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Sorcerer's Place Happenings
by Taluntain

April 20, 2006 - SP Happenings #147

Despite the lingering server issues resulting in small bouts of downtime more or less every day for the last 7 days (yes, I'll be just as happy as you when this is all finally taken care of), I got quite a lot done on the SP content updates front. I've already got a considerable amount of new stuff ready for the update, but I decided to give it another day or two to add some more before it finally goes live. Sorry to everyone who's sent in content and had to wait so long for it to go up - it'll all go up very soon now, I promise.

Unfortunately, due to Catbert's real life issues and commitments the work on the new site layout is pretty much at the same point where it's been a year ago. This isn't all bad, because I've come up with some substantial concept changes to it since then, but it's still long overdue. A project the size of SP requires at least a part-time coder, so being without one for longer periods of time means that stuff starts piling up... besides the site layout, the message boards software switch has also been on hold (because I wanted to get the layout done first), but considering the current state of things, I'll be pushing the boards update ahead if I can find a coder able to assist me in the transition, which won't be easy or fast.

As a bit of trivia info I can also mention that I started something I've been putting off for a long time - getting the Planescape: Torment character quotes into our "Hourly Quote" system. The problem with Planescape: Torment in this respect is that unlike the Baldur's Gate series, the party character quotes are, for the large part, only recorded as sounds, or scattered throughout the dialogues in such a way that it's impossible (as far as I can tell) to extract them through any even remotely automated means. Which means that I have to sit down and wade through all the character dialogues, as well as to listen to all the character sound files, and transcribe a large number of quotes. Which, for any other game, would probably be a task so tedious and unrewarding that I wouldn't even consider it, but I think Planescape: Torment is worth this tribute paid in my time. I probably won't be finished with this anytime soon (as you probably know, the amount of dialogue in PS:T is staggering), but eventually all the party member quotes will be available to everyone visiting Sorcerer's Place. To date, I've got all of Ignus' and Vhailor's quotes extracted, but not in the online system yet. I'm not sure if I should put them in one by one, or wait until I've got them all extracted (which will probably take quite some time, depending on how much attention I can give it on a regular basis).

April 13, 2006 - SP Happenings #146

So much for my plans to get some SP work done over the weekend. Server problems have continued over the weekend into the beginning of this week, so I've had to keep monitoring it and investigating the possible causes for the problematic behaviour. Obviously, coupled with everything else on my plate, this has left me with little time to dedicate to adding stuff to SP. A small hardware switch on the server seems to have helped, but I'm still keeping a close eye on things in case there was more to it than that. Since the initial diagnosis has proven to be wrong, I didn't go ahead with the major hardware change planned, which would make for some extended downtime. Not yet anyway - it might still prove necessary down the road.

In any event, I've got some more free time coming up over the next few days, so hopefully I'll be able to start catching up on content updates. Also, if you haven't yet, check out Olimikrig's latest Neverwinter Nights module review - the HeX coda 01.

April 6, 2006 - SP Happenings #145

Still all work and no play for me... what little time off I've had these past two weeks has all been spent on just managing and running SP and our hosted sites. Even today when I thought I'd be able to make some headway on the site content update some more issues have come up on the server, which required my attention and monitoring for the last 7 hours. Oh well, there's always the weekend...

March 30, 2006 - SP Happenings #144

Real life work and commitments got in the way of all but the standard updates this past week, so better luck next week. Someone should invent cheap cloning already, I want to put a clone of myself to work on SP 24/7...

March 23, 2006 - SP Happenings #143

Just as I was uploading the content of the latest site update a few days ago, a number of problems have popped up on the server, ultimately culminating in a total crash that required outside intervention to bring the server back online. Since then we've managed to fix more or less all of the problems, so we got off with only 9 hours of downtime and one sleepless night for me, since I've been up till about 6am that night, trying to get things back online as soon as possible. This box of ours truly has an uncanny knack to only go down when it's the middle of the night in this part of the world...

I got back on track with the site update the next day, so you can now enjoy a new batch of stuff on SP. Since I'm still seriously behind on my backlog of content, I'll try to make another update as soon as possible.

March 16, 2006 - SP Happenings #142

Well, the upcoming site update is not quite ready yet. This past week I've had so much stuff going on in real life, with our hosted sites and around SP that I just didn't get around to finalizing it yet. It shouldn't take me longer than a few more days, however.

What I'd like to point out this week is the latest new SPS feature - Basic Web Hosting. This new perk is now available to all existing SPS account holders, and all future site supporters:

As an SPS account holder you have the option to request a basic web hosting account account with us. At this point we are able to provide all SPS account holders with 100 megabytes of space, an FTP account to access their sites, 1 MySQL database (by request) and unlimited monthly bandwidth (within reason). All web hosting accounts are normally set up on our secondary domain (sorcerers2.net) as separate directories, though setting up a separate domain is also possible by arrangement. If you've ever needed some www-accessible place to put various images, files, a personal website or something similar, this SPS account feature should come in handy.

If you don't have an SPS account yet, check our the Features & FAQ page to read about all that you get, then show your support and sign up!

March 9, 2006 - SP Happenings #141

It's been a busy, mostly maintenance-oriented week around here, which is the kind of work surrounding a website that becomes a routine and is therefore suitably boring (even more so to write about), despite being necessary. However, I have also started putting together another site content update, which will likely go up before next week's SPH.

An idea that I've been considering lately is to abandon the kind of updating that I've been doing thus far (first make all the changes locally, then write a report of all the changes, then upload everything) in favour of more frequent minor updates here and there, but without actually noting every single change or addition anywhere. The advantage would be that things could go up much faster, especially submissions, but the downside would be that only I would know about them (and potentially the person submitting the material), and any people who just happened to check the pages where the changes and/or additions had been made.

I guess the main question here is how important those change logs I keep writing are. If people actually do read them for every update, then the faster approach wouldn't really be preferable. But if not, it just might be...

Comments, anyone?

March 3, 2006 - SP Happenings #140

One of the most disappointing things about running a website like SP is the number of people who mail me about helping with various things on our help-wanted list. Most of them are fans of the games covered on SP, though some are just looking for fame or other benefits coming from their name being associated with the site. But that's not really a problem - as long as people actually do what they've signed up for, I don't really care about the reasons or justifications. The problem lies in getting them to actually do something.

I've received literally hundreds of offers for all kinds of work on SP over the years. From coding, to solution writing, to doing the news, and more. Every now and then I get an offer from someone with such shining credentials and (quite frequently) academic titles that I just stare blankly at it for a second or two. Then I remember how many like that I've seen before. It's pretty much the same deal with all such mails - the people writing are either huge fans of the games, SP, or both. And they're prepared to go to the end of the world to help SP. Great, huh? Well, there's a hitch.

For some reason, 99% of these people are only willing to help out until I actually ask them to do something. Or even better, they come to me with a detailed plain of what they'll do and how, and are never heard from again. Why do they go out of their way to offer their help when they obviously don't mean it is beyond me, but it's a trend that's been going on for years. Just this week I've asked two such volunteers to modify one of the php scripts in use on the site. After a thorough briefing of the first coder, he came up with something that only remotely resembled what I asked him to do, and hasn't been heard from since. But ok, I'm used to that. Going on to the next coder on the list who's offered his assistance. Enthusiastic mail back - sure, send it over, no problem, I'll do it! Guess what? No word since. I'll be trying the third coder by the end of the week.

I could understand if they simply told me that it's beyond their skills. Or that they can't do it, for whatever reason. But not even sending a response back, that really irks me. I like working with people from the community, because we have a really large number of talented folks around here who've helped SP in various ways over the years. But it's also an unfortunate fact that 99% (and I'm not exaggerating here one bit) of those who volunteer aren't prepared to do anything, or simply give up on it before they even get started.

Having so many bad experiences with people offering to help only makes me appreciate the people who actually do stick around and help with the site more. So, kudos to the SP team - you guys really are the best.

Anyway, now that I got that little rant off my chest, off to happier happenings. A lot has been going on on the site and boards over the past week. It was about evenly split between internal and external work, but as I like to keep the internal hushed up until it becomes external, I'll only talk about the external. Most obviously, you can see that two new forums have been added to our message boards, brining the total to 40 forums and over 9500 registered users. Aye, the ship's filling up nicely.

The two new forums are "Dragons Not Required" and "The Elder Scrolls Series". More information about them is available in their descriptions on the front page of the message boards, and the details about them can be found in the Sorcerous Sundries forum. Since the creation of these new forums has required a painstaking sifting and moving from the old all-in-one forum, these was a lot boring manual labour involved. Thanks to Blackthorne TA's help with the moving and renaming, it was all done in a couple of days. All that is now left to do is to update the board search index (this will be done during regular maintenance and only cause slightly extended board closure).

Since I've got a number of other projects open right now it's hard for me to say what will be done next, so let's wait with the predictions until next week, when things will become clearer.

P. S.

I've received one (1) screenshot submission since my call for screenshots last week. Come on people... it's not that hard to hit the Print Screen button while you're playing and send the output over here! If I don't get any other screenshots, you'll only be looking at BG2 and NWN screenshots, because those are the only ones I have in abundance.

February 24, 2006 - SP Happenings #139

I'm more or less done with the content rearrangement that I've started last week (read previous SPH for more info). I didn't really do anything with the Neverwinter Nights section for the time being, but the Baldur's Gate 2 one has gone through a thorough restructuring. I'll likely be changing some links there still over the next few days, so sorry in advance if your bookmarks break again. But once I'm done with it, the links should stay the same for the foreseeable future. Next on the menu is splitting overly long pages into several shorter ones, and building in a numbered index for easy navigation.

I've also decided to make it a bit easier for myself and extended the previously weekly poll feature into a bi-weekly one. This should also give more people to chance to vote.

Finally, I've been completely overhauling our Games Store over the last three days. The Canadian Amazon is now supported site-wide, 3 new games have been added, all games have been organized into groups and all of the links have been updated. Last, but certainly not least, every single game in the store now has a more or less detailed description and a list of features, all compiled by yours truly, mostly from the English Amazon descriptions and reviews.

Now that I'm done with this I'll likely start working on another regular site content update.

P. S.

I don't have a single screenshot from Pool of Radiance: RoMD, The Temple of Elemental Evil, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, Dragonshard, Icewind Dale 2 or Baldur's Gate 1 (and the expansion) left for the Screenshot of The Week feature. I also only have a handful of Icewind Dale 1 and Planescape: Torment ones left. I know there are many people visiting SP who still play these games, so please, take a look at our screenshot submission page (which also tells you exactly how to take screenshots), make some good screenshots, and send them in. Instant fame & fortune guaranteed. Well, ok, eventual fame once your screenshot goes up (we're all out of fortune), but that still counts for something!

All good screenshots people send in are archived, so even if you send more, they will all eventually be featured if they are good enough. And, of course, the fewer screenshots I have of a certain game, the more likely it is that your screenshot of that game will be the next Screenshot of The Week...

February 17, 2006 - SP Happenings #138

This week I've been doing some of the re-arranging of game content and content categories that I've mentioned some time ago. You can already see the results of these efforts in all the subsections of the games covered on SP (barring Baldur's Gate 2 and Neverwinter Nights, which I'm still working on). SP forums for each game are now marked as such, where official patches can be downloaded is now clearly marked, mods got their own categories everywhere that the quantity of them warranted it. The stuff that used to be on the old TeamBG pages for each of the games was redistributed among the other areas. Many of the subsections have been renamed to better reflect the contents (where it says Editors, Hacks & Trainers you now get what you'd expect under the title), and all of the "Editors" subsections have been split apart as much as it made sense, depending on the amount of content there. Soundsets and portraits now also have their own page(s) in many cases.

I hope this makes it easier for people to find what they're looking for more quickly and efficiently.

February 10, 2006 - SP Happenings #137

Well, the past week has been busy, no doubt about that. Since my last report, I've put up parts 1 and 2 of my Wrath of the Dragon God interview, implemented a counter of downloadable files hosted on SP (thanks to Catbert you can see it on the right side of any site page of SP, in the Features table), and thanks to BTA, added Amazon.ca support to our SF/Fantasy DVDs section and our Fantasy Books section (nice, eh?). Things aren't completely finished in the Fantasy Books section yet, but everything will be ready in a couple of days, when the next site content update goes up.

February 3, 2006 - SP Happenings #136

I'm a day late with this, but I'm sure no one will mind... It's been a really busy week for me, in real life and with Sorcerer's Place, so I'm still catching up on things. As I promised, a new site content has gone up yesterday, and I'm already busy with the next one. Since this one will be a catch-up update to get all the stuff up that I've delayed because it wasn't quite ready yet, it'll probably go up before the next SPH as well.

Site-wise, there have been a few changes and additions as well. A few days ago I've split the all-in-one official forum highlights forum into two forums, one covering all Neverwinter Nights (1 & 2) developer posts on the official forums, and the other Dragon Age developer posts. They each also have a separate news page now, so it's no longer a mix of everything on the same page. Check out the Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights forum highlights pages. Oh, and you'll have to update your RSS feed subscriptions, since there are now two feeds for the forum news; one for DA and one for NWN. The general news one remains the same.

We also have a new Neverwinter Nights module review - The Forge of Fury. Check it out.

Yesterday I finally got back that Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God movie interview I've sent it months ago (it's been purposefully delayed until just before the release of the DVD, which will officially happen on the 7th), so you can expect to see that go live later today. It'll probably be split into two parts, since it's rather long.

January 26, 2006 - SP Happenings #135

Not much else new this week apart from the fact that I'm working on a seriously large number of SP content areas, jumping from here to there, updating and adding content. I'll most likely make a smaller content update before next week's SPH to get the most urgent stuff up and then keep working on the rest.

January 19, 2006 - SP Happenings #134

I've been keeping busy for most of last week with the site update that's gone up a couple of days ago, but I'm already working on the next one. The new Infinity Engine modding subsection needs to be expanded and better integrated into the gaming subsections, so I'm doing exactly that. The old TeamBG Tools subsections are now bereft of all actual tools, so the older TeamBG mods and editors left there will be moving to join the rest elsewhere, so that the artificial division of the mods, tools and editors finally comes to an end. When I'm done with all this rearranging, things should make sense even without thinking about them, saving some of our more casual visitors potential confusion. I'll probably also start splitting some game subsection pages into more categories (or pages), especially where things have grown too large or diverse, or where it'd make more sense to have certain things listed differently. This is likely going to be a process that'll extend over a longer period of time, however, since it'll require manual inspection and reordering of things.

And there'll also be other new content for various games covered on SP, of course. It's still early, however, so I won't make any more promises until I get closer to finalizing the update.

January 12, 2006 - SP Happenings #133

We've posted an Neverwinter Nights 2 rules interview with Ferret Baudoin (Lead Designer on the game) last week, so make sure to check it out if you've missed it initially.

There were some more issues with the server over the past week, so I've decided that the RAM upgrade could be delayed no longer, and started up a collection at SP and our larger hosted sites to get us an extra gigabyte of RAM. Enough money has been gathered through generous donations (thanks again to all!) and the extra RAM has been installed since then. It's gone a long way in helping with certain specific server issues, though everything is still not working optimally. I'm working on that, however.

Dealing with the server issues and real life has eaten up much of my free time, but I've still managed to make some progress on the upcoming site update. With any luck, it should go up in a few days.

January 5, 2006 - SP Happenings #132

We've posted two new (p)reviews since the last issue of SPH; a preview of Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach and a review of a Neverwinter Nights module called The Sunless Citadel. Check them out if you haven't yet.

Today we've also experienced some server downtime (this always appropriately happens when I'm not around), but things are back to normal for the time being. I'm still investigating what's caused this latest issue.

I'm also working on a site content update, which should go up fairly soon - possibly before next week's SPH.

December 22, 2005 - SP Happenings #131

As I've promised last week, the new SP Mystery Feature has gone up a couple of days ago (details here), and it's working out great. However, it is rather strange to see no comments about it, especially from all those people here who have submitted content on SP and can now keep track of how often their files are being downloaded. Check it out, if you haven't yet.

We also have a new Baldur's Gate 2 mod review by olimikrig: The Darkest Day. It's a really in-depth look at the WeiDU version of the mod, so I heartily recommend reading it to everyone interested.

As I won't be around much over the next week (or have much to report), the next SPH will be posted in two weeks' time. I'm pretty happy with how the year's turned out for Sorcerer's Place, since most of what I've set out to do has either already been implemented, or is in various stages of implementation. It'd be nice if I could have wrapped more things up before the end of the year, but c'est la vie - there's always something to look forward to in the next year. My thanks go out especially to all the people who help me run, improve and support SP in various ways, from submitting content, coding, posting news, moderating, donating, buying through our stores, or just being here. As I've often said before, if it weren't for the dedication of a large number of people besides me, SP probably wouldn't still be here today.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and I hope you enjoy the remaining days of 2005. As usual, I have plenty of things in store for next year, so make sure you stick around. And if you're feeling generous, please buy some stuff through the SP stores or donate a few bucks to keep SP running. Thank you!

And now you can join me in the traditional D&D carol of the season...

"Ring Their Bells", or "The Munchkin's Carol"
--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!

Chorus:
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!

(Chorus)

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!

(Chorus)

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 15, 2005 - SP Happenings #130

The past week around here has been quite eventful... I've made some minor changes to the site navigation tables' content, some more extensive changes to the header and footer on the message boards, added links to report broken links to pages of the Fantasy Books and SF/Fantasy DVDs sections, implemented RSS news feeds for all the news posted on Sorcerer's Place, put together this FAQ entry that explains all you need to know about RSS on SP and worked with Catbert on wrapping up the new SP Mystery Feature. Which is looking really spiffy, but will remain a mystery a while longer, since I need to make some extensive code modifications to make it work all across SP. I expect to be done with it before next week's SPH, so I'll most likely make a separate announcement about it in our Sorcerous Sundries forum, as well as mention it in next week's SPH.

December 8, 2005 - SP Happenings #129

It's pretty rare that you get an unannounced site update on SP, but that's just what's happened yesterday. Admittedly, it was pretty small overall, but the opening of a new section (SF/Fantasy DVDs) warranted the special treatment. I've been busy adding more titles since then, so another smaller site update will probably go up again pretty soon.

Catbert is wrapping up the new Mystery Feature (not the updated site layout, this is something else), that will make an appearance on SP very soon. Keep an eye out for announcements...

Finally, we have a new forum at Boards O' Magick: Members' Amazon Wish Lists. Check it out if you haven't yet!

December 1, 2005 - SP Happenings #128

Well, the promised site update has gone up a few days ago, so I get a few days off (until I begin working on another one). There's just no end to the amount of stuff I've got planned for future updates, or that comes in regularly... Still, I guess it's better than having nothing to do. I might resort to actually playing games otherwise, and where would that get us...

Right now Catbert is coding something pretty neat for SP, and I'll implement it as soon as he's done with it. In the meantime, work on various content additions to SP continues.

November 24, 2005 - SP Happenings #127

Things have mostly got back to normal around here, so I've had some time to work on a site update, which will most likely go up tomorrow. I'm working on several things at the moment, but since it'd take too long to get everything up with a single update, I'll wrap up the stuff that's mostly already done, and keep working on the rest after tomorrow's update. By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our visitors who celebrate it!

November 17, 2005 - SP Happenings #126

It's been a trying week at the SP control tower, that's for sure... The main server's been acting up all week, and I've been keeping close watch over it for days now, trying to figure out what's causing all the problems, but thus far neither tech support nor I have managed to come up with anything conclusive. So, sorry again for the too frequent interruptions in the availability of the site and boards than I would have liked. Unfortunately it seems more and more likely that SP and all our hosted sites are the victims of our own success, and that the server is simply due for another upgrade, at least as far as RAM is concerned. However, as I've recently bought hosting at another location as well, I'll try to relieve our main server of some of the load by moving some of the more easily portable scripts over there. There's really no guarantee that this will be enough, but I won't know until I've tried.

Luckily Blackthorne TA has also contributed some helpful insight and advice, and I'm currently trying out a somewhat changed configuration on the server, which is hopefully going to bear fruit.

Among other happenings, Chevalier's been gone since Monday (latest word from him is that he's due back on Saturday), leaving me with a pile of news to post, which isn't helping with my other workload around here. Though admittedly it's relatively fun if you only do it every now and then like I can afford to these days.

I've also been working on a bunch of other stuff around the site, but since it's not terribly important and I don't feel like writing all about it now (once it goes up it'll be obvious and commented enough), I'll just wrap it up here for the week.

Oh, not to forget... I'll probably get another site content update up before the next SPH. If I can find some time to actually work on it, that is...

November 10, 2005 - SP Happenings #125

No rest for the weary... as soon as I've finished the site content update that has gone up last week, I was already working on a new one. For the last two days I've been adjusting all the image galleries on SP to have the Previous and Next buttons on the display pages, and I've just finished the last one as I'm writing this. Browsing any image galleries on SP should now be a much more pleasant experience. I've also made some minor content moves (mainly from the Articles/Editorials subsection of News/Main into various game subsections) where it's made more sense to have the content (mostly screenshots) there. Let's see what's next on the to-do list now...

November 3, 2005 - SP Happenings #124

Well, getting ill and having to stay in bed for nearly 5 days wasn't exactly part of last week's plan... In short, the planned site update's been moved a few days ahead. It will most likely go up before the end of the week.

October 27, 2005 - SP Happenings #123

This past week has been relatively quiet with nothing much going on, and I've been quite busy in RL so I didn't get much work done on SP either. However, the site content update that I'm working on will almost certainly go live a few days before next week's SPH.

October 20, 2005 - SP Happenings #122

Our Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God movie interview will unfortunately be delayed for a bit, because the DVD release date of the movie has been pushed forward until January, so our interview will only go live a few weeks before that.

There haven't been any grand scale changes around here for the past week, but a few notable new features and changes relating to our message boards have happened. Both the general news and the forum news front pages now list 10 latest active threads on our message boards, which should prove more useful in providing an extended picture of recent board activity. Next, our board members now have the ability to post game reviews in The Playground forum. And lastly, dmc, one of our diligent forum moderators, has been given global mod powers (do I hear an evil laugh in the background?), and is now part of the quadrumvirate of moderators whose power extends over our entire message boards.

I've had a pretty busy week in RL, also due to a number of other smaller tasks connected with SP, but I've still managed to start another site content update, so I'll probably have something up before next week's SPH.

October 13, 2005 - SP Happenings #121

Well, the promised site update is complete, I just need to put together a list of contents, so it'll go up later today. Lots of good stuff a-coming.

And now for the major announcement... I am extremely happy and relieved to report that I've also finished checking through all of the Baldur's Gate 2 content tables earlier this week, which, content-wise, finally makes the transition to this millennium complete. As with the other sections I've converted with chevalier's invaluable assistance, the differences you will notice now are the author credits next to the titles of all downloadable content hosted on SP, external downloads & links marked for convenience, the tables stretching as needed, as well as having a unified look. The pages will also load much faster now because all the table formatting is done via CSS.

Now that this is done, we'll just go down the long to-do list one more thing at a time. Heeere, catbert, catbert, catbert...

October 6, 2005 - SP Happenings #120

Three exclusive Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God movie stills have gone up on SP last week, so check them out if you've missed them.

A couple of days ago I've also sent in our Wrath of the Dragon God movie interview questions, so I'll have some interesting reading and some new stills for you all once I get the answers back.

Finally, I've started working on a new site content update, so I'll likely have something to show in that department before next week's SPH.

By the way, are all of you who are particularly interested in Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights 2 keeping up with official forum highlights that Eldular and chevalier are so diligently collecting and posting here?

September 29, 2005 - SP Happenings #119

We've weathered the storm (read hurricane) last week without a hitch, so kudos to our server provider for making sure everything's gone smoothly and without interruptions.

As promised, a site content update has gone up a couple of days ago. Smaller than what I had planned, but when I keep on adding things it just takes that much longer to get anything up, so I'll probably be doing a bit smaller but more regular updates from now on. If you haven't yet, you really should check it out, because a number of excellent SP-exclusive content submissions have gone up.

In other news, I'll be conducting an interview with the writer on the Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God movie (the sequel), but I'm also giving the community a shot at posing some good questions, so if you have any, put them here.

September 22, 2005 - SP Happenings #118

I'm happy to report that I've finished checking through ALL the Neverwinter Nights content tables earlier this week already. As with the other sections I've converted with chevalier's invaluable assistance, the differences you will notice now are the author credits next to the titles of all downloadable content hosted on SP, external downloads & links marked for convenience, the tables stretching as needed, as well as having a unified look. The pages will also load much faster now because all the table formatting is done via CSS.

This only leaves us with the behemoth Baldur's Gate 2 subsection still waiting to be converted at chevalier's convenience. Hopefully that one will also be done before long.

I'm also planning on making another site update before next week's SPH, as I've received a few excellent content submissions that must go up as soon as possible. You'll see what I mean once they go up. ;)

By the way, you've probably heard by now that hurricane Rita is projected to hit the Houston, Texas area in the next couple of days. While normally hurricanes are not a matter of significance when it comes to the online world, all servers that host your favourite websites exist physically somewhere... and as (bad) luck would have it, our primary one is located in Houston. This means that if it comes to a disruption of service for any reason, SP and all our hosted sites will go down until the situation normalizes. Still, I have faith in our server provider since they're well equipped to deal with all kinds of emergencies, even hurricanes. But things could go bad on other ends of Houston, causing disruptions that could affect our availability, so if the worst case scenario comes true, you can count on it that we'll bounce back as soon as the situation permits.

Regardless of the site's availability, our chatrooms will still be accessible via any standalone IRC clients, so you might want to check out these connection instructions and make sure you're able to access the chatrooms now in case you'll need to at any point later on. Wish us and everyone else based in the hurricane-vulnerable areas luck...

September 15, 2005 - SP Happenings #117

Not much to report on this week. RL is still keeping me busy, so the Neverwinter Nights subsection content tables are about the extent of the work I've been doing on SP apart from the regular weekly updates. I'm nearly done with most of the central content tables (which will most likely be going up tomorrow), while the Toolset & Related subpages will be updated over an extended period of time. There are simply too many of them requiring manual verification, so it doesn't make sense to hold everything else back until those are done.

Shortly after I'm done with the NWN content tables I'll prepare another site update, and after that, we'll be updating the last of the old content tables in the Baldur's Gate 2 subsection. But more on that in the upcoming weeks.

September 8, 2005 - SP Happenings #116

Work in RL has been keeping me very busy lately, so I haven't had much time to work on SP besides making the regular weekly updates. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up a bit over the weekend. Still, I've managed to think up and add some nice new features (which should make many people here very happy) on the to-do for the updated site design.

Site news-wise we have an interesting new exclusive up - a report from the Conestoga 9 convention, where George R. R. Martin was the Guest of Honor. A must read for every fan, so make sure to check it out if you haven't yet.

September 1, 2005 - SP Happenings #115

Well, the site update I've been promising for a while has gone up a couple of days ago, but I'm already working on the next one. I won't be giving out an ETA on this one until I'm nearly done with it, however - just in case.

As far as the more interesting developments around here go, Catbert has presented me with some very nice ideas for improvement of how the site works code-wise, so the development on the updated site design, layout and code is pretty much underway. The wheels around here just keep on turning...

August 25, 2005 - SP Happenings #114

Thanks to Eldular, the most recent addition to our news team, we're back in business with the Dragon Age official forum news coverage. Eldular is diligently keeping track of all the interesting things the Dragon Age developers post on the official message boards and then reporting it all on SP every couple of days. Make sure to check out his highlights here.

I'm also running a bit overlooked poll on how to best handle the forum news, since the way it's been handled thus far has inevitably meant that even people who are otherwise interested in this sort of news often overlooked it due to not being posted on the front page. However, later on in the thread I've come to what I think is a pretty good solution - having 5 headlines for forum news (linking to the forum news page) on the front page below the general news headlines, and another 5 headlines for general news (linking to the front page) on the forum news page below the forum news headlines. So keeping track of everything should be somewhat easier now.

Besides working on the site update (which isn't quite ready yet, but I hope to have it up by the end of the week), I've also fixed and changed a few minor things around the site and the server which have been waiting for a long time now for me to have the time to start clearing the big ol' to-do list. But I've mostly been occupied with checking the updated content tables of the SP Neverwinter Nights section, which is going to take me a while due to the huge amount of content there...

August 18, 2005 - SP Happenings #113

As I didn't think I'd have anything else of major importance to do around the site last week, I announced another upcoming site update. However, in the well-established tradition of ever-changing priorities, I've been working on something else these past few days. The reason for this is chevalier's surprising me with renewed zeal for getting the old content tables fixed (those of you who have been keeping up with SPH will remember this subject from a [long] while ago). The work on getting them fixed has stopped back then, but now it's finally moving again. Chevalier has already sent me fixed tables for 4 game sections on SP still waiting to be fixed (Torment, IWD, IWD2 and NWN), which only leaves BG2, which we'll tackle after the promised site update. Delayed a bit due to all this, but it should go up in a few days.

Currently, I've managed to check and upload the new content tables for the Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale sections, but Icewind Dale 2 should also go up in a matter of hours after posting this, as I'm nearly done with it as well. The differences you will notice now are the author credits next to the titles of all downloadable content, external downloads & links marked for convenience, the tables stretching as needed, as well as having a unified look.

August 11, 2005 - SP Happenings #112

Lots and lots of happenings this week... however, most of it being top-secret if-I-told-you-I'd-have-to-kill-you stuff, so I can't tell you all what it was. Suffice it to say, many interesting things are going on in the background, and Catbert and I are keeping busy with site improvements. Since I mention Catbert, the logical connection here is Coding Fun, and indeed that is what I've been tasking (and taxing, hehe) him with. His next project will require pretty much rewriting the current SP design and back-end to implement a mile long list of potential new features and improvements I've jotted down over the year the new design has been up. He's probably not too happy about the workload, but that's the price of progress... Anyway, I'm sure he'll have fun with it once he starts on it. If nothing else, my gleeful exclamations of excitement and anticipation should be incentive enough to keep him interested (I wish).

Now on to the details of the second site update promised to come soon... well, it'll be coming soon. As much as I hate giving out estimations over such things, I'd say that it's quite likely that another site update will be going up before the next SPH.

P. S.

If you haven't yet, check out our recent review of the Pirates of the Sword Coast Premium Module for Neverwinter Nights.

August 5, 2005 - SP Happenings #111

So, finally... a new site update is up. Not even remotely containing everything I would have liked, but as I've written before, another one will be coming shortly. Apologies to those of you who have sent in content ages ago and had to wait until now for it to go up - site updates will be on a more regular schedule from this point onwards. There's a lot more where this one came from.

July 29, 2005 - SP Happenings #110

Along with a boatload of other work around SP (maintenance, planning, several tweaks) made this past week, I've also made some headway on the upcoming site update, which will be going up in the next few days, if everything goes according to plan.

July 21, 2005 - SP Happenings #109

Ah, home sweet home. Now that I'm back again, things are slowly getting back to normal for me. It's taken me two full days to get back to speed on happenings at and around SP (how I managed to survive without the Internet for a full week still amazes me), but I've just about caught up on everything that I've missed in the week that I've been gone.

Thanks go out to the entire SP team who managed to cope without me just fine, and nicely look after things during my absence. The weekly features that have been suspended while I was away (poll, screenshot of the week, poll results, SPH) are now all back on track.

The really, REALLY heavily delayed site update will also be going up as soon as I can wrap it up. I will most likely cut down on the sheer scope of content I had in mind for this update, so that it can go up sooner, and then have another update ready relatively soon after the first one. I've got more time on my hands now, so I should finally be able to start putting up some of the content that's been patiently sitting on my hard drive or in my mind for literally years now. Just wait and see...

July 8, 2005 - SP Happenings #108

Despite my best intentions, the announced site update won't go up this week, but the week after the next. I'll be away on vacation next week, probably without Internet access, and the preparations for the week I'll be away have taken up practically this entire week, so I have had no time to wrap up the site update I started some time ago. Still, this is my first real vacation in 2 or 3 years, so it should do me good to get away from all this for a while. I have full confidence in the people that'll be looking after things while I'm gone, so hopefully my absence won't be missed (much).

Rather unfortunately, however, our head news editor Chevalier's computer has been on the fritz since Wednesday, obviously at the most unfortunate time possible. This also means I have to fill in for him and post all the news that I can myself (for as long as I'm still here), but after I'm gone, news will have to wait until he can get his computer repaired.

Most of the SP features normally posted on a weekly basis (poll, screenshot of the week, poll results, SPH) will not be posted next week, but the week after the next, when I get back.

July 1, 2005 - SP Happenings #107

Got hosting? SP hosting is now available to all qualifying CRPG and gaming sites. Details can be found here.

I'm also working on a site update long overdue, so I'll have something up by the end of next week. As always, stay tuned.

June 23, 2005 - SP Happenings #106

Circle of Eight, one of our hosted sites, has a new design and expanded focus (now covering Hellgate: London in addition to The Temple of Elemental Evil). You can read all about it in this thread at RPG Codex.

I also need some more hands to man the fort, so I've updated our help wanted page with a new entry. In particular, I'm looking for proficient PHP/MySQL coders to help out with various advanced coding tasks here.

June 16, 2005 - SP Happenings #105

The server Sorcerer's Place and our hosted sites are running on has received a boost in the form of a new, nearly 1GHz faster CPU last week, so the sites should be even more responsive and faster-loading now. This will also cut down on the time some of the more CPU-intensive tasks on the server require, and help to keep the load on the server low. The money for this upgrade was gathered by the 4 of our most active hosted sites (RPG Codex, Co8, DAC, TA) through donations, so thanks go to them.

Speaking of donations, the SPS Accounts special where you get 6 additional months added to any SPS account you donate for (mentioned last week), is good only for another week. Considering the extremely poor turnout over the past week, I'm hoping that more people will take advantage of this offer before it expires. Right now, showing your support for SP really pays off.

June 9, 2005 - SP Happenings #104 - 6 Years of Sorcerer's Place!

June 10, 1999. Just another day in history, though of some importance to Sorcerer's Place. It occurred to me some time ago that I don't even remember when exactly in '99 I started this whole show, so after some serious digging, I've come up with a date. It's probably not accurate to the day, but it's a nice round figure, and the best I could do, since I didn't pay much attention to keeping records at that point.

Last year at around this time I was so busy with the new design and RL matters that the 5th SP anniversary has simply slid by unnoticed, and I'm not really going to make a big deal out of the 6th either (I'll wait for the 7th for that!). The sheer fact that Sorcerer's Place has been around for 6 years, and is still actively being worked on, speaks volumes. In a bit less than a year since we've introduced the current SP design and reorganized pretty much the entire site from the ground up, dozens (hundreds?) of things have happened around the site. We've tried to improve everything that's already been good about SP before, introduced many new features, and are always thinking about what's coming next. There have really been far too many changes and improvements for me to go listing them all, so if anyone is curious (and has missed them), it's all mostly documented in previous SP Happenings.

The immediate changes I have planned for SP are a practical evolution of the current state. While I'm very happy with how this new design has worked out in all aspects, some quirks have popped up during nearly a year of its use, so with a little help from my friends, I hope to get those kinks worked out over the next few months. We'll also slightly adjust the current design to accommodate some new ideas I have, and to improve visibility of certain features.

As far as SP is concerned, I've got a lifetime's worth of ideas and content I'd like to present, so there's no fear of SP ever starting to stagnate, provided the SP team and I can keep working on it. Considering there's only so much a single person (that'd be me) can do, I'll also try to break down certain SP tasks into manageable chunks, and hopefully get some volunteers from the community (that'd be you), to help out. As always, stay tuned - there's always something going on at Sorcerer's Place.

Of course, since some form of celebration is in order, I've decided to extend all Sorcerer's Place Supporter Account subscriptions made in the next two weeks (ending June 24, 2005) for 6 months. In short, every account bought or extended over the next 14 days will get additional 6 months added to it completely free of charge. So, for example, if you go for the cheapest, $15 account (normally good for 3 months), it will be extended to 9 months.

If you've been holding back on getting an SPS account, or simply want to renew your existing account, this it the time to do it. Click your way to the sign-up page to take advantage of this limited-time offer!

As you probably know by now, the SPS accounts are my way of saying thank-you to those SP visitors who decide to support SP with a donation, which is always welcome. Regardless of the site traffic, bills connected with running SP keep coming in every month, and donations help greatly to keep SP out of the red. The last donation to SP has been made sometime in April, so I hope that this special offer manages to gather some more monetary support for SP. Thanks in advance to all of you who decide to help out!

Also, happy birthday, for this is as much a celebration of Sorcerer's Place as a website, as of Sorcerer's Place as a community. Thank you for being here!

June 2, 2005 - SP Happenings #103

I've updated our help wanted page with a new entry, which anyone wanting to write some fantasy movie reviews for SP should check out. This part of SP has been neglected for some time now, so I'm hoping to get some more reviews up in the near future.

Another important thing to mention is that I don't have a single screenshot from Pool of Radiance: RoMD, The Temple of Elemental Evil, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, Icewind Dale 1 & 2 or Baldur's Gate 1 (and their expansions) left for the Screenshot of The Week feature. I know there are many people visiting SP who still play these games, so please, take a look at our screenshot submission page (which also tells you exactly how to take screenshots), make some good screenshots, and send them in. Instant fame & fortune guaranteed. Well, ok, eventual fame once your screenshot goes up (we're all out of fortune), but that still counts for something!

All good screenshots people send in are archived, so even if you send more, they will all eventually be featured if they are good enough. And, of course, the fewer screenshots I have of a certain game, the more likely it is that your screenshot of that game will be the next Screenshot of The Week...

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