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Release (Alpha)

From YPPedia

This page archives releases during Alpha testing (2002-10-30 to 2003-07-13). For newer releases, see Release and Release (Beta).

Alpha testing was a time of constant development. Alpha releases came quite often – there were nineteen in just over nine months. Releases were given a code name and a summary announcement from Cleaver or Jack. Many of these features either no longer exist or have been heavily modified.


2003-07-05

Minor repairs (Nineteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

We've made a few repairs here in Question Mark harbor. Just a few final fixes to tide us over while we do a fair bit of behind the scenes business in preparation for Question Mark and Profits. Here be the details:

  • Ye can now transfer yer funds between banks in the same archipelago, for a very reasonable 3% surcharge.
  • If ye leave money aboard a vessel (because ye logs off while it's still en route) the money will remain aboard until the vessel puts into port at an island with a bank at which point it will be deposited into your account at that bank.
  • Ye can now buy clothes from the rack for the opposite gender. I know ye were all chompin' at the bit fer us to fix that (a little pirate sarcasm for ye).
  • The "Money report" button is now tucked away next to yer purse display as a little "question mark" button (we loves to put them question marks and profits together, avast).
  • If ye /tell someone who is in a puzzle, ye will be notified as such so that ye don't think poorly of the person ye /telled fer not responding straight away.
  • The navy now pays ye by depositing the money in yer bank on your home island rather than giving it to ye on the boat where yer likely to misplace it.
  • The founding date of crews and flags are now reported on their info page. We went to some trouble to back date the founding of all the existing crews, but since the flags were so new, we put our time to better use working on features and bug fixes instead of digging up the exact founding dates.
  • We fixed the problem with applying for citizenship on the newly colonized islands. Now ye can make yer home in the Diamond or Emerald archipelagos.
  • Flag statements may now be updated by the flag monarch.
  • A few other bugs and bits were patched up here and there.

We're hard at work on the new web site in preparation for Beta. Before ye know it, Puzzle Pirates will no longer be a well kept secret and the seas will be teeming with pirates. What glorious days lay ahead!

2003-06-30

Land ho! (Eighteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Avast! It's Jack again with another update. They never stop! Here be the details:

  • Money can no longer be whisked about willy nilly, it must now be sailed from place to place. As such, when you are "whisked" out to a boat or back to your home island, your money is auto-banked, or barring the existence of a bank, buried for you to pick up later. To ease the job of keeping track of your money, we have added...
  • ...a money report which tells you how much money you have on banks or buried on any island in all the wide world.
  • You must also now pick up your pay from the refineries at which you are employed. They too are listed in your money report.
  • Additionally, when you depart a vessel by any means other than disembarking while it is at port, the money in your pocket does not come with you. It will be banked or buried at the next island whereat the boat puts into port. It will remain at risk of pillage until then.
  • When a player accepts a jobbing invitation made by an officer that is currently sailing, they are automatically whisked out to said boat.
  • Vessels abandoned at sea now have their booty dumped overboard before being returned to their last visited port. Ye can't magically transport booty by abandoning yer boat.
  • Swabbies and ferries are both now free! Swabbies still drink rum, however. They'd be no good at their jobs otherwise.
  • All vessels have a minimum might which is equal to the might of the minimum number of swabbies for that boat plus one. Beware sailing with less than the skeleton crew.
  • The course charting interface, at the high zoom levels, now displays icons for all other vessels within "sight" of yer vessel (this distance is denoted by a white translucent circle). The icons are colored according to the relative might of the vessel, the same as the circles around vessels in the ocean view. In a future release, you will be able to replace your ocean view with this view during duty puzzles.
  • The booty earned from pillaging brigands has been rethought and redesigned. We won't be telling ye the Complex Formula ™ by which it is calculated (because we hates the numbers), but hopefully you will find that booty reward is equitable to risk and effort.
  • Flags have arrived in a very basic first incarnation. The captain of a crew can create a flag which will be joined by their crew only if the crew ratifies the proposal (autocratic crews will immediately be joined into the new flag).
Flags' members (meaning all members of all crews that are part of that flag) have a "status" in the flag which is "member" by default but can be changed to "titled member", "royalty" or "monarch" by a vote of the royalty of the flag. Status changes are proposed by any titled member of the flag via a button on the flag info page.
Royalty in a flag can invite other crews to join their flag via a button displayed on the to be invited crew's crew page. An issue will be posted for that crew to vote upon and if it is passed, they will join the flag, leaving any prior flag of which they were a part.
Any voting member of a crew can propose to leave their current flag which results in an issue being posted to the crew.
More substantial flag features will be implemented in the future, but for now the mechanisms are in place to begin forming these glorious large scale social structures.
  • A few bits here and there: boats should no longer remain engaged if they are engaged when they put into port, the ghostly apparitions that remain standing after a player has left are hopefully exorcised, humans can be ordered to gun, the skull dagger's strike pattern has been returned to its glorious earlier difficulty, /who for a non-existent user should now behave.

With this release we've arrived at Question Mark Island. We'll be lingering in port a moment to make sure that no last minute repairs are needed before we disembark and begin the public beta testing phase of our adventure. In the meanwhile, build big strong flags and get to colonizing those outer islands.

2003-06-24

Where are me underpants? (Seventeenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Ahoy mateys, another release has come sailin' in over the horizon. There's so much to list here that we've broken things down in to sections for ye so that ye don't get lost in a sea o' words.

Sailing

  • Swabbies can now be ordered about from within yer puzzle. Just click on their name in the vessel occupant display (that little list that says what yer mates are doing) and give 'em orders. You can also send special messages to yer human mates instructing them to perform particular duties as well, but they may be the mutinous type and not pay attention to ye.
  • If yer navigator booches the puzzle, the boat will be turned about against their will and they'll have to turn her back about to get back on course.
  • The vessel sunshine panel has been enhanced with vessel status information (bilge, speed, damage) and a streamlined interface for inspecting other vessels. You can order pirates about from this display as well.
  • Ocean travel is now restricted to certain sea routes (a route being the path between two islands), some of which are more dangerous than others. If you find that you're frequently being attacked by powerful brigands, you're probably sailing on a more difficult route.
  • Vessels now remain in their most recently visited port. If abandoned at sea, they will also return to their most recently visited port. Correspondingly, vessels have no "home" port and jobs posted from vessels now go to the home island of the crew that owns the vessel.
  • Small sloops have been graced with one more swabbie. Swabbies have been made a bit smarter about not wandering up to the crow's nest in search of a duty station and they should no longer laze about while sitting at a node.
  • The distribution of brigands has been changed. There should be many more large brigands at sail on the seas. They too are confined to the same sea routes and will thus be more frequently encountered as well (a blessing and a curse).

Sea battle

  • An indicator has been added to inform you of when the defender is about to become able to disengage.
  • The black ship has finally sailed into our waters. Those that gang up on lesser vessels be very wary. None have savored a taste of the black ship.
  • Yer mates may no longer come aboard during a sea battle.
  • Brigands have been made a bit smarter with regard to not running into rocks, not disengaging on the final turn even if they are intercepted and not turning around and attacking the same ship that just defeated them in battle.
  • Larger ships are now less damaged by cannons. You will have to hit a large ship many more times to yield boards full with 'black piece' damage in the boarding fight.

Puzzles

  • The NPPs have been taught new sword fighting strategies. Let us know if you think they're too easy or too hard.
  • Ye can now scroll through your opponents if there are more than eight in a sword fight. Remember that [ and ] change your targeted opponent and those will automatically scroll when you target someone who is off the screen.
  • The order in which pirates are displayed in the sword fight has also changed: your pirate is always displayed at the top of your side, pirates that are knocked out of the battle are moved to the bottom of their respective list after a short pause, and the order in which your opponents are displayed is randomized.
  • The NPPs have finally been taught how to drink. Hopefully they'll be much better at holding their liquor and a much more entertaining opponent.
  • The drinking puzzle also now has an option to turn off the "legal moves" display.

Economy

  • You are no longer allowed to forage for ten minutes after "whisking" aboard a distant vessel.
  • Building construction has been implemented. You can now petition your local governor to sell you a deed to a new shoppe and have it constructed at your local estate agent. I discovered some small problems with this just after release, but we should have them sorted out by the time anyone has the funds and commodities to construct a new shoppe.
  • Shoppe's carrying capacity was adjusted. The shady shoppes hold less than the fine shoppes (an owner will be able to upgrade a shady shoppe to a fine shoppe) and both will soon have employment limitations as well.

General bits

  • A ferry system has been implemented. It is possible to travel instantly between all colonized islands in an archipelago for a small fee.
  • A few chat and status commands have been improved: /me is an alias for /emote, /msg is an alias for /tell, idle time is displayed in the /who [player] display, /who stays up for much longer so that you have time to read it.
  • Your location on an island is now display in the island panel (in paces from the arrow at the docks). This will probably be displayed in the /who [player] output as well so that you can find out where players are if they're on your same island. Additionally, it is useful for the new building construction system as you can easily see where a building deed will be constructed.
  • The message that your rating has changed now indicates whether it rose or fell.
  • Buildings can now be clicked upon to enter them in addition to clicking on the arrow or entering them via the island overview map.
  • Various and sundry bugs and niggling bits were fixed: tells now show up in full screen chat history, crew news postings can be much longer, a Captain with a title will be displayed as Captain rather than by their title.
  • It is now possible to register a formal complaint about an ill behaved player with '/complain'. This will be sent to the game operators (that would be us) along with logs of player activity so that we can verify foul play. We will shortly also be implementing a black spot system where players can collaboratively manage their poorly behaving mates.

Avast, our voyage to the illustrious Question Mark Island is nearing its end. We will probably have one more big release before we declare the Underpants voyage to be over and disembark to Question Mark. Ye can expect to see refinements to the shoppe construction process which is a bit rough in this release as well as basic flag support, both in the very near future. Until then, smooth sailing to ye.

2003-06-05

Sailing right along (Sixteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Avast ye lubbers, we're back with another release. A fair few new and exciting features in this release which we'll describe for you forthwith:

  • Swords are now being manufactured at the iron monger. Be on the lookout for the herbs and minerals needed to forge the finest swords.
  • The shipyard is open for business. The ship ordering interface is still rudimentary (you cannot yet name your vessels or specify their colors), but they are now properly constructed from raw materials. Additionally, you can buy maps at the shipyard with no dice rolling involved.
  • Commodities can now be foraged from uncolonized islands. A player can forage an island up to once an hour and consume an hour of their labor in the process. Harvest by foraging is half as efficient as harvest on a colonized island that has a commodities market (meaning half as many units of commodity are harvested per unit of labor expended), but we anticipate this to be a useful way to obtain herbs and minerals from islands that are otherwise not worth the trouble of colonization.
  • Players can change their citizenship to other islands (via the Island panel when at an island) which will cause that island to become their home island. They will then start their sessions at that island by default.
  • NPP jobber have been completely changed. Now you automatically hire swabbies when you activate the "posted job" for a vessel. See the message board thread for more details.
  • Chat bubbles now have their background colored rather than their text. There are also new colors to differentiate feedback messages (ie. "Gettin' me move on.") from informational messages (ie. "Cleaver has come aboard.") from attention messages (ie. "Jack has applied for your job posting."). Additionally, you can now properly /emote and other types of chat in different chat contexts (try /crew /emote gives a hearty laugh. to amuse yer crew.)
  • The commodity trading interface has been changed to hopefully provide more and more useful information.
  • Herbs have been given proper names.
  • Shoppe keepers now have a display of all orders currently being processed (or awaiting pickup) at their shoppe.
  • The jobbing invitation has been made to look less foreboding and visibly different from permanent crew invitations.
  • The client deals more gracefully if an error occurs when it first starts up.
  • The post sea battle grace period has been augmented such that a vessel that defeats another vessel cannot attack that same vessel for 15 minutes.
  • Brigand treasure is now tied directly to the skill of the brigands aboard the vessel.
  • Familiars have been cured of their color-related illnesses.
  • Various bugs have been fixed and minor improvements have been made: the help radial menu items work once again; disembarking or going to battle from the crow's nest should work properly; going to a full boat will no longer give you the blue screen of doom.

The voyage toward Underpants Two is progressing smoothly. With the shipyard and sword making out of the way, we're ready to focus our efforts on shoppe construction and the beginnings of flag support. Before we know it we'll be ready for the illustrious Question Mark. Arr!

2003-05-23

Old Navy (Fifteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Ahoy mateys! We've sailed another release out of port and she seems not to be too full of holes. Plenty of exciting updates in this one, so I'll get on to them without further ado.

  • The tailor shoppe is finally open for business. They take custom orders and have a selection of ready to wear items. In addition, the weavery is doing business supplying cloth to the tailor and the apothecary is making fine dyes used by the weavery. Demand for trade in hemp, herbs and minerals will certainly be high.
  • The palace has opened its doors to its loyal citizens. Those of you with a stomach for politics can look forward to a vying for a cushy government job in the near future.
  • The governor has finally fielded a navy which you'll likely encounter patrolling the seas. They are offering jobs to able pirates and they also operate training vessels that sail around a few of the islands giving new pirates a place to hone their skills.
  • Newly purchased vessels will come with deeds which players can use to transfer ownership of a vessel between crews. A vessel will be owned by the crew of whatever pirate possesses the deed. If the possessing pirate is not in a crew, the vessel will be unsailable until they start or join a crew or give the deed to someone in a crew. Existing vessels will remain deedless, alas. They were built in less organized times.
  • The bank interface was streamlined. No more do you open or close an account, it simply exists.
  • The cursor is changed to indicate where you can stand and where you cannot as well as giving an indication of which direction the screen will scroll.
  • A "Take me to my home island" button has been added to the "Ye" panel which whisks you to your home island from any place in the game. No more need ye log off and back on. Additionally a "Disembark" button has been added to the "Vessel" panel so that you can immediately disembark from a vessel rather than having to walk up to the main deck to click on the long boat.
  • The island overview map has been enhanced to display the names of all buildings on the island and to allow you to immediately enter any building by clicking on its name.
  • A /help command has been added to the chat box as well as the ability to type abbreviations for all commands. Any unique abbreviation is acceptable (ie. /te for /tell and /th for /think).
  • Activity icons are displayed when players are trading or challenging one another to a puzzle.
  • Brigand AI has been improved in numerous ways. You should find them much more pleasant to sea battle with and much less likely to attack you and then run away. Of course, if you give them a sound licking with the cannons, they may decide to call off their attack.
  • In the sea battle you can now run into rocks which will cause your boat some damage and the edges of the board no longer stop your boat cold but instead blow you back into the board when you go out of bounds.
  • Chat circles now shrink when sufficient people depart from them rather than remaining large until they are entirely emptied. Additionally, the two person circle has been eliminated and two people start out in a four person circle.
  • Brief tips are displayed upon entering puzzles to players with not a lot of experience in those puzzles.
  • A couple of casualties took place during the upgrade: all existing maps became invalid. We will delete the no longer valid maps in the near future. Additionally, all existing commodities had to be wiped out. Fortunately, the market for traded commodities should be vastly improved with the tailor, weavery and apothecary all buying now.
  • Various bugs were fixed and little things were changed here and there. The known issues page is updated with a few problems we didn't get sorted out before the release. Let us know about any bugs via the "Report bug" button on the "Ye" panel or by using /bug in the chat box if you can't get to the bug reporting dialog.

Underpants Two looms very near on the horizon. In the next few releases you can look forward to: ordering swords from the iron monger, ordering vessels from the shipyard, constructing and managing your very own shoppes, allying crews in flags and a few other bits and bobs. As always, thanks for all your help and we'll see you on the high seas!

2003-05-11

Quick Fix Take Two (Fourteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Another quick fix to remedy a rather serious memory leak that caused the game client to fall over dead after doing much puzzling. The scrolling should behave a bit better as well, though we have more to do on that front. Arr!

2003-05-09

The Quick Fix (Thirteenth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Just a quick update to fix the more annoying (and easy to track down) barnacles that clung to the vessel we set sail yesterday. The ones that can be described without resorting to technical terms are: NPPs should no longer become belligerent and congregate around the docks after being hired and fired; the screen should center properly when you first enter an island; the drinking puzzle should work properly.

Be sure to check the known issues before submitting bug reports. There are a few problems that we're looking into at the moment and hope to have fixed soon.

2003-05-08

The Azure Sea Scrolls! (Twelfth Update)

From the Release Notes:

Sailin' into port with another release we are. Or sailin' out of port, who knows which way these vessels sail. All we know is that they're sailin' and quite well (we hope). Arrr! Enough idle chit-chat, on with the notes:

  • Swords! Ye may have to pick one up at an auction, but if ye can get yer hands on one, you'll be the terror of the Diamond Archipelago. Shortly after this release, we'll roll out support for the manufacture of swords at the iron monger.
  • The bank! Now ye can keep yer hard earned plunder in a handy, interest-bearing savings account (I'm lying about the interest). However, it will be helpful for protecting yer hard earned gold from the plundering hands of marauding pirates as yer pocket cash will no longer be exempt when pillaging.
  • The duty puzzles are now equipped with performance indicators that let you know how well yer makin' the boat go.
  • Brigands have turned up in the Diamond Archipelago. These vicious pirates have demonstrated a skill at sea battling unseen among trade ship captains and we have reports that unsuspecting ships have been attacked by the roving crews.
  • You'll find that the islands (and yer vessels) are now one big scrolling scene rather than a bunch of little ones all connected together. There's also a nice island overview map to let you know where you are (and which will have information on an island's buildings shortly). There are many niggling details left to be worked out with the scrolling scenes as this is a rather major technology enhancement, so bear with us as we fine tune everything.
  • You are now provided with an indicator of the relative might of other vessels in the sea. Red vessels are likely to be much stronger that you are, green vessels are a good match and blue vessels are less mighty than ye. The colors actually vary smoothly between the hues, so ye might see a yellow or orange that are a little tougher and a teal or dark blue that is weaker. Be not picking on the weaker vessels or ye might find yerself visited by the fabled Black Ship.
  • Vessel interception only takes place if the velocity difference between the two vessels is below a threshold. Ye can't any longer be whizzing by and catch another vessel unawares. Ye has to chase 'em down.
  • Added /bug which can be used to submit a bug report if you can't get to the normal bug reporting dialog.
  • Various and sundry little bits: "will buy" and "will sell" should actually now properly reflect what will be bought and sold; NPPs shouldn't stand on top of one another when following you to your ship; NPPs return to their home island when fired instead of disappearing into cold storage.

We'll most certainly be following this release up quickly with bug fix releases and we'll also be rolling out the remaining features between now and beta on a more fine-grained schedule. In the meanwhile, enjoy the new features and we'll be back soon with more piratey goodness.

2003-04-11

Cleaning house (Eleventh Update)

From the Release Notes:

Like the waves rolling over the open seas, we have rolled out another release (this is why they pay me fer programmin' and not poetry). Once again we're mostly fixin' bugs, but we've slipped a fancy feature or two on in because we loves ye. Read on for the details:

  • Added a display indicating how much a store will buy or will sell in the trading panel. These are instantaneous quantities, so they might change in the time it takes for you sail over, pick up commodities and bring them back, but they give you a much better idea of who's buying and selling.
  • Commodities no longer disappear into the drink if you can't fit them on yer boat. Arrr! A foolish bug that one were. I be hangin' me head in shame.
  • The fancy new clothes weren't being chosen for potential sale by the NPPs. Now it shouldn't be quite so hard to get yer hands on a fancy new dress, corset, flouncy hat or cape.
  • We've added sounds to the bilge puzzle. Let us know how ye like 'em.
  • We've replaced the checkbox image with one more visible and made a few other user interface improvements here and there. The challenge and trading negotiation dialogs were cleaned up and are hopefully a bit clearer and easier on the eye.
  • The "Help Wanted" display now automatically updates when changes are made in a shoppe. Additionally it lets you know if you already have a job at that shoppe or if the shoppe isn't hiring.
  • We put fancy pictures into the shoppe ordering interface. We loves the pictures, yes we does.
  • Yer pirate now steps off the arrow when ye enters a room. They specifically stand somewhere that other pirates aren't standing, so you should see less pirate on pirate action of that sort (but still plenty of pirate on pirate action out on the high seas, we hope). Note: the NPPs still bunch up when they're following you to your ship. We'll sort that out when we get a chance.
  • We fixed up mute handling a bit. A few things that weren't properly being ignored for muted players are now ignored and /mute and /unmute let you know that they did their job.
  • We updated the sailing puzzle with pieces in our new shiny, happy style and now allow targets to appear in any color combination.
  • Fixed a slew of other bugs, including: zombie NPPs that kept chargin' ye for work, problems with handing off captainship in autocratic crews, problems doing yer duty in the new player introduction and a fair few other little nigglin' bits.

With this release, we've hopefully got the major bugs and annoyances ironed out and can begin work on Underpants 2. Don't worry, we're not going to disappear for two and a half months like last time. Underpants 2 should come in the form of reasonably frequent incremental releases, each containing a major feature or two (like the Shipyard, Tailor, Bank, etc.) along with continuing fixes and minor features. In the meanwhile, keep up the good work mateys and we'll see yer on the high seas.

2003-04-07

Tenth Alpha Update

From the Release Notes:

You file 'em, we fix 'em! Thanks to the copious bug reports, we tracked down and repaired most of the grievous bugs that snuck aboard our long awaited release. There are certainly more bugs to squish, but we bet you'll appreciate these fixes:

  • Fixed portal double clicking problems.
  • Commodities will no longer be sold for zero pieces of eight.
  • Fixed various NPP bugs.
  • Fixed some, but not all, rendering artifacts in building interiors.
  • Fixed /emote and /think in building interiors.
  • Prevent wagering with the intro pirate.
  • Fixed problems with the employment inspector being open during a scene change.
  • Added activity icons for various economy-related activities.

Please be sure to have a look at the known game issues before submitting bugs. We are keeping it up to date and are still seeing people report a lot of bugs that are already listed there. Thanks for all your help and we'll be back real soon with more fixes and good stuff. Arr!

2003-04-05

Economies of scale (Ninth Update)

From the Release Notes:

The rumors are true, we've actually released a new version of the game after two and a half long months. Commensurately, there's more new stuff in there than I can even begin to remember. However, these are the release notes, so I'll do my best to enumerate the major points here:

  • The shops are open! The beginnings of the economy are in place and two staples of piratical consumption are available for purchase: cannon balls and rum. Cannon balls are required for, you guessed it, shooting the cannons. Rum is a little less obvious, one has to keep a stock o' rum aboard any sailing vessel so that the crew may drink it as they sail. If the vessel runs out of rum, morale rapidly drops and the crew's performance becomes near to abysmal. There's talk of some pirates fomenting mutiny were they to go too long without rum. There's too much to cover in the release notes, but you can read the beginnings of the economy documentation for more information.
  • You can stand anywhere you like. Gone are the prefab chatting circles and in their place is the ability to dynamically start and grow your own circles. This more flexible system was necessary in preparation for our eventual release of facilities for building up an island from a raw jungle into a teeming metropolis.
  • Sounds! Specifically the sword fighting puzzle has sound effects, but the bilge puzzle also has a noise or two. We will be further fleshing out puzzle sounds over the next few releases.
  • In conjunction with the new economy, crews will want to engage in trading. The documentation has been updated with information on the vessel hold, buying and selling commodities and making profits!
  • Earnings made while pillaging are no longer divvied up immediately and automatically. Instead all earnings (gold and commodities) are stored in the vessel (separate from the contents of the hold) for later division by an officer of the crew. The documentation has more more information on how this is done.
  • You'll notice that your vessels come in a variety of fancy colors. At the moment, they are assigned randomly, but when the shipyard shop is up and running, you'll be able to order vessels in a wide array of designer colors.
  • A new central location for information on "what to do" is provided on all developed islands: the message board. Here trade ship jobs are posted and crews can post their intention to take on jobbers for trading or pillaging. Activities added to the game in the future will find their way to the message board so that a pirate on a tight schedule knows right where to go to find some action.
  • We now provide a new player introduction when a pirate logs in for the first time. It introduces a few basic concepts, shows the pirate a puzzle or two and then turns them loose on Alpha island to make their own way. Try creating a new character if you have an empty slot and giving it a whirl.
  • All of the puzzles and various other game elements now have easily accessible in-game help. Some of the help is a bit rough around the edges but we shall be polishing and expanding it as we go along.
  • A couple of new slash commands have made their debut. First, /who [username] which tells you where a pirate is if they are online and when they were last online if they're not. More information will be added to the online display in the future, specifically whether the pirate is idle or engaged in a puzzle. The second new slash command will warm the cockles of officers and captains all the seas round. /plank [username] can be used to give an obnoxious jobber the boot.
  • Those of you that chart the courses to be sailed by yer pirate crew will appreciate the lovely new course charting user interface. Not only is it easier on the eye, but we've it (hopefully) easier and more intuitive to chart your way around the thirty seven seas. You may also notice that your position along the course is updated in real time as you sail.
  • A whole bevy of smaller things have been added or fixed as well: cannon damage results in permanent garbage on your opponents sword board; NPPs now actually charge money and they take their earnings from the collected booty (and then the vessel hold if there be no booty to skim) rather than the pirate that hired them; map names are shown in the booty interface; trade ships no longer go into a coma if they are intercepted just as they reach a node.

That's all I can piece together from my tattered notes and addled memory. We apologize for this release being a bit more alpha than our previous alpha releases, but as the Captain is fond o' saying', "Worse things have happened at sea." Do inspect the known game issues page as we'll endeavor to keep it more up to date that we have in the past. Good luck with yer piratical endeavors and we'll surely be seeing you soon with an updated release. One-eyed Jack signing off.

2003-01-22

Pirates on a diet (Eighth Update)

From the Release Notes:

One-eyed Jack back with another update. We finally got around to doing a first pass at optimization of some of our low level graphics code to bring our requirements back in line with the capabilities of lower powered computers. Of course, being side-tracked, we also took this opportunity to slip a bunch of little features in here and there and clean a few other things up. Here be the results of our toils:

  • Client should require a great deal less memory and performance should no longer degrade over time. Additionally, the image resource are (partially) uncompressed to a local cache which should slightly speed up load times on slower machines.
  • NPPs have been through the ringer. They will no longer follow you onto a boat not owned by your crew. They now charge by the hour rather than the league (no more turning about repeatedly to cheat your NPPs out of their wages). Note: they still cost the same amount, we've just used the average amount of time it takes to sail a league to compute an hourly wage rather than having the NPPs charge per league. Really good sword fighters now also charge a bit extra (hiring a bunch of good NPP sword fighters will no longer be the obvious road to maximal earnings).
  • We show a player's face in their character radial menu.
  • More carpentry puzzle improvements: she's starting to shimmy, she's starting to shake! Scoring has been improved. We've added putty for filling in those tough spots. A grain bonus is awarded if you line all of your pieces up to match the horizontal grain of the hull.
  • Scoring has finally been added to gunnery! Now you can finally find out how you compare at the cannons.
  • Sword fights that involve more than one versus one will no longer impact any of the involved players' sword fighting ratings. A pirate's "Sea Battle" rating continues to indicate whether the player generally wins sea battles against difficult opponents, but the sword fighting rating will now be a pure assessment of their skill alone with the blade.
  • In sword fighting, big swords don't crash through as many pieces on their way to landing.
  • NPPs will now periodically choose a new target in sea battle sword fights. Additionally, we made some changes to the sword fighting AI. The NPPs can now do doubles (and sometimes even triples) but they also no longer suffer from a bug which caused them to throw away big strikes sent to them by players when they couldn't properly fit them onto their board.
  • A crew can no longer board any boat in their fleet from any island. The rule is now thus: you can board any boat owned by your crew or your jobbing crew that has pirates aboard or is at sea. Otherwise you can only board a boat if it is in port at the island from which you're boarding. When you log on, you're given the choice of going to your home island or directly to any boat owned by your crew that has pirates aboard.
  • Skeletons are now given a random selection of clothes rather than an entire outfit for a particular gender. We don't specifically match the booty given to the gender of the pirate who receives it, but you should be able to sort things out after the fight with a little tradin'.
  • Jobbing pirates should now accept orders from any officer of the crew that owns the boat of which they are aboard. Before they go aboard a vessel, they take orders only from the pirate that hired them. Additionally, they can be instructed to laze about rather than do a duty. This is useful if all your stations are filled with human pirates but you don't want the NPP frantically looking around for a free station.
  • Jobbing pirates no longer wait around for a vessel to put into port after being fired. They swim for the nearest island when relieved of their duties.
  • Vessels left abandoned at sea will be returned to their home port after 15 minutes of being empty of human players (i.e. NPPs won't keep a ship at sea). In the future, this will be accompanied by a penalty for having abandoned the ship.
  • We brought the number of duty stations on vessels in line with requirements (brigs no longer have only one carpentry station). All new vessels created will have the new duty station layout. If you really can't be bothered to put together enough money for a new boat, catch me online and I'll work out a trade-in.
  • Added /job command which can be used to invite a player to job for your crew if you're out sailing and they just showed up on Alpha Island. If they accept the job, they'll be able to hop directly onto your boat from the port. Relatedly, all online crew members are notified of permanent and jobbing invitations and their responses.
  • Items can now be "trashed," just right click on them. There's a confirmation dialog, so don't be afraid to try it out.
  • Fixed various bugs, interesting ones include: the inability to walk around after you display any sort of scene overlay panel; no longer can you hold down the rotate key in sword fighting and delay the placement of your piece nearly indefinitely; drink puzzle handles resignations more sensibly.

That about wraps it up. Once again, we're going to attempt to turn our attentions away from tuning the Alpha system and toward major new developments. On the agenda include: the first iteration of the commodities-based economy and trading system, improved in game help for the puzzles and other game elements, a tutorial for first time players, and adventure islands. Hopefully next time you hear from ol' One-eyed Jack, it will be as I announce the release of exciting new game systems. In the meanwhile, I'll surely be found taking in a bit o' salty air and giving a bit o' fight with the sword. Arrr!

2003-01-06

Thar be Demons! (Seventh Update)

From the Release Notes:

Having suffered the repercussions of hastily releasing new code to support our first scheduled tournament, we toiled long and hard to fix most of the pesky bugs that stowed away as she sailed out of port. We also failed to get these release notes out in a timely manner and by now we're just about ready with the next update. As the Captain is fond o' sayin', "Worse things have happened at sea."

  • Fixed a fair few bugs: job hawking NPP no longer keeps talking after you've taken a job; skeletons no longer give the first player more money than they should receive; various bugs fixed relating to duty puzzles ceasing to function after reaching a league point; vessel courses no longer end one league early if you turn about; discovered and temporarily worked around nasty Java JIT compiler bug; drinking puzzle non-players should now see the round display
  • Character names can now be toggled on and off (via Alt-N and the preferences panel).
  • We now use comic chat everywhere now except the full-screen chat history.
  • Chat bubbles are colorized based on whether they are a /tell, a system message, application feedback or normal user speech.
  • Improvements to the carpentry puzzle, many more to come.
  • Minor random variations are made to the navigation constellation level which makes life much more interesting therein.

As I mentioned above, another release is right around the corner. This time focusing on performance improvements and more bug fixes, but with a few fun features sneaking in. Following that, we're very definitely going to put our head down and not look up until we have a functioning economy that will bring some much needed higher level game play into the Yohoho! archipelaverse. One-eyed Jack over and out.

2002-12-29

Pre-Tournament (Sixth) Update

From the Release Notes:

Sailin' by the seat of our pants, we got a release out right before our first grand Alpha Island tournament. Many a fix and feature were held within and One-eyed Jack be back again with the scoop on what they be:

  • Fixed some issues with rendering that allow us to enable familiars and one new standing pose (crossed arms). You'll have to be performing miraculous feats (or wining in the next tournament) to get yerself a familiar.
  • Finally got around to cleaning up the crew issues interface, which now actually shows you information on each issue, how you've voted on it, how many people have voted on it and so forth. Additionally, crew members are notified of new news or issues have been posted for their crew (when they log on and when things are posted while they are online).
  • Added support for heading directly to one of your crew's vessels when you log on. You can only go directly aboard a vessel if there are other members of your crew already sailing on that vessel.
  • Enabled the much desired full-screen mode. Arr! There be some issues with this feature at the moment, but we'll hopefully get those sorted out shortly. In the meanwhile, post to the forums for help if you manage to make your game unplayable by switching it to full screen mode. (It should work for most people, but one of the test machines in the lab chokes whenever we attempt to switch to full-screen mode.)
  • Added a new fearsome challenge, the Skeleton Crews! They be lurkin' about the archipelago, taking on all comers. A fight with them means risking 100 pieces of eight and an item from your inventory. The skeletons will find their eventual home in our Adventure Islands, but in the meanwhile, they're sharpening their skills and building up their supplies of booty and treasure.
  • The non-player pirates that are selling items now wear the item they are selling so that a prospective purchaser can inspect the item before buying it. Hopefully you'll be better able to put together that perfect outfit.
  • Though we didn't actually mean to do so, we've released the new carpentry puzzle. Pay no mind to the fact that it says Gunnery at the top of the screen. That would be because the artwork is not yet complete. The game play, however, is largely there and carpenting is wired up, as we like to say. This means that it will lower the damage on your vessel (damage is taken when hit by a cannon in sea battle and ships acquire a small bit of wear and tear when sailing around normally). There are some known issues that arise if you are placing a piece right as the ship reaches a league point, but we'll get those sorted out ASAP since we can't exactly put this carpentry cat back into the bag.
  • A big change has been made to duty puzzle scoring: your performance is now no longer based on points scored per second, but is based on your scoring efficiency.
For sailing and navigation, it is based on points per "piece" (per piece dropped into the puzzle). For bilging, it's points per swap. Gunnery still doesn't score anything, so pay no heed to the fact that it claims you booch it every time. We'll sort that out soon.
Carpentry is based on your efficiency in filling in the holes. Each hole can be perfectly filled in with some number of pieces. If you use more than the perfect number, your score is accordingly less.
We are big fans of the new scoring system as it removes the pressure to frantically score as quickly as possible that the old system engendered. Now you can play at a reasonable speed and as long as you are making effective use of your pieces, you'll do very well.
Bear in mind that you have to score some points every ten seconds or your instantaneous performance rating used to "make the vessel go" will decline. Your end of league performance rating is based on your total points for the league over your total number of moves, so it is not negatively influenced by periods of non-scoring.
Your rating is now computed based on your cumulative performance across leagues, calculated either when you leave the puzzle, when you enter a sea battle or when you reach the end of your charted course. This will help to smooth out the duty puzzle ratings and prevent them from jumping around like they did when we rated you at every node.
  • In related duty puzzle news, we've restructured the duty puzzles to preserve their state across leagues. No longer will you wince as the ship pulls into a league point just before you pull off that amazing Bingo, Donkey, Vegas! combo. Additionally, this will allow you to progress to the higher difficulty levels of each puzzle as the difficulty continues to increase across leagues as well. This makes the navigation puzzle vastly more interesting, we promise.
The difficulty level is currently reset if you booch it, but that will be changed to simply set you back a few difficulty levels rather than dropping you back down to zero. Additionally, the puzzle is ended and the difficulty reset if you leave the puzzle, when you enter a sea battle and when you reach the end of your charted course.
  • As usual, various bugs were fixed and minor features and refinements made their way into this release as well. A couple of the notable fixed bugs include: hired NPPs no longer cause your money to disappear if you log out and back on after hiring the NPPs; vessels no longer get trapped at sea if you somehow manage to chart a course with loops in it (which is a bug in the course charting interface, but we'll tackle these things one at a time).

That's it for now. We'll most likely be back to a bit of iterative refinement for a short while before we go back to working on the new trading and crafting systems which were coming along nicely before this impromptu pre-tournament release. Smooth seas to ye all.

2002-12-09

Fifth Alpha Update (Finally)

From the Release Notes:

One-eyed Jack back from a long toilsome journey with a bit o' treasure in the form of another Alpha release.

  • Implemented notoriety (ratings) for crews. Har! Top 10 listing coming soon.
  • Revamped the scoring and difficulty progression of the navigation puzzle. Also added fancy new animations!
  • Tiny tweaks to bilge scoring. Clearing crabs now scores points.
  • Various sea battle improvements: rocks, whirlpools, ratings (results of sea battle are applied to crews' notoriety ratings). The captain can select which token toward which the sailors are working. Engaged and battling vessels are highlighted in ocean view.
  • Rejiggered the battle booty division to reward those who risk more money with more money and those who risk little or no money with little or no money.
  • The gunnery puzzle is now wired up to sea battle, which means that you'll have to have a gunner at work during a battle in order to load and fire your cannons. Additionally, the damage done during a sea battle causes the occupants of the damaged vessel to start their sword fight with a commensurate amount of garbage at the bottom of their board. The barrel in the gunnery puzzle now rolls around as the vessel turns rather than randomly.
  • Vessels in ocean view are automatically selected when they come into view. Let us know if this is more annoying than useful.
  • Added support for sound and music and then disabled it because we're fine tuning the actual sound effects and music at the moment. Coming soon!
  • Modified the client to require JDK 1.4.1 (1.4.0 has annoying bugs that we'd rather not have around to bite us) which means that those of you skating by with a previous JVM release will have to upgrade. Java Web Start should download and install the proper version automatically but we've (unfortunately) never seen it do the right thing in our tests.
  • Rewrote the low-level networking code. Hopefully no one will notice that we swapped out one of the people behind the curtain.
  • More bug fixes, performance improvements and niggling bits than you can shake a land lubber at. The performance fixes should be more noticeable on machines that are close to our minimum requirements in terms of memory and CPU speed. The bug fixes and niggling bits are too many to mention, but some highlights are: fixed intermittent funny looking fonts, fixed sea battle sword fights not starting due to no shows, crew page cleanups (crew issues are still wacky, sorry).

One bit of bad news (/emote ducks.) is that we had to blow away the vessels table which means that you'll all be back to jobbing for a short while until you can afford a shiny new vessel. Also, be sure to glance at the known issues page because there have been some updates there with issues in this new release.

2002-11-12

Fourth Alpha Update

From the Release Notes:

One-eyed Jack here with yet another release. We love to fix the bugs and add the features. Arrr!

  • A duty status view is now available in the Crew panel and as a toggleable view while puzzling. No more do you have to wonder if your crew is lazing about or hard at work on their duties.
  • The pirate panel now displays the name of the vessel you occupy when you're aboard a vessel.
  • A message is displayed whenever someone enters or leaves a vessel.
  • Chat bubble expiration speed can be adjusted to be faster or slower.
  • Improved think, shout and tell chat bubble shapes.
  • A single unified chat history is now shared among all chat boxes.
  • Improved flow of sea battles. Transitions between sailing, battling and sword fighting should hopefully be less jarring. Additionally, you are no longer automatically booted from the final sword fighting interface. You have to go back to deck manually. This is in preparation for a future update where you'll be able to chat with your opponents while in the sword fight and afterwards (that is, if you can use as polite a term as chatting for the words that are likely to be spoken under such circumstances).
  • Sea battle booty division is scaled by the ratio of losers to winners. For example, if four pirates beat five pirates in a sea battle, they would get 1.25 times (5/4ths) the normal booty percentage. If seven pirates beat five, they would get 5/7ths the normal percentage.
  • Vessels fresh from battle cannot be attacked again for two minutes.
  • Various other minor tweaks and bug fixes, including, among other things, the annoying blue screen when entering a vessel bug.

This will hopefully be the last minor release for a while as we put our nose to the grindstone and tackle some of our larger near term goals.

2002-11-08

Third Alpha Update

From the Release Notes:

Arrr! Here be Captain Cleaver bringing ye news of the latest and greatest release in the auspicious history of the Puzzle Pirates Alpharrr:

  • New bilge puzzle scoring algorithms which should emphasize bilging skill over luck in getting unplanned chains.
  • Fixed the puzzle view in world mode bug that often yielded a garbled UI at the end of Sea Battles.
  • Jobbing crew member shares can now be adjusted on the Crew page. Established crews should change this amount from the previously default 5 shares. New crews should start with 0.5 as the default. Note that NPPs receive this jobbing share, in addition to their wages.
  • Chat bubbles are now everywhere, including the puzzle chat view.
  • There are now two kinds of chat history. The left scroll history button raises a mini-history view that displays over the scene view (or in the Puzzle view) with a scroll bar. Speech bubbles in scenes will continue to be displayed when this is activated. The right history button still goes to the full-screen history view.
  • You will now receive a report when a fellow crew member logs on or off.
  • Likewise, there will be a report when your Standing or Experience changes.
  • All NPPs can now be asked to move.
  • Fixed bug with swordfighting NPP difficulties, really bad NPPs were *really* good.
  • Escape toggles "pausing" in all games. Note that this won't work in Puzzles you can't pause (swordfighting, or bilging because there's no function) and also you continue to post scores, so can booch it by pausing to chat too long.
  • You'll now receive a personal report of money won or lost in a sea battle.
  • New drink puzzle mechanics: no penalty for forced drinking or passing out; players recover from passing out after missing three turns; round ends early only if *all* players are passed out.
  • Multi-column duty report for those gigantic crews.
  • Nav puzzle pieces drop all the way in when space is pressed.
  • Duty puzzle ratings should be much more stable.
  • Jobbing crew members will be properly paid as jobbers rather than their rank in their own crew.
  • Island names in the course charting view.
  • Only the most recent duty performance for a particular puzzle will be included in end of league duty report.
  • Fixed bug with hourglass timers.

For completeness, a repeat of things we're anticipating for future releases:

  • Navigation puzzle difficulty revamp as well as interface improvements.
  • Wiring up the cannons in the sea battle. To fire a cannon, a pirate will have had to load one using the gunnery puzzle.
  • Other sea battle features: whirlpools, rocks, user interface improvements.
  • (Much) improved course charting interface.
  • A rewrite of our internal wager handling code both to clean it up and to fix some potential race conditions (most of which fortunately haven't cropped up in testing).
  • Implement ratings for crews that engage in sea battles so that we can find out which is the most notorious crew asail on the seas.

Not to forget the many bug fixes that will doubtless come out in the wash!

2002-11-05

Second Alpha Update

From the Release Notes:

One-Eyed Jack back again with more juicy release notes:

  • Fixed that fiddly striped shirt which looked mighty green for being red.
  • NPPs that whisper to you won't be added to your chatters quick list.
  • Fixed various problems with the idle code. Users should properly unidle when moving the mouse and should no longer be reported as idle when they're not.
  • For you Unix-fans, Ctrl-U now clears the text from the chat input field.
  • A message is delivered to all online crew members when any crew member logs on or off.
  • Repainting problems with the trade and wager dialogs should be fixed.
  • Non-player pirates' duty puzzle skill levels should be reported accurately now in the "Pirate info" view.
  • Non-player pirates are now a bit more conscious about their betting budget and won't agree to be repeatedly fleeced by clever pirates.
  • Clothes selling pirates now choose a new type of article to sell after every sale. So those impossible to find articles (like a good hat) should now only be hard to find.
  • Non-player pirates shouldn't get stuck on the ships of users that hired them for a job.
  • Drink puzzle now has support for people turning up to watch after the game has already started. Also the scoring animations are slightly tweaked and should not leave rendering artifacts.
  • Pressing an arrow key in the gunnery puzzle will now set the orientation for subsequently placed arrows if you don't otherwise specify a direction with a mouse gesture (clicking and dragging in the direction you want the arrow to face).
  • Sea battle booty resolution should once again be working properly and there is now a bonus given to the winning sailors above and beyond the booty they take from the losing players.
  • Bilge will be accumulating faster in sailing vessels (both because we've upped the temporary default damage and because more bilge puzzle activity is now required to clear out the bilge).

Unfortunately, you'll all have to download all of the game media bundles again with this update, due to a change we made in the way the bundles are cryptographically signed. Subsequent updates will only require downloading bundles that contain updated media.

To give you an idea of what is on the near term horizon, we'll be working on some of these things for the next release:

  • Navigation puzzle difficulty revamp as well as interface improvements.
  • Bilge puzzle scoring revamp.
  • Wiring up the cannons in the sea battle. To fire a cannon, a pirate will have had to load one using the gunnery puzzle.
  • Other sea battle features: whirlpools, rocks, user interface improvements.
  • (Much) improved course charting interface.
  • A rewrite of our internal wager handling code both to clean it up and to fix some potential race conditions (most of which fortunately haven't cropped up in testing).
  • Fancy new chat box that uses the chat bubbles even when you're in a puzzle.
  • Implement ratings for crews that engage in sea battles so that we can find out which is the most notorious crew asail on the seas.
  • Bug fixes and refinements that probably won't make anyone excited but must inevitably take up our time lest the bugbeasts get the upper hand.

Also, have a look at our known issues web page for information on problems that we haven't yet had a chance to fix.

2002-10-31

First Alpha Update

From the Release Notes:

Ahoy mateys. It's One-Eyed Jack here with the word on our first update to the Alpha game code. For the curious and so that you can let us know if something we thought we fixed is still broken, here is a list of fixes and features in this update:

  • Users that haven't touched their mouse or keyboard for some time will be marked as idle (and logged out after 30 minutes).
  • Users that have been disconnected for over ten minutes will be logged off.
  • Non-player pirates should post proper duty scores rather than booching it every time.
  • Bilge puzzle pieces have been increased from six to seven. Beware the wily pentagon.
  • The /who output is much improved.
  • The web services should no longer report "Access denied" to users who log in with different capitalization than that with which they registered (ie. Bluebeard logging in as bluebeard should be fine).
  • Chat colors in the chat history display should be more readable and less an affront to good taste.
  • Interface should properly reenable itself when a user attempts to create a pirate with a name that is already taken.
  • The bug whereby the sea battles would only display the first move in all sea battles but the first battle has been fixed.
  • Vessels purchased from the shipwright will now be given names similar to the trade ships rather than being named after their owner. (Note: this is to emphasize that the vessels are owned by the purchaser's crew, not the purchaser themselves. In the final game, vessels will be purchased with crew money, not out of a user's own pocket.)
  • Ties in multiplayer games are handled more gracefully with respect to ratings updates and wager division.
  • Debugging coordinates are no longer displayed in the sea battle interface.
  • The results of a request to "Attack" another vessel are now reported.
  • Not that you guys can use it, but the admins now have a /broadcast command for sending a message to everyone on the server.
  • Two new vessels are available from the shipwright: Large Sloop and Merchant Brig. Now a wealthy crew can own a vessel as sizable as those being operated by the trade fleets, as well as a middle ranged vessel for groups of 5 to 7 sailors.
  • Clothing sales is radically revamped (count yourself lucky if you picked up a color coordinated outfit prior to this update). Clothing is now sold by local pirates all over the archipelago, each pirate selling a single type of item, with rarer items costing more and being harder to find. You'll have to explore the whole archipelago if you want to put together that perfect outfit. Also, female pirates sell female clothing and male pirates male clothing. Clothing cannot be worn by a pirate of the opposite gender (not even on Halloween, alas).
  • Raised prices! Har! A piece of eight just don't buy what it used to. Avast.

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