Improbable Island Message of the Day (MoTD)

Let me tell you about my haunted doorbell
Admin CavemanJoe2019-11-02 17:56:15
When Emily and I bought our house, one of the first things we decided we needed to do was to sort out a doorbell. We also had to paint that wall and pull up this carpet and fix that toilet and change these knobs and put down laminate and shine the roof and comb the grass and mop the cats and soothe the books and the million other things that happen when you buy a house, so I decided to buy a wireless doorbell because it was one less job than doing it properly.

I installed the transmitter button on the outside wall with its little sub-AA sized battery, the receiver inside the house with its three big D-cell batteries, gave it a test and it worked. Sort of.

The doorbell plays the Westminster Quarters - you know the tune, it's the one every big church clock plays, four notes every quarter of an hour and then the full sixteen before the hourly bongs. The box said it could play a bunch of different tunes, but this wasn't true - rather, you could set DIP switches in the receiver to cut off the single tune at various points. You could have the full hour tune, choose from three abbreviated versions each corresponding to a quarter of an hour each, or you could cut the first quarter hour in half to produce the traditional doorbell-like ding-dong. Or, if you're weird, in half again to have just a ding. Except it's not really a ding, it's a sort of mournful electronic burrrrb like the notes of an old ice cream van, a 70's-era integrated circuit being tortured into trying to do something it can't ever do. Computers made before I was born didn't sound as thoroughly unlike a bell as this.

The doorbell worked sometimes, and the rest of the time people would stand on our doorstep pressing the button for a little while then they'd give up and knock or, if they were someone we actually wanted to see, they'd ring us and say hey, we're outside, which made the problem of the semi-working doorbell fall to the bottom of the priorities list and never move from that spot. Every now and then I'd think "I should check that those batteries haven't leaked," then get distracted by something else, and the thoroughly shitty machine sat on our wall for the next six and a half years as a reminder to never buy a wireless doorbell again.

It really wasn't a problem, until Halloween night.

Emily and I had come home from our traditional Halloween evening with some dear friends and were having a pre-bedtime read, the wind outside threatening to knock the trees into our house. A sudden noise, shockingly loud, barged around the corner - a sound that had no business existing in the 21st Century, an ancient squarewave tone from a dusty circuit board that should've been dead before I was born.

Ding. DooooooeeeeeeeiiiiIIIIIIING?


The tone rose as it continued, the mad warblings of a program gone off the rails and writing into erroneous areas of memory, eating its own brains. Emily turned to me and said "What the fuck was that," about half a second after I'd remembered that we had a doorbell.

"It's our doorbell," I said, getting a robe on. Our doorbell that doesn't work, that never worked, and even when it did work would never sound like THAT. Our doorbell that would only ever be activated by strangers, who's this stranger here ringing my doorbell on a terribly windy and rainswept Halloween midnight, what sort of maniac rings a fucking doorbell in 2019, I turn on the porch light and open the door - nothing. Nobody.

I close the door and start walking back across the room, muttering "Well that was fucking spooky." And yeah, I was spooked.


Again I open the door and have a good look round - again nobody there, no debris hurled up against my doorbell button either, I close the door.

Ding-doeeeiiiiing? Fuck this, I'm pulling the batteries out - Ding-doeeeiiiiing? Ding-doeeeiiiiing? It's not stopping and I'm trying to get them out, scrabbling at the battery cover, ding-doeeeiiiiing, ding-doeeeiiiiing, ding-silence, batteries in my hands.

The distorted attempt at a jolly dingdong was so absurdly creepy that I looked at the empty battery case with suspicion, half-expecting it to ring out again.

The sudden change in temperature had caused condensation to form in the transmitter unit, shorting the button's switch so that it was always transmitting - that or it had been pushed by a skeleton parade that was now hiding just out of sight. Anyway friends, out of all the scary things abroad on Halloween, I got spooked by my own fucking doorbell, and now you get to recreate my spooking by getting this month's Monthly Memento - activate it any time during the day to get a mild temporary spook buff, and the following day you'll get an all-day long 10% Attack bonus in exchange for 10% of your Stamina.

Have fun!


Minor combat update
Admin CavemanJoe2019-10-10 20:32:41
Hey, all - you now get a FailBoat Fury buff, which lets you strike with double attack power, if your hitpoints drop below 10% of their maximum. I've also done a very slight tweak to the combat maths which will make things more interesting for over-equipped newbies, but which experienced players won't notice at all.

Have fun!


New Monthly Memento, Candy Bombs restocked
Admin CavemanJoe2019-10-04 20:20:47
Hey folks, it's that time of year again - Candy Bombs have been restocked in the Hunter's Lodge. God help us all.

We have a new Monthly Memento to go with the candy theme, and it's a lifetime supply of Razor Daves. Usable once daily, they give you 10% extra Stamina at a cost of 10% of your hitpoints.

New combat items coming soon!


New Monthly Memento, combat update coming soon
Admin CavemanJoe2019-09-11 18:32:35
Hey folks, the Monthly Memento for September is a sweet gumball machine! It spits out various different (giftable!) gumballs that all have different effects. It's an unusually neat Monthly Memento, and if you're only gonna get one this year, I'd say this one should be it!

In other news, we're now advertising through the Comicad Network. We used to use Project Wonderful until they closed last year - I've always advertised more on webcomic sites than gaming sites because I get nicer players through webcomics. Y'all don't need me to say "Be extra-kind to the rookies" because you're already like that. I love this game.

Things have been quiet lately on my end - I'm still missing Sessine, as are the rest of the mods. I'd like to thank you all for the warm messages you sent. Syl would be proud. She'd also want me to not sit around moping but get to writing more neat stuff for the Island instead, so I'm getting back to it. The next part of the combat system update, wherein you can manipulate CHANCE ITSELF, is the next thing on my to-do list, so you can expect that later this month.

Have fun!


Sad news
Admin CavemanJoe2019-07-09 02:02:17
Our longest-serving moderator Count Sessine, AKA Junebug, AKA Sylvia Li, died peacefully in her sleep yesterday morning.

Sylvia came from an IBM "Big Iron" background, and her early experiences of computers involved punch cards. She came to the Island back when we were still in Season One, around ten years ago. Her patience and compassion informed our moderation practices, and she was always very good at seeing the best in people. Back when I was in my twenties and could do this sort of thing, Syl and the other mods and I would often chat until sunrise.

Content moderation, even in a place as nice as the Island, is a much harder job than it looks. The job of a moderator is to see people at their worst - in some ways this can be even harder in a place that's 99.9% wonderful, because people contact you when others are being awful, and so the awful parts are magnified. Syl had the knack of seeing how wonderful the Island is, even when we were dealing with heavy stuff, and helped me see the goodness too. That takes a rare and special sort of person.

Sylvia suffered from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which meant that her lungs died gradually over a years-long timespan. She had plenty of notice that she was going to die, and went about it in the pragmatic and organized way that I'd come to expect from her, tying up all loose ends, ensuring that I made tools for the Island tasks that required raw tinkering in the database like Place ownership transfers and so on. She went into hospice care a few weeks ago, and we've been chatting occasionally with her via her family.

Syl's daughter wrote to me this morning to tell me how much the Island meant to Syl, particularly as her mobility decreased. The Island, Syl's daughter wrote, let Syl engage her imagination, her intelligence and have interesting companionship, all from her computer chair. Sylvia's appreciation of the Island kept me working away at it even through its hardest times.

Syl's Places on the World Map were unlocked when she went into hospice care and will continue to stay open for the forseeable future, including many train stations and welcoming places for rookie characters to get a night's rest. They are:

Singing Sands (24,16)
Come By Chance (24,13)
Pleasantville Station (14,24)
Outside Chance (14,11)
Southbeach Haven (3,4)
The Mint (9,30)
a box canyon (8,29)
The Illustrious Sprawl (12,29)
Nepeta Halt (21,12)
Main Street Station (11,5)
a canvas tent (16,33)
The Terminus (22,38)
Twisted Spoon (13,11)
Abandoned Waystation (21,19)
Grand Concourse East (14,11)
West Skronky Siding (8,17)
The Lucky Dip (10,30)

On Friday evening (the 12th) I plan to have a walkabout through Syl's Places, probably around 7pm EDT (which will be 23:00 UTC) and going on into the evening. Anyone who wants to join me and reminisce is welcome.


New July Monthly Memento, new combat update, Patreon
Admin CavemanJoe2019-07-02 15:24:52
Hey, folks! The Monthly Memento for July is the Personal Fan! Of course it's not just any old fan, but a high-tech wonder connected to the Internet of Shit. This is the most writing I've put into a Monthly Memento for a good long while, and it's also the Monthly Memento that's made me feel the most like a cantankerous old man shouting at clouds. It gives you a 1% global Stamina cost buff and a healthy disdain for our modern connected world.

In a previous MotD I talked about all the recent changes to the combat system, and the new Monster Research Lab in Pleasantville. Since that's a whole new thing but you might not have seen the previous MotD, you can read all about it here, along with some details about how we're taking donations through Patreon as well as PayPal now!

Have fun!


Hurray for Patreon!
Fully synched Sessine2019-06-25 23:42:32
Friend of absent-minded Monthly Memento collectors everywhere!
Big combat update
Admin CavemanJoe2019-06-24 21:10:36
Hey, everyone! The first part of the Big Combat Update is now live!

The short version is that you've got to go to the Monster Research Lab in Pleasantville to re-enable the Puzzle Combat mechanic.

The long version is that I've been working on this since November last year! This started off as a simple bugfix and ended up in a massive rewrite of the combat system in general, along with aesthetic changes!

Here are some of the changes:

Hitpoint and timing bars are now displayed textually
Bold overflow on player KO corrected
New players below lv10 on their first DK no longer lose Req/XP on KO in the Jungle
Skin Selection page for mobile viewers appears on first login, asking you how retro you want it
Timed Strikes now works in msec to correct some funky floating-point-related rounding weirdnesses
Running from monsters in the Jungle is always successful if you have 3hp or less
New logic in combat replacing the existing logic that prevented stalemate situations
Puzzle Combat (this is the system that gives the Guarded and Vulnerable body parts etc):
* Complete cosmetic, mechanical and code overhaul
* Textual/HTML guarded/vulnerable/shock status display replaces old images, will not bork on mobile, look weird on different skins, or suffer problems like body part names not fitting in the image
* Fixed the bug where body parts would no longer change state after the creature was stunned once
* Strong Attacks are less frequent now, and there cannot be two Strong Attacks in a row
* Instead of treating every target as Vulnerable during a Strong Attack, the correct Guarded/Vulnerable status is now revealed and evaluated (making it easier to keep track of what's going on, and making Strong Attacks less obnoxious) - also, one Vulnerable body part will become Exposed, where it has a defence value of zero
* Mechanic for hidden body parts previously hid a body part for a round at random - now once a body part is hidden it remains hidden until the player strikes it, but body parts with any shock at all cannot hide
* Continuing a Secret Stun Combo Sequence all the way through will give one extra octuple-power strike at the end
* Puzzle Combat system is now opt-in via the Monster Research Lab in Pleasantville
* Monster Research Lab will buy and sell information about monsters, including:
** A way to see which part of the monster is most likely to do Strong Attacks
** A way to see which part of the monster is most likely to hide
** Information on the Secret Stun Combo Sequence
** An indicator for when you're one hit away from a stun

There's half a year's worth of behind-the-scenes changes too, little bugfixes and annoyance-corrections that you probably won't even notice. Please use the Problem link if you see anything that looks weird.

This is actually the first half of a much larger update, one that'll allow you some control over the game's RNG - but that's a story for another time.

In case you missed the news about our fantastic new text colour tool and Patreon support options, please check the previous MotD!

Have fun!

Happy June! EDIT: Patreon too
Admin CavemanJoe2019-06-17 04:18:00
EDIT: Since folks have been asking me for it for years, we now have rudimentary Patreon support.
Click the coin slot for deets - I've also updated the Privacy Policy to reflect new info about Patreon, but you don't have to read it again unless you're planning on using Patreon. Original MotD follows.

Hey, folks! I'm nearing the end of a RIDONKULOUSLY HUGE update to the combat system, combat aesthetics, and apparently the underlying mathematics on which the game runs. Yup, this straightforward bugfix RAN THE HECK AWAY FROM ME.

In the meantime, it's June, and here is a new tool I made this morning to help make your text Extra Colourful! You can access it at and I've put in a thing at the bottom of the page that'll give you a link to share your chosen palette with your friends.

Bear in mind that colours might not look the same on all display themes (dark text doesn't show up on dark backgrounds nor light against light, so on some skins shades of black/white/grey are inverted), but they should all be somewhat readable.

Here are some seasonally-appropriate palette cycles for you to try. Some of them aren't quite spot-on because we don't have the necessary colours (and we're running out of space on the keyboard...) but I hope you like them anyway. Please have fun but don't go completely overboard with them in Banter.

Expect big combat updates very soon!

Have fun!

Happy May Day!
Admin CavemanJoe2019-05-02 02:28:59
There is SO much potential stuff I could draw on for a May Monthly Memento, given how the first of May is so widely celebrated in the Northern hemisphere. There's enough material for decades of May Monthly Mementos just poking around the British Isles. I'm sure one year we'll be dressing up a pair of Jokers as the 'Obby 'Osses, and putting a suitably sinister spin on the holiday.

This year we're gonna go with the more modern spin, and focus our May Monthly Memento on International Worker's Day. You get a jar of Mayo Or May-O. Each lick could be a nanite-infused wonder food that'll give you the strength of an entire union, or it could be just foul old mayo. It's a Double-Or-Quits for your Stamina - you either double your current amount of Stamina or you lose the lot.

The kind thing to do would be to make it so that once you've doubled your Stamina, you can't use this item again until the following day. Because I'm a bastard, you can use this thing whenever you like.

Big updates to the puzzle combat system, mobile disenfuckulation, RNG tinkering and Pleasantville are coming later this month. Yeah, it's the same project I've been working on, and it's suffered some really awesome feature creep.

Happy May Day, and have fun!


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