Hollow Earth


This past month has been pretty productive for me. I’m always surprised at how quickly I pick this stuff back up. I imagined it would be very hard to get back into Age-making but I remember the hotkeys. Like riding a bicycle. Currently, I have several Age concepts moving along.

Tosholek is in the last phase of getting stuff together. It’s ready for release for Uru:CC, but I’m waiting for now on having a version converted to go up on the Gehn shard before releasing. I’ve fixed a lot of the issues in the previous version. Most importantly, everything is converted into lightmaps or vertex painting, meaning that I have a lot more control over the Age’s lighting now than I did before. Basically, Uru can only handle 8 lights on an object. In the past, I would use a maximum of 8 lights to light an area using the engine’s dynamic lighting. All my Ages do this. Any more than this, and one of the lights stops working. Usually, it’s a big one like the Sun or something. The new system I have uses three sets of lights. The first is a set of lights in a lightgroup that can effect everything. If I have something that’s animated, like the birds in Fens or the kickable in Tosholek, it is told to use JUST that lightgroup to light itself. The second set of lights is my other lights. Things that won’t light other objects in the Age, but can still be used to light the avatar. Finally, the third set of lights are the lightmap lights. I need this because the lights I use to light the avatar or kickables are often too strong to use in making lightmaps– the light it just too bright. So I have a set of lights I use only for lightmapping. I may have more sets of these lightmap lights as I need them. Often, this is used for interiors where I need to have light inside without the object being affected by lights outside.

In other areas, I’ve found an old notebook with a lot of my Age concepts. Its helped me get Tharel’s concept nailed down better as well as given me a number of texts to release as well. I’m planning on reworking the texts at some point as well. A lot of my old stories are like my old Ages: nice, but kind of cringe-worthy. I tried to base them on the King stories, and they sometimes got a little too out there. New stories are going to focus primarily on philosophical texts and historical documents rather than dramatic stories.

In addition, I’ve gotten more historical work done on Ages like Vasrahn as well as preliminary maps. Eder Jonim is the farthest along, ready for more detailed maps. If anyone reading this is able to help, I’d be very interested in hearing from you. I’ve also done… other things. More on that “soon”.

Filed under: Ages, Development, Uru Community, , , , ,

Story Update

So when I started doing stories and Ages for Uru, I set up a tiddlywiki, an offline personal wiki with all my lore information. Since then, tiddlywiki seems to no longer work on any browser, so I spent these last few days working on porting my lore to Zim to manage it. In doing so, I came up with some interesting statistics:

  • Over 25 Age concepts.
  • 50 Character profiles
  • 2 D’ni Areas
  • 1 Major historical event
  • 2 Groups
  • Over 20 Stories

While I’d love to release all that stuff, it’s clear to me that a lot of this needs pruning. Most of the Ages and characters particularly were one-off characters used in one short story with nothing else really planned for them. Others vaguely tied into a story arc, but just in kind of a wink-wink reference that people might get. So, to keep myself sane and focus my stories on the still-massive amount of content I would like to produce, I’ve established four main story arcs that I’ll be focusing on:

  • The Ishveer War Arc
  • The Tharel Arc
  • The Shomat Arc
  • The Devil Arc

Of those, the Devil Arc is the one I’m most excited about. It feels to me like a lot of good modern stories where every little thing is connected. That arc currently spans 11 Ages and 15 characters, although that is liable to change in time.

Next would be the Sholek Arc. I considered ret-conning and merging this into the Devil Arc, given that hey both touch on similar concepts, but Sholek is such an interesting character that he needs to stay in his own timeline.

Ishveer and Tharel are less “Arcs” and more centered around their respective Ages, but require more story work than other one-off Ages like Eder Jonim.

The rest of the stories and Ages and Characters etc. not in those arcs are sadly going to either go away or be repurposed. A lot of the Ages were, if I’m honest with myself, just an excuse to use a D’ni-sounding name.

The hard part, and my future work, will be on building and strengthening the Age concepts I already have. Chiefly, I want to define things to *do* in each Age. I love making scenic Ages like Fens and Bimevi, but I also want to get into working with more technical Writers to make minigames for my Ages. Uru needs more Ages where there are things to do, not things to see, and that’s what I plan on providing.

Filed under: Ages, Development, Uru Community, , , , , , ,

Coming Back

It’s strange, being dragged back into the Uru community after such a long time. I had heard that friends like Tweek and Kae were back, but I never thought I would get swept back up into the community. I was ready to move on. I am still kind of on edge, worried about whether this is the right step.

Still, the strength with which I have come back is shocking to me. Only a few days back and I already have my exporting setup humming again. Blender hotkeys and modeling tricks come back to me while I feel like my skills have improved. My IC chops are back up to speed and Cavern Link is back up and running.

At the moment, Fens is going through a drastic reshaping and upgrade. Packing more and better content in the space I made is the goal. I’m starting fairly small, my projects have been collapsed both because I don’t feel they are very interesting and they are too expansive for my capabilities. Until I know better what I will be dealing with, I can’t spend the time on a 7-tier mental hospital Age that ties into 4 other expansive Ages all part of a coherent plot. I went down that path before, didn’t make much progress, and ended up burning out. So, the dream of a personal Uru expansion pack is going to wait.

Filed under: Ages, Uru Community, , , ,

Prominence: A Word on the Fan Age Proposals

Hello again. It’s been a long time. How have you been?

I’ve seen all the proposals tossed about and had some thoughts. People will debate this and Cyan will be the final arbiter. I have little faith these days in the latter, so I talk to you; the former. This is not just a debate about python coding or storyline. This is also a debate of prominence. The prominence of fan Ages in the world. I believe foremost that fan Ages deserve high prominence in the game for they are the examples with which we draw people in. But let’s back up and examine the other concepts debated: coding and storyline.
In the realm of coding, I feel it is obvious that an addition to the existing Nexus or placing books around the Ages makes the most sense. Duplicating the Nexus is a tricky proposition and creating all that coding busywork when there are other viable paths is folly. This community and potential content creators do not need additional hurdles to jump. They need simple code, they need stable worlds, they need a firm hand, not a shaky “Fan Nexus.”

People will defend this Fan Nexus by citing storyline consistency. As my grandfather once said, that’s a load a whooey. Uru has the least consistent storyline of any game I have played so far. Minecraft has a more consistent storyline and you make that story up as you go along! If the old Mysteriacs are right, Cyan was willing to sacrifice story integrity for a cushy retirement just a few months ago. Have they really rediscovered their philosophy so quickly?

No, what this really comes down to is fan Age prominence. Cyan insists on pandering to the old guard who want to keep fan Ages away from Cyan’s Ages. Fan Ages must have prominence in the game world or we will never see the benefit. No one other than a liar or a hermit cares these days about how a fan Age meshes with Cyan’s storyline. People want content and this should be made as easy as possible. Storyline should be considered, but not in this draconian fashion.

This brings me to the point of all this. Ages should be placed where they make the most sense. An Age’s placement should be dictated by its lore. If the “Age” is a City location, it should be placed in the Nexus. If the Age is D’ni written, it should be placed in a public book room. If the Age is like my Toroolbah or Fens, it should be place in a location fit for it (either a fan hub Age or a private spot).

Those are my thoughts. Now tell me yours. Leave a comment below and vote in the poll for which of the options you would choose for future fan Ages.

Filed under: Uru Community, , , , , ,

The Slow Death (and how we avoid it)

Time has not done Uru good. Speaking from a layman’s perspective (I don’t know about technological antiquities, though I have heard of many) Uru’s graphics are quickly showing their age graphically. Textures seem blurry and low-resolution in an increasingly high-res world. Models and lighting seem less realistic, though still quite substantial. The graphics of Uru are still impressive, but there are areas where they shows their years.

Time has also not done Uru good from the social perspective. The community seems increasingly filled with un-bending views of what Uru should be that we miss what it could be. More effort is put into “defending” Uru from that which some don’t like.

It would seem that Uru is suffering a slow death, one marked not by closures, but by losses. People leaving the community or the mortal world itself. Uru has resumed the haze of grey depression it saw after its closure. For many, the Ages are no longer colorful and full of life; they are faded and full of memories and unfulfilled longing.

It would seem what I feared is happening.

It would seem Uru will not go out with a bang, but a whimper.

However, I have still not lost hope. Because reality is quite different from what is seen. On all sides of the ideological battle for “what is Uru” there is exaggeration and hyperbole. Just as “all those hackers want to do is make Uru Second Life,” so too are there “hordes of CrisGers.” Just as people leave is despair, I see others come with renewed belief in what is possible. Just as I tilt my head and examine some obscure texture seam, I see- out of the corner of my eye- a person simply standing on the stairs in Ae’gura, in awe of the Great Arch and the universe they have found.

I talked to CrisGer during a Mysterium IRC chat. While he is still a mass of complex contradictions, he is hardly as irrational as his MOUL posts would suggest. He is one of the New Guard(those that came after Prologue), like me. He is used to what has always been and has yet to go beyond grudging tolerance of the new, unlike me.

The simple truth is that CrisGer is not, nor ever will be, the actual future of Uru. The MOUL forums are not filling up with his clones, they are filling up with people with a new spirit and curiosity in “hacking” Uru. They are filling with people intrigued by the history of D’ni -the core of a new, thriving Uru. Yet people despair that the ranks of those who want to build new things in Uru are slimming. They’re growing.

The simple truth is also that Second Life and evil hax are not, nor ever will be, the actual future of Uru. The Writers don’t want to ruin your Uru experience, they want to produce tools to help fans fulfill and further those experiences as the fans choose. Yet people wring their hands and worry about obscene additions to Uru will be plentiful if the tools are released. The fact is the tools are available if someone wants to do that, no one does and no one will (for long).

The “middle ground” has emerged as a popular thing to claim membership in. In reality, the “middle ground” shifts. Some members are enthusiastic about fan Ages, others think they have a long way to go. I think a more productive view is to look at people’s logic and basis for their views. Quite a lot of them are incorrect, mostly dealing with Uru’s history. This is understandable (as opposed to Uru’s history, which is generally not). What needs to happen is education for new people about the experiences that occurred, first-hand accounts, and facts. What happens now is propogation of lies or misrepresentation of reality. Intentionality of this varies, but the result remains the same. too many people think, for example, that Yeesha/the Bahro was always part of the game, that the Gira puzzle was always the way it is, that the journey doors were always present, or that other Uru shards are illegal.

In the end, I think it is very possible for Uru to succeed. But we need Cyan if the future is going to be in their version of MOULa. If they do not do the work, the fans will. It is just that simple.

Filed under: Uru Community, , , ,

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