Improbable Island Message of the Day (MoTD)

Ten-year celebrations, week three!
Admin CavemanJoe2018-02-17 20:04:06
Hey, folks! If you missed the previous MotD, the new stuff didn't go up this Thursday as originally planned because my basement flooded, so they're going up today instead.

This week, we're adding two new Outpost features! In New Pittsburgh, you'll find the Fresh Start Clinic, and in Cyber City 404, you'll find Helter Smelter. Give 'em a look, I think you'll like what you see.

The bank has also been given a fresh coat of paint - it was originally written prior to the 2008 financial crash, and we never bothered to update it to include suitable disdain towards bankers. I am pleased to announce that this unfortunate situation has finally been corrected.

You can also find an option in your Preferences to disable keyboard navigation, which could be useful for people on certain browsers who tab back and forth a lot while writing Place descriptions and suchlike.

See y'all next week, and have fun!

~CMJ

EDIT: The Fresh Start Clinic is temporarily offline while we work out some unexpected bugs, I'll have a closer look at this tonight.

Ten-year celebrations, week three - postponed
Admin CavemanJoe2018-02-17 03:46:00
Hey guys - you might have noticed it's Friday and I didn't do anything awesome yesterday. I didn't forget about you! It's just that here in Pittsburgh we had some bizarrely heavy rain and my basement is pretty comprehensively fucked. Yesterday and today were focused on damage control, tomorrow we'll be frantically cleaning up to try to avoid mold growth, so you can expect the Shiny New Thing on Sunday evening.

Apologies for the delay, but we've got an 18-month-old in the house and really don't want her to end up breathing nasty mold. See y'all Sunday!

Thanks for your patience, and have fun!

~CMJ

Ten-year celebrations, week two
Admin CavemanJoe2018-02-09 03:42:05
Hi, all! We've made some new display skins! A retro-themed one for mobile, and a horizontal one for desktops and laptops! The horizontal one puts your stats across the top, giving us ALL THIS SPACE to play with!

I've also increased the default font size, which has been creeping higher on the rest of the internet for the last ten years. You can adjust the text size with the fancy new text size buttons at the top of each page, and you can change your colour scheme from there too.

If you miss the old vertical layout, it's right where you left it, in your Preferences. It's been renamed to "Vertical" and I've added font size and colour-change buttons to it too. The very-very old "Classic" skin has been renamed to "Season One."

Crate Sniffers have been made more gooder - they now work for multiple rounds before becoming exhausted.

We've added Crate Locators, which give you directions to the nearest crate!

More awesome stuff coming next Thursday!

Have fun!

~CMJ

Improbable Island is ten years old!
Admin CavemanJoe2018-02-01 06:10:09
It's true! I've been doing this thing for a whole decade! Well, more like eleven years if you count the time I was working on the Island before it went live. So, obviously we wanna celebrate.

I've taken some time off my day job to focus on making some neat new stuff for the Island, to go live in February. The plan is to release a couple nifty new things every week - the first week, from Thursday the 1st of February, we're gonna do a thing we haven't done in years, and another thing that I said we'd never, ever do.

The first thing is a ridiculous bundle deal the likes of which we've never come close to before. It's over six hundred bucks' worth of stuff. This bundle deal is called the Decade Vault, and it pisses all over every bundle we've done before - the Creator Bundle, the 30 Bundle, and even the Emily Bundle. Here's the description from the Lodge:

-----

The Decade Vault commemorates ten years of Improbable Island, and it contains a LOT of stuff!

We've done a few bundle deals in the past - usually when we needed money for something, like a ridiculous tax bill or a sick cat or a broken-down van. They've always been really good deals - but we've never done one purely as a celebration of the Island and its wonderful community. That's why this bundle is not only the biggest and best and most preposterous we've ever attempted, it's the biggest and best and most preposterous by a long way. This bundle contains sixty-two thousand, one hundred and sixty-two Supporter Points' worth of items. If you were to buy the whole lot without using double donation days or World Community Grid points or other players donating on your behalf or any other method of getting Supporter Points, you'd be paying $621.62 for all the items in this bundle!

But of course that's not all. The bundle contains stuff that isn't even available in the Hunter's Lodge anymore, like Req Multipliers, Gargantuan Candy Bombs, and Health Insurance Certificates.

It also contains items that would take a ridiculous amount of time and Stamina to acquire - including two thousand Wood, two thousand Stone, a hundred of every Herb, five hundred delicious slices of Tasty Meat, and twenty of each and every Contraption and Contrivance!

"What the hell am I going to do with that much Tasty Meat," I hear you cry, "when it crawls away on a bed of maggots every time I go to sleep?"

I've got you covered. While previous bundle deals simply dumped all of their items into your inventory all at once, the Decade Vault is its own special place where you can take out only the items you need at the time. Don't have room in your backpack for two thousand lumps of wood? Move to where you need the wood to go, transfer as much wood as you need from the Decade Vault into your regular inventory, put it straight down, no muss no fuss.

The Decade Vault is designed to amplify all the things that make the Improbable Island community special. I've jammed it full of wood and stone and Builder's Brews to kindle your Places-building creativity. I've stuffed it with Contraptions and Contrivances and extra Programming Grids to encourage richness and variety in your Rooms and Pages. I've crammed in one of every reusable customization tool, and a thousand Quills - not only to assist your awesome character- and story-building, but also, since I know a lot of you already have all of the reusable customization tools, to amplify your already-astonishing altruism. Each Decade Vault is overflowing not only with stuff you need, but deliberately also with stuff you probably already have, stuff that makes wonderful gifts for new players and helps establish connections between curious rookies and kind veterans and provides warm fuzzies.

The Decade Vault contains:

From eBoy's:
40 x 2ml Smile Drops
40 x BANG Grenade
40 x WHOOMPH Grenade
40 x ZAP Grenade
40 x Improbability Bomb
40 x Monster Repellent Spray
40 x Large Medkit
40 x Ration Pack
40 x Energy Drink
40 x One-Shot Teleporter
40 x Crate Sniffer
40 x Nicotine Gum

From the Hunter's Lodge, past and present:
20 x Builder's Brews
1 x Fancy Picture Frame
4 x Gargantuan Candy Bomb
4 x Chronosphere
1 x Super Chronosphere
4 x Large box of cigarettes
4 x Hundred-pack of Cookies
1 x Deluxe Custom Armour Kit
1 x Deluxe Name Colourisation Kit
1 x Deluxe Collar
1 x Cunning Disguise Cunningly Disguised with a Cunning Disguise
1 x Super-Official Title Change Document
1 x Extra-Cunning Weapon Disguise
1 x Dimensional Shifter
4 x Health Insurance Certificate
2 x 75-pack of HyperTeleporters
1 x Monster Diary
8 x Blank Memory Chip
20 x Logic Grid
40 x Programming Column
40 x Programming Row
8 x x8 Requisition Multiplier
4 x Large Bag of Requisition Tokens
2 x Large bundle of Quills
1 x every Story Pass available
4 x Hundred-pack of Valentine's Day cookies

From the Scrapyard Market:
20 of each Contraption and Contrivance

From here and there:
100 x Scroteweed
100 x Twitchleaf
100 x Sneezeroot
100 x Steelseed
500 x Tasty Meat
2,000 x Wood
2,000 x Stone
1 x Housing Stake

The Decade Vault contains all the things that help you all make Improbable Island the sort of wonderful virtual world I'm proud and humbled to be a part of.

I hope you love it.

~CMJ

-----

Island regular Jon Titania ran a survey and crunched some numbers and figured that I'd make the most money by selling the Decade Vault for $41. I trust in his algorithms but there's two sides to the equation here - the other side is how much fun we can have. I may well get more money flogging this thing for forty bucks, but the more people can afford this thing, the more fun we'll all have, so it's gonna be a bit less. We've never charged more than $30 for a thing before, and I'm not intending to start now, so 3,000 Supporter Points it is.

Previous bundle deals have been limited in stock - this one is limited on time instead, and will only be available during February.

So that's the first thing we're doing this week. The second thing is the new Monthly Memento.

People have been asking me for years if I'm going to put previous months' Monthly Mementos in the Lodge - and when I tried it, briefly, in 2015, donations dropped alarmingly. Without that immediate, get-it-before-it's-gone rarity factor, people figured "Ah, he'll make the old ones available one day, no need to get this one right now," and then never bought a Monthly Memento again. So I vowed I would never again make the old Monthly Mementos available.

Well, it's an extremely special occasion. The Monthly Memento for February 2018 is a single-use item that will give you one Monthly Memento that you don't already have. We're never, ever, EVER going to do this again (and if we do, it's certainly not gonna be before we turn twenty), so if you're missing a Monthly Memento, now's your one and only chance to complete your collection.

Over the coming weeks I'll be introducing new lore, new Outpost features, new display skins, new tools to help roleplaying and writing, and making some interesting expansions to the Places system, as well as a sprinkling of other niftiness here and there.

It's gonna be a hell of a month. Thank you so much for being a part of this weird and wonderful decade-long experiment, and here's to another ten years!

Have fun!

~CMJ

(oh, and one more, tiny thing: the maximum character limit on Distractions has been increased tenfold. Mostly so I could send this long-ass message out as a Distraction.)

Coming up on ten years!
Admin CavemanJoe2018-01-20 17:53:32
Hey, folks. Improbable Island turns ten years old in February, so I'm taking a week off my day job to work exclusively on the Island. I'm making some cool new things that I hope you'll enjoy.

Later on this year we're gonna try to make it so that you can log in to one account that contains all your characters, so we can move towards legitimizing alts (which have always been in a sort of weird grey area, policies-wise). You'll log in with your email address and then choose from a list of characters to use, and we'll even have a quick way to swap between them. The first step in this process is to get everyone's email address, so if you haven't already given us an email for you, now would be a great time to do it. See your Prefences page, available from any Outpost. You'll also (optionally) get email notifications when someone sends you a Distraction.

The online contestant list is down while I sort some shit out, there's no need to petition about it.

We're gonna do a ridiculous bundle deal for our tenth anniversary, and following a conversation in Chat yesterday, Jon made this form to help decide how much we should ask for it. In our 10-year history we've never asked more than $30 for any one item (which was the 30 Bundle, which was when I turned 30, half a decade ago), so it's unlikely it'll be more than that, but data is good to have anyway. Bear in mind the contents of the bundle are just me chucking ideas around and are subject to change. Your input is very much appreciated, and it's only one question.

I'm gonna get back to programming awesome stuff for celebrating ten years of the Island. See you all in a couple of weeks, and have fun!

~CMJ

Merry Christmas from Improbable Island!
Admin CavemanJoe2017-12-25 04:58:36
So I'm up in the attic at my laptop going "Well, let's do the traditional Various Solstice Celebrations MotD," and then going "...the fuck do I write. Oh, I know! I'll look back at last year's MotD, and maybe that'll give me an idea!"

Oh. Last year I was trying to wrangle a brand new baby, and didn't have time to do the Christmas MotD.

Well how about the year before that? Um...

OKAY WELL HOW ABOUT 2014 THEN.

WELL HOW ABOUT 2013 THEN.

Yikes fucking hell.

Why do I think this is an annual tradition, when I don't actually, y'know, do it? Why do I have the memory of leaving it too late every year, and hastily knocking out a vaguely festive MotD on my phone at like nine o'clock on Christmas Eve like I'm doing the Queen's Speech or something, when the last time I actually did that was four years ago?

It's probably because in 2014 I started working part-time at Victory Pointe, the arcade in Pittsburgh that needed someone who knew how CRT monitors worked, and I spent my Christmas elbow-deep in the sort of grime that gets attracted to 30,000 volt anodes. And then in 2015 I was working at PAPA, the world pinball headquarters, adding switches to all their electromechanical games to let them be toggled between free play and token play - so I was elbow-deep in 40-year-old grease and mouse poop. And then in 2016 I was still there - and with a brand new Nerv to boot, so I was elbow-deep in solenoid dust and baby poop. Time just got away from me, I guess.

Well right now my elbows are clean for a whole day damn it and I just saw something I can cram into a festive message.

Our team on World Community Grid - that's the screensaver you can download that uses your unused CPU cycles to help find cures for cancer, ebola, Zika, tuberculosis and AIDS - passed three thousand years of runtime today.

In case you're unfamiliar - researchers occasionally have to do preposterously complicated computations, and to do that they need to rent time on a supercomputer, which are rare and expensive and usually all booked up. Here on Improbable Island we like to sign people up to have their idle desktops and laptops become part of a supercomputer made up of thousands of regular computers all working together, and set that computer towards working out really hard problems.

In the nine years that our distributed supercomputer has been running, we've accomplished the equivalent of:
895 years of mapping cancer markers;
594 years of identifying chemical characteristics of potential AIDS-defeating drugs;
221 years of human proteome folding;
193 years of research on protein X-ray crystallography to help with cancer treatment;
145 years of searching for Leishmaniasis drugs;
144 years of research into potential new super-efficient and cheap water filtration systems;
130 years of searching for drugs to disable proteins associated with neuroblastoma, one of the most frequently-occurring solid tumours in children;
125 years of research into a cure for muscular dystrophy;
110 years of solar panel research;
109 years of research into malaria treatments;
74 years of research into schistosoma treatment;
73 years of research into how the HIV virus evolves;
56 years of research into ebola treatments;
42 years of research into antiviral drugs to combat the Zika virus;
32 years of examining millions of genes from a wide variety of lifeforms, just in case something useful comes up.

As well as some odd change, decades or two, in a wide range of other humanitarian research. And all that runtime hit the three thousand year mark this very day, just when I was looking for something festive to write about.

I don't think there's anything more Christmassy than that.

Happy Holidays!

~CMJ

Mmmmm, it's a Monthly Mementos, Mods and Mastodon MotD!
Admin CavemanJoe2017-11-02 03:02:51
Hey, all! The Monthly Memento for November is up, and it is the Writer's Block. Use it for a minor buff making Carpentry actions slightly cheaper while Place building.

We've added two new moderators! Long-time players Csodas and Ghostface Koalah have been given moderator hats. Give 'em a warm welcome and try not to make them turn grey prematurely.

We've officially made the switch to Mastodon, and our Twitter and Facebook accounts are now dormant. Well, more dormant. I started to write up a short post about why we're moving to Mastodon, but the short post became a long post, and then the long post became an essay, and round about when I got to the part about building a "horrifying dystopia of constant corporate surveillance and algorithm-induced fanatical extremism just so that one day you'll click on an ad and earn someone twelve cents" the essay started to look more like a gibbering manifesto, so I won't subject you all to that and will instead just say that you should join us on Mastodon because there's no adverts, there's no creepy advert-related tracking, posts are shown in the order in which they're made, the software is open-source, and there are far fewer dickheads than on most other social media platforms. Here's a Join Mastodon page that someone has made, here's the Wikipedia entry, and here's the instance that Improbable Island's official account is on, Mastodon.social. Here's a quick guide on how to choose a Mastodon instance:

1) Scroll through the list on joinmastodon.org until you find one with a name that sounds cool.
2) Click the cool-sounding link, check out their theme, code of conduct and rules, and see if it's actually as cool as it sounds. Some sites are more permissive, some are more restrictive, try to find one that suits your tastes. Sessine found a really cool-sounding instance called wandering.shop that's trying to be like a coffee shop at a sci-fi convention. Alexander Quandle found a neat instance called icosahedron.website which is for people who "like stellated platonic solids very much." Improbable Island's official account is on the original Mastodon website, mastodon.social, because I lack imagination. All of these instances can interact with each other just like gmail users can email yahoo mail users, so your choice of instance is mostly for aesthetics and local flavour.
3) Got lucky? Sign up and then follow @improbableisland@mastodon.social. Second thoughts? Repeat steps 1 & 2 until they bear fruit.
4) Find other Islanders. I follow back anyone who follows me, so you can look at who the official Improbable Island account is following and follow them - or, you can search for the hashtag #findingislanders.

See y'all on Mastodon, and have fun!

~CMJ
Wednesday Bugfixes
Admin CavemanJoe2017-10-04 16:14:04
Hey, all!

* Chat auto-update no longer stops working at random
* Chat export now uses the correct colours
* Teleporting to rooms in Places from the Structural Menu no longer results in a badnav
* Midnight now gives more verbose status updates on trimming chatareas

It's only been a couple of days since the last MotD, so do check it out for details on Candy Bombs, the new Mod Call button, and October's Monthly Memento.

Have fun!

~CMJ

New Monthly Memento, Candy Bombs back in stock, new Mod Call button, chat autoupdate bugfix
Admin CavemanJoe2017-10-01 04:30:10
Hey, all. The Monthly Memento for October is Focker & Pratt's Captivating Candy Compressor, which lets you eat a whole bunch of candy at once rather than clicking tediously on individual pieces.

And speaking of which, it's that special time of the year again! Candy Bombs have been restocked in the Hunter's Lodge. I'm looking forward to seeing how our new server handles the traditional October Chocopalypse.

We've got over ten thousand players right now, so we've added a button underneath chat areas. Click on it (twice) and the Bat Signal goes up to any online mods (yeah, in internal chats we call it the Bat Signal) who can come and sort things out. It's quicker than doing a Problem Report, more appropriate to the context (because Problem Reports were intended primarily for bugs and the whole moderation thing was kinda bolted-on at the last minute), and it also preserves chatlogs until a moderator sees them, so mods aren't piecing together accounts of whatever happened at three in the morning when we were all asleep.

While I was at it, I finally tracked down a long-standing bug with chat that would cause auto-update to stop working unexpectedly. The bug is now fixed, so auto-update should be much more reliable now!

Have fun!

~CMJ

Hacking attempt, new Monthly Memento, computer problems, porn
Admin CavemanJoe2017-09-01 02:51:23
Hey, all. At about 11:00 UTC this morning, a script kiddy attempted to use a SQL injection in the Distractions system. The attempt was unsuccessful, but as a precaution, I took Distractions down for a bit while I hardened the system up a touch. Distractions are now back online and nothing has been compromised, but now is a good time to remind you to use proper password hygiene. When it comes to passwords, the only thing that makes them hard for a computer to guess is their length. Use a long phrase as your password, something like "Help me my spine is on fire" rather than "$p1n3," and try to avoid re-using passwords for multiple websites.

Anyway, it seemed like an appropriate new Monthly Memento would be the Hacker Balaclava, which lets you hack Improbable Island just like this guy, to gain a piffling amount of Req. You can use it as many times a day as you like, but with each use you become more likely to get caught and sent to the Failboat.

Speaking of awful computer fuckups, hey guys guess what I had an awful computer fuckup. In transitioning to a new operating system installation I used a backup program that didn't follow symlinks, and long story short the work I've done but not yet released on Improbable Island is gone. All I have left is what's live now. So if things seem slow around here, that's why.

In lighter news, my good friend Phoenix Baker (see previous MotD's) has once again asked for the kindness of the Island in... alright, some backstory: way back several years ago, Phoenix wrote some lesbian erotica and asked me to make the cover for it. Since then, I've thrown the Island at it every now and then, wanting Phoenix to be successful. Well, job done, the third (!!!) sequel to the story in question has been nominated for Literotica's best lesbian story of 2016. Those of you who are so inclined (and who are so so-inclined that they already have Literotica accounts) can vote for Phoenix's story "High Voltage Mittens" here. I'm sure Phoenix will be thrilled.

Have fun!

~CMJ

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