EnCore Version 5 Build 002: Improvements

EnCore Version 5 Build 002 has been developed by Daniel Jung of the University of Bergen in the VRoma MOO, with the cooperation of VRoma wizard Barbara McManus. All the features described below are additions to the currently available enCore V5 Beta; they are fully functional in VRoma and will be included in the final release of enCore V5. See the changelog text file for a more complete and technical list of new features, adjustments, and fixes in Build 002.

New Features for the User

Home Sites: This extremely useful new feature allows total control over the location of movable objects. A new tab in the Object Editor allows users to set the Movability of each owned object at various levels: screenshot of Movability tab Takeability allows owners to determine whether or not players will see the take-icon above this object; owners can also select a Home Site for the object (an owned room, container, or the owner's “pockets”). Finally, the owner can set the level of movability: #1 is appropriate for objects that should always stay at their Home Site; #2 is excellent for objects that you want users to pick up and play with but not carry off, since the housekeeper will automatically return these objects to their Home Site within a short time; #3 is useful for objects that might need to be placed in another location for a longer period of time. This new feature solves the perennial problem of tracking down misplaced objects, for a user can always open his or her Inventory Manager to check which objects are away from their Home Sites: screenshot of Inventory Manager The site link of misplaced objects will be highlighted in yellow. Clicking on site brings up a window that allows the user to set or change the Home Site or click a button to move it home. This window also has a multiple tab that lists all owned objects that are misplaced and offers a button to move them all home at once. Such precise control over objects makes it easier to manage games that employ multiple objects.

Inventory Manager:

Object Editor:

Number Format: In a completely new feature under Preferences, players can now set their preferred number format; there are two current choices (Arabic or Roman numerals), but this might be expanded to other formats. The program automatically converts Arabic numbers to display Roman numerals properly: screenshot of number format setting

Take/Drop via Web: This feature has been greatly improved, so that objects can be easily picked up and dropped using the web icons. Once an object has been taken, it will remain in the player's web frame with drop and move icons above it, so that these can be clicked to perform the action. If another player tries to take an object that has already been picked up, he/she will receive a message indicating who is holding the object. Objects contained in other objects will now display an Up icon that can be clicked to move directly to the containing object in the web frame; this is particularly useful for viewing multiple objects in a cupboard or binder, since it is no longer necessary to return to the room view and then click the container again to see its objects.

Room Database: This now updates immediately, as soon as new rooms are created or rooms and exits are deleted. When the @go command is typed and there are multiple rooms beginning with the same word, a table of results now appears in the chat frame, and clicking on one of the room names teleports the player to the desired room. This saves a lot of typing when a MOO has many rooms that begin with the same word. In VRoma, for example, there are 26 temples and 3 baths: screenshot of @go room table

HTML Chat Log: The email function has been reprogrammed to send the log as an HTML file attachment. A save button has been added to enable the player using Internet Explorer to save the log as an HTML file on his/her computer and instructing other players to use their browser's Save As function.

Quit/Auto-Disconnect: Quit no longer relies on a javascript window but rather opens a confirmation page in the web frame. A new Auto-Disconnect feature disconnects players who forget to use Quit after 2 hours of idleness.

There are many other adjustments that improve the player experience, such as more tool tips explaining various features when the cursor hovers over them (these can be set to appear in a language selected by the player from available language packages). Verbs have been rewritten to consistently use language strings instead of hard-coded English, so when language packages are translated other languages will appear when selected by the user. Bots have been programmed to respond more directly to keywords and to produce fewer gobbledygook responses. In general, it is much easier for users to navigate, create, edit, and communicate using the graphic interface instead of typed commands.

New Features for Administrators (Teachers and Wizards)

The Administration Module, accessible to teachers and wizards, has been generally improved, with all administrative functions now using the language strings and various operations more streamlined. Four new tabs have been added, one feature has been significantly expanded, and another greatly improved.

Merge tab: This is a new feature enabling wizards and teachers to search for and merge duplicate players (teachers can only perform this function on players they have created themselves). A link will provide a list of possible duplicate players (matched by real name and/or email address); from this table a prewritten email can be sent to ask whether the duplicates should be merged. When the merge is performed, all references to the “slave” (including ownership, forum subscriptions, trashbin contents, etc.) are transferred automatically to the “master”, and the “slave” is deleted.

Quota tab: This new feature provides a table of all players capable of owning objects with sortable columns including class, number of owned objects, and usage (highlighted in red for those close to their quota). From this table players can be emailed and have their quota edited. Wizards can recount all quota and globally set quota for player classes.

Edit Options tab: This very useful new feature for wizards displays a table of all fertile objects, showing the tabs which appear for them in the Object Editor, with links allowing wizards to change these options: screenshot of edit options tab

Checkpoints tab: This new feature archives all checkpoints so they can be reviewed later; there is a button to delete the list. Checkpoints are no longer printed to wizards' chat frames by default, although this can be turned on individually.

Tasks tab: This feature has been greatly expanded, with old housekeeper tasks rewritten and many new tasks added. The tasks are scheduled at regular intervals and also logged, and there are buttons to kill or start the tasks manually. The screenshot below shows the list of tasks now performed by the busy housekeeper, who regularly sweeps the MOO and removes, resets, or repairs sleeping players, misplaced objects, activated bots, guests, malformed properties (such as incorrectly formed lists), and expired objects, and periodically rebuilds the room database at the request of a wizard. This unceasing activity keeps the MOO functioning smoothly. screenshot of tasks tab

Players tab: The functionality of this tab has been greatly improved. The search box now includes a "restrict to my creations" filter so that teachers can see a table of all players they have created. The sortable results table now shows each player's class, a mailto email link, and an edit link. Below the table are buttons enabling the teacher or wizard to check various players and then email them, place them in a group, change their level, set their home, or delete them. This is an extremely efficient way to manage players, especially for teachers.

New Programming Features

The completely redesigned Program Editor in enCore V5 makes excellent use of the graphic interface to enable programmers and wizards to see relationships and visualize hierarchies at a glance, as well as to write verbs, set properties, etc. with maximum efficiency. Build 002 has improved this wonderful tool with many useful features, some of which are underlined in red in the screenshot below: screenshot of program editor

Help Links:

View and Edit Objects: New links allow immediate viewing of the current object in the web frame and editing it through the Object Editor.

Descendants Chart: The first column of the Program Editor now lists number of children (clickable to reveal a list of object names with view links), of descendants, and of branches (clickable to reveal a list of object names). This provides a useful snapshot of an object's genealogy.

Course of Life: The first column also provides links to create a child of this object, to corify or decorify it, and to recycle it.

Verbsearch: This is a new search tool invoked by typing a colon followed by text (e.g., :search). This will display all occurrences of the text in clickable verb names (including partial matches) with a visual tree of the ancestry path: screenshot of verbsearch results

Verb Box Display: All verbs with valid code are displayed in a box with a green border; this border will disappear as soon as any text in the verb has been altered until it is successfully compiled again. A red border will appear whenever there are any errors during compilation.

Barbara F. McManus
Co-Director, The VRoma Project
May 2011