Year in Review: 2015

Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all
And, my dear, I’m still here!

These Stephen Sondheim lyrics run through my head as I think about this improbable project called Lusternia. While the notion itself was fantastic that I would create a new online game, at no time did I look forward and imagine I’d still be here over ten years later. And yet it has come to pass. I’ve certainly made mistakes, and hopefully learned from them, and I know the playerbase has sometimes raged against me (anyone remember the rage against the karma system?), but I’ve also known laughter and joy and true wonder at seeing players and volunteers fill Lusternia with drama and comedy and amazing events that enrich what was once scribbling in a notebook. The speed in which this past year flew by makes me wonder if it is simply a product of getting older or if the Goloths once again warped time. No matter. Lusternia and I are still here and have no plans of going away anytime soon.

Probably one of the biggest projects we’ve undertaken has wound down. And, yes, I’m talking about the combat overhaul. Too often, I heard that combat in Lusternia was more complicated than anywhere else, that feature creep made PVP unwieldy, that newbies found it impossible to learn combat much less engage in it. Several years ago, I introduced a major top-down overhaul to players at Ironcon. Feedback was positive and we finally put the project into motion. However, it became much more insidiously difficult to implement than I had imagined. Therefore, we pivoted to a more practical design in which we addressed the major issues yet the coders weren’t ready to slit my throat. Thus, we have a levelled system for buffs and resistances, guaranteeing limits no matter how many buffs we have, the affliction system has been drastically changed with a reduced number of afflictions and only four cures, races have also had a major facelift no longer giving stats but rather a tiered benefit system, willpower and endurance have gone away (yay!), balance/equilibrium and influence bonuses are also on the tiered system, knights have been basically redesigned to account for the new systems, and even gear has been updated. Finally — FINALLY — we can say the overhaul is complete.

What’s that? Do I hear some of you gnashing your teeth? Oh, okay, there still is tweaking to do, and, yes, the monks need some attention, but generally the major components of overhaul have been coded, tested and implemented. While it may not be easy sailing from here on out, I do think we can breathe a sigh of relief that we were able to get past the main hurdles and the structure as we imagined it is in place. I’d like to thank the players who have helped in the process, especially the poor envoys who we relied on for testing and feedback.

While admittedly the overhaul soaked up a lot of our resources, we were able to manage a few other updates, including stage and library logs, wonder items, email notifications, and even ended the year with a redesign of the dreamweaving skill. You also may have noticed that we’ve been updating help files, the web client has been made more robust, worked with Vadi so his M&M system is now open source, updated the Wheel of Tzaraziko and ur’traps, reduced prices on some artifacts, and generally been on top of bugs. A big shout out to Ieptix and Roark for keeping us on track. But, of course, it would be a meager state of affairs if all we did were coding updates.

So this brings us to events! The main story arc this year was that of the tainted dreamweavers stuck in the dreamrealm, manipulating affairs. We first introduced these villains back in 2007, but while we knew their basic history and background, we kept them vague and shadowy and knew at some point we wanted to develop their storyline. Thus, we began seeing them stir early in the year, even before Kelly ascended into Kaimanahi, when Geomancer Rasebal developed a strange obsession with gulagoyles. From uncovering the Keepers of Dreams to squonks leading to Irshaw Heights to even a tae’dae dreaming of salmon, foreshadowing came to a front with the oneiromantic alerts in Hallifax. Then, it happened! The disembodied dreamweavers put everyone to sleep and stuck in a Lusternia of their own making, becoming the new gods in this realm of their creation. We found it interesting, to say the least, that this coincided with some forum discussion about the gods. Of course, as you can read in the Events News, the duplicity was unmasked and the new gods overthrown and players awoke back into the real world. Of course, this resulted in a new understanding of dreamweaving, and when we released the newly revised dreamweaving skillset.

And this wasn’t all that happened in the past year, some of you may have noticed a boiling brew of contention between Mysrai and Zvoltz, drawing in many of the other gods into the conflict. What is up with the Dreadform that causes such contention between them? And what about that mysterious night market that appeared in the Skarch. I suppose only time will tell.

Oh, and Maeve’s mark was removed. That controversial, provocative, arguably annoying mark that had stained Maeve’s body since the time of the intrigue of the Demon Lords was finally detached. Did anyone miss that? Is everything finally over? Again, time will tell!

As usual, I’d absolutely have to thank and acknowledge and kiss the feet of our volunteers, who make so much of Lusternia possible. So thank you, Nocht, for all your quiet presence. I hope you’ll come out of the shadows a little more this year! Thank you, Mysrai, for always being around and always there to offer your support. Also, to Viravain, who keeps Glomdoring on their toes! Thank you, Zvoltz, who took a bit of a sabbatical but is someone who I trust for his equanimity and presence. Thank you, Lisaera, who has taken a tough job in Lusternia whom I feel like I constantly nag at! Thank you, Drocilla, who is so creative and kind, so far removed from the role she plays. Thank you, Hoaracle, who is now my neighbor IRL! How could we live without your dry humour! Thank you, Jadice, for being so cool, both in character and in the Havens. Thank you, Morgfyre, for sticking around when I know you have a lot on your plate. Thank you, Manteekan, for your joyful imagination and willingness to stretch yourself. Thank you, Darvellan for being so smart, even if you like to complicate things, I truly appreciate your ambition and tenacity. My last thank you goes to Maylea, who has become a rock which we all rely on. Indeed, she may not know how much I value and rely on her efforts but she is a true star in the Lusternia heavens.

There are also many ephemerals behind the scenes who greatly help out. I’m sure many of you have at least seen Baelor who has helped so much on balancing the overhaul. I expect great things from all of you!

For everyone who plays, please accept my admiration and gratitude for bringing life to the Basin of Life in all its gloriously messy facets. Some of you have played since the beginning, and some of you are newer to the realm, but whatever the case, you are the heart of Lusternia. Let this new year bring many new adventures and may you enjoy every tear, every bark of laughter, every gritting of teeth. And after this coming year? Just remember…

I’ll still be here.

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