that Heathendel should send Andrew a message on Discord.
On June 12th, Liska and Heathendel chat briefly on Discord. Heathendel tells Liska that he thinks he might have found a way to keep cross classing in Earth Eternal. He adds that it would be different for certain classes, though, as some of them would have no affinity to magic at all while others would not have any affinity to physical combat. This idea intrigues Liska a bit.
Heathendel continues his idea by stating that how the idea would 'essentially work' would be that 'certain physical classes from different core classes, where appropriate, can tap into a pool of different abilities that are also accessible to other classes of a similar type'. Using an 'easy example' in Bows, Heathendel points out to Liska that the new 'Ranger' Druid sub-class 'will obviously have the richest pool of physical ranged abilities' but that other classes that can use bows might also want to 'have their character have a little more edge in range'. Heathendel then posits the idea of a Berserker or Guardian Knight sub-class having a cross classing pool that might offer 'a few more range abilities or other sub class traits'.
Heathendel states that while cross classing would be a bit different for all classes, the developers could 'potentially allow every class to dabble in a way that won't break their class'. Liska states the concept sounds plausible.
Heathendel then tells Liska that he's been making each class's outlines and that he 'ended up going in a whole new direction for the mage classes' than the 'original alpha plan had laid out'. He states that the idea came about as a result from their discussion a few days earlier 'regarding different schools of magic and how the lore mentions that there are many'.
Heathendel states that the Battlemage sub-class is pretty much mostly the same as before which is a 'tank option for magic users' that are 'adept in physical and magical attacks' and are 'often using their magic to augment their physical attacks' and so on. The other two sub-class options; however, are the ones that have been changed. Heathendel tells Liska that he has combined the Pyro and Cryo Mage options into a single sub-class he now calls the Arcanist. This class is described as a 'master of the Arcane arts and uses both elements in both protection and destruction spells'.
For the new third Mage sub-class option, Heathendel states he has now added a 'healer option' for Mages called the 'Oracle'. This class masters 'Divine magics' and use their connection to Gaia 'to call upon the earth and water to fuel their power'. Heathendel adds that the Oracle would be more a support or healing class that 'uses different elements' than everyone is used to.
Lastly, Heathendel tells Liska that he is 'finishing up Druids now', but, his plan for the Ranger sub-class 'is fairly straight forward'. They would be 'very deadly with a bow' and 'prefer to use bows and attack from a range'. Being very close to nature 'they can also call upon animals to help them in battle'. This would often include 'acting as a buffer between the ranger and his/her foe'.
A short time later, Heathendel notices that Andrew Sipotz is online in Discord and asks Liska if he is chatting with him. Liska replies a bit after that he was not aware Andrew was even on and suggests that Heathendel message him. Due to the lack of a reply, Liska does not know if this ever took place, however.
On the 13th, Liska, Emerald and Rozene chat again. He tells Emerald the spambots are still a problem on the TAW website and that he has stopped deleting accounts. As expected, a slowdown in spambot appearances does take place, but, not by much as they are still frequent. Hearing this, Emerald decides to look for a solution to stop the spambots. Liska suggests possibly expanding the 'Grove name' minimum character requirement from two to maybe six or eight. His reasoning is that this might make it more difficult for the spammer to sign up or at least take them a bit longer to figure out the new setup.
At first, Emerald looks to see if there is a way to make the suggested changes without any coding. When this fails, she looks for a 'plugin solution' that could be installed into Drupal to add that functionality. It takes Emerald a bit, but, she succeeds in finding one and installs it on the website. Unfortunately, when Emerald goes to use the new plugin to make the suggested change, it doesn't work. Rozene even offers a few ideas, but, in the end everyone is left unable to come up with anything.
A bit later, Liska asks Emerald if he could make a request on behalf of the players. This granted, Liska states that in the last several months, a number of players have been trying to use the Game Guides available and often cannot 'access' that part of the website. Both Liska and Emerald know this is because that section has always been intentionally made mostly inaccessible and hidden from regular users. Liska points out to Emerald that this was due to the team originally planning to make various guides to fill it out with, but, this for the most part, has not happened. So, Liska asks if Emerald would be willing to open up the Game Guides section to the public, but, remove any dead links to unfinished areas. Emerald states she is all for the idea and says she will keep it in mind.
On the 18th, Liska and Emerald chat and Liska points out that because Emerald has been busy all month, she would likely not get back into EE development till perhaps July. Emerald agrees with him, especially since she is going to be off on a trip the following week.
Discussing this, Liska posits that, Emerald could use her 'free time' to do some programming on Earth Eternal during her trip. He suggests things such as perhaps some bug fixing or working on some ideas using a local version of the game that didn't require an internet connection. Emerald likes the idea and states she just might do that.
Liska then suggests perhaps Emerald could even go so far as to doing a bit more work on the Linux and Mac ports of the game. Emerald replies that would be a good idea too. Regarding the ports, though, she reveals that it would still be a number of months of long work before they would be 'ready' to even load much less run and months more just to work properly.
Liska then suggests perhaps she could do more work on cleaning up the game code instead and the two end up in a discussion regarding the possibilities of upgrading the game engine itself. One hurdle Emerald reveals as an obstacle to both the engine upgrades and a Mac port of the game is that Mac support for OpenGL is being phased out in the newer models in favor of Vulkan support.
Emerald checks and reveals that Vulkan support in Ogre is a rather recent addition and Liska isn't surprised as Vulkan didn't even exist back when EE's version of Ogre was built. Both quickly realize that incrementing the game engine would have to come first before even considering Vulkan.
Still, Emerald states she will try and get some stuff done with EE while on her trip and proceeds to 'get a few things ready' to take with her.
The remainder of the month is mostly quiet on all fronts, with Liska still tending to the bots on the TAW website which slow down in appearance during the last few days of June. The only major thing of note that takes place during this time is the departure of player Aureus from the EE Discord server on the last day of June, his reason being that the Discord server is 'devoid of activity' and he doesn't play the game much anymore. He does tell Liska that he might consider coming back once things get going again, but, that he needs to pare down his Discord server list and doesn't feel 'I need this one anymore'.
On July 1st, players Horsey and Sharlexia decide to finally make the push to level 50 and begin finishing off the last remaining quests in the game. Liska asks Sharlexia if she is getting XP gains again and is told she has been. This indicates to Liska that Emerald had likely returned from her trip and had quietly addressed the issues regarding Sharlexia's character; however, without speaking to Emerald yet, this goes unconfirmed. One detail Sharlexia does mention is that she is still not getting Daily Rewards.
A bit later in the day, Horsey and Sharlexia join Liska's Sage Kurama in Liska Quicksilver's grove so he can show off the place. During the 'tour', Liska as Kurama manages to spawn both the "It" boss for Horsey to fight in response to a joking challenge made by the same. To Liska's surprise, Horsey is able to defeat "It" in spite of the fact the boss should be invulnerable without the 'Hell' Twelve NPC to dispel the barrier it erects. This forces Liska to presume that certain mechanics are being bypassed outside the boss' dungeon.
Spurred on by Horsey's victory over "It" in Liska's Grove, Liska decides to have Kurama spawn Valkal and give the two players a 'preview' of what they will be up against once they get to the Blood Keep dungeon. As it turns out, Liska spawns the weaker of the two versions of the Valkal boss which Horsey also defeats.
Interestingly, as a result of the test fight with Valkal, Horsey is inspired to create some EE art involving a number of creatures and characters in the game.
Late on July 2nd, Horsey and Sharlexia are joined on the VS server by player Aureus who has agreed to play for the sake of crossing off the last dungeon in the game: Valkal's Blood Keep. While chatting with the three in game, Liska discovers that they have only accepted one quest for the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. Knowing there should be at least a second quest, he asks them if they had seen any other quests and receive a 'no' from each. Investigating the quest files, Liska discovers that the three Blood Keep quests had been accidentally set up to open up after the previous quest had been completed, effectively making them a quest chain. Liska informs the trio that this was not intentional as all three quests were meant to be taken at the same time for obvious reasons. Liska states he will bring it up with Emerald next time they chat.
On July 3rd, Horsey, Sharlexia and Aureus finally run the Valkal's Blood Keep dungeon. Unfortunately, an unexpected server crash during the second stage of the Valkal boss fight brings their progress to a halt. After Rictar, being online on Discord at the time, restarts the server, the trio tries again. Once again, the server hangs in the second stage of the boss fight.
Liska comes online on Discord around this time and inquires if the server has been restarted again before trying to login himself. Realizing it is still down, he restarts it again. Chatting with Horsey and Sharlexia on Discord, Liska decides to test out the Valkal boss himself with Sage Frostheim. This takes at least an hour, even after using developer powers to skip the first stage fight entirely, mainly because Liska has apparently forgotten certain other developer commands to make the fight easier. Liska also notes that for some reason the team for some reason forgot to remove the debug messages from the boss fight before releasing the VS expansion.
After awhile and deciding the fight with Valkal's second stage was taking too long with no results, Liska asks the group if they would be willing to help him out as Frostheim is unable to replicate the server hang alone. While grouping up, Aureus mentions that he suspects the server hangs are happening because Sharlexia tends to be 'not in combat', being the party's healer. Liska tests this out as they once again try to defeat Valkal. Sure enough, by the second stage of the fight, the server hangs immediately after Aureus is killed by Valkal. Liska also notes that Frostheim had been kicked out of combat immediately prior to Valkal using his instant-kill attack. While the trio point out that the crash happened earlier in this fight than the previous attempts, Liska suspects Aureus' theory might be at least partly on target.
On July 4th, Liska creates two bug reports regarding both the server hang during the Valkal fight and the issue regarding the quests for the Blood Keep in general.
That same day, after about 2-3 days of work, player Horsey posts up an Earth Eternal banner they had been working on. This picture includes representations of various in game bosses, the 'Hell' Twelve NPC and a Skrill mob. It also includes caricatures of Horsey's character Arcadius Rosenvelt, Sharlexia's character, Aureus' character as well as both Liska's character Liska Quicksilver and his Sage Kurama character. Liska surprises Horsey by posting the image in the TAW website's Media section, though due to issues, it gets put in the wrong part of it.
Liska notices the spambots have begun to increase yet again in the last few days and on July 5th, is forced to deal with more than 30 of them in a 24 hour period.
Around July 8th, the EE fansite TerraEternus suddenly breaks resulting in the entire site spamming error messages both at the top of the webpages and in the chatbox. This gets to the point users are no longer able to login. At this point in time, the cause of the issue has yet to be revealed.
On July 10th, former SPM player and former EEF/TE Moderator Volk Dragoona signs up on the TAW website. He soon locates the EE Discord and joins it as well.
Around the same time that Volk Dragoona joins the Discord server, Liska and Shadrel make a few changes per a request from several players. They convert the volunteer Discord role, the EE Welcome Guide, to a full Role class by itself and grant all those who possess the old role Moderator powers. Among the newly appointed EE Discord Mods are players Sharlexia and Saint, the former of whom had only just barely been added to the EE Welcome Guide prior to its conversion to a Moderator role.
When Volk Dragoona shows up in Discord soon after the changeover, Shadrel immediately grants him the Welcome Guide role simply because he was a former TerraEternus moderator. Although it is sudden and abrupt, with only a few minor concerns posited by both Liska and Volk himself, no one objects with his inclusion on the newly formed EE Discord Mod team. As per a request, Shadrel creates a new Moderator channel, sets out four Moderator rules and pins it in that channel.
When asked about the issues currently plaguing the TE website, Volk reveals to Liska that he has not been in contact with Jackuul in years and lost his moderator role during that time, so has no clue what is currently happening.
On July 11th, Jackuul is notified by player Hippy Treehugger about the now-days old issue with the TerraEternus website. By the 12th, Hippy receives no reply from Jackuul; however, later in the day, the TE site is restored to functionality.
The next day on July 13th, Jackuul reveals in a forum post on the TerraEternus site that what had happened was that he had attempted to upgrade the website to PHP72 but that it had messed up the forums and that he has now fixed the issue.
On July 17th, amid concerns that the EE Discord server might be turning into a spam server, Sharlexia, at Liska's request, sets up a new anonymous survey to try and determine how many players on the server view it's current status and if they have any suggestions for improvement. The early results are very telling and it makes Shadrel concerned that others think he isn't a good server owner.
In response to the survey results, the Mods begin discussing changes to emotes and how many should be allowed along with the need for a proper set of rules for the EE server itself. Because Shadrel admits to not being very good at that sort of thing he offers to expand Mod roles so they can handle things themselves and even agrees to let them create the new rules. Given the go ahead, Sharlexia creates a set of rules and has the other mods view them. After getting approval from both Liska and Shadrel, Sharlexia updates the existing rules with a newly written set. This is tweaked a few times before the day is over.
In addition to the newly added rules, Sharlexia asks for and is given permission to make changes to the EE Discord server channels. Before the changes are made, Shadrel creates an image of the original configuration in case it needs to be restored later. While changes to the channel configuration are made, discussions in the Mod channel continue involving what to do with the rules and announcements channels and the hidden developer channel. It is hoped the revamp of the EE Discord server will help it focus more on Earth Eternal than what it apparently had been turning into in recent months.
On July 20th, more EE Discord server restructuring is made based off suggestions from Volk, Liska and Shadrel. Shadrel creates a voice channel for the Mod team and Sharlexia adds a channel description list to the Rules channel. The survey gets more responders which help influence the latest changes to the server. A new 'welcome' channel for new users to start off in is proposed and briefly implemented; however, Saint points out that such a change would require a new Discord invite link. This idea is ultimately scrapped in the end. Further changes are made to the Rules channel as things are ironed out.
On July 22nd, amidst concerns brought to Liska's attention regarding continued emote spamming on the Discord server, Liska proposes a few changes to the first Rule in the list that addresses spam so that it reinforces the new 'no spam' policy the now active Mod team is now trying to implement. In response, Sharlexia updates the Rules with Liska's proposed changes. At the same time, Liska also proposes a new set of disciplinary measures that should be followed and enacted in the case of problems.
These are met with approval with a few alterations and amendments to make things clearer. At the same time, Liska also suggests a 'record clearing' timeframe so that those who might have done things in the past, then went inactive, don't return and end up right where they left off since they might have cleaned up their act during that inactive period. This, too, is met with approval and changes are made accordingly.
Due to issues involving the group of 'inactive Mods', Sharlexia sends each one a message informing them of their still-new status as Mods, as many of these were included in the Volunteer welcoming group. Most of these request to be demoted back to a regular player and Liska removes the Mod role from them. In the end, only three Mods remain from the initial group that had been promoted to the role when the Welcome Guide role was promoted to a Moderator team. This is increased back to four Moderators when Liska promotes player Horsey to the still-new Moderator team after the same offers to help.
Volk brings more server complaints to the Mod team's attention made within the newer survey results. These had been made after the recent changes to the server and it spurs the team into a new round of revamps to try and address the issue. This time it is decided to try and merge many of the server channels so that fewer crowd the server while deleting others. Among the channels that are met with mixed reviews is a recently added music bot that Shadrel had put in. The bot ends up staying by the end of the latest round of revamps.
The Mods also debate about how to restrict the use of emojis and two Discord commands that have notorious abuse in other servers. In the end, it is decided to simply allow the new rules put in place to take their course. During this same discussion, Horsey adds a new Rule to the list and the others approve it.
To help bring the EE Discord back to focusing on Earth Eternal, Liska posits one more change that he is aware is not going to be very popular. To his surprise, all the Mods agree with his latest suggested alteration and, after a bit more debate, the change is made.
Sharlexia adds a new survey to determine the how the players view the changes and soon a few replies indicate the changes are being mostly met with approval. However, at least one player feels some of the changes are bad and it causes them to leave the EE server. Upon discovering the changes made to the EE Discord, Shadrel is upset about it at first and vents his frustrations on the new Mod team. Later on, after cooling down a bit, Shadrel admits he's actually happy to see the new Moderators doing things on their own but adds that they need to run things by him first before acting on major decisions.
On July 23rd, Sharlexia proposes more Discord server channel merges; however, Shadrel vehemently opposes the ideas and even tries to invoke his four Moderator rules he had set down prior to the EE Discord's revamps pointing out that he is still upset about the changes made the day before. This pits both Sharlexia and Horsey against Shadrel in a bit of an argument. Things are diffused, however, when Liska jumps in a bit later and points out the reasons for his own opposition to this new idea. Faced with more reasonable reasons for rejecting the newest proposed ideas, Sharlexia retracts them herself.
That same day, Sharlexia, Horsey and Aureus crash the Valkal's Shadow server after making another unsuccessful attempt to fight the Valkal boss. This forces Liska to restart it again. They try again the next day on the 24th and once more crash the server, this time during the first portion of the fight. As before, Liska restarts the server again. The information garnered from this last run, gives Liska a few clues as to what might be the cause and he keeps this information for later when he gets the chance to mention it to Emerald.
On July 25th, in response to helping player Karistina with the Rare Statuette quest, Liska offers to post up images of at least four of the five locations of the item he had made way back when he cataloged most of the game during Planet Forever's run. Unfortunately, Discord doesn't play nice and Liska decides to try and post the images on the TAW website instead.
Using the images as an excuse to do more work in the Game Guides section of the website, Liska decides to go ahead and open it up to the public while adding new subsections where he plans to place the images. Unfortunately, this results in him realizing he might not be able to upload files to the webserver itself. He's forced to try again on Discord, which finally lets him post the images.
Afterward, Liska decides to login to the game itself for a bit to try and relocate Statuette location number four. This results in his discovering that locations three and four were, in fact, the same location that was accessed from two different areas. Liska realizes this meant he only had screenshots of three locations and not four as previously believed. In spite of this, Liska takes a new screenshot of this same location as a reference.
On July 27th, Liska chats with Emerald for the first time in weeks. While they catch up a bit, the topic of Earth Eternal isn't brought up until later. Emerald reveals at this time that, although she really wants to get back into development, the gargantuan tasks involved in doing so leave little for motivation.
On the 29th, Liska again chats with Emerald about Earth Eternal and is told that during her trip, she was able to get approximately 2 percent more done on the project she had been working on at that time, but, does not specify which one that was. Emerald also tells Liska that she is willing to sit down and discuss EE related things with him the next day when she would have more free time to focus on it.
Finally, on July 30th, Liska manages to get Emerald a little bit back into EE development. He tells her of the issue involving the Valkal boss and is told it is going to take the better part of a day of programming to track down the issue. This is helped along, though, when Liska reveals his suspicion of the bug occurring somewhere in the portion of the boss script and possibly the instance script as well that handles the disengagement and re-engagement of the boss during certain parts of the fight. In spite of this, Emerald tells Liska that she will not look at it on that day and states that this will be done when she has more time. This is so Emerald can perform tests on her personal servers in an attempt to duplicate the issue.
Liska then brings up the problems he has been having with uploading images to the website and Emerald gives him instructions on what to do. She also creates a new folder specifically for files related to the newly opened Game Guides section. As a test, Liska uploads his images involving the locations of the Rare Statuette item for the quest of the same name.
Throughout the month, Liska deals with more spambots on the website as they appear, though, in the last few days of July, the spambots dwindle in number again.
August, like the previous months of the year thus far, begins with little to no activity from the development team.
The first week in August sees tensions begin to arise in the newly revamped Discord server once again, this time between the new Moderator group and the server owner Shadrel.
August 5th sees Heathendel reply to a player's post on the TAW forums to answer some of their questions. It is the first activity from him in more than a month. In spite of this, no contact with him is made by other members of the dev team.
Late on August 6th and into the early hours of August 7th, Liska attempts to help fix player Karistina Selene's characters who have had their ears and tails messed up during the character creation process. Although he tries several times with Kurama to fix Karistina's mage character, Liska finds that he is unable to target anyone but himself for some strange reason. After awhile, the two decide to give up until Emerald can intervene when she returns to active development.
A bit later on August 7th, Liska tries to post up the images he had uploaded onto the website. However, he discovers that the webpage refuses to properly display the images when inserted into the page. After several failed attempts, he gives up, choosing to wait until he is able to have Emerald investigate what is going on.
Later in the day, Liska, Sharlexia and Horsey get into a discussion regarding the city of Nottingham. Sharlexia mentions the 'City of Caves' that lies beneath the RL version of the city and states that it was an 'undercity' for people in the Middle Ages and a bunker used by the citizens during World War II. This intrigues Liska and he laments that EE can't have a version of the 'City of Caves' due to the Y-axis issues.
Sharlexia also mentions the 'Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem' pub that connects the City of Caves to the RL Nottingham Castle. Sharlexia further adds that the pub is still in use and claims to be the oldest pub in England, having been established in 1189.
A bit of lore discussion ensues when Sharlexia expresses the wish that the Pub be put in the game. Liska points out that as the city of Jerusalem doesn't exist in the EE version of Earth, the pub would have to be given another name that better fits the game's setting.
The two toss ideas back and forth while trying to come up with an alternate name. Eventually they settle on 'Ye Olde Trip to Olympia' as the most likely candidate which would fit well with the lore. Here, Liska mentions the unused Pub in the EE version of Nottingham. Player Saint suggests a possible shortcut to the Nottingham Castle, but, Liska clarifies that it would be beneath the Castle instead and that this idea does have 'side dungeon potential'.
Sharlexia likes the idea and adds that the RL version of the Castle does have a set of dungeons and that the original planking survived even after the Castle was twice destroyed. Sharlexia does mention that if they decide to have an entrance be at the Pub, perhaps a brewery section could work adding that the RL Pub has a cavern where they 'used to brew their own booze'. They also add that this same cavern actually led to the tunnels and one of these was more or less a 'direct route to the Castle'.
This gives Liska an idea for a new dungeon. He explains that they could 'create a cave with meandering tunnels' and that 'one exit would be collapsed or blocked up'. This one would be the one that 'exits' to Nottingham Castle. The idea being that the Sheriff knew about the tunnel but after 'going bad' decides it would 'not do to allow uninvited guests into the Castle' through this 'back door'. This bit of story would also explain why the tunnels would be a separate instance from the Nottingham Castle instance. Sharlexia admits to liking the idea.
Continuing, Liska mentions the new NPC for his recently added quest that 'bridges' Bath to Nottingham and states that originally that NPC was going to be the Pub owner but was put outside instead. Liska adds that he could 'possibly have a new quest chain for those tunnels open up later in the game after the Sheriff is defeated and given by him'.
This idea could have the NPC reveals a to the player the 'secret entrance' to the 'hidden city' beneath the city and have this NPC mention it also leads to both the Castle and a series of dungeons the Sheriff used. Liska then states the dungeon could be a 'double instance' similar to how the Grey Circle H.Q. is set up. The first instance would lead to the Pub's 'brewery cellar' but then 'transitions' into the cave instance further in.
Liska adds that he could even toss in the idea of possibly 'remnants of the Sheriff's minions holing up there' and that some of the townspeople have 'gone missing'. He admits that he has always felt both the towns of Nottingham and South Shield were 'neglected' far as content.
Sharlexia admits to not knowing what to do with South Shield either, but, thinks they could come up with something with a bit of research. Liska points out that, far as South Shield goes, he feels it was likely meant to be the 'jumping off point' to the Scotian Highlands when that area gets opened up at some future date. He points to the fact that the town is the only spot on Hadrian's Wall that has a Gate as evidence to this. Sharlexia agrees that 'it does make sense as to why South Shield is all built up with nothing to do'.
Trouble in the Discord server erupts again between the Moderators and Shadrel on August 8th. This time over what to do with one of the players, in this case, player Kriss Spire. In the midst of a disagreement, Shadrel kicks Kriss from the Discord in what is viewed by some of the moderators to be a bit premature of an action. This results in a division among the moderators themselves as some believe the action was justified, while others feel Kriss wasn't given a fair chance, even if he had indeed been causing problems.
Further problems arise when it is pointed out that the recent ruleset put in place the previous month was being ignored by this rash player removal. Both Volk and Liska manage to get hold of Kriss and explain the situation to him. While Kriss states he will continue playing on the Earth Eternal servers, due to general disagreements with Shadrel, he declines the offer to come back unless or until changes are made.
In light of this unexpected new round of drama, some voice the opinion that a change of leadership on the Discord server might be in order; or failing that, a migration to a new Earth Eternal Discord server might need to happen. When these sentiments are brought to Liska's attention, he expresses hesitation to take such extreme measures as he fears it would risk dividing an already half-dead community completely. Instead he suggests trying to find ways to convince Shadrel to listen to reason before pulling such a last resort action.
Things don't cool down much when Shadrel reappears later but seems to choose to ignore the problems of a few hours before, to the ire of some of the Moderators as it appears to them that he is ignoring a bad situation. While Shadrel does acknowledge that he might have made a hasty decision, he chooses to distract from the problem by offering another subject.
This new subject is a fanfiction work by someone Shadrel knows and he wants to add bits of Earth Eternal and/or some of the player characters or an alternate universe version of the same to this person's project. While a discussion about this does take place, with some being optimistic or curious, there are those who feel the Discord server's owner is merely trying to ignore the drama from earlier on.
On August 9th, the concerns of the previous day still linger on the Discord server but, to a lesser degree.
Later on, Liska chats with Emerald for a bit. He manages to convince her to address some of the bugs on the Valkal's Shadow server and is told she has still not been able to isolate or duplicate the bug with the Valkal boss itself. Liska suspects that the bug doesn't manifest until there is a group fighting the boss, so those trying to solo it, don't encounter the bug. The two eventually decide to meet that weekend on the Test Server to see if they can't replicate the server hang; though, Liska adds that if that doesn't work, they might have to try it on the live server with those that have been testing it so far.
Afterward, Liska manages to get Emerald to tackle the problems involving the bug in the earsize and tailsize issue he discovered a few days earlier while trying to help one of the players. Emerald tells him he had typed in the commands wrong, having omitted a needed letter in the command. She adds that the bug in character creation itself is a much more difficult bug to fix, however.
Liska then brings the now-longstanding Grove building and creature tweaking permission problems to her attention. With a bit of information provided by Liska, along with a new bug report made by the same for the issue, something that had inexplicably got ignored this whole time, Emerald resolves the issue and adds it to what will be the next server update. This would be the very first bug smashed in the entire year and a great start to getting Emerald back into active development.
Finally, Liska has Emerald help him with a bit of a problem he encountered a few days earlier when attempting to post up the added images to the website. This issue, too, is resolved after a bit of effort on both sides.
Very early on the 10th, Liska convinces player Karistina Selene to let him try fixing her characters' earsizes and tailsizes with Kurama again now hopefully armed with the correct commands. Sure enough, this attempt proves successful and also serves to inform Liska that the commands given to him by Emerald only hours before do indeed work.
Later in the day, players Sharlexia and Horsey ask Liska in Discord chat if they could organize a player run event in the game on a weekend later in the month so that most would be able to attend. The main intent is to try and get many of the EE Discord users to become active again as the long lull in activity on the development side has caused most to become inactive or simply remain offline. Liska gives the go ahead and Sharlexia posts up an announcement for it. They determine that the weekend of the 25th and 26th is the most ideal time to hold this event.
After being informed by Liska that Emerald is addressing both the Valkal boss bug as well as the earsize/tailsize bug in character creation, Volk Dragoona decides to experiment a bit in the hopes of helping to isolate what triggers the earsize/tailsize bug. After a number of throwaway test characters are 'donated' to the experiment, it confirms to Liska that the likely issue is, as long suspected, a numerical value swap between the earsize and tailsize values between character creation and actual play of the character and/or the first relog of the client.
Early on the 11th, Shadrel posts an addendum to the event announcement offering a new Discord role to participants. This, however, is met with mixed feelings by the event's planners.
Later in the day, Liska updates the Acknowledgements page on the website for the first time in months and adds a new entry as well.
Emerald attempts to get on the VS test server with Liska to try and replicate the issue with the Valkal boss that is hanging the live server. Unfortunately, Emerald discovers that her Windows emulation programs on Linux are outdated and Earth Eternal does not seem to work on the latest versions of the programs. Emerald is further hampered by a Windows client installer link that is apparently broken on the website along with issues trying to relocate the weblink address the test server is on.
While the latter two issues are somewhat resolved, Emerald finds herself unable to get a game client to work, even though Rivers had managed to get ingame with a newer version of one of the programs even though the game had no sound. The test is cancelled afterward due to these issues along with other personal issues that get in the way in the interim.
Late in the evening, Liska spots Heathendel on the TAW website and locates him on the VS test server. After a bit of waiting, Heathendel finally greets him and they chat a bit. Liska updates Heathendel a bit regarding some of the recent events and Heathendel reveals he also wants to get back into working on the game.
The two talk about a various ideas which include some of the recent issues on the server. When Liska mentions the new EE Discord Moderator team, Heathendel brings up an idea of possibly pitching an offer to see if any of them would be interested in helping with the game in a sort of Volunteer/Contributor role. He describes this new role as "not exactly a dev, but, just above a Sage". Liska informs him there are already two he has in mind for such a thing, but, he would wait for a go ahead before pitching an offer to them.
This then brings to mind for Liska one recent issue that he feels needs Heathendel's input on. Liska reveals that a few people on the Discord server have complained to him about it's owner Shadrel and asks for Heathendel's input. Revealing that he really hasn't been involved with the Discord much himself, Heathendel states he isn't sure he can do anything. Liska counters that because Shadrel was also made a Sage by the Dev Team, the problem directly involves them as well.
Convinced that Liska has a point in that regard, Heathendel agrees to get on the Discord and see the problem himself. Liska points out the two channels where the recent incidents between the Moderators and Shadrel took place and Heathendel agrees Shadrel's actions were unwarranted and unbefitting a server owner. Heathendel then convinces Liska to confront Shadrel directly if possible.
Liska chats with Shadrel soon after and informs him of the issues at large. He informs Shadrel that because of these issues, he has decided to have Shadrel make good on his original intentions regarding the Earth Eternal Discord server upon it's creation and turn ownership of it over to the TAW Dev Team directly. In spite of a bit of progress on the matter, Shadrel requests time to further negotiate such transfer of ownership the following day. Liska grants this request.
On August 12th, Liska chats with Shadrel again regarding the transfer of ownership of the EE Discord server. This time, Liska is told by Shadrel that he would like to chat directly with those who have grievances against him to see if he can resolve the problem and possibly retain ownership of the server by striving to be a better owner. While on the surface it appears to be a step backward, Liska accepts Shadrel's request and agrees to pull some of those who have issues into a group chat so that they could all discuss things.
It takes a good while, but, eventually the group is gathered. Heathendel joins in soon after the discussions begin and those who have grievances against Shadrel outline his good points and his bad points. They point out that while Shadrel is great at helping out with events and offering rewards both in the game and on the Discord to keep players interested, more than a few of his other actions as the server owner have had the opposite effect, to the point some people were driven away from the game because of his actions.
Shadrel admits to his faults and also states he has been forced to own up to them recently. He also confesses that upon review of his other actions, some of them were indeed not performed properly. After Heathendel offers his own opinions of what he has read of the recent incidents, Shadrel agrees to give up the EE Discord and pass ownership of it to Liska, whom everyone involved seems to agree would be the best member of the Dev Team to have it. Even in this, though, Shadrel again requests time to reflect on things and then arranges a time the next day for when he would give Liska ownership of the EE Discord. While there are some who disagree with this request, Liska yet again accepts it.
Shadrel also agrees to be given a new role as an event Planner so that he can still help out with Earth Eternal and still be involved with the Discord server in some way once the transfer of ownership is complete.
A bit afterward, Heathendel asks Liska about the two individuals he had in mind for the possible Volunteer/Collaborator type role and if they were interested in helping out with the game. Liska then points out both Sharlexia and Horsey and the four end up in a group discussion about possibly being offered the chance to actually work with the developers themselves. Both readily accept the offer and the four jump on the Valkal's Shadow live server. Here, both Liska and Heathendel give the two a general tour of the new starter zones and outline the general direction of the game to be seen in The Anubian War version of Earth Eternal.
While the versions of these regions are far less complete than their TAW server counterparts, Liska and Heathendel do what they can to get the two caught up in the starter zone storyline. They get as far as halfway through the Earthrise content before calling it a day, agreeing to continue the next day.
On August 13th, Liska patiently waits for Shadrel to come online to complete the EE Discord transfer of ownership to him as agreed. It takes a few hours, but, Shadrel eventually shows up and the two get the transfer underway. The process is quick and Liska posts an announcement on the EE Discord that starting on this day, he would be the one in charge of the server.
To Liska's surprise, the news of the transfer is met with a warm reception. However, having never before owned a Discord server, Liska enlists the help of Shadrel, Horsey and Sharlexia to help him 'learn the ropes'. It takes a bit of doing and a few mistakes, but, Liska makes good on his promise to Shadrel to grant him a new Planner role so that he can continue to help out.
Soon after, Heathendel comes online and the four move to the VS live server again to pick up where they left off the previous day. The 'tour' of the TAW content ends at the end of Earthrise content and, due to further things being on the TAW server rather than the VS server, Heathendel offers to give Horsey and Sharlexia a tour of a few unreleased dungeons instead.
The offer is warmly received and they visit the Iron Maw to start off with. A bit after, following a suggestion from Liska, Heathendel takes the group to his unused grove dungeon that he had created back during Planet Forever's run. The group then tours the dungeon grove and is even given the opportunity to fight the boss at the end. During the tour though, Heathendel discovers that a modification to a mob he had made sometime back had resulted in it losing it's appearance in the process. After fighting the boss, everyone relocates back to the Great Forest henge where questions are asked regarding other bits of content.
Sharlexia and Horsey also reveal to Liska their intent to offer up a completely rewritten Earth Eternal Lore for the team to inspect later. Although hesitant on this at first, as Liska had planned to do the rewrite himself, Liska concedes that the Lore needs it from the ground up. Even then, he still feels their ideas for such a rewrite are a bit extreme, but, chooses to let them have a go at it anyway.
Coming off the events of the previous days, on August 15th, Liska, Horsey and Sharlexia chat in Discord. Horsey mentions considering reworking one of the stories in the EE Lore and states the whole document is badly written. Liska and Horsey discuss this a bit debating over it until Horsey shifts gears by adding that even the entire game itself isn't creative.
Horsey then goes to list off various things they and Sharlexia dislike about the game followed by a list of things they do like about it, but, decide to rewrite it in a document to give better details of each item.
At the same time, Liska chats with Heathendel in Discord as well and warns him both Sharlexia and Horsey have a 'harsh critique' going of the game, EE Lore and the TAW storyline. Heathendel replies that he isn't concerned as the Lore is 'ancient history' that would affect the 'present' game only a little. He adds that he has sent the two an old copy of his TAW notes timeline with an addendum that it's 'not entirely accurate' and some things have likely been changed. He further adds it goes only to Midlands content and he's been working on a more updated timeline anyway.
Liska tells Heathendel that one of the two, Horsey, had begun work on a like/dislike critique of the existing 'classic' Earth Eternal that has been largely the same from Sparkplay through Valkal's Shadow. Both Liska and Heathendel relocate to a group channel in Discord, joined by both Sharlexia and Horsey.
While waiting on Horsey to finish the critique document, Liska decides to try and create some new Books for the first time since Valkal's Shadow had been rolled out. He asks Sharlexia about any real life caverns in the UK that might be a close match to the Coldstorm Cavern dungeon in Earth Eternal. Sharlexia replies that they'll have to look; however, no further investigations of this is dealt with when Horsey finally posts up the critique document.
Liska downloads and reads the critique while waiting for Heathendel to rejoin the conversation, who had been multitasking at that point in time. Afterward, Liska confronts the two and offers to address each 'issue' one after the other. Liska adds that at least three 'items' in the 'pros' list might end up getting removed in TAW, which likely would become an issue with the pair.
For awhile after, Liska posts up and tries to address each question and the three of them banter back and forth over what is already being planned, what already exists in the game and what is made clear or left unclear to players. Everything from the game's HUD UI to lack of 'real' conflict in EE, to quest storylines to lack of racial traits are discussed and debated. One common thread in the discussion is that Sparkplay had 'played it too safe' on many fronts when making Earth Eternal and lazily blatantly ripped off Blizzard's World of Warcraft in nearly every instance rather than making a totally unique game. All this, while leaving out many features that even WoW itself came with.
Heathendel rejoins the discussion at this point and also downloads and reads the critique being discussed by the other three. Liska asks the group if he has put to rest at least some of their complaints and Sharlexia states he had. This is brings up a question not included in the list which is why the EE Discord was not being 'advertised' on the website. Even though Liska points out Shadrel had posted it up way back when creating the EE Discord server, both Sharlexia and Horsey counter that it isn't in an easily accessible location for players to find.
Heathendel comments that he likes what he has been reading as everything in the 'bad' list that he has read so far is pretty 'spot on' with how he has viewed the game's issues up to this point. Liska adds that both Heathendel and Rictar had been the ones to bring many of these issues 'to the forefront' of what needed to be worked on.
Heathendel briefly reiterates some of what Liska had mentioned while adding that the item of 'achievements' is already in the game in prototype form. Liska adds that he had forgotten Emerald had added that to the TAW server awhile back. The four then go through more items on the list discussing each one. Among these are more information on the Graphics along with a lengthy discussion regarding NPC expressions, bubble text, 'gibberish' voice clips and voice acting. Finally both the items of the 'world feeling unfinished' and a bit more information on the UI is addressed.
Liska then changes the topic to the issues with the 'pros' portion of the itemized list. Heathendel points out the overall issues with cross classing in spite of it making EE 'unique' and that he and Liska had discussed ways to 'keep cross classing in play' but adds that the entire class system needs 'drastic work'. A brief discussion regarding the 'furry' vs. 'non-furry' races ensues when Heathendel makes a side comment that 'EE isn't a full furry game, it just has tons of furry options'.
Soon after Heathendel posts up the document with his updated storyline for The Anubian War. Liska and Heathendel makes jabs at Heathendel's writing but, the topic is soon redirected back to the subject of multi-classing by Sharlexia. Sharlexia tries to argue in favor of giving Rogues and Mages more skill options while tweaking the Reflective Ward Druid cross class skill so it scales by experience level rather than Constitution, thus making it less overpowered.
Heathendel counters that this idea is flawed as neither an overpowered Reflective Ward nor a shortage of skills is the actual problem. He insists that what really 'breaks classes' is that neither Mages nor Rogues have any real durability. Worse, none of the existing Mage skills help much because Mages in general have 'virtually no armor' when compared to the other classes and their two defensive skills Mage Armor and Frost Shield don't help enough to compensate even after he had already tweaked their values.
Heathendel adds that Rogues are even worse off because they don't do as much damage as Mages and their own durability should be based off the evasion stat, but, the game currently doesn't have a means to make that work 'other than the dodge stat'. This does remind Liska of their discussion regarding weapon speeds, but, Heathendel counters that that would only increase a Rogues DPS which, while needed, still wouldn't fix the class.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey insist that scaling Reflective Ward off levels would at least make it more accessible to Mages and Rogues 'who need it most' and that another improvement could be tweaking their base armor stats so it's not utterly terrible. Liska tosses in his suggestion regarding reverting to the 'original four armor types' as seen in both the Sparkplay Closed Beta and the first half of the Open Beta stating that that might help 'alleviate things'.
This brings Heathendel back to the classes themselves and he comments that his issues with the class system in general is that each class is dependent on only one major stat. When players try to cross class, they begin to run into problems that ultimately forces everyone to need Reflective Ward or have a 'broken class' in spite of the fact the only stat it 'scales' is the one that benefits party Tanks more than anyone else. Heathendel then goes on to state that classes should be self-reliant whether or not they bother to cross class. He insists that 'secondary stats' should play a much larger role and would help to round out classes.
Sharlexia agrees with Heathendel but counters that Constitution should not be everyone's secondary stat. Heathendel counters back that Constitution is a primary stat and not a secondary one. Heathendel lists off several of the 'secondary stats' as examples of what he means. Sharlexia points out that with five primary stats and only four classes, there appears to be a problem. Sharlexia even offers an example from a player, using the Knight class, to illustrate the issue and points out that while Constitution could be kept as an 'all round stat', most equipment with secondary stats is hard to find. Liska points out that this is one issue the team is aware of and working to fix.
Here, Heathendel tries to point out that one of the underlying problems with the class system and cross classing in general. He states that each player's tree contains abilities that focus on a main stat; however, if the player chooses to cross class it means they would have to focus on one or more of the other stats just to make those skills useful. Heathendel continues to explain that this causes the player to be 'all over the board' and bad at everything. To be effective, Heathendel insists a player would need to stay about 75% within their own class 'just to be able to play outside the overworld' and that cross classing effectively makes a character weaker outside using skills such as Reflective Ward and Impact Shot.
Sharlexia, Heathendel and Liska then begin an argument over balancing the classes rather than outright scrapping cross classing. Both Heathendel and Liska point out that while there have been repeated attempts at rebalancing the classes from Sparkplay through the current team, such rebalances have been with a broken system. They add that it would most likely require the old system to be scrapped and a completely new one to take it's place just to fix the issue.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey continue to insist that cross classing is a core component of Earth Eternal and removing it would be a mistake stating that players would be upset about such a change. Heathendel counters that the game could still have cross classing but that the existing system is not simply unbalanced, it is completely broken entirely. Still, both insist players would be upset at much less customization options as many love to make builds such as Fire Knights, Death Knights, Death Mages and so on.
Using Bethesda's Elder Scrolls Online as an example of a successful cross class system, Heathendel points out to both Sharlexia and Horsey that while, yes, that game has great customization as touted by them both; Earth Eternal's own currently existing cross class system just cannot handle that amount of freedom to choose.
Here, Heathendel states that the original plan was to make the class system more focused 'while still offering lots of play styles'. The idea being that these classes would cover most of the spectrum the game already has but have the player choose which path to take. They would then be set on the path chosen. Sharlexia counters that by removing cross classing what would make it different from the other 'hundreds' of WoW clones that already exist. Heathendel responds by stating that both unplayable classes and repetitive combat tend to drive away players more often than a game simply being a 'WoW clone'.
Sharlexia points out that EE is very broken yet still has players and asks why not simply fix the system rather than scrap it. Heathendel counters that it has already been tried several times, but, Sharlexia insists it could be tried again a different way. Sharlexia offers the idea of scrapping overpowered skills, giving both Rogues and Mages more useful abilities that players 'would want' and make it so 'roles are needed once again' so that people actually need each other. Sharlexia insists that Heathendel seems to be focusing 'on the Meta', or 'how the ultimate badass character plays', more than anything else.
Heathendel points out that removing things like Reflective Ward would likely result in Knight and Druid players complaining then quitting while Mage and Rogue players are just as bad off but with new abilities. He insists that combat is so repetitive that one would need to change combat so that Rogue and Mage skills are actually needed in battles, but, since every class 'can do everything', that option gets ruled out.
Sharlexia insists that classes can't do everything and that's what the locked class skills are for. Sharlexia states that they just 'need a rework' and even 'as they are now', all classes are still viable, provided the game was played as an MMO should be - as a multiplayer game. Heathendel disagrees stating that there is currently no need to play as a Rogue or Mage.
While Sharlexia points out that player Aureus, as a Mage, is Sharlexia and Horsey's damage dealer in boss fights, Heathendel counters that he, as a Druid, could out-damage any Mage. The same issue stands with Rogues as both Knights and Druids can do everything the other two classes can, but, better. This renders both Mages and Rogues as unneeded classes in the current system.
Sharlexia agrees but insists that the dev team could make Mage and Rogue only skills that would actually be useful even if it requires repurposing existing skills so that people would play the classes again with them actually having a purpose. Heathendel asks Sharlexia what would these abilities need to make the classes unique and needed in the game that neither a Druid nor Knight could do.
At this point, Sharlexia offers examples of ways to fix Rogues and Mages and states that there are 'so many things' that could be given to them. Sharlexia also implores the developers not to turn EE into a 'cookie cutter MMO' that focuses on Meta. Heathendel counters with a few examples of his own of already existing skills while pointing out the problems with the same and asking why would he need to play as a Rogue when his Knight and Druid could do 'just as much'. While Sharlexia again uses WoW as an example for Rogue abilities, Heathendel again asks why he or any party for that matter would need the Rogue class.
Undeterred, Sharlexia insists that Druid spells should not be as powerful as Mages spells while Rogues 'can sneak and do special things' while doing more damage 'in close quarters' than a Knight could. Again, Sharlexia insists that Mages and Rogues are supposed to be the main damage dealers while Druids heal everyone and the Knights tank enemies. Liska points out that this is not how it works in Earth Eternal and Sharlexia replies that this is the 'crux of the problem'.
Here, Liska asks if Sharlexia wants to make it so Knights 'cannot attack'; but, Sharlexia insists that Knights shouldn't be nerfed but that both Rogues and Mages should be pulled 'out of the muck for damage' as they 'just don't do enough'. Heathendel counters that both those two classes actually do the most damage out of the four if only slightly. Sharlexia still insists it isn't enough and that what little more damage they do is pathetic.
Heathendel retorts that that would result in both classes one-shotting every mob as Mages can pretty much two-shot most of the overworld mobs already. Sharlexia retorts that they can't as the classes have other issues. Sharlexia adds that they could still go Knight then and have four times the armor of Mages while building Psyche as that really isn't a bad thing. Liska retorts that that still doesn't solve the overall problem.
Continuing, Heathendel asks why would he use a Mage if he could build a Knight with a Psyche build or a Rogue if he could build a Knight with a two hand weapon, Rogue skills and the Berserker skill for more DPS and damage. Sharlexia retorts that Heathendel is only proving the point that Knights and Druids possess the most overpowered skills. Sharlexia insists that these need to be either removed, nerfed or compensating skills given to the others to balance the game.
Sharlexia offers a setup for each of the four classes, insisting this is MMO focused not Meta focused. Afterward, Sharlexia posits that the way to make the classes play as they should and still maintain 'a decent level of cross class' is to lock more core abilities. An example is given where Rogues should get more use out of their stealth, such as with 'some sort of backstab ability' that can only be used in parties and while behind an enemy. Sharlexia also states that each class should have a general weakness and not just the Rogue and Mage.
Heathendel points out that Rogues already have Backstab which can only be used behind an enemy. Sharlexia retorts that it should be greatly buffed then and asks in frustration how many times must it be said to nerf Knights and Druids and buff Mages and Rogues. Sharlexia adds that it would balance like a scale.
At this, Liska asks Sharlexia if buffing and nerfing classes really fixes anything. Sharlexia says it does and that the point of the buffs and nerfs is to make it so players actually need each other like any typical MMO. Liska points out that the team was already doing this, hence the difficulty seen in the Grunes Tal and Swineland regions.
Heathendel also points out that Planet Forever's admin tried the nerfing and buffing approach and it didn't help and that Sharlexia is talking about locking even more abilities which is essentially taking cross classing away. Making no headway in the discussion, Sharlexia asks Heathendel and Liska if 'everything is black and white' to them and 'is there no grey'.
Here, Heathendel asks Sharlexia and Horsey if they have played the Mage and/or Rogue class from level 1 to level 50 at all, stating that he, himself has done so. Horsey, who has been mostly quiet up to this point replies that a friend of theirs has, likely referring to player Aureus. Heathendel insists that he knows all the classes very well which causes Sharlexia to retort that he likely knows what needs buffing then.
Heathendel tells the two to listen to Liska as, while not too fond of changing the original Earth Eternal, even he agrees that for cross classing to remain, the system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Sharlexia agrees. Heathendel adds that this doesn't mean cross classing can't be kept and he isn't trying to destroy cross classing. Instead, the existing system needs to be 'remade from scratch' and, while some of the existing system's elements can be incorporated, that still doesn't mean a new system isn't needed.
Sharlexia finally tosses the towel feeling that no headway has been made in the argument, but, stands by the idea that buffs and nerfs, along with the odd ability is the way to go. Being a bit late, Liska states the discussion could be picked up the following day. The group meeting breaks up soon after with Liska apologizing having known that the subject of cross classing was going to be a 'storm' after seeing the item in Horsey's critique list. Sharlexia blows it off stating it was an expected 'sore spot'.
Soon after, Heathendel tells Liska that Sharlexia and Horsey think like players and while he isn't opposed to a more customizable system the two don't seem to see why a new fresh system is needed, instead saying to give Rogues and Mages more abilities. Liska counters that thinking like players is actually a good thing as it gives the developer team a 'window' into how players themselves think. Heathendel agrees but states that it's also a bad thing when it 'creates bias'.
At this point, Heathendel states that while he would be happy to work on a new cross class system, it would still be completely different as the existing system is 'not savable'. Liska posits that this might be an opportunity to to see if there is an 'angle' that the team had not yet thought of that might save the old system. Heathendel counters that it would be a waste of time and resources and would rather the team focus on a new system even if it was cross class focused.
Still skeptical about Sharlexia and Horsey's insistence that the existing system can be reworked, Heathendel states that all he needs is a 'reason or solution' that makes Rogues and Mages 'useful and playable' without 'dismantling the current system'; but, until this is answered, he isn't convinced it can be saved. Liska admits to struggling to see their points as well.
Stating that the two were starting to go in circles in search of 'solutions, Heathendel, claims they were 'backing themselves into a corner' in the argument. He adds that the other problem is that the two in question are a Knight and Druid pair themselves. Liska retorts that technically the both of them were as well. Heathendel agrees but states his first character to reach level 50 had been a Rogue and that he'd also played a Mage to 47 and had even tried playing as a Knight.
As a Rogue equipped with all epic gear, Heathendel admits to being barely able to 'solo a heroic' that he was higher level than. Liska points out that that was likely because, at the time, the Rogue off-hand damage was still broken so Heathendel wasn't getting his 'full hits in'. While Heathendel agrees with Liska, he adds that it doesn't change the fact Rogues and Mages still struggle and both Knights and Druids can still do the job of both those classes anyway.
Struck with an idea that he claims might be 'an interesting way to adjust things', Liska, when asked what it is, suggests adding penalties. He then goes on to explain the idea which would involve a player attempting to cross class or getting one stat 'too high'. In the latter's case, if the player got a stat too high, eventually instead of getting more of that stat, it causes another stat to drop. He uses a cross classing Knight as an example of the idea.
While Heathendel likes the idea, he states it has would do the opposite of what Liska is after. Rather than encouraging more cross classing, the idea would discourage it causing the player to be 'stuck in a constant battle to tweak it just right' because they would still want to cross class. He adds that while the idea is good, it would likely have more Cons than Pros in the end.
Liska offers to let the other two hear the idea and see if they see something the two of them miss; but, Heathendel insists that, rather than focusing 'so much energy' on trying to fix the existing class system, why don't they work on something the team knows can work and 'still gives everything we want'. He adds the team can even start fresh with an idea that is centered around cross classing.
Early in the morning on August 16th, Liska tries again to work on the Books, having gotten distracted by the long discussion of cross classing in Earth Eternal only a few hours prior, and manages to compose two new ones and part of a third. His progress is halted; unfortunately, as the dungeon in question, Coldstorm Cavern, proves a bit more difficult to come up with ideas for.
Later in the day, Liska tries for the second time that day to work on the Coldstorm Cavern Book. Upon noticing Sharlexia is online on Discord, he asks once again for help with real world comparisons in the UK that could be used as references for Coldstorm's Book. At first, Sharlexia doesn't recall the request from the previous day, but, Liska offers a reminder which works. Afterward, Liska again asks for any real world caverns in the UK that might be a good reference point, or might even have been what inspired the Sparkplay developers when they created Coldstorm Cavern in the first place.
After Liska offers the criteria he's after, Sharlexia offers a few suggestions, namely the Wookey Hole, Victoria and Mother Shipton cave systems. Each of these are discussed and analyzed for possible lore references that would be a good fit. Liska is told that Wookey Hole has lots of legends of witches, but, is too far south. Both Victoria Cave and Mother Shipton Cave are much closer and the Mother Shipton Cave actually comes with a legend that gives Liska a few ideas. At this point, Horsey joins the conversation to offer help.
Two other caves, Peak Caves and Gough Cave are also discussed, the latter at more length; but, in the end, Liska decides to focus on the Mother Shipton Cave as the legend associated with it has inspired him. He also considers Wookey Hole as possible reference material for Coldstorm, but comments that that cave might make better references for Grimfrost's Lair instead since it's located more in that region of the real world UK.
Sharlexia doesn't think Wookey would be a match for Grimfrost's Lair and offers to see if there are any 'dragon themed' caves in the Dover region of the UK. Liska counters that it doesn't necessarily have to include a dragon theme, but, perhaps an 'iron stone' or 'white stone' or some other related reference instead. He adds that the only reason he considered Wookey was because he could simply swap out the 'witch' reference for 'djinn' instead.
Horsey states that there are the 'white cliffs of Dover' but doesn't know of 'any caves related to them'. Sharlexia points out that the whole Ironstone region of Anglorum in Earth Eternal was obviously modeled after the White Cliffs of Dover, but, instead of 'looking like chalk', the area 'ended up looking like snow'. Sharlexia also states that apparently there are indeed caves beneath Dover, under the castle itself no less.
In response to Sharlexia's observation about the Ironstone region of Anglorum, Liska tells the two about Grimfrost's Lair's likely original purpose and that the TAW developer team had discovered a spawned Grimfrost while exploring the unfinished region of Frost Peak. He adds that the team suspected that the SPM team had originally planned a dungeon in that region but at some point decided to relocate it to Anglorum instead, along with all of it's associated mobs. Sharlexia states all the mobs of Ironstone could be switched out and Liska replies that that was likely what Sparkplay had done originally.
Horsey then offers a 'brilliant idea for a dungeon' that 'neither Heath nor any other supertank' could cheese their way through. Horsey adds that this is more or less a hypothetical idea so game and team limitations aren't to be considered 'just yet'. Liska comments that the Valkal's Blood Keep was meant to be that sort of dungeon already. Horsey continues by stating that all mobs should have all Psyche abilities with some that possess an ability that removes Reflective Ward. The bosses would be all Psyche with a 'remove Reflective Ward' ability as well. With these in place, Horsey insists players would be forced to 'work as a team'.
Liska points out that 'working as a team' is what is the current idea for all dungeons already which is why both the Grunes Tal and Swineland dungeons had been set up as they were. Horsey counters that this hasn't been seen in action and that most mobs are either physical based or Spirit based. Horsey adds that none of them possess a way to remove Reflective Ward. Sharlexia further points out that the constant 'stun locks' make soloing those dungeons 'near impossible'. Liska points out to both of them that, currently, a skill to remove Reflective Ward does not exist in the game.
Returning to the hypothetical idea, Horsey posits that if all dungeon mobs 'in this hypothetical dungeon' were Psyche based, had some ability to remove Reflective Ward, was 'stun heavy' and could Disarm, with the Dungeon Boss possessing similar abilities but much stronger, then no 'supertank' could ever solo the dungeon. Liska counters that because no 'remove Reflective Ward' ability exists in the game, Emerald would have to 'literally create it' and then the team would have to make sure every single mob in every single dungeon in the game could use it.
A long discussion regarding Emerald follows where Sharlexia, Horsey and Liska debate back and forth regarding Emerald's 'status' with the game. Liska repeatedly insists that Emerald may disappear for lengths of time, but, she insists that she wants to work on the game. Both Sharlexia and Horsey don't seem so sure, but, offer a benefit of the doubt. Liska also points out that if Emerald ever decided to leave the game, the TAW project would be essentially 'dead in the water' as she is the team's only programmer and the one actually running the game servers.
Liska further points out to the two that as Emerald enjoys programming, that would not be one of the reasons for Emerald to decide to leave the game. Sharlexia and Horsey both insist that Heathendel might be the one that drives Emerald away as it appears to them both that his ideas seem to bog her down with revamps and many other things. They further insist that the TAW project itself isn't simply a revamp so much as building a whole new game. Sharlexia also adds that, personally, they would focus on fixing up the 'current EE' as Valkal's Shadow 'was a needed expansion' and enjoyable.
Later on, Liska and Heathendel chat. Heathendel asks Liska if he remembered how to access the old Event account Heathendel had used way back when the team rolled out The Scourge Of Abidan as he was wanting to use it for the upcoming event weekend. Heathendel states he remembered passing the information to someone on the team but couldn't remember who.
Heathendel asks about when the event was and Liska states it would probably happen the following weekend. Heathendel tells Liska that he was wondering because he was planning something of his own to add to the event which is why he had been playing around with zones in the game earlier on. His idea was to pit a group of players against his Sage character and a bunch of enemies he would spawn for them to fight before facing them himself.
Liska mentions a few issues he'd noticed while running dungeons with Sharlexia, Horsey and a couple other players just prior to his and Heathendel's chat. One was the fact Horsey's character appeared to be fighting in Rapunzel's Tower while using the Valkal's Shadow event Vampider transformation potion. He expresses concern Horsey had been fighting while in the creature's form which should not happen. He later finds out this wasn't the case and it was likely a matter of bad lag on his client.
Another issue Liska mentions is the step up sub-boss Bizzario from the Bremen Asylum dungeon failing to spawn as it should. He suggests the team might have to examine all step-up spawner bosses in the game just to make sure these mobs are spawning as they are supposed to and wonders just how many of them are broken. He also mentions the overworld named mob Galen Frostfist spawning twice around the camps it supposed to be found in. Liska mentions that both he and Volk's character Crimson Bloodwolf had followed both spawns along their paths and both instances of the mob nearly 'met in the middle' at one point. This reminds Liska of one other thing which is he wanted to upgrade the other named Greysun mob, Ezra Darktouch back to an Epic mob as it had been originally.
At this point, Liska expresses hope that Emerald will return again soon as there are a whole lot of bugs needing fixing, adding that she at least managed to fix one major bug, the grove building bug, before this latest unexpected hiatus. When Heathendel asks, Liska points out that the problem was a permissions issue and that he had not been certain players should be freely given some of them.
This reminds Liska of one other issue he'd encountered during the dungeon runs which is that apparently if a player lags bad enough, and another player picks up a book page, the lagging player can actually 'miss' getting that page even if everyone else gets it.
At this point, Heathendel asks Liska if he and the others were still off running dungeons. When Liska tells him they were done, Heathendel asks Liska to bring his Sage to Avalon Island for a bit. Heathendel states he's temporarily moved a few original props but they will be returned to their original spots until the event and that they were only moved so he could 'plan' things.
Getting on with Frostheim, Liska ports to Heathendel's spot and Heathendel begins outlining his idea while showing off some of the temporary changes to the area. Liska is told that essentially, Heathendel's event idea will involve his Sage character 'turning evil' and spawning mobs at players on Avalon Island. Eventually this would include a few bosses as well for the players to beat before having to face the 'evil' Sage himself. Because of the event, the World Boss Kilvath L'Vithian would be 'turned off' for the time being.
While the idea sounds interesting to Liska, he isn't sure how viable it'll be.
Around the same time, Liska chats with Horsey and Sharlexia in Discord. While discussing programming, the two express their frustrations with Heathendel and how he seems all gung ho and overprotective of the whole Anubian War setup.
The two tell Liska that another player mentioned disliking Heathendel and they can't blame them. Liska tells the two they weren't the only ones who had problems with Heathendel and his ideas. He then relates to the two what he and Emerald had learned regarding Rozene's recruitment to the TAW team two years before. Both are left almost speechless by the end and Horsey suggests that perhaps Heathendel should be given the 'Shadrel treatment'.
Liska points out that removing Heathendel would be a problem. While Liska admits to entertaining the idea of running EE himself, he also admits to being neither a builder like Heathendel, and formerly Rictar, nor a programmer like Emerald.
Here, Liska relates to both Sharlexia and Horsey that Heathendel has plans for their upcoming player Event the following weekend. Both take the news in stride as Liska explains Heathendel's general idea for a 'Sage event' within the Event.
Horsey changes the subject at this point and asks if they can learn to build stuff. Liska replies that they can as soon as the Groves are fixed, adding that the fix is already in on Emerald side, but, it hasn't yet been rolled out. Liska then offers an alternate solution of having Emerald grant them access to the developer servers so that they can build there.
After expressing a bit of concern over Emerald's absence that week, the topic shifts back to Heathendel. After a bit of back and forth regarding their feelings, Sharlexia wonders if perhaps they can 'talk some sense' into Heathendel. Liska mentions Heathendel's comments about them after the long 'debate' the previous day and the two verify these. Liska also agrees that having a 'player's perspective' isn't a bad thing and Horsey adds that it 'is necessary'.
Sharlexia admits to loving some things about TAW, but, the combat and class system ideas were not among them. Liska adds that the two of them did point out how the whole The Anubian War setup seemed to be trending toward 'mirroring WoW in more ways than simply being a clone'. He adds that Heathendel seems to want Earth Eternal have a large population again and while the others feel the same, there is a need to keep the players that are currently there, first...which isn't happening.
Horsey agrees and states the two of them have been pushing for this very thing. They also state that it would be nice 'if the current game was fixed up and fleshed out'. Then, if that garners enough interest, only then should a newer version of EE be considered, just not the way TAW is heading. Liska points out the team has been trying their hardest to fix up the game. Sharlexia states that 'we're all here because we love EE as it is' and that they want it to 'get all patched up and better again'. Only then would they 'add some new content like VS and other cool things'. Beyond that, they admit to loving EE 'for what it is' and 'don't want it to become a shitty WoW clone' that focuses on the META and not fun.
Another round of programming discussion ensues as both Sharlexia and Horsey imagine what they could do if they could port the game from it's current engine to others and on what platforms it could be put on. Liska expresses regret that he didn't fully learn programming as he had wanted because he could have helped Emerald with EE's code. Sharlexia states that simply learning the 'creation tools' would be a help and that if Heathendel could be pushed back from completely recreating the game, via TAW, that alone would help Emerald out.
Liska states that the original plan the team had for EE was to complete all the unfinished areas that currently exist; but, then the others seemingly out of nowhere had decided to 'take things a step further and do a complete revamp of the game' instead. Sharlexia agrees that a complete revamp isn't a bad idea, so long as it 'focuses on patching the code and mending the game'. That said, Sharlexia adds that TAW 'seems to focus on revamping everything to make another WoW clone' and that they personally prefer the original plan's ideas.
Here the discussion is sidetracked when Sharlexia asks what happened to Rictar and Liska explains the details regarding him to the two. Both insist that they would like to put TAW 'to bed' if possible and Liska states that their help 'is appreciated' either way.
Both then admit that Liska was the sole reason the two had stayed with EE and, when asked about that, tell him that he was the one who really engaged everyone and stayed active in the EE Discord. They reveal that had he not, it was likely they would have left half a year earlier. They also admit to creating 'so much chaos in EE' including various chats in the Discord and the crashes on the live server. Liska points out that the crashes and such 'are welcomed' as it means the two have been doing actual 'testing' of the game and finding problems 'that the server really disliked'.
Here, Liska brings up the possible exploit he had seen the previous day when he helped them run a few dungeons. Both deny that the issue was an exploit and it is eventually chalked up to the intense lag on Liska's end that had been experienced when running the Rapunzel's Tower dungeon. He also admits to having other programs running at the same time including both EE and SecondLife where he had been trying to get hold of Emerald at.
The discussion shifts to various disliked dungeons in the game including both The Down Below and the Rotted Maze. Liska mentions an unreleased dungeon that is about the same size as Down Below but without the various portals to split up the instance. He then shifts the discussion to two other unreleased dungeons, namely the Old Underground and Wild Caverns instances.
When mentioning that the team had restored the Old Underground instance, Sharlexia admits to wishing it was going to be a sort of 'connector instance' similar to World of Warcraft's Deeprun tram system. Sharlexia describes this to Liska and states that, although it's not really needed in the game, such a thing being in EE 'would be a cool nod to both the Deeprun and the Eurostar'.
Liska inquires on this and gets more details from Sharlexia. He admits that he could possibly see such an idea possibly working for the Chunnel, but, isn't so sure about the Old Underground instance. Sharlexia offers details about the RL Eurostar tram system and shows Liska a map diagram as well for illustration.
By the end of this, Liska finds himself a bit conflicted as this idea sounds pretty interesting, yet mentions that the team has already come up with a different idea for the Old Underground. He states the instance was meant to be either part of the Valkal's Shadow rollout or a later Update to VS and that it still lacks various things. Sharlexia admits to understanding why Liska is hesitant to abandon the team's idea and offers that both could be done.
Here, Liska gives a summary outline of both the planned backstory and premise of the dungeon. Sharlexia admits to really liking the idea but again states both ideas could be used. When Liska mentions the 'coach props' in the Old Underground, Sharlexia admits to wishing to see the coaches moving along a track or even on the ground itself, similar to how taxis in WoW operate 'but more interactive'.
This reminds Liska of a few ideas that had been tossed around for TAW and he mentions them. His description of the ideas, however, results in Sharlexia telling him that that was almost an exact rip off of WoW's taxi service even if 'not flying'. Sharlexia adds that they suspect 'a lot of things' in EE are 'pinched' from World of Warcraft and that Liska just hasn't been told that. Liska admits that 'half of that' idea was his own contribution so it was more or less 'unhappy coincidences' as he hasn't really had much exposure to WoW save on a private server of Wrath of the Lich King.
Liska then attempts to explain his version of the coach idea only to be told by Sharlexia that that setup was more or less exactly the same system seen in The Elder Scrolls. Sharlexia offers an alternate idea, but, Liska wonders if it even fits the lore of the EE game world and whether or not the 'technology' at 'game time' inworld would be that advanced as it 'doesn't seem to be futuristic'.
The two begin batting around ideas back and forth as to how a carriage system might work in the game and what problem and hurdles would have to be dealt with just to get these ideas to work. This becomes a very long discussion that continues on early into the 17th and includes at least two Elder Scrolls Morrowind maps as illustrations and examples as to some of the posited ideas. Toward the end of the discussion, it shifts to talk regarding the X, Y and Z axis positions in the game and why one of them isn't fully functional.
After a bit of back and forth on this one, Sharlexia suggests that new models are needed or at least find a way to 're-bone and re-weight the current ones' and that new animations would also be needed in addition to these. Liska replies that this is why the team needs a 3D modeler because even if the players prefer the existing models over the later versions, even they aren't great.
The discussion then shifts to various ideas on how various EE models should look and what could be used to fix them. Both Sharlexia and Horsey state they could try and attempt these and Sharlexia asks if Liska has the character models as well as others. The three discuss the various creatures in the game that could use better models and Liska points out that the number of creatures in the database is massive.
Sharlexia offers to do an example model of a Meadow Muncher mob and Liska points out that the base model of that one mob has two types. This results in the three of them having a bit of a discussion surrounding both the Meadow Munchers themselves, but, other mobs using the same model.
Horsey then drops a bombshell in the middle of the Muncher discussion. This involves the player Vixen Turen who Horsey reveals apparently 'mysteriously left ages ago' and is now 'very evasive on the subject of EE'. This news surprises Liska as this is the first time he has heard anything of the sort stating that he hasn't seen Vixen in a very long time.
When asked if Liska knew why Vixen left the game, he states he had no idea that Vixen had 'even left for good'. Horsey offers a theory as to who or what might have driven Vixen off. Liska asks who provided this information to Horsey, but, is told they will not identify the source preferring not to 'fully open this can of worms'.
Not sure if Horsey's suspicions are accurate, Liska offers other ideas, but, is told whatever happened had happened during the current incarnation of EE.
Liska posits another possibility, but, in the end is unable to do anything but speculate. Horsey messages their source for this new information regarding Vixen in the hopes of possibly getting more details or an answer, but doesn't hear back from them.
In spite of not learning anything else, Liska admits to being saddened that another long time player has left and that he wants to bring the players together not drive them apart. Sharlexia replies that 'toxicity will drive people away' and that this was one of the reasons why Shadrel had to be removed as the Discord server owner.
This comment reminds Liska of the long rant made by Planet Forever's admin mere weeks before that version of EE closed. Sharlexia asks about that and Liska offers to let the two of them read the entire thing. Given the go ahead, Liska posts it up for them to look at and by the time they are done reading, both have a few things to say about it.
Sharlexia states that while much of what was said was accurate, it seemed as if the person was more self-serving and didn't really care about anyone else. Horsey states that most of the stuff the PF admin wrote 'is funny in a tragic kind of way... in that a lot of it is very true'. The three discuss the PF admin's rant and Liska gets the impression the two tend to agree with his comments.
Both state that while this is partly the case, there are many things that could have been put differently or not said at all, which seems out of meanness. They agree that the community is bad and some of the players are truly awful, but, not everyone is.
Sharlexia eventually states that they believe Planet Forever's admin was merely upset simply because he didn't get the type of community he had wanted to be playing the game and that PF's admin had seen EE as 'his' game rather than a game for a group or some 'surviving relic of SPM' or whatever. Horsey asks if Sharlexia was defending the game and community when PF's admin had been mostly right and Sharlexia answers that, no, their point was simply a disagreement with the method by which Planet Forever's admin had gone about it.
Here, Liska inquires if the two would prefer to see Earth Eternal simply put out of it's misery, that it should finally be ended for good. Horsey lists off various reasons the game isn't going to be a success but also adds that it should be kept alive 'but with the midset that it's a fun hobby without expecting miracles'. Sharlexia agrees that the game can be kept alive or even contined, but, that it will 'never thrive', yet that doesn't mean it's 'meant for the trash heap'. Liska admits to really starting to wonder of late, but, is told games 'like these' need 'regular maintenance'.
In response, Sharlexia points out that what is 'killing EE is way too much ambition' and that the team is taking on 'too much'. Liska agrees completely. Horsey lists off various things that have made a 'perfect disaster' with EE. Further, Horsey offers the opinion that the entire idea of The Anubian War itself should be 'put out of it's misery' because it's overly ambitous and likely wouldn't happen without it being a total disaster.
Horsey further states the focus should be on 'patching up' what is currently wrong with the game instead of abandoning it 'to start a new project', that Horsey calls a 'furry copy of WoW: Legion'. This sally surprises Liska and Sharlexia agrees with Horsey on the comparison. Sharlexia admits that while they liked some parts of TAW, it's just too ambitious and just isn't going to happen and that the team would continue 'EE:VS in a way that's faithful to it's origins', even though those origins were bad.
Horsey lists off various items in the TAW setup and states all of that is 'pandering to the bratty teenage MMO player crowd'. Liska counters with suggesting the two tell Heathendel about their complaints with TAW and it's story. Both state they have yet to read it, having been sick. This reveal makes Liska feel guilty for dumping all these EE issues in their laps, but, both tell him they had no problem with it and thought they did a decent job of it.
A lengthy discussion involving the drop rates and what most creatures tend to drop follows. After going back and forth with examples of how bad this or that is, Liska reveals to the two that the TAW team had planned on completely removing the random loot tables and fully restoring the original SPM armors and weapons along with giving everything a major makeover in regards to the stats.
The discussion then focuses on the SPM armor sets themselves, how they used to drop in the pre-Patch 0.8.6, and ways to bring them back while upgrading their stats. Horsey also mentions the lore a bit. They also mention having read the PF admin's 'Final Thoughts' document. A discussion regarding the EE Community ensues with some harsh words said.
Later in the day, Heathendel leaves Liska a PM on Discord that includes a file discussing his disagreements with Horsey and Sharlexia during their discussions of the previous two days. A bit later on, Liska reads the message and determines the two individuals in question would not like what has been said.
Sharlexia creates a Meadow Muncher mob model in Blender to try and see what a more refined model would look like. Horsey comments that the concept model actually looks better than the existing in game Chomper model and adds they they would try and texture the thing and for Sharlexia to 'unwrap when ready'. Unfortunately this does not happen.
Soon after, Liska relays Heathendel's message to Sharlexia and Horsey just to get a reply from them in that regard. Their reactions are as Liska had expected. Both feel that Heathendel wants to make EE a single player game, but, Liska counters that the opposite is true and that the idea was to make it more a multiplayer game where players needed others just to run the instances.
While the two are skeptical, Liska states the team was looking at the long term and changing one mechanic at a time with the mob and boss AIs being the first of these changes. Sharlexia admits that they doubt TAW can be saved from being a WoW clone no matter what they try to do with it. Sharlexia finally states that they are tempted to just say that they will either work on Valkal's Shadow or walk away from EE entirely.
Liska agrees that while he likes Heathendel's ideas for The Anubian War, if it's actually plagarizing other games' content 'almost directly' then that is a problem. Sharlexia adds that the game 'won't be EE when it's done'. Liska comments that he wants the game to 'have a nice story from beginning to end' but if it has to be something new, let it be actual new ideas.
Further, Liska admits to being worried about the game's future as the vast majority of the year has felt much like the final year of Planet Forever and the majority of EER's own run.
Sharlexia mentions that while the new story and main storyline ideas are great, they worry about some of the other changes such as the combat system and the planned 'set class system'. Liska asks Sharlexia to make a list of all the things that need work, what is liked and what is disliked.
While Sharlexia gets a list made out, Horsey adds that the storyline of TAW itself needs some serious work. Sharlexia's list more clearly emphasizes this along with other issues. One of these involves the idea of a 'Chosen One' type character. This sparks a lengthy discussion over the subject and why it's bad for EE. Examples from World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls among others are offered as to why it's a bad idea. Liska even points out that Sparkplay itself had planned for EE to have this very setup. He is told 'that is not how you MMO', but, he replies that he is only stating this from observation.
Both explain that in MMOs the player is not 'the hero' but 'a hero' and that TAW's storyline seemed to be following a 'the hero' setup. Liska disagrees but states that wasn't what Heathendel was going for anyway and that it was he who had wanted to keep the whole 'the hero' setup. Horsey admits to agreeing with Heathendel on that point.
Liska states that that's why 'it's a back and forth thing', where ideas are tossed around, the good ones kept and the bad ones thrown out. Horsey asks why they are needed if everything is already planned out. Liska replies that that isn't the case. While the previous debate with Heathendel involved the class system, it didn't involve the storyline. He also points out that neither side is budging on their viewpoints and neither side is getting anywhere.
While both insist that Heathendel wants to change too much such that the game is 'EE in name only', Liska asks them how they would react if the players themselves continuously asked for feature after feature that ultimately turned the game into just another 'cookie cutter MMO'. Horsey state's it's irrelevant as they 'aren't asking for an overhaul', they want things fixed here, added or readded there, and so on. Liska points out that SPM was doing that very thing.
The discussion goes back and forth over what would keep EE being EE and what would make it no longer EE. Liska states all he wanted originally was to preserve the game as it was, restore it's content to near 100% of what it was, finish unused content, fix a few bugs and then 'leave it be'. Both Sharlexia and Horsey agree with that idea. This causes Liska to ask if the team should just undo all changes made, abandon all new ideas and content and just make the game a 'nostalgia museum'. Both state the affirmative.
Sharlexia and Horsey state that the game should remain as is. Sharlexia even adds that the team should fix, paint and finish 'the original' before considering 'something different'. Liska points out that that is what the intent of Valkal's Shadow was. Sharlexia states they consider VS a 'continuation of the original' and Liska states that it is. Both Sharlexia and Horsey state that TAW is completely different however.
Further, Sharlexia makes it known they cannot work on TAW on 'good will'. They state they would glady work to help keep VS alive, but, not TAW. Horsey shares Sharlexia's sentiment. Both state they would like to remain as Discord mods if they are unable to help keep VS going. Beyond that, both state that they 'are done'.
At this point, Sharlexia suggests taking their grievances to Heathendel, be honest and let him know how they feel even if nothing changes. Both admit that while they don't want to see the game die, they feel it needs to be in the 'right hands' and are not sure it currently is.
Eventually they suggest that Liska should talk to Emerald to see how she really feels about the game. Liska isn't so sure he'll run into her, but, the other two offer to join SecondLife to help keep an eye out for her. After a side discussion, SL info is exchanged and the three meet up in that virtual world for the first time. All three wait, but, Emerald fails to show.
Volk Dragoona, now known as Blank Slate on the EE Discord server, posts up an old Earth Eternal character bio for one of his SPM era characters in one of the Discord channels. It's warmly received.
Sharlexia and Horsey discuss ideas with Liska on the 18th involving a possible 'return to Corsica' scenario for the game as low level players often need assistance. Liska relocates the discussion to Discord where he offers a general summary of how this idea had already been tried in with the revamped new player zones, especially during the days of Ikimonogatari and Earth Eternal Reborn.
Liska adds that the current development team had come up with a slightly different approach planned for The Anubian War and gives a general summary of the ideas the team had tossed around. Sharlexia comments that the idea reminds them of how 'Phases' in World of Warcraft are handled.
On August 19th, Shadrel posits a couple event ideas for the upcoming EE Weekend event, either a PVP tournament or a 'kill 500 enemies in one day' run, with a reward for the winner. While the idea garners interest from both Sharlexia and Liska, Sharlexia points out that a mere 500 enemies is an average run for high level players, especially those merely going from level 49 to level 50. Sharlexia adds that far as a tournament goes, while it would be interesting, such a thing might be unfair to low level players.
Liska also points out that just to even hold a tournament, there would have to be a certain number of players at ANY experience level online in the first place. As player population on the server has been a general problem, while the idea is good, the hurdles of getting enough online alone is an issue. Further hurdles would be figuring out how many of the players who do login would be interested in participating in such a tournament along with how many 'rounds' would be needed before 'crowning a victor'. Both Liska and Sharlexia also point out that such a tournament would need to be tiered by level range as well as have certain rules in place to make things fair for everyone.
Shadrel and Liska go back and forth regarding Shadrel's second idea of defeating '500 enemies in a day' and Shadrel offers that this could be for low level players ranged 1-20. He adds that they would be restricted to 50 of each enemy to resolve Liska's concerns of potential farming of certain specific mobs such as the Meadow Muncher mobs in Anglorum.
After a bit of thought, Liska realizes there is one issue with the idea as defeating 500 enemies at the low levels would result in a massive jump in experience levels due to the amount of total experience that would be gained from the task. Further keeping track of how many mobs were actually defeated would be troublesome as well. Shadrel suggests perhaps something for that could be programmed in for a solely event-oriented quest and nothing else.
Liska points out that to program such a quest would require Emerald's intervention which, at this point in time, isn't guaranteed. Further, he points out that a 'kill 500 enemies' quest already exists at the mid-30s range and is a part of the very difficult Ring chain. Shadrel then offers that if anyone has other suggestions or ideas to bring them up to him so he can come up with more things.
While chatting with Liska on the 23rd, Sharlexia and Horsey outline some of the things they think are actually good in Earth Eternal. They add that while the game's general storyline is practically trash; both admit they actually liked some of the quest ideas the development team was working on for The Anubian War that would give the game a 'fluid continuous story' that would keep the players moving 'toward a central goal'.
Horsey then offers the opinion that the general idea for The Anubian War would actually make a good single player game rather than a MMO and Sharlexia agrees. Liska points out that the team had decided players would technically run the game solo throughout the newbie zones until they reached Anglorum content when they would finally meet up with other players. Horsey clarifies that the storyline of TAW would make for a good single player game experience.
Liska then points out that as the game was designed as a MMO, attempting to transition to a single player title would be very problematic. Horsey insists the storyline would better fit a single player game as it is too clean cut, linear and very simplistic. Liska counters that the development team is 'stuck between a rock and a hard place' as there is either 'no solid direction' to the game, as seen from Sparkplay's run through the current Valkal's Shadow version; or the team takes the game in a more 'clean cut direction' that 'includes a bit of exploration and local issues' as intended with the concepts for The Anubian War.
Liska and Horsey then get into a back and forth discussion regarding the problems with the game and the general Earth Eternal community at large. Horsey states that the Planet Forever admin was likely right about the community in one single instance. That being that the community tends to be ungrateful and never satisfied no matter what changes are made to the game. Liska agrees with this sentiment as the players never seemed to be happy with any changes made, going as far back as the Sparkplay days.
Horsey complains that most players don't stay around very long even if they claim to love the game. Because of this, Horsey tells Liska they don't see how the game could be saved as it needs a certain level of 'TLC' that a 'small volunteer group cannot give'. Liska shoots back that the team is trying their best. Horsey states the complaints are more directed toward Sparkplay's handling of the game from the beginning and after their failure the game 'kinda became almost haunted'.
Here, Liska states that that was due to Planet Forever's admin and that had he not decided to 'play' with the game, as it were, Earth Eternal as a game, would have been long ago dead from the time the Iki/EER versions closed. It would have become a game 'lost to time'. Liska states his own reasons for sticking with the game and why it had taken over a portion of his life. He adds that this only shows how even a broken and incomplete failed MMO 'can have lasting effects'.
Liska further states that this was one of the reasons he chose to stick with the game all that time while trying as hard as possible to keep it alive, even if by this point it was a 'blind folly' or 'insane idea' or simply his stubborn refusal to just let it go. Both Liska and Horsey toss back examples of the various problems with the TAW development team and why they are not as effective as they should be and what is needed to fix some of these problems.
On the 24th, Sharlexia announces the start of the EE Weekend event. All players who log in to the game up through the 27th would also get a special title in Discord. This event starts off slow but, quickly builds momentum during the day. Eventually, though, logins drop off once more and the server goes mostly quiet for a good portion of the rest of the day.
Later in the day, due to prevailing lag issues experienced by several players, Liska restarts the live server in the hopes of alleviating the problem and logs in sometime after to see how things are going. In spite of the server restart, players continue having issues in various areas and a dungeon run is aborted by those running it.
The second day of the EE Weekend event is announced on the 25th. As with the previous day, logins spike early in the day, but, drop a few hours later and remain low for the remainder of it. Liska expresses concerns that the event is already proving to be a bit of a flop thanks to the previous day's end results as well as those of that morning, but, Sharlexia and Horsey both reassure him that the event is more successful than he thinks. This is because logins have proven to have both risen and fallen during different parts of the day for both days.
Due to the sudden drop in logins near the middle of the day, Heathendel chooses not to run his Sage event until there are enough online to warrant it. He will end up not running it at all for the remainder of the EE Weekend event.
Liska finally gets hold of Emerald for the first time since the issues of the 11th and is told those same personal issues had been resolved in the last few days. Emerald informs Liska that during the intervening time, she has figured out what was going on with her Linux distro and why she was unable to get the EE game client to run. It turns out that a recent NVidia graphics driver update has completely borked compatibility with the newest versions of Wine and Play On Linux breaking many programs including all the TAW team's versions of Earth Eternal.
Emerald informs Liska that until she finds a way around this issue, or NVidia fixes the problem on their end, it is likely she will not be able to get the Earth Eternal client working on her computer. Rivers joins in the conversation and mentions that while he is still able to login to the game on his end, as before, he does not have any sound capabilities. Both Emerald and Rivers toss ideas back and forth trying to figure out why Rivers is able to load an Earth Eternal client but Emerald is not even though both use similar versions of Linux and Wine.
Sharlexia and Horsey are finally introduced to Emerald, Rivers and Rozene by Liska as they all meet up in Linden Labs' virtual world Second Life and the group discusses with Emerald the various concerns that have been brought up regarding Earth Eternal and the TAW project. Although Emerald is not fully ready to jump right into working on Earth Eternal just yet, she listens to some of the concerns both Sharlexia and Horsey have.
Emerald mentions that Heathendel had told her both Sharlexia and Horsey were wanting to help with the game and says that it was fine with her if they did. Liska admits he isn't sure yet due to the discussions he'd had with the two over a week prior. In spite of this, both insist they still would like to help out with the more graphical things if allowed.
Liska vouches for the two and states they had offered to fill the glaring gap in the TAW team's roster and Emerald agrees to let them have at it. This matter now settled, both Emerald and Liska welcome Sharlexia and Horsey to the team officially.
Now a part of the team, Sharlexia and Horsey tell Emerald they would like to play with the various creature and equipment models in the game and Emerald agrees to gather all the necessary assets together for them to use. As this will be a huge task, owing to the number of assets involved, Emerald admits getting everything ready would take awhile. The pair state they do not mind and for Emerald to take her time.
Afterward the group gets to know one another a bit more and later on, Liska asks Sharlexia and Horsey if anything was different for them now that they had met everyone. Both admit that Emerald seemed less 'mysterious' than before and was quite nice, Rozene seemed a bit quiet and Rivers was just lewd. They also agree that after having met Emerald, and with some of their concerns addressed, both were feeling 'a little more optimistic' about Earth Eternal than before.
At this point, Liska realizes that they had forgotten to ask Emerald to grant Sharlexia and Horsey developer permissions for the test server and TAW development server.
August 26th, day three of the Earth Eternal Weekend event, proves to be a bit more quiet and by this point in time it seems the hype for the event has dropped off a bit. Even still, a steady stream of players continue to login and run various dungeons with the help of Sharlexia and Horsey.
Emerald continues to struggle with getting an Earth Eternal client to run on her computer and Liska points out that she might have to go so far as to rolling back to a previous version of Wine or Play On Linux until the issue is fixed for the current versions. Emerald agrees that this might be the only option, but, will keep trying to get a client working.
August 27th is the final day of the EE Weekend event. In spite of a slight boost of players during the weekend, the event ends almost as quietly as it began. Still, even on this final day of the event, Sharlexia and Horsey continue to help players run various dungeons as needed.
The remainder of the month is mostly quiet, though Emerald does manage to finally sort out her issues with getting the Valkal's Shadow client to run during the final week of August. She also manages to import some of Earth Eternal's assets into the Second Life virtual world.
Throughout the month, Liska continues to fight the spambots on the website as he is able.
Although things start off slow, the development team finally gets things going again during the first week of the month. Emerald takes this time to slowly get back into Earth Eternal by selecting a few minor bugs and working on fixes for them.
On September 2nd, Liska catches up on things with Emerald and learns she has finally managed to get the Earth Eternal client running on her end during the week. While slowly getting back into things, Emerald has been cherry picking bugs both in the World Editor and in the game itself. Liska mentions that he has noticed the Chomper mob model in Second Life and Emerald tells him that is not the only thing she has managed to import into the virtual world.
Emerald also tells Liska that she has made some progress on Sharlexia and Horsey's request for the game's 3D models and that, while it isn't ready yet, that task should be done soon.
As the major task is still the crashing Valkal boss, Liska convinces Emerald to help him run the boss as they had planned to do three weeks before. Sure enough, the server crashes twice as the two run the first phase of the fight. Due to trying to test specific portions of the fight as regular players, both end up getting wiped pretty quickly, yet still manage to achieve a server hang crash at the desired times.
Because of the circumstances surrounding where the server hung the first time, Emerald suspects a specific script that handles a certain function is the problem and rolls out a potential fix for it. After the second server hang, while disappointed the fix did not work, Emerald is certain she can have a proper fix for the problem very soon.
At the same time, Liska relays their progress to both Sharlexia and Horsey who have waited on news regarding a fix for Valkal so that their group of three could finally beat the boss on the live server. A bit later when asked how progress was coming, Liska tells the two that they had called it a day but that Emerald would get the fix for Valkal in sooner than later and that he had already teased Emerald for still being a tad rusty as both a server admin and as a Mage.
Liska adds that as they were specifically testing for this particular bug, the two had used solely admin skills and succeeded in getting what they were after. Horsey insists that this was thanks to their group repeatedly going after Valkal and Liska agrees stating Horsey, Sharlexia and Aureus were indeed given full credit for finding the bug. He adds that he hopes it's the last one affecting the boss as well.
Horsey states that if there is, everyone would soon find out and Liska agrees while adding that if there are any more bugs in the Valkal boss he can only hopes they are not the server crashing type. Horsey agrees and Liska points out that their little group of 2-3 had already found 'bug after bug' and that they were credited with somehow managing to stumble across all the fun showstopper bugs, more than anyone else so far.
During this same time, Emerald also works on a few other projects including getting her version of Shards set up.
Emerald and Liska get on the VS test server on September 7th to test a few bug fixes and cross off some items from the list of bug reports on Github. The most important bug fix to test is the one for the Valkal fight which the two had verified on the test server the previous weekend. To both their surprise and dismay, not only does Emerald's fix not work, but, the two discover two more bugs that crash the server during the course of the Valkal fight, one of these being an intermittent bug that only shows itself under specific conditions.
During the course of testing the Valkal boss, the Liska and Emerald experience an odd issue that causes bad lag but does not crash the server. Liska suggests that the VM itself might be acting up, though Emerald isn't completely sure that is the problem. As the issue appears to disappear after a brief span, Emerald decides to look into it later.
Emerald manages to get a fix in for the first of the three bugs found in the Valkal fight, but, the second bug proves elusive as Emerald and Liska are unable to replicate it in their remaining tests of the day. The third bug proves to be an integer overflow issue in the Tribute ability used by the boss, forcing Emerald to create a completely new ability-type specifically for One-Hit-KO attacks. Emerald manages to create the new ability type, but, decides to hold off on adding it to the server until the next day.
Later in the day, Liska assists a player with resolving the earsize/tailsize issue on their character. A bit after, while attempting to create a set of Keys for the Valkal's Shadow event chest in Mushroom Isle to pass to the player, the server abruptly crashes. Liska explains to the player on Discord his belief that the crash might have been a delayed reaction from the tests on the VS test server earlier.
This belief is reinforced when Liska goes to restart the server only to discover all three servers appear to be offline. Attempts to restart the servers fail along with the server page on the website repeatedly throwing up a series of error messages, leading Liska to deduce it might indeed be the server VM itself rather than simply the live server crashing.
Liska tells the player he'll likely have to get hold of Emerald to get the issue resolved and offers to once again fix their earsize/tailsize issue if the changes are not saved because of the server crash.
Talks with Emerald on the 8th reveal that the issue of the previous day was far different than Liska had believed. While the live server did indeed crash, the errors on the webpage pointed to a different problem that was easily resolved. Emerald also reveals that neither the TAW development server nor the VS test server had actually gone down and were still online even if the website page claimed otherwise.
Investigating what really caused the live server to crash reveals a bug in the Earth Sage Game Manager window such that if the name of an item to be created is misspelled by mistake, it crashes the server. This reveals to Liska that when he had attempted to create a Key for the player the previous day, he must have accidentally misspelled the item's name without realizing it.
The two then discuss other things that need work.
Liska and Emerald chat on the 9th and Liska is told Emerald has been crossing off a few more bugs during the day. As the fix for the Tribute ability for the Valkal boss has been implemented as well, the two get on the test server to see if it worked. Sure enough, the newly remade skill now functions as intended; however, a few more server crash bugs, along with a few other issues, are found as well. The one elusive crash bug found the previous day remains at large, but, Emerald admits the cause of that one might be due to the team using the admin abilities to fight the Valkal boss. Both agree the bug still needs fixing either way.
Liska updates Sharlexia and Horsey on the progress with the Valkal boss testing and tells them it's not yet time for them to try fighting it again just yet.
Sharlexia and Horsey meet with Liska and Emerald in Second Life again and are soon joined by Rivers and, to Liska's surprise, even Heathendel who had joined the virtual world in the last few days thanks to Emerald's help. The, now mostly entire TAW development team, save Rozene, discuss various things regarding the game.
One of the things discussed involves the Earth Eternal IP and what would be needed to purchase it. All agree that this is the one remaining part of the game that is quite likely far out of everyone's reach unless at least one of them becomes rich enough. Heathendel insists that the 'value' of the IP is likely low since it's a long dead property that has not seen use and has made the owners absolutely no profit at all. Liska believes it might still retain at the very least it's original value likely adjusted for inflation in the years since the closure of Earth Eternal Reborn.
Sharlexia and Horsey ask Emerald how the task of getting the 3D models together for them are coming along and Emerald tells the two that she is still working on that. Emerald adds that the set of assets is almost ready, though, and that she will let them know when it is done and ready for them to use.
As the two still had not gotten any developer roles on the website or in either the test server or the development server, Liska brings this up with Emerald and she helps both Sharlexia and Horsey get their website accounts set up with developer permissions.
Later on, Liska adds both Sharlexia and Horsey to the Team page on the website, but, does not give them a role description just yet. Further, Liska notices Horsey's account does not have a picture.
On September 10th, Emerald performs a much needed major update to the Anubian War development server as many of the files in the backend had become obsolete during the now nearly nine month stint of being away from the Earth Eternal project. Part of this update is an upgrade to the Meson build system.
After a few weeks of gradually getting things together, on September 11th, Emerald finally makes a post on the website developer forum outlining how to work with Earth Eternal's various assets - in general the 3D meshes, textures, tint maps, sounds, and auxillary files - using Blender. Upon seeing the post later on, Liska mentions it to Sharlexia and Horsey as this is what they had been asking for since late August.
Sharlexia and Horsey mention to Liska that they have seen their names on the Team page and wonder what the 'bios' for them would be like. Liska comments that he had meant to finish that up, but, had not gotten around to it yet. He also mentions that Horsey did not have a forum picture and is told that Horsey noticed this fact and fixed the problem already.
After a bit of joking around as to what their 'bios' will be, Sharlexia and Horsey tell Liska that they'll 'patiently wait' for whatever sums them up 'in a sentence or five'. Liska replies that he'll get something put together and if it doesn't sum them up properly for them to tell him so he gets things right.
Later on, Liska updates Sharlexia and Horsey's 'bios' on the Team page of the website as promised.
On September 12th, Liska informs Sharlexia and Horsey that he has added in their 'bios' and asks the two to look at them and tell him if anything was inaccurate so he could fix the problems. Both tell him that everything looks good and that they were happy with the wording. Liska replies that he had tried to divide up their talents correctly and had not been sure he had done it right. He adds that he had not wanted to mix things up or omit things that they had either planned to do together, something he had forgotten to ask about, or mention other things the two wanted to help out with.
Later on, Liska and Emerald chat and Emerald tells Liska that she is finalizing the next Valkal's Shadow update, now nine months long overdue, and is trying to iron out a few more bugs before rolling it out. The two go through the Github list and cross off a number of outstanding issues while also closing a few duplicates in the process.
Emerald asks Liska to choose ten bug reports to be added to the next update following the upcoming one. Liska asks if Emerald is taking the bugs ten at a time to keep the updates more frequent and is told this is precisely what she is doing. This also helps to keep Emerald from being overwhelmed so that more gets done.
More bugs are addressed on the 13th as Emerald prepares to roll out what is being called the Valkal's Shadow Maintenance Release 10 update. Emerald creates a short list of fixed bugs to be included in the update and posts it up on the developer forums on the website.
A bit later, she and Liska test the Valkal boss one more time just to make sure all the known issues are fixed and it goes well. Presuming that the major hurdle has been dealt with, it is decided that the R10 update will be rolled out either later that day or the following day.
Liska updates Sharlexia and Horsey on the progress with the Valkal boss and informs them of one particular bug that had been caught and fixed in the last few days of testing. This one had been a corruption of the Boss Chest items which would have rendered a successful run of the boss a waste of time with nothing to show for it. He also tells them Emerald's plans for when she wants to roll out the new R10 update.
Horsey asks Liska if he had received her message about the Discord server population and he tells them he had, but, is not surprised by it. When Horsey expresses worry that the server is losing 'more and more regulars, they ask what the cause could be. Liska suggests it might simply be the long months of idleness and few players on the live server.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey suggest that perhaps some general passive advertising would work, perhaps even updating the old EE Wiki page to indicate the game still lives as a private server. They also add that since an update is coming, perhaps an announcement or two regarding it would help bring back a few players, even if only briefly. Still, the two surmise that 'the problem of a dwindling playerbase' will not resolve itself and needs addressing as it cannot be ignored.
A little later, Liska replies that the team are indeed trying to do that very thing, but, Horsey insists a little advertising still needs doing, and not merely by 'the oldies, friends of oldies' or those who happen upon it by chance either. Horsey suggests once again that updating the old EE Wiki would help. Liska points out that he does not have an account there and Horsey replies they don't either, but, that one of them could sign up and get that done.
A bit of confusion ensues and Liska emphasizes he meant the original EE Wiki. Horsey adds that it has a bunch of broken images and Liska states they likely still exist somewhere but that those who once maintained the Wiki likely long ago lost their 'Imgur/Photobucket/whatever pages' in the intervening years. While Horsey insists new images could be taken, Liska states that he would like to see those again, pointing out that the lost images are still a part of Earth Eternal's history, especially those taken from the Sparkplay and Iki/EER versions. Horsey counters that they were small and had bad resolutions and newer ones would be easier to see.
Horsey then reiterates the original point being made that, in order for it to survive, word about the server must spread. Liska tells Horsey that if they want to update the Wiki then they are free to do so as that isn't his strong point. Here, Horsey idly wonders if the PF Admin's thoughts regarding the game being 'beyond saving' were accurate as it tended to seem as if players would claim to be happy about the game being around, but, then not stick around very long after or newbies only briefly checking out the game for a day or two before vanishing.
Liska confesses he, too, has begun to wonder about that, especially as the years pass. Liska adds that each time someone 'passes it along', he feels sad because he knows he is "seeing the 'curse of EE' propagating once again". Liska further comments that as it seems 'the age of MMOs appears to be dying in general' he cannot help wondering if maybe Earth Eternal's time 'long ago came and went'.
He adds that far as Earth Eternal goes, no matter how bad the game itself is, 'for a small few of us', a number that continues to dwindle as the years pass, it holds a special place in their hearts. Liska states that if the Team had even the smallest opportunity to keep the game going, they would sure try to do so 'for as long as we can'.
Horsey agrees that MMOs are a dying genre and that while those 'firmly established' games would likely stick around forever, any new ones are more than likely to fail. Horsey states that people 'are always too busy or too cheap' to play MMOs, but, then asks Liska out of curiosity at about what point would the TAW developer team consider it 'time to close up shop' on the game.
Liska replies that the Team doesn't have a specific 'time' to quit and that, sure, a day will probably come where the TAW Team will eventually decide 'it's time to put the game away and/or pass it to someone else'. He then points out how long the team already had the game and adds how long the Planet Forever admin had had Earth Eternal before they did. Wanting to clarify their meaning about 'closing up shop', Horsey asks if there is anything in particular that would cause the Team to consider continuing EE pointless or if they planned on keeping it going until the only ones left were the developer team and its helpers.
In reply to this, Liska states that 'as long as someone continues playing, even if it's a small handful, then our efforts are not fruitless'. Even then, he adds that the only thing likely to get the Team to 'close up shop' would be a Cease and Desist order. Liska states that 'so long as even a few people still enjoy the game, there will always be that faint ray of hope that we're keeping a forgotten treasure safe'.
Still, Liska admits that no one is getting any younger and time will eventually catch up as this is something that cannot be avoided. While nothing lasts forever, so long as the TAW team has the chance to keep Earth Eternal alive, they would attempt to continue doing so. Still, Liska further admits that as Emerald is the team's sole programmer, should they ever lose her, it would force them to 'close up shop' as Emerald is currently the 'only irreplaceable member of the dev team'.
Horsey comments that they doubt the TAW Team would be hit with a Cease and Desist order unless adds or generated profit were set up in some way. Horsey jokingly adds that it seems the current version of Earth Eternal 'is gonna stay put for all eternity'. Liska comments how funny it is for the two to want the Team to advertise but also get concerned about them getting a Cease and Desist for setting up ads. As for Horsey's joke, Liska states that it would 'be nice'.
Horsey counters that they really aren't concerned because the developer team would only get in trouble if they 'set up actual ads that you get money for when others see/click them'. Horsey also comments that, far as their joke, what would be nice would be 'a more permanent playerbase that aren't all oldies or friends of oldies'.
Emerald finalizes the last few bug fixes for the R10 update on September 14th. Liska chats with Emerald sometime after and learns she is finally ready to update the live server with the Valkal's Shadow Maintenance Release 10 update.
After a few last moment bug tests, Emerald gets ready to roll out the update. She does tell Liska one other thing: apparently Emerald's fully recompiled game client had been included in the files for the R10 update. This was a project Emerald had worked on much earlier in the year but never actually rolled out to the Valkal's Shadow server. Emerald states that the Anubian War development server already had this feature, but, that this would be the first time VS did as well.
When everything is finally ready, Liska posts an announcement in the EE Discord indicating that the VS live server would be taken down for a bit as Emerald rolls out Maintenance Release 10 at long last. It is the first live server update in more than nine months.
With the announcement posted to the EE Discord, Sharlexia and Horsey state that they have already notified Aureus and the three hope to finally take down Valkal. Liska states that they could also get the other quests for the Blood Keep as he believes the fixes for these are in the update. He asks the three to let the Team know if any other issues arise with Valkal mentioning that there remains one intermittent crash bug they had been unable to resolve as it had proven tough to isolate.
When asked if the update had a changelog, Liska tells the player that Emerald will post a changelog to the website as well as include it on the login screen of the game itself. He states that if everyone wants him to add that to the Discord server as well, he can do that too. Soon after, Emerald brings the server back online and everyone heads ingame.
The first thing Liska notices is the extremely long load times due to the client having to re-download all the game assets. Emerald tells Liska not to use Download All yet as the Recompiled Client is still pretty new. It takes a good while to finally get ingame, but, he finally succeeds. The players find this a bit inconvenient, so Liska explains the situation to them.
While Sharlexia, Horsey and Aureus get ready to challenge Valkal's Blood Keep again, Liska hangs around ingame to see how things fare. Eager to test out the newly implemented and activated Book crafting components, Liska decides to try it out. Other players resume their questing while looking for the newly implemented features.
The first sign of problems arises when Liska tries to craft one of the Books, which causes the server to crash. Sharlexia and Horsey express their frustration in Discord as they and Aureus were right at the door to Valkal's chamber itself in the Blood Keep. Liska apologizes to them stating that the crash was likely his fault since he tried crafting the Wilhelm's Crypt book immediately before the server came down.
Bringing the server back online, Liska informs Emerald about the problem. He then warns the three trying to run the Blood Keep dungeon that they might want to hold back just in case he is forced to crash the server again for Emerald, but, hopes the crash had produced a log for her already.
Chatting with the players following the crash, Liska comes to learn many of the purportedly fixed issues had not been resolved for some reason. Among these are the two side quests for Valkal's Blood Keep as the 'Dream Team' is still unable to get them in the new update.
Things get worse when the trio once more faces the Valkal boss. After a very long and drawn out fight, right when it seems everything is going well, the three inform Liska that they are unable to interact with the second phase Valkal mob. Puzzled by this, Liska grabs Frostheim and ports to the trio in the Blood Keep. Soon after arriving though, the server lags very badly and Liska is unable to do much. Right after that, the server crashes a second time.
Frustrated with their luck, Sharlexia, Horsey and Aureus give up for the day. While still trying to figure out why the server crashed this time, Liska comes to find out that the trio have a number of complaints about the Valkal boss in addition to the newest crash and mob stall. As it turns out, Horsey had lost about 50 Gold in health potions while struggling to survive a seemingly MUCH MUCH harder boss than in previous attempts.
The two unload their frustrations and complaints while trying to explain what happened to Liska. Liska reveals that the 'cannot hit target' issue had been seen during the tests on the phase 1 part of the boss fight, but, it proved to be intermittent and never had showed up again until now. Liska tells them he is going to open up two new Git issues to address both the strange crash and Valkal's seeming increase in difficulty. Horsey asks Liska why that bug had not been fixed and he replies that they had been unable to isolate it previously and it did not crash the server the last time.
Liska explains to Sharlexia and Horsey his side of what happened during the last crash and all begin wondering exactly what caused it. Horsey reveals that Aureus has had enough and refuses to 'do this anymore' and Liska states that he doesn't blame him. Horsey complains that the dungeon and boss fight takes too long, claims there is no reward and the boss keeps bugging out.
In response, Liska replies that there is, in fact, a reward at the end, provided the boss would stop bugging before they can beat him. He adds that the boss is angering him as well because just when it seems they have it fixed, the boss breaks again. Horsey comments that they will likely not challenge Valkal again until the boss is tested properly, this means 'no dev powers, no spawned items, no admin commands, no nothing'.
This time, Liska tells Horsey that the team has had to use 'dev powers' to quickly run through the boss to make sure the fight is able to be run from beginning to end. Horsey counters that no one else is a 'dev' and the game will behave differently with admin characters. Horsey further insists that testing the boss with dev powers isn't testing it properly.
Also venting his own frustration about what happened, Liska explains that the team had been testing specifically for crash bugs and nothing else even though they did find a few other issues that he hopes got fixed. He admits to really disliking the boss and summarizes the situation regarding it. The Valkal boss had been tested for an entire month the year prior before being deemed good to go. It had taken an entire year for a group of players to finally reach the dungeon to run it. This group quickly discovers three new server crash bugs with the boss which the team then fixes, along with three new ones found in the retesting. Yet even after this new update gets rolled out, the boss crashes the server yet again with at least one or two more bugs.
In response, Horsey posts up some advice from Aureus, an outline on how to properly test a dungeon boss. Liska points out that as both Sharlexia and Horsey are now Contributing Volunteers they can help the rest of the developers test the boss this time. Horsey insists they cannot help as they do not know how to code nor have access to the code; but, Liska points out that he's not talking about coding at all. Liska tells Horsey that Emerald has given them the necessary permissions to access the test server. As such they can help test Valkal repeatedly and crash the server as many times as necessary to eliminate all the bugs plaguing the boss until it's ready to be properly rolled out.
Horsey states that they would need the 'sort of gear' Aureus had mentioned in his outline so that the tests wouldn't take forever and they wouldn't have the same problem. Horsey states flatly that they would need actual 'testing equipment'. Liska offers that they could give the two high level equipment that already exists in the game including the Master Weapons and simply fight Valkal like a normal party would. Horsey counters that this would only test the boss' difficult and that they need to make sure the boss would actually work right.
Horsey comments that Aureus made some good points and Liska agrees with this. Continuing, Horsey points out that this is all 'industry standard', but, Liska counters that Earth Eternal, unfortunately, never was up to 'industry standard'. Again, Horsey insists that bad practices do not have to be continued and Liska states that he agrees and that it's a 'great suggestion'. Here, Liska then points out that currently, such things don't exist in the game, outside 'a Sage Belt and a Timecube' even if they should.
At this, Horsey retorts that such items can easily be created and 'in a heartbeat' too as all the stuff to make them is there already. They even add existing items could be used as the base, tweaked to have a much higher stat ratings and damage stats, such that it would become 'basically god gear'. Liska likes the idea and tells Horsey this could be the pair's first task on the test server. Basically, they could create 'four armor and weapon sets', one for each class, that the developers could use to test with. This causes Horsey to wonder why no one thought of this before.
This time, Horsey points out that these things must be used on non-admin characters. At this, Liska points out that currently all accounts and characters on both the TAW development server and the VS test server are given admin status. Horsey adds that if Aureus was on the developer server, he could help out, but states he has issues with Heathendel. Liska states he doesn't blame Aureus, but, says if Aureus really wants to be a Volunteer he need not be on the test server when Heathendel is on.
Here, Horsey claims that Liska could simply change the admin privileges, but, Liska counters that only Emerald is able to do that. Horsey emphasizes that part of Liska's comment and says it isn't 'an impossible task'. Liska agrees, but, then states this gives him an idea. He tells Horsey to make a list of all these ideas and suggestions and then for both Horsey and Sharlexia to bring them up with Emerald directly the next day. He adds that she is 'pretty accommodating' especially when others are offering to help out.
Horsey, Sharlexia and Liska chat in Discord on the 15th. Horsey informs Liska that the two of them have been chatting with Heathendel and, after a long and 'heated discussion', they both were given the go ahead to proceed with a revamp of Corsica and Earthrise. This was due to the fact player retention is a problem and most new players find everything to be too difficult to the point they end up leaving before reaching level 10. This among other issues has resulted in them deciding to revamp the two zones.
Both tell Liska that they have already started cataloging everything, but, Liska replies that he had already done that during Planet Forever and if they wanted he could give them those things. However, when Liska inquires which version of the game this is for, upon being told that they were referring to Valkal's Shadow, Liska states there might be an issue. He points out that, even though the two disliked it, TAW was meant to be the 'remake' of EE while VS was meant to preserve 'classic EE' in some form.
Horsey retorts that most players don't like the existing zones as they are too difficult. Liska counters that not all players feel this way. The three argue back and forth for a bit over the proposed changes and why they need to be done or need to be left alone. At one point, Liska points out that the two now know why the three starter zones were revamped by SPM and later during Iki/EER.
While Liska remains skeptical, the two hold their ground and insist it's for the better. They state that quest progression is unfocused and gets scattered part way through. The two insist they will try to make it flow better up through Earthend, though Sharlexia insists they haven't considered past Corsica content. The two add that while old players might not have problems, new ones get lost.
This attitude gives Liska a sense of irony and he tells them that barely a month prior they had wanted to keep the game the same. Now, all of a sudden, they want to change things. It reminds him of when the TAW project was first proposed and how it took him awhile to warm up to the idea. Both Sharlexia and Horsey reply that they still feel the same, but, that if they can fix up the game, then they want to try to do that. If not, then it should remain as a museum.
When told they want to try and make some places more fun and/or finished, Liska offers up two rather sparse locations that could use more content. Both retort that they want to redo all the content and not merely some of it. They insist that the server is 'bleeding players' because the game simply is not fun and so people don't want to keep playing. Thus, a revamp is in order.
Liska again points out the Sparkplay tried this same tactic when they introduced the zones of Bastion Island and New Corsica. They saw the same problem and the changes made proved to be working, but, it was too little too late for them to save the game by that time. Horsey insists that it's not too late for the TAW team though. Here Liska asks if the two want the team to restore the newer three starter zones even though he, personally, dislikes New Earthrise's original content.
Again, both insist that they are just wanting to fix up the current zones' content so that 'newbies can have actual fun'. So, they would focus on adding content here and there, cleaning up inconsistencies with the storyline and quests and probably scaling down mobs so they are easier to handle by new players so they don't keep dying. Horsey states that they want the game to be real fun for everyone and that right now it currently isn't. In order to make it fun, change needs to happen and that, for once, they agree with Heathendel on this point.
This makes Liska uneasy as he isn't so sure there would be 'real fun' and while the other two insist they can't be 'stuck on nostalgia', it reminds Liska of something both Heathendel and Rictar had told him before. However, when the two mention making the game 'more fun for a current audience', this alone makes Liska worried. Horsey insists that the older players are leaving and to get players they need to make it 'more fun for the current generation of gamers'.
To Liska this means players who 'want a casual boring experience' and no real fun. Horsey counters that they refer to the sort of players who 'do not want excessive amounts of challenge' that would cause them to rage quit. Sharlexia jumps in and offers examples of what their ideas for quest progression in Corsica would be like. Liska finds the 'exessive amounts of challenge' comment odd and comments that he's finding it difficult to connect it with the two starter zones in question.
The two insist that since Liska is an older player, it seems easier for him than for new players who don't have any idea and are used to other MMOs where things are generally easier for newbies. Liska retorts that he 'was the same' back in SPM's Closed Beta when the two zones were much much harder than they currently are. Horsey states that they have heard players constantly complaining about the mobs in the starter zones. Sharlexia states they would probably just tweak health and damage on mobs.
When asked if Liska wanted a more active server or if he wanted to keep everything the same, he replies that, personally, he'd like both. While Horsey insists that isn't an option, Liska states that this was the entire idea with the two servers and two accounts. VS would be the 'classic' EE 'that everyone remembers' and TAW would be the EE revamp where the game 'gets a makeover'.
At this point, Horsey comments that they doubt TAW will see the light of day and Liska admits he's beginning to think the same. Horesy then states that the focus should then be on VS and all the fixes should go there. Liska points out that the team is already moving quite a bit of TAW's functionality over to VS and that Emerald hasn't yet completed that conversion.
Here, both Sharlexia and Horsey tell Liska of their first hand experience with EE and Sharlexia confesses they would have left early had they not wanted to play the game with Horsey. Horsey in turn, states that they had first hand accounts of players who tried the game and did not like it or quit. Further, those who had quit, did so in the starting zones. Liska presumes these are those who complain about graphics and the like, but, is told that this is not the case at all.
Both give personal examples as well as examples of things others had disliked about the starter zones. Among the complaints were quests being too far apart, a boring/confusing storyline, not getting more than one essence for loot in dungeons and that mobs were 'too tough' while they didn't have enough firepower.
Liska states the team already had plans for the dungeons and that the first dungeon in Corsica had already been addressed by Heathendel though VS might not have that version active. While the two insist this is a 'minor gripe' compared to things such as the constant running back and forth for quests, Liska also insists it's a 'big one' as the team planned on revamping all the game's dungeons and not simply the ones in the starter zones. Sharlexia agrees it's a problem but adds that loot in most dungeons just isn't worth the effort to go after. Liska states that the team was addressing that issue as well, but, that these things can't be expected to all get done at once.
Horsey states they wish for more quests with more options, continue the storyline 'or do a secondary one'. Liska counters that they disliked the team's solution to that very problem and when asked what that was, tells them it was TAW. Horsey counters that one doesn't need to revamp the entire game to get around the problem. Liska retorts that Heathendel would say it would 'to fix all the problems'. Both Sharlexia and Horsey state they both 'convinced' Heathendel such measures aren't necessary.
Liska expresses doubts and Horsey explains what was meant. They had complained about the starter zones being bad and Heathendel had agreed, stating they would need to be redone from the ground up. The two had disagreed and listed alternative solutions. Heathendel then gave them permission to revamp the zones 'without needing to completely change it'.
At this point, Sharlexia states that nothing is definitive at the moment and the changes would be made on the test server first so the team can 'see what it looks like'. Prior to that, the plans for the changes would be posted in Discord for the team to post and comment on. Horsey does state, however, that if all their ideas and suggestions are 'shot down' for the sake of nostalgia, then they would quit the game for good as there would be no point helping those who don't want it.
Here, Horsey reveals that player Aureus had quit the game, surprising Liska a bit. Horsey adds that Aureus had felt insulted that a claim had been made that the Valkal boss had been fixed when it was found to have been poorly tested and still very broken. Here Liska counters that the team is just as sick and tired of that dungeon boss as they are, as the team has fixed bug after bug on it, and Valkal just refuses to remain fixed, with half the bugs end up being crash bugs.
Horsey states that either way, this was the 'final straw' with Aureus and that they no longer have a 'dream team'. Sharlexia adds that Aureus was a great player and would have made a good developer too. Sharlexia admits to nearing Aureus' level of frustration with the game and while they do want to help out, it is their believe that the Anubian War approach is 'the wrong direction' for the game.
Sharlexia adds that if the team still wishes to go down that route, they can, but, without the two of them as, while they want to help make the game better, it's their opinion that the Anubian War direction just isn't the right way to do that. Sharlexia further states that when a hobby project becomes a chore rather than a hobby, it's probably best not to stick around.
Here, Liska suggests the three of the talk with Emerald about their concerns and adds that these things 'are extremely concerning' to him, but, not in the way they might think. Sharlexia inquires on this and Liska replies that he is finding it increasingly difficult to continue. When asked again what he means, Liska states that harsh critiques, even those that are well intentioned, have not done him 'any favors'.
Sharlexia adds that while they do feel bad for Liska, the two 'have to be frank'. Horsey adds that if they don't tell the Devs what is wrong with the game and all plug their ears, nothing would improve. Liska states that it has affected him for awhile now and that he had hoped with Emerald's return things would start to improve. Unfortunately, this has not happened and the team is still 'getting the rust out of the gears as it were'.
Worse, things have happened that the team had not been expecting. Further, prominent players are now leaving, having lost interest, or are fed up with the ongoing problems like Aureus. Liska adds, that the team 'can't wave a magic wand and make every bad problem instantly go away' even if he, personally would love for that to work.
Horsey then points out that the development team is 'very far from united, or even in agreement'. They add that Liska wants 'everything to stay exactly the same' while Heathendel wants 'everything to radically change', while it isn't known what Emerald's opinion is, though it's presumed she agrees with Heathendel last they heard. Liska asks the two to ask Emerald personally on that.
Sharlexia states that those who have reached 50 or higher have 'hit the wall and left' while others just do not want to 'torture themselves though levels 1-50 again' and that there 'is no end game content'. Horsey adds that players end up leaving as a result while the newbies 'find it too hard and boring'. Liska points out that both can now see how the game is losing players 'at the beginning and at the end'.
At this point Horsey points out that as avid MMO players they and Sharlexia have great experience on how they are meant to work and how to easily solve some of the issues. Horsey also admits that it is an irony how they are in agreement with the one individual on the development team they 'butt heads with the most' on how to solve some of the problems. Liska adds in how the one individual they talk to the most lives in the past. Horsey agrees with that statement.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey join Liska in SecondLife to meet up with Emerald. As it turns out, both Heathendel and Rivers appear as well. While getting acquainted again, the group discusses random things involving Earth Eternal. Heathendel mentions the EE IP and mistakenly confuses it for the website address. Liska helps clear up this mix up to Heathendel's embarrassment.
The topic shifts to what could be done if there were a way to get a hold of the intellectual property itself off of Turner Entertainment. It's pretty well understood that the pricetag for the IP is far far out of the TAW team's reach and is still very much a distant pipe dream. A debate between Heathendel and Liska ensues over the exact 'value' of the IP as Heathendel believes it isn't worth much, where Liska feels a large company like Time Warner, the parent company of Turner Entertainment, would likely still seek the full value of the IP as purchased, possibly even adjusted for 8 years of inflation. The debate continues until the topic is shifted elsewhere.
Eventually, Liska gets Sharlexia and Horsey to unload their grievances to Emerald and the rest of the team. Both tell Emerald that the Team is taking the completely wrong approach to game development and that no one seems to be on the same page. Emerald admits that this is sadly the case and while they do try to come together, things keep happening that prevent it.
Liska has Sharlexia and Horsey relate what Aureus had told them to Emerald to get across what needs doing to get the team back on track and actually make Earth Eternal as a proper development team. Emerald agrees that many of these things do need doing.
According to Aureus' information, a Qualty Assurance person or team is needed to make absolutely sure that things are well and truly fixed before any sort of green light is made on any release of a game. Up to now, the TAW development team has not had one of these and it has caused a myriad of problems every time they make an update to the game.
Here, Sharlexia and Horsey tell Emerald that they would be willing to help test the game, especially the Valkal boss for more personal reasons, and they would offer feedback as to what needs doing. They also suggest that Emerald make Liska the QA Lead as he has been the one who has been the most active member of the dev team and also because his attention to detail would help.
Liska states he wouldn't mind taking on such a role but that Sharlexia and Horsey would end up being his assistants in that regard. Emerald agrees that this would probably work and tells Liska that she would start holding off rolling out any Github updates until he gives approval for it, indicating that these items have been fully tested on the Valkal's Shadow test server. Further, going forward no Maintenance Releases will be rolled out to the VS live server until the new QA team has given the go ahead that it is ready.
The first task to be dealt with is Liska's suggestion to Emerald that as she had not yet given either Sharlexia or Horsey accounts on the test server when they became Volunteers that that be taken care of. Emerald agrees and gets that task crossed off.
This bit of reorganization dealt with, Liska offers to have everyone hop on the test server a bit after to run the Valkal boss a few times to see what all needs to be done to fix it properly. However, being late by this point, it is decided to hold off until the next day.
Emerald makes both her IceClient and all the Ice* Tools programs available once again to the TAW developer team for the first time in a long time on September 16th. Links to these are posted up in two separate posts on the developer forum on the TAW website. She emphasizes that the IceClient is still 'nowhere near finished' and it is only being posted so the team can 'preview' it. Announcements for it will be made when the program is more useable.
As for the rest of the Ice* Tools, Emerald states in the respective forum post that she has finally gotten around to publishing them all and that they are in 'various states of workingness', though some are 'already useful'. Emerald provides links to each Tool along with a description of what they are supposed to do. She adds that they are all provided 'as a preview' and that any problems encountered should be commented on in the affected tool's own comment section.
Late in the evening, Horsey asks Liska on Discord if they were still going to run the Valkal boss. It takes him awhile to respond but, he finally states that it's likely not going to happen until the next day as he had gotten up late.
Horsey asks Liska if he had screenshots of some of his SPM characters from the final SPM Patch 0.8.8. The reason is because they want to see the various model styles, especially their heads. Liska states that he does and also has screenshots of those same characters from Patch 0.8.7 to compare them with. He also offers to show his EER characters for added comparison.
Wanting to see the heads in particular, Horsey requests shots that don't have any hats on, so Liska grabs his 'fur only' screenshots that show the base models with no equipment. He first shows off the front sides of the characters, which gets a few comments regarding the mirror modifiers on the models and how they seem to be misaligned. Horsey comments that the devs at Sparkplay's graphics department seem to have made a number of 'rookie mistakes' when making the models.
Liska then shows off the rear side versions of the same two SPM era characters. Horsey states that they and Sharlexia would attempt to fix the 'seams and deformities' in the models once they are ported to Blender. Liska shows off some of the more obvious seams in the two Foxen models that his characters used. Horsey admits they really are rather visible.
Going beyond the Foxen models, Liska mentions that the other races have different issues based on their types. He mentions having catalogued all 22 player races in all forms that have the currently used character models. He states that while he could show all of these off to the two, the combined total of all the screenshots is many Gigabytes in size.
To address the grievances posited by Sharlexia and Horsey on the 15th, as well as implement the decided on solution, on the 17th Emerald posts up an announcement on the developer forums on the TAW website. This announcement officially creates the Quality Assurance role set for the development team going forward and Emerald outlines the responsibilities and powers that are to be given to the individual that is granted this new role.
The new QA lead will take charge of all Maintenance releases from this point on and will essentially control how and when these releases and their Milestones are to be handled. Emerald adds that this person should familiarize themselves with Milestones in Github and the three new assignable tags for issues so that they can effectively mete out which bugs should be worked on and when. Additionally, from this point on, each Release will have a certain number of bugs specifically selected by the QA to be given priority over the others.
Emerald's initial selection for the new Quality Assurance role is Liska, as had been suggested during the discussion of the previous day, and she mentions in the post that Heathendel has also agreed on the choice. Emerald chooses Liska because of his 'attention to detail' which is something a QA role requires. She does add that if he has too many other things he's working on currently, someone else could be chosen instead.
Liska later informs Emerald that he did not mind and takes on the role as given stating he had figured he already had the position due to way the discussion the day before ended.
Later in the day, Liska recruits Sharlexia and Horsey and convinces them to join him on the Valkal's Shadow test server. He admits that they were not able to get any testing done the previous day as he ended up oversleeping and hopes to get started on that this time. Having to wait a bit on the two, Liska meets up with Emerald on SecondLife and the two begin discussing getting started with fixing what all went wrong with the R10 rollout.
Returning from their tasks, Sharlexia and Horsey agree to join Liska and Emerald on the test server and, though it takes them a bit to figure out the test client, both are able to login. During this time, Liska informs them that Emerald has already rolled out a few fixes for the group to test.
While waiting for their clients to download the assets, Liska shows Sharlexia and Horsey Emerald's forum post regarding making Liska the team's new QA Lead. He asks them of their opinion on the matter and both approve, stating they have no problem with the decision.
Eventually, the four turn their attention to the Valkal boss. Now determined to fix all the problems with it once and for all, it is decided that until all the issues are dealt with regarding the boss, the next Maintenance Release, R11, will not be rolled out.
Emerald, Liska, Sharlexia and Horsey spend time fighting Valkal and crashing the server a few times. During one of these, the four are able to duplicate near-perfectly the original crash that the 'Dream Team' had encountered the very first time they ran the boss. Liska expresses hope that Emerald will be able to catch the bug causing it this time. With this minor success, everyone calls it a day.
While chatting with Liska on the 18th, Horsey inquires if they and Sharlexia will be given Sage characters on the live server as had been offered previously. Liska replies that they would have to ask Emerald and that certain rules have to be followed by those who are Sages.
During the discussion on Sages and their roles involving running events, Horsey inquires if there will be a Halloween or Christmas event in the game. Liska replies that for the past two years, the TAW team had unsuccessfully attempted to run a revamped Winter Dawning event with expanded content but always ran out of time. Horsey and Sharlexia offer to help with it, but, Liska replies that it is mainly Heathendel's project. Both counter that surely he wouldn't mind others helping out.
During this same time, Liska sits on the VS test server and painstakingly begins testing all the Books currently in the game. As it turns out, every single multi-page Book save two crash the server when any attempt to craft them is made. One of the two that doesn't crash the server simply turns out an error and refuses to craft. A third Book, the one for the Abandoned Monastery dungeon, is also found to be missing half the text on the last page. Only one Book, the one for the Southend Passage, is able to be crafted. Because of these issues, Liska warns everyone on Discord not to try crafting Books until the issue is resolved.
On September 19th, in response to Horsey's suggestion that the Rapunzel's Tower book needs more details for each 'story' listed on the book pages, Liska goes back and painstakingly gives each one a more detailed description. Later in the day, Emerald adds these to the test server and Liska is able to verify that the pages have indeed been updated.
Emerald makes the World Editor program open source on the 22nd and creates both a Github page for it as well as an Issue Tracker. She then makes a post on the TAW website's developer forums outlining these changes and emphasizing that all bugs with the World Editor should now be filed on it's own issue tracker instead of the Earth Eternal server projects' issue tracker. She adds that anyone that has experience in Java is now able to work on it if they want.
Emerald implements a few bug fixes on September 23rd including the backporting of some of the changes on the Valkal's Shadow server to the Anubian War server. Among these are some work done on Shard switching and fixes to the easylogging compiler. Additionally, several fixes to the Valkal boss are also brought over including a rewrite of the Pause/Resume logic.
More bugs are addressed on the 24th. At the request of Heathendel, Emerald adds the ability to include props in grove templates. She rolls out two more grove templates to the test server for him to work on.
On the 25th, Liska, Emerald, Sharlexia and Horsey all meet in SL and chat a bit. Ideas and suggestions are tossed around while Emerald works on a few bugs. Eventually, Sharlexia and Horsey bombard Emerald with a few comments and complaints. Stress showing on all three sides, Emerald, being tired by this point, snaps at the pair's complaints a bit. All three depart SecondLife on a bit of a sour note.
Liska chats with Sharlexia and Horsey in Discord soon after and apologizes for the two not feeling the TAW team is doing enough. Both Sharlexia and Horsey explain that they are feeling Earth Eternal is stressing them out along with other things in their lives for the moment. Because of this, the two decide they want to depart the game. Liska tries to persuade them to say by pointing out he's been in the same boat several times in the past already.
He also mentions that the two need not worry about upsetting Emerald as she was likely just tired. Both state that they 'should have taken a step back awhile ago' but didn't. Liska points out that he did the same thing during the times the game overwhelmed him and that he came back once the motivation returned. Horsey states that they have many EE projects they want to get done and likely could quite quickly, but, with other things interfering at the moment, they are unable to.
Sharlexia and Horsey tell Liska that their real lives are in a terrible flux currently and Earth Eternal is simply adding on to the stress. Liska suggests that they take a breather. When they state that they will discuss amongst themselves the following day what their plans will be, Liska tells them not to simply walk away. He adds that if they need some time away from the game to sort things out in their lives, that is fine.
Liska tells them they could visit everyone in SecondLife, chat and have fun but need not worry about Earth Eternal. They could also chat in Discord if SL was too 'close to the game' for a time. Both tell him the won't make a decision yet and will wait till the next day and Liska counters that he isn't trying to rush them and is merely offering a suggestion to them.
Having been in similar situations where the game has stressed him out, Liska tells the two he can empathize with them a bit even if the situations and reasons are different. Horsey comments they are tempted to make a Planet Forever admin-type rant even if they never post it up as it might help a bit. Liska comments that if Horsey does to go easy on the team, except perhaps for two certain individuals he knows they have serious issues with. This comment cheers up Horsey a little.
Both then go on a casual tirade as to why they dislike these two in particular. Liska listens to them unload and agrees to some extent but also points out that one is tolerable if one filters out the bad parts and focuses on the good things they do. Horsey fully unloads regarding one of the two.
Liska finally changes the subject by mentioning that there had been a reason he specifically told the two they would be his Quality Assurance assistants. This being so that they would answer to him directly, or to Emerald as she is still the project admin, but, no one else. Liska adds that he did this so as to put himself 'between' the two of them and the rest of the development team. Further, since Liska is now the QA lead as per the recent decision, as they would be his assistants, he would be their boss much like he already has been on the EE Discord server. Horsey admits this to being a preferable setup.
Changing the subject again, Liska tells the pair that he thinks the two have quite a bit of potential to help the TAW team but would not blame them for deciding to leave the game. Liska tells them something that Emerald had told him during the times he himself had wanted to leave. This essentially being that it would be a shame if they left. He adds that there were times he, too, had felt his ideas and suggestions were falling on deaf ears, but, that he had been reassured by Emerald that the exact opposite was the case.
Horsey again tells Liska that they will make their decision the next day but also adds that one of the things that worries the two is that even if they finished everything they wanted to do, that, because Emerald is so busy, these things might not get implemented right away or be added 'years later', or worse, get shot down by others before they could 'see the light of day'. Horsey adds that they are often frustrated as there doesn't seem to be 'any clear direction or unity' at all.
Agreeing with the sentiment, Liska states that the TAW Team really does struggle with 'unity' and a 'clear direction', which is why he was glad to see pretty much the entire team all together on SecondLife. He adds that it seems as if the team finally has a place where everyone can meet and coordinate. Liska then gives various examples of how badly coordinated the TAW development team really has been. Horsey agrees it sounds terrible, but, states the team desperately needs a manager.
Liska points out that this was the reason he brought the two of them onboard and why he made them his QA assistants. As both Sharlexia and Horsey had figured Liska could 'be the QA person', he counters that they could, then, help him out while also acting as a 'check and balance'. This way they could tell him whether or not he was doing too little, too much and do others know and/or approve of whatever he's doing.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey once again bring their concerns regarding Heathendel to Liska's attention. Liska tries to reassure the two that he already has that covered and that Heathendel will be focusing on his own project for the moment while the rest of the team gets the bugs fixed and the maintenance releases rolled out. Liska does add, however, that everyone on the developer team will be working to test the Valkal boss since it requires as many as can be available to test and fix it.
He also reassures both of them that neither need to worry about Heathendel's own side project at all unless absolutely curious about it. This seems to satisfy the two on that front. Once more Horsey tells Liska that he will hear their decision the next day and Liska replies that if they really need the hiatus due to whatever reasons including any real life problems, then that would be fine.
While Horsey expresses relief that they wouldn't simply be tossed by the wayside, Liska decides to tell them about the recent decisions regarding Rozene earlier in the month. He adds that just as Rozene had been given the chance to leave for an extended hiatus if needed, the same considerations afforded to Rozene would apply to them.
Both Sharlexia and Horsey state that Liska's considerations are a great relief for them due to their current situations and that they would tell him their decision later on as they have a whole day to discuss things before deciding. Liska reminds them that if they choose to stay on, the two could simply 'trim the fat' to help lessen their burdens and even offers an example of one of these.
As part of the additional changes for the upcoming Release 11, on the 26th, Emerald reverts the Mushroom Isle region back to it's original pre-Valkal's Shadow version. The only change made to the original is the inclusion of the VS wolf NPC, VS event quest and reward chest so that players can still claim the once-per-account items.
Sharlexia and Horsey message Liska on Discord again and tell him they have decided not to leave, but, will still take a bit of a hiatus to get things together in their real lives. They reassure Liska that they would keep in contact with everyone both on Discord and in SecondLife; however, neither one would bother with any 'dev stuff' involving Earth Eternal until things settle down for them and their heads 'are in the right place' as they do not wish to repeat what happened the previous day.
During the final days of the month, more work on the Valkal boss is done. During this time, Emerald and Liska test various 'admin weapons' along with a couple 'admin armors' on the test server. Wanting to fully test these 'god' items, Liska manages to persuade both Sharlexia and Horsey to assist them in running the Valkal boss with these items even though the two had wanted a break from Earth Eternal.
Both the admin armors and at least two or three admin weapons prove to have issues. Emerald's special admin 'hat' especially, proves to be problematic as the armor rating on it is such that it breaks a character's total armor rating sending it into the negative digits. This is tested by all over the course of two days and every single class ends up being affected.
It takes Emerald several attempts before a proper fix for these issues are put in place. Emerald's 'hat' winds up having it's total armor rating reduced quite a bit so that the item no longer causes an integer overflow, which is what is determined to have caused the negative digit results previously.
Once again testing the crash fixes to the Valkal boss' two stage fight on the 29th, Liska, Emerald, Sharlexia and Horsey use the now fixed admin weapons and armor on the test server to see what more is left to fix before the boss is ready to be challenged on the live server following the R11 update's rollout. To the dismay of all four, while one more crash is found and fixed on the boss itself, a second crash occurs when attempting to fight one of the add phases that seems almost unrelated to the boss. Emerald states she will try and find what is causing this new crash later.
On the 30th, it is decided to attempt a 'player run' of Valkal on the test server to see how an actual group of players would be able to handle the boss. At the same time, the last few crash fixes are tested to see if they have indeed been fixed. In the course of the testing it is determined that the first phase of the Valkal boss continues to have issues as the boss tends to re-enter combat before the group is able to defeat all the adds spawned by the boss in regular intervals.
Liska, Heathendel and Emerald perform a few tests and it is eventually decided that Valkal's heal times need to be greatly slowed down to give players enough time to deal with the adds spawned during these portions of the first phase of the fight when the boss goes to heal. A two minute time delay is settled on pending final testing and adjustments. Due to the need to adjust the boss' heals in the first half of the fight in order to proceed, the group is unable to test Valkal's second phase just yet.
October starts off with Emerald and Liska putting the final touches on the VS Release 11 update. Having mostly fixed all the mistakes inherent with the botched Release 10 update, Emerald states the new maintenance release is nearly ready to roll out to the live server.
On the 1st, just to make absolutely certain all the crash bugs are fixed, Liska, Emerald, Heathendel, Sharlexia and Horsey all gather on the test server to run the Valkal boss one last time to iron out any lingering issues. They also test the newly implemented delay in Valkal's first phase heals to determine if it needs further adjustment before the rollout of the update.
In the end, the Valkal boss is able to be run all the way through with no incidents and both Sharlexia and Horsey express their approval with how the fixes up to now have worked. Their one complaint is that Valkal does not drop the proper number of boss essences so that all in the party can get a reward for defeating such a difficult boss. Emerald states she will look into it.
Although one of the second phase Valkal's abilities still doesn't display properly, it still functions as it should so it is decided an immediate fix for it isn't needed and the boss is still able to be run normally otherwise.
Due to the fact a quest chain has now been made for the Greysuns, the decision is made to remove loyalty from all the Greysun camps to make things easier for players running the quests. After a bit of investigating by both Heathendel and Emerald, it is determined that the spawn packages themselves have loyalty built in and that this must be removed to fix the issue.
October 2nd, sees the last few fixes added to the test server in preparation for the Maintenance Release 11 update. Emerald and Liska test the Greysun camps to make sure loyalty is removed and Emerald proceeds to fix the spawn packages themselves to completely remove loyalty from the mob set altogether. The final bug fix added involves the long broken Delivery Boxes. Both Emerald and Liska test this by sending the same items back and forth to one another.
With the final round of bug fixes in, Emerald rolls out the Valkal's Shadow Maintenance Release 11 update to the live server after nearly three full weeks of heavy testing. Unlike the previous Release, the R11 update proves to have indeed fixed most of the issues that had marred the earlier one. Unfortunately, the Release 11 update is only announced on the Anubian War website's News page. While Emerald plans to announce the update to Facebook, Twitter and Discord as well, she fails to do so.
Later in the evening, Liska creates a third Sage, Darsa, to test if he is able to use 'perm-tweak' on his Sage account on the live server. Discovering the Darsa character is unable to tweak himself, Liska uses Kurama to perform the task instead. Darsa ends up being the culmination of an inner wish for Liska that had once been attempted on the Planet Forever private server for a brief time thanks to that server's admin.
Liska also learns that the Books have a new problem that had somehow gotten overlooked. While they do now craft successfully, Liska is told by a player that while the first page shows up, the rest are claimed to have not been gathered by the player at all. Liska knows this is impossible as all the pages need to be present before a book can be crafted. Further, even though this was supposedly fixed twice already, the player mentions still being unable to build in their grove.
Now done with Release 11, Emerald begins working on the set of bugs for the next Maintenance Release, R12, on the 3rd. Although Liska plans to fully announce Release 11 on Discord, having not done so the previous day, he never does.
Emerald proceeds to focus on the bug fixes throughout the day while also doing backend work. Spotting a bug report from a player unable to proceed in the newly reverted Mushroom Isle starter region, as the class quests were still asking for the VS event mobs rather than the original targets, Emerald quickly rolls out a fix for the issue and restarts the server adding the fix as the R11.2 update.
Chatting with Emerald, Liska mentions that player Feral still had issues using /creaturetweak even though this was purportedly fixed in the last two updates and also adds grove building still seems to be broken in spite of their attempts to fix this up to now. Emerald tells Liska that /creaturetweak is a permission that only certain players are granted when they volunteer to help the Team. Liska points out that the Planet Forever admin had granted everyone that ability near the end of that server's run, having given up on just passing it out to players on request. In the end, he is able to persuade Emerald to grant tweak capabilities to player Feral.
Emerald also mentions that she hopes to have Winter Dawning all done this year and adds that she has finally fixed up the terrain issues that was plaguing Heathendel several days earlier when he went to do some work on the Winterland tile set. She tells Liska that he needs to create some Books for that event as well.
Due to the previous failures at holding the event in the last couple years, Liska still remains unsure if the Team will finally have the new setup finished. He points out that many of the NPCs currently in Winterland were borrowed from the original SPM Winter Dawning grouping and adds that there is still the issues with the Grindle boss to deal with as well. Liska points out that all of these will need to be addressed before he can properly create a Book set for Winterland.
Emerald dismisses the issues with the Winter Dawning NPCs, but, is still willing to hear Liska out regarding his suggestion of replacing them. She does remind him that she would like to see the area finally finished, however.
On October 4th, Liska makes several discoveries with the newly released R11 update that proves to be a potential disaster. Talking with several players on both Discord and the live server, he learns that various fixes were not showing as fixed, including, yet again, building in groves. Worse, he sees a bug report regarding a player who entered the game as a Pink Shroomie instead of the character they had just created. Worse, they are unable to play because their character does not interact with anything. Talks with the player affected proves this is still happening.
Bringing these up with Emerald, Liska asks her to investigate. First, Emerald tests a new character to try and duplicate the issue. When this doesn't do anything, Emerald copies the player's character to her own account to see if she able to duplicate the issue that way. Sure enough, the character proves to be a Pink Shroomie. Taking a look at the character file, Emerald discovers that changes made to earsize and tailsize were not being applied to the character and that both fields had junk text in them instead of a numeric value.
Further investigation into the problem reveals the cause of the issue. Emerald had made a minor mistake with rather serious consequences. The server itself had not received the new Checksum. txt file to tell it which files had been updated. Because of this, the server did not send out the newly updated files to any game clients connecting to it. Worse, because of this one small issue, all clients were 'seeing' the server as a pre-Valkal's Shadow release. As the earsize and tailsize sliders did not yet exist in the Scourge Of Abidan version of the game, this had resulted in the junk text in those fields on the affected player's character.
Emerald starts by fixing the affected character and then copying it back to the player's account once the fix is verified. She then turns her attention to the Checksum file itself. Emerald copies the new Checksum. txt file and adds it to the live server, then restarts it. Liska verifies that it is now sending out updated files. He also confirms that several known fixes done on the test server were now finally appearing on the live server following the emergency update.
To make sure this doesn't happen again, Emerald integrates the Checksum. txt file into the VS server itself so that it always has the updated list and adds in a measure so that the server update fails if the checksums do not match. As the TAW server handles this process differently, it had not been affected by this issue.
On October 5th, Liska talks with Emerald again and learns that she has made unexpected progress with one of the biggest bugs plaguing the servers, the now infamous Buff/Timer bug. Having isolated a key portion of this bug, Emerald states she believes she now has a possible fix rolled out on the test server. Liska hopes this fix will finally crush this long standing bug for good and Emerald agrees with the sentiment.
Other bugs are addressed by Emerald and issues are crossed off the GitHub list.
Later on that evening, Liska spends time on the Valkal's Shadow test server to test a few bugs. Having not yet gotten around to testing the newest issues with the Books that had been told to him several days earlier, Liska tests each crafted Book and discovers all but two books have the problem mentioned, though one Book displays two of it's pages. He also notices Books still cannot be read while in the Bookshelf. These are added to a new Git issue, as a bug report for the problem had not yet been made.
The Books issue now verified, Liska moves on to testing Emerald's possible fix to the Buff/Timer bug. Liska selects a bunch of skills as he is able and tests them all. He also tests the Experience Tome and the Form of the Wolf transformation potion from the Credit Shop while trying to break their timers. Because of the broad and widespread nature of this now-longstanding bug, Liska spends all night and deep into the early morning of the 6th working on testing as many skills as he is able.
A pattern also emerges to Liska while testing the fix to the Buff/Timer bug. Many of the buffs, when they expire, tend to negate his admin speed buff. Even still, Emerald's fix to prevent the timer from breaking when changing zones seems to indeed have worked for the vast majority of the tested buffs. His tests involving a possible fix for the spell interruptions when buffs expire is met with mixed results. While the ones he tests seem to work properly, Liska isn't sure they are indeed working right as timing the spell casts to the exact moment a buff's timer expires proves a bit tricky.
Liska eventually revisits the Bounder Dash skill which Liska had noticed earlier on in his tests could be overridden by the admin speed buff, but, would still kill the admin buff when it expired. Sure enough, the one test Liska had missed when testing that buff the first time proves to be the one to break on him. Because changing zones ends up breaking Bounder Dash's timer, Liska is sure he might have greatly narrowed down the field as to where the Buff/Timer bug's true source might lie. At the end of his testing, Liska creates a Git issue compiling all his data involving the tests to the Buff/Timer bug issue into one.
During the course of testing the Buff/Timer bug, on a whim while waiting on the Experience Tome to expire, Liska decides to address the bug report regarding the Goliath Ruins entrance. While a mild annoyance that players have tolerated since the Sparkplay days, as a player had bothered to submit a bug report on it, Liska decides to see if he can fix the problem once and for all. It takes quite a while and a bunch of fiddling with both the instance entrance, the interact object and it's spawn point, but, Liska is finally able to tweak the positions of the latter two just enough so that players are able to enter the dungeon without too much trouble.
Also during the course of testing the Buff/Timer bug, Liska notices that the skill Morass, which has a bug report of it's own, is indeed not working at all. A bit later, following getting kicked off the server in the middle of testing Healing Tendril, Liska notices that Morass is now working correctly. Liska later finds out that Emerald had restarted the server to roll out some fixes without realizing he had been online, something Liska had suspected from the time it happened. Still unsure if the Morass bug had been fixed, Liska chooses not to close the issue just yet.
Chats with Emerald sometime later reveal that she has been doing more work on other bugs as well as the Buff/Timer bug issue. Impressed with Liska's extensive testing of the latter, Emerald states she now has a good idea where to look in the code for what is hopefully the cause.
A bit later, Liska decides to test a few mobs in the Grunes Tal region on the test server to see if a suspicion of his proves right. As Emerald had fixed the script issue with the Skrill Hivedrones several days prior, Liska recalls another enemy that had had that same problem. Sure enough, the Spiteful Lanterneyes are now attacking as they should. Emerald later tells Liska this is because the script works for all affected mobs and, as the script itself had been empty, all mobs that used it did nothing. With the contents of the script now once again present, these mobs should function as intended.
Liska also notices that the level 1 Gloom-Spite mobs are dropping items at their own level in an area where the average mob and drops for this part of Grunes Tal are in the lower to mid-40s. He brings this up to Emerald unsure if this mob is supposed to drop items and is told that all enemies drop items at or near their level. Emerald adds that the drop table for this mob would have to be altered if Liska wanted the creature to drop different items. As the issue isn't a big deal, Liska lets it go for the time being.
Emerald checks Liska's fix to the Goliath Ruins entrance and verifies that it is satisfactorily done. Afterward, she creates a new Marker for it for quicker access in the Markers admin menu. This reminds Liska that many of the Markers created on the test server by Rictar way back when the Developer Team was working on Swineland were roughly done and might need a recheck. Emerald tells Liska that there were occasional times she had accidentally deleted an entry by mistake and Liska offers to go through all the existing Markers. He is given the go ahead.
Liska starts off with merely fixing the Marker for the Swineland Henge to more correctly list itself for what it is. Afterward, Liska notices an odd issue when he tweaks the Swineland Henge marker. Going back through the list while fixing up location names and adding or tidying up descriptions, Liska realizes there is a bug that is offsetting the entries below the changed or newly added entry. After a few tests while cleaning up Rictar's old entries and adding in new ones, Liska creates a bug report about the problem.
Another issue Emerald fixes involves a misplaced Warpig mob at the Mad Cow Farm in New Badari. This issue had been reported awhile back and Liska had investigated the issue, having been able to verify it. Since it reminded him of the time two Mad Cows had spawned near the Dunklehimer Brewery during Planet Forever before that server's admin fixed the issue, Liska wonders if a similar problem was happening in reverse. Liska mentions to Emerald that he had been to the Farm the previous day on the live server with his new Sage, but, had been unable to locate the out of place mob this time around. Presuming the issue had fixed itself, Liska had closed the issue in Git.
Now suspecting he had been mistaken, Liska has Emerald investigate. He tells her that the player who had submitted the bug report mentioned to him the Warpig mob randomly spawned whenever he killed a bunch of the Mad Cows at the Farm. Sure enough, after a few tries, Emerald is able to replicate this and the mob spawns exactly where the bug report claimed it did. At first, the spawn packages are suspect; However, Emerald later determines that the problem stemmed from a setting put in place by the Planet Forever admin.
To fix the problem, Emerald implements a divider to split the spawns for both the Mad Cow Farm and the Dunklehimer Brewery camp so that the mobs from both do not spawn in the other's area. This fix is then rolled out to the test server.
As Emerald had expressed interest in having all areas with Markers, Liska decides that he will take up this task as he is already cleaning up Rictar's old Marker sets for the Europe zone. When all of these are dealt with, Liska proceeds to organize them by region. Having dealt with most of the existing Swineland and Grunes Tal markers, Liska moves to the Midlands region and proceeds to create Markers for all of it's areas as well. This entire task takes Liska most of the day.
During the course of adding Markers to the various Midlands locations, a task that makes Liska wonder if he's creating a tourist guide in the process, Liska makes an odd discovery. While adding Markers to the areas bordering New Badari and the sea, Liska locates a mysterious Henge setup that he doesn't recall existing. Asking Emerald about it reveals that she doesn't know of it either. Liska begins wondering if Heathendel had made it and vaguely recalls him doing something along those lines in the past, but, is not sure. Liska places a Marker on the location for future reference.
The next day, on October 7th, Liska resumes adding Markers to the test server. Having nearly finished Midlands the previous day, Liska crosses off the last few locations in the region then moves to New Badari to add those.
Emerald reveals to Liska that she has isolated what might be at least one of the main sources of the Buff/Timer bug issue. Thanks to Liska's extensive tests the previous day, Emerald had been able to determine that the true cause of the bug was the 'Global Speed Buff' hack that the Planet Forever admin had added during that server's run to increase the base speed of player characters and all other creatures.
While the visual effects were simply that, as the timers only broke in the client but not the server which held the correct timers, the deeper issue had involved the Global Speed Buff. Emerald states that what had been happening was that the 5% speed buff hack would refresh itself during zone changes to keep itself active. In doing so, the Global Speed Buff ended up overriding all other active buffs whenever players changed zones, replacing them with itself. When this happened, it messed up the timers on all other active buffs.
Emerald tells Liska that she has completely removed the PF admin's old Global Speed Buff hack and replaced it with a new function that will serve the same purpose but no longer interfere with anything else. She tells Liska that she has already updated the test server with the fix pending testing.
A bit later, Sharlexia and Horsey ask Emerald if the fixes to the Valkal boss had been implemented and both Emerald and Liska tell them that these should have been rolled out with Maintenance Release 11 back on the 2nd. Liska admits that since a proper announcement was never made for Release 11, they likely 'never got the memo' on it.
Excited at the prospect of finally beating that boss, Sharlexia and Horsey send Aureus a message and patiently wait for a response. Both then get on the live server to get ready to finally cross off Valkal's Blood Keep from their list and 'finish the game' at long last. Interested in how this will turn out, both Emerald and Liska decide to also get on the live server with Sages Smaragd and Frostheim to observe the progress of the trio and help out should something go wrong.
Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey meet Smaragd and Frostheim in front of the Valkal's Blood Keep entrance. All agree that it has been a long road for all of them and hopefully the extensive testing and crash fixes to Valkal done in the last month will have paid off. Liska is pleased to learn that all three quests for the dungeon were available and the three had grabbed them before arriving at the entrance. Being observers only, Smaragd and Frostheim politely decline party invites stating that as Sages it wouldn't be right to be in the party anyway.
As the Blood Keep is a massive dungeon, the entire run takes several hours and a few relogs for all five due to a seeming memory leak. Emerald decides to record a video of the entire dungeon run and the total length would have to be heavily edited due to the amount of time spent running the instance. Sharlexia offers to edit the raw footage once it is finished and Liska states the finished video could even be posted up on the website for everyone to see.
The objectives for the two side quests of the dungeon are completed, slowly but surely, but they prove to work normally. After everyone relogs for the fight with Valkal, the real test begins. Liska and Emerald soon discover that for some reason, even with Godmode active, some of Valkal's attacks still target them. Valkal's first phase has a minor issue when the boss' final major attack seemingly fails, but, it is revealed that the only reason it wasn't seen was because the trio had moved out of the attack's range before it was cast and it had indeed been executed normally.
More serious issues crop up during the second phase of the Valkal boss fight. First, the first of the Tribute attacks seemingly fails completely. Liska surmises that the boss might have actually targeted one of the two Sages instead of the three players and because he and Emerald had Godmode active, the skill failed to work. The worst issue happens when Valkal completely stops responding, being stuck in a taunt loop after the three defeat the first of the two adds. Fortunately, the server does not crash.
Emerald offers to reset the boss so the three can pick up the fight where they left off and they agree to the idea. Liska expresses concern that resetting the boss would force the group to fight Valkal's first phase all over again; but, Emerald states she can force the second phase boss to appear even if she has to use admin skills to do so. It takes a bit, but, Emerald manages to get Valkal's second phase reset and the three fight it all over again.
Liska suggests to Emerald that since they might have unintentionally interfered in the boss' actions, to get out of range when Valkal goes to use his Tribute attack. This proves to work as all three times the boss uses this attack, it targets the three players instead of either of the Sages.
This time, defeating the first of the two adds does not cause the boss to get stuck in a loop. Aureus deduces that the reason that happened the first time was because the add had been defeated by a ranged attack suggesting the bug happened due to a proximity issue between the add mob and Valkal. Emerald makes note of this and states she'll look into a fix for it.
The rest of the boss fight goes off without a hitch, though Liska notes that Valkal's other big attack Bringing Down the House still has it's visual issues even though the three confirm they have been taking mild damage from it. Emerald states she could up the damage inflicted if need be so it seems more effective an attack.
Finally defeating Valkal at long last, Aureus, Sharlexia and Horsey celebrate their hard fought and long time in coming victory. Liska asks them if they were able to get enough boss essences to go around and the three tell him they did. The three then post a picture of themselves on Discord to prove they had finally defeated Valkal.
After a bit of chatting in the dungeon following the fight, everyone leaves and the three turn in their now finished quests. On Discord, Shadrel suggests that a new role should be given to them to prove they had indeed beaten Valkal's Blood Keep. Liska creates this role the next day and gives it to Sharlexia and Horsey. As Aureus had left the Discord server weeks before, he doesn't get the role, though Liska tells the other two, had he been on the server, Aureus would have indeed been given that role.
Getting on the Valkal's Shadow live server on the 8th with his new Sage, Liska is soon joined by both Sharlexia and Horsey on their own still-new Sage accounts. After being shown Darsa, both persuade Liska to let them have a 'mob' Sage as well. The three 'mob' Sages then have a bit of fun on the live server and surprise a few players that are online. Also on the test server for a short time, Liska adds a few more Markers to New Badari before focusing on the activity on the live server.
Noticing the fun being mentioned on Discord, Shadrel decides to login to the game for the first time in ages. Shadrel does mention that he doubts he's still a Sage, but, Liska tells Shadrel that since he's still an Event Planner, the decision was made to allow him to keep his Sage so he can carry out that purpose.
Horsey discovers a hidden chest in New Badari and Liska mentions that Heathendel had hidden several of them across the game world awhile back. While originally meant to be for The Anubian War, they had been brought over to Valkal's Shadow, though Liska mentions he isn't sure if their intended functionality would be as well. While Horsey thinks this particular chest would be inaccessible to players, Sharlexia manages to reach it using the VS event Vampider transformation potion.
Later on, Liska is asked to investigate why dungeon scaling doesn't seem to work. Although this issue is known to the developer team, Liska thinks it's just intermittent. However, testing the settings with Darsa at both locations the issue appeared to happen at, Liska discovers dungeon scaling does indeed appear to have randomly broken. The player insists it had been working earlier in the day but then just stopped working. Having been able to verify that dungeon scaling was indeed not functioning, Liska states he'll have Emerald look into it.
Several days later on the 12th, Liska chats with Emerald again. Although being unable to work on Earth Eternal for most of the week, Emerald does mention spending three days making progress on her IceClient project.
Emerald tells Liska that she does have bad news regarding the Valkal's Blood Keep video made the previous week. She mentions that more than half of the 23 GB of footage had apparently gotten corrupted starting from around the time of her first relog. Although Liska suggests trying to salvage it, Emerald states the vast majority of the recording was useless.
Sharlexia and Horsey express disappointment over the video's failure and even offer to record a straight Valkal run, minus the rest of the dungeon, but, this is decided against in the end.
Following a player's comment in Discord, Liska has Emerald look into why some players including Sharlexia and the commenter in Discord was not ever receiving Daily Rewards at all. At first, Emerald is dismissive until it is pointed out that these players have never gotten Daily Rewards at any point in time. Looking into Sharlexia's account, followed by the other player's account, Emerald quickly spots the problem.
This proves to be a nuance where certain brand new accounts with brand new characters break and certain parameters in these accounts are given the variable ZERO instead of the usual expected data. Now knowing what to look for, Emerald reassures both Liska and Sharlexia that she will be able to fix the problem and decides to offer all players affected by this bug a certain amount of Credits as compensation for the issue. Emerald settles on offering 1000 Credits to all the players affected in the end. More bugs aside from these are also discussed and solutions debated.
Many of the bugs mentioned the day before are addressed on October 13th. Among these is the Daily Rewards bug and an issue found within the Daily/Weekly Bounty Boards. Liska is tasked with testing these fixes on the test server to verify they are ready to be crossed off the Release 12 Milestone list prior to the update's rollout.
Having not gotten around to testing the bugs the day prior, Liska asks Emerald on the 14th about two specific bugs that require the creation of a whole new account plus a series of characters to verify. Emerald explains the easy way to do both to him.
Beyond these, Emerald tells Liska that she has spoken with Heathendel and the two have worked out a few more bugs for Liska to test. Quest rewards have been created for two quests requiring them and one of these, the one weekly quest, can now be completed. Emerald tells Liska that the R12 Milestone is on schedule and if these items can be tested and crossed off, they should be ready to roll out the update on time.
Discussion shifts briefly to the two bosses in the Southend Passage and Liska points out that he and Heathendel had been responsible for those several months prior. Emerald states she had already talked about it with Heathendel and he had said pretty much the same thing. She adds that these changes had somehow gotten copied to the live server at some point unintentionally.
Liska goes on to outline the general idea that he and Heathendel had come up with and Emerald states it's an interesting concept, but, that it would require a bit of work. Liska points out that it essentially borrows the general format used in the Valkal boss fight mechanics which had been part of the inspiration for this one.
Very early on the 15th, Liska finally gets around to testing several of the bugs for the upcoming Release 12. He decides to go after the easy ones first, saving the two account related bugs for testing later. During the course of these tests, while several of the issues appear fixed, some of the others prove to still have issues.
A bit later on, Emerald investigates the bugs that Liska reported in Github as still not fixed or having new issues and adds a new fix to one of them.
Later in the day, Liska and Emerald chat about the bugs he had tested and Liska mentions two other issues in the list that he had not posted updates to in Git due to not being sure of their status as a bug and needing more information. Discussions regarding all of these ensue and several decisions are made regarding them. One issue requires side input from Sharlexia and Horsey before a final decision is reached on it.
One of the two other issues Liska brought to Emerald's attention proves to involve another bug in the World Editor itself. All of these are updated pending more testing on the test server.
Afterward, Liska decides to have Emerald help him with the two big account related bugs. This proves to be difficult as Liska finds himself unable to create a new test account for the VS test server. In spite of various adjustments made by Emerald to Liska's TAW website account, including making him a full website administrator for the first time, Liska finds himself struggling to make a new test server account. This is eventually resolved when Emerald spots a nuance she had missed and promptly fixes. Having demoted Liska's website account while trying to resolve the account creation issues, Emerald once again promotes him to full website administrator.
Finally able to perform the two tests on his newly created test server account, Liska confirms at least one of the two account bugs might be fixed, though Emerald isn't completely sure. The other proves to have an issue partly unrelated to the bug report being tested. Emerald tells Liska she will work on it in the upcoming days.
On October 18th, Emerald and Liska test more of the bug fixes in order to reach the deadline for the Release 12 update's milestone deadline. Further tests on the character slots reveals a simple oversight in the game mechanics is the cause behind the presumed new issue found earlier in the week. As it turns out, this functionality had been working as intended and it is decided to leave it alone for the time being. With the rest of the issue tested and deemed resolved, it is crossed off the list.
Both Liska and Emerald continue to test and cross off bugs in the list. Among these is the long hated Buff/Timer bug issue that has long plagued both the TAW developer team as well as the players on the live server. Both hope this long standing bug is finally crushed but agree to keep a watch just in case players encounter further issues. In the end, all that remains is a single bug report regarding the Daily Rewards.
October 20th starts off with Emerald addressing the crash bug found by Sharlexia on the 15th. She decides the Daily Rewards issue can be left alone for the time being as she was unable to reproduce it in testing and closes it. With all these out of the way, Emerald takes down the live server and prepares to roll out Maintenance Release 12.
A couple minor slipups do happen regarding both the ingame news page and the one on the website which gets resolved. Liska announces the R12 update on Discord while Emerald does the same on Twitter.
A bit after the rollout of R12, Liska brings up something that has been on his mind in the last few days. He states that as Heathendel has been really busy with other things and unable to work on Earth Eternal as often as in previous years, a change in the team's lineup might be in order. Because of this, Liska begins to wonder if perhaps he should take over as TAW's Project Lead, a role Heathendel has held since the TAW team was formed.
He adds that, while this trend is by no means a fault of Heathendel's, the only two that have really working on the game in recent months has been Liska and Emerald alone. Much as she doesn't want to admit it, Emerald happens to agree on this last point. This train of discussion gets sidelined by other things and is not brought up again, however.
One of the things Liska also brings up with Emerald is his desire to update the old Harvest Fest event content to the current Valkal's Shadow server's changes. With Maintenance Release 13 being next on the list, he suggests adding the Harvest Fest content in with the R13 list to give players something to do while the team wraps up development of the planned Winter Dawning event content.
Emerald is hesitant on this point but eventually gives in to Liska's suggestion as Release 13 appears as if it will be a very small update compared with the lengthy bugs lists for the last three Maintenance Releases.
While both Liska and Emerald do plan to start work on Maintenance Release 13 pretty soon, with a bit of a break first to clear their heads, the start of work on R13 gets put off and the remainder of the month goes largely idle.
In spite of plans to get Maintenance Release 13 going, most of the month of November goes by with neither Liska nor Emerald doing much with Earth Eternal.
In the middle of the month, Liska and Emerald chat and Emerald reveals that she is trying to finish other projects before returning to Earth Eternal, but, that she has plans to do so later in that week. Liska also admits to taking a longer break than planned as well, but, states it was a good thing in the end as he had been focusing on EE almost constantly for most of the year.
On the 18th, Liska chats with Emerald again and is told that as before, other things had kept her busy but she insists that in the coming week she will definitely work on Earth Eternal this time. Liska states that he feels that, due to their unintentional extra long break, his original plan to include the Harvest Fest content in Maintenance Release 13 is likely not going to happen as the team has taken too long to get started on R13 and the timeframe for running that event has likely already closed. Emerald agrees with this consideration.
Later in the evening, former SPM player, Queen Hogg, joins the website and Liska sends her an invite to the Discord server. The two begin chatting in Discord and Liska is taken by surprise when Queen Hogg reveals that she was, in fact, none other than one of the old SPM Earth Sages. The surprise deepens for Liska when he comes to learn that the two had met previously at one point near the end of SPM's run and again during EER's run. This is because it is revealed that Queen Hogg was none other than Earth Sage Bova, Earth Sage Boss Inoshishi as well as Earth Sage Riptor. All three of these Sages being her characters.
Liska tells Queen Hogg that he remembered meeting Boss Inoshishi by chance near the end of SPM EE when he encountered Inoshishi while being helped by Earth Sage Asp when the latter accidentally sent him to GLT instead of Heartwood after he had gotten stuck in the game. Liska adds that he had met both Sage Bova and Sage Riptor much later during Earth Eternal Reborn. While Hogg doesn't remember playing EER, Liska offers up a screenshot of Sage Riptor from the last days of EER as proof.
The two continue chatting and reminiscing about the SPM days and the later Iki/EER days early into the 19th. Liska comes to learn from Queen Hogg that she had saved and hoarded many things from the Sparkplay days and this piques Liska's interest. Among the things Queen Hogg shows Liska are a roster of characters belonging to a number of Sparkplay employees and a compiled image of what looks to be either a roster of the SPM Earth Sages' own clan or a friends list containing the names of many Earth Sages including various Sage alt characters.
Later in the day the two chat again and Queen Hogg shows Liska more things she has hoarded. Among these are several videos she had taken while exploring several of the unreleased areas in the game as Boss Inoshishi. These videos include footage of the Grunes Tal, Swineland and Lurker's Vale regions and offer the first known glimpse of these areas as they were during SPM's run.
With the new information taken from both the SPM employees' character list and the SPM Earth Sage character list, Liska updates the Acknowledgements page to account for all of them.
Liska and Queen Hogg exchange files and more stories from the old days throughout the day all the way into the early morning of the 20th.
Later in the day, while on the Valkal's Shadow live server, Liska decides to show Queen Hogg his grove to give her an idea what can be done in them. In doing so, however, Liska discovers that he is unable to completely edit his grove as things such as existing spawnpoints do not show up for him when grove building is active. He also finds that he cannot drop any spawnpoints either, although he is able to target already spawned mobs and props freely. Further, Liska makes the discovery that the unused boss Fengarian has lost it's appearance as he has had it spawned in his grove since Planet Forever.
Liska chats with Emerald on the 21st of the month. Among the things the two discuss, Liska is able to persuade Emerald to get on the live server to meet Queen Hogg, since the latter had been a former SPM Earth Sage. At the same time, Liska takes the time to have Emerald investigate the two issues he had encountered in his grove the previous day.
Several tests are done and it is determined that while Liska can see and place spawnpoints using his Sage, he is still unable to do either on his player character, even when Emerald herself spawns them in front of him. Having verified that something is amiss, Emerald asks Liska to send her his player log so that she can look into the matter.
At the same time, the two address the issue with the unused boss Fengarian. Liska informs Emerald that he suspects the issue with this creature is more 'residue' from the World Editor asset corruption bug that had been fixed some weeks earlier. While as yet unsure of this, Emerald admits it's a possibility and attempts to tweak the mob's appearance back to normal. Unfortunately, this does not succeed and she is only able to see the changes locally.
Emerald tells Liska that the only appearance she could find was a relatively recent one made by Heathendel. Unfortunately, because Liska cannot see her tweaks, he is unable to tell her if it is the correct one or not. Rather than get into an argument over it, Emerald decides to use this appearance until it could be verified or refuted as the correct one.
A bit after, Liska adds a few Github issues involving both problems along with one or two others that had gone unreported for some reason. Afterward, he sends Emerald his player log, which turns out to be a bit larger than expected. Emerald tells him she will look at it later.
Emerald and Liska chat on the 23rd regarding progress with Earth Eternal. Emerald admits that she's been a bit slow to get things going again but that she has been looking into the next set of bug reports to include in Maintenance Release 13. Liska offers a few suggestions and they decide to start off small first and not dive into any really difficult bugs such as those seen in the last few Releases.
When inquired as to whether Emerald has looked at Liska's player log to see what might have prevented him from grove building, she admits to haven't not yet gotten around to it just yet.
Very early on the 24th, while several players are on the VS live server, it randomly hangs forcing Liska to manually stop and then restart it. Because the server hung rather than fully crashed, Liska surmises a crash log would not have been created, so proceeds to ask the players who had been online to provide as much information as possible. While the information is sparse, a few clues do surface, though Liska's initial suspicion falls on the old party loot bug, though this is not confirmed.
Later in the day, while chatting with Emerald, she tells him she has been looking into some of the minor bugs to help get things going again as she has been unable to do much for most of the week.
Liska tells Emerald about the server hang from early that morning and she goes to investigate. To Liska's surprise, Emerald tells him the server did indeed leave a crash log in spite of the hang and she is able to immediately determine the cause. As Liska had initially suspected, the cause was indeed the party loot bug. The further surprise comes when it is revealed that Queen Hogg's player ID is the one tied to the crash.
With this information, Liska informs Hogg of this bit of information and relays a few questions that Emerald wanted to know. It is finally revealed that Queen Hogg had indeed been in a party with another player, Dax Orillion, earlier and that the two never broke the party once the dungeon run had ended. Liska surmises that Hogg might have triggered the crash unknowingly while looting a mob and since the server was slow to hang, the effects went unnoticed until everything ground to a halt.
More bug discussion happens on the 25th and Liska expresses his concerns that Winter Dawning might not happen for the third year in a row due to Heathendel's current absence. Emerald reassures him she will try and get ahold of him during the week and let him know EE development has resumed.
Once more inquiring about his player log, Liska manages to convince Emerald to finally look at it and it is revealed that a series of errors were being spammed every time Liska attempted to build in his grove. One error appears almost a dozen times, corresponding to the number of times he had tried to place a spawnpoint in the grove. Later on though, it is determined that this error has been repeating more than a hundred times, indicating that something more is amiss.
Here, Emerald determines that she will have to take a copy of his grove to see precisely what is going on. Although Liska worries he would have to give Emerald his login credentials, she reassures him this isn't necessary as the issue appears to be with the grove instance itself.
Sure enough, Emerald is able to reproduce the problem Liska has been describing and determines that the problem is indeed a permissions issue that has somehow gotten messed up. Emerald admits that she has been planning a revamp of the entire permissions system anyway and the issues with Liska's grove gives her an excuse to move that task further up in the list. Liska comments that getting that out of the way in Maintenance Release 13 will save her from dealing with it later on.
Here, Liska brings up the issue regarding the Valkal boss as mentioned to him a week or so before by the same trio who had accidentally killed the boss. Emerald states she will create a new 'Min-Health' status so that creatures assigned this status, like Valkal, are unable to be killed and follow through with their scripts as intended.
On the 26th, Emerald rolls out her changes to the permissions system to the Valkal's Shadow test server and adds a related issue to Github. In the bug report issue, Emerald outlines her changes to permissions and requests that the changes be tested. She also implements the 'min-health-pc' status which will prevent a creature from being accidentally killed when it isn't supposed to be. A Github issue is created for this as well which states the Valkal boss' Stage 1 creature has been given this status.
A bit later, Emerald and Liska chat for a bit regarding the bug fixes for R13. Liska admits that it will likely be problematic due to the fact it is almost December already. He adds that at the rate things are going, the team might not have enough time to finish and run the new Winter Dawning event for the third year in a row. Emerald agrees that this might indeed happen and that she needs to get hold of Heathendel to find out his status. Liska does posit that if worse comes to worse, they could simply roll out the classic SPM Winter Dawning content instead so that players have something to enjoy this time instead of nothing at all. Emerald agrees this might be a good alternative if the new content isn't finished in time.
Liska and player Zodizozz discuss some of their gathered data on the live server and Liska asks if that information could be moved to the Game Guides section of the website. Zodizozz agrees to have their data looked at and shows off a Google Docs document listing off multiple Class related bits of data. Liska points out a few errors and these are corrected.
A very minor dispute as to how the data would be handled takes place along with how the Game Guides section is currently set up. The two intend to resume their talks but they never get around to it.
The 27th of the month sees more bug reports addressed for the R13 release. Some of the ones addressed by Emerald are relatively new as the previous two weeks have seen an increase in bug reports by players.
Zodizozz sends Liska a brief message stating they have done further reorganization of the information, but, has chosen to stop as it was becoming frustrating. The two don't meet to discuss it further.
More bugs are addressed by Emerald, pending testing on the Valkal's Shadow test server, on the 28th and one issue is closed as well.
Early on the 29th, Liska finally gets around to testing some of the bug fixes that are ready for testing on the VS test server, in preparation for Maintenance Release 13. He is only able to close one issue as the rest require more work. The biggest issue is the fact that the grove permissions issue cannot be fully tested as Liska's still rather new test player account is discovered to have administrator permissions, rendering tests with this account useless until addressed.
Amusingly, Liska discovers he might have accidentally fixed the Fengarian boss' appearance while testing the Grove permissions on his admin character. Having discovered that Heathendel's alterations had promoted Fengarian from level 43 to level 55 and likely doubled the creature's size, it was using the exact same appearance as another unused dragon boss, Valkara. Liska tweaks the boss to test the creature tweak permission and apparently by pure accident, fully restores Fengarian's original model, even though the level and size changes remain altered.
Later in the day, Liska and Emerald chat again and Liska updates her on the tests he ran that morning. In response, Emerald tells Liska that she will go ahead and revert his change to Fengarian even if the model is wrong until there is confirmation from Heathendel on what the intended model supposed to be.
Further, upon learning about Liska's permissions issue with his test player account, Emerald removes all advanced permissions so that the account is as intended to be. They both determine that Emerald had given that account temporary administrator permissions for earlier tests and had simply forgotten to remove them.
Liska discusses with Emerald regarding the implementation of the 'min-healh' status and Emerald states that this will now enable the team to create 'invincible' mobs as needed. She also reassures Liska that it shouldn't affect the other mechanics with Valkal's first phase as the boss' script triggers at 10% health while the 'min-health' script sits at 5%. This is to prevent an accidental kill if a player deals an extra hard final blow to the boss.
Now that this is settled, it reminds Liska of the work he and Heathendel had done to the TAW version of the Southend Passage several months earlier and the bosses meant to be there. The two had discussed one of these bosses would be using a similar setup to Valkal's two phase boss mechanics and Liska realizes that this new mechanic would make that setup far more possible.
With this implemented, Liska states that one of the final two major bugs in Valkal will have been eliminated. The second of these is the 'proximity' bug which was discovered when Sharlexia, Horsey and Aureus ran the boss with Liska and Emerald observing the two while Emerald attempted to make a video of the event. Although the video was later found to have been worthless, that run had exposed a bug in the second phase of the Valkal fight determined to be linked to long range kills that would cause the Valkal boss to enter a script loop should either of the adds be defeated in this way.
Having forgotten about this, Liska reminds Emerald of that bug and agrees to create a Git issue for it if it didn't exist. He forgets to do this later however. Further, he states that when they decide to test the new mechanic implementation for the Valkal boss, he can easily recruit both Sharlexia and Horsey to help out. At the same time, the two can test the permissions given to volunteer developer accounts as their accounts were already set up this way. Emerald agrees that this is a good idea.
On the last day of the month, Emerald gets more issues addressed and ready for testing. Among these is Liska's long ago requested model changes to three bosses found in The Down Below dungeon.
Spambot appearances slow down on the website in the final week of November. During that same period in time, a number of actual players sign up, partially due to player Saint getting permission from Liska to post a link to the Discord server on the EE Facebook page. Player Aureus returns to the EE Discord during the latter part of the month as well.
The first day of December has Emerald addressing more of the issues to be included in Maintenance Release 13. On the 2nd of the month, she assigns several of these issues to members of the development team.
On December 3rd, Emerald works a bit on the party loot bug. After thinking she might have it fixed, Emerald and Liska get on the test server to test if the fixes are working. They decide to cross off the fix for the Valkal boss at the same time. During the course of testing the party loot bug fixes, while it doesn't crash the server, a new issue is discovered that prevents the players still online from looting if one of the players in the party is offline.
As if by a coincidence, the live server hangs forcing players to notify Liska on Discord. Relaying the information to Emerald, she is able to verify that the server has indeed hung and she has restarted it. Although information is sparse, evidence points yet again to the party loot bug as the cause of the crash. Liska finds this amusing as both he and Emerald have been testing fixes for this very issue on the VS test server when the crash had happened on the VS live server.
While testing the party looting issues, it is discovered that at least one of the dungeon's lesser bosses is not always dropping loot as it should. Being the endgame raid dungeon, the bosses of Valkal's Blood Keep is supposed to always drop epic or legendary ranked gear for players with Valkal dropping legendary items.
The fix for the first phase of Valkal goes off without a hitch as well as a few other issues the two test afterward. By the end of the round of testing, half of the bug list for Maintenance Release 13 is crossed off. Emerald tells Liska that if the rest of the bugs are addressed as quickly as the ones they crossed off, she could target the end of the week, December 7th, for the rollout of R13. Liska agrees that this would work as R13 is a bit overdue anyway.
While testing cosmetic fixes to three mobs in The Down Below dungeon, Liska points out to Emerald that a good section of the instance is completely ignored by all players outside those who would try to clear it. He adds that he would like to see quests added that would lead to the neglected sections of the dungeon so that players finally get to see them rather than leave after finishing the existing quests.
During this discussion, Liska hits on an idea on how to go about adding quests to the instance, such that they would fit in nicely with the original narrative and possibly even involve the captive NPC that is part of one of the existing quest lines. Emerald likes the scenario that Liska offers up as an example and tells him to go ahead with the idea. Liska states he might not start on it immediately but wanted to get the idea out there first.
Emerald and Liska meet up again on the 4th to cross off more items in the bug list for Maintenance Release 13. Emerald tells Liska that the party loot issue discovered the previous day has proven to be more difficult to track down than expected. So, taking a break from that issue, the two turn their attention back to the grove issues. Fengarian's appearance is fixed up on the VS test server and finalized before the two proceed to test the grove bug that Liska noticed some weeks before.
All proceeds as normal at first, but, then the issue crops up on Liska's test player account. Emerald is able to verify the issue still exists using her own test player account. Upset that her new account permissions system failed to fix the issue, Emerald sets about to locate the bug. Both test various grove building options and the issue is finally narrowed down to the Manipulator items such as Spawnpoints. Emerald then goes to attempt to replicate the bug on her personal server and succeeds in doing so.
Eventually, Emerald discovers that the issue is simply that for some reason, all Manipulators were being hidden by the server and client so that players could not see them, even though they were actually there and being placed by the player. She updates the test server with this fix and the two test it again. Sure enough, the issue is finally resolved.
While testing the grove issues, Emerald receives an email from Heathendel. In it he explains the reasons why he has been away lately. As it turns out, Heathendel had been involved in an incident at his RL job and has been hospitalized for the last six weeks. He reassures Emerald that he has been trying to keep up with the goings on with Earth Eternal even though he has been inactive and will try to meet up with her and Liska sometime later in the week either on SecondLife or in EE. Both Liska and Emerald offer Heathendel well wishes via a reply email from Emerald.
On December 5th, Emerald gets a fix put in for the party loot issue discovered two days earlier. Both she and Liska again get on the VS test server to see if the fix has worked. In addition, Liska suggests also crossing off the last of the grove permissions for the various account types that Emerald has set up. A few permissions issues are found during the course of testing the last two account types. Because of the complexity of the overall setup, Liska suggests they might want to create a general overview list of permissions available for each account type.
Finally getting grove permissions as fixed as possible, the two move on to the other items of the day. Because they had planned to test the fix for the new party loot issue, Liska also suggests they test the issue involving dungeon scaling as well. Although Emerald is skeptical that dungeon scaling is really broken, she agrees to at least test it to get the bug report crossed off the list.
Sure enough, the two discover that, while both are able to scale dungeons while outside a party, for some reason, they do not scale while the two are partied even though the party leader receives a message that the dungeon is scaled to the set profile. Emerald decides to set this issue aside for later and the two focus on the party loot issues.
Both test all three party loot setups and, while the bug discovered previously has been proven fixed, a crash bug is found in the Loot master option. Amusingly, Liska had suspected this would be the case as that party loot option is almost never used by players. After Emerald fixes that issue, the party loot system is declared as fixed as it is able barring a few flavor text issues that Liska feels should be reworded to better clarify the party loot options, especially Loot master.
With both the grove bugs and the party loot bugs finally addressed, both of these are finally crossed off the list. They then turn their attention to another task, testing the new AI script system. Here, Emerald shows Liska what to look for when testing these. In her test server grove, she shows off several mob sets of differing levels. While doing so, it is discovered that some of mobs given these scripts aren't activating the buffs included in their respective AI scripts.
Although Liska does object to some of the class script selections given to some of the mobs, Emerald states she has been trying to offer a wider variety of mob types with these scripts.
Emerald gets a fix in for the dungeon scaling issue discovered the previous day on the 6th. She and Liska test the fix on the VS test server only to discover that the fix did nothing. A quick investigation reveals that she has removed a bunch of code in the source that had been deemed unnecessary. Suspecting there might be something in that deleted code she had missed, Emerald restores the removed code and the two test dungeon scaling again.
Sure enough, the fix appears to work this time. When asked what was different, Emerald tells Liska that she had missed at least one instance of a line of code that was present at least twice. She had fixed the first instance but had missed the second which was part of the portion that had gotten deleted previously. This only proves to Emerald that the mechanic did not really work as intended even from the beginning. She also tells Liska this was the first time this code has been touched since Planet Forever's admin had added it.
The two continue to test the dungeon scaling setup only to discover to their dismay that even with Emerald's second fix, the issue remains. Frustrated, Emerald decides to hold off until later to deal with the problem.
When asked about the AI script testing, Emerald replies that the buff problem in the AIs noted the previous day need to be fixed because they are not activating as they should. Liska decides to hold off testing the AI scripts until Emerald gets a fix for that in. Emerald admits that the planned release of R13 might have to be pushed back to Saturday or so if getting these two remaining bugs dealt with continues to prove difficult.
Emerald reveals to Liska that, due to running low on funds, Rozene has given up her sim in SecondLife around the beginning of the week. This meant that the team has lost their TAW plot for now. Emerald states she has packed up all the EE assets from the plot until such time that a new location is set up at some point in the future.
December 7th sees the return of Heathendel for the first time in almost two months. He meets up with Emerald and Liska in SecondLife and explains a bit more about the incident at his RL job and why he was out of commission all this time. Liska and Emerald get him caught back up to speed on what they have been currently doing and Heathendel states he has been keeping up with the changes in Github.
The three discuss getting back on track with the rest of Maintenance Release 13 and then trying to finish up the new Winter Dawning content. Heathendel reveals that he is all for bringing back the old Winter Dawning setup should the upgraded version not be ready in time and then it can be rolled out later on as an extension of the event once completed. In addition, the original Winter Dawning setup, if used, could include a few upgrades to enhance the experience, such as the Snow effects in Emerald's still-experimental weather system. Both Emerald and Liska chime in with their support of this idea.
Far as the remaining two issues for R13 go, Emerald reveals she has only worked on the issue with the AI scripts and thinks she has the buffs working again. The dungeon scaling issue, however, has been put off until later.
Liska and Emerald eventually meet up on the test server and try out several of the mobs being used to test the scripts. It's discovered that, while some work mostly as intended, the buffs still tend not to be cast as intended along with other skills that do not execute as often as they should.
Joining the other two a bit later on, Heathendel discovers that the buffs are being randomly cast when a mob is aggroed and that they do not always happen at the onset of a fight. Liska and Emerald discover that some of the other skills are behaving in a similar manner. Emerald states she will look into these.
Heathendel then shifts his focus to the Winter Dawning event content. He and Liska reiterate what all needs doing to finish things up. While getting started on this, the test server crashes before either could really get going. Liska has Emerald restart it, though she tells him she will look at the log the next day as it's pretty late for her at this point.
Emerald investigates the VS test server crash on the 8th. It is revealed to have been caused by a 'null' setting in the weather system. Emerald puts in a guard against the 'null weather' state to prevent another crash and also track down the source of the last 'weather related crash', which is found and fixed. At the same time, she also adds in new weather systems and effects to the game.
A bit later, Emerald tells Liska more details about the additions to the weather system and that it is now active in the entire Europe region. Emerald adds that the Dustshore region now has dust storm effects.
Emerald addresses several smaller bugs as well as the dungeon scaling issue on the 9th of the month. She also takes another look at the AI scripts issues. Heathendel gets on the VS test server and attempts to do more work on the Winter Dawning content. He is again stopped by the 'weather' bug issue.
On the 10th, Emerald finally puts in a fix for the dungeon scaling issue. She chats with Liska and tells him there's more to test. Attempting to login, Liska discovers the test server has crashed. Emerald mentions that Heathendel had been on and, upon investigating, verifies that the 'weather' bug was the culprit again. Emerald restarts the server and both then login.
Liska and Emerald decide to see how many of the remaining issues are fixed in time for the R13 release and the two decide to focus on the dungeon scaling issue first as it is the largest. During this time the server crashes when Liska goes to use a debug trigger admin command. Emerald determines it is related to the weather bug issue and decides to completely turn off the weather system until she can get that resolved.
Once the test server is again restarted, Emerald and Liska resume testing the dungeon scaling options. Both determine that this issue is finally fixed and they move on to the more minor bugs in the list. A few typos are addressed along with the discovery of a GM window issue where it seems to skip entire acts in quests when auto-completing them. Liska also notices a minor text issue in this same GM command set.
It is decided to hold off on the AI scripts issue as the system proves to be more of a hassle than expected. Emerald suggests to have it moved to the next major update following the Winter Dawning event update. She reveals to Liska that this particular update, expected to be started after the new year, will be the one to completely port over all TAW server functionality to the Valkal's Shadow server and that it will be a massive update.
Emerald tells Liska that she will attempt to have the 'weather' bug fixed by the next day and if that gets crossed off, then she will roll out Maintenance Release 13 soon after. Liska states it is long overdue, being about six weeks later than originally planned.
On December 11th, Emerald puts in a fix for the weather system. A bit after, she prepares to roll out Maintenance Release 13 to the VS live server. During this time, she and Liska chat and he asks if two other things could be added if possible before the R13 update is rolled out.
Liska and Emerald discuss these two things, but, in the end it is decided that both will be held off until later. With these set aside, Liska gives the go ahead for the R13 rollout. After updating the live server, Emerald makes the announcement for Maintenance Release 13 on Facebook, Twitter and the TAW website. Liska follows up with the Discord announcement.
Having forgotten to test if the weather system before rolling out R13, both Emerald and Liska get on the live server to test both it and verify if the other things were indeed fixed. Liska notices that the client isn't updating prompting Emerald to investigate. While the original issue is no longer a problem, it turns out Emerald had simply overlooked a few files waiting to be deployed to the live server. Once this is done, the clients update as intended.
Both are able to verify that the fixes for Groves work and that a few other issues are indeed resolved. Liska is able to verify that the two new weather effects found in Deadwood and Dustshore work; however, the particle effects for both prove to be a tad underwhelming as a first impression. The sound effects in Dustshore also prove to actually drown out the ambient music. Emerald states she will look into these as able and Liska tells her these are alright as a first pass.
A bit after, Emerald reveals there is a still unused weather effect intended for Grunes Tal and Liska adds that the name 'blood rain' sounds like a good fit for the section of Swineland that involves the Vampires. Emerald agrees that that might be the best place for the effect really.
On the 12th, Emerald updates the Anubian War server with several of the fixes made on the Valkal's Shadow servers. She brings the TAW server up to date with the remainder of the changes made on the VS servers up through the R13 update's changes the following day on the 13th. Later on, she tells Liska that while the server side has been fully updated, the Anubian War client has not yet been done. This is expected to be updated next.
Late on the 14th, while chatting in SL, Liska, Sharlexia and Horsey chat about the EE models and Horsey mentions planning to focus on those again once their personal projects are finished. Horsey even entertains the idea of coming up with new races for the game down the road.
This pushes the discussion into mention of the Lore and all the problems it has. This is due to Liska pointing out that a new race would need to fit the Lore and properly blend in with the rest of the story. Horsey points out that the Bandicoon race has a major flaw as raccoons are not native to Europe and comments that the SPM devs apparently could not distinguish creatures that live in America from those that are native to regions outside it.
This gives Liska an idea as to how to resolve this issue, but, a debate with some of Horsey's suggested animal choices for potential new races ensues as Liska feels they 'conflict' with the overall story. Both Sharlexia and Horsey disagree and a long debate regarding 'game conventions' ensues.
Emerald does some backend work on the TAW server on December 15th and 16th. This includes work on clusters and temporary script directories.
Later on the 16th Emerald and Liska talk about the newest changes on the TAW server. She confirms to Liska that this is part of getting Shards to work and that it is one of the last remaining tasks to be completed on the Flying Squirrel project, which is the codename for the upcoming major update to the Valkal's Shadow server in which all of The Anubian War server's functionality will be ported over to VS. Emerald had told Liska some days earlier that this major update would likely happen sometime after the new year and would likely follow the Winter Dawning event update, provided that happens.
In response to one of Liska's questions regarding the changes, Emerald states that players will be able to login to the game as before using their existing clients and even take advantage of nearly all the formerly TAW exclusive website functionalities; however, to take advantage of logging in to the game via the website itself, they would need a new client which Emerald tentatively calls the 'TAW on VS client'. Liska jokingly comments that this sounded like a ripoff of the name of the Play on Linux program.
Emerald does state that the Flying Squirrel update will require lots and lots of testing before it is rolled out to make sure that everything works as it should. Liska adds that they should also do some testing on the TAW server to make sure all the VS fixes that were backported to that server work as well.
On the 17th, Emerald updates the Meson build on the TAW server. She also does more work on the Shards and smashes a few bugs in the code.
More work on the Shards is done by Emerald on the 18th. Chatting with Liska a bit later, the two discuss the progress and Emerald mentions that she has nearly finished getting the Shards functionality working. Liska points out a mistake Emerald made and she mentions that the issue was already fixed, but, states that she is impressed Liska had spotted it. Liska merely states that while he does have some knowledge in programming, it really isn't enough to do much with or be of help.
The discussion then shifts to Winter Dawning as Liska is concerned everyone will go on holiday hiatus before any sort of WD event content is rolled out to the live server. He suggests to Emerald that it might be best to just go ahead and roll out an updated version of the SPM Winter Dawning content as the new Winterland upgraded version, for the third year in a row, has not yet been finished.
While Emerald agrees that this might have to happen, she goes ahead and checks Github to see how much has been done to the newer WD content. After investigating Github, it appears that much still remains unfinished and Liska points out that this includes the dungeon and it's associated boss, Grindle.
Emerald states she will try and get hold of Heathendel to see about the quests and Liska states he cannot make any books for the event until the quests and the dungeon are more complete so as to give him an idea what the area is about.
Work on the Shards functionality continues on the TAW server on the 19th. Emerald adds in a change made the previous day that involves the configuration options of the file ServerConfig .txt. She also manages to get the HTTP server component to run separately and separates out the logging directories for TAWD and EEHTTPD.
Liska and Emerald chat a bit after and Emerald confirms that these changes are among the last components for Shards remaining, save one last task which likely will wait until later. The next major task after that will be to update the website integrations so that they work properly under the new setup.
Until then, Emerald tells Liska that she will be focusing on the Winter Dawning content. As the two discuss this, Emerald asks Liska if they should go ahead and roll out the existing WD content. Liska replies that this seems to be the case as it is looking more and more likely that the new Winterland version of the Winter Dawning event just isn't going to happen for the third year in a row.
Although Emerald relocates a text file in Git that appears to have quests in it, Liska points out that the UNUSEDWINTERDAWNINGQUESTS. txt file is the one containing the original SPM quests, the same file he had cleaned up back when the team was attempting to restore the Grindle dungeon to the WD content just prior to Heathendel's decision to create the Winterland version of the event.
Due to the length of time between the last time the SPM Winter Dawning event had been held and now, Liska begins wondering how easy it would be to update. Emerald states that she would have to put in long hours to painstakingly sift through both the event data and set it up. However, Emerald does posit a much easier task that might shave off a bunch of hours' work. This would be to take the files from 2013, which was when WD was last rolled out in Planet Forever, and compare them to the files from the 2015 attempt at running the event by the current TAW team. Emerald could then isolate all the WD content and extract them from the other files.
Liska suggests that Emerald could take it a step further and do the same thing with the Harvest Fest content. This would then enable the content of both events to be brought current, at least as far as up to Valkal's Shadow Maintenance Release 13's changes. Liska does emphasize that their focus would be on Winter Dawning's content as that is the next planned update, but, getting the Harvest Fest event content brought current as well, would prevent future problems.
Emerald gets started with sorting these files and notices that there are no Git issues posted for them. Liska points out it was likely because the last attempt at these events was probably before the team used Github. Emerald agrees this may be the case.
As it turns out, some of the old Grunes Tal and Swineland NPC attempts had been included in the old WD files, which causes some confusion, but, Liska clarifies where those NPCs were meant to go and that they were not part of the WD content.
It takes Emerald a bit but, she is able to perform the task decided on much quicker than expected. Although both Europe's and Anglorum's content is being done in four phases, two for Europe content and two for Anglorum content, Emerald focuses on Europe's first.
Liska suggests Emerald work on these be added to the VS test server for testing before they are rolled out to the live server to avoid any problems. Once Emerald is finished with the Europe content, she adds it to the test server and Liska suggests they look at it and see if her changes have worked.
After Emerald updates the VS test server, she and Liska get on to investigate if the WD content was added successfully. Sure enough, while Heartwood contains a few holiday props including the Winter Dawning Tree, Liska points out that most of the other props, such as the holiday banners and most of the lights are missing, along with the NPCs and mobs.
Emerald points out that she only updated the server with the scenery and that she can have the spawns enabled next. Liska points out that this would be a simple change as they just need to be commented back in to enable the creatures. After getting these ready, Emerald restarts the server and the two begin making sure the holiday mobs and NPCs are present. While the spawns in and around Heartwood prove to be there, Emerald discovers that the holiday NPCs are spawning hostile.
She determines that this is because they are 'static creatures' in much the same way as the Keystone Sanctuaries are. With a bit of tweaking, Emerald gets in a fix and restarts the server once again. This time, while the NPCs are now working properly, Liska discovers that one of the NPCs contains a quest that was meant for the upgraded Winterland WD content and that the NPC's 'tag' also had been changed. Emerald determines that Heathendel had apparently altered the original creatures and that this will have to be reverted.
Being late by this point, Emerald creates a Github issue for the original SPM Winter Dawning event content and instructs Liska to post any further observations into that. Emerald also tells Liska that she will have the Anglorum WD content set up the next day and Liska offers to check out the Bremen WD content so that that can be addressed along with the issues in Heartwood when Emerald gets the Anglorum content set up. Emerald tells Liska that so far, the progress is going well and at a much faster pace than she expected.
Soon after, Liska investigates the Bremen content and discovers that, like Heartwood, Bremen does not have any WD Banners and the Bremen counterpart to the NPC in Heartwood has the same two issues as that one does. He adds this information to the Github issue as instructed so that it can be addressed.
Emerald and Liska chat again on the 20th. Emerald tells Liska that she has restored the Anglorum WD content and added some props to a few towns in Anglorum as Liska suggested in his Git post the previous day. Getting on the test server, Liska notices that most of the WD props are missing and that only Camelot was decorated. He mentions this to Emerald who states she only found the items shown in the files they were using.
Liska also mentions that, like the two NPCs in Bremen and Heartwood, the NPC counterpart in Camelot is also using it's Winterland quest. Emerald tells him she'll get that removed. Liska also notices that the other two NPCs are still showing their Winterland tags even though Emerald has attempted to remove them. In addition, they are still showing their quests. Beyond this, Liska verifies that the Camelot quests, including the Taiga Wolf NPC added during Planet Forever, is working.
Emerald does more work on Winter Dawning on both the 21st and 22nd. On the 22nd, Liska is told Emerald has added additional props to the towns Liska suggested should have them. When Liska gets on the VS test server, though, he is surprised that the props are different than he hoped. Due to the tight schedule; however, he allows this to slide as something is better than nothing.
While investigating the towns, Liska notices that Emerald added props to the town of Listerm instead of Eastbridge as requested. This was a minor mistake, and Liska decides to overlook it as well. A holiday tree prop in Far Reach however, clips through one of the regular tree props and Liska requests it be adjusted.
Further, while Emerald has managed to remove the Winterland quest from the Camelot NPC, the two in Bremen and Heartwood still retain theirs in spite of Emerald's efforts to eliminate them. In addition to this, while the Heartwood NPC now has it's original group tag, the Bremen NPC still displays the Winterland version. Both of these frustrate Emerald as she states she has no idea why the quests are still showing up, but, says she'll continue to search.
Liska decides to test the mobs to make sure they are dropping their proper items and does this for all three towns. Because by this point it is late for Emerald, Liska posts his results in the same Github post.
Although Emerald had told Liska that she didn't have much time the next day, she surprises Liska on the 23rd by not only fixing up the NPCs and requested props, but, by fully restoring the original Grindle quest chain to these same NPCs along with the original dungeon itself which had been discovered in the files that Emerald had been looking in.
The two get on the test server and begin testing the quest chain. Although one portion of the quest confuses Liska as the quest destination appeared slightly different than he remembered, Emerald insists this is where the files claimed they were. Liska decides to let it go on such short notice and they resume testing.
Emerald restores the 'trail of gifts' to each of the three target dungeons in the quests and even discovers she had made a bit of a mistake as some files didn't get carried over initially. A quick fix and restart of the server resolves this. Although it takes the two much longer than planned, the quest chains in Camelot, Bremen and Heartwood are all verified as completeable, with only one snafu involving the Heartwood holiday tree as a real issue that is easily fixed.
Liska does discover that the Bremen and Heartwood NPCs, though they both now have their original tags, still give their Winterland quests once the Grindle chain is finished. This frustrates Emerald who decides to just 'nuke' the Winterland quests entirely. Liska is able to verify that both of these are gone, while Emerald verifies the Heartwood holiday tree is fully fixed.
She then gets the files ready to roll out to the live server as it is decided that the mostly original SPM Winter Dawning event has been restored to at least 90%. After Liska does some quick last minute verification that everything is ready, Emerald goes ahead and rolls out the Winter Dawning event to the live server. She then makes the announcement on the TAW website. Liska follows suit on Discord a bit later.
Things go quiet for the remainder of the year as everyone focuses on the holidays. This does not stop Liska from smashing the occasional spambot on the website, however.
The new year starts off slow as everyone refocuses on other things. Even still, several SPM veterans return during the first week of January. Among these are players Diby Doo and Shadow Twisted, aka Era Gaul, who sign up to the TAW website within two days of each other.
On January 11th, Liska and Emerald finally meet up in SecondLife and chat a bit. Liska inquires on the status of the next update to Valkal's Shadow, codenamed 'Flying Squirrel', and Emerald states she has yet to get started on anything Earth Eternal related but plans to get started on that over the weekend.
When told that players seem to be enjoying the Winter Dawning content, Emerald states that they need to decide when the event is going to end and Liska agrees. The two then begin discussing other holiday events such as Hart's Fest and Bounders Day along with all the old SPM events. It is revealed that because Liska often missed the SPM events, his knowledge of many of them is rather limited outside of what information he is able to gather from other sources regarding these events and what bits of memory he has of them.
Changing the subject, Emerald informs Liska that she has interesting news regarding Github that had only just dropped that same day. As it turns out, Github has begun to allow the creation of private repositories that people can use and store their projects on. Because they are not public like the other Git repositories, Emerald states she can now upload the source code for the EE Client from a personal repository on her offline server where it is has been stored up to this point. By relocating it to a Github private repository, the Client's source code can now be made available without exposing it to the public.
At this point, Liska decides to ask Emerald about the status of The Anubian War project itself. Because the team had been focusing solely on Valkal's Shadow for more than a year or so, and, owing to more recent concerns regarding TAW's planned direction that had been brought to his attention late the previous year, as well as the more recent changes to the development team itself, Liska feels the TAW side of the project needs to be addressed at some point in time.
Liska informs Emerald about the various concerns brought forth by both Sharlexia and Horsey along with a number of the players during the last several months in regards to some of the current plans and ideas involving The Anubian War project. He states that while most do enjoy the direction that Valkal's Shadow is headed, most of these same individuals have also expressed their concerns and dislike of a number of the ideas for both the storyline as well as some of the core revamps that had been planned for TAW. These, in turn, have made Liska wonder about the future of The Anubian War and whether or not the team will return to it.
Even though the team would still focus on Valkal's Shadow for now, especially the planned Flying Squirrel update, Liska feels that, being a new year, it is time to at least get everyone's concerns out there and see what the plans would be, if any, for The Anubian War.
Emerald states that the Flying Squirrel update to VS is solely meant to bring over many of the things originally meant for TAW only over to VS and nothing more. She refutes Liska's query that it might be a sign the TAW project is being shelved or abandoned and also states that much of the information Liska has mentioned to her, she has been hearing for the first time and doesn't have replies for just yet. Liska tells her that this is why he has brought it up as he feels this subject needs addressing so he has put it 'on the table' as he has become concerned about TAW's future in the last few months.
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.