News from the Seven Realms • Issue #28 • July 3, 2020

The Headline

Oh, what a long, strange, isolating spring it has been!  I think we’re all in need of a little cheer after these past few months, and what’s more pleasing than the arrival of that always delightful event zone, with its ethereal slopes and valleys, thrilling battles with the deadly Council of Fae, and the promise of lavish rewards, than the ever enchanting Twilight Vale?

That’s right, the much loved Midsummer’s Event Zone is making its return!  Prisma, anyone?  Many of you know this captivating region well, but can still expect a few new surprises, while for all of our newer players, the Vale will be a first for them and what a happy one it will be!  Get ready to grab your friends, or quickly make new ones which indeed you will, and venture into this twinkling land of wonders where the infamous Ladder of Fairies awaits, not to mention a slew of daily quests, bounties, treats and goodies, new mounts and outfits, and so much more.

Can’t see the video? Click here!

Wait, did someone say new mount?  Oh, yes.  Someone did.  And what a beauty it is — a magnificent horse, larger and grander than any before in our game, and which features a brand new rearing up animation sure to inspire awe in all those around you, and quite befitting for adventurous heroes.  The Midsummer Mustang is a wild beast, but can be tamed and ridden, though you best hold on tight.  And with a little hard work and patience, this beautiful creature can be earned for free by all players in the game!

But what to wear when galloping around under all those moonlit skies and shimmering hills of the Vale?  Fear not, fashion buffs.  While we’ve brought back all the popular and exotic outfits from the past which can similarly be earned for free in the event zone, we are also introducing a brand new piece of exciting attire in the Item Shop!  Clad yourselves in the Aviator’s Vestments and sport a bold and alluring new look for your character.  Spice up your wardrobes with a little Steampunk pizazz this Midsummer season in V&H!

So get ready, players, the Twilight Vale and all the fun it holds within, is approaching ever so quickly.  Good times are in store for all!  🙂

Fan Works

Fan Friday

Well, it may have been a bleak few months outside of the game, but not so within!  Gorgeous art, songs, videos, poetry, stories, humor, color, and creativity abound within the collective talent pool of our V&H players.   Thank you to our community for your wonderful Fan Friday entries, and for making some of these dreary weeks feel a whole lot brighter.

Please enjoy this look back at some of the amazing entries submitted by your fellow V&H players.


Bellamere Palace

The upcoming build, in addition to containing the Twilight Vale, also happens to be packed with a few other fun little features that we think our players might enjoy.  Like what, you ask?  Oh, I don’t know — how about a brand new Raid location!

That’s right, joining the Rookery and Bandicott Woods in the ever-growing pyramid we recently introduced in the Shadow of the Eclipse, is an all new third raid location!  Suit up, and get ready to discover the horrors and decadent pleasures of Bellamere Palace.  This sprawling domicile, home of the Red Prince, a sadistic villain whose chief pastimes include torture, drunken merry making, and slaughtering the innocent because it amuses him, is a vast and elegant domain, where players will have the fun of unlocking new dangers and delights at every turn.  And for those heroes brave enough to face the dashing and vile Red Prince himself, the mystery of the origin of the name, ‘the Fifth Child,’ will at last be revealed.

The new build also features a great many bug fixes, improvements to the raid system in general, class play balance adjustments (all made with your help on the forums), and an all new feature which we believe will especially please mobile players whose devices grow rather hot when playing the game — we’ve added an ‘Energy Saver’ function.  This new addition will allow players to set a maximum frame rate for the game to use, so that devices with fast CPU’s will generate less heat, and ultimately improve the overall battery life of their devices. 


V&H Player: Impresario

Player: Impresario
Server: US3
Class: Priest

How long have you been playing V&H for, and what aspects about the game, in comparison to other MMO’s, keep you playing regularly?

Oddly enough, I believe I know the exact date I started playing. My brother and I had been looking for a new mobile MMO, and we were burned out on mobile games with auto-questing, massive bot groups, and a design that forced you to pour a ton of money into the game for the chance at random, progressive benefits. I saw Villagers and Heroes at the beginning of November 2018. I sent a text to my brother and told him we needed to give it a try. I submitted my first poem to Fan Friday that same week and won on November 7 (it took some digging since that forum is gone, but I found that first poem!)

On November 19, 2018 I entered the Halls of Salvation and any doubt disappeared (I have no idea why I called it Halls of Justice in my text to him). 

After nearly two years I’m still playing, along with my wife “Reas on” and the many friends we have made along the way. I can say confidently that the community is a primary driver for continued play. Reason also needed a game that didn’t lock her into playing at a desk, and we both needed a game that didn’t take away from our time with our kids, so it had to be a mobile game.

Do you consider yourself to be more of a combat player, or a villager, or both?  What features would you most like to see added to the villaging side of the game?

I swear there is a third category of player in this game. We have pure combat players. We have pure villager players. We have hybrids of those. I often think of myself as the pure social player. Others are more sensible with their time spent in chat – they work on gathering or crafting while they talk. I have often gone an hour without realizing that I forgot to keep clicking that plentiful node. Frankly, without my wife and other friends pushing me along, I’d still be averaging about a level a month. Thanks to their efforts, I’m working on my fifth rebirth right now. 

I play with some amazing folks that absolutely love the villaging aspect of the game. I enjoy supporting them and encouraging them through gifts and praise. Some of the challenges we’ve all experienced in our village has lead to the creation of a laundry list of things we’d love to see improved. 

  • Community Garden – I’d like to think of it as a wellspring, but a bit more involved. There could be activities like planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, tilling. Each member of the village can only contribute one of those activities every few hours, but a healthy community garden needs a good balance of activities. Maybe you could influence the quality of the results by contributing to watering, weeding, fertilizing and pruning. Harvesting might be a weekly activity, with tilling and planting each taking a day. Run it on a six day cycle to keep activities rotating throughout the week. Each village member receives a few soul bound consumables by mail each week from the harvest that benefit their villager skills, and the quality of what they receive is based upon the level of care the village gave to their community garden. The consumables could be the same as one of the wellspring buffs, but activated when the villager wants, and lasting for a short period of time (15 minutes to an hour). Other village and ranching projects could be added to produce materials around the theme of maintaining the community garden (regular repairs of a water wheel to help with watering benefits, feeding and caring for oxen to help with plowing… dare I say collecting fertilizer from the chickens?). 
  • Project board – a way to see all of the current donation status and project requirements for the next two days from anywhere in the world at a glance. It takes a lot of work to visit every project and send a mail out to our villagers letting them know what’s current. It would also be amazing to see total contribution numbers per player for all projects that player has contributed to over time. 
  • Village board – a way for a mayor to post a static list of things about the village, the guild, various expectations, etc. Things that everyone should know and always have access to knowing. Mail is good for temporary things. 
  • Vault – Vault limits & ability to see the log on mobile
  • Tiered specializations – for example, first tier for an armorsmith unlocks the ability to have a chance at crafting epics. A second tier gives you more control over runes or stats, a third tier increases the chance, etc. 
  • Managing guild / village rosters is highly manual and really requires a PC to do it correctly. I spent an hour the other day using a combination of /gshow, a spreadsheet, and an open village window just to figure out who was inactive or not in the guild. 
  • Village & Guild Space – We always seem to be battling an issue of space. We would either like to expand into multiple – shared village / guild situations with shared chat so we aren’t always having to kick alts out of the guild & village when we meet someone we like. This doesn’t have to be complicated – ability to combine chat with another guild or village would be an amazing addition. 

You are our resident poet, and have been delighting us all, whether on the forums or in-game, with your wonderful poems for quite some time now.  When did you first unlock this talent of yours?  Who are some of your favorite poets, and/or poems? 

The most amusing thing about this question is that I’m not well educated in the classics or history of famous poets. While I’m not as familiar with famous poets, I’m always delighted to learn about the favorite poems and poets that others have (in fact, that’s one of the questions we ask new recruits for our guild). My favorite poet is Shel Silverstein, and I’d like to think that the randomness of my poems would make him happy. 

As long as I can remember, I’ve written poems. But it was in Everquest that I discovered my love for poetry improv. I wrote epic ballads for guilds completing a raid successfully for the first time. I wrote poems for people dinging (gaining a new level). I once role played a character that only spoke in prose for an entire year (that was hard). When I joined villagers and heroes it was the community that immediately inspired me to write poems. V&H is the first game that inspired me to turn one of my poems into a song. Reason remembers that when I began dreaming up “The World Chat” song that I was quietly singing the tune to myself for months while perfecting what I wanted it to say. With Vale coming out again soon, I feel like I need to recruit a whole bunch of people that can play a variety of instruments to help remake the “Prisma’s Lament” song that William and I put together last year. 

You are an especially busy fellow on US3, and host a number of events there for players to enjoy.  Please tell us a little about these events.  Any tips for players out there on other servers who might be interested in creating their own events as well?

My desire to host events is inspired by a legacy created before I even joined the game. Players all over the server for far longer than I’ve been around have been hosting crafting parties, trivia events, fashion shows, and so much more. I feel my role is to continue that legacy, and the events I host are all events popularized by others. William’s events are fondly remembered and I’ve continued two of his popular events each month, and added others. None of the events are my own original ideas. 

I’d tell anyone looking to create or host an event is to not make them too complicated. Don’t make them overly difficult or competitive. Experiment! If you find a successful strategy that others love, make it a regular thing. Ask others to help you so you don’t burn out. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the event committee members on your server to help support your event. The EC members have access to a variety of resources to help make your events memorable.

It’s been a long few months of lockdown and isolation.  What has that experience been like for you?  Did you develop any new and unusual habits?  Any tips or tricks for coping?  Is Netflix your friend or foe?

Netflix is definitely my foe. There is too much to do and not enough time! I’ve been blessed to continue to have work, but at home we’ve also filled our daylight hours with many new projects. We’ve built a new chicken coop and we now have 18 birds at home now – 14 of them baby chicks. We were inspired to do this right after everything shut down. People couldn’t find eggs in the stores and they remembered we had chickens, but we didn’t have enough eggs from our birds to help others the way we wanted. While we hope things never shut down like that again, we’ll be more prepared in the future to help. We also have been gardening and doing various home improvement projects (one involved installing a nine-foot-tall tube slide inside our house!).

If you could design and create your own Event Zone in V&H, what would it be and what would it look like?  How about the outfit or free mount which could be earned in it?

Whatever the zone or event is, it would have to earn a penguin mount. One of our events on US3 is a “charity” live auction where we pretend to raise funds for a fictional charity named “The Ardent Orphans Society.” We’ve often advertised the event by promising to sell penguin mounts at the auction. 

Swamps of Grogul is one of my favorite zones. I’ve posted about it and spoken about it before. It feels like it should lead to more, and that the threat should be bigger. I’d love to see this side quest get more attention.

As an EC member, I wish I had more tools available to launch random world encounters. I’d love to spawn a dragon or evil sorcerer in a zone similar to one of the main bosses in an event zone (e.g. Prisma) that doesn’t attack until attacks, but would require a massive mobilization from the server to take down (so not auto scaled, but scaled for 60 players). The EC member could build out a role play script to shout out in world chat to provide context for the appearance of the boss. To keep loot simple, players could receive red darrig coins or keys since that “loot table” is already available, and over time they could collect enough coins to earn a prize of their choice.

What are some of your other hobbies when you are not playing V&H?

First and foremost, we’re trying to do our best to raise three amazing kids. We gave up gaming for eight years to focus on that particular project, and V&H is the first game that really has offered us what we feel is the correct balance to continue pouring love and attention into them, while still having time here and there to enjoy a bit of fun of our own. We also have our own real gardens, real chickens, and I occasionally enjoy an amazing board game called Gloomhaven.

As a long time iOS player, you have witnessed the game steadily improve upon mobile.  (Albeit sometimes gradually.)  Specifically, what features or areas in the game do you think still need some love to improve the mobile experience for V&H players?

iOS is my primary method of play, and the only way my wife plays. But to host events and to manage my guild and village, I have to log into the PC. Some things are much better on mobile, and some things are much better on PC. It’s easier to garden and ranch on mobile, but it’s easier to break down eggs and leather on the PC. Some additional thoughts:

  • Healing is still very difficult on small screens. 
  • Target of target, where you can see your target’s target. This has always been tremendously helpful to healers and tanks in other games I’ve played. 
  • Not able to see your group members on the map in mobile. Really hard to follow someone and respond to chat on mobile. 
  • Access to naming your pets, additional house configurations, the vault log, and the knowledge book. 

If you could invite any historical figure from any field, living or dead, over to your house for dinner, who would it be and why?  What dinner would you serve them, and what one question would you ask them?

This is the most difficult question for me to answer! In thinking about it, I realized that all of the historical figures I’d want to meet all had a last name starting with “A” – Aquinas, Augustine, and Aristotle. I’ll have to go with Aristotle. I’d love to show him the various silly arguments we can get into on the Internet and see him try to apply his deductive method in an effort to satiate the world’s trolls. The thought amuses me greatly. Maybe we could make him a moderator for the game?

Apparently there is an entire menu of food based on Aristotle called the “Aristotelian Menu.” I’ll have to learn how to cook seafood minestrone for him.

You are playing V&H on your phone at the airport, waiting for your flight.  An impatient, grumpy guy has been pacing around, sighing loudly, when he suddenly notices your phone. He pauses curiously, and asks you what you are doing.  How do you get this guy to sit down, and download the game?  What do you say to him?

I’ve had many occasions to tell others about the game. Just prior to the shut down I was on a business trip to Ohio where I had the opportunity to see several friends that I had not seen in years. They have all since tried the game and two of them are still playing. I love the game, and as a result, I find it very easy to talk about it with others. This is what I like to tell them.

  • Play in the style most convenient and comfortable to you, whether that’s on a mobile device or at a desk. 
  • The experience starts at day one. The game emphasizes the journey, not the end, so don’t feel like you have to rush to the top to begin enjoying the game. 
  • No autoplay, no botting, no toll gates and massively annoying cash grabs. Instead, you get an amazing community, approachable developers, and an experience that will inspire you into wanting to to support the game. 
  • Only have a few minutes today? Water your sheep and feel good about it. Want to experience something more? Crawl through the depths of a land filled with bounties and elders while experiencing the mystery and twists that the various quests offer to you. 
  • When you start your first garden you need to know this one, simple fact – seeds are at the sign on the fence behind your house.


Sneaky Scribbler Caption Contest

It’s been too long since we’ve run this fun and always hilarious little contest.  So let’s remedy that!

The Sneaky Scribbler has long been amusing us, and now it’s time for you all to amuse the Sneaky Scribbler in return!   How?  By writing an imaginative and humorous caption for the image pictured above.  That’s it, that’s all you have to do.  Get clever, or funny, or crazy, or whatever you’d like, just make the Scribbler smile with your caption for that particular picture.

Sneaky will select his/her top three favorite captions, and we’ll award the winners some great prizes!  We can’t wait to see what you all come up with.  Please see forums for details.

The Sneaky Scribbler

Uh-oh, nobody is safe from this wickedly delightful eavesdropper who hops about from server to server, carefully jotting down all of your comments and conversations in World Chat, then sharing them all with us here for our amusement.  The Sneaky Scribbler has not been idle these recent months!  Thank you, Sneaky!

You Said It:

Skurge: what do i do on twitch app? just…search for villagers and herpes ?

Ekimie: those stupid zombies are a nail at my death chest
you wil be safe eki, they want brains

Layla Littlenymph: You can do the humping quests without the boots, but it’s really, really, REALLY hard if your klutz level is on par with mine.

Raphael Lenglet: turkey dinner in AH for 150 gold, isnt it worth more ?
Christopher: not to a vegan mate

Zordon: Public service announcement motes are suspected to be a carrier of the cronovirus. Mail to me for safe disposal.

Cathellis: Wooo got all the carol clothing!
What is Carol going to wear now?

Stray: at least the Otters made it possible for us to be inside the BRA
Amen,Stray xD

Aria Remus: when are the 95 runs?
Neyssa Coldmoon:
after you’ve eaten taco bell 95 times

lady constance: lol u know your husband isnt going to last home much linger when u walk in the family room and hes watching a show on basket weaving

Fylohira: anyone want to try out balls of salvation with me and Kelly Ann?

myralle: yay im half way to gettting my Imperial margarine crown


Drosilda: i rather not have to go back to village or ardent to make more pots, drama and food when I’m running low
if I’m already questing there anyway
You don’t need a cauldron to make drama

thingman3: has anyone have a clue why some mobs have a ? over them?
They are having mid-spawn crises, wondering if their life choices have left them in a deadend job.

Moe Moe Smash: dudes with beards having these masks on looks like ladies underware ads from the 70s

Sudaki: Solo yeah I would imagine that to be. But what is your consumption?
carbs mostly

Welcome Idk a name, who has just arrived in Summer’s Hollow!

LuffyXD: how do i access my BS list?
Ask Pd, she deals with BS all the time

No Moe Heals: random requests for cuddles may seem friendly, but just come off as creepy from strangers.

Pweerp: where are they?
shadow farted traven

Boh: So, on that note. Have a good day everyone. Remember, if you don’t sin, then Jesus dies for nothing. So get out there and make it count!

RvrAcheron: ,,, /s,t
muddy waters:
skip the commas and relax

Bernadetta Benne: has to be a better way to disengage combat
peace summit?
That usually doesn’t stop combat, but it worked for that one pope and Atilla


MogMog: wife just ate a panda express cookie… and forgot the fortune =)
We have all been there
Belles Helles:
she ate the fortune?
yep lol
Belles Helles:
does that make her fortune-ate?

Cryomag: do I need to quarantine myself in my house ingame?! D:
Thomas McFussypants:
yes no leaving the village
AH needs to shut down to
no quarantine but you need to craft 5000 rolls of toilet paper
is that tailor or woodcraftin?
depends on quality preferred

Royal Guardians

What is a Royal Guardian of the Realm in V&H?   They are players on every server who consistently go above and beyond in their efforts to help other players, or the game itself. They are people who, without being asked, generously go that extra mile, not for attention or praise, but simply out of an altruistic desire to be of service to their peers, to the devs, to the community as a whole, and to Villagers & Heroes.

We believe these unsung angels should be recognized. And, so, a number of years ago, we created the title of Royal Guardians of the Realm as a way to honor these exceptional individuals in our game, and to show our appreciation to them.   To learn more about just what makes a Guardian, how they are selected, and the gift package awarded to them, please see this post here.

Congratulations and our sincere thanks to the following individuals, our newest Royal Guardians of the Realm!

Behind The Scenes

Interview With John, Our New Otter!

It is with much regret that we must announce the departure of one of our long time Otters, our lead programmer, Liam, who had been with us for over 12 years.  One of the kindest and gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and an absolutely brilliant programmer who did so much for this game, we said goodbye to Liam a few weeks ago, and miss him terribly.  He has moved on to seek new adventures in life, and we wish Liam the very best of success and happiness in whatever he does.

But we are extremely pleased to introduce you all to our new programmer, John!  John is an old friend of ours from way back when, and we are insanely lucky that this enormously gifted and experienced software engineer has decided to return to the gaming industry after a lengthy absence, and join our little Otter family. It’s only been a short time, but John is already dazzling us, as we knew he would, with his creativity, problem solving skills, exciting new ideas for the game, and razor sharp mind.  (Not to mention he’s just an all around cool guy to hang out with!)  Everyone, please meet John.  🙂

Can you tell us please a little about your previous work at Garage Games?  Which games did you most enjoy coding for, and why, or what first drew you to programming in the gaming industry?

I had a long history of playing games, especially RPGs.  So I always had an interest in it, but I chose more mundane programming work for most of my early career.  But when Torque was released in the early 2000s, it was fairly groundbreaking, so I tinkered around with it and eventually joined Bravetree (later acquired by GG).

At GG, I worked on Marble Blast and Think Tanks for Xbox.  Later I worked on Legions, which was the last game I was involved in there.  I also worked on the game engines, in particular TorqueX which was the C# engine associated with Microsoft XNA project.

I have always considered myself to be a programmer, not a designer.  But one contribution to game design that I remember was the gem spawn algorithm for Marble Blast Xbox.  The multiplayer mode involved spawning groups of those gems which players would race to collect.  All the gems had to be collected, then a new group would be spawned, usually across the map.  My variant was basically random but, perhaps more frequently than expected, it would spawn a group right on top of where all the players were already clustered.  Many of the other devs complained to me about it, but I thought it was hilarious, so I didn’t change it.  So perhaps it’s better that I avoid design issues.

V&H uses Torque, and has from the start, which is something you have a great deal of familiarity with, since it originated at Garage Games.  For the benefit of our readers, can you explain in a few sentences just what Torque is?

It’s a game engine, the programming building blocks for making a game.  Nowadays the two main platforms for that are Unreal and Unity.  And all of Torque3D is now available on GitHub, but that isn’t the V&H code, which has added tons of stuff.  I would venture to say that V&H is probably the biggest and most complex Torque game ever written.

What sort of programming work have you been doing in recent years, since you left the gaming industry?

Mostly dull stuff.  But it paid well and I didn’t have to work crazy long hours.  For much of the time I wasn’t programming either, just sitting around in meetings.  Those were often Agile meetings.  Agile is officially a software development methodology, but actually it’s like a mini role playing game that many tech companies today practice internally.  There are classes too, managers are sort of like Priests (Holy, though we programmers secretly think they are Shadow) and we coders are the Warriors (usually Fury) or Wizards.  I was more of Hunter though since I primarily fixed bugs.  You even use Story Points which are kind of like experience points.  At Mad Otter we do not use Agile.

What drew you back to wanting to program again for games?

Actually I had always kind of wanted to work on V&H, specifically, even though I was not super familiar with the game. 

Also I felt like I could be a useful contributor.  One amusing thing about Torque is that, although V&H is highly customized, essential Torque development has not changed that much over the years.  So skills I had learned 15 years ago that were apparently stored in some dark part of my brain are still useful.  Which is an interesting contrast with the half-dozen web frameworks I’ve learned in the same period, all mostly useless now.

Now that you’ve started to dive into V&H, what are some aspects of the game that you find most appealing?  Any areas that you are particularly eager to get your hands on?

I work on what people tell me to work on.  But I like to work on quality of experience things.  I don’t mind fixing bugs because as a player of V&H and many other games, I know how frustrating they are.  And I like adding details that just improve the game in little ways.  Little improvements can add up to a lot.  I also have an interest in performance optimizations.

I’ll take this opportunity to say that if you are filing bugs, please be as detailed as possible about what you were doing and how to reproduce the bug.  Sometimes bugs are filed and I can’t reproduce them, and this is frustrating especially when I can see in the screenshot that the bug clearly happened.  If you can include reproduction steps, especially, this saves me a huge amount of time and makes it much more likely that a bug will get fixed.

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?

I like aerobic exercise: biking, swimming, walking.  I play a folk harp sometimes, which is a variant of harp that is smaller than the orchestral kind.  I’ve done some light 3D modeling and texture work for games, and I draw sometimes, but I’m definitely not an artist.  My brother has a sailboat, so I sail on that a few times in the summer.  I have virtually no social media presence.  

And of course I play games.

You live on the East Coast now and have for some time, while we are on the West Coast.  What do you miss most about Eugene (besides the better beer), and do you think you will ever move back here?

I have a feeling I might move again at some point, but I don’t know when or where.

Probably the thing I miss most about Eugene are the people.  There are a lot of friendly people in the pacific Northwest and thus it’s easier for introverts like me to be social.  On the East Coast, despite the fact that there are way more people, it seems harder to socialize.  Maybe people get more guarded as popular density increases.  I don’t know.  But it’s a real difference.

What is your V&H Forum name, and what prompted it?

Puddles!  I have only vague ideas about where that came from.  For a while Clark and I were playing a game called Stendhal and that was my first use of this, for a char named Water Puddles.  Maybe it was a rainy season in Eugene, and I walked a lot, so I had to avoid a lot of them, so it was on my mind.

My in-game character names are all weird. I love to roll the random number generator and then modify the names, especially to make them mildly funny and/or offensive.

We have a number of V&H players who are aspiring programmers, especially for games.  Any tips or words of advice for these budding young game coders?

Learning is the most important thing.  Get a game engine, pull it down and play with it, make changes, try to do stuff.  That’s how I got started.  I tried and mostly failed to make a hovercraft racing game.  Then I tried and completely failed to make an action RPG.  I think I tried and failed a few other game types.  But I learned something each time.