Letter from Eingang, January 2000
Miscellaneous Ramblings & News
Welcome to the year 2000. We all seem to be intact, so I guess all of the fuss was for naught. (:
Chatter and I have been rather busy, so we've only written two new S&M adventures since last millennium. Our newest adventure chronicles bugs not in the game bots but on our bodies. Check out this hair-raising episode in the S&M segment on my personal Web site ( http://www.eingang.org).
I'd like to thank the few hardy volunteers who have been helping me test out the new Java interface intended for the Canadian Heritage Kids Risky Business. In particular, Gigi and Staid have been extremely helpful. We're still continuing to refine and test the Java interface. If you're interested in giving us a hand and meeting Renee's new friend RickyBot, please drop a line to http://games.eingang.org/Information/chaostourn.html Come out and cheer on your favourite team!
January also saw the introduction of a new version of ReneeBot, incorporating some features that had been under development for awhile plus suggestions from users. Major changes include the introduction, by popular request over the years, of a timer for each question, a modified version of the steal command, as well as a hint facility.
Each regular game question is now displayed for only 60 seconds. What advantage is there in this, you ask? Well, for new players who don't know about the "we give up" command, it enables them to stay interested in the game. It also makes the game move somewhat faster. Finally, it doesn't give people as much opportunity to go look up answers on-line.
To help new players out, in addition to the timer, I've changed what Renee notices people when they join. A short list of instructions on how to answer, give up, and reset the question are sent along with the current category and current question.
The steal option in the Danger Zone has been revamped so that the victim stands to benefit greatly. The following table illustrates the new changes:
|Answers correctly||Answers correctly||Victim & Thief split theft amount evenly|
|Answers correctly||Answers incorrectly||Victim gets double the amount that the thief tried to steal|
|Answers incorrectly||Answers correctly||Thief successfully steals theft amount|
|Answers incorrectly||Answers incorrectly||Victim gets theft amount|
So... Go ahead and steal the farm! You stand to gain and it doesn't hurt so much if you're a victim either.
To help everybody, I finished the first go at a
hint facility for the questions. I confess that it might be
nice if we got hints like "This band did the hit song
_Walk Like An Egyptian_" for a question phrased like "What
all girls band's name reminds of a piece of feminine jewellery for the
wrist?". However, this isn't going to easily happen because we'd
have to retrofit all the existing questions with such hints and
that would be quite the task! Instead, I've chosen to do something a
little easier. The first time you ask for a hint, Renee will show you
the "shape" of the answer. For example, if the answer is The Bangles and
you've asked for a hint, Renee will show you:
--- ------- (2 words) [3 7]
The dashes indicate missing letters in the answer. We give you the number of words in parentheses. The numbers in square brackets beside that indicate the number of letters in each word. From this you should have a good idea of what the answer looks like. If that's not enough, you can ask for a second hint. What you get for a second hint depends on the number of letters in the answer. The following table outlines the possibilities.
|Letters in Answer||Renee Hint|
|Less than 5||No more hints|
|Between 6-10||First and last letters of the answer
Example: B-----s (1 word) 
|Between 11-15||First and last letters of each word
Example: T-e B-----s (2 words) [3 7]
|Between 15+||Up to 3 additional letters revealed
Example: T-e R--l--g St---s (3 words) [3 7 6]
At the moment, anyone can ask for a hint at any time so long as the question timer hasn't expired or it's not a Desperate Danger/Terrible Trouble/Danger Zone question. Asking for hints, though, comes with a price. For each hint that you get, the point value of the question is halved. Think carefully before you use it and, as with the we give up command, make sure that nobody objects!
Renee on DALnet had her channel topic files altered. Those are the files that control what is displayed as the channel topic when you do a /list or first join the channel. Her new list features all sorts of pithy sayings as well as notifications of birthdays of famous people and players. This set of channel topics will be changed on the 1st day of the month. If you'd like your birthday included, send some e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your nickname and your complete date of birth.
We saw some bots missing in action over January. The StarChat bots seem to have disappeared completely. The IRC server they used is banned from the network (or was when they disappeared) and the bot machine itself wasn't responding to any attempts to connect to it. I did write the system administrator of the machine but I didn't hear anything back. I suspect those ones might be gone for good, but I'll keep you informed. We also saw the DALnet bots disappear on the 26th of the month. They went away along with every single machine at the raptor ISP. It turns out they had exchanged corrupting routing table information with other domain name servers across the Internet, effectively cutting themselves completely off from the world. The bots, who could still see the IRC server, continued happily along until this problem was resolved later on in the day. On the 27th, we saw all the StarLink bots disappear. Tasman.starlink.org, the bot machine, seems disappeared and didn't come back for some time. After several hours, the system administrator, who works in a different state than the machine, succeeded in having somebody local to the machine bring it back to life.
33 brand new Risky Business categories have been uploaded to the DALnet and StarLink trivia games. 49 last month and 33 this month. We're really cooking! That makes more than 3000 questions that have been added in the last 2 months alone. Some of the new categories include: Easy Potluck (11-16), Even More Crime, Even More Astronomy, Sporting Chance, The 60s 2, UK Game Shows, 1997 Great Events, 90s TV 2, 60s Flicks, Mostly Classical (1-3), Movies Binkley Saw, and Just For Kids 2. See the complete list of categories in play on DALnet at http://games.eingang.org/Information/categories.html.
Do you find it too difficult to format a Risky Business category correctly so that it can be used? I have good news for you! We now have an online Risky Business category submission form similar to the sort we've had for Chaos for years already. This new form allows you to easily enter up to 30 questions with 3 answers per question and checks to make sure you haven't been too verbose or not included enough questions. You can find this at http://games.eingang.org/Information/rbsub.html. I'll expect to see lots of new categories. (We could use Great Events 1999, for example).
Last month we reported that the StarLink games hadn't had any new categories added this past year because of a problem in getting new files onto the machine. I'm happy to report that this problem has finally been resolved and I uploaded 40 delayed RB categories and the big raft of new Chaos categories that had been added to DALnet in April. Both networks should now be running virtually the same set of categories.
On all networks last month, I spent quite a bit of time in tracking down various category related problems in Chaos and uploaded a "clean" set of categories. The "clean" set features no leading or trailing spaces in answers and no "." answers (caused by blank, extra lines in a category). I also removed some duplicate categories from the playing list. Finally, I uploaded 150+ categories with additional new content, including most of the movie-related categories. All of these changes should improve your playing enjoyment immensely.
Last month's rumour of a large backlogged lot of Chaos categories has been confirmed. All of the backlogged categories have been examined and, as a result, after the Chaos Tournament we should see an influx of 350+ brand new categories. Whee!
Category Submission Winners
In Chaos, the #1 submitter of categories was Veronica with 7 new categories, including More Scrabble and Poetic Forms. Not far behind her was Vampirez with 5, including European Union and World War II. In Risky Business, Binkley led with 2 new categories. Thanks a lot for your submissions! Keep them coming!
Your Game Administrators & Channel Ops
Continuation of last month's modern fish tale about Bronxx next month.
We've heard rumours of a public access Java version of the Risky Business game featuring Renee and her brother Ricky. Keep your eyes peeled for more news of this nature!
A little bird flew by my window and announced that we could probably soon expect a real Majordomo-managed mailing list for the IRC Games mailing list (email@example.com) as well as one for the S&M Files. A real mailing list would allow people to immediately subscribe/unsubscribe, offer the possibility of digesting, and so much more. If you haven't already joined our existing mailing list, send a blank e-mail from your account to firstname.lastname@example.org
This month saw the introduction of a hint facility for Risky Business. Rumoured future development might move the hint facility on to a timer. That is, after 30 or 40 seconds, the first hint would be shown. After an additional 20 seconds, the second hint, or something like that. Time will tell.
Contact Us Summary
|email@example.com||Chief Games Administrator and Chief Bottle Washer|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Games Co-Administrator and Chief Bottle Cap Remover
Can control bots on all networks
|email@example.com||Games Co-Administrator and Chief Bottle Smasher
Monitors games on DALnet
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Missing bots/servers? Send mail here. One of the admins will deal with it as soon as possible.|
|email@example.com||Join the IRC Games mailing list.|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Add your nickname & birthday to Renee's monthly list.|
Until next month, I remain...