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April 30, 2007
TDZK to Take One Year Break
 

Announcement from the TDZK admins on the forums

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Hello everyone. Most of you have noticed that the last few weeks have seen fewer and fewer updates to TDZK, and that the administration team hasn't been around nearly as much as we used to be. I'd like to briefly outline a bit of TDZK's history, where we're at now, and where we're going.

TDZK's been around for over five years now. Aelanna had the original idea for the game, and I came on board three weeks later after seeing the initial prototype. We had a lot of fun creating the first version of TDZK, and after a few months Squee joined up as well. It was a fun hobby, to make a game people enjoyed playing.

TDZK 1.0 went well, but as the player base grew, we reached the limits of the game engine. We were all beginning programmers back then, and the design just didn't hold up well once we passed a certain point.

We then created the TDZK 2.x series, also known as the Genesis engine. While still using PHP for the front end technology, we rewrote almost all of the game, adding new features as we went, and making it far more stable and robust. It worked fairly well, but again we started running into issues with the design of the game that couldn't really be solved with the current technologies. Double-kills and all sorts of other timing errors really aren't possible to prevent using PHP. We also hoped to take the game to the next level, adding in even more features and redefining the TDZK experience.

We started planning for the Nomad engine, what the game currently uses. Nomad was supposed to be far greater than anything we'd previously done, with smart NPCs, engaging quests, real-time updates to sector status, and a host of other things. Some of these features are partially there. NPCs are in, and somewhat smart, and there's a lot of cool new features that the 2.x series never had. Over the last five years we've had real-world programming experience and and worlds better than we were at the start, and TDZK's engine is now very state of the art, or will be once we finish getting the remaining bugs out of it.

However, the 3.x series has had a lot of problems of it's own. From it's delayed start (and the hastily thrown together 2.8 round) until now, it's been plagued by all manner of bugs, imbalances, and a lot of other problems. A lot of this was poor planning on the part of the admins, but what's done is done, and we're trying to make the best of where we are now.

This brings us to the present. Activity in the game is low, and so is enthusiasm. We're not retaining new players very well, partially due to lingering problems, and partially due to the low morale of the community. In short, things are not good. We've tried patching it in-place, but some things are hard to correct mid-round, and our time is limited.

The situation for the admins has changed since we started. Five years ago when we started TDZK, it was a hobby. We were in high school at the time, and had greatly fewer responsibilities. Now we're out in the real world, studying at universities and holding down jobs that pay the bills. We have never made any profit on the game, and the only reason it's even survived this long has been from the generous donations and ad buys from the players. Five years ago, the time investment without any profit didn't matter much; it was a hobby. Now it does. We're at the point where we really can't justify putting in much time on TDZK when we consider all the other demands on us.

Additionally, morale among the admin team has been sinking as well. Aelanna has stayed away from the majority of the playerbase for months, due to the constant abuse. Squee has lost a lot of interest, and most of you know he hasn't been around much at all for the last few months either. Recently, I've been losing motivation too. It seems that no matter what we do, no one is satisfied, something is always breaking, and the stress of keeping this game together in it's current state simply isn't worth it anymore. This should not be interpreted as an attack on any individual player...it's simply how I feel. There have been a few people who've been supportive, and those I thank for their efforts and not giving up. I particularly thank the testers and volunteer staff that's helped us over the years, as well as many other individuals. But by and large...it's time for a break.

In consideration of all of the above...

At the end of the current round (May 19th), TDZK will close down. We'll be recalling the servers from the current hosting provider as well, so when it turns off, that means everything, at least for a while. We might bring the forums back after we get the machines and can reconfigure them.

We do still think that TDZK has some potential. We've invested a lot of time into this, and don't mean for this to be the final end. However, given the current state of things, we feel that this is a better route than trying to muddle along as we have been. It will give us a much-needed break, and this way, when we reopen it will be with a fully finished, polished game.

Our plans are to reopen sometime first quarter 2008. That will shift as needed...while we hope to have everything complete by then, "It will be done when it's done" as they say over in Duke Nukem land.

When TDZK does reopen, it will have missions, all the factions, and a much improved AI from the current one. The interface is getting a much needed overhaul that will greatly boost it's usability, and some real-time elements will be included as well. In short, it will hopefully be everything we were dreaming of when we originally planned for Nomad.

Enjoy the rest of the round. We'll probably fix a few more bugs as we go, but don't expect much in the way of major changes. We thank everyone for the support you've given us, and hope to see a few of you back when we reopen.

 
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