[1/20/99]: More New Stuff!
Refer a Member, Get 2 Weeks Free! In the interest of spreading the good word, we've decided to start a referral program. It's easy! If you tell a friend about Lunatix, ask them to create their character and list your player name in the new field labeled "where did you hear about Lunatix?" If anybody you've referred decides to subscribe, you'll get two free weeks added to your account. What's the catch? You have to be a member at the time they subscribe to qualify for the free two weeks, and it's only valid on their first subscription (not when they renew). We also ask that members do not pressure their friends into subscribing. If you know somebody who'd like to play, please don't try to force them to subscribe. There is no limit to how many people you can refer. If 100 of your friends sign up and decide to subscribe, you'll get 200 weeks! Good deal, huh?
A Problem With Auto-Maintenance: The auto-maintenance program works great, but for some reason it dies after it's gone active for 15 minutes. My best guess is that our web host watches “endless” programs and kills them after 15 minutes. We're working to resolve this. Until then, maintenance will run between 12:00 midnight and 8:00 am daily, and we do not guarantee the exact time.
Server Will Be Down 4 Hours Saturday: Saturday morning (1-23-99) from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm cental time, our web host will be performing maintenance and upgrading software on the server. As a result, Lunatix Online will be down for that period of time. It will return as soon as their upgrades are completed.
IGM Kit Coming Really Soon! The updated documentation is nearly done and the kit is practically flawless. We plan to make it available to the public THIS WEEK! Start thinking of cool adventures, quests, or mini-games now, because you'll soon have the ability to create your own Lunatix Online add-ons!
[1/18/99]: Good Things Brewing On Lunatix Online!
Trial Member Period is Doubled: Until now, new players would receive a 1-week trial membership to evaluate Lunatix Online before deciding to subscribe or quit playing. We have just doubled it to TWO weeks! Everybody with an existing trial account has an extra week added as well. As always, signing up to play in NO WAY obligates you to subscribe.
IGM Support Phase 1 Nearly Done! How many other web-based games allow players to use a free kit to create add-on levels for it? Robert Fogt has done an excellent job of getting the IGM kit completed. All that remains before it can be available for public download is the documentation! We expect this to be done soon, so stay tuned! Already, a simple IGM has been created to show off the elevator (The Odd Ward) and while it's being expanded and improved, IGM kit beta testers are also working on new IGM's. Even though Phase 1 is nearly done, we have more good ideas to add to the IGM development environment to make IGM's more flexible and powerful.
Auto-Maintenance Is Added: Lunatix is now set up to auto-reset at midnight (so player turns are regenerated). In the past, the maintenance program had to be executed manually, so the reset time would vary. Now it's automatic!
[1/11/99]: We're Now Accepting Credit Cards:
We are now set up to accept memberships purchased with Credit Cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express). Because of fees involved for setting up and using this service, our 1-Month Subscription is $7 and our 6-Month Subscription is $30. This is a few dollars more expensive that the same subscriptions if purchased by mailing a check or money order. For complete subscription information, see our Subscription page.
[1/10/99]: Player Profiles Are Added!
One of the few missing features, Player Profiles, was recently added to
Lunatix Online. This allows players to enter information (name, age, location,
description, hobbies, web site URL, picture URL, and more) which can be easily
viewed (via the “List All Players” option) by other players. All of the
information is optional, and unlike the new player info (where players MUST
sign up using their real name or be deleted), all profile information is just
for fun and can be real or imaginary.
In addition, the IGM Kit will be forthcoming soon. We have recently looked over another alpha version in which the actual “viewer” can now be run!
All The News We've Missed
IGM Kit? Coming Soon!!! Although the server-side IGM engine (for the Lunatix “elevator”) is almost done (give or take a few script commands), the developer's kit is not yet finished. It's being developed by Robert Fogt (http://www.oz.net/~robertf/jungle) and I've seen two alpha versions so far and it looks great! Robert tells me that the kit should be completed by Sunday.
Credit Card Access: We will have a method of accepting credit cards soon. However, because of the fees involved, $2 must be added to one-month subscribers who select this option ($7 per month) and $5 will be added to a six-month subscription (which will be $30). This option should be officially announced and available in the next few days. However, the original payment option (a check or money order) will still be available at the lower rate of $5 a month or $25 for 6 months.
The First Official Days: Since Lunatix Online has been "officially open" for the past few days, we've received quite a few memberships, especially 6-month ones. Thanks! As Lunatix becomes more popular and gets linked from more places, we expect the membership to grow by leaps and bounds!
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, our web host's server went down and absolutely nobody was around to take care of it. I sent emails galore, tried calling people, and I got nothing. After TWO COMPLETE DAYS of being down, it finally came back up -- I guess somebody finally decided to get around to fixing it. I'm very disappointed that nobody seemed to think it really mattered that the server was down for 48 hours straight, but we're glad it's back up now. We've added two free days (to subscribers & trial members alike) to compensate for the down time.
The word BETA has been removed from the game now. Even though we have more features yet to add, and IGM support to complete, the game has been running for two months now. Even though we've had problems with our server (rather, or web host's server), there have been no major problems with the game itself. Lunatix has now gone public, as a work in development.
Must Block Cheating (lengthy rant, but very important):
Well, instead of being able to work on game features, it seems as though we're spending all our time tracking down multiple accounts and figuring out ways to prevent people from doing this. We would MUCH rather be working ON the game, but until the problem of players creating multiple accounts has been resolved, progress will go very slow.
As a first step, we're going to ban alias email addresses. This includes rocketmail.com, hotmail.com, juno.com, usa.net, yahoo.com, and iname.com. We'll begin to ban other aliases as we determine them to be a problem. We had planned not to do this, because we realize there may be a few legit reasons why one of these would be your one-and-only real email address, but because of the rampant and appearently unstoppable cheating, we have no choice.
The game is now set up to prevent new players from using those addresses. Existing players from those addresses should send us your real email address, or at least email us to explain why this is your only one if you have some kind of special circumstance. Othewise, if we do not hear from you within a couple of days, we will assume that your account was not valid, and it will be deleted. We are really really sorry for having to do this, but we see this as the best way to curb the mass amount of multiple characters and cheating going on.
We are also logging things that happen in the game. This includes the IP address used to log in. We've been able to find many of the duplicate accounts this way, and hopefully this will be enough to help us keep the game fair. There are lots of people already subscribing, and they deserve a game that is fair and fun and isn't filled with lots of people cheating.
If these efforts are not enough to cure the multiple-accounts problem, then we will continue adding new things to help cure it. We will eliminate some features that trial members have (no money transfers, no player-killing, no romantic notes, no potions, and so forth). We do not want to do this, but will if necessary. If this still does not cure the problem, we will drop the trial week down to a SINGLE TRIAL DAY... or remove it entirely.
All I can say is... come on, guys! How hard is it to stick to 1 player? We're flattered that the game is so entertaining that you'd feel the need to make multiple characters to enjoy it more, but we've posted the rules everywhere, including the screen you see when you sign up, the email you're sent with your validation number, the new-player email sent to your character in the game, and the “vital rules” link in game. There is NO WAY that anybody can legitimately claim that they did not realize multiple characters are not allowed.
We don't have these rules just to torment you. This is the 3rd version of Lunatix, and the original dates back almost FOUR years. We didn't just wake up one day and say “you know... having multiple characters really sucks. I think we should make it against the rules.” No. We've seen the game ruined on countless BBS's because a few players cheated this way. It's no great surprise. The difference between those versions and this is that the player subscribes to this game, not the BBS Sysop.
Subscribers expect... no, they DESERVE a fair game... one that's not altogether unfair because a few people are allowed to have multiple characters and use them all to aid one main account. As rude as this may sound, we DO NOT CARE if you think we're wrong and we should allow you as many characters as your heart desires. Lunatix was not designed for this, and we WILL delete you and BAN you from the game for this. We will do everything in our power to make sure Lunatix Online is a fair game.
We should not have had to justify the rules of our game this way, but the multiple-character situation is simply out of hand now. Please play the game in its intended spirit -- one player, have fun, and be crazy. Thank you and good day.
Some Things Will Be Undone:
There just hasn't been time enough to finish everything we'd hoped to get finished. So, even though we'll be removing the word “beta” on January 1st, several features remain undone. We've added several mind trips, most of the items, Ghengis Khan's loans, and more. The IGM engine is coming along good, and we may even add a sample IGM to the elevator soon.
We're adding everything, though. Even though we won't be completely finished with it on January 1st, testing has gone really well and we're confident that it's ready to go “live” then. As trial time for existing players runs out, we're already getting subscribers!
Stay tuned as we continue working on and improving Lunatix Online.
Christmas Day Progress Report
...Just wanted to post an update before I get back to the Christmas Festivities around here. We have just made a change to the random number seed because it appears that the Perl build on my web host's server has a bug with seeding random numbers. This should be fixed now. Also, the IGM engine is still progressing, and it's being used to add more Mind Trips. Also, game mail can now be deleted without reading it, which has been a much-requested feature.
We're still aiming to get as much done by the end of December as possible. The holidays have really brought productivity around here down, but we're working! :)
IGM Engine is Progressing Nicely!
The server-side engine is already partially working. In fact, it works well enough that we've been able to add a couple of “mind trips” to the game (mini IGM's that are built-in and randomly occur when fighting closet shadows). We've also added quite a few of the special items (valentine, rope, crazy statue, and so forth) to the game. All that remains is that mind trips be constructed to award these items to the player. It's coming along really well! IGM Support phase one will be completed soon!
Swapped Again, and Other News
We're back on the new server once again and things are looking great! The game plays fast, as it should, and all player and mail files were successfully transferred. The game URL, www.lunatix-online.com, will termporarily redirect to the new server. Please continue to use the lunatix-online.com URL (not the temporary one), since our domain name will be switched to point automatically soon.
Free Trial Time is swiftly dwindling. If you're an existing player and enjoy the game and plan to subscribe, keep an eye on your trial ending date, which appears when you log into the game.
IGM support is under development now. There will be three phases to this. First, we will complete the server-side engine enough so that “Mind Trips” can be added to the closet. Then, we will complete the server-side engine for support of full IGM's and create a simple one to put into the elevator. Then, after finishing the server engine, we will create and release the client-side (offline) development tools which will be available for free to anybody interested in writing IGM's.
Back on the Old Server (For Now)
Lunatix is up and running again on the old server. Mail and Player files are all in tact. The game will run on this server only until the new one is completely set up correctly, which should be very soon. We appologize for the inconvenience. I've repeatedly stressed to our ISP that these problems are devestating to the game, and they know how important it is that the server be reliable. The problem is, the server is administered by a 3rd party. When a problem like this happens, we get plenty of email from our players. The only thing we can do is email and call our ISP pleading for a speedy fix to the problem. They, in turn, must rely on their 3rd-party people to actually implement the solution.
The new server is much faster and can handle the game load where the old one can't. However, it's still being configured. In fact, we were the first of our web host's customers to move to the new server. Since they were still in the process of configuring it and finishing the setup of the server itself, they somehow messed up a setting and (so far) have been unable to correct it. When they correct the problem, we will move the game back to the new server. This means we've picked the lesser of two evils -- the game can play on the old server but it will lag really bad and freeze if too many people log in -- which is better than being on a really fast server where you can't play at all.
We MUST be cursed or something!
Everything was running smooth on the new server and LOTS faster. The whole LOGIC crew has been breathing easier all day, but it didn't last. The Curse of the Killer Server is back. This time, on the new NT system, they changed some settings today since it's all brand new and will be hosting other sites in addition to ours. At any rate, something got messed up in the process and now Lunatix doesn't have “access” to write or update data files.
In laymens terms? The new server is currently hosed and if you create a new account it won't actually be saved and if you log on as an existing user the game is going to say you've been gone for too long. I just want everybody to understand that even though this is very frustrating, it is not the fault of the game. The game is just fine. I know this doesn't really matter since the end result is that you can't play, but remember that this is still our beta period. Things like this are bound to happen. We hope they don't happen, but they can and usually do.
We expect the problem to be corrected soon. Remember though, that even beyond the beta period, we can't control our web host's server. When things like this happen it's very unfortunate, but we will not offer refunds for server down-time. Instead, if the down-time lasts for a long period of time (such as for a full day or more) then we may extend paid subscriber accounts to compensate for the missing day.
We're On a New Server!
Lunatix Online has just moved from a very old, slow PC running LINUX to a fast, new server running NT. The difference in speed is like night and day. Problems of server lag due to too much access should be eliminated now, and what you should see is a game that plays really fast! This should also eliminate the problem of the server freezing during busy times of play.
Our LOGIC(al) Agenda -- IGM's are a PRIORITY!
Our target date for the full completion of Lunatix 6.0a “core” game is December 31st, 1998. As this date slips ever closer, we have inventoried the major additions we must complete. The remaining features include:
IGM Support (add-on ability)
» Ghengis Khan (the “Loan Shark”)
» Player “Marriages”
» Gangs, Team, or Guild support
» Player “Profiles”
» Chat Engine Improvements (Actions, Whispering, Help)
» Mind Trips (Mini-adventures during Closet Fights)
» Item Inventory (Valentine, Rope, Antimatter, Crazy Statue, etc.) Of this list, IGM support is the most crucial, and we're planning to focus on it next. By now, you may already know what an IGM is.
An IGM, or “In-Game Module,” is an add-on for the game written with a special scripting language (LunScript) that's much simpler to understand than commercial languages like C++. Since we design the language and the requirements, we can make it very easy, including only the commands needed to create a working “mini-game” for Lunatix.
A Lunatix IGM fits into the elevator. If you've played before, then you know about the elevator. Players use the elevator to access other “floors” of the institution, which are actually these IGM add-ons that people have created! This means that you can turn your loony ideas into an IGM -- a new place for players to go visit inside the game!
IGM's can be complex or simple, as large or small as the author wishes. An IGM could be a 1-room "fortune-teller" game, or an epic quest which leads the player through hundreds of unique rooms and locations. Not only are they fun to play and add to an ever-growing game, but they're also fun to CREATE and can be a challenging project for an IGM author, leading to a finished IGM which other Lunatix players can play and enjoy!
We're keeping what we feel to be the best elements of the previous Lunatix IGM kit (LunScript), which includes an easy-to-use & easy-to-learn scripting language, an offline viewer, and all the documentation necessary to get started -- bundled into a FREE zip for anybody who wants to give it a shot. We're also expanding on the idea. In LunScript for LOGIC, an IGM will be able to store player save files. This will be a big improvement over the BBS version which had no save-file mechanism (to have “re-entrant” IGM's you previously had to use some kind of password, which isn't nearly as nice as a player save file). The LunScript language will also be mostly redesigned to allow better functionality, especially in fitting with browser-based output.
At any rate, IGM support is next on the agenda. As a Lunatix player, you'll be amazed at how big an improvement, and how much MORE fun the game is with IGM add-ons to increase your daily play time.
Romantic Notes Are Added!
The game feature “Post a Romantic Note” is now part of the game. This allows players to send Romantic Notes to other patients or invite another player to their room. It also has an option for proposing in-game marriage, although this is a new feature that was not available in the BBS version and has not yet been added to this version (but will be).
With the addition of Romantic Notes, the number of unfinished features shrinks a little more. What's left? The only inoperative menu option remaining is for taking out loans from “Ghengis Khan” the Loan Shark (for when you need a few extra Crazy Bucks). Also, the most important feature of the game (the IGM/Add-On engine) is yet to be added. This is a key priority in our goal to completely finish the game by the end of December.
What else? With the addition of IGM support, a few other missing features will be possible. This includes “Mind Trips,” which are mini-games that are randomly encountered during the course of closet fights. From Mind Trips, a player can gain useful game items like a Valentine, a Rope, a Postage Stamp, Antimatter, Cigarettes, and several more interesting things that can help during the course of daily play. Also, actions (like KICK and SMOOCH and HUG) will be added to the chat module in addition to player whispering (private conversations). Player marriages will be added (although we're debating on whether or not our planned “live ceremony” is actually necessary). Team or Gang support is also on our list of major enhancements...
...And we're aiming to have all this and more completed by the end of this month. At that time, the game leaves its “beta” stage.
They Caught Us!
Betazine (www.betazine.com) had a Lunatix Online interview today. The whole thing can be found HERE. It's pretty informative.
About the Server Problems
Server down-time has plagued us for the past five days. Again and again, it would stop responding while people were trying to play (a very annoying thing to happen) then stay down for a period of time not letting anybody back on. The good news is that it isn't the game and it isn't the server... it's actually a hardware problem at my web host's ISP... their “router” I believe. The bad news is that such a problem is out of our hands -- and nothing is worse than waiting on internet access to come back when you can't do anything at all to help it happen. This evening, the connection was stable. I'm not sure if the problem has been fixed yet though, so please be patient if more periods of down-time are still in store for us.
Nobody Pays Until 1999!
Trial (non-subscription) access has been extended through the end of the year on all existing players, and new players are now given a 4-week trial period instead of 1-week. The 4 week trial will go back to 1 week on new sign-ups soon however. It made sense to extend the free trial time not only because of the recent server problems, but because (drum roll) the game will be finished and out of beta before the end of December! In short, this means that free access to the game is extended beyond the projected completion of it... which should answer the question “Do I Have To Pay For a Game Still In Beta???” question with a simple “NO.” And, as always, trying out the game using the free trial time doesn't obligate you to subscribe... at all... ever. Only your own desire to keep playing beyond the end of your trial period does that. :)
Opening Day Problems
Yesterday, the game was reset and reopened for public play, and quite a few people dropped by to get started. Also, as it happened, yesterday was the day our web host changed ISP's, so throughout the day there were short periods of server down time. It appears as though the changeover is complete, and with a little luck, the down time should be over now.
Problem number two was reported by a player using Windows 95 set in “Large Fonts” mode. It occurs to me that this probably isn't an uncommon thing to do, so I'll need to create an in-game preference for people using Windows “Large Font” mode so that the text can “shrink” in the game and appear normal. Our appologies if you are using Large Font mode and the game text doesn't appear in the way it was intended.
Third, two players got erased when the “Nightly Event” ran (which is what gives all your turns back so you can play again the next day). I'm still investigating this, but in the mean time the event will now make a backup of the player files before getting started, so that it's easy to roll back in the event of problems.
Come And Check It Out!
Lunatix Online is still undergoing development. Several features have not yet been implemented, including add-on support (which will allow us, or others, to create new places accessible via the elevator). However, we're opening the doors for public play. Since it is still in BETA we would like to encourage everybody to remember this, and to email email@example.com with details of any problems you find.
Without further ado, head over to www.lunatix-online.com to get started!
Open Beta Will Begin On Tuesday, December 1st!!!
We're going to open up the game for public play. Subscription control has now been added (so new players will get a free week). Our two-dozen current beta testers will be posted a free month (which will end on December 31st) as thanks for this past month of testing.
Open Play (although the game will still be in “beta” stage) will begin on Tuesday, December 1st. The URL to the game will be posted here at that time. A few features are not yet done (Romantic Notes, The Laboratory, Ghenghis Khan's Loans) but might be working by the time open beta begins. New features like Player Marriages, Teams, and Player Profiles most likely won't make it into the beta opening. The largest, and probably the BEST thing about Lunatix Online (IGM Add-On support) will also not be ready when open beta begins. Add-On support is slated for development as soon as possible, since it's one of the most important features of the game and the lack thereof is somewhat crippling.
Even though the game is still “in development,” the subscription system will be in place. If you're not interested in subscribing (it's very cheap though) to one of the best browser-based games you've ever seen, you can still sign up and get your free week with no obligation to subscribe... ever. The game requires the use of Netscape Navigator 4.0 (or newer) or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 (or newer). Other browsers aren't supported.