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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
By Robert Basler on 2020-11-02 21:35:20
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I want Space Mines III to look like it is playing on a 24x24 text screen displayed on the ten inch black and white CRT I played on as a kid. That is a little tricky because that CRT is long gone. Finding reference pictures of old CRT's was surprisingly difficult, they were either blurry or modern image editor reproductions. Luckily I found several good photos on vintage-computer.com.

CRT shaders are tricky beasts because LCD's don't really have the resolution to simulate a CRT properly. There are lots of CRT shaders on the internet, but they are designed to simulate visual aberrations and the color masks of various types of color monitors. I couldn't find a single monochrome CRT shader.
By Robert Basler on 2020-09-23 20:55:59
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
It has been a while since I've written anything on the blog. The things I was working on weren't particularly interesting. Other things were requiring a lot of my attention. The things I do want to talk about still aren't completed.

Occasionally over the years I have done contract work to help fund the development of Miranda. I hoped that Early Access would put an end to that, but in December it came time to do that again, so I accepted a contract with an awesome group of developers who I've been working with these last few months.

Part of the arrangement is that I can continue to work on Miranda. So on January 26 The Combat Update went live.

Then COVID hit, and national economies started to collapse, and there were riots, and I found myself struggling to find the motivation to do anything beyond watch the news and worry, even as things in Canada have actually gone pretty well. That has gone on for a while now.

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[Space Mines III - A vertical space shooter blasting it's way out of the 80's!!!]


In August for a bit of a fun break on my summer vacation I started work on Space Mines III, a remake of a game I made on my Ohio Scientific Superboard II PC when I was a teenager. That has been such fun and a great change of pace for me and proves that the Lair Engine isn't just a one-game game engine. I did the first audio pass this week, and the pew-pew retro sound effects totally bring it to life.

Since The Combat Update I've done five minor releases of Miranda with bugfixes and small improvements nobody is likely to notice. I've also done a bunch of library upgrades, and an x64 port of the server and (most of) the client. Secret Lair Games' non-game servers also got a bunch of improvements, updates and fixes because they were having some problems.

So what's coming up with Miranda? In short, I've been working on some stuff, I'm not really sure yet, but I've been thinking about it a lot.

I hope you are well,

Rob.
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By Robert Basler on 2020-04-27 21:07:02
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Releasing a new build of The Imperial Realm::Miranda is a pretty big job. I need to build new game binaries, build new data, upload those thousands of files to the CDN, upload new code to the game server, shut down the previous version, get the new version running, change various other server things to all point to the new build, and archive all those files. All in all, it is a couple hours of tedious work where any mistake means the game won't run when you're done.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Not%20Going%20Well_Lo.jpg
[This battle is not going very well.]

By Robert Basler on 2020-02-03 21:20:10
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
The Combat Update is now live. Players with the Launch Week Edition will be able to try out The Combat Update the weekend of Feburary 8-9.

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[A new force beaming in.]


My goals with this release were to finish some features that had lingered partially-done too long, to add new units and gameplay elements, and to make combat more exciting. Players will notice a lot of bugs fixed, quite a bit of additional polish and some improved visuals. While I accomplished the bulk of my goals with The Combat Update, I'll admit I'm still not entirely satisfied.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Combat%20Update_Lo.jpg
[A small skirmish, I'm looking forward to larger battles.]

By Robert Basler on 2019-12-12 17:56:13
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I started replaying The Elder Scrolls Online last weekend, and after an hour or so I noticed something strange: when I killed an NPC, I'd walk away. If I saw a harvesting node, I walked right past. I realized I have some sort of PTSD when it comes to the inventory system in that game because when I played before my inventory was forever full, constantly needing attention, and I could never get fair market value for what I did collect.

The Combat Update introduces consumable crates to The Imperial Realm::Miranda which can be used to expand the inventory size. Originally, players could get 5, 10 and 20 inventory item size increments but only four could ever be applied, so if a player redeemed four 5-item increments, their inventory could grow by a maximum of 20. There were plans for additional expansion possibilities, but that was as far as I got.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Slots%20and%20Bags_Lo.jpg
[The Unit Design screen with new Slots and Inventory Containers/Design Cases.]

By Robert Basler on 2019-11-19 16:27:07
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
The next major update for The Imperial Realm::Miranda is the Combat Update. My goal with this update is to make the core combat in the game more exciting looking and eliminate anything that might give the player concern about the fairness of a battle. I had hoped to have this update out in time for the 10 year anniversary, but the bugs have defeated that plan.

The core of the Combat Update is fixing a number of desynchronizations that were happening between the server and client. Some of these resulted in apparently invulnerable units, others resulted in units teleporting during combat. Last week I was reducing or removing situations where a teleport is the only option. Testing that results in screenshots like this one:

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[The debugging view of battles can be quite confusing.]

By Robert Basler on 2019-11-04 17:03:58
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
This coming Saturday I will have been working on Miranda for a decade. I know, super-weird.

November 9th 2009 was a cold rainy Monday and my amazingly exciting first day working on a project I had been thinking about for five years.

My best friend and I used to play co-op Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 every Thursday evening until the wee hours. I had a couple of networked computers with old 19 inch CRT's in my office we'd play on. We'd each take an RA2 disk (the game came with 2 play disks) stick them in and team up to have at the AI. Those evenings were so fun! Our wives got to know each other pretty well during that period. Eventually my friend and his family moved away, putting an end to our Thursday evening play sessions. So when World of Warcraft came out in November 2004 I knew I wanted a bigger Command and Conquer I could play with my out-of-town friends. Working at EA I always kept my eye out for anyone making such a game, but it just never happened. In 2009 I was given the opportunity to pursue that dream myself, and I took it.

So on that Monday I was busily putting together onemanmmo.com from the bones of the CMS I wrote for MMORTS.COM and I needed a logo. I made a bunch of alternatives (sadly I don't have anything that reads Corel Draw files anymore to show you the earlier iterations.) I thought it would be cool to put my silhouette in the logo, since it was just me making the game. I got my wife to take this photo.

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[My first week on the job, you may recognize the pose from the logo above.]


One of my main reasons for deciding to leave EA was that my daughter was young at the time, and I'd only see her for a few minutes in the morning and she'd usually be in bed by the time I got home. She was fully on-board for the new job.

firstweek2.jpg
[Alternate take.]


On November 16, 2009 I launched the project and blog with a short post.

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[The original onemanmmo.com site. I quite liked the orange.]


Miranda is available to play in Early Access now and is 20% off for a limited time.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-10-16 18:23:06
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

I made a video to demo the upgrades I've made to Miranda's HUD (Heads Up Display) and map. I really liked the old hud with it's blue and white color scheme, but apparently not everyone agreed with me because I got feedback that the HUD was too web browsery. This makes a certain amount of sense given that Miranda's UI is actually the Chrome web browser. I turned the Fallen off so I wouldn't get attacked during the demo.


[There's no mouse cursor in the video, that's a new bug in GeForce Experience. It shows fine when you play.]

The new HUD came about because early last week I discovered that Miranda's UI was encoded with "pre-multiplied alpha." I'd never learned what that was, but it turns out it allowed me to finally add support for translucency for all the buttons and panels in the UI, a feature I had wanted for years. While I was working on the HUD, I decided to make some minor improvements.

All the menu and UI buttons got upgraded art and are now dark themed. I did some rendering upgrades on the minimap as well as making it round, and it displays static if your base doesn't have sufficient power or if the player doesn't have a radar station.

Both the minimap and the build panel can now be hidden like the chat and mission list panels for a maximal view of Miranda. The build panel's power meter is much cuter, and the unit count and unit cap are now displayed on the top right of the build panel. The Kills Today stat has been retired.

Once I had the HUD all working, I realized that I had forgotten about the base layout HUD, so that got an upgrade too.

Weird Fact: Miranda's client has a complete commercial grade web server built in solely so that it can talk to the Chrome UI.


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By Robert Basler on 2019-10-02 13:39:07
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
So on Friday Hacker News turned its firehose of people on the One Man MMO Project blog - thank you larksimian whoever you are! The blog made it to number 1 on Hacker News around 9am, and had dropped to #13 by the time I found out about it late Friday night. The 100+ comments on the Hacker News page were entirely positive, which was really nice.

I was also pretty pleased that the blog's hosting worked exactly as it is supposed to and happily served up tens of thousands of pages to all those people without falling over.

So if you don't do this for a living, this is an astonishing number of people to visit an indie game. I've been at this ten years and this is 100x larger than my previous largest traffic spike. A post from a smaller news site typically generates only a couple dozen visitors. A spike like this Hacker News one will typically generate sales to support months of work. If I was paying for ads to get that traffic, Adwords would charge me on average $97,542. My ISP charged me $23 for the traffic.
By Robert Basler on 2019-09-27 14:44:25
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
One of the big new features in Unnamed Update is the revamped loot system. I've been working on this for quite some time as part of other features I've been doing. The most visible change is that players will now get the new consumable crates in battlefield loot crates after enemy units are destroyed. Internally there have been a lot of changes.

Where there used to be just one loot table, there are now a number of them for various features within the game, and the loot you get from any particular loot table will change as players advance in level. I also reworked the way the game determines the value of units within the game so that more valuable units give more loot.

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[TFW: You log in, and immediately hear "Unit under attack! Unit lost. Unit lost. Unit lost. Unit lost." Zoom to that area. "Aww damn."]

More Posts

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Enabling NVidia GPUs on Optimus Laptops - 2014-12-03 02:31:40 (4 comments)
Looking for a Fast Square Root - 2012-03-29 11:19:56 (4 comments)
Nemesis Update Demo Video - 2017-09-27 11:05:09 (0 comments)
Corrupted Rendering with VBO's - 2018-12-15 00:55:51 (0 comments)
Interrupted - 2018-05-28 11:52:46 (0 comments)
Wait What Now? - 2018-11-27 02:17:34 (0 comments)
Bold New World Trailer - 2019-02-19 18:27:55 (0 comments)

Recent Comments

So What's Going On With Miranda? - 2020-09-24 10:00:32 (1 comments)
Stay strong my friend!
Automation - 2020-09-21 13:10:33 (1 comments)
Are you still developing this game ?
The Combat Update - 2020-02-12 18:13:30 (2 comments)
Thanks! Much of the work in this update was polish and there are indeed more NPC's.
The Combat Update - 2020-02-12 05:03:40 (2 comments)
Looking good m8, just coming back to this after i bought t some time ago, looks more polished and interesting, are there more enemy mobs now ? do you have a constant onlineplayerbase now so world is more active ?
Crash Reporter - 2019-11-08 14:42:11 (1 comments)
Addendum: Some virus programs will block transmission of the dump file unless you lightly encrypt the dump data when sending it from the client.
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