Location: News/Main » Articles/Editorials
May 26, 2005 - SP Happenings #102
Well, we've survived the 2005 E3 with little or
no damage... For SP, this year's E3 was really the calmest in a
long time, considering a grand total of one upcoming D&D game
was presented, namely Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach.
Atari has apparently decided to save some cash by not showing Dragonshard
or Neverwinter Nights 2, which, at least in the case of Dragonshard,
was a dumb move. Dragonshard has been given little exposure ever
since it's been announced, and I have a feeling that once released,
it'll slide by unnoticed relatively quickly. Neverwinter Nights
2, of course, needs little exposure - the name alone guarantees
all the recognition the game will ever need. Still, not showing
it at E3 when it is the only D&D title currently slated for
2006 is pretty silly. And no, still no word about Baldur's Gate
3, before anyone asks.
Oh, in case you've missed it, check out our Eye
of the Beholder Neverwinter Nights module review.
May 19, 2005 - SP Happenings #101
Pit is the latest addition to the Sorcerer's Place family of
sites. The Pit is one of the best, if not THE best site dedicated
solely to Planescape: Torment, featuring a large amount of original
content and information. Although no longer updated, the site makes
a fitting monument to the greatness of a superb game, and I'm very
happy to have it preserved for posterity on Sorcerer's Place.
May 12, 2005 - SP Happenings #100
And here we are, the 100th SPH. On my birthday,
I've made many more adjustments to our site
search engine since I've mentioned it in SPH last week, and
the thing's really running smooth now, with very little interference
from content which shouldn't be indexed. The usage statistics are
also quite interesting. There are a great number of unique searches
(many of them misspelled - you need to be careful with spelling
when searching), but there are a few very popular common searches
as well. A few of these are: "monk", "portraits",
"maps", "dragon" and "romance". Why
the "monk" search is so popular, I have no idea, but it's
the most frequently used keyword in the searches.
Since last week I have also updated our help
wanted page, so check it out if you're interested in doing something
around SP. The online walkthrough writer positions have turned out
disastrous for the most part. Dozens of applicants, most of which
clearly didn't even bother to read the requirements, and none of
which would actually follow through with writing the walkthrough
they've started from beginning to conclusion. I've had a bad feeling
about the guy who started writing the Baldur's Gate online walkthrough
for SP right from the beginning, so I can only blame myself for
being foolish enough to announce and list it publicly before he
completed it. In the grand tradition of people who apply for a job
around SP and don't feel like finishing it, he's simply disappeared
without even bothering to let me know about it. I hope there's a
special pit reserved in hell for people who waste my time in this
So as far as online walkthrough writers go, I've
pretty much given up on finding any decent ones. Walkthrough writing
is an art, and very few people have the know-how and persistence
required in making one. Apparently, the only people I can trust
with a job like that are those who have already produced something
similar for SP, either a walkthrough, or any other extensive project.
Unfortunately, none of them have time to tackle another project
at the moment, so I'm rather stuck. At this point I don't know if
I should even keep the Baldur's Gate online walkthrough up, considering
it's barely been started. I'll probably just scrap the whole thing.
In other news, thanks to Catbert our latest screenshot
& Dragons Online) now have the option of going to the previous
or next screenshot right on the page where the first screenshot
displays, which makes browsing screenshots much more convenient.
Our older screenshot galleries don't have this feature yet because
I need to do some changes there first for this to work, but eventually
all screenshot galleries on SP will use the same format. Which also
means that now would be a good time to put
any suggestions for improvements to us. So, if you have any, please
let us know.
May 5, 2005 - SP Happenings #99
Nearly up to a 100th SPH... Christ, I can't believe
I've been filing these weekly reports for nearly 2 years now. It
seems like I've only come up with the idea to do it a few weeks
ago. Well, in any event, I'm glad that SP is still active enough
on the creative and user end that I have something to post in SPH
most of the time.
After last week's site update (which, accompanied
by many minor site tweaks, was a lot of work), I've turned my attention
to our site
search engine. Many of you probably don't even know we have
one (though it's actually listed in the Features box on the right
side of every site page), but it's really a very handy tool, especially
for looking up things you know are on SP, but can't remember exactly
where. After I've enabled the search script with our new design
I pretty much forgot about it since I've rarely needed it. Unfortunately,
I never really extensively tested it either. Only after making a
few searches recently have I realized that a lot of words on every
page that shouldn't have been indexed were still being tracked,
and this was inflating the search results considerably (not to mention
throwing them off). I have now fixed this for the most part (certain
things which shouldn't be indexed are still being indexed, but this
can't be changed without extensive modifications), so only the widest
searches like "Baldur's Gate" will throw up hundreds of
search results, but such searches could never be really productive
anyway, considering the number of pages with those keywords on SP.
But there are ways even around that. I have put
together a list of useful search
tips and examples now found on the main search page, and if
you check out all the search options available, you'll see that
you can define your searches pretty much down to every detail. I've
also prettied up the search results page template itself, so it
now feels like a part of SP. In the future, the search will probably
be integrated into the site layout itself.
April 28, 2005 - SP Happenings #98
For the last few days I've been putting together
a new site content update, which I hope to have up by tomorrow.
I've also fixed or tweaked a large number of things around the site
which I've been putting off indefinitely for ages, but unfortunately
it's nothing very interesting to write about, so I won't. ;)
In case you don't get around our message boards
much, I'd also like to point out my Board
Statistics thread, which, I think, has some pretty interesting
info in it.
Anyway, enough chit-chat, I've got a site update
April 21, 2005 - SP Happenings #97
Arcanum is the latest site now hosted
by Sorcerer's Place. If you've played Arcanum you've probably been
there before, and if not, the site is pretty much the definitive
source on the game, so you should check it out. Of course, with
Troika dead the site doesn't seem to have much of a perspective
any more, but you never know...
April 14, 2005 - SP Happenings #96
The setup of SP's two newest hosted sites (Duck
and Cover and another one not fully moved yet) has still been
at the forefront of my server-related activities since last week's
SPH. I've just finished setting up a bunch of subdomains for DAC,
so they should begin getting repopulated soon.
We've also posted 4
new fantasy book reviews in our Booktalk
forum since I mentioned the book reviews last in SPH.
April 7, 2005 - SP Happenings #95
and Cover, a Fallout site Sorcerer's Place has been hosting
for a while until they moved to another host, is now back after
having a thoroughly unpleasant experience with the host they moved
to. The site should soon be operating normally again. Welcome back,
Sorcerer's Place will also be hosting another new
site shortly, but more on that next week.
March 30, 2005 - SP Happenings #94
Another quiet week with me busy in RL, so nothing
new to report. The only mildly interesting thing that has happened
site-wise was another humourous (but not) session of back &
forth with the server host because the server's internal time wouldn't
properly show up in the applications running on the server (i.e.
not accounting for daylight savings going into effect a few days
ago in Europe). Well, in the end the whole thing turned out to be
a bug in the server's control panel software. Which seems to have
been fixed now... it's just amazing how every time you do something
utterly unexpected (like wanting to keep EU time on a US server),
you need to spend a day figuring it out. Who needs games when server
administration is so much fun, eh?
March 24, 2005 - SP Happenings #93
I've been exceedingly busy in RL this week. The
present situation is probably going to continue for another month,
so don't expect any breath-taking updates in the meantime. However,
in our Booktalk
forum you can read 3
new reviews since last week. We can always use more, so don't
be shy - contribute yours!
March 17, 2005 - SP Happenings #92
New things are afoot mostly on the boards this week.
A new Neverwinter Nights premium module review has gone up yesterday
Wake), and there is a brand new book
reviewing system off to a good start in our Booktalk
forum. You can already read 3
new reviews there. Feel free to contribute your own reviews!
March 11, 2005 - SP Happenings #91
I have just finished putting together the promised
site update, but as it's already past midnight here, I'll post it
after I get some sleep. Also, our Baldur's
Gate Online Walkthrough has been updated to include certain
Chapter 2 areas.
March 3, 2005 - SP Happenings #90
A site content update is coming up in the next few
days. I don't have much time at the moment so it probably won't
amount to much more than putting all the stuff submitted since the
last site update online, but still.
We have many people posting on our boards regularly
and playing various mods, but very few people have been volunteering
to write mod reviews lately. Since we could definitely use more,
and I know there are many people posting on our boards capable of
writing quality reviews, please check this
thread for more information about what we expect and how you
can apply. Get involved, folks - this is also another way of giving
something back to the community.
The Prologue and Chapter 1 of our Baldur's
Gate Online Walkthrough by Ron het Lam are done, so please check
them out and send Ron any suggestions you might have. Keep in mind
that the solution is still a work in progress and that many things
will be changed or added before the end, so now is a good time to
get involved with your comments and suggestions.
February 24, 2005 - SP Happenings #89
The past week here at SP has been a relatively busy.
We have posted 2 new mod reviews, ShadowGuard
for Neverwinter Nights and Chloe
for Baldur's Gate 2. I have spent most of the week re-checking and
updating the SPS
direct download content (due to some reported corrupted files),
and adding lots of new content as well. The library of content available
to SPS account holders is now nearly 11GB in size and updated &
expanded regularly. So if you don't have an SPS
account yet, there's one more reason for you to sign up. Considering
SP has been very short on donations for the last few months, some
new SPS account holders would be very welcome.
Work is also progressing on the Baldur's Gate Online
Solution here on SP, which is coming along quite nicely. More on
that in the following weeks.
February 17, 2005 - SP Happenings #88
Another little schedule change - SPH is now going
to be posted every Thursday, when I actually have a bit of spare
time on my hands. Tuesdays are pretty full for me this year, so
I'm not sure why didn't I think of shifting the SPH schedule before.
The only major site-related updates made in the
past week have been the fixed & updated content tables for the
of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor and The
Temple of Elemental Evil game subsections. The differences you
will notice now are the credits next to the title of every listing,
external downloads & links marked for convenience, the tables
stretching as needed, as well as having a unified look. Eventually
we hope to convert all game subsections on SP to this level of detail.
Oh, and I've had the flu since Sunday, though I finally seem to
be getting over it.
February 9, 2005 - SP Happenings #87
Aside from appointing another new moderator for
of Dangerous Angles and the Alley
of Lingering Sighs forums (this should be enough for a while),
there's absolutely nothing new to report. I've been working on a
seminar paper most of the past week, so my free time has been too
scarce to allow me to get anything much done around SP.
February 1, 2005 - SP Happenings #86
The past week has been relatively quiet for a change,
so there's nothing much new to report. I'm still dealing with the
of Dangerous Angles and the Alley
of Lingering Sighs forums, which now have two new moderators
to keep order, with one or two more to come in the near future.
The separation of AoDA from political themes seems to have had a
positive effect so far, as both forums are alive & well. I am
hopeful that this positive trend will continue.
January 25, 2005 - SP Happenings #85
It's been quite an interesting week... and not entirely
in a good way. Yesterday a couple of our hosted sites were targeted
again by an exploit aimed at their message boards, which had me
riveted to my chair in front of the computer the entire evening,
first trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and then
what to do about it. Eventually, I suspended both sites so the attacks
stopped affecting the entire server. One was turned on again a few
hours later (still to a considerable amount of attacks, but manageable),
while the other one had to wait a bit longer. The attacks seem to
have stopped now and everything is back in order, until the next
script kiddie has a few spare minutes. *sigh*
Inexplicably, the time server we were using to synchronize
the server time with had suddenly switched time an hour ahead, so
I've had to change it to a new one. A Swiss time server this time,
which will hopefully be able to hold itself together for longer
than the last one. Seriously, if you can't even trust a bloody time
server not to go haywire after a few months, the state of technology
must really be in the dumps.
However, what's really been keeping me occupied
for several days now is the activity regarding the separation of
one of our popular forums, the Alley
of Dangerous Angles, and the political threads within, which
all got moved into a separate new forum, the Alley
of Lingering Sighs. I won't go into details here as it's all
being discussed on the boards, suffice it to say that the decisions
being made about this issue were probably one of the toughest, if
not the toughest, that I've had to deal with in all the time our
boards have been around. Hopefully something good will come of it.
Finally, I got around to checking and uploading
all the fixed content tables for the original Baldur's
Gate subsection, and I have to say I'm very pleased with the
result. The differences you will notice now are the credits next
to the title of every listing, external downloads marked for convenience,
the tables stretching as needed, as well as having a unified look.
Eventually we hope to convert all game subsections on SP to this
level of detail.
January 19, 2005 - SP Happenings #84
I'm going to start wading through all the bookmarked
articles and websites that have piled up on my list over the last
few weeks, so this should keep me busy for a couple of days. I've
also started playing Hordes of the Underdark again after a 3-month
break, and I have to say it's quite enjoyable. I didn't get that
far yet (Undermountain, level #2), but thus far it's been fun with
Deekin onboard. That kobold really cracks me up. The improvement
over the OC and Shadows of Undrentide is really apparent from the
get-go, and I hope it will keep up throughout the rest of the expansion.
Site-wise, I've decided to try out a slight schedule
change in some of the weekly features on SP; namely, a new Screenshot
of the Week and Latest Poll Results will now be posted every Wednesday.
The poll will still be changed every Monday and SP Happenings posted
every Tuesday (today is in an exception to the rule). This should
make it a bit easier for me as I'll be able to post all the weekly
stuff in the first three days of the week, and be able to concentrate
on other stuff for the remainder of the week.
January 11, 2005 - SP Happenings #83
The site update (too) long in the making is finally
up now, so I'll focus on some smaller issues concerning SP for the
moment. I'll be pretty busy in real life for a while now (exams,
papers, studies etc.), so larger projects will have to wait till
January 4, 2005 - SP Happenings #82
I'm still working on the promised site update (which
I really hope to finish before another week goes around), so there
is not much to report in this regard. There have been some other
goings-on around SP, however. Namely, chevalier started on cleaning
up and improving the Baldur's Gate 1 subsection content tables,
and after several kicks in the ass, apparently managed to get it
right (:p). After I finish double-checking everything, the tables
in that section will be replaced, with the remaining game subsection
tables following after the site update. Currently I'm also working
with Spellbound on getting our review of BioWare's Neverwinter Nights
premium module Kingmaker up, but this is pretty much done and will
be posted either today or tomorrow.
Finally, Sylvus Moonbow, at one time a walkthrough
scribe at Sorcerer's Place, surprised me a couple of weeks ago with
the announcement that he will be shutting down his site, Skullport,
and going on a prolonged trip across several continents. Since he
has written several excellent online solutions for the games also
covered by Sorcerer's Place, he has graciously offered to hand me
the content of his site so that people can continue to enjoy it.
Over the coming weeks and months we will do our best to get as much
of it online as possible, starting with his Neverwinter Nights Online
Solution. Luckily I have the benefit of Syl agreeing to start the
content conversion work himself while he is still around, so this
will certainly help in getting his valuable content up as soon as
December 21, 2004 - SP Happenings #81
Real life cut into the planned site update schedule,
so consider it delayed until next week or so. I've also been doing
some regular site maintenance (fixing broken links, rearranging
forums, running a board re-index, etc.) which you won't see noted
anywhere, but still has to be done every now and then, and is usually
pretty time consuming. As I won't have much to report next week,
the next SPH will be posted in two weeks' time.
All that remains is for me to wish you all a Merry
Christmas and Happy Holidays, and I hope you enjoy the remaining
days of the year 2004. SP has plenty of improvements in store for
next year, so make sure you stick around. And should you feel generous,
please check out the SPS
accounts Christmas special, and donate a few bucks to keep SP
running. Thank you!
P.S. I almost forgot...
"Ring Their Bells", or "The
--by the Sea Wasp
(to the tune of Jingle Bells)
"Slashing through the Orcs
With a good two-handed blade
Over corpses we go
And through the gore we wade
Mace on helmet rings
Making bodies fly
What fun to sing our SLAYING song
And watch these suckers die!
Oh, ring their bells with swords and spells
Don't let 'em get away!
We're brave and bold for fame and gold
We'll make a lot today!
Oh, ring their bells with swords and spells
Don't let 'em get away!
We'll hack and slash and blast and trash
And blow these dudes away!
Crashing through the door
Into the dragon's nose
Our mage whips out a Cone of Cold
And out its fire goes!
Elven bowstrings sing
Making balrogs fall
And our thief finds a secret door
Into the treasure hall!
Then appears the Lich
With his demon guard
Our wizard yawns and wishes
We'd run into something HARD...
He begins to cast
His 19th level spell
That damn Lich throws a Gate at us
And drops us all in Hell!
We appear in Hell
In front of Satan's Throne
Our cleric waves us out the door
And takes him on alone!
Satan's legions don't
Want to let us go
Our Techno pulls a bazooka out
And NUKES 'em 'til they GLOW!
Oh, ring their bells with prayers and spells
Don't let 'em get away!
We're brave and bold and CRAZED, we're told
To think we'll live the day!
Oh, ring their bells with swords and shells
Don't let 'em get away!
We'll hack and slash and blast and trash
And blow these dudes away!
Yes, we'll hack and slash and blast and trash
And drag our loot away!"
December 14, 2004 - SP Happenings #80
I've decided to wait with the implementation of
a poll script running on the server until we get all the fixes and
changes of the updated site design template up, as it will be much
easier for me to test various available poll scripts then. Before
that happens, however, we'll start on re-making the old content
tables from scratch. As these were simply transferred unchanged
when we switched to this new design, some of them contain horrible
(not to mention redundant) chunks of code, and it's high time we
cleaned this mess up. I've managed to convince Chev to take on this
gargantuan task, but as he'll probably be doing all of this manually,
it'll take quite some time. He will also be adding the names of
the authors to every single download which does not have it specified
now (another legacy oversight needing to be fixed), so finding things
by author on SP will be much easier in the future.
Also, I've started on the next site content update
a few days ago, so I expect the whole thing to go up before next
week's SPH, or not much after that.
December 7, 2004 - SP Happenings #79
I got my Internet connection fixed a couple of days
after last week's SPH (it turned out the ADSL modem broke down and
had to be replaced), so I'm happily surfing the netwaves again.
I didn't get much work done on the upcoming site update last week,
as I was pretty busy with a few other things. First, I wrote a guide
to buying things not listed on Sorcerer's Place via Amazon,
as this issue has been coming up regularly for a long time now and
a more detailed explanation was in order. The guide will be incorporated
into the Fantasy Books section on SP with the next site update.
This week we've also started covering Wizards
of the Coast & related news (the bits relevant to gamers),
which will expand our news coverage even further and, I hope, prove
of interest to our visitors. Some comments on this wouldn't hurt.
I've also added a touch of Christmas spirit to the site and boards,
so we can get into the proper mood for the season. ;)
Finally, I have installed a poll script on the server,
which will enable me to make & save polls locally (they've been
made through a polling site previously), but as luck would have
it, I did not realize I would need to include a bit of cookie code
on every page before the html starts, so currently I'm checking
if we can add it via one of the site content includes, or whether
it will have to be added separately.
November 30, 2004 - SP Happenings #78
My Internet connection's been completely messed
up (constant disconnects and time-outs) for the last few days, so
I've been pretty much only doing the most important stuff concerning
SP, like checking the mail and the boards, and leaving the rest
for when they finally get this thing fixed. I've still got a mile
of backlog in the SP updates department (it'll probably take me
a year to catch up on all this), so I'm already working on the next
site update. Slowly, but surely, the pile is diminishing... Anyway,
the next site update will probably have to last till near the end
of January, as I've got a boatload of things to do in RL by then.
I wonder how many other people have to slave away in December and
January when everyone else is enjoying their holidays... *sigh*
November 23, 2004 - SP Happenings #77
Not much new to report. Catbert and I are currently
busy discussing the changes to be implemented with the upcoming
site design update. Most of the changes will be cosmetic, some purely
practical, and a few based on the feedback we've received (and the
errors we've uncovered) since this layout has gone up. The changes
won't be major on the surface, and the update will be made without
any interruption in the site's availability (hopefully). This is
just to let you know about one of the many things going on in the
background of SP, so you know we aren't slacking. ;)
November 16, 2004 - SP Happenings #76
I've just posted the latest site update, though
to be honest, it is merely a fraction of what I've had lined up.
However, as I'll be busy in RL for the next week and a half, I though
it best to at least get as much stuff up now as possible, instead
of delaying the entire update. Besides Half-life 2 and VTM: Bloodlines,
the PC port of Forgotten
Realms: Demon Stone is also out today, so you might want to
check it out while waiting for the next D&D game in the pipeline.
November 9, 2004 - SP Happenings #75
I've started working on the next site content update
(which should be coming shortly), and have already split all larger
Fantasy Books subsections down
into 2 or more pages, so they should be loading a bit faster for
those of you on slower connections. I've also rearranged the Forgotten
Realms books, so the reading order now should make more sense
to the uninitiated. About a dozen large pages in the Games subsections
also got split down into 2 or more pages, since they've been quite
unmanageable for some time now, but I never got around to splitting
November 2, 2004 - SP Happenings #74
I've managed to get the server back in shape, so
things are running smoothly again. Various issues with our newest
hosted site still keep popping up, so that's keeping me busy as
well. Still, I've started working on the next site update, which
I hope will be going up relatively soon, depending on how much content
I decide to put up in one go. After some problems on the server
Catbert and I managed to find some old bits of code left in the
new design (causing mischief, of course), and some things which
could definitely be done in a more elegant way, so a code update
is on the horizon for the near future. However, barring any issues
with it, you won't even know it happened. ;)
October 26, 2004 - SP Happenings #73
Busy, busy, busy... The
Temple of Elemental Evil Online Solution has gone up a few days
ago, as promised. There is also a new review
of the Valen BG2 NPC mod up in our Mod Reviews forum. The last
hosted site I'm putting on this server, Duck
and Cover, is also more or less set up. There are still some
issues with it that I'm hoping to work out soon, so that'll keep
me busy for a while longer. Unfortunately, the addition of this
last site has slowed down the server somewhat, but hopefully I'll
be able to do something about that. In any event, I'll be focusing
on getting the server back in shape before doing anything else.
October 19, 2004 - SP Happenings #72
I'm running a bit late with the Temple of Elemental
Evil Online Solution, but with a good excuse. Another site (more
details next week) is moving to our server for hosting, so this
has kept me completely occupied for the last few days (that, and
some minor server issues). However, there's not much more work to
be done on the solution, so it's definitely going up by the end
of the week. It'll be worth the wait.
October 12, 2004 - SP Happenings #71
I'm rather annoyed at the fact that I still didn't
get the answers to my interview with R. A. Salvatore regarding Demon
Stone back (it's been nearly a month), especially since I've been
pressed to deliver the questions on very short notice. I guess when
(if) I finally do get the answers, I might as well wait for the
release of the PC port and post the interview then, so the thing
will at least be topical.
In other news, Beren and I have been pretty busy
with the Temple of Elemental Evil Online Solution. The majority
of the groundwork on it is now complete, so I expect the entire
thing to go up before the next SP Happenings.
October 5, 2004 - SP Happenings #70
Besides the second half of the site update (which
has gone up a few days ago), I am now working on getting Beren's
Temple of Elemental Evil solution converted from text + images to
online form. Since my uni classes started again this week I don't
have as much time available to work on SP, but I'm definitely working
hard to get the solution up as soon as possible. The next project
I'm tackling after this is the implementation of a standalone member
photo gallery which will be located directly on our server. The
MSN group serving this purpose currently has proven popular far
beyond my expectations, but with all the cross-registering and reposting
it's turned into a bit of a mess, so I'd like to transfer everything
to SP and organize it better. That is, of course, assuming I can
find a good & free photo gallery script with all the options
of the MSN group one, but let me worry about that...
September 28, 2004 - SP Happenings #69
I managed to get part of the planned site update
up, but there's more to come (including the promised Temple of Elemental
Evil Online Solution) as soon as I'm able to put it all together.
After delaying it for a couple of years, I've finally had one of
my wisdom teeth taken out on Monday (probably a couple of the most
horrific hours of my entire life), and needless to say I'm not feeling
exactly fit to do much of anything. Especially as I've had to be
up and about since 6 AM till 6 PM today with a fever, instead of
staying at home in bed, putting ice on my ridiculously swollen cheek.
So much for the doctor's orders... The only highlight of all this
is that I have an excuse to stuff myself full of ice cream now.
September 21, 2004 - SP Happenings #68
Demon Stone contest ends in a few hours, so this is your final
chance to enter if you haven't already.
As I've announced last week, all the forum news
has now moved off the front page. After some discussion, I've decided
to create a separate
forum news page, so the front
page is now much less cluttered. All the developer forum news
posts are easily accessible from the front page via the "Forum
News" link in the Subsections menu on the right side of the
page. What I'm thinking now is that it would make sense to again
expand all the forum news posts to show whole on their separate
page, so people wouldn't have to click on the "read more"
link in every longer post to read it in its entirety. Please comment
on this if you have an opinion.
Beren has notified me earlier today that he has
pretty much completed his Temple of Elemental Evil walkthrough.
You can look forward to seeing this latest SP Online Solution going
up as soon as I can prepare it for publication. Which, in turn,
brings me to the point of having to explain why the site update
I promised last week isn't up yet. Short and sweet - lack of time
on my part. What free time I had was spent on regular site maintenance
and catching up with the SP-related news so I could clear my mile
long list of bookmarked news. I've caught up on most of it by now,
however, so I've already started working on the site update, which
should be going up soon.
September 15, 2004 - SP Happenings #67
The past week has been extremely busy at SP. Besides
all the cleaning up and re-setting of things after the system upgrade,
I've also prepared an interview of 10 questions with R. A. Salvatore
regarding Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (this will go up as soon
as I get the answers), and put together a quiz
in which you can win 3 Demon Stone posters, one of them signed by
Salvatore himself. Hint: the answers to all the questions can be
found in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and its Web Enhancements.
So, have fun solving it and good luck!
An issue we're debating on the message boards currently
is what to do with the great amounts of news we've been posting
lately - I suggested the separation of forum news and all other
news. Check this
thread and share your opinion.
Lastly, I'll be doing another site update as soon
as possible, so you can expect that as well in a few days.
September 8, 2004 - SP Happenings #66
Although the system upgrade took longer than I anticipated,
with several annoying problems down the road, we got the new system
up & running and are working on returning things back to normal.
At the time of this posting, most of the things should be operational
already. However, if you spot anything strange or problematic, please
do let me know and I'll look into it.
As for details on why this upgrade and eventual
normalization took so long... in short, not a single damn thing
had gone according to my plans. Among other things, our server host
messed up and set up our new hard drive with a year old system,
which I, of course, promptly rejected. After that I had to wait
some more for another hard drive with the proper system on. Once
that was finally in place, the fun really started. The huge backup
of the site I was getting from another location was downloading
to the new server for about 8 hours, but then suddenly died at 82%
and messed up the downloaded file so completely, I couldn't do anything
with it. Luckily I also made a backup of all the site files prior
to the system upgrade, so I started uploading the files myself.
However, with my slow upload speed, this process took an even longer
time to complete. After I finally uploaded the more important files,
the real problems began.
More than half of the things didn't work, the front
page news and message boards included. Eventually, with the invaluable
help of Catbert and Blackthorne TA, we got everything back up and
running properly, but it took another few hours. On top of it all,
most of the problematic things started happening after midnight,
so I was up till 3 or 4 am over the last couple of nights. Suffice
it to say, this whole exercise ended up costing me (in more than
one sense of the word) much more than I expected as well. But as
it needed to be done, for several reasons, I really had no choice
in the matter. I will be very happy once we finally return everything
to the previous state and I can get some sleep, though.
August 31, 2004 - SP Happenings #65
We've been having some more problems with the load
on the server (as well as spam clogging it up), so we'll be setting
up some countermeasures to hopefully eliminate these problems. We
may have to close down the message boards and/or the entire site
for a few hours next week, however. Notices with more information
about this will be posted as soon as we have some concrete dates.
August 24, 2004 - SP Happenings #64
It's been a relatively quiet week. With most of
the work that came along with the redesign finally complete, I could
relax a bit. Since the development of Baldur's Gate 3 has been confirmed
by Atari, I've created a new forum for it on the boards as well.
Hopefully this is the last newly announced game for a while; this
insane amount of D&D game news and announcements has gone on
for long enough. Though considering how intent Atari is on milking
the D&D licence for all it's worth, I doubt it. We'll see whether
any of their efforts will be targeted also at game quality, not
We've had some problems with the server over the
last couple of days, but I've opened a thread to discuss that in
the Sorcerous Sundries forum, so you can read about it there if
I'm relatively surprised at how underutilized our
new system for making news comments is. I know a great number of
people are reading news on the front page daily (and in the News
Comments forum), but there are very few comments on the news. As
it is now, people must register on the boards to be able to post
news comments, but I might enable it even for unregistered people
and see if that fares better. Hearing some opinions on this would
be nice, so fire away.
August 17, 2004 - SP Happenings #63
For as much time as I had during the past week,
I've been working on the latest site update, which has just gone
up. The sheer amount of new material and necessary updates (many
minor ones are unlisted) have made this latest update quite an undertaking.
I've managed to clear most of the backlog now, so in the next update,
you can expect to start seeing things which have been on hold until
the new design went up.
August 10, 2004 - SP Happenings #62
This past week has been crazy in just about every
aspect of the word. After months of silence, whispers and rumours,
Atari dragged out the rusty PR cannons and started bombing the gaming
news with announcements and previews of no less than 4 upcoming
new D&D games. Considering the irrational flood of revelations
all of a sudden, it remains a mystery when they're still keeping
mum on Baldur's Gate 3, though I'm sure we'll be buried in news
about that one soon enough as well. My faithful sidek... err, I
mean, Head Daily News Editor, chevalier, also managed to get his
computer into repair just as this PR offensive started, so I was
on my own to post a bunch of news. Luckily, he's back now, so I
can concentrate on other things besides posting news. Just reading
all this news salad is time-consuming enough.
As much as I could, I've been working on the site
update, though with the incessant storms this week (and subsequent
power failures), I didn't get much done yet, though I should have
something by the end of the week.
Our forums have also been a hotbed of activity this
past week. I've added 3 new game forums, set up several new categories
and regrouped all of the existing forums. Things should be much
clearer this way. SP's up to 30 forums (2 archived) now, so clear
grouping of forums is a must. My, my, how we have grown...
August 3, 2004 - SP Happenings #61
Another week of fixing dozens of small things related
to the new design. I've also been away from home for a few days,
so I didn't get a chance to do that much around SP in any event.
Things finally seem to be settling down, however, so I expect to
be able to deliver a site content update by next week.
July 28, 2004 - SP Happenings #60
Whew. First week after the launch of the new design.
To say that it has been eventful is accurate to the point that it
is also a vast understatement. Dozens of small and not so small
things needed to be fixed after the new design was up. I had to
set up a bunch of SPS accounts and create templates for the entire
process, as well as start planning & gathering the extra content
for SPS account holders. I had to inform the major sites that link
to SP to update their links, since nearly all of the urls have changed.
Finally, with Catbert's help, we also launched the integrated news
posting system, which now connects the message boards and the front
page. In short, I've been kept so busy I didn't get around to even
planning the next site content update yet. Hopefully things will
settle down this week, so I can get started on it soon.
July 20, 2004 - SP Happenings #59
Although it took a bit longer than I expected, the
new site design is now finally complete and fully operational (as
you have undoubtedly noticed). You can read a short introduction
in my editorial, and browse
the site for the rest. The thread to comment on the new design can
be found here.
Thanks again to all who have helped make the new face of Sorcerer's
Place a reality - especially Catbert, who invested countless hours
into coding the whole thing to make it exactly as I wanted it to
Of course, the implementation of this new design
is only the beginning. Now I will have to make sure to bring all
its extra features to life, not to mention clear a mile of backlog
that piled up, since content updates have been sparse around here
lately to ease the transition to the new site layout. Expect some
additional nice surprises in the near future as well.
In other news, I've upgraded our message boards
a couple of days ago. Although I've been going on about the switch
to a PHP-based board for a while now, I've put it off again. The
reason? vB, the board software I am planning on switching to eventually,
has seriously limited polling capabilities. In fact, they are so
basic, that the majority of our polls could not be imported, if
we decided to switch now. I'm prepared to make some compromises
when switching to a different board software, but this one is just
too big for me to swallow. I guess I'll be looking into what can
be done about this issue for a while longer.
July 13, 2004 - SP Happenings #58
I have just completed the conversion of the last
page of the Games section. This means that the redesign is, for
the most part, complete. During the conversion I've noticed several
legacy links to content on Interplay's site, so before bug testing
starts, I'll replace all the content links with local copies of
the content. There are a few pages which will have to be converted
just before the new design goes online (since the content on them
is regularly updated), but this can all be done in a hour or so.
Basically, the only real work left to be done on the redesign is
the implementation of the expanded login system for the SPS accounts.
Which would have been done already, had I been able to get ahold
of Catbert over the last few days...
Anyway, with some luck, I expect the new design
to go up in a matter of days now.
July 6, 2004 - SP Happenings #57
I have been uploading & testing the pages of
the new design for the last few days, and I have to say I'm quite
pleased with the results. Since I'm also correcting things on the
fly it's taking a bit longer, but it means that by the time I'll
invite a few more people to test the new site, the majority of the
kinks will have been ironed out. I expect to finish all the sections
apart from Games by the end of the day, and start on Games tomorrow.
June 30, 2004 - SP Happenings #56
With the last exam for the next two months behind
me, I'm now finally free to do the work on SP that's been pretty
much on hold for most of the year. You can expect a lot of things
to change around here in the following weeks, among them the new
design going up, followed by new message boards and a ton of content
I've had on hold, waiting for the new design. Catbert, our web code
genius, also sent me a message yesterday that he's still alive (whew!),
but just on "vacation thing" till next week, when he should
be back full-time. In the meanwhile, I'll be busy with converting
the rest of the existing site to the new design, so that it can
go live ASAP. I should also mention that Blackthorne TA will be
away for nearly the whole next month due to his work, so it'll be
just me and Beren policing the boards.
June 23, 2004 - SP Happenings #55
I've been without my computer again for four days
now (hard drive issues still; hopefully fixed now *crosses fingers*),
so the poll is staying on for another week. Since I couldn't really
do anything in terms of SP without my computer, there's really nothing
to report this week either. I'm mainly catching up on the work around
SP that I've missed. Site redesign isn't progressing anywhere either,
since I haven't managed to get ahold of Catbert in the last ten
days or so. Either way, however, I'll start with the conversion
of the Games section to the new design next week. The things I need
Catbert to do can be done alongside this.
June 16, 2004 - SP Happenings #54
Another rather uneventful week gone by. I've been
ambushing Catbert online whenever I see him to get him to do some
more work on the SPS system for the new design (it occurred to me
that being able to change your password and e-mail there was a good
idea). Hopefully he'll deliver it soon so I can test it and finalize
the whole thing. Until that's done it doesn't really make much sense
for me to attempt to write FAQs and help files for it (apart from
the general outline), if I can't refer to any specifics, considering
I don't know yet how the whole thing will look in the end.
June 8, 2004 - SP Happenings #53
My 1 month old Maxtor 160GB hard drive suddenly
died last Thursday (it somehow spontaneously developed bad sectors,
which prevented it to boot Windows XP), and I only got a replacement
a few hours ago, so you'll excuse the lack of updates around here.
I've checked my backlog of over 2150 mails (most of it junk, of
course) that have piled up while I was without my computer, and
I've replied to all the mails that have been sent to me. In case
I missed yours, please send it again - with so much junk I just
scanned over the mail headers and might have overlooked some valid
I've decided to let some of the regular weekly features
(screenshot and poll) run for another week, as it doesn't make much
sense to go changing them now, and besides, I've got a lot of more
important work to catch up on. On a positive note, I've read the
last 3/4 of The Canterbury Tales during my exile, something which
would probably have taken me a few months otherwise.
Due to my not expecting a brand new hard drive to
fail, I only had about half of the important data backed up, so
I had to pay $50 for data recovery off the confounded defective
drive, too... And this was just to get the data off the system partition.
Of the semi-important things, I lost all of my Neverwinter Nights
savegames and characters, which didn't exactly make me happy. The
thought that it could have been worse just doesn't produce much
of a consolatory effect... *sigh*
June 1, 2004 - SP Happenings #52
The past week has been almost completely uneventful
in terms of happenings around SP. The only interesting thing to
report is that I've run a test import of our current message board
software into the one we'll be switching to in the future, and the
results were quite good. A few dozen posts get lost in the process,
and several things will need to be corrected after the import, but
there are no drastic setbacks to the whole procedure. So, after
the new design is up & running, I'll most likely be tackling
the boards next.
May 25, 2004 - SP Happenings #51
Nothing really new to report this week, as I've
announced pretty much all of it in the previous SP Happenings. A
new site update has gone up a few days ago, and work on the redesign
continues, though at a slower pace now since I've got a full month
of uni exams ahead of me, so I won't be able to dedicate much time
to anything around SP apart from the regular maintenance.
An extra 512MB stick of RAM has been installed on
the server yesterday, and I can definitely feel the improvement
in loading times. This should also make the random blackouts we've
been experiencing over the last few months a thing of the past.
May 18, 2004 - SP Happenings #50
The past week's been quite busy around here again.
Among other things, I've opened two new forums on our boards (one
for Dragon Age and one for the Dungeons & Dragons RTS). Obviously,
this means that Sorcerer's Place will also be covering the upcoming
Dragon Age, even though it's a game which won't use the D&D
ruleset. BioWare calls it a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate,
Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic, so my expectations
are quite high. As for why I decided to stray from the D&D-only
path SP has been following for the last 5 years - there are multiple
reasons. Most importantly, the D&D games which have been coming
out lately (and I can see this trend continuing) have been very
lite on the elements which attract a large audience of CRPG gamers
for a longer period of time - gripping story, length, and party
interaction. I hope Dragon Age will have a little more staying power,
and if BioWare implements in it everything they've learned from
the making of Neverwinter Nights and its expansions, it should be
a game with a bright future. Not to mention it has dragons in the
title, and all CRPG gamers love dragons. Well, mostly anyway. ;)
Work on the site redesign continues to progress
nicely. We're knee-deep in implementation of the Sorcerer's Place
Supporter (SPS) Accounts system, which is proving to be quite an
undertaking in regards to all the information about it which needs
to be written and properly presented. Catbert's also doing some
more modifications to the whole system which will make it easier
on me to administer, and easier on the SPS account holders to use.
Next week I'll be ordering the badly-needed extra
RAM for the server, which will hopefully eliminate the problems
we've been having lately, as well as prepare the ground for the
more resource-taxing new site layout.
Finally, a site update is due, however as I've converted
pretty much all of the existing content apart from the Games sections
to the new design already, the next site update in a few days will
be a minor one, only adding and updating things in the Games sections.
The rest will have to wait until the new design goes up.
May 11, 2004 - SP Happenings #49
I'm quite pleased with the progress on the redesign
over the last week. I managed to add another cool feature to it
(let's leave it as a surprise for now) and rearrange the section
division anew for all sections apart from Games, where things will
stay more or less the same, at least initially. With the help from
questions collected on our boards, I also put together a helpful
SP FAQ, which nicely ties into the new design. I also rewrote my
short biography and rewrote & moved the history of SP into the
FAQ, so it will be easier to find. At this point the only things
left to do are some community supporter interface tweaks, final
population of the site navigation system, and, of course, the conversion
of the entire Games section. The first "beta test" for
a few select people will be when everything else apart from the
Games section is done, which should be quite soon. I'm looking forward
to testing the whole thing out and fully experiencing it as the
new site, rather than just testing every page separately.
If you're not a regular on our message boards, you
should check out the Mod
Reviews forum again, since it is growing nicely with submitted
mod reviews. Starting last week, I also held a
call for donations on the boards to collect money for the server
RAM upgrade, so we won't have to experience the problems we've been
having lately any more. The call has been successful and we have
managed to raise the needed funds, so thanks again to all who have
donated and made it possible. If you missed it but would still like
to help (SP still has the hosting and many other costs to cover
every month), please see