updated: March 15, 2015


Lost Raven MMO textmode 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: March 15, 2015

We have a name! In case you didn't notice above, the MMO is as of now officially known as the Lost Raven MMO!

I've dropped all of my other projects and am only two weeks away from working on the Lost Raven MMO full time. As many of you already know, the server is now feature-complete and playable via telnet. Only one major game feature is missing; the ability to seamlessly jump from one galaxy (realm) to another. Most of that feature will have to be implemented in the client -- so it can't be made available in text mode.

News: March 10, 2015

The bot game just rolled over 2^32 game transactions on March 10th!

Stats: #plrs:121 Tx:4295883929 busy:36% TPM:106672

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-galaxy game 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 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 attempt at 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 SST which came online in 1996 as the first networked variant. Tsarwars was modelled on a stand-alone bulletin board game named Czarwars (1986).

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

    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. Czarwars was written in an early version of Microsoft's QuickBASIC. All of the successors were written in C.

    Back to the present...

    The new one, the Lost Raven MMO, is based on the code of Currency Traders. The MMO has been loosely planned since the redesign in 2005 and the MMO server has been under active development for over a year.

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

    I will soon be released from my system administration responsibilities and I will begin working full time on the MMO begining April 2nd, 2015.