The Starmourn Blog

Call for Volunteers

By Neritus | January 10, 2023 |
Argus, Marra, and Neritus watching the inbox for apps

Hello Sector!

Welcome to our Call for Volunteers! If you’re interested in contributing to Starmourn’s development, read on!

The volunteer team has been an essential part of what keeps Starmourn going strong. I myself started as a Storyteller and then a volunteer Coder back in 2021 and was instantly hooked to all the great initiatives I discovered were going on.

This time around, we are asking for applications for THREE different roles: Worldbuilders, Storytellers, and Coders. 

Applications should be sent to neritus@starmourn.com and should include a short writeup of why you’d like to join the team and any information you deem pertinent. Additionally, include which role you’re applying for as well as any additional role-specific information requested in the points below! The deadline for submitting applications is 0:00 UTC Monday, January 23th.

Worldbuilders

Worldbuilders contribute to the game largely via creative writing. Projects Worldbuilders have worked on in the past include writing room descriptions and writing time messages for all the celestial bodies. Worldbuilders conduct their work on their main character via a BUILDERBOARD syntax, where we place bounties for build projects and Worldbuilders receive credits when jobs are completed.

If you’d like to be a volunteer but aren’t sure where to start, Worldbuilding is a great choice. It does not come with the learning curve involved in being a Storyteller or a Coder, but you still get to make valuable contributions to the game!

Worldbuilders will also have a hand in helping us get Archaeology out the door!

To be a Worldbuilder, you should:

  • Have the follow-through to see a task to completion once you take it on.
  • Have strong creative writing skills
  • Include in your application 1 sample room description for an area of your choosing, and the #1 thing you’d like to see added to or expanded on in the game.

Storytellers

Storytellers contribute to the game in a large variety of ways including creating new mobs, items, quests, and areas as well as facilitating player RP, whether it be in admin-run events, the REQUEST system, or other ad hoc interactions. Storytellers also have a larger variety of jobs they can access via BUILDERBOARD syntax, and also can earn credits this way.

Unlike Worldbuilders, Storytellers receive an admin account which they log into the game through. Storytellers are also a public-facing role, which comes with added responsibilities and expectations around conduct and level-headedness.

To be a Storyteller, you should:

  • Be able to keep a level head at all times.
  • Have strong collaboration skills and play nice with others, be they admin or players.
  • Have strong creative writing skills and a willingness to take on a learning curve with all the creation syntax and with our object/NPC interaction pseudo-code, progging.
  • Have the follow-through to see a task to completion once you take it on, and even more follow-through to monitor your additions for bugs, feedback, or other issues players may encounter.
  • Include in your application 1 sample room description, 1 sample NPC description, an idea for the flow of 1 new quest in an existing area, and the #1 thing you’d like to see added to or expanded on in the game!
  • Be willing to sign an NDA.

Coders

Coders contribute directly to the source code of the game. The first months of your work as a volunteer Coder would usually involve fixing bugs or adding quality of life/accessibility changes as you familiarize yourself with the game’s codebase. As you grow in confidence, there’s really no end to what you could achieve.

Coders can have a variable level of public-facingness depending on how you want to work, and what you want to work on.

To be a Coder, you should:

  • Have experience with at least 1 programming language. If you write packages for your MUD client and know your way around a for loop, this is usually a sufficient entrypoint. Everything else is learnable.
  • Have or be willing to set up a Linux environment, either via a standard distro or through WSL, for compiling and testing changes to game code locally. If this sounds scary to you, just know that I’d be here to help.
  • Have experience or a willingness to learn working with git.
  • Be able to keep a level head at all times.
  • Have strong collaboration skills and play nice with others, be they admin or players.
  • Have the follow-through to see a task to completion once you take it on, and even more follow-through to monitor your additions for bugs, feedback, or other issues players may encounter.
  • Be willing to sign an NDA.
  • Include in your application some information about your coding experience and the #1 thing you’d like to see added to or expanded on in the game!

That’s it, that’s all! We hope to be reading your application soon!

Regards,

The Starmourn Team

Terminal Memory – Chapter One

By Argus | January 8, 2023 |

Hey spacers, it’s me, Argus.

I’m so so so excited to announce the first chapter of an ongoing project of mine – The first proper Hack Dungeon / extended quest in Starmourn revolving entirely around hacking! This was the first project I pitched to Eukelade when I joined the ST team, and it breaks a whole lot of convention.

Starting yesterday, a little earlier than expected, the hack dungeon went live and ~20 people have already C O M P L E T E D chapter 1! Thank you all for really exploring this project – I hope you’re having loads of fun.


For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to check it out yet –
Your mission is this:

Find the terminals, hack them, and report back to a mysterious scientist with your findings. I’m sure you’ll find these terminals have been much more active than appearances would lead you to believe.

For now, you can get right into the action by heading to the Coriolis Mountains and picking up the quest. We’ll even give you a clue – Head right to ‘Sim address v5697. Don’t forget to mind your steps around the Windmill Drones!


Just a lil’ quadruped, a figment of terminal dreams. Maybe you’ll meet one soon?
– Created through AI art, woahhh

The team and I have done a lot of testing on this in my little workshop, but it’s 1000% possible there will be bugs out in the wild, much like the one that totally broke it at first! Please report any issues or breaks you notice so we can fix ’em up.

I hope you have a wonderful time exploring it and drawing all sorts of conclusions from this first chapter. If y’all like it, there’s certainly more to say, show, and do!

Paws pit-patting with nerves and excitement,

Argus

It’s Story Time: A Glance Forward To 2023

By Argus | January 4, 2023 |

Hey everyone! Marra and I wanted to follow up with some of the Storyteller Team’s projects and goals for the coming year, in addition to helping with all the building work required for the Conflict Rework. (See Neritus’ Devblog Post)

We hope you’re as excited as we are to dive in!

A photo of the most colorful doorway ever – Perhaps the doorway to the future? OOoooOOooh.
Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

Our Focus This Year

First and foremost, we have been organizing a project we’re calling variably Project Homeworld, Project Homework, Project Homewerkld, or Project HomeYaBetterWERK. We’ll decide on a name eventually. The purpose of this project is to inject more life into the racial homeworlds: more points of interest, quests, NPC interactions, racial lore, and just generally transforming these areas into a truly immersive experience.

This is a slow-burn project that will be ongoing for quite awhile and we plan to bring in you, the players, for many of the key steps along the way. We may form focus groups, showcase areas and plans through OOC tours, create a free-form discussion in one of the Discord round tables, or reach out directly for players actively engaged in RP in our areas. Thank you in advance for your feedback and suggestions as we work through this massive project.

Some stretch goals outside of the lore build-out will be creating another new area from the original Player Design Contest, creating more functionality and payoff for engaging with in-game organizations, adding more fun to hacking, and maybe even adding another round of polish on Paperweight and the Belaul. There’s no precise timeline for any of this, but we are so excited to dive in!

(Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how many spreadsheets we’ve compiled.)

For the first 2023 project reveal and your opportunity to meet a new NPC hackin-sleuth, make sure you’re logged in this weekend beginning at the sync into Jan 7th, 2022.

Events and Roleplaying

Next, thanks to the REQUEST system, it’s going to be much easier this year for Storytellers to assist players with their events or personal plots! Storytellers in 2023 will remain untethered to particular factions, and instead we’ll be discussing among ourselves who would like to take on what Requests to help facilitate player RP on a case-by-case basis based on our individual strengths and interests.

Please be patient with us and understand our team may be mighty, but we are also very smol. While we can’t promise we’ll be able to do everything you’d like, we will communicate as clearly and consistently with you as possible and we are so excited to see what you all come up with!

Discord Round Tables

We also plan to bring back our Discord voice chats this year, hopefully at least once every quarter. We will post both the recording and transcript after the conversation so everyone can access it.

Rather than focusing on particular themes like before, we’d like to have these as “Community Roundtables,” just a general venue for us to have a chat about everything that’s going on at the time.

Join The Team!

The Storytelling team has come together with as much passion, energy, organization, and creativity as we can muster, and we hope you see that coming through in these updates! If you’d like to sign up and experience it for yourself, we will be putting out a call for volunteers in the next couple of weeks.

Future Worldbuilders, Storytellers, and Coders, we want to hear from you!

Always forward –

Combat stars, hacking gurus, star-laden performers, pet collectors, titans of industry, asteroid destroyers, Ishvana simps, chefs and bakers – All of you have had a profound impact on the world of Starmourn, and we’re so glad you’re along for the ride. We’re really looking forward to fleshing out this sector of ours in 2023 and making it a fuller, more engaging place.

With a snazzy spin and tiny paws a-tappin,
Marra, Argus, and the ST Team <3

The year ahead: 2023

By Neritus | January 4, 2023 |
This post is confidential and intended for your eyes or ears only.

Welcome to 2023, everyone! It’s going to be a busy year in Starmourn. Keep reading for a sneak peek at what’s in store! Argus and Marra are collaborating on a separate post about the Storyteller side of things this year, so the focus of this devblog is going to be on efforts around the Conflict Rework, as well as a little section at the end about what’s coming after the rework. As always, we love hearing your feedback, and now is a great time to get it in on the high-level changes, so do let us know what you think!

The State of the Conflict Rework

It’s time to spill some details. We won’t be sharing every last bit, but you’ll finally get a full outline of the main changes coming to Starmourn’s conflict systems. Over the coming months you’ll see more and more additions to the game intended as a lead-up to the final product, which we’re hoping will land in April or sometime Q2 2023. We do want to clarify, however, that developing a game as large as Starmourn can be unpredictable, with priorities often shifting in the day-to-day. As a result, the release date for the final product may be later.

Our main design goals for the Conflict Rework are to:

  1. Craft an immersive, in-lore rationale for conflict which is optimistic, not adversarial;
  2. Allow all faction members, no matter their playstyle, to contribute in a meaningful, mechanical way;
  3. Create a ramping set of content which can help factions introduce new players gradually to different aspects of factional conflict;
  4. Create impactful moments that steer PvP players towards real fights at reliable times; no more empty caches or cosmpiercers;
  5. Add a cyclical, “seasonal” aspect to faction conflict, punctuated with big events.

What does that all mean? Let’s break each point down.

For the Greater Good

A mounting threat.

Creating an immersive, in-lore raison d’etre for conflict is something the other IRE games do quite well, and something we wanted to create here. Currently, it’s not entirely clear why factions should care about conflict, other than the cool Cosmpiercer abilities they get. Starmourn handles factions differently from other IREs, however, and it is one of Starmourn’s greatest strengths. We don’t have good or evil, life or undeath, etc. Each faction allows for a great diversity of possible moralities and motives among its individuals.

As you’ve seen with Vihana Facilities, the Ishvana threat is on the rise. And the Ishvana threat will continue to rise as it takes its rightful place as the Big Bad. In the conflict rework, factions fight each other to stay sharp and organized, they culturally compete with one another to invigorate the Sector with beauty and insight, all for the greater good: the defense of the Starmourn Sector against a soulless, driven assimilator. Whether you play a hero or a villain, your character will probably agree that the entire Sector getting assimilated is undesirable (well, unless you happen to be a certain player character who thinks that’s a good thing).

Orchestrating the whole process will be a new NPC coalition organization affiliated in part with the DDC. But that’s enough spoilers on that subject.

Conflict for all

Your future is in ruins.

A major pain point of the current conflict system is that it leaves a large portion of the playerbase in the dust. Frequently, players who aren’t interested in PvP feel mechanically compelled to put themselves in harm’s way, creating negative play experiences.

In the Conflict Rework, factions will have a Cultural Score. This score has 3 main categories, each contributing to the overall score: Commerce (for designers and shopkeepers), Museums (for archaeologists, curators, and researchers), and Influence (a catch-all category which will include performance and questing).

Of these three categories, updates to shops and designs required for Commerce Score are coming soonest, likely in January or February. Museums and Archaeology, on the other hand, will be the largest expansion to Starmourn’s lore since release and includes a system for performing free-form RP research sessions on fossils and specimens from across the Starmourn Sector. Coding work on this has been completed for some months, and building work continues at a steady pace. The estimated arrival date for this system is in March, and we’re incredibly excited to share more details about it closer to then. Just do note that these timelines are subject to change, especially with Archaeology, a system which requires a ton of writing and attention to detail as we expand out the game’s lore via prehistoric material cultures and ecologies.

Another thing to note is that vouchers and the powers they facilitate will no longer be tied to Ta-deth crystal deposits. Faction leaders will instead be able to define voucher allowances to faction positions, ranks, or individuals, with vouchers withdrawing energy from the faction’s built-up energy reserves. This will allow players, not mechanics, to decide how to compensate faction members for their contributions.

A big shout out to the Starmourn Cultural Conversation for batting things back and forth on the subject of Cultural Score!

… Oh and we have something especially for hackers, but we can’t talk about it yet.

Ramping Content

Is this a picture of a ramp? Idk.

We wanted to make it smoother for factions to introduce newer, interested players to conflict systems gradually by creating more PvE content designed for groups. This is where the idea for Vihana Facilities began, and since their release we’ve been seeing players band together to enjoy this fresh content, and we’ve even seen a ton of players landing their class instakills for their very first time. While we do have our share of lone wolves and that is a valid playstyle, MUDs as a game medium excel in particular at creating a highly social gaming experience, so we’re big supporters of facilitating group content such as factional conflict.

To go with this, and to go with the lore of it all (the first point), we will be reintroducing mobs to Ishvana Cosmpiercers, and we will be making the Ishvana’s “blitz invasions” defensible. Factions will receive a notification that their Cosmpiercer will be assaulted by the Ishvana, and they have one RL day to get their troops together, with a command to trigger the assault. If, after 24 hours, factions have not manually triggered the assault, the assault will begin automatically. The timing of assaults will also be predictable: it will be on the day exactly 2 weeks ahead of when it was captured.

Factions will thus set out to claim and defend their Cosmpiercers, battling Vihana and Overseers, but now without the help of Surges, without Affixes on the mobs, with a space combat phase against Ishvana ships, and with those scary red Ishvana hacking terminals.

We imagine Ishvana Cosmpiercers to be a PvE-only experience which would allow factions to train up their troops, familiarizing them with what it means to work as a group. This would mean that Cosmpiercer PvP would be restricted to invading the Cosmpiercers of other factions. We feel that the changes in the point below should facilitate plenty of PvP, and feel that this would not claim space away from PvP content. And if someone decides somewhere along this journey that they’re more interested in the PvE aspects, they can stop wherever they’d like along the content ramp and still contribute meaningfully to their faction.

Funneling PvP flashpoints

A game of strategy and preparedness

We have a huge laundry list of changes coming to Caches, Cosmpiercers, Crystals, and Energy, and we can’t talk about them all yet. One of the major design challenges we face in Starmourn is making systems that will scale up and down based on variable game population counts and remain fun regardless.

Cosmpiercers were originally designed with Achaea-levels of population in mind, and the resulting experience for a lower population creates a negative feedback loop. Caches and the crystals they contain, too, are extremely diluted for our current population, leading to the case where factions are able to maintain their crystal stores by casually harvesting crystals alone in otherwise empty caches. Thus, the mission was to devise a system that would work to funnel PvP players into conflict with one another at low or high population counts.

We are attempting to achieve this through a large variety of means, but a short list of main points includes: A reduction in the total number of Cosmpiercers; adjustments to the Energy Generation formula; fewer Caches at discoverable, scheduled times; reworking Cosmpiercer vulnerabilities and cache times to dynamically schedule based on measured population peaks and offpeaks, with some built-in assurances that we’re hitting all the main timezone peaks in the weekly aggregate; Rich Caches containing an abundance of crystals every 6 days for bigger, reliable group PvP moments; and tighter controls on the number of crystals seeded into the game compared to the number of crystals removed.

A big shout out to the Starmourn Combat Council for all their help on these subjects over the last year!

The Big Wheel Keeps on Turning

The clock is ticking.

We want to introduce “Seasons” (temporary name) to conflict, which will last 4 RL months. Most modern games with a competitive aspect have gone this route, and for good reason. It’s just a great way to get people who may have dropped off in previous months to return for a clean slate, and for developers they’re a great way to keep organized on delivering fresh content regularly.

Seasons will be punctuated by two big events:

Event #1: Invasion Day takes place on Day 1 of a new season, where the Ishvana launches indefensible invasions which reclaim all the Cosmpiercers, energy and crystal reserves deplete, scores are wiped, and maybe some other scary things down the line depending on how all the factions cumulatively performed in the previous season.

Event #2: An “Olympics” style event, in-lore explanation to follow, would occur approximately half-way into a season. This is a chance for us to run all sorts of contests of wits, brawn, luck, and skill, something we can improve on every iteration, and something that we hope will bring players back for a truly momentous week-long event. Credit where credit’s due: the idea for this was originally inspired by a forum post of Lilias’. We do want to get a larger-scope contest into these games, such as the one described in the post, but for now the focus is on delivering a larger number of smaller contests covering a diversity of playstyles.

The winner of a season is determined by an equal weight of A) Cultural Score, B) Cosmpiercer Score (a measure of how long factions have held Cosmpiercers, with more points for higher ranked ones), and C) their performance in the “Olympics” style event. Rewards for winning a season will most likely be cosmetic/bragging rights only. We certainly do not want any mechanical rewards which might, even in a very slight way, allow one season’s victory to snowball into a victory for the next season. But we do have some ideas for unrelated mechanical rewards as time goes on and we iterate through the seasons.

What’s next?

After the Conflict Rework is at last delivered, we want to spend the rest of 2023 in a more open development phase where we have time and flexibility to accomplish a large laundry list of changes to existing systems, and make a dedicated push towards closing out as many bugs and quality of life ideas as possible. If something is a roadblock to us leaving Beta, or if a quality of life improvement would go a long way to making systems more accessible or polished, we want to deal with it during this phase. This also entails fixing and completing the Main Quest and giving our Newbie Experience a much-needed facelift.

That’s it for now! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Keep your eyes peeled for another post which will cover the Storyteller Focus for the year ahead! See you in the Starmourn Sector!

Year In Review: 2022

By Argus | December 29, 2022 |

Whew, what a year… Yeah okay, That’s it – See you in 2023.

Nah, I kid. Welcome to the Year in Review for Starmourn 2022! We’ve made some pretty incredible strides this year, so many that it’s almost hard to keep track. Below you’ll find a summary of new systems, major events, and noteworthy player RP that’s taken place over the past 12 months in addition to tons of bug smashing, rebalancing, skill updates, and all that behind the scenes stuff that’s taken place.

To quote Shulamit for a moment – “Hoo!”

Let’s dive in!

January

Looks like Wysiwyg is ready to take Syzygy on another heist.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash (Mask by Me)

Introducing: Shipmodding

2023 kicked off with a huge expansion to ships: Shipmodding! An awesome follow up to the new armor and weaponmodding systems, Shipmodding has made ships truly customizable to the taste of their pilots and opened the doors for some groundbreaking ship concepts!

Market Overhaul

The market for buying and selling commodities received a major facelift, making it easier to use, with the additional benefit of allowing organizations to buy and sell on the market, too!

Syzygy’s Heist on the Citadel

Syzygy and the smartly masked Wysiwyg led Zoe and Akiko through Litharge in search of a legendary flower known as the Bleeding Angelheart. Along the way they broke into the Citadel and unearthed a long-lost romance dating back to the Angel’s Rebellion!

Who knew a hand drawn map and a dream could take someone so far, and where might their next adventure lead?

February

Rair’s ready to hit the Hangar – You in?
Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash

Reynolds Hangar-On-Bar

We saw the Scatterhome “create-a-bar” player design contest delivered to completion with Foxxi the (former) trophy-hunting pilot, Rilimililx the party girl plug, and some pretty serious OSHA violations in the interactive furniture.

AI PVP Arena Combat

AI PVP Bots were introduced as combatants in the arenas to allow players the chance to practice against a variety of difficulty levels in every available class. Now you can enjoy the suffering of a painful Shrapnel Ripper Forcefeed from a bot instead of your good friends! Is that better? Maybe.

In all seriousness, the roll out of this system makes PVP more accessible for all players by giving them 24/7 access to practice combat against any class of their choosing. Go get ’em!

New Incursion Difficulty

Just like the AI bots above, ships received the same treatment as we launched a new incursion difficulty: Fleet Incursions. These were the first incarnation of ships that used real weapons and modules, much like a player would! NPCs with missiles, lasers, and turrets, oh my!

March

Steve must be on a sleuthing mission through the sector’s underbelly.
Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash

Spacemap for Screenreader

We introduced a version of the spacemap which allows screenreader users to easily implement binaural perception client-side. We’re very excited to push this even further in the future and continue improving Starmourn’s accessibility for all players.

Space Trucking and Piracy Overhaul

Arggg matey! We introduced cargo contracts, an automated method of shipping commodities across space. Along the way, we introduced cargo ships, pirates, and the anti-piracy wardens, with each of the three niches having both NPC and player incarnations!

Space sectors now have piracy ratings according to the level of activity therein, so it’s up to the players to either keep their space spicy or to help thwart the pirate threats.

Introducing: Paperweight

Introducing Nyx’s player-designed area: Paperweight! This zone is home to a host of new lore including the Twice Departed Jin of the Li’Gon and a new race of beings known as the Belaul. It also serves as the introduction to several new mechanics including: time messages, mobs that have unique behaviors based on time, weather effects, and the first instance of fishing in Starmourn.

It doesn’t end here, though – More updates to Paperweight are in the works, along with the opportunity for us to work on additional entries from that contest. Stay tuned!

Weather Effects & Time Messages

We started working with our worldbuilders to add an extra layer of depth to each planet, with custom and immersive messages for the passing of time. This is no small undertaking, but the end result is very much worth the wait.

Spend some time on Artia, Benu Wen, Bodean, Delphi, Haven, Hororeon, Imdali, Inkke IV, Ishbi, Marle, Nadru, Selubir, Suiko, and Usum Usutti and let us know what you think! (Space pub crawl when?)

April

Zarrach’s rage leveling up as the CA Immortals try yet again to grant him a newbie pack.
Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

Pathfinder Improvements

We updated our in-game pathfinder to the modern age, allowing players to move globally through the interlinked network of stations and even to named NPCs easily!

The Month of Lucent

April saw the introduction of Lucent TV and Lucent promo vouchers which allow players to submit their own advertisements. Lucent RadioWavez was also released and has become a staple for all the trending music around the sector by playing beloved hits like:

Barth Muckles – We Wish You A Relatively Minor Existentialistic Dread-mas (Voidwave)
and
Voidwitch – I Hate Winterflame (Nanorock)

The Starmourn Cultural Conversation (THE SCC)

Player feedback is a huge part of what drives Starmourn forward. In order to proactively engage our playerbase in ongoing development work, we founded the SCC – An organization of active players who are invited to review plans for future systems and help shape the path forward.

May

Ships away! Holgorath is off to collect as much iriil as he can carry.
Photo by Vishal Bansal on Unsplash

The Industrial Revolution -> Structures, Refineries, Auto-factories

May saw the introduction of the game’s very first buildable space structures along with a complete overhaul to manufacturing. This included a rewrite of autofactories, refineries, and Offices, which can be used with cargo contracts to create a fully automated supply chain transforming your raw materials into finished goods!

The Floating Market of 967 A.E.

Hatti Stasny, Ikki Nekil, Heot Mnpa-cero, Gerhart Algar, Kino Nakada, Fanuihil, and a feracht named Muff’n came together to compile the greatest, and sometimes strangest, traveling market in the sector. This market is a recurring event and boasts a wide, ever-changing variety of NPC shops and player owned stalls. Keep your eyes to the News for the next installment, or read NEWS ANNOUNCE 394 for more info!

June

Live action shots captured by the Worldbuilders of new life from around the sector!
Photo by Kat_ G on Unsplash

PROJECTS System for Players and Admin

The PROJECTS system is introduced for both players, player orgs, and admin to serve as a collaborative task management tool. Now our admin team along with all Factions, Dynasties, and Clans can coordinate more efficiently in-game to tackle their projects. Argus’ paws have never pit-pat so rapidly.

Creatures in the (Wiki)Bank

One special worldbuilder completed the enormous task of adding 242, that’s TWO HUNDRED FORTY TWO, new creature pages to the Wiki. A round of applause for the mountain of effort put into making lore accessible to everyone. If you notice something missing from the wiki, reach out to the admin team to see about getting it added!

July

Come relax on the pristine shores of Pleasure Beach!
(Just ignore the trash smell from Dregend Across the Way)
Photo by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash

Glittering Shores and Pleasure Beach

A love-letter to the Celestine Ascendancy from Damiel, the Glittering Shores (and Dreg End Beach, its stinky cousin) were unveiled with a party, an abduction, and a raffle, introducing us to the white sands and hunky lifeguards of the Shores, the idyllic Arcadeway boardwalk and its luxe condos, and the junk dune demesne of Oskra (not Oscar!) Graach and their ongoing rivalry with the trash crabs.

The Work Begins – The Conflict Rework

A lot of time, effort, and collaboration went into crafting a vision for the Conflict Rework, and then we got to work on the backend. Shout out to Neritus for crushing these system roll outs, and shout out to all of you for all of your feedback along the way! You’ve been there with us for the brainstorming, the trial runs, the bug squashing, and more, and we’re so grateful for each and every one of you.

August

A Bushraki hunter, making you jealous with all their cool bodymods.
Photo by Judeus Samson on Unsplash

Nexus 3.0 Goes Live

Nexus 3.0 was rolled out in August with a new mobile-friendly version and improved functionality! This has potential to be a truly cross-platform MUD client, even compatible with tablets. Be sure to report any bugs appropriately so the IRE dev team can continue to roll out improvements for this system.

Learn more at:  https://nexus.ironrealms.com/Nexus_3.0

September

Thanks to contributions from Clover and the rest of GCEPS, this Gorepup now has a home in the Litharge Pet Shop.
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Team Changes

Marra enters the chat.

A wordsmith like none other, Marra has been absolutely crucial to outlining new lore structures and creating engaging spaces around the sector. They’re also responsible for the absolutely horrifying rooms within our Vihana Facilities and the secret sluggy friend sometimes found therein. We’re glad you’re here, Marra, you sick genius!

CA Pet Shop Renovation

Part of Clover’s long-running player RP, the Pet shop in Litharge received a significant face-lift, including two new attendants, an updated list of wares, and the opportunity to train your pets. Who knows what upgrades they might get next through additional player RP?

October

The pikato you left behind in Rapa’rak hall as you ran away, screaming for your life. (Presumably)
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Scare The Storytellers!

An annual occurrence, Scare the Storytellers rolled out in October with the opportunity for players to submit their darkest dreams and figments for the chance to see those stories make an appearance in SM lore for years to come. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Asteyr – “The Cabal/Katsyi, Lost to the Depths.”, for scaring the pants off us!

In case you aren’t sure how these entries are used, check out the next October highlight –

Rapa’rak Hall and the Rapadruk Ball

The Rapa’rak Hall Terror Experience rolled out this year with the opportunity for questers, PVE-ers, and puzzlers to fight their fears and earn a nifty sticker! Each of the rooms in this area were all inspired by past player submissions to the Scare the Storytellers contest and will continue to be updated each year.

The Rapadruk Ball tool place in the Rapa’rak Hall Ballroom with a costume contest, special refreshments, and a slew of fun RP through the brothers grim, Nizu and Zugub Drukula.

Song Government Building: The Subrosa Palace

We saw the long-awaited unveiling of the Subrosa Palace, the Jewel of the Song atop its picturesque skyline, sporting wings for cultural and governmental affairs, and the Cabinet Hall for the highest echelon of Dominion officials to conduct their business.

November

Fantom has been hard at work making each of their escapees more terrifying and dangerous than the last.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

RP Request System

We’ve added some clarity to the process of requesting assistance with RP events, player RP arcs, and RP related improvements to orgs, areas, and factions – The REQUEST system! All players now have the ability to submit requests directly to the admin team who can then review, assign costs as applicable, and coordinate within our team. We are all very much looking forward to what our players will come up with!

Xenomob Reign of Terror

Xenomobs gained a TON of new affixes, 36 to be precise, and we added an additional difficulty tier to Xenos: Omegas. These changes brought the challenge of Xenoslaying to new heights.

Functional Aetherscapes Added

What’s something that brings the Shen almost as much joy as their fermented vuu honey? Aetherscapes! These are immersive soundscapes that, while not always pleasant, challenge the senses for even the most discerning Shen. Explore the Tower of Ghi in Janilyn and you might discover one of these anechoic chambers, already primed with several player-submitted performances for you to enjoy.

December

Someone’s snowaul got completely ambushed in the arena. Bet that present’s not getting delivered.
Photo by Zauberin on Pixabay

Winterflame, Ironbeard, and GIANT GIFTS

Winterflame kicked off in December as usual with Ironbeard and his gifts making rounds across the Sector. This year, however, players had the opportunity to receive or purchase a GIANT RAINBOW GIFT which works much like the rainbow tesseracts. Nothing says Winterflame like sharing good will, right?

Snowball Arena Fights

No, screw good will. The real winner this year was SNOWBALL ARENA FIGHTS. Combat’s chilly refresh allows you to make snow forts and lob snowballs at friends and foes alike to celebrate the winter weather. Sure to be a recurring event in the coming years.

Scatterhome Newbie Kits

Newbie kits with useless radiation scanners will now be handed out to all Scatterhome citizens to help them (maybe) survive (possibly) as they scamper around the Reynolds asteroids. The Guards on Reynolds also got some much needed love and Marshals, Paperpushers, and Rookie Minders all have position-specific commands they can now use with the guards.

Vihana Facilities

We introduced the first of several new systems coming online with the conflict rework: Vihana Facilities. These are roguelite-inspired, endgame PvE dungeons for 1-5 players which have truly put you all to the test. If you think you can stomach the sight, take some time to really explore the world within the Facilities and all its gruesome inhabitants.

Scatterhome Hosts ‘The Shindig’

All were invited to attend this black-tie celebration of several promotions in the ‘Home, as long as they were prepared for the Belter Brawl that must always follow. Many gathered in the Zephyr town hall to celebrate the promotions of Lain, Savvy, and Renault, as well as excellent work from Rair.

Maiden Voyage of the Huo’Zha

Holgorath V’lani was honored as an A’Kwah-Zhe by the Jin aboard the Blood Ark and offered a recovered ship called the Huo’Zha. This ship is stocked with a wealth of Jin lore artifacts and materials, plus it’s the first of its kind – piloted using Tek-Vothiam positions in a dance among the stars.

End of Year Commendations

As part of an annual tradition, we are collecting player nominations for New Years Rewards to acknowledge players who: Have the best roleplay, are notable titans of industry, bash the hardest and for the longest, and other categories including write-ins. Regardless of how long you’ve been playing, we’d love to see your responses.

For more information and the form to submit your votes, check out NEWS READ ANNOUNCEMENTS 425. Submissions should be sent to Neritus either as an in-game message with a pastebin or document link, or by email to neritus@starmourn.com.

All submissions are due Dec 31st by sync!


So… yeah.

It’s been a wild ride of a year, and we’re so glad you’ve all decided to come along on this journey with us. A formal post will be coming in just a little while, but we’ve got a whole lot planned for 2023.

For now, here’s a clue about the promo theme for next month:

A figure in an LED emoji mask scales a building in a cyber-punk cityscape.
Photo by Simon Zhu on Unsplash

A huge shout out to Damiel and Soren for all the love they poured into both this game and this community in their time as players, then as storytellers, and ultimately as producers. We wish them both the absolute best. <3

To Neritus who is going to roll his eyes at me for typing this, thank you for all the long nights of bug crushing and code-genius-ing that you do. Marra and I don’t know how you do it, but we’re in awe of you every day.

To the entire storytelling and volunteer coding team, both those currently with us and those who’ve moved on to other endeavors – Thank you for all the work you put into making Starmourn a rich and engaging world.

As we take our steps forward and into 2023, I’ve just got four more words for you –

We’ll see you there.

Vihana, Rise

By Neritus | November 28, 2022 |
A mounting threat is on the horizon

Over the past year, some of you have noticed what appears to be a rising threat posed by the Ishvana. In the complete conflict rework, the Ishvana will take a more visible role as the Sector’s main antagonist. While all the pieces are still coming together on that and we’re not ready to talk details, we are ready to reveal the next big content drop which will, eventually, have a place in the reworked conflict systems.

Vihana Facilities

If you’re unfamiliar with the Vihana, they are uncanny creatures who take a wide variety of twisted forms, blending cybernetics with Kith and the science of reanimation, and comprise the bulk of the Ishvana’s army as we know it. Starting this Winterflame, December 12th, 2022, spacers will be able to search out and destroy Vihana Facilities hidden on just about every planet in populated space.

Vihana Facilities are an endgame, roguelike-inspired PvE dungeon crawl for 1-5 players. You will know in what areas to seek out the facilities, but the entrance to the facility itself will be hidden, so it’s finally time to bust out your long-neglected SEARCH skill in Exploration. Assemble a Crew of up to 5 players and get everyone at the entrance, and then enter the facility together.

Vihana Facilities are always-available content. There will always be multiple facilities dotted across the Sector available for you to run with your friends, and once you’ve entered it, that facility belongs to you and your team and no one else can come in to interfere.

On the technical side, we wanted to foolproof this against disconnections, and we’re proud to say that Facilities will offer full reconnection support. The only case in which you cannot reconnect is if all members of the team disconnect. If that happens, or if all players voluntarily leave the facility, the facility will self-destruct as the Ishvana moves its operations elsewhere.

A typical run

One floor of a facility

Players start in a cloning room and proceed through a series of floors. On each floor you will encounter plenty of Vihana mobs as well as an Overseer. Depending on the floor’s layout you may have the option to skip some rooms and head straight for the exit to the next, lower floor. Here you will find a terminal which you must either hack or use a security keycard dropped by the Overseer on death.

On the first floor, Vihana mobs have 1 random Affix. On the second floor, they have 2. On the third…. You get the idea. On the final floor, you will face a boss. Kill the boss, open the totally-not-a-treasure-chest, and race back up the floors in 30 seconds or go down with the ship.

The mobs and bosses implement a wide range of new PvE mechanics, taking advantage of a giant upgrade to our mob combat backend. So far, you’ve seen one such new mechanic: flying mobs. What you haven’t seen: mobs that pull, mobs that lift you up elevation or push you back down elevation, mobs that guard each other like MWP GUARDIAN, mobs that detonate, mobs that spawn other mobs, etc. Some of this we have seen before in other one-off boss mob situations, but all of these mechanics and more now have proper coded support to make them easier for us to build and less error-prone.

Oh, and the Overseer mini-bosses are PvP bots. They don’t gain affixes, but they do get a harder and harder difficulty with each successive floor.

Facilities can have up to 7 non-boss floors under some very rare conditions, which means 7 affixes on the mobs. If that sounds way too brutal, take heart. The Vihana aren’t the only ones getting stronger…

Surges

The Expedient Surge can reduce your balance costs by up to 50%

At the ends of each floor, players will select 1 of 3 (or 4!) Surges. Surges are powerups with a wide range of effects: More damage, more health, chain attacks, group healing, support effects, life-steal, crowd control, you name it. 19 out of the 27 Surges going in at launch have 3 levels. Different surges have different rarities, but once you pick an upgradeable Surge, there’s a strong likelihood that upgrades for it will be offered to you later in the run. The Power Surge, for instance, grants you +30% damage at Level 1, +60% at Level 2, and +100% at Level 3. The Healing Surge, meanwhile, grants you the SURGE HEAL ability to completely restore another player, including subsystems and afflictions, on a 120s, 60s, or 30s cooldown at Levels 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

Some Surges offer powerful, single-use effects that consume the Surge on use, such as the Aegis Surge which fully restores your health, subsystems, and afflictions when you would die. Others simply have no upgrades past the first, such as the Evocation Surge, which causes your hostile area of effect abilities to not hit your teammates. Others are consumed immediately, such as Reroll which will allow you to reroll your selection options, or Data Cache, which instantly grants you a large amount of Facility Data

Additional study required

The Surge Banish upgrade allows you to remove a surge you are offered. It will not be offered again this run.

Surges are poorly understood, but they seem in some way connected to the very science that goes into the Ishvana’s grotesque methods. Everything you do in Facilities grants you Facility Data which can be spent between facility runs on Surge Upgrades to improve your chances on the next run. Even if you didn’t make it entirely through your last facility, you’ve still probably walked away with some hard-earned data that you can use to improve your chances for next time.

There are 27 Surge Upgrades, a virtually bottomless Data sink with all sorts of effects. 19 of these upgrades are Surge Masteries, each belonging to a particular upgradeable Surge. There are 10 levels of Mastery per Surge, and each level grants you a +10% chance that the first time you are offered that Surge in a Facility, it will be offered at Level 2 instead of Level 1. Other upgrades do not apply to any particular Surge, but instead help you play the odds to get the build you’re after, such as the Scraping Routines upgrade, which has 20 levels each granting you a +5% chance to gain a fourth Surge option. Other upgrades only have 1 level, such as Power Hungry, which grants you a free Surge selection at the start of the facility.

This content is too easy

Where mobs crit YOU!

Great. I get it. You and your friends are the Sector’s most revered facility runners. You know your way around a Vihana’s entrails like none other. Facilities are EASY.

Enter: Mutations. Before entering the facility, you have to option to apply Mutations to it. Mutations are a way of making the facility harder in different ways, but also making them reap more rewards, including more Data. If you’re particularly confident in your group’s abilities, why not disable the cloning room at the start of the facility? This makes the run permadeath, BUT you get +30% Data from all sources. Mobs too easy? Give them an extra affix at the start. Want an extra floor to farm your Data? Then add an extra floor. Think your group is fast? Give yourself 5 minutes from the time you enter before self-destruction occurs, but the boss drops triple rewards.

At launch there are 8 different mutations, and you can add all 8 of them to one facility if you darn well please. Mutations cost Data to apply, but they pay for themselves many times over if you’re successful.

And then, there’s the Crystalline Mutation…

The bigger picture

We’ll be seeing more from the Crystalline affix and Mutation…

We took a lot of time and care crafting the big picture design for the Conflict Rework. We, the staff and volunteers, are all long-time players representing a wide diversity of playstyles, and creating the vision was a full team effort. We hope that the finished product will have something for everyone. The journey has been a bit longer than expected, but we hope the results will push the Starmourn experience to new heights.

Vihana Facilities came about to help fill what we perceived to be a gap in endgame group PvE content. Xenos are extremely fun, and have only gotten more so and more geared towards groups in the last month. But we wanted something more, something that fit into the storyline of the Conflict Rework, and something that enabled faction mates to come together to do something non-PvP while also contributing to the factional conflict system, and without having to worry whether the content would actually be available at their agreed-upon time.

A final note. Just because Facilities will fit into Conflict systems does not mean they are in any way closed off to Factionless players. Indeed, only a very small subset of the Facility experience, Crystalline mutated facilities, will plug into faction conflict, and there’s nothing stopping factionless from running those too. And, yes, the Factionless will be gaining a means to acquire Cosmpiercer Powers.

The details, however, must come later. For now, we hope you look forward to combating the rising Vihana threat.

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