31 July 2010

Day Off, Day Out

With the exception of a brief review and organization of my scripting punch list, I was unable to do any development today due to my AFKness.  I admit that the fresh air felt good.

I am now entering update week.  This promises to be interesting.  I still have a lot to do.

30 July 2010

The Worst Kept Secret

...is this blog.  I wanted to take a moment to welcome the newer readers here and to thank everyone for your comments.  I enjoy reading them.

I am amused (bemused?) at the increase of readership, as I have not spoken of this blog to anyone.  This blog started as one part journal, one part catch-all for ideas, one part editorial and one part something-constructive-to-do-with-my-time.  I wouldn't say that anything has changed in that respect: I continue to add journal entries about the highs and lows of my experiences; I still daydream about cool vaporware for the game; and I still voice my opinion and share my thoughts.  I guess that I have some trouble grasping why anyone else would find my self-indulgent ramblings of any interest.

I was genuinely surprised to see a link to this blog on Thoomcare:

I have always considered Thoomcare a great source for public knowledge of Clan Lord, and I found it surprising to see my silly little blog listed there – which therefore makes Yap3 one of the worst kept secrets of Clan Lord.

I find that to my liking.

29 July 2010

Save Early, Save Often

The summer months are upon the residents of North America, as are the hot, humid days associated with it.  As the temperature rises, so does the need for energy, presumably to support the millions of simultaneously running air conditioners.  With this demand for energy comes the struggle to provide it, often resulting in brown-outs and black-outs.

Whilst writing a script for Clan Lord, I had the misfortune of experiencing a brown-out, which turned off every appliance in my home – including the computer on which I was writing the script.  This happened thrice throughout the day.

While I did lose changes that I had added to the script, the loss was not severe because I have a habit of frequently saving the documents on which I am working.  The habit is an unconscious one, bordering compulsive: when I add some changes to a document, I reflexively hit command-S.  I acknowledge that it's an odd habit to have, but today I am relieved that I practice such a habit.

I wonder if I can get a discount on my electricity bill for the frequent interruption of service.

28 July 2010

Hot Pink and Hot Fire

I am quickly approaching the first milestone of my current project.  I feel happy with the content that has been provided to me and I think I am just about ready to move onto the next phase.

I took a break from project design to work on some bugs.  Has anyone noticed if pink paint turns blue after the paint wears off?  I have been unable to replicate this problem, and I look like a fool wearing pink paint.

I then took a break from taking a break, and I ran a small invasion.

I am learning quite a bit about what challenges players are capable of handling.

27 July 2010

Starcraft 2 and Real Time Strategy

I am glad that I do not play Starcraft.  The Starcraft 2 trailer looks totally bad ass, and the last thing that I want in my life right now is another way to waste time.

I have played the Warcraft series.  My take on these types of Real Time Strategy games is that they're not too dissimilar to farming kudzu while defending crops from Pazu-Ohwi: the player works towards a production goal (kudzu seedlings in this example) while warding off opponents that are trying to destroy the means of production.

It's fun, I suppose, if one enjoys that style of gaming.  I happen to find kudzu farming dreadfully dull.

26 July 2010

You Dirty Ratticus.

I spent a good portion of today continuing with development of new content.  The work is rather a bit of a grind; lots of repetition and not a lot of variety.  I took a break from this numbing work to see what was happening online and was appalled to see that nothing was happening.

Town center needed to go from quiet to riot.

Thanks to all who participated.  I needed the stimulation.

25 July 2010

Scales And Balances

A question of game balance came up in one of the recent comments.  I thought that I would address this concern.

I feel that it is unjust to determine whether or not something is balanced without examining the scale used to measure that balance.  For example, would it be fair to say that it is unbalanced to place an Orga Fury in one of the rat towers or on Kitty Beach?  I say that it is unbalanced, because this monster doesn't fit the scale of the other monsters found in those areas.  It's too large and too tough and too overpowering for the skill level of the players who hunt those areas.

On the other hand, would it be unbalancing to find an Orga Fury in the Slate Caverns?  I am of the opinion that an Orga Fury in the Slate Caverns would be marked as "junk," because the threat of an Orga Fury does not measure to the threat of an Albino Arachnoid.  In this setting, the Orga Fury falls on the other end of the scale.

The new monster AIs will need to have their degree of threat weighed, and then monsters running those AIs will be placed in an appropriate area for that level of risk.  In the example of monsters flanking players, it is unlikely that you will see this tactic used on Kitty Beach (although the thought of Rockodiles trying to maneuver around players makes for an amusing mental picture).  However in a place like the Orga Village where the threat level is already rather high, having some Orga try to maneuver around the players to cut off their escape makes for a new and exciting combat experience.  This tactic would not be unbalanced within such a dangerous area, so a flanking AI scales well for that hunting ground.

So yeah, no Flanking Rockodiles for Kitty Beach.  The new monster tactic AIs will need to scale into hunting areas that match the risk level of that area.

24 July 2010

23 July 2010

Smarten Up!

We have a lot of dumb monsters in Clan Lord.  I acknowledge that we do have some very clever ones too, but the majority of them are dumber than a brick.  I've been giving a little thought on making our dumb monsters a little smarter.

There are three basic monster combat AIs in Clan Lord:
  • Straight Attack, like bolok cougars.  These monsters hone straight in on players.
  • Circle Attack, like ferals.  These monsters disengage and try to flank players.
  • Flee, like starbucks.  These monsters avoid players, but defend themselves if they become cornered.
I had the idea of incorporating tactics into some of these AIs.  Some tactical concepts are:
  • Guardians: monsters would guard a specific area, like an exit, and chase away intruders
  • Retreat: monsters would fall back when injured and regroup at a location
  • Patient: monsters that would conserve balance and not swing out unless it thought that it could kill a player
  • Gang-up: also known as the surround-and-pound, multiple monsters would focus on one specific player
  • Flanking: a group of monsters would circle around and try to cut off the player's escape route
It would be cool if monsters could work together, like having the Guardian monsters distract the players long enough so that a group of Flanking monsters could move around into position.  This sure looks great on paper!  I hope that we will soon see smarter monsters that present tactical challenges to players rather than just dumb monsters running around in circles.

22 July 2010

Just Can't Get Enough

I am overtired.

Earlier today I became sidetracked while categorizing and organizing some of the new bug reports from V657, as well as closing out the confirmed bug fixes for V660.  I managed to do a third of them before taking a break.  I spent the rest of my time – just over eight hours – on developing new content.

My eyes are burning and I am exhausted.  I really need to sleep, but my mind is still racing with ideas.  I need to stop, but I just can't get enough.

21 July 2010

Welcome to V660

The 660th Chaos Storm has arrived at Puddleby.  You may read about the changes here.

I was about to log off for the evening when I noticed a problem in one of the areas: there were 1,800+ monsters there.  This, needless to say, was a problem.

I was fortunate that the ServerGM was available to do a quick debugging session and he swiftly resolved the issue.  After the bug fix, all that there was left to do was clean up the area!

Have fun exploring!

20 July 2010

Punching The Punch List

I have undertaken a new project that requires a lot of work.  After compiling the project's punch list, I am worried that I may be undertaking too much.  The list is long, and the required technologies are new which means a lot of hours spent scripting.

I love feeling excited about new content, but this excitement is tempered by the stress and anxiety of making it happen.  My ambition may exceed my ability to deliver.

Time to put my head down and punch my way through the punch list.

19 July 2010

Works In Progress

I spent a little time today doing some art for a project under development.  That's all I say, other than the Clan Lord artists who have created mobiles must have worked at Disney Studios.  I don't know how they create animated images which look so smooth.

18 July 2010

Mental Blueprints

Have you ever been focus on one thought when suddenly an unrelated thought sweeps into your mind with such vivid clarity that you actually find yourself surprised?  I had such a moment today whilst debugging a script: I had a sudden moment of insight of how to construct a new quest script.

The idea itself isn't new – it is basically an item collector script – but the approach is novel in that the script may be attached to other existing scripts to act as a filter.  An example could be a trainer – an old war veteran – who is willing to teach fighters a new fighting technique in exchange for a long sword, a wooden shield and an iron helmet.  I also had the idea for supporting groups of items, so that if a player brought items A, B and C to an NPC then the player would be offered reward D, but if the same player had items E, F, G and H then the NPC would offer rewards I and J.

The idea is still vaporware –more like a mental blueprint – but I am really excited about the concept.

17 July 2010

Meet, Greet And Seat

I wish that Clan Lord had more tools for players so that they could hold more community-driven social events.  Bard auditions are a good example of people getting together to support other members of the community.

I also wish that I could think of examples of "social events" that do not involve hunts and quests.

16 July 2010

The Quest Is In The Mail

My content for V660 has been submitted.  I have mixed feelings about my content for this update.

While I am pleased that I resolved the issues surrounding housing mannequins, I had really wanted to get some quests in for this update.  As I was writing the quests I discovered that once again what I wanted done within the quest could not be done with the scripts I was using.  I had spent some time trying to update and modify the existing scripts to support the style of quest I had in mind, but I soon realized that it would be easier if I were to simply write my own quest script from scratch.  Unfortunately for me I simply did not have the time to do that in time for the V660 deadline.

I really want more quests in Clan Lord.  I just wish that the act of scripting a quest would not become a quest.

15 July 2010

Do-It-Yourself Summer Haircuts

Today I drove the final debugging nail into the mannequin.npc coffin, or so I hope.  I believe that this script may be laid to rest and be considered Done!

I had overlooked a reported bug that described unusual mannequin behavior: one could bump a mannequin and don clothing that one should not normally be allowed to wear, such as a fighter wearing a healer's shirt.  I was able to duplicate the bug but could not understand how the bug was getting triggered.  Hours passed and I grew bald from tearing hair from my head.  How was the mannequin script allowing this to happen?

It turns out that the problem had nothing to do with the mannequin script, but it just so happened that the mechanics of the mannequin exposed the bug (when a player bumps a mannequin, then the contents of the mannequin are automatically equipped upon that player).  The problem instead lay within a remote clothing utility that manages how clothing is equipped and unequipped.  It was an amusing bug in hindsight: the utility would diligently check if a player was qualified to wear an article of clothing that was being equipped (like a fighter attempting to wear a healer's shirt), and if the player was unqualified to wear it, then the utility would order – nay, it would demand! – the player to re-equip the last article of clothing worn.  However the utility was not confirming that the last article of clothing worn was still in that player's inventory!  And because the last clothing worn was now resting on the mannequin, then it was impossible to equip it – so we are left wearing the article of clothing that we should not be able to wear.

All that to say that the bug case is now resolved and closed, and I now have less hair on my head.

14 July 2010


When referring to projects and bug fixes, one of the common GM-isms is "It's On The List."  Roughly translated, this means that there are plans to develop/address the project in question.  This is not to be confused with "Soon!" which means development on the project has commenced.  The ultimate goal is to get the project moved onto the "Done!" list, which means that it has been implemented within the game.

I have a very long list of projects that are On The List, and a longer list of projects that will be completed sometime Soon.  My current method of time management – which is to nibble away at multiple projects at once – has met with mixed results; some of the smaller projects get Done while other larger, complicated projects seem no closer to being completed anytime Soon.

To paraphrase Skirwan, I have more projects than time.  Dividing my time evenly amongst my projects has not been an efficient method of managing my time.  I can say this now because after working exclusively on the mannequin.npc script, I found that devoting all of my attention to one singular project worked got the project moved from Soon to Done.

The lesson learned: focus on one thing, and it gets Done faster.  I hope to apply this method of time management to my other projects so that they will get moved from On The List to Done.


13 July 2010

Fa Fa Fa Fa Fashion

You equip your shirt named “test”, which is in nearly perfect condition.
You equip your cloak named “cloak of testing”, which is in very good condition.
Not only do mannequins remember /name'd clothing, but they now also correctly display belt colors, and the colors of the mannequin NPCs are no longer transparent.  Three bugs fixed; three bug cases closed.

There are no words to describe just how happy I feel right now.

Well, maybe there are.

12 July 2010


Team Fortress 2 tracks the number of hours that one spends playing the game.  So far I have logged 109 hours on Team Fortress 2.  109 hours.  Two and a half work weeks.

In other news, I have spent 109 hours not developing content for Clan Lord.  I wonder if TF2 had an achievement for that!

11 July 2010

Won't You Please, Please Help Me

The mannequin script continues to torment me.  I opted to throw away my changes and start over.  I benefited from this decision, as the script has been updated since I started working upon it.  I am now able to incorporate my changes to a more efficient version of the script.

I spent very little time working on the mannequin script today, as a good portion of my day was spent meeting with one of the CL Helpers.  Together we power-debugged one of the scripts for a new area, and I found the experience sufficiently humbling:
Helper: I want the script to perform a specific task.
Me: I have an idea on how we should handle that.
We try my idea and it does not work.
Helper: How about if we try it my way?
Me: Let's try to debug my way first.
We try debugging and continue to experience problems.
Helper: I think my way will work.
Me: Okay.  Let's try it.
The Helper adds one line of code and the script works flawlessly.
Moreover, the Helper's solution was a method that I would never have thought of doing.  It was simple, straightforward and elegant.  If I continue to experience problems with the mannequin script, then perhaps I should ask the Helper for help!

10 July 2010

Splash Screens

Clan Lord is in desperate need of a new splash screen.  The current one is five years out of date.

I thought that it might be fun to do a short series of new splash screens that show old areas that are no longer used (like the Castle's Mirror Room), old areas that were developed but never used (Puddleby Sewers), and perhaps include some previews of areas in development.

Asides from needing to submit one new splash screen for each update, there is also the issue that players would need to download every new splash screen as they are updated.  They're not small – around 400k in size – and I am mindful that some players are using dial-up modems.

The simplest option is to update the copyright information on the current splash screen and stick with that, but if we were to do that then we would never see charming Glacier Town, built circa V212.

I would like an updated splash screen for V660.  This is update week, so content is due Friday.  That does not give me a lot of time.

09 July 2010


I had intended to spend this evening debugging the mannequin script.  Instead I spent four hours hanging around the Fairgrounds and chatted about music, red onions, boobies, clothing, and the Clan Lord community.

In short, I completely procrastinated.

While I did not spend any time debugging, I still feel that my evening was well spent.  Thanks to everyone for stopping by and keeping me company.

08 July 2010

The Man With The Golden Harm

Today, while I was diligently looking for bugs – or for something that may be a bug – I missed a golden opportunity.

Instead of unlocking the Golden Wrench in Team Fortress 2, I spent my day repeatedly jumping around in the healer's animal pen, willfully allowing myself to be mauled by Lyfelidae.  I suppose that it could have been worse.  I could have unwillingly allowed myself to be mauled by spies!

07 July 2010

Mannequin? I Hope I Can.

Work continues on the mannequin script.  I had it working earlier without errors, but I changed something – I can't remember what it was that I changed – and now I am getting color errors that do not make sense.  The server is logging "these colors are bad," but the colors are perfect and exact.  Why would the server tell me that the colors are bad when they are good?

I also noticed that some mannequins have weird colors in specific areas.  Closer examination revealed that some of the mannequin colors are actually transparent (just like Skirwan's cloak, or Slarty's head), and what we're really seeing are the colors of the ground.  I tried changing the colors of the mannequin but the colors were not taking correctly.

Huh.  I wonder if my changing the default  colors of the mannequin is somehow related to the color errors that are currently logged on the server?  This is a case where the color of the mannequin should be completely separate and unrelated from that of the colors of the displayed clothing, but I have learned that data within Clan Lord are often linked to each other in unexpected ways.

So work continues, as does the debugging.  Once I recover from my small gaffe, I can move on and give some thought on how I am going to display belt colors on the mannequin.

06 July 2010

Am I Blue

All is right with the world.  Signposts and mirrors and coliseum listings are once again correctly displaying their blue action boxes.

It turned out that my suspicion was correct: the problems with the action box displays were related, and after a lot of trial-and-error testing I was able to locate and fix the problem.  There was a slight delay for the bug patch to get applied as I had to wait for a GM who had the authority to apply a hot-fix.

While it is good to see the mirror's blue action box message once again, it only reminds me that I still do not have mirror access!  It's almost enough to make me blue.

05 July 2010


I have said in the past that "Monday is Bugday."  I really should have said "Monday is Debugday," as I have traditionally spent my Mondays debugging.

This Monday, I discovered bugs, making it closer to a Bugday than a Debugday.

Normally when one bumps the mirror – and one does not have access to the mirror – then one receives some form of feedback (a blue action box displaying the words "The mirror seems impassable").  As pictured, I did not receive that feedback.  Why is that?  What changed?  There have been no changes to the mirror script since V648, so the change must be elsewhere.  Out of curiosity, I tried to create a sign:

And when I tried to read the sign (which should have displayed the words "This is a test"):

Nothing.  I got nothing.  Now I am left to wonder if these are part of the same bug, or – like my huntmaster bug – there are two separate bugs that seem related.


04 July 2010

4th Of July.

If you celebrate Independence Day, then I hope that you found it relaxing and enjoyable.  I'll be BAK tomorrow.

03 July 2010

Changing The World

It was on this day, July 3rd 2007, that Yappy entered Puddleby as a Helper.

It certainly does not feel like three years have passed since I was granted a back stage pass to Clan Lord.  During my time as a Helper, I asked a lot of questions and I made some mistakes.  During my time as a GM, I have asked a lot of questions and I made some mistakes.  I suppose that I should be pleased that I have remained consistent!

Upon reflection, I feel that I was unprepared for the amount of knowledge that is required for Clan Lord development.  I recall feeling very overwhelmed and feeling very much that I had made a gross error in judgment in accepting GMship.  I admit that I was lured by the dream of "if I were a GM, then I would change the world," and I quickly realized just how much work – real work – is required to change just one element of the Clan Lord world.  For example, the mannequin bug on which I am currently working requires knowledge of how housing works, how color works, how clothing works, how naming items work and how player data management works.  Add to this some special exceptions (belts are wearable like clothing but can not be dyed, therefore they have their own special set of rules), and pretty soon ten hours of work is spent just learning about the mannequin – ten hours to change one small detail of the world.

Three years later, I find that my lofty ambitions have been tempered.  Somewhere along the way I had abandoned my aggressive goal to change the Clan Lord world.  I am but one man, and changing the world is not a one-man task.  Instead of changing the world, I settled my focus on repairing bugs, reasoning if I can't change the world, then I can – at the very least – eliminate some of its problems, one bug-fix at a time.

And in doing so, I find that I have changed the world.

02 July 2010

Fool In The Rain

I found myself out in the Big Blue Room for an extended amount of time today and it was rather refreshing.  The downside is that the outdoors kept me away from the computer (not necessarily a bad thing), therefore I did no CL development – unless scheduling tests for an area under development counts as "development," in which case I did do some CL development today.

The next couple of days will be busy for me, as I plan to spend more time outdoors.  I hope that the weather in RL is clearer than the weather in CL.

01 July 2010

Electric /Bugaloo

I spent four hours today organizing and addressing the bug cases from V654.  I managed to organize around half of the open cases before having to stop for the evening.  Four hours is a long time for bug cataloging.  My eyes hurt.

Not that anyone asked, but a commonly filed bug case concerns pathfinding and loss of known paths.  Pathfinding, as I have previously mentioned, is a very complex script that goes far beyond a simple rank filter.  I should take another look at it, but in all honestly this script is just too complex for my level of scripting experience.  I consider myself a 2nd Circle scripter, and I would feel better if a more experienced GM were to review the whole pathfinding ball of wax (and its associated supporting scripts).

Another common case regards the balancing of hunting areas – it is felt that some areas are heavy on the challenge and light on the rewards.  I find this to be another set of challenging reports but for different reasons: I lean towards "generous" in my monster reward design, so I am a poor candidate to review area balances – or, depending on one's perspective, I may be the perfect candidate for such review.

I was capable of fixing some of the bugs as I read them, and closed them right away.  I like those bugs.  Some of the suggestions shall require more thought: for example, the kudzu merchant NPC requires the player to hold individual seedings in order to sell them, but the bakery merchant NPC can buy items right from the player's inventory.  Why can't the kudzu merchant do the same?  This is because the two NPCs are running two (very) different scripts, and for one to have features of the other requires significant rewriting of that script.  It can be done, but requires budgeting time.

I mention this to say yes, all cases are read and categorized.  Yes, all cases will be addressed in turn.  Believe in the beat.  They will get fixed.  "Soon!"