News from the Seven Realms • Issue #25 • October 13, 2017

Note: This issue is archived from a previous version of the V&H website. It may be missing images or content.

The Headline

Coming soon: The Haunted Moors Event Zone!

A creepy mist has oozed its way across the Seven Realms. What gruesome villainess does it harbor, and what fiendish world of tricks and treats, ghoulish creatures and wicked delights shall spill forth from it?

‘The Haunted Moors!’ Spooky Druda, that infamous witch of old, is back and as appalling as ever! With her, she has brought a whole new horde of grisly undead creatures who cavort in their spine-chilling villages, or wander the nightmarish wasteland in search of meaty human prey. Adventurous heroes, come slay these beasts and reap great rewards! Gather your friends, and prepare yourself for mighty challenges and quests, frighteningly beautiful scenery, and a ghastly good time!

Tis the season of Halloween in Villagers & Heroes! The Haunted Moors, that always enthralling event zone previously known as Spooky Town, has something for all players, not to mention some wickedly exciting new features this year!

Experience the thrill, for example, of having your character actually turn into a monster, with three new spectacular polymorph toys! Become a skeleton with the Ace of Bones, or stagger about and terrify your friends when you descend upon them as a lurching zombie, with the Zombie Brain toy. Or transform yourself into a truly demonic ghoul with the Nightmare Trap! These thrilling new polymorph toys have raised the fun of Villagers & Heroes to a whole new level! You won’t be disappointed.

And what would Halloween be without Halloween costumes? We’ve brought back all the much loved favorites from the past, and of course have a brand new, eerily exotic outfit, which can be earned for free in-game by all players: The Death Revenant’s Gnogpack!

And why traverse the haunted terrain of the moors on foot, when you can ride a trio of ghostly new mounts! The Spectral Wolf and Spider can both be found in the item shop, while the translucent, and majestically creepy stallion, the Spectral Horse, awaits all industrious players in-game. And last, but not least, Druda Bags are tradeable this year, and you’ll also find a new Banshee companion pet to haunt you on your journeys!

Villagers & Heroes invites you all to experience the creepy wonders and great fun of The Haunted Moors!

Fan Works

From Sighfrid’s Easel

He’s baaaaack! Let’s hear it for Sighfrid of EU1, for his fantastic rendition of the one and only Banshee Queen. Thank you, Sighfrid!


V&H Player: HeyImSampai

Player: HeyImSampai
Class: Wizard
Server: EU1

When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​first​ ​start​ ​playing​ ​V&H?​ ​ ​For​ ​the​ ​benefit​ ​of​ ​our​ ​newer​ ​players,​ ​in​ ​a​ ​few​ ​sentences,​ ​please compare​ ​and​ ​contrast​ ​those​ ​early​ ​Beta​ ​days,​ ​or​ ​just​ ​after,​ ​with​ ​now.​ ​ ​(A​ ​Ford​ ​Pinto​ ​Station​ ​Wagon​ ​to​ ​a Tessla,​ ​maybe?​ ​ ​Kidding!)​ ​ ​You​ ​tell​ ​us! The older versions of the game had all of the charm of present day. Dubbed “A Mystical land”, things were… simpler. :p Be it combat, crafting and gathering (both on restriction), with the trade-off of an even more active & sharing community. Yes, i just said that. Compare a cottage neighbourhood in the woods, to bustling LA then you have your comparison for better or worse.

Starfall​ ​has​ ​considerably​ ​altered​ ​the​ ​landscape​ ​of​ ​Villagers​ ​&​ ​Heroes,​ ​especially​ ​so,​ ​when​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to class​ ​builds,​ ​talents,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​new​ ​powerful​ ​array​ ​of​ ​specializations​ ​and​ ​options​ ​of​ ​feats​ ​and​ ​spells​ ​to choose​ ​from.​ ​ ​Please​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​all​ ​about​ ​your​ ​wizard​ ​build!​ ​ ​What​ ​have​ ​you​ ​personally​ ​found​ ​to​ ​be optimal​ ​so​ ​far,​ ​etc?Personally, I change my stats with every set of gear, until I find what works best, but my feats stay the same. Obviously I don’t just throw stats around like a mad *cough*otter*cough* sorry… I don’t throw them around like a mad man, and I hold expertise close to my heart. Apart from that I’ve had no issues with throwing the rest of my stats into my mana pool. I’m yet to play around with crit modifiers, but I already know that ice javelin can be lethal, especially with glory & poise.

Shielding helps to keep poise active, but is far from necessary. I’ve noticed that ice wizards have a really tough time in elder fights, but excel in bounty runs, kind of like the old hunters. That being said, I use javelin, hoarfrost and glacial spike, which wipes out normal bounties in a second. If that’s not the case for a battle, then weave basic attacks between abilities to proc frostfire. I keep Ice storm and bitter chill, (chill does massive damage, even to single targets) for Pyrron and up, with ice floes and shield being my survival (spam ice shield for absorbing when necessary). Massive single target damage, and (with enough will/clarity) sustainable in elder battles. I could go on forever…

It’s​ ​that​ ​time​ ​of​ ​year​ ​for​ ​when​ ​things​ ​go​ ​bump​ ​in​ ​the​ ​night!​ ​ ​Please​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​three​ ​things​ ​that​ ​genuinely scare​ ​you​ ​in​ ​real​ ​life.​ ​ ​(If​ ​you’re​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​share​ ​with​ ​us,​ ​that​ ​is.)​ :)I’m not scared of too many things, but one always jumps straight to mind… Elevators. I don’t know why, but whenever I step into one, I turn into a walking vi… Shake-weight. I’m also scared of “undead”… I get quite paranoid about that, so if you ever wake me up wearing a zombie mask, expect a high pitched squeal… or extremely audible voice cracks. Either or. But yeah, I’ll be generic now, and say that climbing at heights scares me. There isn’t much to be said about that, I think we’ve all been there.

These​ ​past​ ​few​ ​months,​ ​Mad​ ​Otter​ ​has​ ​been​ ​doing​ ​a​ ​series​ ​of​ ​livestreams.​ ​ ​What​ ​would​ ​you personally​ ​most​ ​like​ ​to​ ​see​ ​a​ ​livestream​ ​about?​ ​ ​And​ ​if​ ​you​ ​could​ ​pick​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​of​ ​the​ ​game​ ​designer, what​ ​one​ ​question​ ​would​ ​you​ ​most​ ​like​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​Diet? Livestream topics, huh? How about this. Some might think it’s boring, but I’d like to see what a day at Mad Otter “HQ” entails. I’d love to see how design ideas, and even the little jokes are developed. Bounty names like “skullozard” and “torachu”. Etc. are obviously based on starter pokemon, but some things simply need explaining. One of which, is fondly known as Smelldit. Oh, and for Diet? I’d have to ask: “Out of all of the characters in V&H, have you based any off of yourself, or other otters? If so, which characters?”

What​ ​other​ ​activities​ ​do​ ​you​ ​enjoy​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​playing​ ​Villagers​ ​&​ ​Heroes?As lackluster as it may be, I stick to gaming, and riding my bike most of the time (when it’s not broken… *cough*) but i’m still trying to find a way to squeeze everything in now, seeing as only 3 days a week are being devoured by college.

If​ ​you​ ​were​ ​doing​ ​a​ ​roleplay​ ​event​ ​in​ ​V&H,​ ​what​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​persona​ ​would​ ​you​ ​adopt?​ ​ ​For​ ​example,​ ​I think​ ​I’d​ ​be​ ​Mallok’s​ ​cast-off​ ​mistress​ ​who’s​ ​gone​ ​all​ ​Lady​ ​Macbeth-ish​ ​and​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​whispering​ ​evil plots​ ​and​ ​plans​ ​into​ ​her​ ​doting​ ​new​ ​husband’s​ ​ear,​ ​the​ ​naive​ ​King​ ​Leo.​ ​ ​Who​ ​would​ ​you​ ​be? I’ve never really thought about that, but I’d have to go with some kind of spy, or informant for hire. Betrayed by the King Augustus of Greenhaven, and banished for treason – under the king’s own command. Maybe I’ll put on my red squirrel outfit, and get stuck in a few trees in the process? Nobody will suspect a thing!

What’s​ ​your​ ​most​ ​favorite​ ​Halloween​ ​costume​ ​that​ ​you’ve​ ​ever​ ​dressed​ ​up​ ​in,​ ​whether​ ​as​ ​a​ ​child​ ​or​ ​an adult​ ​in​ ​real​ ​life?To be completely honest, I rarely dressed up for Halloween, and when I did, it was a low effort vampire costume… fun, right? So it would have to be in my early school years with a “mummifying” contest. Everybody was wrapping each other in rolls of tissue, to the point where they effectively had 5 layers of “clothing”. It didn’t last very long though… people were tearing the masterpieces to shreds.

What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​single​ ​one​ ​feature​ ​you’d​ ​most​ ​like​ ​to​ ​see​ ​added​ ​to​ ​Villagers​ ​&​ ​Heroes,​ ​and​ ​why? I really would have to say instances/dungeons. Zones we could queue for, or enter in a party. While the game is fun regardless, there isn’t much strategy until later levels and I think fighting off hordes of everything from monsters, to elders, would be great. Perhaps until more variations are implemented, it could be scaled like the Halloween zone? It would really add to the game, and give both new, and old players alike something to do while their bounties are down. (Especially if there was a loot system involved, for the greedy Sampais). I see no harm in extra content, just because it can’t be soloed.

If​ ​you​ ​were​ ​a​ ​ghost,​ ​who​ ​would​ ​you​ ​most​ ​like​ ​to​ ​haunt? Well it’s not a “who”, but I’d definitely​ go to a blatantly fake haunted house. I’d mess with the staff there, and all of the kids walking out, bragging about how they weren’t scared. Am I evil for that? I might even untie a few shoe laces… Watch your feet.

You’re​ ​madly​ ​dashing​ ​to​ ​catch​ ​a​ ​plane,​ ​but​ ​nonetheless​ ​feel​ ​compelled​ ​to​ ​describe​ ​Villagers​ ​&​ ​Heroes to​ ​the​ ​inquisitive​ ​ticket-taker,​ ​who’s​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​new​ ​game​ ​to​ ​play.​ ​ ​You​ ​only​ ​have​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​to​ ​do it!​ ​ ​What​ ​would​ ​you​ ​say? Clicking, more clicking, raid bosses, and a whole lot of community. Feels more like a glorified chat room sometimes. Just download it!” I feel like I’d already be in the plane by the time i finish saying that…

The Sneaky Scribbler


Auto Correct Fun:
DARKREAPER: well…time to go afterbirth
Korax: indeed!

Flame Teghal: Buy them or crown purses from redeeming rare zogs
kaiden14: rear zogs?

Rexxai: I used to have a food pc but all good things end lol
greenpuppy: You ate it?

Anyone willing to trade me 10 but worms? — Small L RIP

Can someone borrow me good for mount? — Pablo Critasso

Ginny needs to add spelling to his tutorial! It’s G-N-O-G-M-E-N-T! (Seen across the Realms, names withheld for dignity’s sake):

I am gorgamenting quick.

If you genomate those which are found by you, they become soulbound, and no longer usable by others when you gnogement items.

How do i gnomwnate?


How do I grogmate?

What is glogging for?

Do I need sockets to gnommate?

You can choose the base when you gnomeament.

There is a geonater tutor in Summer’s Hollow.

How do you gogoment?

Hunter humor:
Rogue Ronin: What shots do hunters have?
Merida Bearmantle: Hopefully their rabies shots.

Newbie fun:
Maslanek: You know how to add?
Glacey: Had maths in School, but it’s been a while.

So close:
timewarp: Anyone have a gnome gog?
Dunadan: Do you mean gog coin?

When you just need a snack:
Crazeford: I think I’ll take my business elsewhere. Unless you sell funnelcake?
Oober: Nope.

US2 Favorites, Food and Gas:
Ghost Noodles III: hahaha, i get “trumpet” pants from broccoli
Hershey Pie: tmi, ghost, tmi.
Ghost Noodles III: hahaha…ya dont enjoy “music” after a meal??
Hershey Pie: Ghost Noodles and his Trumpet Pants Band.

Just tell us how you feel:
Verryn: My nieces and nephews… I hate to say it but they’re socially inept and flat out stupid.

Player advertising is free:
Strikester: How good is this game’s later content?
Chandii: Fantastic!
Strikester: Really??
Chandii: Nope, I’m lying. It’s awful.
Ashes of Dreams: Dont tell him that, he’ll run before we get the shackles on…
Chandii: : Oh I’m sorry come back!
BiscuitButter: Good going
Chandii: I panicked

Player advertising, take 2:
lady kira: So is this game good?
Zazie: Yep. VERY nice community here!
Smart Cookie: and we have cookies!

US1 Free chat service:
WickedChar: My brain is half V&H info, half snarky comebacks waiting for the right moment.
Winifred: Wicked-pedia

Mobile, you can play anywhere:
Sir LionHeart: Time to log. Enjoy.
Sir LionHeart: grrrrrrrr!
Whimsy: Painful to log?

Moonlighting toons:
Ersa: My priest is AAA, Cures, Shields and road-side assistance.

Things that make you go hmmmm:

I miss my harem pants. — Stella StormSong

I LOVE MY CLOTHES even if I don’t use them. — aliasSam

I keep hearing something in my house…hissing noise… — Barbarella

I’ve got some elderberries. Smells like dad. — Khritikhal

Voltan is far inferior to Zoltan. — Markael

Zapatta: So many simpletons are awake. What a joyous moment for the Maester!
Bipp: I’ll have what he’s having!

When you wish you had typed just a little faster:
Alejandro Mora: How embarrassing. I’m banging on a house door and it wont open. Turns out, it’s not my house. lol
Alejandro Mora: At least I didnt molest my neighbor’s sheep
ThomasBecket: I’ve done that in real life. Lucky for me no one was home.
Redder: Poor sheep

Maturity check:
Violett: I can show you mine if you want.
Pharuhs: Ok, cool! And if you want, vise versa!

New warrior feats?
Zipped G: I’m warrior, do they eventually have any ranged attacks?
greenpuppy: Yes you can throw your helmet (kidding)
Zipped G: Lol helmet throw
sandie: Or a fit?
greenpuppy: Oh we have those too haha!

RIP Red:
pudding1029: Speaking of bad, anyone seen red wizard?
Rawrier the Warrior: Spiders ate him a few hours ago

Royal Guardians

Congratulations, and our sincere thanks to the following individuals for their outstanding contributions to the game and the community.

The Royal Guardians of the Realm for the past two quarters of 2017 were:

  • Riton (EU1)
  • Madd Mary (US1)
  • Miss Marple (EU2)
  • Barbarella (US2)
  • Erwalt (EU1)
  • Undre Undre (US1)
  • Vangelis (EU2)
  • Stella Stormsong (US2)

Behind The Scenes

How do server-based MMOs work?

What does server-authoritative mean? What’s a server-client model? Why do I have lag? What is lag? If any of you have ever wondered these things, and we think that some of you have, then wonder no more because Damon is here today to explain it all!

In the past, all games were single player games. These are simpler to program for reasons that will become clear.

In a multiplayer game, you want a coherent world. Here’s an example of an incoherent world. Back in 1991 at Dynamix, a team was working on a multiplayer version of Red Baron. I playtested it one day. I got into a dogfight (air combat battle) against another player. We were each flying our own airplane, and trying to get behind the other guy so we could shoot him – just like in a real dogfight. I finally got him into my sights. I fired my machinegun! My bullets… passed right through his airplane. A few seconds later, he shot me down. I was pretty confused. How could he shoot me down with his machine guns, which fire forward, when I am behind him? This made no sense. Then I realized what happened. On his computer – and on the server – he was actually behind me. However, on my computer, he appeared to be in front of me. That is an incoherent world.

Millions of dollars have been spent to solve this basic problem.

There are different ways to architect a multiplayer game. There is server-authoritative, peer-to-peer, and some hybrids. Most games today use server-authoritative. In this type of setup, there is a central server, and it is the ultimate referee on what’s what. For example, in the story I told about Red Baron, the server was the referee who decided that the other guy was behind me, and he shot me down, even though my computer thought it was the other way around. Without an ultimate referee, a situation like this would become pure nonsense. If my computer thinks I am still flying around and I shot the other guy down, but the other guy thinks he is still flying around, then how would that look on each of our computers? Both cannot be true at the same time. The whole point of a multiplayer game is that you are sharing the same experience with other people.

In a server-client model, or more properly, a server-clients model, there is one server who is the ultimate referee of reality, and many different computers (each for a different player), called “clients”, talking to the server.

The clients (ie, the players’ computers), take input, and send messages to the game server, saying things like “I want to move forward now!”, or “I am attacking Pyrrus now!”, or “I am mining on this rock now!”, and so on. The server takes that client’s (ie, that player’s) commands, processes them, and then sends the results back to the client. Just as importantly, it also sends that same message back to all the other players/clients so that the world remains coherent, and synchronized (“synced”).

Another advantage of a server-authoritative game is that it (usually) prevents “cheats”. For example, if the server were completely trusting of all the clients, then a smart player could hack the game software on their computer to their advantage to say things like “I am now flying in the world on my magic horse that is moving at 200 miles per hour!”, or “I just killed Pyrrus and I picked up one million gold!”, or “I just walked through the wall!”. The latter is pretty well known hack in poorly written MMOs. It’s called, unsurprisingly, “a wall hack”. With a well written MMO, those things never happen. If a client said “I am moving at 200 miles per hour!”, the server would say “No, you aren’t” and the player’s position would be where the server says it is. Occasionally, a game can have a vulnerability that leaves it open to an exploit. In “Villagers & Heroes”, that has happened a few times. In one case a few years ago, someone found an online tool to give themselves free gold. It worked because of a hole in the game’s logic.

By the way, these situations are not unique to games. The most critical test is of course in banking. If I wire $100 to Sarah, the bank has to ensure that, a) I lose $100 from my bank account, and b) Sarah gets $100 added to her bank account. If either a) or b) fail, that’s a disaster. It might sound easy in the real world, but a poor implementation of this might be like this: Step 1. Deduct $100 from my account. Step 2. Add $100 to Sarah’s account. Sounds simple? Well, what happens if after finishing Step 1, the computer crashes, or disconnects, or the Internet is down? Then Step 2 is never completed. So, I’ve lost $100. No one received it. It just poofed. These kinds of transactions use complex and well-tested software patterns to ensure no one gets the short end of the deal. Things like “handshakes” and “latches” are implemented – basically a lot of confirmations at each step in the transaction.

We have to do a similar transactions in “Villagers & Heroes” in places like the Trade Window, Mailing items, and the Auction House. (And occasionally, we do have problems. When we do find a problem, we fix the actual problem (ie, give Sarah her item), and then figure out why there is a logic bug in the code, and fix it.)

What is lag?
A definition of lag is “to fail to maintain a desired pace or to keep up”. So, in a race, for example, one runner might lag far behind the others. It’s the same thing in a server-based game. The clients send messages to the server, and the server sends messages back to the clients. These messages, of course, take time to travel, physically, between the server and client. In a perfect world, the messages would arrive instantly, but the theoretical max is of course the speed of light. However, in the world today, the Internet does not achieve speeds close to the speed of light. The reason is that along the Internet, there are various relay nodes that receive a message, process it, and pass it on forward to the next node as the message travels on to its destination. Additionally, the messages are not travelling in a straight line. They jig jag all over the countryside from node to node.

When I ping the game servers from my computer here in Eugene, Oregon, I get a value of about 200 millisecond – that’s how long it took for a message to make a roundtrip from my computer to the game server. That sounds pretty fast, but if the messages were travelling at the speed of light, it would only take 56 milliseconds to make the round trip.

The problem with lag, is of course, that if I click a button to say, “I am moving forward now!”, and that message must travel to the server, and the server says “Ok, you are moving forward”, and then the message returns to my computer, then I won’t start moving for .2 seconds. That might sound really fast, but in truth, it’s very annoying. A human will notice the delay. The game will feel sluggish even if the player can’t say exactly what’s wrong. So, to avoid this problem, the client is allowed to start moving forward instantly- even before receiving a confirmation back from the server.

This requires some tricky code to handle. The problem is that when I say “move forward” on my computer here in Eugene, it takes 100 milliseconds, ie, one tenth of a second before the server receives the message. The problem is that the server is now one tenth of a second in the future from when the move command was sent. The server handles this by some complex calculations. It basically resets itself into the past by 0.1 second, and then replays my character from that point, to see where my character is, now. Then its sends the results back to me, as well as to all the other players. In turn, each client has received this message later than when it was sent, so they also have to do some tricky move rewinding stuff.

One-tenth of a second doesn’t sound like much – but the difference can be huge. For example, if it’s not handled correctly, it might be that at a certain time I can’t move forward because I’m blocked by a fence, and therefore I can’t jump — but one tenth of a second earlier, perhaps I was not blocked by a fence, so therefore I could jump. So, in this case, it could be that on my computer when I press the jump button, I can and I do jump over the fence! But the server says, “No, you hit that fence. You are NOT jumping over that fence.”. Then an argument ensues between the client and the server. The client keeps insisting I have jumped over the fence, and the servers says “no you didn’t” – “yes I did” – “no you didn’t” – and so on, just like a childish argument.

And, I’m sure some of you have actually seen this happen in the game! You will see a crazy hitching in the game screen. It starts jittering like crazy and you are jumping back and forth rapidly. This is a stupid argument going on behind the server and the client with the intellectual depth of a “Are not” ”Am-too” ”Are not” children’s argument.

We are using a game engine that is capable of avoiding problems like this. However, sometimes when we add feature (like, for example, the new mounts), and we make some error in the implementation, these kinds of sync errors can occur. They are typical and common, and somewhat difficult to fix.

What’s it all mean for Villagers & Heroes?
We are currently aware of, and working on the following “hitching” problems caused by these kinds of sync-errors:

  • When getting on or off a mount
  • When jumping over a fence
  • When strafing sideways
  • Occasionally when running over the small gray bricks in Ardent that form the border between the cobblestones and red bricks.

While hitching errors are kind of hard to fix, the good news is that we have been able to reproduce the problems. And, if we can reproduce it, we can fix it. In the movie “Predator”, the combat mercenary played by Arnold Schwarzenegger sees that the alien Predator has left a little of its blood on a leaf, and he smiles and says “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” A funny, cocky statement because the Predator is faster, stronger, and has way better technology, but Schwarzenegger is confident. In the case of programmers, they always say: “If it can be reproduced, we can fix it.” Ironically, programmers are talking about a bug, and in the case of the Predator, the alien looks like a giant bug.

More stuff
I’ll stop here for now since this post is becoming long. There is much more to say. There are also things like a database lock that can cause a different form of lag. The cpu on the server can become overloaded, causing another kind of lag. That kind of “lag” results in problems like the infamous green feat/spell buttons. To a player, a really low frame rate (FPS) is a kind of lag. There’s also ‘input lag’ that can happen. In all cases, it’s very annoying, because the game is, in some way, becoming sluggish and non-responsive. We want things to respond, instantly, just like in the real world.