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Hacking in Starmourn

By ironrealms | October 26, 2016 | 12 Comments

Having some kind of hacking in Starmourn is important to us, mainly because a lot of people have mentioned wanting something involving it. It is, however, much tougher than it may sound like to pull off well in an open-world multiplayer game. There are a few problems, from my perspective:

  • We need a hacking system that doesn’t require custom work on our end for everything that can be hacked. Functionally, this means that it’s going to be pretty easily scriptable. Therefore, there’s not much point in a complicated system when players will just download a script, hit a button, and either succeed or fail. I think doing this well is so complex that to achieve any kind of ‘true’ hacking feeling, you need to go the direction of something like Hackmud, which is literally all about hacking.
  • Along those same lines, the system can’t impose a lot of extra content creation. We don’t have the bandwidth to do lots of content creation for a single type of activity in the game.
  • It can’t allow you to do material damage to other players who don’t consent to it. That includes things like reading someone’s private messages, where info might exist that is very private indeed, or hacking into someone’s currency account and draining it (trivial amounts might be another story….the sci-fi equivalent of minor pickpocketing.)
  • It can’t require players to constantly hack to open doors (a common suggestion, actually). That will get annoying in about 10 minutes. It’s the kind of thing that has to be used only occasionally, and mostly for flavor or as part of quests.

I think I’ve got some interesting possibilities though (keep in mind: possibilities only right now), including things like hacking into surveillance systems, allowing you to locate everybody in an area or on a planet, alarm systems that have to be hacked into and shut down before they summon reinforcements, automated defense systems that have to be hacked into before they blow your group to bits, bots that can be hacked to help you in combat, NPC spacecraft that can be boarded and hacked into to take control, and so on. There are a couple other interesting uses for them, but they involve spilling the details on some combat systems we’re not ready to do that with yet.

One thing we’re probably not going to do is make hacker a class, much as I know some of you would love that. It’s likely to be something everybody can learn how to do, just because of the realities of the population sizes of our games. Things like doors that need hacking into are annoying if you can’t find a hacker online that has the skill to get into the system controlling access to the door, as an example. What we may do instead is have some kind of regular ‘hacking’ be something anyone can learn to a medium level, while some particularly powerful combat-appropriate applications could be reserved for a tech-oriented class.

Anyway, just wanted to make a quick post about hacking as I’ve been working on the design problems around it this afternoon. Feel free to leave suggestions for how you’d like to hacking implemented in the comments!

(Note: Since then I’ve designed a hacking system that’s fits the above requirements!)

The Song Dominion

By ironrealms | October 24, 2016 | 6 Comments

Just finished setting up a page on the Song Dominion, the second of the player-inhabited civilizations we’ve announced!

You’re probably wondering what a player-inhabited civilization means in practical terms. If you’ve played our existing MUDs, they all have some version of player civilizations, usually expressed as cities or city-states. These are initially admin-created areas with player-run governments that exercise control over those areas. They’re the most important of the types of player organizations in our fantasy MUDs, and there are only a handful in any single game, since we want some player density in them.

Obviously, we’re going to have player civs in Starmourn (see the first line of this post!), but how they’ll be expressed will differ a bit from our existing games. You’re going to have to wait to find out how, but one thing we’re going to be experimenting with is a civilization that is basically for people who don’t want to deal with other players telling them what to do. In other words, though it – Scatterhome – will be a player civilization, it won’t really be ‘run’ by players, since that entails having control over your fellow players, which has both pluses and minuses.

I suspect it’ll end up either being an immensely popular option or a big failure, without much room in between. We’ll have to wait and see, though of course if the experiment is a failure it’s not too hard to fix.

Song City.

Song City.


Race graphics for backgrounds

By ironrealms | October 12, 2016 | 3 Comments

Here’s a composite of our various player races for use as desktop/laptop backgrounds. Enjoy!

Just right-click (Windows) or click-and-hold (Mac) then save the image. If you’re not sure which one to use, just try the first one.

Starmourn full race composite.

For 1920×1080, 1368×768, and other 16:9 aspect ratios.


For 1920x1200, 1280x800, and other 1.6 aspect ratio monitors.

For 1920×1200, 1280×800, and other 1.6 aspect ratio monitors.


For 4k monitors.

For 4k monitors.

Meet the Jin

By ironrealms | October 12, 2016 | 6 Comments

Today we announced the Jin, our 12th and final player race in Starmourn.

Female Jin

Female Jin soldier.

You can read all about them on the Jin page. I think you’re going to enjoy them!

I thought I’d share the initial concept art sketches that our artist did for the Jin too. In this case I ended up liking #3 on the female one well enough that I used that all bit itself, whereas the male is basically #1 with the pose of #3.

Jin female sketches

Jin male sketches

Jin male sketches

Independence Day: Resurgence

By ironrealms | October 12, 2016 | 1 Comment

I was stuck on a plane for awhile yesterday, so watched the new Independence Day. It’s the kind of movie I’d probably only choose to watch when I’m a prisoner in a metal tube. I mean, it wasn’t just bad, like the first one – it was terrible. I’m not sure there was a single original idea in the entire movie. I mean, throw me a bone, Roland. Give me something that is at least vaguely new.

Warning: Spoilers below!


Thor's little brother, Liam Hemsworth, does some stuff.

Thor’s little brother, Liam Hemsworth, does some stuff.

Instead we got a rehash of the first movie, except this time, the invading ship is a lot bigger than last time and, they get help from a deus ex mach….sorry, another alien race that has ‘gone fully virtual’ and whose only purpose appeared to be to lure the alien invader queen to it so the humans could kill said queen. Nevermind that this new alien informs us that nobody has ever killed one of these queens. Jeff Goldblum can do it!

Oh wait, no he can’t. Despite detonating a bunch of “cold fusion bombs” on it, it survives, exactly like how the ship in the first movie survived being nuked. Although, why they’d use a cold fusion bomb, I don’t know. The entire point of cold fusion is that it produces a sustained nuclear reaction without exploding, which is literally the thing people trying to solve cold fusion are trying to solve for.

No, the cold fusion bombs don’t kill it, but do kill the ship it’s in. It then turns into a monster pic with this huge queen running about smacking things until Bill Pullman’s (the President from the first one) daughter shoots it a few times with her fighter craft and penetrates the shield that these supposedly mega-powerful “cold fusion” bombs couldn’t.

I should have just continued watching Coming to America, which you can never go wrong with, despite its total lack of science fiction. Their buns have no seeds.

Darth Vader is in Coming to America, which validates its sci-fi connection.

Darth Vader is in Coming to America, which validates its sci-fi connection.


Westworld is a MUD

By ironrealms | October 11, 2016 | 1 Comment

Are you guys watching Westworld on HBO? If not, go do it. Find a way to watch it! It’s fantastic, and one of my favorite things about it is how unbelievably similar to designing and running a MUD or MMO the show is.



For those unfamiliar, the tl;dr is that customers come to this fake world populated by entities indistinguishable (mostly) from real people. They’re some kind of organic-digital combo that exist in this fairly vast area based on a fictionalized and dramatic version of the American Old West. Cowboys, prostitutes, gun fights, treasure hunts, etc.

Many of these NPCs (non-player characters) are the exact equivalent of well-done quest-givers in a MUD or MMO. Of course, they don’t have big exclamation points over their heads (and neither do NPCs in Iron Realms games) but many of them are explicitly designed to involve the customers in storylines.

I don’t want to talk specifics and spoil anything for you, but there’s a moment in the first episode where a customer basically ruins a storyline by just deciding to start killing. It was by no means intentionally funny, but I was almost rolling on the floor. We had this big story-based event in Achaea once based on contact with an alien race. We had some fun diplomacy going, with players and NPCs trying to suss each other out….when, predictably, someone came along and just started killing the aliens.

Anyway, go watch it!

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