Arcane Games would like to unveil our latest project in development:
Persistent Ultra-Hardcore Universe
This is based on the MindCrack Ultra-Hardcore series. The basic features of which are:
You don't heal from food, only from potions and golden apples
Golden apples require 8 gold ingots instead of 8 gold nuggets to create
Ghasts drop gold ingots instead of ghast tears (no regen potions)
If you die, you're out
These are typically run as regular tournaments and just involve a mad resource grab followed by energetic battles until one player, or team, stands alone as the victor.
Our idea is instead to build a UHC community. PvP will be enabled, but is not the main focus. The challenge is to survive long-term and thrive in such a hostile environment. You may team up with others, after all there is strength in numbers, or kill them to steal their resources for yourself.
To make this tenable as a persistent universe, we are proposing the following alterations to standard UHC:
Death Bans and Resurrection
When you die, you are immediately banned from the server for the period of 5 days. New players will have a much lower death ban duration, starting at 5 minutes and building up to 5 days over the course of a week. In normal hardcore you are dead permanently, but to make this a persistent community we have to allow players back in when they die. You can also be resurrected sooner by your friends and allies on the server, if they cast a ritual involving your skull (placed on death), and 100 levels of experience between them.
PvP and non-PvP zones
The land will be scattered with unseen pockets of PvP and non-PvP zones. You receive a warning when you cross over, but from that point you are either immune or vulnerable to direct attacks from other players. This gives random dangers to exploration and resource hunting, at any moment you could stumble into a PvP zone and get ambushed by a rival group, or you could live in a PvP zone and wait to ambush unsuspecting players for their goods.
Every player can claim ONE plot of land at a time, at a size of 45 x 45 blocks from bedrock to sky level, by placing a solid gold block in the central point. No-one but you and your friends will be able to enter your land or damage it in any way. This will allow players to build up free from griefing, so long as they stay alive. As soon as you die, your land becomes unclaimed and available to attack, unless you return in time to replace the gold block.
These features are not finalised and we would like to hear your suggestions. If you are interested in supporting development or participating in beta testing, when we reach that stage, please send me a PM or post a reply below.
Sounds awesome. I'm a big fan of UHC, I'd definitely be interested to see if it could be made into a long term thing rather than just short battles. I imagine it would change people's game plans too; It's not just a case of preparing for battle but how to go about surviving in an extremely hostile environment. Quite a challenge! I'd definitely enjoy it.
This will be the first of regular status updates on the project. If you would like to receive these updates by email, please follow this topic and allow email in your preferences.
I would like to talk a bit about how the project will be supported. Our server is going to be free-to-play for everyone and non-whitelisted. This means everyone will simply be able to join and play for free. It will be supported entirely through donations from members. If you don't want or cannot afford to donate, there is no obligation to do so, however we will be offering some bonuses for those who choose to support the server. I know this is a sensitive issue, many servers have been ruined through giving donators heavy bonuses and driving away the free-players, but I am sure you will agree that our bonuses are fair and balanced.
Custom Display Name Colours
As a thank you to anyone who has ever helped to support the server, through donations, completing offers and surveys through SuperRewards or regularly voting for us on Minecraft Server Lists, you will get to change your display name colour. This will allow your name to stand out in chat and game messages to highlight to everyone that you have helped to support the server.
Priority Access to the Server
Players who support the server will receive points that they can exchange for rewards. One of these rewards is to get access to the server while it is full for a period. Additional slots are reserved as a reward for players who regularly help to support the server, by regularly donating, voting and completing offers and surveys.
We are also considering allowing players to trade their reward points for minor gameplay bonuses, however this is up for discussion. Please feel free to debate the pro's and con's of each of these proposals.
The ability to transfer reward points to other players
This would allow non-donators another means to get access to points to exchange for rewards by offering their in-game resources and services in trade for them. It would also give donators some leverage to gain extra materials or services from other players in what would hopefully be a mutually beneficial arrangement. It would also open to the door to scamming, once points are transferred they cannot be transferred back, so it would generally be advisable to receive the in-game resources first, as those can be reclaimed by force, whereas points cannot.
Mend a broken heart once per Minecraft day
If you have lost hearts and have trouble regaining them, you could trade points for one heart of restored health. This would be strictly limited to avoid giving donators anything more than a minor bonus. You could not do this more than once per Minecraft day, it would be impossible to buy again for 20 minutes of time spent in-game. It would also not be possible to use in a combat situation as it would require a command to be typed and confirmed with a prompt.
Unlocking additional plots of land to build on
You could increase the total number of plots of claimed land that you could hold at once with a one-time purchase. The cost of this will start small but rise exponentially the more plots of land you wish to hold at once. This is a balancing measure to prevent donators from controlling vast sections of the game world. It is intended to allow you to make and protect additional builds after you have completed your first. Bear in mind that all plots of claimed land will be unclaimed on death, this merely allows you to hold more at once.
If you have any additional ideas please feel free to contribute them here, but bear in mind that not all ideas can be implemented for technical or balance reasons.
The plugins for the UHC world are well under-way now, however there is a more vital step that must be completed before launch. Our website is antiquated and obsolete and will need to be refurbished. I will be setting up a placeholder within the next few days and setting to work developing a new site, which will include:
A bit about Arcane Games
News and Events
Suggestions for development and feedback
A section for teams to get organised and recruit new members
A wiki for help and tutorials
A place to socialise with the community
Other projects by Arcane Games
The hope is to build a community ready for beta-testing in the next few weeks. If you would like to receive regular status updates, please follow this topic, and as always, please feel free to contribute your ideas and suggestions for development. We are committed to making the best server that we can, and your input now could have a huge impact on the direction that we take!
The placeholder website is now up. You can visit it at http://www.arcanegames.co.uk. Please register and send feedback if you have any problems. Over the next few days I will be adding content and at the weekend I will be customising the style and theme.
Very interesting concept, and I have been trying to imagine different ways in which the game - and different communities - would develop.
I can see things changing over time as players or communities become established and survive longer, getting more - and more advanced - resources etc.
One thing does cross my mind: if a band of people got established who had a generally evil or aggressive intent, then they could make it hard for any newcomers to gain a foothold, which would perhaps discourage new people from joining. I guess you would have to find ways to counteract this. Possibly through the safe zones, or possibly by giving newcomers immunity from PVP for a time.
Work is progressing on the website. We've updated it to use more modern responsive window resizing and added some content, and we will be updating the style and theme shortly. The next step will be to get back to work on the UHC mods which are already well under-way. We expect to have some sort of early beta-testing ready within the next few weeks.
After much consideration, I have also decided to reduce the death ban duration to 5 days. This should provide a great enough deterrant to suicide over working to heal and provide allies with an incentive to perform the resurrection ritual instead of waiting for the death ban to expire. To avoid putting off new players, however, within the first week the death ban duration will be much lower. Starting at only 5 minutes, and building up to an hour, a day, 3 days and finally the full 5-day duration at the end of the week.
Development of the plugins are still progressing. Including the basic UHC functionality, we also have friends list management, land claiming, and player skulls dropped on death. Next up we will be working on account functionality, security measures, anti-cheating plugins and paypal, superrewards and votifier plugins to reward players who help support the server.
If you would like to be involved in the design process, it is easier to make changes now than after the plugins are created, so please contribute to the discussion here.
I have been thinking about when and if claimed land should expire if players don't sign in. I can see a few pro's and con's of having it expire.
Prevents land getting cluttered with claimed plots belonging to players who are never coming back
Prevents players from inviting in a friend to claim an additional plot for them, set them as a friend and then leave forever. They'd have to be an active player or they lose the land eventually.
Prevents taking over someone's land by killing them and replacing the gold block and then leaving forever so they can never get it back. They have to be active and potentially getting killed/losing the land if they want to hold onto it.
It could leave players feeling pressured into signing in regularly even if they don't want to just so they can keep their land. This would be a shame as I want everyone on the server to WANT to be there.
So I had an idea that should hopefully balance things out and be fair and enjoyable for everyone. The claimed land expires based on how long you have held the land. The longer you have owned a claimed plot for, the longer you can hold onto it after signing out.
For instance, for every hour you spend in-game after claiming a plot, it is yours for an extra day since you last signed off (with a minimum of 1 day). For example, you could claim a plot and then play for 4 more hours before signing off. The land would still be yours when you sign back in just under 4 days later. You could then play another couple of hours before signing off, and then you'd only need to sign back in within 6 days, and so on.
If you have stayed alive a long time, played a total of 100 hours since claiming a plot, you could sign off for over 3 months and the plot will still be yours when you come back. I think this is fair since it rewards our long-term survivors with a more permanent plot, even if they want to take a break. On the other hand, the short-term cheats who just want to deprive someone of their plot, or give a friend an extra plot for free and then disappear, they would be forced to sign in regularly to hold onto it.
I can also make it so you would need to play for a minimum time, say 10 minutes, before the expiry time is updated. This would prevent players from simply joining to reset the timer and then leaving immediately.
It would also mean that new players can join the game, try it out, claim a plot and if they don't want to stay they can leave, the plot becomes unclaimed within a few days, and other's can move in. No problem with cluttering the land.
Lately I have been looking into storage techniques. There's a lot of data to store for a server of this scope, and it needs to be scale-able so that we can expand to allow more players. The flat file/YML approach has worked well for me so far, but it may not cut it if we have dozens of registered players, or even hundreds later, so I have been looking into databases. Fortunately, Bukkit comes with some handy database API methods so I will not be working from scratch.
We are still a few weeks away from beta-testing, but everyone who has messaged me or posted here so far will be getting an invite when the time comes. I don't know how many more spots will be available, but if you want to take part in the beta-testing please post here to let me know you are interested.
One issue that often plagues servers with a PvP element is combat logging. The action of intentionally logging out of the server when you are in the middle of combat in order to avoid dying. This is a more serious issue on this server as the penalties for dying are so high. Investigating every report of combat logging would be a waste of time that I would need for upgrading and maintaining the server, so I need an automated solution.
One possible solution would be to include a /logout command that starts a 20-second countdown. You have to wait, unmoving, for the 20-second duration before you are logged out safely. If you move it cancels the logout, allowing you to escape from a previously unseen danger before attempting to logout again.
If you disconnect without using the /logout command, you will be replaced with a mannequin of yourself for 20 seconds that carries all of your items, and anything that happens to that mannequin will be considered to have happened to you, up to and including death.
You would be immune to such restrictions if you are inside your claimed plot of land when you disconnect or /logout, allowing for claimed plots to be a safe haven and recommended place to "sleep".
The problem with this approach is that it cannot distinguish between a loss of internet connectivity and an intentional combat logout. This might seem unfair to those who have an issue with their internet dropping out unexpectedly, but you must understand that there is no perfect solution. The internet has always been a chaotic medium for gaming, you may experience lag or random failures anywhere on the route between your home and the server which could be in another part of the world.
However, since the penalties for dying are so high, I may be able to overturn a death-ban in cases where you die while in the 20-second logout period after a connection loss. I would not be able to return the lost items, and I may not always be able to respond quickly to a request as I have a lot of other responsibilities, but you would be free to contact me should this happen to you.
As always, this is not finalised and is up for discussion here. Please post your comments and opinions on this issue, as they will be taken into account when making our final design decisions.
Although I am taking a break for the holiday, we're intending to get something ready and playable for a beta in late January or early February. Thanks to all those who have offered their insights and encouragement. I will be in touch with anyone who has expressed an interest in the beta when the time comes.
Merry Christmas from Arcane Games, and Happy Minecrafting!
I am back now after the holidays and I have been working on the database for the UHC world. The in-built bukkit database implementation appears to be broken, and so does the SQLibrary plugin, so I had to build my own using JDBC, but now it is ready and working and should allow me to smoothly integrate a database into my server.
The next stage of development is to integrate the database to allow for persistence between server restarts. This should take a few days. After which point I will add in the last few features and begin alpha testing. As soon as the server is reasonably playable, I will be opening it up for beta participation on a white-list. If you want to participate in the beta, please post here or message me to express your interest, otherwise I won't know to contact you!
A lot of servers have a way to send offline messages. Usually this involves a few commands for reading, managing and sending mail, but for my servers I prefer to avoid commands wherever possible.
Instead, we will be using player-built mail boxes. These involve having 2 high blocks of red wool with a sign on the upper block with [mail] on it, anyone can build these anywhere and use them to send and receive mail.
Since Minecraft already contains a means for recording text, I figured why not use it? The "letters" that you send are in fact signed books. Simply title the book after the person you want to receive it, write the message inside and sign it and you can send it by right-clicking on the [mail] slot with it in your hand.
These letters can then be collected from any mail box on the server by the recipient by simply right-clicking on the [mail] slot of any mail box without a signed book in their hand. You will also receive a notification that there is mail for you when you sign in.
More development on the Combat Logging solution. Although it is technically possible to produce a mannequin of the player, this would require delving into the Minecraft server code and would require considerable maintenance every time a Minecraft update is released. To avoid these kinds of problems, we can alternatively spawn a zombie in place of the combat logging player, holding their items and wearing their armour.
The main issue with this is that the zombie will of course act like a zombie and attack any players nearby, so if you happen to be caving with a friend and their internet drops out suddenly, you could be faced with an armoured zombie which you cannot kill without killing your friend. So to avoid this, I will override their default targetting behaviour and turn them into a neutral mob. They will not attack anyone unless first attacked. Also, most other mobs won't target a zombie by default, but if one was already targetting the player they will transfer their target to the zombie and attack it. This way, it gives accidental disconnects a fighting chance and they are controlled by a defensive AI for a short time, but intentional combat logging is punished as its not likely a way out of a difficult situations.
I have good news to announce. Starting tomorrow, the Persistent UHC Universe will enter the alpha testing phase. The low-level design is complete and most of the code is ready. We are very close now to the start of beta-testing. If you wish to take part in our closed beta and you have not already expressed an interest, now is the time! The closed beta will be announced as soon server is stable enough for public testing.
During testing some balance issues were noticed. In an attempt to correct these the following changes have been made:
Claimed plots of land extends from sky to level 48 only, not to bedrock. This feature is intended only for protecting surface structures, not minerals underground.
If you die, you lose protection for only one plot of land at random instead of all of them. Neither you nor anyone else will know which of your claimed plots this is without visiting them (unless you have only one claimed plot). This is a bonus for players who help to support the server and unlock additional plots.
Introduced a Rank System for players:
The initial rank is Nomad. Nomads cannot settle down anywhere therefore they cannot store their items in chests, use a hoe, plant anything, claim land, nor are they allowed to engage in PvP or be injured by other players. However, nomads are only banned for 5 minutes on death. This is intended for new players only, remaining a Nomad for long will likely invite ridicule. You can level up if you manage to survive at least an hour and gather at least 64 coal and 32 iron, however levelling up is always optional.
The next rank is Settler. Settlers are allowed to settle down, they can make full use of chests and begin to farm and can be injured by players in PvP zones, but cannot injure other players, and they cannot claim land until reaching the next rank. Settlers are banned for one hour on death. In order to reach the next rank, a Settler must survive for at least 10 hours and gather at least 9 gold ore.
The third rank is Builder. Builders are allowed to claim plots of land and can engage in PvP, attacking and being hit, they also receive their first plot of land for free. Builders are banned for a full day on death. In order to reach the final rank, a Builder must survive for at least 100 hours and kill at least 100 hostile mobs (hitting a huge slime and causing it to divide counts as a kill, but killing smaller slimes does not).
The final rank is Hardcore. Hardcore players know what its all about. They are the elite, the best of the best, and risk all for fame and glory. Only Hardcore players can enter into the leaderboards for most mob kills, player kills and time survived in PvP zones. Hardcore players are banned for the full 5 day duration on death (but you're not going to die, right? ;-)).
Although Hardcore is the final rank, there are also requirements for another /LevelUp. Survive a staggering 1000 hours, kill a collosal 1000 hostile mobs, mine a monumental 640 coal, 320 iron and 90 gold and what happens next is a mystery...
I have done more testing and debugging, and come up with a few more balance fixes and improvements to gameplay. Some ideas I am kicking around at the moment:
Dead players become "Nether Shades" instead of being banned, haunting the nether, looking for kills to gain experience so they can resurrect quicker
Redesigned the ranking system to record more stats such as slaying different type of mobs, gathering more types of resources, and instead of time required for levelling, using instead the amount of experience you gain
Adding player health and rank to their list names, and rank to their display names
Unfortunately, money is tight right now so I am going to have to postpone the beta release until I have completed some other work, unless some generous person is willing to host it for me, or donates to help support the server. You can find donation info from my website Arcane Games, or PM me if you would like to host the server for me on a temporary basis. For everyone else, I will post an update here as soon as there is news.