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Happy Thanksgiving! (Posted by Erek on Year 16 Day 362)
Hey guys, I almost didn't post this because I'm lazy and y'all are going to point out that some people don't celebrate Thanksgivi...

No. It's the same as it's always been... [PERMABAN] (Posted by Erek on Year 16 Day 352)
Forgive me, Combine, for I have sinned. It has been 108 days since last I held the hammer. 1 Year 16 Day 352, 16:26 ...

Did you order the Code Red? I did the job I... (Posted by Arjuna on Year 16 Day 337)
Earlier this week Ghost chose to step down from his position of ASIM, return from the Unknown Regions, and to in-charac...

Community News

Deathmatch finals (Posted by Ellias Aubec on Year 16 Day 356)
So the current Deathmatch reaches the final, Kuro vs Nathaniel. Who will be the most popular? We also have a selection of new Gru...

The one and only Deathmatch (Posted by Ellias Aubec on Year 16 Day 202)
Well, 'tis time for the Deathmatch to progress and advance to the next round. Who will win the penultimate round for this populat...

Deathmatch advances (Posted by Ellias Aubec on Year 16 Day 133)
The Deathmatch advances in a round. Go vote for your favourite player. Also, a selection of new Grudge Matches as well.

Technical News

Sync Report Year 16 Day 365 (Posted by Selatos on Year 17 Day 0)
Update to revision f97c9f0abb9e91a7295677e12b324077710023a3 Bugs: - Unable to reply to DMs (#3937, #3944) - Web Services API doesn...

Welcome to the New Servers (Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 364)
We have completed migrating to AWS and you are seeing this from the new servers. We're tried to find and crack down on all proble...

Server Migration In Progress (Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 362)
The migration is underway. Although the main server will be functioning until I am ready to migrate it specifically, to minimize ...

(Posted by Selatos on Year 17 Day 0 22:14)

Update to revision f97c9f0abb9e91a7295677e12b324077710023a3

- Unable to reply to DMs (#3937, #3944)
- Web Services API doesn't work (#3935)
- Can't conduct force actions apart from training (#3941)
- Web Services faction resources error (#3947)
- RSS Feeds result in 404 (#3946)

We're live on the new servers and most of the migration-related bugs have been hammered out in just a day, with about 24 hours of downtime on the main game for the actual transfer as well. So far, there don't appear to be any instances of data loss due to transfer either. Regardless, please continue to report migration-related errors on the bugbase (typically: syntax errors, database errors, errors that did not exist a week ago). Incoming email is still down, but we've received our sending limit increase and are now routing all outgoing email through Amazon SES. Ideally, this will resolve lingering issues with delivery to GMX-hosted emails. Some emails may have been lost (DMs, lost passwords, registration emails) during the past 2 hours so please resend if necessary or contact the staff in #swc-help on IRC if there are any problems.

Also, after some disagreement over numbering schemes, we've concluded that years begin on Day 1, not Day 0, as per the rules page entry which states that the game started on Year 0 Day 1. Thus, the new year technically begins in an hour and 49 minutes. There's an extant bug in the javascript clock display that handles Day 365/Day 0 incorrectly in this regard, but soon you won't notice it. 

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 364 16:46)

We have completed migrating to AWS and you are seeing this from the new servers. We're tried to find and crack down on all problems due to migration, but if you find anything missing, please check the bug base and report it there. There are a few remaining issues:
- Incoming email does not work. Mail sent to an @swcombine.com email address will be silently dropped until you see another announcement indicating that mail is working again.
- Outgoing email DOES work, but it is not being routed through Amazon SES yet. Until our request for an increased mail quota is accepted (probably on Monday), we cannot use Amazon's verified email system to ensure delivery. In particular this means you might see emails in spam or junk folders until this is updated.

We expect the server to be stable, but during the next 36 hours or so please bear with us in case there is anything that requires a restart (such as moving to a larger server instance due to unexpected load). If there are any configuration issues that need to be updated, you may see a temporary outage of less than one minute whenever that happens. We appreciate everyone's patience during this move and we hope that the new servers provide the stability, performance, and scaling that we need.

There has also been a minor sync to address some of the problems we found during the migration. One bug was also fixed, captured bandit droids will no longer de-spawn. Shortly we'll have another update with the details of what we can do now that we are using AWS and a development roadmap for Year 17 (2016).  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 362 14:14)

The migration is underway. Although the main server will be functioning until I am ready to migrate it specifically, to minimize downtime, it could go down at any time during the next 24 hours or so, depending on how long other configurations take. Please don't be alarmed if the game suddenly disappears, and do try to plan around it. I apologize for the uncertainty and inconvenience, but it's hard to avoid in this case.

The first of the new servers is already online and I am in the process of configuring it. As a result, a migration status page has been set up at http://status.swcombine.com. This page will have continuous updates as worthwhile things are updated and will be available continuously, moving forward. Live updates and downtime warnings are also available on IRC in #swc-members and through global message (server: irc.swcombine.com), but please don't PM me because there is nothing useful for me to tell you beyond what will already be posted on status pages.  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 358 21:02)

I'd like to remind everyone that we are migrating servers starting sometime early (according to CST) on Thursday, November 26. BNT and IRPG will be up by then, along with links, information, progress reports, etc. The most important thing that affects all of you is that you will need your password before migrating to the new server, because sessions and cookies may not be valid. If you forget it, the lost password tool will (hopefully) work, pending email configuration issues, but to save everyone the trouble please make sure that you or your browser knows your password. All of your passwords will remain the same as they are now.  

(Posted by Ellias Aubec on Year 16 Day 356 18:03)

So the current Deathmatch reaches the final, Kuro vs Nathaniel. Who will be the most popular? We also have a selection of new Grudge matches, including one asking about the DC drafting that was proposed several months ago as well as one asking if SWC would be better with infinite lives or just one. Go vote!  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 330 16:22)

Apparently nobody expected this, based on the simnews comments thread.

I have a preview of the R&D tool for personal weapons, including preliminary equations, tech parameters, etc. The specifics of tech parameter scaling hasn't been figured out yet, but it will generally be a percentage improvement for multiplicative parameters and a constant improvement for additive parameters. The R&D preview tool can be found here.

This tool mimics the objective of the final design process: enter whatever parameters you want, and observe the resulting stats and production costs. There are probably some major issues with balance and scaling right now, but it is possible to design the A-280 with it (it was scaled around building an A-280, though, so I'm not sure that it can design OTHER weapons currently in game). The tool will periodically be updated without announcement (but a changelog may be maintained on the tool itself and on the discussion thread). If you plan on doing R&D down the line, it would be good to familiarize yourself with how this tool works, as it will form the basis of the eventual in-game UI for creating new entity datacards.

The feedback/discussion thread for the specific details about the equations and values is located in the suggestions forum, not the simnews comments thread.  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 323 14:03)

We're about halfway through the last quarter of year 16, and there was no update provided for the third quarter, so it's time to assess progress and discuss goals for the next month and a half before year 17 begins. The development targets flowchart is shown below; unfortunately not much has been completed since last time. Hooks and CP ships are the main completed targets, and CP ships weren't even listed last time (intentionally so) to maintain the mystery. Some minor objectives made the flowchart as well this time: mining explosives were a minor economic change to motivate the production of explosive items as preparation for allowing them in combat as well, and multi management to reduce the asim workload.

Dev targets 2015 - Q4

However, the flow chart doesn't show the many small changes, such as the updated NPC shop system, rules pages overhaul, quality of life enhancements to scanners and squads pages, many series of improvements to SWC LISP, and UI modernization efforts. Also missing are the introduction of a second combat beta arena, datacard restructuring, and a lot of effort put into code cleanup and reorganization to make future improvements possible. The number of in-progress items has increased, and power pools will eventually be released (soonTM), but other things have continuously interfered. The action slot system (Actions 3+) needed for the new force skills, announced nearly a year ago, is on the verge of implementation. Our team has been working steadily, trying to balance time spent managing technical debt with time spent on visible results in the form of new or updated features.

I mentioned a special surprise being included today; unfortunately this won't be the case. We had several issues with our hosting provider this week: first, a problem with a nameserver that took half a day to explain to them and was never properly resolved, and second a server crash that took their tech support staff 3 hours to simply reboot. As a result I spent almost all of my time since the last sync either dealing with hosting or working on the hosting migration. We will be leaving our current provider for Amazon Web Services as soon as everything is in place to do so, because it will offer significant improvements in performance, reliability, administrative control, and even cost savings. We have experienced nearly constant problems with email for over a year that Amazon will be able to resolve almost immediately. I expect the transition to happen by the end of November, in time to start year 17 on fresh hardware. There will likely be down time, for 2-3 days, during the transition, but there will be additional announcements regarding the timeframe when we are closer. We'll have the standard distractions (BNT, idleRPG) during the downtime, plus feel free to suggest others in General Talk.

That said, if you look at the dev targets carefully, one of the new orange boxes includes something that would have had a preview today, instead it will probably be next week.

Today's sync is minor, it includes fixes for two bugs:
- Unable to arrest NPCs (#3894)
- Character level shown on party page

Admin tools were also updated to add RMs to the new CP ships.  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 317 14:50)

Update to revision 61ff1063d25aa8a840af80366e4e775139b63e72 (+116)

- Fix some bugs regarding 'invalid conversation choice' (#3886)
- Bug preventing items being dropped on ships in hyper (#3873)
- Fixed Stow in container so it is restricted by room if appliacable (#3876)
- NPC shops consider batch quantity for pricing and do not purchase droids (#3889)
- Fixed bugs due to accidental early part-release of new multi-management tools (#3867, #3871)
- Incorrect NPC shop sell quantities (max instead of actual)
- Fixed incorrect rules links in some situations
- Fixed issue preventing recycling entities from being filled with materials

- New map page indicating darkness, quest, and combat beta planets on the rules
- More updates to new rules pages to address some complaints
- XP level added to NPCs on the squad screen
- CSS versionsing system reintroduced to try to defeat bad caching
- Improvements to admin tools for quests, scripts, and lisp variables

- New multi-registration and management feature, replacing the previous system. Please note that you will need to re-register with this system, accessible from the account settings page in the same place as the previous one
- Many changes to lisp including new language features, a revised conversation view, and several additional functions (see LISP changelog for more details)
- "Hooks" added to the game engine, allowing aysnchronous notification of events to different areas of code or LISP scripts (primarily in support of scripting responses to in-game events such as combat, travel, asset transfer, etc. for use with quests)
- New CP ships released, previous ships retired
- Using explosives in mining for increased yield has been introduced, see the rules for details about how explosives work

This sync was delayed a few times as we kept trying to round out the LISP improvements and find a comfortable place to stop and sync. We're focusing really heavily on tools to make the quest system effective and finally release an actual full-scale quest, while trying not to neglect the rest of the game, but there are dozens of loose ends when it comes to practical results. On the other hand, issues like the multi system, which barely worked for players and created overhead work for the asims for routine scenarios, needed to be addressed as well. Please note that you must re-register existing multi-accounts with the new in-game system, but it will be smooth and painless to do so, as there is no need for support tickets or anything like that to have the asims look at it.

I'd like to give a special thanks to the art team and especially Onasha for the hard work on finishing this round of CP bonus ships.

In a few days there will be another large developer status update along with updated goals/progress and another special surprise.  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 299 13:06)

Outgoing email appears to be broken, this means that no DMs, lost password emails, registration/activation emails, etc. will be sent out by the server until it resolved. I am not sure if currently-unsent emails are queued or if they have been silently dropped, but we will find out once it is working again. Please be patient while we try to resolve the problem!

Update: There appears to be an issue with sending to GMX accounts, as GMX has incorrectly blacklisted SWC's main server, but outgoing email to most other providers has been restored.  

(Edited by Selatos on Year 16 Day 302)
(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 290 14:35)

Update to revision ff9801f28cc58afeb3c21eafcc7c68327d948501 (+90)

- Fix for storing items inside containers they contain (#3837)
- Fix for two-handed items not being dropped correctly when arrested (#3835)
- Fix for facility links on city designer (#3852)
- Some attempts to improve performance of tag deletion from inventory (#3848)
- Fix for various typos and image orientation issues

- Lots of UI improvements:
-- Subtle color scheme changes
-- Links on side menus are button-sized instead of text-sized for clicking
-- New buttons for horizontal navbars (like on the Character page)
- Added link to current location on navcomp when it is known
- Added link to corresponding inventory from NPC control
- Improvements to reorganizing members dashboard page
- Significant overhaul of the rules pages:
-- New main page layout, including new link/button style.
-- New technology overview pages (per class where applicable) using larger pictures with toggle options to show stats
-- New entity details pages with a complete overhaul to layout and style

- NPC shop reworked so players can now purchase and sell multiple items at once. You can sell any item you physically have at your location
- EU cookie/privacy policy information added. You will see a consent to cookie policy banner at the top along with a link to information about how we use cookies  

(Posted by Selatos on Year 16 Day 280 10:45)

Almost a year ago we began planning a redesigned version of R&D. The tech-tree plan was scrapped some time before then, as well. I wanted to share the core concepts with you now, because R&D will soon be an active project, focusing first on items/ground weapons, as ground combat between players, NPCs, and facilities has concrete rules. The goal of R&D is to provide a self-balancing, open-ended system for creating stuff in game. Part of this comes from the system for R&D itself and part comes from other changes, like the firepower mechanic introduced earlier this year, which self-balances against armor to avoid the problem of infinite damage scaling. Depending on the success of the model it will extend in a natural way to ships, vehicles, and other things.

Creating new entities will be broken into two distinct activities (research and design) based on a simplified view of real world technology development. In the design activity, a new entity design is created from modules. Each module covers one aspect or system of the entity being designed. In a hypothetical ship design example, the hull, shields, power generators, etc. would all be distinct modules. Each module has free (design) variables chosen arbitrarily by the player and process parameters determined by the technology available to the designer. The process parameters generally serve to create constraints on the acceptable values to use for design variables by translating them into costs or requirements, such as RMs, available power, required power, and others, but there are no hard caps on design variables. A meta-process for “ship” design or “item” design will also control the number and types of modules that can be installed together within a single design. The research activity would exist separately from design and work to improve the values for process parameters in a particular technology. Technology management will be extensive, with the ability to trade and share technology as well as derive new processes from existing ones. Research time will scale with the total number of improvements that a technology has over the baseline, so a derived technology may not be “cutting edge” in order to facilitate easier research in a previously neglected direction.

Once a player is satisfied with a design, it would be converted into a datacard and an entity definition with stats as we have now. There will probably be no limit to the number that can be created, although there may be a small cost associated with finalizing a datacard design. There may be minor changes to stats (nothing is planned), but the stats, not the modules, will determine how the entity behaves once it has been produced, just as they do now. However, the underlying module structure (including any margin in the design, such as extra power or space) is preserved, which forms the basis for aftermarket modifications to be performed individually per entity. The concept for entity modification hasn’t been fleshed out much beyond whether it is possible, but the “process -> module -> entity” structure is able to support it natively and keep it balanced.

In R&D the design phase will probably not involve any skill checks and be determined entirely by players’ creativity. The research phase will probably function more similarly to force training wherein there is a timer and a dice roll that determines success, with some attention paid to skill point assignment, although the objective will be selectable (e.g. look for a better hull parameter or better shield generator parameter).

Feel free to discuss the upcoming R&D design, but we’re still not taking suggestions on the details at this time. Also, the infamous tech level statistic will be returning as a descriptive quantity.

Other changes will probably be made to “how things work,” eventually, as well. There’s been a thread discussing the Rock Ivory rarity; this will probably be adjusted as a temporary solution within a few weeks, because it is easier than adjusting RM requirements intelligently. When RM requirements actually follow from entity design, coherently, it will change again (possibly for all materials). Another thing that we’re exploring is a worthwhile entity upkeep system, one that does not penalize players for being inactive or having a lot of stuff, but rather focuses on upkeep associated with frequent use of entities without being tedious or requiring extensive micromanagement. Even with combat adding destruction, the general flow of goods is that they are created and then remain (especially for non-combat entities); a complete lifecycle needs to be in place that has “being discarded/refurbished/recycled” as an important step, to create equilibria for demand.

There will be an unrelated sync within a few days as we push some bug fixes and updates from the past few months, including redesigned rules pages and upgrades to the scripting system capabilities. We are also improving compliance with EU cookie laws, so you will see some additional banners related to cookie usage after the sync to inform you that they exist and are unfortunately inedible.  

(Posted by Jennifer Dreighton on Year 16 Day 263 20:44)

This is a reminder that the Holocron needs your active participation. There has been some confusion who is actually allowed to vote for featured articles that appear on the starting page. The good news is: Everyone is. Everyone can suggest articles to be featured and everyone may vote. You do need a Holocron account. If you don't have one, create one using your Combine handle. All the details on how to make and activate your account are explained here: http://holocron.swcombine.com/wiki/Community_portal

For suggesting articles and voting, go here: http://holocron.swcombine.com/wiki/Talk:Holocron:Featured_Articles