My Abstract Art Gallery


Lost Raven MMO Gameplay Tutorial

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 23)
(or, from the Windows GUI, you can use puTTY's telnet mode to connect to port 23)

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 ship that still matches or exceeds your own level. Once you hit the level cap, it will always plot the path to the highest level ship 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.