måndag 22 december 2008

Upcoming holidays

I've had the kids alone during the weekend so I didn't quite get the client in the shape that I wanted for christmas. There is still an unresolved memory leak in the sound code somewhere so sounds will have to be released after the holidays. Otherwise it looks/sounds good.

I'm going to enjoy the holidays and work a day or two next week only.
Enjoy your christmas gifts everyone - I hope you get good ones and of course that the one in Wurm is best!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for now. Catch you later!

fredag 12 december 2008

End of the Nobel Prize week

Soon leaving, I am just about to see how the latest sound code addition works out. On Gurubears request I added two sound channels positioned right and left of the player to take care of personal sounds like the creaking that occurs when you are in a boat.

Another thing that has been of interest this week is the Nobel Prize awards. I like to watch the party since it reminds me of the parties we had in Uppsala when I was a student. The biggest differences are that they have more expensive jewelry and prominent guests, but we had better entertainment and tempo. And, well they have gold on the walls which adds some class.

Players of the week this week are Madt and Ilu, who with their cat and mouse play forced some changes to the invulnerability code.
Tich is the team member of the week, as usual proposing a good suggestion that is nicely put and fairly quick to implement like some longer duration of tracks.

torsdag 11 december 2008

We wont be selling skill for money

Everquest sells exp boosts: http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08%2F12%2F10%2F0130235&from=rss

I understand that you can purchase exp boosts and even whole levels in some usually eastern world MMOs. I am a bit baffled that EQ now does it and I suspect that it is an experiment by SOA that they try because the game is going down the drain or something. Anyways it makes sense. Does anything you do in EQ really matter to anyone else than yourself anyways?

The end of the article has three very good comments.
* The first reaction is negative - "I'm imagining a game between two people determined by how much they spend on the game."
I react the same instinctively when it comes to a lot of microtransactions such as buying levels and enchanted swords directly from the website in other MMOs. But I have a nagging feeling that my negativity is nonprofessional, uncommercial and oldschool. In any case we have decided not to do this.

* One person points out that some people have time and some people have money.
We acknowledge that fact in Wurm as well and sell silver to those who have money in order for them to be able to purchase services and items from those players who have time to put in instead.
It is very similar to selling the same items and services on the website but the difference is that the players who invest time don't loose out but instead gain on it.

* The third person thinks that it is a question of authenticity. That a person wearing cowboy outfit is expected to be able to at least ride a horse.
One reason to play games is to measure oneself with other players. I like highscore lists and understand where this comment comes from. If I meet the player on top of the battle ranks in a game I expect him or her to be good at fighting. And I like to awe at things and what people achieve. Now, my experience is that in a lot of MMO's nobody cares about you and you care about nobody else or what they achieve. Notch calls them massive single player games I think. Wurm is not like that.

In Wurm we allow you to sell the access (password) to your account since we believe that it is your right but I can never see us starting to sell skill boosts.

Then again - if EQ does it and a majority wants it.. Wurm as a project looses out.

Nah, for now I'll consider it being able to buy aces for your online poker hand. It can't be a durable solution. Wurm shall last for at least 20 more years so it has to be durable.

fredag 5 december 2008

Friday again!

So here's the friday. This evening I'm off to eat some Julbord.

I had a sore throat a few days this week so I didn't get to finish the sound stuff as planned but we are certainly getting there, even though we restructure and rethink quite often still.

The staff member of the week is Wolfram, who had to take a break. In case he doesn't return he's well worth it. Now don't go quitting just because you want this recognition any of you!

Player of the week is J.F, aka known as Prometheus. It is always nice and interesting to speak with him. He has been busy, but since his work has damaged the playerbase and thus all that I've worked so hard for for so long I had to issue a formal warning to him. I think he got the point and the severity of it.

I am pleased to know that all his hacks can be made disfunctional in a days work or two, even if I never seem to get the time. Needless to say - if you decide to take your chances with it and are detected your character and any that we can link together will be wiped.

Have a good weekend!

About christmas gifts in games and Wurm

Apart from the bugs that occurred last christmas when people just waited and waited half a day in vain for Santa I have some other thoughts about christmas (and other seasonal) gifts in games. There's a lot of discussion in our forums where people really don't want to miss out on the christmas gift in Wurm.

First and foremost I want them to be... well.. seasonal gifts!

To me this means that:
  • They should become available when the seasonal event starts.
  • They should be delivered in a way that gifts related to the seasonal event usually arrive (such as in a colourful package, an egg, or in a pinata par example).
  • A christmas gift shouldn't arrive in april.

Other thoughts
  • You shouldn't just _own_ an account and get the gift. The gift may be worth more than the cost of a monthly subscription. You shouldn't just purchase subscriptions for these events.
  • You should have to attend the event in order to collect the gift. I pity for those who play a lot but just fail to attend but such have been the nature of gifts all over the world since the beginning of time. If you're not where the gifts are you prioritize something else and that is perfectly in order.
  • Putting them on some kind of reimbursement account would be better for business and a lot of players would be much happier. For a while. Until they realize that everyone has that same gifts, resulting in that the gifts loose value.
  • The gifts are not to force people to play on christmas in order to keep the player base active. They can be seen as a reward for sacrificing some time with your family and hopefully as something special for the odd player who actually receives few other gifts during christmas although I admit that that scenario probably is very rare. They are seasonal gifts, handed out during a seasonal event for the same reasons that the same gifts are handed out in real life whatever that is.
  • If we allowed only one account per real life person or could keep track of it we could consider handing them out in your absence.

Also, if we add the gifts to some kind of reimbursement account it would water them out as a feature in my opinion and we could instead hand them out once per three months to everyone who plays and stop calling them easter eggs or christmas presents or whatever. Basically I want the people who do play at the time of the event to feel that it is special and actually means something to attend it.

So the problem is drawing the line when the gifts no longer are handed out. In Wurm this usually means when the real life event is over. Previously this has been on the evening of the 26th of December Swedish time.

However, because a lot of our players do look forward to the gift and I don't want them to push their families too hard and feel stressed about christmas I will prolong that time to the 28th sometime late in some timezone very far out west. Depending on how well I count it may even become the 29th all over the world until Santa leaves Wurm and comes back here to his castle here in Norrland in Sweden.

lördag 29 november 2008

Christmas approaching

We christmas decorated at home today and even though the snow is gone again it's very cosy now. I want to figure out some good gift for all Wurmers this christmas. As usual only premium players will receive it since otherwise people will create free accounts just to get the gift.

I'm waiting for Joss/Gurubear to comment on the new soundscape in the test client. Zcul visited the office yesterday and said that the game was very different with some nice ambient sounds. The music won't be on all the time but instead play now and then, and I've had a few interesting moments where Joss' music starts playing at times where it creates a very special feeling.

The team member of the week this week is Dashiva. He makes so many updates to the client that I go dizzy.

This weeks Player of the week is Swedishphoenix! He put me in his top 5 players list in the forums! Apart from that he's always been helpful and writes about Wurm in a very good way in other forums for which I am very happy.

fredag 21 november 2008

Week summary

This week ended in a nice way. These last hours I got footsteps working in the client again (not the version you use but the development version) and the ambient sound system that I've been working on seems to be taking shape as well.

There has been some progress in other areas this week as well, especially when it comes to some old bugs that were taken care of.

I'd like to appoint the player of the week this week to Posteh, who returned to Wurm after waiting for several months for a working Macintosh version of the client.

Kilean receives the Team Member of the week because he made the client more compatible with linux and I suspect that was the reason that it started working on Mac again as well.

Enjoy the weekend. I really start to see the end of the sound development and this means that hopefully mid next week I can move on to more server coding!

onsdag 12 november 2008


Been having a cough and a slight fever in the evenings and mornings. Tried to sleep it away yesterday and it helped a bit.

Today I appointed Kilean as the new Client Team Coordinator. His main responsibility will be to keep track of what everyone is doing, making sure that there are no overlaps. Thanks a lot for accepting this responsibility Kilean!

Also Pidgeon has replaced Teslas in the team. Pidgeon is an irc operator for heavenlyplace.org, where we keep the #wurm irc channel. He's been around for ages and even though he specializes in C# I am happy to have him on the team.

Development wise I am starting to see a pattern now after several years:
Mondays: panic bugs and issues from the weekend or ending up in communication
Tuesdays: If I'm lucky progress on the current plan
Wednesdays: Issues from the last two days. Meeting with the accountant or some other business related issue
Thursdays: If I'm lucky progress on the current plan
Fridays: Something breaks down and the whole day is lost communicating

Remove some exaggeration. Actually things are pretty calm now with bugs and issues I think. Although I spent most of today with such things it looks good when it comes to progress.

fredag 31 oktober 2008

Landed on my feet

After the weeks of exile in the cottage we made it inside our house again just as the snow arrives.
Even though some work remains to get the house in order (after rewiring all the electricity that turned out to be from 1939) we can live there and we've gotten the heat up. Like I wrote yesterday I'm making progress with coding again and I hope to be able to turn around the emerging slump in subscriptions now.

During renovation I purchased a best of cd with Electric Light Orchestra since I thought I liked some of their songs twenty/thirty years ago - and I did. I usually mix them up with Supertramp and REO Speedwagon. Turns out they made a whole album with Olivia Newton John, so I've kind of started listening to both those. Remember
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA ?

torsdag 30 oktober 2008

A day with sounds

Today is free from meetings, panic bugs or customer support issues so I finally get to do some focused programming. Gurubear has made good progress with ambient sounds so I plan to add support for them and do some tweaks on spot sounds as well during the day.

The Mol Rehan home server crashed tonight (again). Fortunately we have already sent some crash logs to Sun Microsystems to look at and I expect an answer within a few days. Hopefully they have a solution as well.

onsdag 22 oktober 2008

Not what I needed

I love synchronicity. Random pieces of data that suddenly match in time and seem to make sense or have a deeper meaning. As most of you probably understand I am itching to get back to work full time.

Now, I also like to purchase budget games in malls. Lately in the evenings I've been playing Enter the Matrix from 2003, which is about the time that we started developing Wurm Online. I play on Easy so that I can see what the game is about without wasting too much time. Incidentally the game has a nice focus mode where you are more powerful and everything moves in bullet time. Enter the Matrix is actually the only game beside Wurm that I know of that calls a feature "focus".

I don't fail often at Easy even though I play sloppily. Now, this time I did fail and I didn't like what I saw:

Yes yes yes. I know. I am doing my best!

Oh, and apparently Wurm has a face:

fredag 17 oktober 2008

Increased decay

Yep, again. Bleh. Nobody likes it and that makes me feel bad, so I'm sorry.

The game is supposed to have the capability to handle 500 simultaneous players. I wrote some about it here:

Been renovating the kitchen 24/7. Pretty exhausted and battered. I expect to get the furniture up on monday so that we can move in. Fetching it now from IKEA. Only the floor remains now and it should be laid down on sunday by Rickard Nyren the floor expert.

Don't panic over the decay. At least you'll get skills getting new items. The big difference is that you have to use them up more quickly and that goes for everyone so at least its fair.

Enjoy the weekend!

onsdag 8 oktober 2008

Client team at full strength

I have now finally received the NDA from Brent, aka Teslas. The client team now consists of 8 people and is at full strength which feels very good.

I'm at work fixing a few bugs and restarting for maintenance but I thought I'd show you what I am facing this afternoon:

I have to get this done by the weekend. The cottage we borrow is getting cold:)
I made a lot of progress tearing down things yesterday though. This is how it looked then:

No place for a ten months old. Actually it was a pretty ugly kitchen even before, not suited for a thirty-eight year old either.

A you can see there used to be a wall in the middle of the room where the door is. It took forever for the hired guys to tear it down. We also discovered the surprise pipe for the radiators in the wall just in front of the door so we had to call the plumber.
I've never renovated a kitchen before and even though I'm not young anymore I can feel the adult points ticking in as I detach the stove fan, figure out how to turn off the water and move the sink, or drill a hole in the concrete to the basement. No wonder those carpenter guys got their children ten years before me.

måndag 6 oktober 2008

Evening work this week

I started a renovation project in my house a week ago that has escalated beyond imagination. The idea was to simply open a door to the garden but just as with every other project like this the whole kitchen now has to be renovated. I can't afford this so I have to do most of it myself.

Since the house is pretty much uninhabitable until this is fixed I better get on it right away since we have small children and its really starting to wear on us. This means that I'll be away most of the week and do whatever work I can in the evenings.

Meanwhile, play Wurm and enjoy!

fredag 3 oktober 2008

Wurm is on the frontpage again!

Thanks go out to the regional newspaper Östgöta Correspondenten (corren.se) for featuring Wurm on its frontpage here in the Motala edition! Seems we didn't make it to the online version but paper is fun enough.
Here are some photos I took of it (click for a larger version):

Glad that they point out that the picture is arranged.

tisdag 30 september 2008

Unexpected webserver move

Just as I was going to have dinner I noted that the player count was falling instead of rising towards the peak hours. I quickly noticed that our website said some evilness about being suspended and that someone responsible should contact the hosting company. I agreed but was of course startled when I realized that that person would be me.

We were told a few weeks ago to move out of the web hotel and order a dedicated server since we used too much of the shared web hotel resources. I ordered the server since I wanted to avoid hassle - the move was supposed to be unnoticable if we stayed with them. After a while I received an email with some passwords that I didn't need at the moment and was happy that the move was so seamless.

Now it turns out that we actually were still using the old website. At the bottom of that email were some lines telling me that I had to change the DNS as well so that people are redirected to the new server instead. I did actually wonder about that thing before but thought that they had moved the ip address along with the website somehow. Now they kindly offer to move the website again for which I am very grateful.

Anyways, in public I will blame them a bit for not pushing the DNS issue more and me a bit for not reading the email to the end. But secretly, when I turn out the light, I will blame them only so that I sleep better at night.

måndag 29 september 2008

New client update!

Today I decided to update the client along with the server. The client devs didn't really give their clearance for it and some features like the profiles weren't really fully tested. But the protocol had changed and I decided that the new skill window features were worth a few minor bugs.

You also now have to check that you agree with the End User License Agreement before playing. The EULA has two main reasons: One is that it's there to protect us as a company and the other is to make sure that everyone that plays the game agrees that things like hacking and cheating in wurm is not allowed and that we can ban at will for those things.

The first reaction we got was someone who asked if he didn't own his account so that he couldn't sell it. I want you to be able to make money off playing wurm. I think that it is your right. The Eula states that "you have no ownership to the account". This is correct. We own the server and the bits on it. It would be weird if you could make claims on that so we want to protect ourselves from it.

Wurm is a service. The password you submit when you launch the client is the key to the service. If you decide to sell this key it is up to you but we will take no responsibility in that transaction. That is how we try to draw the line. The discussion becomes theoretical and abstract after a while. But basically - we won't hunt you down or ban you if you sell your passwords. We don't provide any protection to the buyer either though since we don't handle those transactions but in clear cases we may still help out just to be nice.

Hope that clarifies some of it. Enjoy the updates!

torsdag 25 september 2008

A big day

Today we are featured on the main page of mmorpg.com! Since they are one of the largest commercial sites specialized on MMO's it is a very good thing.

The review is positive and fair I think, as are the comments. Some comments about Wurm will always be negative as with any MMO. What I think makes us a bit different is that we have a lot of unused potential in our concept. Comments like "lack of story" and "all characters look the same" have little impact on me. I know that those things can and will be changed and improved.
Wurm has the possibility to make the story have a huge impact on the game and the players because of its openness and vice versa and we aim to use it.

Thanks you guys at mmorpg.com! I didn't even pay you for it. When we start making money I'll pay you back by advertising:)

This is a link to the full article.

tisdag 23 september 2008

Bladerunner or Highlander?

Yeah, I confused the two movies in my previous entry. I mean Highlander of course and have changed the text (thanks Gurubear)!

On another note I noticed something interesting on mmorpg.com. Since the release of Warhammer Online, the ratings of ALL other mmo's dropped below 8. Warhammer Online currently has 8.9 in overall score. Wurm Online lost 0.5 in rating down to 6.8, and it seems every other game did as well. I don't want to speculate on why this happened - I just find it fascinating.

Hopefully it will have a good effect on our rating as well. It may be a bit unfair to the larger games such as WoW if they now will have a tough time raising their rating. Since we have so few votes our rating may fluctuate a lot faster. I don't know the effects of the ratings anyways but a sophisticated guess is that a higher rating means more people will be willing to try the game out.

Allright I had to check some facts out just when I had written the post. There's a nice explanation here: http://www.mmorpg.com/faq.cfm/showFaq/15 :) It was still interesting and shows the impact Warhammer Online had on the mmo community.

Frantic client developers

The new client developer team have started updating the code at a fantastic pace! And yesterday Martinus joined as well. Dashiva, Serplat and Zcul are committing more code changes than I have the possibility to look at so it will be interesting to see the new client version and find out what has changed.

I assume you have found out how to locate the springs now. It should make it easier to inhabit those high up places on mountains.

fredag 19 september 2008

Weekend update

This week I've been busy laying some basics in the client for atmospheric sounds. We're also finishing up assembling the client developer team. The latest two additions are Pryath and Serplat. There are three more NDA's out there that I wait for. When those arrive we will have a team of 8 client developers. It is a round and nice number, and given the applications I received I think that it will be a very creative and productive team that are able to make some really nice improvements.

A feature that soon will come is that you'll see the max skill achieved in the skill window so that you know if you're catching up from death or decay still or improving the max. You will also see the number of affinities you have in the skill.

I have kept the affinity system pretty much a secret but today I decided I want to describe it since it's been around long enough now for you to explore and I really want you to start hunting affinities. I invented it because I liked the idea of a Highlander type of feature.

An affinity is a bonus to skillgain for a skill. You may have up to 5 affinities for every skill in the game.
You may gain an affinity from another player when you slay him or her in pvp combat, given that the player is premium, has an affinity and is of another kingdom than you. Every player starts with but one affinity in something - it is totally random and could be rope making or body strenght. If several players are involved in the kill the person who got the killing blow usually gets the affinity.
Right now there is no end functionality for affinities - you don't become the One like in Highlander... Yet!

tisdag 16 september 2008

A first new blog

Allright! Blog set up.

I decided to go for Blogspot since it is neutral ground and may attract new players.

First of all: Welcome to the Client developer team Dashiva and Amnesia!

I am in quite a hurry to get our new client developers set up so this will be a short post. There are others coming as well that I have sent out NDAs to and I look forward a lot to receiving them.

I am just about to get starting on getting ambient sound in Wurm sorted out together with Gurubear. I got sidetracked trying out Prevent code analysis software from coverity.com. Looks like a powerful tool but we can't afford it at the moment anyways so it seems like a waste of time.

Make marketstalls: