Milestone: 365 Days Played

Earlier this week we officially passed the combined 365 days played mark, which is to say you all have officially racked up a year of time connected to the MUD in just the first 4 weeks of being open. You bunch of addicts!

Seriously though, we have been absolutely chuffed with the level of interest and support, and it has been good to see consistent 20-30 numbers during peak hours.

In that time, you guys have helped find literally hundreds of bugs and made innumerable suggestions that we never could have achieved on our own. I’m happy to say that we mostly seem to be marking off additional areas of the code as either functionally complete or known to be stable / approximately bug free, which is fantastic.

There are of course plenty of existing and known bugs to work on and an ever-growing list of suggestions.

My focus over the next month is hopefully going to shift out of as much reactive bugfixing as the MUD stability has improved and I don’t think we have many SUPER critical bugs left, and into content creation again. This will give you all more things to do in game and keep the interest levels high.

So once again I wanted to thank everybody for their support and hitting this super awesome milestone! Thanks!

Release

LabMUD is now open for players. We’re doing a soft release this weekend (as of the time of this post), where we’ll be accepting people and letting them get into the lab early. We’ll do a formal launch even next weekend where the actual metaplot will begin.

Note that during the first week I expect you guys to find a lot of problems leading up to the official release and hopefully we can sort them out. If you want a smoother experience, wait for next weekend.

Otherwise, please come join us in the Lab!

2017 State of Play

Hi everyone,

I thought that I would give a bit of a “Where the hell are we at?” update to mark the turning of the year. I’ll reflect a bit on the journey so far and talk about what’s next.

Journey So Far

2017 is 8 years since I got the idea of making the FutureMUD engine, and 5 years since the C# rewrite. It’s also the 3rd year of work on LabMUD and we’re nearly approaching 2 years since we announced we were opening LabMUD and then failed to do so.

It’s probably fair to say that we disappointed a lot of people along the way; it has been a very long time. The reality is FutureMUD is still a one man team, as it has been since 2012. I’m not a professional software engineer and I have proven to be really bad at estimating the time it takes to complete coding tasks, although the main issue is time commitment to the project.

One of the big time sinks has been becoming a father, something I wouldn’t change for the world. However having a baby (now toddler) around the house does not make for a very peaceful environment. I probably could have demanded space, time and solitude to work on FutureMUD but that wouldn’t make me a very good husband or father.

I’m also now 30 years old, and at the real prime time of my career – by day I am a District Engineer who looks after around 1500km/950miles of mainline railway track. I recently got an internal promotion as well. A lot of this has meant working longer hours, travel, networking, attending functions and such in what would otherwise be my free time.

Why does this matter? Well, from time to time people have floated ideas like “Why don’t you do kickstarter/patreon and get funding to work on the engine full time?”. The answer is y’all couldn’t afford me. RPI MUDs are pretty niche, and I have a history of over-promising and under-delivering. I couldn’t justify taking time off my job that pays better than $75 USD an hour (seriously kids, study STEM subjects…) for the likely starving artist or worse level of funding I’d get.

Nonetheless I do still find time to work on it all. Less than I’d like, but it has come a long way. According to my stats on Git, since May 2015 I have made 600 commits to Git, changing 290,000 lines of code – although the codebase itself is 95,000 lines (many of those lines will have been changed multiple times along the way, hence the large number).

Where are we now?

The codebase as it stands now is actually further along than what I had said I wanted to wait for when we delayed launch in May 2015; it’s probably more fully featured than SOI was when it launched in 2003 and almost certainly more fully featured than Atonement Alpha was. The only thing on my “List of Excuses not to launch List” that isn’t done is probably crafting, and that’s like 50% done.

In terms of building, LabMUD is mostly done for its phase 1 objectives. There is only one core area of building that needs to be worked on and it’s one of the “Gameplay Systems” that we wanted to launch with, one of the “Something to do to give people things to struggle with and fight over” type areas of content. It’s not far from being done either, just needs some solid time spent on it.

As most of you have stopped paying attention to LabMUD in the intervening time and I probably won’t even get all of you back for launch, a lot of the pressure to just get it open has been lifted. I’m sort of focusing a bit more on releasing a game that will be a little more on the “finished” side and a little less on the “test for the devs” side. At least, finished in the sense that it’s stable and reasonably feature complete. More of a beta than an alpha.

What’s the plan?

I’m targeting an Easter release at the moment. I’ll have crafting done by then, it’s the only big coded system that needs finishing (mob AI could probably use a bit of work, but I’d open without it). When I am ready to go, this time it’s for real, for better or for worse. This gives me a few months to do what I need to do, continue to fix bugs, and then get going.

Once we’re open, we’ll stay open and fixes will come in incrementally as well as new content. I’m hoping 2017 is the big year.

And thank you to those few diehards who’ve kept up with the project and have really driven the testing over the last year. You know who you are.

Server Migration: Yes, the forums look like trash.

This is Wolfsong popping in under the guise of Japheth here just to let everyone know that we recently migrated from a Linux server to a Windows one. It’s dramatically increased the speed of LabMUD, taking the boot time from about 2 minutes 45 seconds to 25 seconds, but the move has broke some stuff – website, forums, etc. We’re in the process of getting everything back to where it should be, though, so don’t stress. The MUD itself should be largely unaffected, but if you notice something, please do let us know via the forums, if you can bring yourself to navigate the forum in its current state.

Now, then, let the rampant speculation about why we’ve moved to a server better capable of handling, say, a released Alpha version of the MUD begin.

Opening Day: May 9th

Per Japheth’s post here, we will be opening LabMUD’s player port on May 9th – which is next weekend, not this weekend. What that means is that next weekend the game will be fully open to play – not only character creation and the guest lounge, though those will still remain open. Character applications will be approved and PCs will be able to begin exploring the Lab.pd-mice-sample

 

 

Character Creation Open

Hello everyone,

If you can read this post, character creation is live on LabMUD! You are all most welcome to create an account and submit a character. Character creation will be open for probably a little under a week and we speculate a full go-live date next weekend.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to discuss the process on the forums or in our new chat widget.

Welcome to the Lab!

Opening Chargen

As I believe I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we have been making fairly good progress on getting combat and its ancillary systems set up in the FutureMUD engine. (And by ‘we’ I mean almost exclusively Japheth. I mostly just sit back, waiting for my chance to break things later on.)  So with that in mind, I’m going to put myself out there and say that we are still on track for an April release. Moreover, I am personally confident enough in the engine, and the game, to open up LabMUD to character creation starting Sunday the 26th of April. That’s Australian time, folks, so for you Americans, you can look into getting into character generation late Saturday night, or whenever we wake up. The intention is that, while character generation is ongoing, we (again, mostly Japheth) can monitor the process and fix any game breaking bugs, crashes, etc. whenever they crop up. And I do expect them to crop up, despite our best efforts to make the process as smooth as possible – our testing until now has been with small groups of people, or individuals, or with just ourselves banging away.

This does not mean you’ll get to play the game on the 26th of April – only that you will be able to create a character. The MUD itself will still be wizlocked until a later date, when we’re fully confident the bare minimum requirements for a RPI MUD have been met.

It does mean we’re getting closer to our stepping off point, though, and that’s pretty exciting.

With that said, I want to reiterate that LabMUD is an Alpha – and is, in fact, the Alpha of an Alpha. Unlike other MUDs that have branded themselves with the ‘Alpha stage’ moniker in the recent past, we are not running on an established engine with most of the kinks worked out. We are not going to launch with an established economy, or a mini-fort system, or sailing. LabMUD was not built with the intention to be, and is not going to be, a [insert your ex-favourite MUD here] killer. It is a testing platform for the FutureMUD engine that just so happens to also be a RPI MUD. Things may be wildly unbalanced, or even broken. I would be seriously surprised, and more than a little worried, if they were not. Things may even be boring for the first few weeks, though I’ll endeavor to try and make sure this is not the case, until we can get some better progs in place to keep players entertained without constant admin supervision – or fix crippling balance issues. Please try to be patient with us, and put on your kindest rose-coloured glasses.

So yeah, make a note in your diaries.

Later on, maybe tomorrow, I’ll try to get a post up about how to report bugs and crashes during character generation.