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ZEALOTRY Users: Critical Notice on Continued Use

Edit: Our new HTML5 client (Orchil) is now open for beta testing in The Eternal City and Grendel's Revenge. Feel free to try give it a whirl at http://test.skotos.net/orchil/

Edit: We have made great strides toward a new HTML5 client, which should offer a replacement to Zealotry. We're hoping to release that in the very near future, but in the meantime, using Pale Moon remains the best method for ensuring there is zero interruption to your game playing during the transition.

As of November 14, Mozilla will be auto-updating all copies of Mozilla Firefox to Mozilla 57, a new edition of their browser that will disable all legacy add-ons. This will probably include the majority of the plug-ins that you use on Mozilla, including the Skotos Zealotry plug-in.

This is a big problem for us because Zealotry is the most stable of our clients at this time, and the one that we believe is in the widest use. There's unfortunately no easy way to update it, because we'd have to rewrite it from practically scratch, using their new programming system.

There are tricks that you could use to to prevent Mozilla updates, but we don't particularly suggest them, as you want to have a clean, secure browser. Fortunately, there are two alternative browsers that will support Zealotry. Each of them branched off of an earlier version of Mozilla Firefox, and each of them continues to be updated for important security issues.

Pale Moon Browser

The Pale Moon browser is our suggested replacement. It is a totally separate browser that branched off of Firefox some years ago. It will continue to support the classic plug-ins.

To install it:
  • Install Pale Moon (Windows & UNIX only)
  • Install the Zealotry XPI on Pale Moon
  • Restart the Pale Moon Browser
  • Play on Pale Moon

The official version of Pale Moon only supports Windows and UNIX, but you can also get a slightly less official version of Pale Moon for the Mac. We've tested it out and it looks like it's clean and works correctly, but use your own level of caution in working with the Mac variant.

If You Have Errors

Some users are experiencing "Content Encoding Errors" when using Pale Moon and Zealotry. As best we can tell, this is due to an incompatibility between Windows 8.1, Pale Moon, and Plugins. If you have this problem (or any other), we suggest instead using Mozilla's extended-release version of Firefox, which branched at Firefox 52. It's expected to remain supported until at least June 28, 2018, by which time Mozilla is planning to jump their ESR to a post-plugin phase. This is therefore a short-term solution, but we expect to have full release of our New HTML5 client well before that.

To install it:
The Big Picture

Our larger-scale goal is to introduce a new client that will be usable on any browser and make our games generally more accessible. We've had a HTML5 client in process since last year, but are currently hitting roadblocks that make a deployment before November 14 problematic. We've also just started a second project, which would be more specifically focused as a Zealotry replacement, without worries about new bells or new whistles. Both of these possibilities are being done out-of-house, by Skotos players, but they're receiving our highest level of attention for whatever support they need, as this is all our top priority.

So, consider this a short-term fix, but in the meantime if you use Zealotry, please download one of the alternative browsers and test them out ASAP.
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Pending Staff Updates: Free to Play, Major Plots, New Systems

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  • Pending Staff Updates: Free to Play, Major Plots, New Systems

    Greetings folks,

    It's been awhile since I've given any sort of 'general update' on Castle Marrach, so I wanted to take a moment to touch bases with everyone and let you all know about various things Staff has been working on for Castle Marrach behind the scenes and what to expect in CM over the next few months. There's a number of big topics I want to touch on, so for the sake of getting through them, I'm going to be glossing over them and then leaving the forum open to specific questions from the playerbase.


    Castle Marrach Free-to-Play

    The TL;DNR 'short and sweet' on this topic is, "Yes, free to play Castle Marrach is right around the corner". Right now we're looking at August if I can finish the necessary coding in time, elsewise September. It will be a trial attempt of Freemium, which means you can play 100% for free, but with limits placed upon what you can do while unsubscribed, else you can continue to support Skotos as a subscriber and get the full current benefits of the game along with new benefits we'll be adding. Trial attempt also means that if this doesn't work out, if Skotos loses revenue or too many subscriptions lapse once we go Free to Play, that the Freemium status will be revoked, because the game needs to make a certain income to support itself.

    Now for my longer spiel on the topic.

    Freemium AKA, "free-to-play with extra benefits for subscribing", has long been a topic of debate for Castle Marrach. It's something I have been pushing for since I became StoryHost, and something I think is pretty much mandatory for Castle Marrach to survive as a community in the modern age of online gaming. Right now we're the only game on Skotos that doesn't have a free to play option, and based on a length of data pulled from Top Mud Sites, Mudstats and Mudconnect, we're pretty much the largest active MUD left in the world that doesn't have a free to play option. Which doesn't say much for the continued viability of pay-to-play MUDs in the post MMO era.

    Most current players I think are happy to pay the subscription fee, it's a small price to pay for what this community has to offer. There are, after all, very few MUSHes left out there, if any, that offer the kind of roleplaying enforced environment that Castle Marrach does. But many outsiders and potential new players simply aren't willing to even try a mandatory pay-to-play MUD, the very thought of it is regarded with disdain by the majority of most online MUD forum sites I've visited. And so the inability to advertise Castle Marrach as a free to play MUD deters a lot of people from even trying the game; think about how often we get genuine new players to the community, as opposed to returning oldbies who were hooked on the game during that innocent pre-MMO era when paying to play a MUD was the norm. Off the top of my head I can think of maybe 1 so far for 2017, and he didn't stick around.

    The problem with pushing a Freemium program for Castle Marrach has always been a back and forth conversation of, "what incentive is there to pay if you can login for free?" That's because Castle Marrach isn't so much a true MUD as it is a MUSH. The difference between the two, for the uninitiated, is a MUSH (Multi User Social Habitat) highly revolves around social interaction and mandatory roleplay, whereas a MUD (Multi User Dungeon) usually has more of a focus on systems; crafting, leveling up your character, killing other players, etc. In a MUD, Roleplay is typically optional, you can often wander across players who are just playing the game OOCly without interest in roleplay, and those players can attack and kill you or each other whenever they please and so on. Ironrealms Online, a Skotos-like company who publishes a handful of the world's biggest MUDs (such as Achaea) have a "roleplay encouraged" policy, which means, "We'd like you to RP when playing the game but you don't have to." The rules vary from MUD to MUD, mind you, some communities have stricter roleplay requirements or varying rules about PKing, but the common denominator here is that true MUDs like the ones we often see on Top Mud Sites are more akin to text-based World of Warcraft than something comparable to Castle Marrach or Ironclaw Online. Our genre is a niche within a niche, but I do genuinely believe that Skotos has the best MUSHes out there, else I wouldn't be here myself.

    Regardless, the issue in Castle Marrach has always been, "If 100% of the game's enjoyment comes from being able to login and roleplay in the game, then what added incentive can we give people to encourage them to pay for that same access?" It's been a long back and forth debate for a good time. In the uninterrupted 13 years I've played Castle Marrach (as of this month) and 8 of them on Staff, I've seen the Freemium conversation come up a dozen times, and on maybe 2 to 3 occasions, serious conversations about "How would we do this" have been held between CM Staff and our Skotos owners.

    Ultimately we decided that some MUD-like features had to be introduced to the game so that we can use 'boosts' to those features as incentive to pay for the game. Some time ago, a proposal I sent to Skotos for a CM Freemium program was approved for a trial run, conditional upon being able to implement those MUD-like features before discussing them openly with the community. And so over the last two years since that proposal was approved we've seen a lot of coding developments in the game; Duel 2.0, Ranged Combat, functional Armour, the Treasury Gnomes and so on. All of this has been part of a larger program to add some MUD-like features to Castle Marrach, so that we can offer additional benefits to players who subscribe to the game (and more to those who subscribe to premium). And for the last two years or so I've been under a bit of a gag order not to speak on the Freemium topic, but we're close enough now to seeing Freemium realized that Skotos has authorized me to confirm and discuss it.

    I don't want to get too deeply into what specific details the Freemium program will consist of, partly because that's worthy of its own thread separate from this, and partly because I don't 100% know yet which features will be implemented on release on August 1st or September 1st and which will come further down the road and I hate promising deadlines before I know I can meet them.

    I can say confidently however that the Freemium system will be broken into three tiers: free, regular subscriber and premium subscriber, and that free accounts will be limited to only playing 1 character. If you're a subscriber and your subscription lapses, you'll be locked out of all of your characters save one. This will be a Freemium day one feature, and the only Freemium related feature that I can say for certain will be 'right off the bat'. What this also means is that those of you who play multiple accounts (and yes we know who you are) will have to discuss with Game Staff at some point how you want to sort your characters through your accounts, because allowing people to play multiple characters via multiple free accounts circumvents the single character restriction of playing free. If you're paying for both accounts it's one thing, no harm no foul, but if we find people using multiple unsubscribed accounts to allow them to circumvent the "no alts" restriction placed on free players, Staff will address it.

    Beyond the ability to continue playing alts, a number of other features are planned for subscribers, some as things we know we want to implement when we get the work done, others that are still being weighed and balanced. Amongst them, we are also looking at adding various new StoryPoint purchase options, as well as a Dream Market that will allow you to make automated STP purchases to obtain items or alterations for your character without having to go through Staff and wait for approval and implementation (it was actually for this purpose that the Treasury Gnomes were invented; the code was intended to eventually be used to automate StoryPoint transactions, charging StoryPoints from your account instead of taking coins from your in-character coin purse). The Dream Market will be an IC means of obtaining items your character may not have access to otherwise, due to lack of rank or social standing, or in-game coin to make purchase. Changes to the Character Generation process are also planned, adding a new tutorial phase based on feedback from players, as well as the option to skip the tutorial, and we're looking at adding automated Character Generation for Conclave, HG and Courtier packages as well.

    Various systems, both existing and to-be-introduced, will be affected by your account status. The Treasury Gnomes for example will give an automatic bonus percentage to all coin earned for subscribers, and a further bonus for premium players, and the same will apply to CombatXP and other 'grinding' features in the game. There isn't much of an IC roleplay explanation for why the gnome is giving you extra money, you'll just have to suspend disbelief and 'bluebook you made the money somehow'. It's one of those RP immersion 'prices we have to pay' in order to add these features to the game, but I think it is a small one.

    Certain @commands are going to be introduced to the game, I don't have a full list of them yet. But as examples, right now we're looking at making @hotspots only work for subscribers or perhaps even premium account holders, adding an Dark feature to remove yourself from the visible who list when desired, and other OOC 'convenience commands' still on the table.

  • Atmos
    replied
    Originally posted by Gareth View Post
    Yet there are always dilettantes and jack-of-all-trades types. Personally I loathe games that force people into "cookie-cutter" class concepts.
    While being forced into one "role" in a game can sometimes be a drag. There are definitely people who abuse being able learn anything they can get their hands on in CM at the very least. I've seen it, I've had people ask my character and other characters for lessons in things they probably had no business knowing.

    I agree that there's nothing wrong with having a few jack-of-all-trades types. The problem with the current system is that we have way more than a few. Not everyone can be great at everything. At the very least, some work needs to be put into people either knowing a lot a bout a few things or a few things about a lot of stuff. Not both.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gabs
    replied
    From what Kurzon said at the last community meeting a few weeks ago, the caste system might not be implemented.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gareth
    replied
    As someone who always loved "dual-class" and "hybrid" character builds, I personally do not like the concept of 'castes.' I can understand you don't want to have everyone be expert at everything. Yet there are always dilettantes and jack-of-all-trades types. Personally I loathe games that force people into "cookie-cutter" class concepts. So, of all the great features, that gets a hairy eyeball from me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bgman377
    replied
    Sorry to dig this up, but I found it and I found it incredibly enlightening.

    A system I am interested in, but I understand if it is far, far, far, far, FAAAR on the backburner due to the weight of so many other pressing things:

    Other magic systems, are there plans for this year to work on those, or something that I should, OOCly, just set aside as a reasonable expectation?

    If not, that is OK! I have other plans.

    Leave a comment:


  • SeraAdeline
    replied
    That's totally understandable. Thanks for the reply!

    Leave a comment:


  • Kurzon
    replied
    Originally posted by SeraAdeline View Post
    This is awesome! I admit I'm always impressed with how quickly you get things done. Kudos!!!

    I do however have two questions. How many stps will it be to switch characters and how often can we switch our free character?
    At this time no certain determination has been made on that, we'll have to crunch some numbers and find something that makes it a plausible purchase option but not so convenient as to circumvent the Freemium character limit by frequent swapping of your free character.

    Leave a comment:


  • Aratan
    replied
    As a dirty poor, this freemium stuff is good to hear.

    Leave a comment:


  • SeraAdeline
    replied
    This is awesome! I admit I'm always impressed with how quickly you get things done. Kudos!!!

    I do however have two questions. How many stps will it be to switch characters and how often can we switch our free character?

    Leave a comment:


  • Kurzon
    replied
    Hello everyone,

    Some brief updates on this project, as it's been a bit since I've said anything on it.

    FREEMIUM CODE AND CHARACTER LIMITATIONS

    The actual Freemium code which allows you to log on to CM with an expired account but limits you to playing a single character is complete. By now you may have noticed some unusual messages when logging on to Castle Marrach in regards to your account status. Right now it's not actually possible to log on to Castle Marrach without a Skotos subscription, and it won't be until we fully release Freemium and flip the "on" button, but the all the code for this is done on our end.

    How this will actually work?

    Regardless of account status you will be able to log on all of your characters, but if you do not have an active Skotos subscription you will only be able to play one of those characters. The first time you log in to the game with your account expired, all of your characters are moved to solitary OOC quarantine zones, there is no way out of these quarantine zones and no way to have IC interaction with other players while quarantined. For now we're allowing that you can sit on your "locked" characters in those quarantine zones and use the who list and @page command and other OOC functions, however we may at any time decide to revoke this.


    While quarantined, the @freemium command will allow you to release one quarantined character on your account into the game world. At that point this chosen character is saved to your account as your free character, so use this command with care as Marrach Staff will not undo your choice should you change your mind. Your free character can be changed with use of StoryPoints if you should wish to switch your free character to another character on your account. Additionally, should you re-subscribe to Skotos, the next time your subscription lapses you will be allowed to select your free character anew.

    Again, until we fully release Castle Marrach Freemium, none of these above changes are in effect. This is just to let you all know that the code work on this is now complete, and to give you an explanation on how it will work.

    MAJOR PLOT

    The general storyline for the next Major plot has been written out, a lot of the maps and images and other photoshop work is done as well. There's a fair bit of building left to do that will keep our builders busy but fortunately we have many more builders than we do coders.

    Enough is complete that we could start the plot now, but after the Hand of Five shenanigans I promised myself we'd never start another plot until all the leg work was done, as I hate as much as any of you when a plot stalls out mid story because more building/coding needed to be done.


    MCOMBAT 4 UPDATE

    This has taken up the majority of my time, and has been the major culprit for delay so far. While I considered just moving on ahead without it, it's going to play a role in the next major Castle Marrach plot so its update is unavoidably necessary.

    Progress on it is going well, despite its size and the time its taken. It's by far the single largest system we've introduced to Castle Marrach, adding 8 new @teachable martial skills and over 100 combat abilities, most of which can be learned and stored in your character in a fashion similar to how sorcery spells are currently learned, in addition to support for ranged and sorcery combat, and of course MCombat AI with a threat system, all on a single combat system.

    I'm on the last legs of finishing this off now. What I'd hoped would take 3 weeks has taken 3 months, but the light at the end of the tunnel is within sight. Barring any unforseen complications (which admittedly can happen at any time with something like this) I'm hoping to have this ready for release for players to start experimenting within the next week or so. And then it will be bug fixes for all the ways you guys find to break it.

    OTHER CHANGES

    Other changes mentioned in the original post likely won't be implemented right away, but rather over time. Right now our priority is to release the Free Game Access coupled with the Major Plot and the MCombat Update simultaneously as Freemium Day One Release. Other features discussed in the original post are icing that will continue to gradually be added to the game over time, so as not to slow the release of Freemium any further than necessary. I can't give any specific ETA on those features other than to say they'll continue to be worked on, and the Freemium program will continue to be updated and improved upon indefinitely as long as Castle Marrach is around.

    Leave a comment:


  • Kurzon
    replied
    Originally posted by Anton View Post

    You broke your own promise mister!
    As tends to be the case with big coding projects, various coding hiccups have occurred, but they're steadily being sorted. Rest assured this remains my top priority, I put a good 4 or 5 hours of coding into this each day and will continue to do so.

    Originally posted by Emerick View Post

    Instead of giving a coin bonus, why not make it a price discount at the bazaar/Royal Treasury? Since coin can be used outside of these purchases, the bonus could be seen as an unfair pay-to-win advantage, whereas the discount is a more discreet, unintrusive benefit.
    This is plausible, I will give it some thought.

    Leave a comment:


  • Emerick
    replied
    Originally posted by Kurzon View Post

    The Treasury Gnomes for example will give an automatic bonus percentage to all coin earned for subscribers, and a further bonus for premium players, and the same will apply to CombatXP and other 'grinding' features in the game. There isn't much of an IC roleplay explanation for why the gnome is giving you extra money, you'll just have to suspend disbelief and 'bluebook you made the money somehow'. It's one of those RP immersion 'prices we have to pay' in order to add these features to the game, but I think it is a small one.
    Instead of giving a coin bonus, why not make it a price discount at the bazaar/Royal Treasury? Since coin can be used outside of these purchases, the bonus could be seen as an unfair pay-to-win advantage, whereas the discount is a more discreet, unintrusive benefit.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anton
    replied
    Originally posted by Kurzon View Post
    I don't want to get too deeply into what specific details the Freemium program will consist of, partly because that's worthy of its own thread separate from this, and partly because I don't 100% know yet which features will be implemented on release on August 1st or September 1st and which will come further down the road and I hate promising deadlines before I know I can meet them.
    You broke your own promise mister!

    Leave a comment:


  • Makatsu
    replied
    I like the idea of castes making it so you can't be an expert in everything. That said, I think it could pose a problem by locking people into a certain path. Also, it doesn't address the fact that there are already people who are experts in a huge amount of things - but simply taking away a bunch of that skill would not be quite fair to them either. One solution is to have the caps be soft caps. You can learn above them, but over time your skill degrades to the cap. The rate it degrades could be a flat rate, or tied to your usage of the relevant skill. This doesn't entirely address the fact that characters can change over time. I propose that it be possible to, with plotter approval, change your caste. Maybe your jeweler decided to take up the sword. Over time they get 'rusty' at those crafting skills. The 'rust' rate would probably increase the higher you go above the caste cap. That way, people can be good at crafting and also swordplay - if they put in heavy RP to justify it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Makatsu
    replied
    I've actually noticed that the lack of hotspots has increased the amount of RP so far. People are going out and looking for it and stumbling across stuff they would not otherwise have gotten involved with. I've noticed it with myself. I also agree that a Dark command could stifle RP. If the @hotspots command is retained in some form, for premium subscribers or otherwise, I think it would be prudent to limit it to hiding you from counting toward hotspots, rather than the who list. It's the difference between hiding from RP and ensuring that your RP does not gain undue attention (for instance if you are playing a criminal and are doing criminal things with someone else, having that show up in hotspots might stifle your ability to RP that properly by automatically letting people know that something is happening there.

    Leave a comment:

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