Location: News/Main » Articles/Editorials
June 10, 2007 - SP Happenings #180 - 8 Years
of Sorcerer's Place!
As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, it's been a few months since my last entry in the SP Happenings blog. Truth be told, I didn't expect to make another entry until I had something site development-wise to post, but then a little reminder has gone off and I've realized that today marks 8 years of Sorcerer's Place's existence. Reason enough to write a few words.
To say that real life has consumed me would be a vast exaggeration, since I have never really left SP and have kept up its routine maintenance, as our message board regulars can attest. I have, however, found very little extra time to dedicate to the site and content updates, which are a rather integral part of healthy development activities on a site such as SP. I've slowly been getting back on track with this over the past few weeks (the transition to new message board software is now my priority), and once I'm done with my university responsibilities in a few weeks I should have enough free time on my hands to tackle the most pressing updates that SP urgently requires. In short, things should start getting more lively around here in the next few weeks.
Happily, our message boards are still going strong with over 10,500 registered members, forming a community of gamers where many stick around even after their focus has shifted from the games covered on SP. I have several new features in store for all kinds of our visitors, so everyone can expect something new in the near future.
Considering that it's also been a long time since my last call for screenshot submissions I am now in dire need of screenshots from ALL the games covered on SP. So if you're playing now, or have some good ones stored, don't hesitate to send them in - fame awaits! All of the submission instructions
are available here.
As a small token of my gratitude to the current site supporters (SPS Account Holders) who have helped me keep SP and our small network of hosted sites out of the red for the past year, I have extended the subscription period on all accounts for 8 additional weeks to celebrate SP's eighth anniversary. Additionally, anyone signing up for a new SPS Account (or an extension!) via a donation over the next 2 weeks (up to and including the 24th of June) will also receive a free 8-week extension added to their account. If you've been waiting for a good time to show your support and appreciation for SP (again), this is it! You can make your donation on this page. Thank you also to those of you supporting SP via other means - every bit of help is very much appreciated.
January 20, 2007 - SP Happenings #179
I haven't written any SPH editorials in a few weeks, but I haven't decided to become an offline hermit, just in case anyone's been wondering. The long and the short of it is, there simply wasn't anything much to write about in terms of SP happenings, and repeating myself from week to week was rather pointless.
The Neverwinter Nights 2 review onslaught has virtually stopped (until the expansion is announced and a steady stream of news about that starts flowing in), but other front page news is in no short supply.
I've been working on that site content update on and off for a long time now (as much as free time would permit me), so I'll try to finalize and upload it all soon. After that, the plan is to get back on track with the other updates across the site.
December 26, 2006 - SP Happenings #178
A few days ago the artist formerly known as Jan Jansen (now Urithrand) has completed his trial period and has been promoted to a full member of the staff (news editor) here at SP. His job, like Chevalier's, will be to independently hunt down and report about the news relevant to SP on a daily basis. With both of them on the job, I expect to have a bit more time on my hands to dedicate to other parts of the site than the news, so I should be getting more things done faster in the future.
Now that I've had a bit of a break over the last few days, I'm back in the saddle and working on the site content updates, so you can expect SPS and regular content updates soon.
I'm slightly late with the merry Christmas wishes, so I wish everyone a happy remainder of the holidays and a fun-filled 2007! At this point I'd especially like to thank 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 most likely wouldn't be around any more.
And here comes the traditional D&D
carol of the season...
"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 17, 2006 - SP Happenings #177
Well, it's been two weeks since my last SPH write-up, and site-wise, not much has changed during this time. The last few months of my life have been more hectic than ever, which sadly leaves me with little time to dedicate to improving SP in addition to the regular maintenance, which is a significant task in itself.
About a week ago I've finally managed to at least transition my own home working environment to the new computer I've bought nearly two months ago (yes, it's taken me this long...), so I'm pretty happy that I got this out of the way, at least. Not that it's gone without major complications most steps of the way, but in the end, I've managed to sort everything out, albeit it's taken me an inordinate amount of time.
Now that I've got this brand new system silently humming next to me I keep thinking that it's a shame that I can't put it to more work just yet due to my real life commitments. I expect to have a bit of free time to dedicate to the long-delayed site update in the second half of next week and a few days after that, but seeing how lately the times when I think I'll have a bit of a break have the annoying habit not to happen, I'm wary of making any kind of timed announcements. Still, keep your fingers crossed this time. ;)
One other thing that I need to write about is how well Chev and Jan have taken over the news posting duties over the last month. I'm really impressed by the dedication that both of them are showing, and our news is being done better and faster than ever. And with far less involvement from me to boot, which is saving me a significant amount of time every day. Well done, guys. Jan is also at the end of his "apprenticeship", so he'll be promoted to full news editor status over the next few days.
December 3, 2006 - SP Happenings #176
It's the time of year for Christmas decorations
again, so I've put some up on the site and the message boards. Regardless
of your religion (if any), I hope that you are able to enjoy the
festive spirit of the season, which for me is inextricably linked
with decorations and a bit less pessimism than usual (always a good
thing). It's also an inconvenient reminder that much of what I've
set out to do with SP this year most likely won't happen before
the next, simply due to my overwhelming real life obligations. But
such is life, and if I could afford to work full-time on SP, I'd
be very happy indeed.
Chevalier and Jan are still keeping busy with the
posting of (primarily) Neverwinter Nights 2 news, while Ragusa
and Darkwolf have now been allowed to post in the AoDA and AoLS
forums again. I've also spent a couple of hours working out some
issues with some of our hosted
The long a-coming site content update should happen
sometime next week, hopefully without any more unexpected delays.
November 26, 2006 - SP Happenings #175
Another week gone by with not many drastic changes
from the last. Our diligent news crew is still posting tons of Neverwinter
Nights 2 news, I'm getting a few more screenshot submissions than
usual (I could still use many from older games covered on SP), the
about Ragusa and Darkwolf is still going on, and due to unforeseen
issues in real life, I haven't yet had the time to start on the
promised site content update. Still, it's my top priority now, so
it's going to happen as soon as I can make it.
November 19, 2006 - SP Happenings #174
There's STILL a ton of Neverwinter Nights 2 news
being posted. Just saying because I want to see how many more weeks
I can keep repeating this.
In other news, one of our message board members
by the name of Jan Jansen (any relation purely coincidental) has
joined the ranks of the SP news editors. Stunning, I know, but that
much more appreciated. Horrible as I am, I've made him start slaving
away at the news shortly after the introductory niceties, but he
seems to be bearing it with a smile thus far. He's proven to be
a quick learner, so I believe he'll make a fine addition to the
staff once his apprenticeship is over. Here's hoping he doesn't
get scared of the responsibilities and run away before that happens.
Wish him luck!
I've also been getting quite a few nice screenshots
for the Screenshot of the Week feature, but I can always use more,
especially of all the older games covered on Sorcerer's Place. Now
that the Neverwinter Nights 2 screenshots have started coming in,
I have noticed that for some reason incomprehensible to human beings
capable of rational thought, NWN2 by default outputs all the screenshots
a player takes as badly compressed JPG images. Needless to say,
such screenshots look awful, since the compression artifacts are
plainly visible. Leaving aside the discussions why Obsidian has
decided on such a crappy output by default when no other game I
know of does it, I have updated our Screenshot-taking
Guide with instructions on how to make Neverwinter Nights 2
output your screenshots in high-quality TGA format, like the original
Neverwinter Nights. I guess we should be grateful that Obsidian
at least left the functionality for it in the game. Anyway, thanks
to BTA for looking up how this can be done.
All of you intending to submit NWN2 screenshots
to SP, please check the link above and follow the five easy steps
to make your NWN2 output screenshots in TGA format.
Next thing worth a particular
mention is my finalizing the move of the SPS direct downloads list
from the message boards to the site pages. All the downloads have
been reordered and recategorized, and the list is now very easy
to navigate. Some 20 new downloads have also been added to it, with
more coming up shortly. Those of you with SPS
accounts, do check it out.
Not to be left out, there is activity on our message
boards also. Our older board regulars in particular should not miss
poll thread which discusses the potential come-back of Ragusa
There's much more going on behind the scenes right
now, so keep checking for updates regularly. My next priority is
getting up a site content update with the most pressing content,
hopefully before the end of next week.
November 12, 2006 - SP Happenings #173
It's only been 5 days since I've written the last
SPH, but I'd like to get this weekly feature back on track as well,
so here it is. There's still a large amount of Neverwinter Nights
2 news being posted, and until everyone and their grandmother gets
their reviews posted, the load probably won't lessen by much.
The response to our updated help wanted sign and
my call for game screenshot submissions has been less than stellar,
but considering the significant amount of negativity in the air
as it is, I don't really want to dwell on it. I'll think happy thoughts
instead, which might not do anything much overall, but will keep
me from brooding, at least.
In truth, I'm in quite a good mood since I've been
getting a number of things that I've been delaying for ages done
now, so the prospect of starting on the message boards transition
soon is looking bright. However, since there so many other things
to do besides that, I'm just doing them one by one in no particular
order, so it's hard for even me to predict what I'll be digging
into next. The direct SPS account downloads have been on the agenda
for the past few days. I've been adding some 20 new downloads, as
well as updating and rearranging the entire listing of downloads,
which has grown to a size that is unmanageable on the message boards,
where the listing currently resides. The whole thing is going to
be split down into several pages, which will now be located on the
site itself, so it will be much easier to navigate and find things.
While I'm at it, I'll also be updating several existing SPS downloads.
I've also been debating with Catbert a lot about
the future changes to the site, so we might actually be moving forward
in the site redesign area too. Unless he pulls another vanishing
trick on me, that is.
November 7, 2006 - SP Happenings #172
As I've predicted in the last SPH, the past week
around here has been busy indeed. In truth, it's always crazy around
here once a new game is nearing release, and on and after the release.
There are dozens of relevant news pieces to post, ranging from interviews
to screenshots and from reviews to patch-related news, as well as
much more. All in addition to the regular stream of other news,
of course. Before the release of Neverwinter Nights 2 I've also
agreed to help Obsidian out with the mirroring of their NWN2 patches,
which took a bit of coordination and effort to set up. Unfortunately,
due to a security setting on our secondary server, where the patches
have been mirrored, I have had to stop mirroring the patches after
only a few days. Since our server wouldn't properly respond to ping
requests, Obsidian's patch coordinating server misinterpreted this
as meaning that the response came in 0ms (i.e. very fast), so the
sorcerers2.net server was always favoured for patching. Needless
to say, once we've figured this out, our bandwidth usage on the
server was at around 150GB per day (around 1800 patch transfers
per day), with no real way of limiting it. Since this situation
didn't really work out for either Obsidian (improper patch server
speed reported) or me (too high bandwidth usage), and the accurate
responding to pings could not be enabled, the decision was made
to pull down the sorcerers2.net patch server. So much for good intentions...
I've also made a few new additions and changes to
the site and message boards over the last week, so here's a short
That you should read our interview and check the
screenshots mentioned above goes without saying, and you'll notice
the message board changes without particularly looking for them.
However, a word or two about our help wanted page won't hurt (much).
I've been complaining about this for a while now, but since it doesn't
seem to have made much of an impact, I'll whine some more.
Sorcerer's Place is a big site. Too big for a single
person to handle, even if this lucky guy or girl were able to run
it full time. Due to the branching into various directions related
to the games covered on SP, there is a relatively wide variety of
areas where anyone with a bit of skill and preparedness to invest
a small amount of time and effort could contribute significantly.
And yet, even of those very few people who volunteer for doing something,
over 90% of them never come through. While this is probably a recurring
theme wherever online volunteers are relied on to do something,
it does seem to me to be getting progressively worse with each passing
year. There is a host of possible reasons why that I don't feel
like getting into, but my message here is, SP could be a better
place if more people would decide to help it in whichever capacity
they can. I realize that the majority of our visitors come here
for fun, and that anything suspiciously resembling work in any shape
or form is probably the last thing they'd want to be doing. I understand
this and I can't really do anything about it - maintaining high
standards does mean that at least some work must be invested into
everything that sees the light of day on SP. But none of it is impossibly
hard to do for anyone with even a modicum of determination. Therefore
I invite all of you reading this to look over the help wanted page
linked above. If you find nothing that you think you can help with,
no problem. But if you do find something, even if it means just
writing one mod review, do sign up for it. The whole community benefits
I'd also like to take this opportunity to emphasize
again that I need more screenshots from pretty much all of the games
covered on SP, so those of you reading this, do take some good ones
when you're playing and send them over. All of the instructions
are available here.
Oh, and much to my joy, Catbert has returned, so
SP has a resident coder guru at hand again. Yet another reason to
push me that much harder to get the new message board set up, so
that we can continue with the redesign of the site...
October 29, 2006 - SP Happenings #171
I've had quite a busy week in real life and SP-wise,
and the upcoming week is only going to be busier. The North American
release of Neverwinter Nights 2 is coming up on Tuesday (Oct. 31),
and I'll be busy with providing a certain kind of support for it
(keep following the news for the announcement once I can make it
public), and as soon as the flood of Neverwinter Nights 2 reviews
and post-release news starts streaming in, both Chev and myself
will be very busy indeed to keep up with the complete coverage.
A few days back I've also posted the first
part of our extensive interview with Alan Miranda, the CEO of
Ossian Studios, regarding their hit Neverwinter Nights module, Darkness
over Daggerford. If you haven't yet, make sure to give it a read.
I'll be posting the second part tomorrow, so keep an eye out for
that as well.
As I will continue to do for the foreseeable future,
I'm going through dozens of post-it's, reminders on pieces of paper
scattered all over my desk, reminders listed on my computer's desktop,
delayed tasks, delayed news, delayed sub-projects on SP... And then
there are personal issues in real life, work, studies... Juggling
all of this at once unfortunately requires a constant setting of
priorities, which rarely coincide with that I'd like to be doing
at that given moment. Still, I have managed to return to regularly
scheduled updates of site features, so I feel that this is a good
first step. Now I just need time in abundance for all the other
outstanding tasks and projects. Wish me luck...
October 22, 2006 - SP Happenings #170
The good news: I got everything that I've complained
about in the previous issue of SPH working by now. I'm actually
relieved that some of it has turned out to be due to my own stupidity
- if all of that had actually been due to crappy hardware, my faith
in computer technology would really have been shattered.
The bad news: 3 weeks since my last SPH write-up
is probably a somewhat obvious sign that something has seriously
compromised my routine. Truth be told, I did my best to keep up
with everything on SP, and changing the weekly screenshot and writing
a new SPH article over the last couple of weeks aside, I've managed
it. Unfortunately, an incredibly taxing and exhausting series of
episodes in real life has manifested itself over the last few weeks,
so my best laid plans for SP are still just that. Plans.
What little free time my personal issues have allowed
me has mostly been spent on regular maintenance and managing the
advertising on Sorcerer's Place and our hosted sites, where I've
been weeding out the most horrendous and inappropriate ads that
I've found (and that people have complained about). This task involves
hours of painstaking manual checking of the ads in our advertising
provider's system, and has to be redone every few days, because
the ads I'm most anxious to get rid of have an uncanny knack of
being enabled again a few days after I've disabled them. The "Groundhog
Day" feeling is unavoidable.
Due to the heavy decline in donations and sales
through our stores this year, SP is now primarily being funded by
advertising, and despite the fact that advertising doesn't cover
even half of our monthly costs, it requires a great deal of time
and effort on my part to keep it as tidy as possible, and regular
checking for better advertising providers even more. The sad reality
of the situation is that I spend much more of my time micromanaging
the monetary aspects of SP to keep it afloat than I do adding new
content and features to the site, and I don't like it one bit.
So, in case you've been wondering, I haven't forgotten
or given up on any of my plans that I've already written about extensively
in the past. As much as I'm repeating myself, you've all probably
got the idea now that I'm not short on exciting plans, but primarily
the time to make them all happen. Running a community/resource/news
site like Sorcerer's Place at a consistent level of quality simply
requires at least one full-time person solely dedicated to it, as
well as a number of helpers at the same time. My own free time over
the last few months has been too scarce to allow me to fully start
on the most extensive priority project - the transition of our message
boards to new database-driven software - and I still don't want
to start on this until I'm confident that I'll have at least a few
free days in a row to work on it continually, so that there will
be minimum downtime for our message boards and that everything will
go as smoothly as possible. I might finally get this chunk of free
time needed by the end of this month, but then again, I might not.
I've been more certain of being able to pull it off when I wrote
about it in the previous SPH, but real life priorities have come
up, and I've had to abandon the previously set date as well. At
this point, I'm not giving out any more promises. Like Duke Nukem
Forever, it'll be done when it'll be done (probably sooner than
I want to thank all of you reading this and keeping
up with what's happening here for your patience. I know that the
last few months haven't been exactly encouraging, since development
of the site has pretty much stopped in its tracks, and certain areas
of SP urgently require updates (especially the Games and Fantasy
Books sections). Work on neither of these has been stopped, merely
suspended for a while. My priorities for SP are still setting up
the new message boards, then finding some more people to help with
the news posting (since I'm having a hard time hunting all the news
down on a daily basis for Chevalier to post), then starting to catch
up on the most urgent content updates. Probably several of these
at once, time permitting. As for how well I'll be managing all of
this, keep reading SPH, as always...
Oh, and if you haven't yet, check out Chev's
Neverwinter Nights 2 character contest!
October 1, 2006 - SP Happenings #169
No luck with that new router still. I've wasted
a few more hours of my time attempting to get it to connect to my
ISP so the home network would have Internet access, but to no avail.
The ISP's tech support was no help (big surprise there), so I'll
be phoning the computer store where I've bought the router, and
I dearly hope that some competent tech there is familiar with my
type of router so I'll finally be able to get it working properly.
On top of the router issue, I've found out that
the internal IR port that my new computer has isn't working properly
for some reason. I've been trying to get my phone to connect to
it without success, and when I've tried it with a different phone
and it still didn't work, it became pretty obvious that the issue
was with the computer's IR. It's a funny thing, IR - when I've been
searching around for help on it, it all pretty much amounted to
"it either works fine out of the box with no problems, or it
doesn't and you're screwed". And the latter certainly seems
to be the case in my situation. Windows detects the internal IR
device just fine, reports no conflicts with it, and lists it as
"working properly". Pretty much the only thing that's
configurable with IR is the connection speed, and I've tried a bunch
of different ones and it didn't make any difference. As far as I
can tell, there are no drivers for the IR device, so I'm at a loss
here why the thing doesn't work. If I hadn't already wasted so much
time trying to get it work I'd just buy a cable to connect the phone,
but it's personal now - no puny internal device is going to waste
so much of my time and still not work. :D Not to mention that the
amount of cables already on and under my desk goes beyond the limits
of sanity. Tomorrow I'll see if the tech support can be of any assistance,
I knew that buying a new computer and associated
network devices is going to directly translate into hours of wasted
time setting it up and troubleshooting it, but all this has gone
far beyond my worst expectations. I don't think that I've had so
many computer/router-related issues in all the prior years combined
as I've had in the last couple of months. And this is 2006, when
technical devices are supposed to work properly out of the box with
minimum hassle, right? Eh...
As far as SP is concerned I've been doing some server
tweaking and fixing up things here and there that I didn't have
time for before. During all the delays in the transition to the
new message boards software a new major version of it had been released,
so some of the work on the import scripts that I've done previously
has been invalidated (serves me right for taking so long), but at
least it'll save us the hassle of an upgrade, since we'll be going
directly to the latest version now. Unless real life kicks in too
much (and Splunge jinxes it), I expect to actually have enough time
over the next few days to start the transition.
September 24, 2006 - SP Happenings #168
I think it's about time we've gone ahead with the
message boards transition to the new software... I'll see what I
can do about that over the next week.
September 18, 2006 - SP Happenings #167
The fact that I've forgotten to post the results
of the previous poll last Wednesday (now posted today), coupled
with these SPH coming 2 days late, is probably a good indicator
of how preoccupied I've been last week. Alongside working pretty
hard, I've finally got that new system I've ordered nearly two weeks
ago, so I drove home with a trunk full of PC stuff. I've replaced
my mostly 4+ years old system (boy, time does fly...) with a brand
new computer and an LCD monitor. The fact that the last time I've
been computer-shopping, LCDs were just getting into the reach of
mere mortals and CRTs were still the preferred choice, made me feel
pretty old when I realized that no computer stores around here stocked
CRTs any more. Yikes...
I've spent the entire weekend cleaning up the mess
of cables, old wiring and tons of dust, installing decent new extenders,
and disconnecting and reconnecting more devices and cables than
I cared to count. So, at last, the gargantuan task of cleaning up
that out-of-reach mess that's been gathering dust for years was
at an end. But that was only the beginning...
Reconnecting everything back in such a way as to
not result in a big mess of cables again took a lot of careful planning.
It also turned out that marking those 10 or so RJ-45 and UTP cables
going into the house's router, NT box, splitter, ISDN phone, dial-up
modem and computers would have been a very good idea indeed. It'd
have saved me about 2 hours of random reconnect attempts if I had
known exactly which cable goes where, without having to guess where
those damn two remaining cables were supposed to go. Eventually
I've figured it out while waiting on hold on the phone to my telco.
Of course, it'd be just too darn easy if this was
the only setback. Once I've installed Windows on the new box, the
new wireless router I've bought wouldn't work. Or rather, no matter
what I plugged into the computer's LAN jack, Windows wouldn't detect
it, or so it seemed. I've actually reinstalled Windows three times,
even reverting back to an older version, just in case, and still
nothing. I've even gone so far as to bring back my old router (which
I knew to be working) and connected that, and still nothing.
At this point I was beginning to think that, unlikely
as it may be, the integrated network card on the motherboard had
to be malfunctioning, so I was just about ready to pack up the new
box and take it back, while a friend of mine suggested I look around
and see if there were any motherboard drivers included along with
the new system, and install them. Of course, this was the last thing
on earth that I'd think of doing. I mean, come on... my 5 year old
motherboard didn't need any drivers, and had automatically detected
anything plugged into the LAN jack. My latest, 3 year old one, also
never required any drivers. In fact, if it had (and as you can guess,
this new one did), it would mean that you couldn't go through the
last part of Windows XP installation, which conveniently does nearly
all of the networking/Internet set-up required on its own.
Anyway, much to my dismay and disbelief, as soon
as I've installed the drivers for the network card, the thing recognized
that a cable was connected to it. In short, the integrated network
cards on Nvidia's K9N Neo motherboards are completely Windows XP
unfriendly until you install the drivers for them, making you go
through the network and Internet set-up manually, because you simply
can't go through the automatic setup during the installation of
Windows XP, because you can only install the drivers after you're
done with the said installation. Brilliant. A brand new motherboard
needs drivers for the network card installed before it'll work,
while my two previous old motherboards didn't. No, this still doesn't
make sense to me.
After finally getting to the bottom of this, I was
sure it'd be smooth sailing from there on. Was I ever wrong... while
I've managed to reconnect the home network now, the Internet connection
on the new semi-wireless router wouldn't work. No matter what setting
I tried, using the exact same settings as on my old router, it's
gone through the automatic installation just fine, announced that
all it needed to do was to reboot the router, and the connection
You've guessed it, it didn't, and doesn't, after
a number of failed attempts where I've exhausted just about every
option I could think of. Good thing that at least the new monitor
I've bought works as it should... I'm writing this right now using
that, and my old computer, and my old router. I guess I have a couple
more days of "fun" ahead of me, getting all this sorted
out. Just in case you're wondering what some of the things that
are keeping me busy are...
September 9, 2006 - SP Happenings #166
That long-delayed site content update has finally
gone up a few days ago, so that's one load off my chest. Dwelling
on all the other stuff around here that's been silently awaiting
my attention for the last few months makes these little victories
far less enjoyable, unfortunately. Working full-time coupled with
all my other real-life responsibilities simply does not allow me
to spend as much time developing and expanding SP as I would like.
Still, I make progress where and when I can, so at least the most
pressing things get done. It's just everything else that is taking
way too long...
Anyway, site milestones aside, we have reached and
passed another one on our message boards today. A few months ago
we've reached 500,000 posts there (it'd be far more by now if people
were able to reply to their own posts before someone else does,
like on the vast majority of other message boards), and today we've
officially seen the 10,000th member registration. In truth, our
10,000th registration was nearer 10,100th, since about a hundred
accounts got deleted, corrupted or lost over the years, but I'm
The point is, our community is only getting stronger
every day, and that truly makes me happy and the work invested into
it worthwhile. Our next round-number achievement on the message
boards will be 40,000 forum threads, so there'll be another reason
to celebrate in a few months. I hope that all of you reading this
now will still be here with us then, joined by the ranks of many
new board regulars. The SP staff will certainly do our best to maintain
the level of quality we've established over the years, and our visitors
have grown to expect. Here's to the future, and to the thousands
of members of our message boards who continue to influence and enrich
Sorcerer's Place as a whole. Good going, guys and girls! I can promise
you that there'll be plenty of exciting changes and new features
available to you all soon... ;)
September 2, 2006 - SP Happenings #165
3 words: site update tomorrow.
August 27, 2006 - SP Happenings #164
This unavoidable thing called real life has been
successfully keeping me away from SP for most of the past week as
well, and you've probably noticed that the catch-up site content
update that I expected to have online last week is still not up.
The nature of SP's design over the years has unfortunately always
left the burden of checking, preparing and posting submitted content
to me (along with mostly everything else), and busy as I've been
over the last few months, this complete reliance on me has started
taking its toll in the form of vastly overdue updates.
One way or another, I hope to be in a position to
rectify this situation soon, because having so much unpublished
content (my own and user-submitted) sitting here and waiting for
better times is annoying me as well. However, since merely writing
about it isn't going to help, I'll conclude this week's SPH here
and get cracking on that content update again.
August 19, 2006 - SP Happenings #163
Over the week I've been catching up on a number
of smaller things around here that have been waiting for my attention
for months, and since I've managed to get most of them done, I've
also dedicated some more time to the site content update. It's not
ready yet, but with a bit of luck it should go up in the evening
August 13, 2006 - SP Happenings #162
After I've cleared the backlog of directly downloadable
content for SPS account holders yesterday, I'm finally back to work
on the other areas of Sorcerer's Place that need immediate attention,
namely the user-submitted content waiting to be published. When
I checked yesterday I couldn't believe that it's been over 3 months
since the last site content update... time has obviously been running
fast for me over these last three months. My work schedule now is
a bit less crowded than before, so hopefully I'll be able to catch
up on things around here in a timely manner.
Due to the disappearance of our head coder I'm in
a bit of a jam as far as further development of SP goes, though
in truth I need to get the new message boards software installed
first, since my plans for the integration of the site with the new
message board won't be possible until the latter is in place and
fully functional. But once I start working on that, I'll be looking
for a new coder at the same time...
August 6, 2006 - SP Happenings #161
The UPS I've ordered last week has finally arrived
yesterday, so tomorrow I'll have lots of fun plugging stuff into
it... particularly due to the fact that given the odd desk set-up
I have here, I'll have to disconnect all of the computer, monitor
and speaker cables, as well as about 15 other devices plugged in,
separate the desk from the supporting metal shelves behind it, and
wade into a mess of ancient dust and cable spaghetti that is otherwise
unreachable unless you were to crawl there under the table...
A bunch of electronics have been piling up in this
little Borg corner of the house for years, so there are now 4 or
5 extenders randomly connected wherever I could reach the previous
one when I ran out of outlets to plug things into, so it's high
time I took a couple of hours to clean up this mess, sort out and
bind all the cables, remove the unnecessary extenders, and try to
move the router and ADSL modem somewhere where I can reach them
without having to crawl on all fours. A man's gotta do what a man's
Which brings me to the point where I have to admit
I've forgotten to mention our latest mod review last week, so if
you haven't read the BG1/BG2 EasyTutu
mod review yet, make sure to check it out now.
Alongside working on the long-delayed site content
update last week I've also been catching up on a ton of bookmarked
articles I haven't had the time to read in the last few months,
a number of real life things, like getting another A/C unit installed
here, and making plans & potential arrangements for the redesign
and recoding of Sorcerer's Place. As far as tangible results go,
you can check out SP's
overhauled Game Store, which is now much more user-friendly,
as well as better organized and stocked. Buying products from our
game store helps support SP, so if you do buy games online, please
make Sorcerer's Place your first stop!
As always, there's a lot more in the works (getting
all those content submissions up is now a priority), so stick around
for regular updates.
July 30, 2006 - SP Happenings #160
So, I'm back from vacation and back in SP-action.
After a few days of post-vacation catching up I've started working
on the upcoming site update again, so one part or another of that
should be going up soon. Since I'm really far behind on pretty much
everything I'll try to make a few smaller updates to get the most
important content up, and then go ahead with the message boards
Unfortunately it's the time of year again when we
get nearly daily thunderstorms here, which has cost me a few hours
of work in the past week alone. Power here starts failing pretty
much as soon as a few dark clouds gather, and while those one-second
failures are usually merely an annoyance when it comes to other
electric appliances, we all know how frustrating they can be when
you're working on something on your computer (most likely not recently
saved), and the power goes out...
Consequently I've decided that it's high time I
got a decent UPS, which I promptly went ahead and ordered. Or rather,
attempted to order online, because the first time I was doing it,
the power went out in the middle of the ordering process. Needless
to say, it has only strengthened my resolve to get an UPS, and fast.
July 15, 2006 - SP Happenings #159
The site content update I'm putting together is
not quite ready yet, so it'll wait until I get back from a short
break to recharge my batteries. Over the last couple of months I've
accumulated a boatload of fresh ideas I'm eager to put into practice
(besides catching up on everything that I've been talking about
here for far too long), so I can't wait to get started on it all.
Most of the regular updates around here will continue
more or less on schedule over the next week, except for the Screenshot
of the Week and SP Happenings, which will be updated again the week
after the next.
July 8, 2006 - SP Happenings #158
I'm repeating myself with this pretty often as of
late, but here it is again. I don't have a single screenshot from
Pool of Radiance: RoMD, The Temple of Elemental Evil, Forgotten
Realms: Demon Stone, Dragonshard, Icewind Dale series or Baldur's
Gate 1 (and the expansion) left for the Screenshot of The Week feature.
I also only have a handful of 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 several, 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...
As for the message boards transition that's been
dragging on forever, well, it's going to take a while longer. I've
decided that a site content update right now is a bigger priority
since some of the stuff sent in has been waiting for over a month,
so I'll try to get a content update up as soon as possible, and
then return to the business with the message boards.
July 1, 2006 - SP Happenings #157
I'm beginning to catch up on all the SP stuff that's
piled up over the last month, so I'll be digging into the new message
boards software documentation tomorrow and set a new board up. I'll
need to make a test import of our current data after that, and if
everything goes smoothly, we'll be switching over completely shortly
June 25, 2006 - SP Happenings #156
Well, it's been another week, and I'm still just
catching up on real life matters and work to do around the house
for the most part. To make things worse, my computer has started
shutting itself off randomly, or not wanting to boot up... which
is making me urgently consider buying a new one a bit sooner than
I've intended to. So, to add to the list of not having the time
to go hunting for a new (used) car, I now have to schedule a PC
replacement too. Too bad there's no Time Stop in real life!
June 18, 2006 - SP Happenings #155
Happenings? What happenings?
But seriously, this new project management job I've
started last month has meant such a complete drain of my time every
day that I'll have to set some limits of normalcy, like working
8 hours per day instead of 11-12 on average. Otherwise I'll have
to start looking for someone else to take over running SP, and I'm
sure neither your nor I would be overly happy about that.
I haven't made any progress on anything SP-wise
since last week, which irritates me to no end, because things keep
piling up... but I simply didn't have the necessary time available
to dedicate to SP. However, I plan to change that quite soon, so
hopefully next week will be better in this respect. Keep your fingers
Oh, and for those of you who haven't been paying
attention last week, the SPS Accounts Special is still going on
until the 24th. 6 extra months added to every SPS
subscription or extension completely free of charge. Get it
while it lasts!
June 10, 2006 - SP Happenings #154 - 7 Years
of Sorcerer's Place!
A new job I've started last week has been keeping
me very busy and away from home for most of the week, so the majority
of my previously near-future plans for SP have a more long-term
perspective at the moment. I'll try to squeeze in time for SP when
I can, but as it is, I hardly have the time to keep up with things
around here, and to post the regular (bi)weekly features. Since
I have so little time available for SP at this point, I'll try not
to make any timed promises, since they'd be nearly impossible for
me to hold. Things that depend on me will simply get done when I
have the time to do them.
Consequently, I'm moving the weekly feature schedule
around a bit. I'll post SP Happenings every Saturday from now on,
and the Weekly Wizards of the Coast News Round-up every Sunday.
As luck would have it, today also marks the 7 year
anniversary of Sorcerer's Place. Yup... hard to believe, but SP
has been around for that long. Most of you reading this now haven't
been around long enough to feel waves of nostalgia washing over
you, but some of us old-timers could reminisce for a while...
If I had more time on my hands I'd put together
something overly grandiose to mark the occasion, but since I don't,
I've decided to hold another SPS Accounts special, extending all
Place Supporter Account subscriptions made in the next two weeks
(ending June 24, 2006) 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. Thanks in
advance to all of you who decide to help out!
By the way, we've posted an interview
with Jason Compton about The Broken Hourglass a few days ago,
so check it out if you haven't yet.
June 1, 2006 - SP Happenings #153
Real life has been keeping me very busy over the
last few days (and HotU a couple of days before that), so I've barely
had time to check my mail, news and message boards, let alone do
much else around here. The good news is that we're good to go on
the UBB side of the message boards to import to the new message
boards software, but I'll have to run another test to import the
data into the new database to see if everything looks ok once the
final step is taken. Hopefully I'll have enough time over the weekend
to catch up on this and a few other SP-related open issues.
May 25, 2006 - SP Happenings #152
We're still proceeding with the message boards transition,
albeit a bit more slowly than expected. There was a relatively large
number of things surrounding this to coordinate, but we're nearing
the pre-transition test now. With some luck, the new message boards
should be up in time for the next SPH.
We also have another excellent new Baldur's Gate
2 mod review this week, posted in our Mod Reviews forum - a review
of the Saerileth NPC mod. Be sure not to miss it!
May 19, 2006 - SP Happenings #151
Due to the crazy last 48 hours, I'm a bit off-schedule
with things around here (the Weekly Shot will be changed again next
week), but I'm getting to it slowly now. The donation
drive I've announced in the previous SPH has been a success,
and we've gathered enough funds for all the upgrades and new things
planned for the near future. Thanks again to all of you who have
contributed - I couldn't have done it without you.
The first result upgrade-wise has been the upgrade
of our server's hard drive (which is now twice as large and has
the latest system installed). It was actually a switch of the old
drive with a new one, so the system had to be configured from scratch
again, and SP and all our hosted
sites had to be set up anew on the new drive, and all the files
and databases transferred over and reconfigured to work on the new
system... So there was a great deal going on behind the scenes,
which has resulted in a few hours of downtime over the last couple
of days. Unfortunately, given the extent of the work on the server
going on, it couldn't be helped.
In any event, the brunt of the work is done now,
and there are no future interruptions planned aside from 10-20 minutes
of downtime later today when the legacy hard drive will be disconnected.
I'm counting on smooth sailing from there on.
The next step is going to be replacing our current
message boards software with a new one, which I'm also planning
on doing in the next few days. Once everything is ready there will
be a period of rather extensive board downtime (hopefully under
24 hours). The reason for this downtime will be importing all of
the data from our current message board into the database that the
new software will use. Due to the size of our message board (nearly
10k members and over half a million posts, not counting private
messages), the import process will most likely take around 10-20
hours. Of course, during this time the existing message boards will
have to remain shut down (for the proper operation of the importer,
as well as in order that we don't lose any posts that would have
been made after the beginning of the import process).
I intend to do as much advance testing as possible
before starting this for real, so that hopefully there won't be
any surprises once we're ready for the final shutdown and import.
As always, keep checking the Sorcerous
Sundries forum regularly for site developments between these
May 11, 2006 - SP Happenings #150
Wow, SPH #150. I guess the profound accompanying
thought right now would be "dear lord, has it really been nearly
3 years since I've started writing these?". Since numbers don't
lie, I guess so.
It's the crazy E3 time of the year again when we
gather and post heaps of news that hardly anyone cares to even look
over, let alone read in full, but our devotion and sense of duty
are strong as ever, so have no fear that we'll stop getting you
the latest scoops, even if you don't really care about them. It'd
be nice if you did and dropped a comment or two on some of the stuff
that we report, just so that it doesn't feel like we're doing this
for our own benefit, but we're not forcing anyone, of course!
This year is actually pretty light in terms of E3
gaming news that SP cares about, since Neverwinter Nights 2 is the
only D&D title that we'll be covering in much detail (unless
that D&D Tactics game for PSP gets ported - are PSP ports for
PCs ever actually made?), but still... there'll be news aplenty
for anyone interested in reading it.
The cozy feeling of familiar surroundings message
boards-wise around here is going to get slightly shattered, since
the preparations for the transition to new message boards are already
under way (YES, finally!). The software will be entirely different
(though the concept is the same, of course), it'll have tons of
new features that we'll put to a good use and that I know you will
all enjoy, and it will also enable SP to grow in other aspects,
since we'll be tying the message boards and the website more closely
together once the new boards software is in place.
Fear not, I've made sure that nothing will be lost
during the transition (or as close to nothing as we can get in our
case), so besides some inevitable off-time on the boards during
the transition, there should be no other major interruptions. There
will be a period of adjustment for everyone (the board administration
included), but I'm confident that we'll get everything up &
running smoothly as ever pretty quickly.
The transition will most likely take place next
week (I'll post notices when we get closer to the actual date),
along with a major server upgrade prior to this (some site unavailability
is to be expected here), so the next few weeks will be very busy
for me around here, and there will be a lot going on.
I will also start a donation drive later today,
since all these improvements and upgrades will require additional
funds, so I'm hoping the community will chip in and help offset
the costs. More details on this will appear in the Sorcerous
Sundries forum later today. You should also keep tabs on this
forum over the next couple of weeks, since all boards-related notices,
announcements, warnings, etc. will be posted there.
May 4, 2006 - SP Happenings #149
Nothing much new around here for the past seven
days. Lots of maintenance, work on the server, dealing with our
hosted sites, etc. The site content update is coming along nicely,
so it'll probably go up in a couple of days.
April 27, 2006 - SP Happenings #148
I'm thinking of patching Neverwinter Nights with
the spiffy new 1.67 patch and finally finishing Hordes of the Underdark...
I need to hurry up, or the sequel with catch me before I've finished
all of the original. I keep delaying playing NWN because there's
not much point in even starting it if you don't have a few hours
of interrupted game play at your disposal, and that's rarely been
available to me in the last couple of years. Though frankly, the
other major factor is that I'm just not that drawn to NWN as I usually
am to CRPGs... sure, HotU finally is what the NWN OC was supposed
to be upon release, but I think it's come too late for me. Still,
I want to finish it at least once. I hate having played games and
not making the effort to get to the end - same as with books.
I'm not taking any long breaks between site content
updates, so I've already started (slowly) on the next one. If all
goes according to plan, this one will come sooner than the recent
Finally, if you haven't been checking our news or
our Mod Reviews forum lately, you might have missed our latest Baldur's
Gate 2 mod review - Return
to Trademeet. Check it out!