Updated: September 30, 2016


The Raven Backstory...in very few words

Lost Raven MMO Gameplay Reference

Lost Raven MMO text mode game-server beta realm!

Log in to the Lost Raven MMO realm, Sands of Time

(Linux/OS X command line: telnet textMMOde.com 23)
(or, from the Windows GUI, you can use puTTY's telnet mode to connect to textMMOde.com port 23)

News: September 30, 2016

I'm working on the beginnings of the GUI and will be making Skyboxes as the first components of the game graphics. The image at the top of the page has been replaced with a background to show the intended look.

Meanwhile, there have been only a couple of minor bug fixes to the server during this entire month. (Yay!)

News: September 1, 2016

Aside from the updates mentioned here, there were about 25 additional small changes ranging from typo corrections to minor bug fixes in the last two months.

In addition, several performance changes and tweaks were also added to the server. Overall, however, this was the quietest period for changes in a very long time -- and it again appears that the server is nearing completion. Over the last 2 months, there was even a 3-week period with so little development activity that the running test games were never even restarted.

Anyway, in rough order of significance, here are the changes visible to players:

I won't bore you with the performance changes, but will instead just summarize the load test ran on the 1st of August:

    This latest test ran on a 3.8 GHz 'Skylake' core, specifically, an Intel i3-6300 processor with only one core enabled. For the first time we exceeded 25,000 player Transactions Per Second (TPS). While this is quite a fast core, the many previous tests that were run on dual-core servers fell well short of this result.

    This is partly the result of the accumulation of code restructuring improvements made over the past 5 months. During the entirety of this 50+ million transaction test, the speed of the backups remained in the one to two seconds range. The fastest sample taken during the run was 25,474 TPS with the concurrent backup completing in under 2 seconds.

Gameplay changes of note:

  • Normal rankings ('p') now shows only *visible* players -- that is, players whose ships can be seen and attacked within the Galaxy.

    Full rankings ('P') also shows aliens as well as nonvisible players.

  • Flags have been added to the player rankings showing which players are online, which players are offline but visible, and which players are offline but not visible. Aliens are always online and, therefore, always visible -- which has not changed. However, Aliens now have the 'online' flag since they now appear among the player rankings.

  • Each time you log off you'll be informed of how long your ship will remain visible and how long it can remain invisible after going fully quiescent following cooldown.

    The period of invisibility of your ship, after logoff, is now 10 days for all realms. (your ship reappears after 10 days of absense)

    The tutorial command ('E') now has a new page describing how Stealth works in all situations.

  • ^Komaando^, the 'boss' alien, now only spawns 20% of the time. The other 80%, a lesser boss (equal to or stronger than the old ^Komaando^) will spawn instead. These non-^Komaando^ bosses will also have '^' characters in their names. For example, a minor boss might be named ^Keqiiiq^ or ^Pikamod^.

    When ^Komaando^ does spawn, he will always have the highest level ship available in the realm. In small realms, that might be a Level 30 ship, but in larger realms it will be up to a Level 33 ship.

    ^Komaando^ also carries more drones and loot than the other bosses.

  • The 'minutes' info shown by the 'Others' command ('O') has slightly expanded in meaning. For an alien, it shows how many minutes it has been since the alien spawned or moved to another sector.

    For Players, it shows how long the player has been online (or offline), And, as before, only visible players show up with the 'O' command.

  • An experimental settings, QUEUE, has been implemented for all games. It causes top-level commands received to be executed in order, even if you don't wait for the prompt from the last command. Since the game is very fast, this typically won't make any visible difference -- unless you rapidly hit keys in a preset order without taking time to look. This will only be noticed by players playing very rapidly. The QUEUEing option is being tested and is subject to removal or modifications, should problems appear.

  • The realm config report now lists the starbase size range allowed within that realm.

  • News is no longer generated by players with access levels below 5 (the initial access level for a brand new account is 10.) This will affect almost no one. However, the 'hacker' accounts of root, admin, and guest will no longer dominate the news in the Sands of Time game.

News: June 29, 2016

Time for another big MMO update. I'll post an update on the Vivostick once I get a USB-based wired ethernet adapter. The game benchmarks over WIFI bottlenecked on the network bandwidth.

  • All in-game prices have been reduced by 90%
    • XP required for level-ups was also scaled down by 90%
    • This allows a huge amount of reserve XP to be accumulated by level-capped players
    • Starbases can now go up to 512000-drone sizes (~8x the old cap)
    • It is now very hard to accidently hit the cash cap (still at 2 billion microbots)
    • Prices for selling fuel were doubled after the 10x nerf, above, resulting in fuel sales effectively doubling in profit now, but they still trail hunting and trading.
  • The default BONUS device value has been raised from from 4 to 5 (now that reserve XP is 10 times larger it will be much slower to add those 21th through 25th devices, however)
  • The I (Info/inventory) command now clearly shows custom ship device caps for level 20's
  • Computed function calls have replaced the old string search for player commands. This makes the game a little bit more efficient than before.
  • I fixed a bug that caused a very few aliens to be completely invisible and unattackable
  • I changed the wording of the realm configuration report to clarify:
    • That permadeath only occurs upon *online* deaths, and...
    • That you don't have to be online to suffer a mere *level loss*.
    • Note that level 1 players must be *online* to even suffer level loss, however, since you can't go to level 0 without also suffering account deletion, that is, 'permadeath'.
  • Newbie stealth now lasts 5 times longer (up to a net worth of about 100,000 drones and drone-equivalents)
  • In another major change, offline players now become invisible after a period of time. The period of visibility varies by realm and is published in the realm configuration report under the control center menu.
    • The period of visibility is extended by lowbie kills by the same amount of time that stealth is disabled after such attacks.
    • Offline players with visible ships are flagged with a ~ in player rankings now, as is their corporation -- unless a corpmate is actually online.
    • The realm configuration report now includes the 'hours of ship visibility after logoff'
    • The 'Sands of Time' game has been given an unusually long 180-day setting for ship visibility, in keeping with its traditionally forever-visible ships.
  • The O command (Online/nearby ships) has been changed to no longer show ships parked inside a bunker.
  • The 'Sands of Time' game now has a 2x longer news file than before.
  • For special cases involving certain multi-core servers, I've reimplemented detached I/O threads. It is slightly less efficient than having the network I/O embedded in the gameloop, but will allow for the largest games to handle more players by using more cores.
  • Aliens now have their own 'corporation'. While it is not a properly registered corporation and doesn't follow all the same rules as a player-run corp., it does show up in the corporate rankings with a line similar to the following:
    +[ALIEN OCCUPATION FLEET] *unregistered* [***] 1 0 *****

News: June 13, 2016

I've been distracted by an Asus Vivostick PC-on-a-stick and spent the last weekend installing Linux on it. I'll add an update about the status of the game in a few days.

News: May 8, 2016

Many, many changes have been made since the last update. Most of those changes involved restructuring the architecture of the server and only affect gameplay in that the server is more efficient and supports more realms and players as a result. A small number do affect gameplay. Anyway, here are the highlights in rough order of implementation:

  • Alien movement news is more useful and less annoying now. It focuses mostly on the rare spawns and very high-level aliens; that is, those above level 30.
  • news, radio, and Event notifications/Private Messages (PM's) now show up in that order -- with short pauses between them. That way, you won't miss a PM or event notice because of a burst of news or radio chatter.
  • The realm configuration page ( ^ C ) now includes the realm name and has been reformatted and reworded for a bit more clarity.
  • Alien populations can be larger now with minimal impact on performance. Games can be as large as 16 million sectors without decreased alien density and such a game would have 39,999 aliens when fully populated.
  • A similar change to the one that allows large numbers of aliens has also been made to similarly improve the efficiency of the F(ind ships) and O(ther nearby ships) commands.
  • Star Clusters approaching 250,000 sectors are now possible. The letter component of the 'Galaxy Class' has changed to accomodate the larger star clusters. In the new version, the largest class of clusters will be designated by the letter 'Z' and the smallest with the letter 'A'.
  • The backup thread is much faster than before -- in all cases. Typical backup passes are about 1 or 2 seconds in a large, heavily loaded game. There is far less chance of losing transactions in the event of a server crash or power outage now.
  • The input and output threads (that read and write information across the network to players) that were reported as consolidated from 2000 down to 2 were eliminated and incorporated into the main game loop. That brought a full server down to three threads; the gameloop, the backup thread, and the listener thread which was also known as main().
  • That listener function listens on the connection port for new connections and sets up their sessions. It has now been split off into its own thread function and can now have multiple instances. That is, there is now a dedicated listener() thread and we can have several of them. That removes a previous limitation of 1000 concurrent players per realm.
  • With the main() thread no longer listening for connections, I had to choose to idle it, end it, or give it a new job. I tried ending it, but wound up with weird reporting from several monitoring utilities as main() was now officially a zombie process. It worked, but I didn't like it. I ended up moving the backup thread into main(). So, if you're counting (or even still reading!), we have 3+ threads; gameloop, main/backup, and at least one listener now. Games configured for over 1000 concurrent players will have 2 or 3 listeners, bringing the total threads back to 4 or 5. Since the listeners do very little actual work and spend most of their time sleeping while awaiting connections, there are really on 2 busy threads per game, the backup and the gameloop.
  • I have gradually realized that shields were overpowered at an 8% damage reduction per shield. That has been nerfed down to 6%. Note that Attack Radar offer a 4% damage increase -- which hasn't changed.
  • Several previously static game settings can now vary by realm. Bunker prices, Starbase sizes, the wealth threshold at which a player can create a corporation, and even the fuel economy of a base starship can be different from one realm to another. Some things will vary by small amounts and along with offsetting other settings in order to prevent some realms from having a clear 'advantage' over others. Ship fuel economy is one such variable. Other things can vary wildly without significant cross-realm impact -- such as starbase sizes and bunker prices.
  • Lastly, Benchmarks: after the major performance-related changes above were in place, version 189a was tested on a single-core server with 1GB of memory. It topped out at 11850 game transactions per second (TPS). It was running two listeners and had 1337 concurrent (scripted and very fast) 'players'. A single listener game of the same size registered over 9000 TPS on a similar server with about 900 'players'.

News: April 17, 2016

Nonblocking I/O: Yes! Many of you won't likely know what that means or why it matters, but the game is far more efficient today than it was two weeks ago. Then, the server ran up to 2000 threads to communicate with as many as 1000 simultaneous players. That situation was the result of an architectural flaw from the original 2005 design of Space Tyrant, the prototypical ancestor -- and original codebase -- of this game,

Today, those 2000 threads are replaced by just two threads which handle all network input and network output. So, instead of up to 2003 threads there are now always only five threads, which is pretty close to optimum on a quad-core server. Those extra 2000 threads caused signficant context-switching overhead and made the server about 20% less efficient. It's faster now which means that the game will run slightly faster (you won't notice) or, more importantly, games can be 20% larger or there can be 20% more games on the same hardware. That means either significant cost savings or a larger number of realms when we go live.

News: April 2, 2016

  • Benchmarks: Using a 4 million sector game with a 12,500 player userfile, a load test was conducted on a Xeon 1220 v2 quad-core server. With 880 simulated players connected, the server achieved a throughput of over 800,000 transactions per minute (TPM). Note that the same server was also running the 880 test scripts and the 880 telnet sessions. Since expert players have been observed to average well under 200 TPM, this suggests that a small single-core Xeon based server should easily support 1000 concurrent players. This is important since the plan is to run multiple interconnected realms.
  • Ship devices now cost 50 million microbots each. This is a huge increase from the previous 5 million microbot price.
  • Smaller realms, those less than 1,500,000 sectors in size, now have denser alien populations by up to 33%.
  • Realms with permadeath now also have higher densities of aliens by up to 33%. So, a very small realm of 250,000 sectors with a very high permadeath setting of 10 levels-lost-per-honorable-kill would have a much denser alien population. (Note that permadeath realms also award increased XP over normal realms).
  • ^Komaando^, the alien boss, will now sometimes drop semi-random ship configurations of up to ship level 33. (Note that on smaller realms, these ships are restricted to slightly lower levels since camping ^Komaando^ can be more easily accomplished in such realms).
  • Level 31 and level 32 aliens can also drop new, semi-random ships of up to ship levels 29 and 30, again, depending on the realm size.
  • Neutral drone fleets now restock about three times faster than before and they grow to populations of about three times larger than before. It should now be much easier to find sufficient drones to salvage, even in a small star cluster.
  • The 'Other nearby ships' command (the letter 'O'), now more reliably shows a useful number of nearby ships. It also scales better to the density of each star cluster, independently.
  • The news is now far more likely to report the movements of rare spawn aliens and very high level aliens (level 31 and 32) -- and far less likely to report movements of normal, low level aliens.
  • The news also now correctly reports an alien equiping a player's ship. It says "[alien name] jacked [player name] ship". Previously, it said 'junked' rather than 'jacked'.
  • The 'realm configuration' option under the control panel ( commands: the '^' symbol followed by the letter 'C' ) also reports the maximum number of aliens that a realm supports.

News: February 27, 2016

Godot 2.0 Stable was released a few days ago and I have begun studying tutorials prior to starting on game client code. Meanwhile, work on the server has slowed to a trickle. Here are the highlights of the server work since the last update:

  • Level 20 players with capped reserve XP can now create level 24 ships.
  • A 'rested' component has been added to XP gains. If you've accumulated more antimatter via inactivity you'll get a larger 'rest bonus' in your XP calculations. Therefore, players who have less time to play will level from 10% up to 100% faster than would a player who used all of the daily fuel issue every day.
  • Automatic beacon tracking is now the default. Previously, you would have to turn it on manually to get autopilot paths calculated on a moving target.
  • Beacon tracking behavior is now persistent across multiple sessions. Therefore, if you change homing beacon behavior to 'disabled' it will remain disabled for subsequent game sessions -- until you enable it again.
  • Space debris left in a sector after a battle will now automatically decay slowly over time. Previously, debris would only be swept away by player ships flying through the sector. Now, heavily traveled sectors will have faster debris dissipation rates, but all sectors, including rarely-visited sectors, will gradually clear on their own.
  • Player level is now included in ship kill announcements. Previously, only the victim player or alien victim was listed by level.
  • The Info page ('I' key) now includes the percentage XP you have earned toward the next levelup.

News: September 27, 2015

  • ^Komaando^ is now a level 33 -- and the only level 33.
  • Reaching the level cap is no longer the end of ship upgrades. You can now add up to 3 more devices (up to a total of 23) as you accrue Reserve XP. You can add 1 at 333,333,333, another at 666,666,666, and the last one at one billion, the cap.
  • The above setting may vary by realm, but the local setting is listed under the control menu (^) in the realm configuration report (C)
  • Alien ships now carry fewer devices at levels below 33. Level 30 aliens now fly level 23 ships, level 31's fly level 24 ships, and level 32's fly level 25 ships. ^Komaando^ will typically fly level 26 ships. All aliens drop whatever ship they are flying when killed.
  • Level 32 aliens now have slightly more specialized ship types.
  • While you could always attack anyone in this game (except for your corpmates), there is now an additional level of PVP 'flagging'. Previously, you could attack and kill a lowbie (a player of lower level than yourself), but you would receive no cash loot, no XP, and you would lose honor. There is now an exception to this rule. If you attack another player, you'll become eligible for 'open loot', meaning that anyone, at any level, may now kill and loot you for one minute. If you target an 'unflagged' lowbie, you will incur a 5-minute open loot penalty. If you kill the lowbie, you'll incur an additional 10 minutes of penalty. These 'open loot' flags also turn off any stealth that you might have for the duration of the flag. Someone 'open loot' flagged is designated by [*] trailing their name and description when seen in a sector.
  • Commodity prices & profits have been increased by a factor of ten. This means that trading commodities is now far more lucrative and it is, therefore, far faster to scale up a new ship for hunting aliens.
  • The free drones that you find while trading has been boosted by a factor of seven.
  • The payouts from the dice game and the numbers game at Tradingposts has been boosted by a factor of four.
  • There are several new 'potential cash overflow' warnings in the game to prevent you from accidently becoming cash capped and, therefore, losing money in trading and hunting until you notice.
  • The running news service now only announces ship kills when the victim is either a human or a rare spawn alien; the victim is a lowbie (an unflagged ship of lower level than the attacker); when the ship was carrying a huge amount of cash; or when the victim is more than 15 levels above the attacker.
  • Non-numeric labelled radio channels can now be created on-the-fly by players just by changing your radio channel to a 'label' or 'code'. Instead of selecting one of the preset channels (G, C, U, or P) or typing in a channel number, you can now use a label from 2 to 8 characters, starting with a letter, to 'name' the channel. Then, others can join you in that channel (after you tell them the code, of course).

News: September 10, 2015

  • 'personality modules' have been added to Aliens. Now, individual aliens will exhibit various combinations of the following behavior patterns, each of which vary in degree for the various aliens:
    • a tendency to run when threatened or attacked
    • a tendency to counterattack when threatened or attacked
    • varying levels of aggression in counterattacks
    • the tendency to make snarky remarks when threatened
    Further, alien counter attacks now tend to be proportional to the losses incurred when they are attacked.
  • Rare spawn, special loot *Aliens* have had their ship configurations changed so that half of them now come with shields instead of radar
  • Level 31 aliens now get random configs but with 1 device type empty
  • Level 32 aliens now get random configs but with 1 or 2 device types empty
  • The beaconmode toggle in the control menu (^ key) now has a mode that plots autopilot paths to beacon carriers in real time, as they move. This is quite handy for chasing down 'runner' aliens.
  • Alien spawn rates now get an additional 4x boost when their population drops below 80%. This always applies during server restarts as well. This should keep alien populations near or above 80% at all times except immediately after system restarts. [Note that this is a realm-wide value and a single heavily hunted star cluster can remain far below 80% population for extended periods.]
  • The Experience (XP) for a realm is now derived from the permadeath setting. Currently, a setting of 1 (one level lost per honorable death) gives an XP earning boost of 11%. Higher permadeath settings give higher boosts up to a maximum of 100% boost in a realm with a permadeath setting of 20 (20 levels lost per honorable kill).
  • This new XP boost factor is now shown in the system configuration report under the control menu (^).
  • There is now a permadeath grace period for new characters. It ranges from 5 hours with a permadeath setting of 1 (1 level lost per honorable kill) to over a week of playtime in the most extreme permadeath setting of 20. This value is shown in the realm configuration report in the control (^) menu.
  • Your total playtime for each character has been added to the Inventory/character Info page (the 'I' command) in the following format: Total Playtime: 7h 23m
  • The old 'trading average' that was shown by Inventory/Info page has been changed to 'Session profit $23434/Kg fuel'. It now covers far more than just trading. It considers alien kills, drone losses and the fuel costs of the 'Find ship' (F key) command as well as all other money-making activities.
  • A cash cap warning was added to bunker downgrades when it would cause you to lose money
  • The leveling scale has changed. The top levels are minimally affected with level 20 completely unaffected. The largest jump is level 1 (only used upon level loss to determine if you suffer permadeath) which went from 150,000XP to 1,000,000XP. The sum total XP required to reach level 20 is now 3273.6 million, up from the old 2693.6 million. [Note that the XP boosts based on the permadeath setting affect how fast you gain XP, not how much you need to level up.]

News: August 26, 2015

  • There are Level 31 and Level 32 Aliens in the game now! They *always* come with a full complement of drones and carry huge amounts of cash. They aren't Rare Spawns, but they are rather uncommon.
  • The realm Permadeath setting has been added to the game configuration report ( ^ C )
  • The short stealth disable caused by attacking a target is now persistent across logins. The stealth penalty for lowbie killing has been made longer and cumulative as well as persistent across logins. That is, the penalty is now 15 minutes, additional for *each* lowbie. Kill three low-level targets in a row and suffer 45 minutes of no stealth.
  • You can now store a spare Starship at any Tradingpost and retrieve it from any other Tradingpost. This spare ship is persistent across logins and deaths and doesn't count in your rankings. The '(Y)our deployed forces report' will display your stored Starship, if any.
  • When a realm is restarted, it takes some time for the aliens to fully repopulate the galaxy. That repopulation has been sped up six-fold. In addition, when the alien density falls below 90% of full, alien respawns triple in frequency. If it falls below 66%, respawns double again (to the maximum of six times normal rates).
  • Bunker building is now 50x as expensive as before. Yes, that's a full 5000%! Building a high-level bunker is quite an investment now, but, as before, you get a full refund on antimatter and microbots when you downgrade or decommision it. Therefore, bunkers are now a viable way to store fuel and cash in a way that cannot be looted by other players.
  • General Purpose Radar are gone and replaced by Shields. Shields, unlike the old GP Radar, add no attack bonus, but their defensive bonus is now 8% each, up from the old 3% of the GP Radar. If you had GP Radar on your ship, they have been converted to Shields.
  • Unlike GP Radar, Shields do not count against the device limit for purchasing Radar. That is, you can buy more than 12 total Radar + Shields.
  • Some rare spawn alien ship configurations have changed because of the shield change. Note that if you have one of these older ships, your ship's configuration will be *unchanged* beyond the shield change mentioned above.
  • The behavior of Tractor Beams has been changed significantly. Now, in order to move a planet or bunker, you'll need a full set of 12 Tractor Beams! The movement of objects into and out of nebulas now varies with the number of Tractor Beams and the wavelength of the Nebula. The shorter wavelength Nebulas require more tractor beams to overcome.
  • In addition to requiring 12 Tractor Beams, Planet warps now require far more fuel than before.
  • There is a cash cap warning when killing aliens. If you hit the cap, currently 2,000,000,000 microbots ($), you'll get a warning each time you loot an alien (or player!) ship.
  • ^Komaando^, the boss alien, is now *always* a level 32. He carrys about 17000-20000 drones now and more cash than the other level 32 aliens.
  • Some other higher-level (24-30) aliens now carry, on average, a few more drones than before.
  • ^Komaando^ has revised starship models. All of the ships he drops are now Level 26 and have 1 additional device. Also, in addition to the new custom ships, he drops two classes of semi-custom, semi-randomized ships. These semi-custom ships have varying numbers of Shields and Radar and all have the model designators of [RH00] or [PJ00]. As before, the first letter of the model designator represents the sum of both types of combat device, Radar and Shields. Previously, that letter represented the two types of Radar.

News: August 11, 2015

This is a larger than normal update with many changes. Some of those changes will noticably affect the feel and gameplay of the game itself. First, let's cover the general changes:
  • Aliens above level 20 may sometimes counterattack or run when they detect a 'radar lock'. (this is in addition to the fact that *all* aliens may counterattack or run when actually hit with drones)
  • Neutral fleet sizes have been tripled. They range up to about 40,000 drones now.
  • XP awarded for discovering star clusters has been tripled.
  • You no longer have to return to the Galactic Core when you need to visit a Tradingpost. A TP has been added to the highest numbered sector of each Star Cluster.
  • Experience is now shown as you earn it with text like the following appended to various status messages: [+XP 1234]
  • Player levels have been added to the corporate members listing.
  • Starbase costs were reduced to 50% of the cost of the equivalent number of drones. (down from 75% before)
  • Starbases can now be built as small as 4 drones, equivalent.
  • The upper limit for Starbases is now Level 15, equivalent to 65536 drones and consuming over 1.8 billion microbots. (The old limit was 14, based on a minimum of 5 drones, and with a drone-equivalent maximum of 40960)
  • Alien strength level ranges are much wider now. A level 30 alien could have anywhere from about 900 Drones to more than 10,000. Rare spawns can have over 12,000 and ^Komaando^ can have over 15,000. The amount of cash and XP that you can gain is proportional to the size of the alien drone fleet, as well as other factors. A 12,000-drone rare spawn will drop a huge amount of cash and XP.

Much balancing has been done between Fuel Selling, Trading, and Alien Hunting. Alien hunting remains the most lucrative and dangerous, as well as the most competitive. Trading is solidly in second place, but subject to competitive pressures also. Selling Fuel at a Tradingpost via the Dice or Numbers games should be over twice as profitable as before.

Here is a rundown of the major nerfs and buffs:

hunting nerfs:

  • A doubling of the fuel cost of the Find Ships (F) command will somewhat offset the loot and XP from the now higher value aliens.
  • Ship sensors have been nerfed at the high end and even more (by about half) at the very bottom. A full load of 12 Sensors will now scan 60% of the nearest 1360 sectors at a cost of 60000 grams of fuel. A single sensor will scan 16% of 500 sectors at a 16000 gram cost.
  • Attack radar have been reduced from a 5% attack boost to 4% each. General Purpose radar have been reduced from a 4% attack/defense boost to 3% each.
  • Loot and XP from killing aliens has otherwise been reduced by about 8%.

Here are the buffs to trading and fuel sales:

  • Fuel sales through the 'numbers' and 'dice' games have payoffs of about double the old payoffs.
  • The minimum 'bet' that you can make in the fuel sales games has doubled to about 100000 from the old max of 50000. (The upper limit for these games varies from one Tradingpost to the next.)
  • Autoscoop (X) now provides about 4 times the free drones as before.
  • Trading at a fresh commodity port now gives a 16% chance of giving a single free drone or cargo hold, up from 5%.
  • You now gain XP from the free drones and cargo holds acquired by normal trading and autoscoop (x).

Permadeath update: The update of July 26th left out a crucial detail: Permadeath is a realm-specific setting and can be set to '0' (zero) (permadeath disabled), '1' (one level loss per honorable death), or '2', '3', etc., (you drop some number of levels upon an honorable death). If you hit Level 0 without enough XP to relevel back to level 1, then, and only then, do you suffer 'permadeath'.

There will be at least one realm with Permadeath disabled, a 'normal' realm will likely have a setting of '1', and the intent is to have some realm, or realms, having a much higher number, perhaps 5 or 10... Players will be able to choose which realm type(s) to play in.

News: July 26, 2015

Permadeath! There are new penalties for getting whacked! You can get demoted a level, you can even have your character permanently killed. (There is nothing to prevent you from recreating it, however.)
  • players receive a single level demotion when self-destructing
  • players receive a single level demotion when killed by aliens
  • players receive a single level demotion when HONORABLY killed by another player in PVP. [a player must be at or below the level of their victim to receive honor and avoid the negative honor penalties.]
  • ONLINE players get permadeath if HONORABLY killed at LEVEL 1 in PVP [account, title, and ALL resources (even deployed) are GONE]
  • players get permadeath when self-destructing at LEVEL 1
  • players get permadeath when killed by aliens at LEVEL 1
  • players get autopromoted after any demotion IF they have enough XP for the promotion. Since you must be Level 0 before you can get permadeath, this forstalls permadeath but it DOES CONSUME THE XP!
  • level-capped players continue to earn XP up to a 'reserve cap'. This permits a level 20 to immediately get repromoted after a kill-based demotion.
  • as implied above, OFFLINE players can't suffer permadeath but they can receive a single demotion. (After losing their ship, they remain in an escape pod and can't be detected by other players until they are issued a new ship upon their next logon.)

And, in other news...

  • Experience gains have changed slightly. It will now be easier to change XP requirements in the future. Meanwhile, it is slightly easier to level than it was in the last few updates. Each level requires roughly 1.5 times as much XP as the previous level. The lower levels are very fast, but that changes as you enter the upper teens.
  • There is now a floor (lower cap) for negative honor. In practice, it's so low that no one will hit it for a very long time.
  • The XP 'reserve' cap is initally set to 2 billion, enough to get promoted back to level 20 twice after suffering kill-based demotions.
  • Galaxy names have been removed from the '(O)thers online' report. They were redundant since you can no longer see anyone who isn't in the same star cluster as you.
  • Attack Radar now add 5% offensive advantage each, down from 6%. General Purpose radar are unchanged at 4% offensive and 4% defensive boost each. This change makes General Purpose radar more valuable, relative to Attack Radar.

News: July 10, 2015

Major updates to the server code are winding down. Many changes in the last 4 weeks have been behind-the-scenes bug fixes and small patches. There were still more changes as a result of adding homing beacon vulnerability to aliens back in June, as well as a few other unrelated fixes and minor features. Meanwhile, here are the most notable changes since the last update:
  • Aliens will now loot your cash when they win the fight. You can get (most of) it back if you later find them and kill them.
  • Also, when an alien wins a fight, he will equip your ship if the ilevel of your ship matches or exceeds that of the alien. (Previously, aliens would only equip your ship if it exceeded the ilevel of their own.)
  • Corporation CEO's who haven't logged in for over 31 days are now subject to auto-demotion when there are other, active, players in the corporation. In such an event, an active player is made CEO and the original CEO becomes a regular corporation member. The new CEO assumes all responsibilities and should probably scan the corporate applications stack immediately.
  • The total required amount of experience (XP) has been raised and the curve of XP increase from level to level has changed. Each level now takes 1.33 times as much XP as the previous level. Leveling is faster up to about level 10, then slower from that point onward.
  • The honor cap has been increased to 5,000,000. The original titles remain unchanged, but each requires five times the honor as before.
  • The galactic core (the large star cluster where all new player ships spawn) again has the full range of alien levels. However, there is a higher density of low level aliens who are only useful to leveling players (1-19) and a lower density of high level aliens (20-30). This change makes it easier for players to level exclusively by hunting aliens while still giving them a few higher-level targets to hunt after hitting the level cap of 20. (And before finding a wormhole to that special Star Cluster to call their own. ;)
  • Small bug fixes and minor patches:
    • homing beacons on aliens are now counted in rankings
    • Aliens killing players now adds debris to the sector where the deed happened
    • beacon reports now include player level
    • live beacon reports no longer report on your own ship (the Y command [Your deployed forces] will still show you if you have a beacon of your own on your hull)
    • the double display of the bunker upon login has been fixed
    • when an alien takes and equips your ship, he inherits the homing beacon on its hull, if present
    • ^Komaando^, the 'boss' alien, can again be targeted by the radio page command '@' and the '/name' PM radio function. (this is useful to determine if he has respawned)
    • ^Komaando^ now carries 33% more cash than other rare spawns, up from the 25% bonus he carried previously.

News: June 11, 2015

  • Aliens are now vulnerable to homing beacons and all of the normal rules apply. You can see them in both "live beacon reports" and the (Y)our forces report. You also receive a live update when a beacon is picked up when you're online. If offline, you'll receive a notice upon login.
  • When you swap to a captured ship, you will inherit any homing beacon that may be attached to the hull of the ship -- including alien ships.
  • The Corporation member listing now clearly flags the CEO
  • "newbie" stealth now fades at one half the old rate... so you should still have a large amount of free stealth left when you hit level 20.
  • Fixed a case-sensitivity bug in one of the profanity filters
  • The radio prompt now indicates the channel you're tuned to

News: June 03, 2015

  • The Sands of Time telnet-based text game has been reset and rebuilt as a 1 million sector game with more modern star clusters.
  • Players killed while towing a captured starship will now swap into the spare starship instead of their escape pod. That way, you can recover much faster from a untimely death.
  • Aliens will sometimes counterattack when they survive an initial attack. If they kill you and you have a better ship than their own, they'll equip your ship and jettison their old one.
  • Ship sensors now behave differently for players below the level cap (20). When multiple ships are found by the Find ships command, it will precalculate an autopilot path to the *lowest* level target that still matches or exceeds your own level. Once you hit the level cap, it will always plot the path to the highest level target sighted.
  • The aliens in the Galactic Core are now mostly levels 1-19, with a generous sprinkling of level 24's and 30's. This will make it easier for new characters to level almost exclusively by hunting aliens, as well as providing higher level characters an incentive to travel to a high-level Star Cluster.
  • The variety of remarks made by aliens has been increased substantially.
  • Ship upgrade devices now cost 5 million each, up from 2.5 million. Cargo holds have doubled as well; from 250000 to 500000 each.

News: May 25, 2015

  • There is now a game tutorial, with a version built into the game as well as the web version here. It is invoked by the E command, which stands for Enlighten me, according to the menu :). When you press the 'E' key from a sector prompt you'll get a single screen tutorial about 20 lines long. Press E again to see the next one. They will start over at the first one once you've cycled through them all. (The old E command, which allowed you to view the log of events affecting your deployed forces, has been retired and replaced by automated, live updates.)
  • Destroying a bunker no longer destroys all the ships docked within. Now, all resident ships are dumped into the sector for all to see.
  • The '(O)thers nearby' command can no longer see across Star Cluster boundaries. Players outside your Galaxy/Cluster cannot see you with this command, nor can they see the aliens in your cluster.
  • Aliens will sometimes make snarky comments and insults when they are attacked or PM'd.
  • Profanity filters have been added to player names, corporation names, corp. initials, radio messages, and Private Messages. In the case of radio and PM's, the transmit is allowed, but certain words will be overwritten with '***'.

News: May 19, 2015

  • Towing captured starships now adds to the fuel usage of your ship.
  • Captured ships can now be jettisoned with the Jettison command. When you use Jettison with a ship in tow, you'll be informed of the ship configuration and shown your current ship configuration for comparison. The ship will not be dropped unless you explicitly confirm the Jettison.
  • Attacked aliens will now usually attempt to escape. So, when you attack one, it's best to make it good.
  • The methods and menus used in attacking Starbases have been improved and made a bit more logical. You also have to confirm prior to Self-destruction in both Starbase and deployed Drone encounters.
  • The private messaging feature has been improved. It's no longer purely instant -- and will no longer interrupt what you're doing. This is only a problem in the telnet-based text mode game and will be reverted back to instant behavior once the client is built. News, radio, and messaging will have a dedicated and scrollable text window in the client.
  • The radio help screen has been rewritten to better describe the Private messaging usage.

News: May 11, 2015

  • Most of the last few days were spent designing and testing realms. Many small tweaks came out of that work and the more visible of them are discussed below.
  • The upper limit size of Corporations (guilds) is now a realm-specific setting. This is different from the April 9th update that mentioned changing the corporation sizes within a common range that applies across all realms.
  • The density of aliens is now also a realm-specific setting. In the smallest planned dwarf galaxy, 'Starfish', the alien density will be just over triple that of a large 'normal' realm. The general pattern will be that smaller realms will usually have denser alien infestations. They will still have far fewer aliens than a much larger galaxy, but the aliens will be a bit easier to find.
  • I added the 'Cube String' and 'Block Chain' galaxy types. These two structures are a series of cubic lobes of 1000 and 8000 sectors each, respectively, and connected at two corners to their neighboring lobes. The 'Starfish' realm will use a Block Chain structure of five 8000-sector lobes as its galactic core. Each lobe will contain a single, randomly placed Spaceport to one of its five large star clusters.
  • I have also built and tested games with Star Cluster sizes of up to 99000 sectors, roughly doubling the range of sizes available previously.
  • I have put up a test prototype of the current Starfish design on port 1250 of this server. This game is not in its final configuration and, therefore, not permanent. Like all games prior to the completion of the client, it is accessible in text mode only via telnet.
  • New starship models are in development. I should be able to add new images in the next update.

News: May 4, 2015

  • The Galactic Core can now be built as any of the Star Cluster structures: (Tubular, Spiral, Morass, Necklace, Globular). The previous Elliptical structure of the Galactic Core was a variation of the Maze, which remains available.
  • There are now four new Star Cluster types:
    • Open Maze (a much more random structure than the old Maze, which is now called the Dense Maze)
    • Ring (a circular version of the Tubular, but with the ends connected)
    • Fat Ring (like a Ring but with a cross-sectional area of 10x10 instead of 5x5)
    • Fat Tubular (like a Tubular but with a cross-sectional area of 10x10 instead of 5x5)
  • All of the new types can be used for the Galactic Core as well.
  • Design work has begun on the first Realms. They will vary in size, structure of the Core, and size of the Star Clusters, as well as in other ways. No two realms will be alike. The initial realm designs will continue to be refined as work proceeds in other areas.
  • Much tuning was done on loot yields and the balance between trading and hunting. A typical level 30 Alien will now carry about 1000 drones and will not always be profitable to attack, depending on how your ship is configured. Rare Spawns will almost always be profitable, regardless of your specialty.

News: April 23, 2015

  • There is now support for a wide variety of Star Cluster sizes. During development, the only size available was 8000 sectors. The new version has been tested with clusters ranging from 4000 up to 64000 sectors. The larger realms will probably be configured with clusters up to 48000 sectors. (the upper range has since been increased to 99000 sectors, as reported in the May 11th update)
  • In addition to the larger Star Clusters, this change also allows the Galactic Core to be made smaller. The biggest effect of a smaller core is that a realm can be made much larger with minimum impact on performance.

News: April 19, 2015

  • Private Messaging. There's now a private message system that has several advantages over the public and private radio channels for 1-to-1 communications. First, the messages are persistent across restarts and significant amounts of time. Second, it lets you send messages to a player who isn't logged on. Third, it lets you send a private message without leaving your preferred channel by using the new /playername (or /hull#) syntax. And, fourth, it includes an optional 'Private' channel that lets you engage in a conversation by just typing, once you've selected a player to talk to.
  • Tab-targetting. You won't find too many sectors with multiple targets in them, but now you can choose a target a bit faster with the tab key.

News: April 17, 2015

  • The autopilot range has been increased from the previous 8000 sectors to cover the entire area of the galactic core. Therefore, you can now travel via autonavigation from any sector to any other sector within the same star cluster or even the galactic core.
  • The Find command (requires ship sensors) will now automatically configure the autopilot to take you the last ship that you located with the Find command. Autopilot will also remember the most recent ship that you passed in your travels -- and will let you conveniently fly back to it.
  • Undiscovered spaceports that you encounter while using autopilot -- or just moving rapidly -- are remembered by autopilot so that you can return and visit the connected star cluster. This autopilot feature, along with the similar 'last ship' features, will overlay each other if not used first. That is, if you ignore the undiscovered spaceport and then pass a starship, autopilot will remember the ship, but forget the spaceport.

News: April 9, 2015

  • The game can now support realms of up to 10 million sectors.
  • Guardian radar have been replaced by "General purpose" radar. Rather than providing an 8% defensive boost, they now give a 4% defense and a 4% attack bonus. Attack radar still provide a 6% attack-only bonus.
  • There is a new boss alien, ^Komaando^. Whenever ^Komaando^ is killed, the aliens designate a new boss, and send him in as quickly as they can. ^Komaando^ always drops rare spawn levels of cash and one of ten unique (to him) ship types. Those ships include some of the most powerful in the game in several different niches.
  • The levels of aliens is no longer constant across the entire galaxy. The productivity of a star cluster now determines the levels of aliens there. For example, the galactic core will always contain aliens from level 1 to level 30, but a star cluster with 80% higher productivity will contain aliens from level 24 to 30, etc.
  • Honorable kill counts are now tracked. While they are still reflected in a player's title, the actual count is only directly visible to the player. However, each corporation's cumulative kill total is displayed in the corp. rankings.
  • There is now a system to report live events, including military events that happen in remote sectors. For example, you will be notified when someone kills a deployed fighter in some distant sector, picks up a homing beacon, or damages one of your starbases. You will also be immediately notified of corporate events that affect you. For example, the CEO of a corporation will receive an immediate notification when someone applies for membership in the corporation. Upon acceptance, the applicant will receive a notice as well. If you're not logged on at the time of these notifications, you'll get them immediately upon your next login
  • The fuel rebate dice game and the numbers game have had their caps raised to as much as 50,000 microbots. Also, each Tradingpost offers only one of the two fuel rebate methods.
  • Corporation limits now vary from realm to realm. In the largest realms, corporations can be as large as 200 members. (This upper limit changed in the May 11 update, above)

Hello, Colonist! I'm sorry if you were misled by the gloriously habitable planet stories that no doubt led you here. Sadly, the planet doesn't seem to exist. Or, maybe we've been unlucky and just haven't found it yet. But, anyway, we can always use a few more humans out here. So, Welcome! I hope you brought plenty of supplies...

Welcome to the Lost Raven MMO.

So, what is it? It's a beta-test version of the complete server engine for an upcoming sandbox mmo. The main thing missing is the graphical client, but the game is already completely playable in text mode using a telnet client. That lets us play-test the game server before the game client is in a usable state. The system hosting this game server is configured to support a single realm large enough for several hundred concurrent players and has been tested to handle 1600 game transactions per second.

I'm currently building the ship models. Here are shots of two of the designs:



A brief overview of the game...

This is a "low-intensity" PVP space-based sandbox mmo game. It's not about fighting all the time. The PVP is 99%+ military preparation, plotting, espionage, and even politics; with actual PVP battles infrequent. As the great military strategist, Sun Tzu, said; "Every battle is either won or lost before the fighting even begins." You'll come to see that Sun Tzu's advice holds true in space as well.

No hostile NPC's, no high-security sectors

It's ALL 'null-sec', as they say in some other game. There is no 'high security' space. There ARE sectors with neutral drones that will react to any open-space ship attacks. But neutral drones provide very limited protection. Not only can they be killed by other players, they can also be easily recruited into the fleets of the would-be attackers. They're neutral and can be 'salvaged' by reprogramming and repainting, and thereby returned to working condition -- as new units of any player's fleet. When hiding under neutrals, don't ignore this possibility -- that they can be cheaply drafted by a completely pennyless player who happens to already have more drones than the neutral fleet. That is, a player can simply sell enough of his drones to raise the cash to salvage the neutrals -- far cheaper than killing them.

Lastly, there are Alien ships throughout the galaxy. They are easy to identify since they have unusual names that start and end with special characters (-,~,+,*), unlike player names which always start with a letter. Aliens will not deliberately provoke or attack you. However, they do drop cash loot when killed, just like players. Also like players, they must be at or above your own level in order for you to be awarded honor, XP, and loot when you destroy one.

New player protections

Each new player starts out with a 90% stealth rating. This makes it very hard to see, target, and attack them. This stealth benefits small ships as well as new players. If you use up all of your forces in battle, you reacquire your original 90% stealth rating.

The more forces you accumulate, the less effective this natural stealth (ship cloaking) becomes. You can offset that decline in stealth by equipping your starship with stealth panels. and always retain a high level of stealth, regardless of wealth. Or, you can choose to invest in...

Other Ship Enhancing Devices

You can buy devices that increase your effectiveness in battle. Or, you can buy equipment that lets you move ports -- and even planets -- from one starsystem to another. There are also devices that partially offset stealth and let you attack stealthed starships more effectively. Each time you level up, you become eligible to install an additional device, up to the level cap of 20.

But you must carefully consider the mix of devices that you install on your starship. Once you attach a device to your ship, it cannot be removed. Well, not without cracking the entire hull and destroying everything inside. And that would be very expensive. If, Heaven forbid, your starship were to be destroyed, you would only lose the installed equipment and the microbots and drones actually onboard. Your starbases, bunkers, and deployed drones throughout the Universe would be unaffected.

A few pointers

Here are a few quick tips on the mechanics of being a commodity trader in deep space:

  • Industrial Microbots are as good as cash here -- and more useful. You can buy things, build starbases and bunkers, and salvage neutral drones to add to your fleet using microbots.

  • Tradingposts sell ship upgrades and other items and services. They are many throughout the bottom galaxy. There is a Tradingpost in sector 1 -- and another every 2000 sectors in sector 2001, 4001, and 6001...

  • Spaceports are what we call the stable wormholes that are scattered throughout the entire galaxy. They link the galactic core and the smaller star clusters together.

  • You can apply to join a player-run corporation. Or, once you've built up a bit of wealth and experience, you can create your own corp. Corporations have their own radio frequencies and can share defensive structures such as starbases and bunkers. Powerful corporations might take over and defend multiple star clusters for their own exploitation.

  • Your ship gathers antimatter (fuel) from space in tiny quantities. All ships accumulate the same amount of antimatter per day. You can use it quickly but inefficiently by selling antimatter at Tradingposts, or you can spend it slowly and carefully trading at commodity ports and autoscooping planet/port combinations. Or, you can use it to hunt down and destroy alien ships -- while keeping the loot for yourself.

  • You'll sometimes find a fully-functional neutral drone while trading. You can also salvage whole groups of them to grow your fleet with the huge numbers of microbots you'll accumulate while trading.

  • Staying out of sight is useful to survival. You can park your ship under fleets of neutral drones for free but limited protection. Unless someone kills -- or salvages -- the drones you'll be safe there. Stealth, both natural and augmented, is useful as well. It makes you hard to see as well as difficult to target and hit. Also, if you're looking for out-of-the-way places to hide, it would do no good to broadcast it here, would it? Let's just say, don't park overnight in Sector 1 and leave it at that.

  • Drones that accompany your ship will fight back against any attackers -- even when you're sleeping. A large fleet of drones always helps with survival.

  • Starting at level 1, you can build a bunker from the hollowed-out remains of a claimed planet -- and park your ship inside. No one can see you there, but someone might try to land on it. Don't forget to deploy your entire drone fleet to guard the bunker from within. They'll fight more effectively from there. [Note that neutral drones in the same sector as your bunker won't protect you from attacks against the bunker. Also, stealth makes no difference when your ship is inside a bunker and, therefore, not visible anyway.]

That's about all I can tell you about surviving here. Use the ? command on your starship console to display the operational capabilities of your ship.

You look like a sharp kid. I'm sure *cough* you'll do just fine.

Good Luck!

This realm hosts a complete galaxy and is free-to-play. You can play up to 4 characters. There is no intrusive registration; just pick a name and password and start to play.

The persistent telnet game runs on port 23. That game is intended to be permanent and always available via telnet, barring some major problem causing a game reset.

In addition to the work on ship models, quite a few other game objects are in development. Here are three untextured device models; a machine shop, a smelter, and a distillery...


...and my first planets...



Below is the only remaining digital screenshot that I have from Starship Traders (SST), the main ancestor of the new game. The visible objects are:
  • Offcenter to the right is a planet with no visible moons on-screen.
  • Dead center, the angular torus is an equipment port.
  • The mottled object in the bottom center is a 3200-fighter defensive starbase.
  • The small saucer-shaped objects to the left and just above the starbase are the starships of SYSADMIN and MICHELLE. There is a third ship in the sector that is not visible belonging to whoever took the screenshot.
  • The circular object centered in the upper left quadrant is a wormhole. It would have been shimmering and shifting color in-game.
  • Arrayed across the top are ten bird-like fighters.
  • The randomly scattered bits ranging from the foreground to the background are a debris field; a skirmish has occurred here recently.
  • A graffiti beacon at the top center beneath the 'Sector 1000000' heading states, "Top 'o Universe".
  • The light blue text across the top, upper right, and upper left are clickable commands, a couple of which are grayed out. Note that the game was playable completely from the keyboard or via point-and-click with a mouse.
  • News and a text description of the sector contents are in the white text on the left.

    There were no pre-built art assets in the game; all of this was dynamically generated by the OpenGL-based client at a scalding 15.3 frames per second on some primitive piece of hardware, as we can see in the bottom right corner. This was circa 2001, I believe.


    Ancient History...

    Starship Traders was based on The Last Resort (1999). TLR, in turn, was based on Tsarwars, a complete rewrite of Czarwars in the C language. Tsarwars came online in 1996 as the first multiuser, networked variant. Tsarwars was modelled on a stand-alone bulletin board game named Czarwars (1986). Czarwars was a multiplayer, but not a multiuser game. That is, many could play in the same universe, but only one at a time.

    Czarwars was inspired by Trade Wars 2, Risk, and Star Trader, and it was the first game in my series. Czarwars was written in Microsoft QuickBASIC.

    After Starship Traders came Space Tyrant (2005) and Currency Traders (written in 2011 but never released). Space Tyrant was built as a completely new software architecture designed to be massively multiplayer and was the first complete rewrite since Tsarwars.

    Back to the present...

    The new game, the Lost Raven MMO, is built on the C language codebase of Currency Traders. The MMO has been loosely planned since the redesign in 2005 and the MMO server has been under active development since February, 2014.

    The decisions to use Blender and the Godot Game Engine were made in late February, 2015, and work on the art assets began immediately thereafter.



    (Ray Yeargin's Abstract Art Portfolio)