Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Third Mystery Picture

Unusually short gap between the release of two mystery screenshots, we find the third of the series over at MMORPG.com:

So, once again, using my primitive method of deciphering Morse Code, we come upon this message:

Shadow Weavers are making a return, apparently, to our quest line...  "Her" could refer to Morganthe herself, meaning that this new world is most likely to be the next main story arc!  Seems that safari clothing are making a return, as well -- Morganthe's inclusion brings about... exploration and adventure.  Cant' wait!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Morse Code and Second Mystery Picture

Today, a new mystery picture for the jungle-themed world has been released on ZAM.com, along with a coded message at the top:

So, naturally, Katherine Light and I once again cracked open our Morse Code sheet:

...and in a short time, deciphered the following message:

@SirWolfblood asks, "How did you decode it?"

Honestly, the last Mystery Picture and this one are the only times I have ever worked with Morse Code -- it was an intimidating cryptogram for me back in middle school.  Then again, after asking some military veterans at my workplace about their knowledge of Morse Code, they've confirmed that they're just as fluent as I am, save for "SOS."  So in a way, it's almost a "dead language"...which makes sense, considering that it can be internationally deciphered, and national security secrets are supposed to be national security secrets.  Anyway, my method of deciphering the code may be very primitive and inexperienced; I accept that!  But, since it was asked, I shall share!

Let's look at a different sequence:

   - - - - - . - . . . . .  | - . - . - - - - . . .

According to the Morse Code chart above, every letter has a minimum of one character OR maximum of four characters.  It gets a tiny bit more complicated when numbers are involved, but we can use a method called elimination to find out which letters are which.  We'll assume that the vertical line is a symbol for a space between two words.  And, to save some time, both of these are words, and there are no numbers.

So, starting with the first word:   - - - - - . - . . . . . 

Let's start with the maximum possible characters (4) as our first letter.  Already, we know that the first letter of this message CANNOT contain four dashes, as no letter is translated for that.  Thus, we must assume it is represented by the three dashes (or less).

So, we have this:   - - - / - - . - . . . . . 

So, we'll try to find a letter represented by three dashes:  O.  We don't know if it's "O" for sure, because perhaps the third dash may belong to another letter's sequence.  But, we have to assume, for the time being -- we can find out whether it's not by process of elimination!

Now we have:  O - - . - . . . . .

Let's repeat the process and look at the next four symbols:  Dash Dash dot Dash.  That stands for Q.  Okay,  per a general English language rule, there is usually a "U" after a "Q."  But, "U" consists of dot dot Dash.  So, this word is unlikely to be a real one, but we'll go along with it, JUST in case it's one of those weird words that your suspiciously "clever" friend used on Words With Friends or Scrabble.  Since we have dot dot dot dot as the next four, we'd collectively have "OQH."  Well, how about just dot dot, I?  "OQI."  What about just dot?  E.  "OQE."

To save some reading time, the rest of these combinations do not produce a common word.  So, let's backtrack to the very first letter.

We'll look at just the two Dashes, which represent M.  Again, we don't know if it's this, or the single Dash T, but, the coding must move on!

Thus, we now have:  M - - - . - . . . . .  

Taking a look at the next four characters, we have Dash Dash Dash dot, which equates to...nothing!  So, we'll look at just Dash Dash Dash, which comes out to O.

Therefore, M O . - . . . . . 

Repeating the system, the next four characters are dot Dash dot dot.  L.

M O L . . . 

Now, the true test of this word begins!  The next three characters, dot dot dot, equate to S.  Thus, we assume our first word is "MOLS."

Let's look at the second word:   - . - . - - - - . . .

The first four characters, Dash dot Dash dot become C.  

So, we have  C - - - - . . .

Repeating the process, the next four are ... oh wait!  Dash Dash Dash Dash doesn't exist as a letter, so the next best thing is Dash Dash Dash, which ends up as O.  

Thus, C O - . . .

Finally, Dash dot dot dot becomes a B.

So, we have "MOLS COB."  However, this doesn't make sense, especially if we know that it has to be a commonly used phrase.  So, let's backtrack once again on C, O, and Dash dot dot dot.  Knocking the last letter down a notch, let's look at what Dash dot dot is:  D.  Finally, the single dot is E.

"MOLS CODE."  Now, let's backtrack on the word MOLS, and see if it can be read any differently, too.

M O L . . . 

If we treat dot dot and the last dot as two separate letters, we'll have MOLIE or MOLEI, or MOLEEE.  Thus, let's backtrack again on "L."

M O . - . . . . .

Thus, let's backtrack again on "L."  Instead of looking at the following four characters, let's focus on just three: dot Dash dot.  This represents R.

M O R . . . .

Based on our system, the last letter could be H, but since "MORH" isn't a common word, we should break it down further.  dot dot dot then gives us S, and the final dot an E.  

M O R S E   C O D E

Kudos to such an intricate way to hide a message...not only do you have to decipher the entire phrase, but you have to ensure that each word fits and is context with the rest of the phrase.  Mols is supposedly a peninsula in Europe, and a "Mols Code" could relate to an actual guideline or set of rules placed by residents...but unless a theme is known, misinterpretation isn't difficult to discover.

Finally, here is some actual pen-and-paper work that I did on my end:

Anyone else feel that a telegram will be included in this new world?  I think it's very likely!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BUN: Small Catching Up

Hey all,

It's been awhile since I've written anything technical (let alone, at all), but my activity level has shifted back in-game, the Petnome Project, on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook (it's seldom there, though).  I'm either farming up a "bottom"-load over at Halfang and devising a number of Zerging deck builds for each school for first-turn kills, keeping track of Gardening drops, or pet training with a "Recycler" wizard in the Spiral (these items will be future topics!), keeping up to date on Petnome submissions, uploading Perfect Catch videos along with Vlogs, or Tweeting the latest thoughts or adventures.  Also, Ravenwood Radio had their 50th and 51st episodes recently -- those were a LOT of fun.

A lot of new content has also kept us pretty busy, such as Halloweenfest, Hallowe'en, the Nightmare packs, and this mysterious world that's coming up...  Based on Stephen Spiritcaller's interview with Fred Howard, I'm thinking we can expect to learn more about this around December...maybe the world will be released by then, but that's my wishful thinking!  Massively gave us a small sneak peek, and there are some symbols on the picture below that were deciphered by myself and Miss Katherine Light:

We caught onto a small mistake, as noted in the image, so here is the newly revised picture, hehe:

I've also been dealing with some University items -- I've been accepted!  My state's budget problems aren't improving, so the acceptance is an extremely big deal for me, especially when it's during the a very selective Spring semester.

And, last but not least, I've ended up treating my blog like more of a scientific journal than a personal one.  It's starting to become just a bit awkward -- out of style, in other words (for me) -- to be writing things here when I habitually post them on the spot on Twitter.  Usually, it's the "guides" or "tips" or "really chunky stuff" that I can write pages and pages on, that goes on The Chillanthropologist.  What can I say?  I like the "article" style of writing, where there's an overall subject, a dissection of its elements or parts, a weaving of facts/experiments/results, and a blend of insight/commentary.

But, I'll give this "true blogging" thing a try.  Sometimes a personality just needs to shine through from the layers of logic or rational thinking...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Arena Design: "The Bronx"

At last Sunday's PvP party, I had the pleasure of visiting (our very own) Heather Raven's Celestial Observatory.  She allowed me a sneak peek before the event, and there were some amazing features and motifs within her design that highly impressed me.  Working with partner Donna Spellthorn, Heather brought us to a battle ring that is "out of this world," yet retained a home-sweet-home feeling for those of us who love "indoor" duels.

The Entrance
Before you even take a step, you are enveloped by a lush of lime green and teal upon arrival.  The overgrowth and abundance of plant life instantly shroud the fact that you're standing on a platform in a cold and desolate outer space.  The scattered columns and grounded flowers intuitively welcome the expectation of other humans in the vicinity...and indeed, there is Heather with her special Red Gobbler.

Within the center, there is further evidence of an existing community: walls of brick containing the battle ring.  For some, this may bring memories of a gym, a fortification, or an underground meeting room.  For me, it brought images of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to mind, and thus, I quickly associated the layout with the theme of a battle-worn city, standing sturdy and stable through the years of duels within or around it.  Hence, the name "Bronx."  Let's dive in further, shall we?

The Battle Ring
You can see within the closure a gang of Red Gobblers, hopping around in search of excitement, action, and fun.  Overlooking the duels are five rooted dragon heads...perhaps trophies of Heather Raven's travels?  One day, we shall find out, but I digress.  As the battle ring stands separate from the scenery of nature, it presents a  hidden metaphor that any thoughts and emotions of any duel that takes place should remain within the boundaries of where they originate from.  In other words, "whatever happens in the Arena stays in the Arena."  The matches shouldn't be taken personally, whether a victory or loss was received; competitive tension should not step into the sovereign of friendship.

Here lies the teleporter nearby a scene of confrontation between two Colossi.  This device will launch competitors into the enclosed ring.

Another teleporter would direct travelers onto an invisible plane, as seen in the picture above.  This had my jaw dropping, as I learned something new about the teleporters:  

When the Teleporter Destinations (TP-D) are floated above a Tangible Area (an area where your Wizard can walk upon without the aid of Floating or Teleporters),  the Users will be relocated to the same point as the TP-D.  On their own screen, they will see that they are hovering in midair.  However, on other players' screens, the User is actually standing on the ground.  In addition, the User's perspective will show that other Users are standing on the ground directly below them.

To help you understand what this means, picture that you and five other friends are standing in front a Teleporter.  One of your friends walks into the Teleporter first, and will be relocated to where I am standing in the above picture: hovering next to a Celestian tree.  That friend will see exactly what the picture above shows.  However, to you and your other friends, you will see that person standing on the ground.

Now, let's say that the rest of your friends follow through the Teleporter, leaving you by yourself.  On your screen, as you look towards this Celestian tree, you will find all of your friends standing within each other, on the ground.  They aren't moving off of one another, which seems puzzling.

When you run into the Teleporter, you will find yourself hovering next to the tree, as the picture above shows. Isn't it odd that your friends aren't anywhere near the top of this tree, though they went through the same Teleporter you did?

Heather explained that this was formerly on a makeshift platform that she created out of rugs, only to be removed when she "Picked Up" something below it.  But, I believe this is one of the greatest housing discoveries accidentally made!  By floating the TP-D, you can have a full audience watching from the exact same spot -- without blocking each other's view!  What does that mean?  Infinite seats....(well, sort of...assuming that there is no limit of visitors to the house!)  Combine this idea with the wooden headboards from my MFP, and you will virtually have the best seats for everyone in the Arena.  Great find, Heather!

Rooftop View
Heather, with Donna's help, brought me another surprising innovation: the "Rooftop View."  Spectators are used to watching spells from a distance at various ground-level and inclined levels, but what about viewing spells from directly above?  This sturdy platform with a "transparent" extension left me in excited awe...

What a sight!
I'm very sure that many new prototypes and designs of the "Rooftop View" will spark and flourish within the community, thanks to our hostess's and friend's vision.  From above, you can actually look down and see the clutter of sheep within the Frost Giant's spell, or the top of the Efreet's topknot!

Since the battle ring is closed off and allows only competitors to enter, there is another teleporter for a way out.  However, there happens to be a few chairs around here...implying that a few special spectators may be allowed to watch up close...

Amazing in sight, the "Bronx" was indeed a new perspective for duelists and the audience alike.  The only thing similar to this, that we've seen before, is probably the Marleybonian Arena, where the duel takes place within a walled and roofed area.  The one drawback about this design is the duelists' point of view, and I reiterate that this Design is still a work-in-progress.  The reason why KingsIsle added some Intangible Area surrounding the battle circle tightly is to ensure that the Battle Animation cameras of each player are not obstructed by tall objects such as the brick walls or trees (this will be another topic for another day!).  But, I strongly support designs such as the "Bronx," since it places the Architect (the house designer, house owner, etc.) into a new level of decorating, where distance, placement, and perspective matter.  For example, we cannot see where the cameras are flying around, and thus, we must hop into the Arena ourselves (or with a second account) in order to test for a design's user-friendliness.  That requires a lot of patience, practice, determination, and critical thinking.

I am very sure that there will be even more impressive features as Heather revises the few flaws and upgrades the design of her ring.  I cannot wait to return...thank you, Heather and Donna!