Improbable Island Message of the Day (MoTD)

Hacking attempt, new Monthly Memento, computer problems, porn
Admin CavemanJoe2017-09-01 02:51:23
Hey, all. At about 11:00 UTC this morning, a script kiddy attempted to use a SQL injection in the Distractions system. The attempt was unsuccessful, but as a precaution, I took Distractions down for a bit while I hardened the system up a touch. Distractions are now back online and nothing has been compromised, but now is a good time to remind you to use proper password hygiene. When it comes to passwords, the only thing that makes them hard for a computer to guess is their length. Use a long phrase as your password, something like "Help me my spine is on fire" rather than "$p1n3," and try to avoid re-using passwords for multiple websites.

Anyway, it seemed like an appropriate new Monthly Memento would be the Hacker Balaclava, which lets you hack Improbable Island just like this guy, to gain a piffling amount of Req. You can use it as many times a day as you like, but with each use you become more likely to get caught and sent to the Failboat.

Speaking of awful computer fuckups, hey guys guess what I had an awful computer fuckup. In transitioning to a new operating system installation I used a backup program that didn't follow symlinks, and long story short the work I've done but not yet released on Improbable Island is gone. All I have left is what's live now. So if things seem slow around here, that's why.

In lighter news, my good friend Phoenix Baker (see previous MotD's) has once again asked for the kindness of the Island in... alright, some backstory: way back several years ago, Phoenix wrote some lesbian erotica and asked me to make the cover for it. Since then, I've thrown the Island at it every now and then, wanting Phoenix to be successful. Well, job done, the third (!!!) sequel to the story in question has been nominated for Literotica's best lesbian story of 2016. Those of you who are so inclined (and who are so so-inclined that they already have Literotica accounts) can vote for Phoenix's story "High Voltage Mittens" here. I'm sure Phoenix will be thrilled.

Have fun!

~CMJ

Official 2017 Commemorative Limited Edition FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES Bonus Monthly Memento
Admin CavemanJoe2017-08-06 16:37:51
I recently had to travel to the UK for a wedding (which we really couldn't afford in the first place), and American Airlines changed our return flight three times and shunted us from Manchester to Philadelphia to Washington DC before ultimately cancelling our flight, leaving us stranded in Washington with a one-year-old baby who'd been in airports for twenty hours, and our bags in Pittsburgh. American Airlines flat-out refused to offer compensation, lodging, food, a refund on the flight we'd paid for and not received, or even an apology. Completely out of baby food and nappies, we ultimately had to rent a car at one in the morning and drive all the way home to Pittsburgh. American Airlines not only failed to treat Emily, Minerva and I as paying customers - they treated us like a bitter enemy, despite our unfailing politeness while my hungry baby whimpered on my hip. This isn't even the whole story, there's a novel's worth of farce to go on, but for the sake of brevity, we had our money stolen from us and were treated like the scum of the earth.

Now, you too can enjoy this experience!

Because we had to put the rental car on the credit card, and because renting a car from an airport half an hour after the rental place was supposed to close will cost you about four hundred bucks (and they only had Mustangs and pickup trucks left), we're hurriedly trying to scrape some money together. If you donate twenty dollars in a single transaction this month, you'll receieve the Official 2017 Commemorative Limited Edition FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES Bonus Monthly Memento!

"But what does it do?" I hear you cry. Well, with a single click you too can experience the sort of service you'll receive from American Airlines. Namely, it tells you it's going to take you to New Pittsburgh, and then it dumps you in Squat Hole and tells you to go fuck yourself.

If that's not enough realism for you, the Official 2017 Commemorative Limited Edition FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES Bonus Monthly Memento: Turbo Champion Edition will do exactly the same thing as the Official 2017 Commemorative Limited Edition FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES Bonus Monthly Memento, but also includes a shitty, low-quality photo of me giving you the finger. The Official 2017 Commemorative Limited Edition FUCK AMERICAN AIRLINES Bonus Monthly Memento: Turbo Champion Edition is yours for a thirty-dollar donation.

American Airlines: Believe the hype, read the reviews, if they did this to me, then they'll do it to you.

Have fun! Also I'm gonna be fixing some long-established bugs this week, so fingers crossed.

~CMJ
Minor Kissing Booth change
Admin CavemanJoe2017-07-09 19:57:06
Hey, all. A minor change.

The old Kissing Booth in Common Ground (an ancient file that pre-dates Improbable Island) determines the gender of the person staffing the booth (the kissee) by checking against the player's gender and assigning a kissee of the opposite gender.

The new change simply assigns a character at random, so you can kiss (or not kiss) any of the characters available. The buffs and outcomes remain the same.

The kissee is generated randomly, for each player, individually, at each new day.

Have fun!

~CMJ

Seasonally-appropriate Monthly Memento!
Admin CavemanJoe2017-07-01 16:02:45
Hey, all! The new Monthly Memento for July is The Watcher's Swimsuit.

There was a glitch where the new Monthly Memento was briefly a shitty, non-working version of the Monthly Memento for last July, the Sparkler. That's because a year ago I accidentally typed monthly_memento_2017_07 instead of monthly_memento_2016_07, and then went "Hmm, that's gonna cause problems a year from now. Oh well, plenty of time to fix it between now and then, I'm sure I won't forget." And then I had a baby.

Have fun! Also if you're not aware that HyperTeleporters are a thing, check the previous MotD!

~CMJ
Hyper Teleporters now available in the Hunter's Lodge!
Admin CavemanJoe2017-06-30 03:58:19
Hyper Teleporters allow you to instantly teleport to any map square, regardless of whether there's a teleport beacon set up there already. Available now in the Hunter's Lodge. The larger multipacks are limited items, so grab 'em while you can!

Have fun! And join us on Mastodon, at https://mastodon.social/@improbableisland! We already use it more than Twitter!

~CMJ

A better World Map, and more stuff coming soon
Admin CavemanJoe2017-06-20 15:55:27
Hey, all! This weekend I coded up a new version of the World Map overview page (buy a World Map from the Comms Tent so you can see it). It loads MUCH faster than the old one!

Coming soon: better teleporters! Also, the last MotD was only a couple of days ago, so make sure you check that one too, because it's awesome.

Have fun!

~CMJ

Teleport Beacon costs slashed, also erroneous PayPal stuff
Admin CavemanJoe2017-06-18 02:46:46
Hey, all!

If a Place owner has a Teleport Beacon in one of his or her Rooms, then when a player uses a One-Shot Teleporter, they'll have the ability to teleport directly to that Room. When I built this system, they were intended to showcase the more awesome Places on the Island, giving players easier ways to get to them. Anyone who can be in the Room where the Teleport Beacon lives can donate cigarettes to fuel it, so it'd be a nice way to bring players together towards a common goal.

Unfortunately, they've not been as successful as I would like, because the costs were just way too damn high. It costs four cigarettes to run a Teleport Beacon for one game day. That's 24 cigarettes per real-world day. They ended up being a thing that would be used for special plot occasions, not a thing that would get any significant use.

So, as of today, I'm slashing the prices on Teleport Beacons, both to buy the beacon itself and to run it. Previously, a Teleport Beacon cost 200 Cigarettes and 50,000 Requisition - they now cost 100 Cigarettes and 20,000 Requisition. While before they cost 4 cigarettes per game day to run, they now cost one cigarette per three game days - a 92% cost reduction!

Hopefully this change will help put more awesome Places in the spotlight.

In other news, if you've noticed that the funddrive page is showing up at newday and claiming we're skint even though the donations bar is blue and therefore claiming that we're rolling in dough, that's because since the server move, some donations got logged twice (or even thrice) by the game. Nobody had their money go missing - rather, some people got too many points. I've corrected the overall bookkeeping, but figured I'd leave the donations bar blue because it's nice for it to be blue. If you're one of the (many) people who had their donations logged twice, don't worry - you can keep your extra Supporter Points.

Sometimes the donations bar and the funding status page won't agree for other reasons - for example, sometimes people add extra zeroes to their donation amounts and then realize what they've done after the transaction has already gone through, and message me saying "Oh shit I can't pay my rent." In those cases I just refund their cash, but it does leave the donations bar erroneously high. The funding status page is the best indicator of the Island's overall financial stability, the bar's just for fun and extra Stamina and such.

Have fun!

~CMJ

Shiny fancy fast new server, spinny chairs
Admin CavemanJoe2017-06-07 00:54:06
Hey, all. The server move was a more-or-less success, with a couple of bumps along the way - do please submit a problem report if you encounter any more bumps, and I'll hasten to smooth them out. A couple of new features have been introduced following the move, but they're fairly minor performance and stability upgrades - first, I've improved error handling, so I now get better information when something goes wrong (which has already helped me track down the root cause of some ancient bugs), and second, I've written the new Midnight feature. Previously, around new days the game would be slow as hell for ten minutes or so while it kicked people out of beds, recalculated eBoy's prices, handled the Titans and so on, and around the once-daily maintenance newday at 8am UTC, the server would be slow as hell for about half an hour as it did all that plus expiring old content, backing up and defragging the database, all that boring stuff.

The idea behind the new midnight system was to replace a long period of lagginess with a short period of complete unavailability. I designed the system to kick everyone off the game at newday, so that the game could crunch its database and do what it needed to do without people pestering it, to try to get the outage down to maybe five minutes instead of ten. It didn't quite work out how I expected; instead of five minutes, it was more like eighteen seconds. So that's nice!

It's been a really rough couple of weeks, with a lot of long-ass days. Occasionally Emily will bring Nerv upstairs to see me, and I'll sit her on my lap in my spinny office chair and play Rotate The Nerv. Since that's all she ever sees me do up here, her ten-month-old brain must logically assume that that's all I do - I go upstairs and spin around in my chair for eighteen hours.

I'll be spinning my chair for y'all some more over the coming weeks, adding new features as I fix what went screwy during the move.

Have fun!

~CMJ

Server Migration
Admin CavemanJoe2017-05-20 16:57:25
Hello Islanders! We've been on the same dedicated server since late 2009, and we've thoroughly outgrown it. This weekend we'll be packing our bags, saying a final tearful farewell, promising to write, and moving to a fancy new machine ten feet down the hall.

I'll be performing the changeover on Saturday morning EDT, the 27th of May, a week from today. Due to timezone differences, the changeover will probably begin mid-afternoon UTC. Throughout the process, the Island and the Enquirer will be down.

You can get updates on the process by following our Mastodon account at https://mastodon.social/@ImprobableIsland. If there's important news, it'll get crossposted to our Twitter account at https://twitter.com/improbableislnd, or our Facebook page. After the move is complete, we'll no longer be using our Twitter account.

(I mean, I know we already don't use it. We'll just be making it official.)

It'll take all afternoon to transfer player data to the new machine. Improbable Island's database weighs 1.6 gigabytes.

Now, I know we're all used to massive files by now, what with the video and music and pictures and bells and whistles of the modern digital age. A film on DVD is like nine gigs, you might look at 1.6 gigs and think "yeah, big deal" - but we're talking 1.6 gigabytes of plain text, here. Places descriptions, chat, Distractions, Mementos, bios, that sort of thing. Yes, there's some overhead in prerendered output, item definitions and what-have-you, but the lion's share is stuff that you lot have typed out.

Between the lot of you, you've written the equivalent of about a thousand copies of The Fellowship Of The Ring - and that's not counting anything in the Enquirer!

So, it's going to take a little while to re-establish the database, put each sentence or paragraph or novel into its proper slot, and instruct the new electric pixies where to find it and whatnot. I've done a couple of dry runs and it usually takes a couple of hours. We'll bring the game back online first, and work on the Enquirer after it becomes clear that nothing broke when we transferred the game.

After the move is complete, DNS servers will need to cache Improbable Island's new IP address before requests to improbableisland.com get routed to the new server. In theory this can take up to three days, but in practice it's usually a couple of hours depending on your ISP.

When we're back, we'll be faster than ever, and we'll be serving pages over HTTPS for extra security.

Thanks for your patience throughout this whole process. By the way, Nerv is now crawling and saying dada. Don't worry, I'll keep her away from the dev machine.

~CMJ

New Monthly Memento, and a cool gaming thing (EDIT: and making mobile suck less)
Admin CavemanJoe2017-05-04 19:52:05
Hey, all! The new Monthly Memento is the RABBIT, and you can either eat it (which would be an unsatisfying thing to do with ten bucks) or you can... do something else with it, which will require co-operation.

Also, a dear friend of mine has a game in an anthology that's being Kickstarted right now; he's an excellent RPG designer and I encourage you to check out this anthology and his indie RPG website.

Have fun!

~CMJ

EDIT since I don't wanna make a new MotD and bump Nick's kickstarter from the top:

Trying to play Improbable Island on mobile has always been a miserable experience. I'm now taking steps to try to make it less miserable. Such steps include floating links at the bottom of each page to your navs and stats, and automatically stacking chatrooms so as to not fuck the layout. If you're using a mobile browser and it looks weird and/or screwy, please clear your cache. Further improvements to come!

~CMJ

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