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January Office Hour Highlights

Posted by Kim on January 21, 2023, 2:15pm

Kicking off office hours with a bit of personal news from me: My long-time partner and I got engaged! :)

On to your questions...

I'm wondering about that aforementioned "bake sale" in one of the community newsletters to help fund while you create the new maps and avatar system for the site.
Yes! Unless you have a specific question on it, I'll just talk about it generally so that everyone can be on the same page. So, a few background items that not everyone knows:
  1. I'm the only programmer who works on the RPR. From the way bug reports and emails I get are addressed, I know there's a younger segment of the site that assume that there's a whole team or an office behind the RPR, but nope - it is I! Everything that is here, that gets added or breaks or gets fixed is me doing stuff behind the scenes.
  2. The RPR doesn't make much money beyond paying for its own hosting and bandwidth and that sort of thing. To make ends meet, I actually work for clients to build them (mostly boring corporate) websites. The bulk of what I am able to do for the RPR as a result has to be on evenings and weekends, basically as a passion project. I've been doing this for almost 13 years now without any dimming of my love for doing it.
  3. Adding maps is a HUGE PROJECT, and unless I'm able to work on it in a focused way, during work hours, there is absolutely no way that I will be able to release even a beta version of maps this year. It is too huge a project.
  4. Once before when I had a huge project that needed doing for the RPR, I ran a digital "bake sale" where we sold cookies and hot cocoa and such as items on the RPR to do our own kickstarter -- it helped to pay my basic bills for several months so I could focus on RPR as my main job and complete that quest (we called it Operation Audacious Phoenix). That was about three years ago and worked beautifully :)

I knew that we would probably need to do some fundraising again for maps when I was working on it last year, but I felt sort of sheepish about asking people to invest over and above what they already do for their Epic Memberships (thank you so much for helping to keep the site open with those, everybody!), and ended up not doing it last year. But I think I have reconciled myself to that people want maps and they want them sooner than "at some point in the next few years", so this year there absolutely will be another digital bake sale to try and cover some basic costs for me to focus purely on the RPR as my day job and slam out as much of maps as Kimly possible.

The plan this time is to do a digital lemonade stand and instead of cookies, we'll sell adorable drinks of various kinds :D

I imagine there is a market for people to collect umbrella drinks and super cute boba tea and that sort of thing ;) I sure hope there is, anyhow!

Backer rewards for people who purchase above certain thresholds in the lemonade stand fundraiser are still TBD, though it's super likely one of the backer rewards will be being able to influence the schedule of when we release new map items/avatar accessories, and maybe also to add things to that schedule.

Another thing I'm struggling with a bit is what the timing of the fundraiser should/could be. Should I try to tie it in to Epic Week somehow? Is that just too much going on? Would it be logistically impossible to set up? Or would it just be super fun and exciting?

What about also adding some other kind of pet? We have phoenixes and walruses
We've been discussing whether to do more colors for the phoenixes that were introduced at the last fundraiser, or whether we should introduce a new pet entirely, or both.

If we were to add a new kind of pet, what do you think it should be?

(People in the chat suggested unicorns, hippos, alligators, jackalopes, droids/robots, tiny axolotl dragons, and tortoises)

Now that blocking prevents people from seeing a user's profile or characters, are anonymous profiles exempted to avoid any risk of compromising someone's identity?
If you block someone, that person will not be able to look at any of your character profiles, anonymous or otherwise, since there's no way to check if multiple people have blocked you or if it's just one person with 100 anons.

To build on that, it's the same way we've always had it for sending inbox messages: When you block someone, they can't send a message to you as your user profile or any of your characters, anon or otherwise, because again, there's no way for them to check if it's one person or many who has blocked them.

By contrast, if someone blocks your user account or one of your public characters, and then tries to message one of your anons, that message will go through, because in that scenario it would be too easy for them to test blocking your user account, sending the message to the suspected anon to see if it goes through, and then unblocking your user account and trying again to message the anon character to see if it goes through. In this way they could confirm who owned an anon character in a way they can't necessarily when the block is happening in the reverse direction.

Would it be possible to make item display stands for characters, so we can put items from our inventory on display on their profiles? Similar to how players have display cases and the like.
Letting characters have their own inventories/displays is something that has long interested me, but has a lot of heavy duty implications for user interfaces that could get very confusing very quickly. I'm not saying I won't do it, just that I have yet to find a way of doing it that made me really happy. I would like to do it very much, though, especially with the Engraver NPC coming out in what I hope is the near future making IC gifting of various sorts more of a possibility.

Someone suggested: I right-clicked the accolades/items pictures' links and then pasted their link into img bb code brackets, then placed them on (my character)'s profile.
This is a good way to simulate it in the meanwhile, though people will know it's just, y'know, simulated. Some will care and some won't XD To be clear, sometimes people worry that this is against the rules; it isn't. People can tell what are "real" item collections and what aren't.

couple months ago there was a thread about tagging people; i mentioned that other character hub sites have an interesting way of differentiating between tagging users and characters. basically it boiled down to using @(username) and @@(character's unique ID number) as opposed to just trying to use one tagging system for both.

seems like rpr also uses unique IDs for that a possible way to implement a tagging system here?

On the back end, any tagging system would *always* have to come down to the character's ID, since a character name can be changed at any time, as many times as the person wants, or of course deleted. The main interface issue is that most people don't know the IDs of their own characters, let alone anyone else's character -- if that character has a unique URL set you'd have to like, go to PM them and then copy/paste the ID out of the URL, which seems like a colossal burden to the average user and more or less impossible on mobile. So it would still need to have a dropdown interface similar to Discord or Facebook where when you start typing a name it suggests people. I'm not sure there's much of a benefit of having different @ numbers rather than just clearly labeling between character and user in that list.

Will/can there be an option for players to toggle whether or not they can see a blocked player's character on a map? Similar to how you can toggle their forum post visibility.
I think that'd have to be the case. Or maybe depending on how the map is set up, they'd be replaced by just sort of a default avatar labeled "blocked user"? I can imagine some bizarre situations where maps looked haunted/bugged as a blocked person interacted with objects, opened and closed doors, etc., and all you saw was the stuff happening with no one there.

Despite running this awesome site and being the Admin, do you somehow still find the time to do a little Role-Playing?
Less than I'd like as the years roll by and my stamina for staying up late declines ;) But some! I also do tabletop and LARP IRL pretty routinely.

I have an event idea! You can collect items that, when used, give some kind of fortune-telling blurb or divination for you. Or you can use it as a prompt IC! They'd be like fortune cookies, but different. And it can be an IC event where these fortune-telling items have been sent out across the universes or something.
Huh, that's an interesting thought. Basically just random finds that come with an encouragement to use whatever they say in your current RP?

Vaguely related to finding random things: Once upon a time we had an event where Server wrote everyone terrible poetry.

At the time we had an issue where Server kept creating logs of random stuff. I was forever turning off the logs, and it would turn them back on, and insist on hoarding the most useless trivia until it literally filled up its brain and crashed. And I would have to go in and delete all the trivia it had collected before Server could be brought back online. So we had an oddball event where people would help Server to find actually interesting pieces of trivia I had hidden all over the site to give Server a Healthy Collection of Actually Interesting Stuff to Know. Once all 100 were found Server wrote and PMed everyone poems as a thank you. It seemed to work because shortly after that it actually stopped turning its useless logs back on XD

What genre do you have in mind for the Spring Masquerade of 2023, if any yet? *holds mic up to you*
I don't know yet! I'd really like some user feedback on what they'd like to see for that :D We did a sort of... Doctor Whovian space station setting one year, and a modern super hero one the next. Maybe a star ship rather than a station next time? A space cruise liner? ;)

How are your piggies doing?
Undergoing much drama. We got a new baby boy guinea pig with a fairly dramatic background, and he has a lot of trauma behaviors the herd and I are working with him on. His name is Biscotti. His whole litter was abandoned in a local park and they all froze to death except for Biscotti, who was found lethargic and barely responsive, but alive. He revived beautifully when taken to a vet and about a month later was placed with us. He seems physically fine but he also cries when we don't have the thermostat high enough and he is obsessed with burrowing under blankets 24/7. Most pigs like hiding under things, but it's not hideys he's interested in per se, it's blankies. If he has an option he will always be under the blanket rather than in a house or tube.

He... kinda gets along with the rest of the herd. For the first month he would have meltdown tantrums that involved biting pretty nastily whenever he got overstimulated so we had to limit and monitor his contact with them really closely.

Now he really likes the two Elder Gays of the herd but has decided he loathes his new older brother Crunchie and attacks him every time he gets a chance, so we're still having to limit and monitor contact.

The herd sat for photos last week, allow me to share:

two guinea pigs surrounded by pink rose blooms and baby's breath flowers. One is white and brown and is lifting his nose into the air, apparently smelling the flowers heaped around him. The other, larger guinea pig is white and grey and has incredible natural 'guy liner.' He is laying down next to the brown and white pig and regarding the camera with large black eyes. He also has a cute pink nose.
The Elder Gays, Cadbury and Dove

A cinnamon colored guinea pig with hair that grows wildlyin all directions, including in a distinctive mohawk starting mid-nose and continuing to mid-back. He is sitting surrounded by roses.
Crunchie, the most punk rock of pigs

A young white guinea pig with a soft pink nose and pink ears tipped with grey. He is surrounded by pink roses and white baby's breath flowers. He has one paw up on a rose.

Have you thought about having a small team of programmers to help you and ease your workload?
Since not even I'm paid anything above a small stipend, no, not really. The potentially "free" route would be to open source the site, but that's not a road I'm wanting to travel for the RPR.

Who is that cute little fella on your profile picture? That guinea pig/rodent? Are they a pet of yours, or it's just a photo from the Internet? :)
That is Dove! He is a guinea pig of mine :D He is a very dapper little gentleman. He loves his husband Cadbury above all else. He is currently herd leader and doing a very responsible job, organizing a schedule for when each herd member looks after the new baby.

(Adding my icon to the news post here for posterity, since my icon may be different in future.)
A black and grey guinea pig sitting in a pile of fall leaves. There is one orange leaf on top of his head.

Thanks to everyone who joined me this month! It was a blast chatting with you all <3



February 27, 2023

Oh my god, congratulations!!!!! <3 and bake sale stuff sounds super cool, as soon as I get a decent way to support the site I absolutely will, so lemonades or funky little bobas and mocktails or ice cubes or umbrellas or AHHHH they would be fun hahaha. Thank you for all you do! I know we appreciate it and I am glad your love for your passion project hasn't dimmed even if it's gotten more difficult (presumably, since it's gotten bigger). <3 Biggest hugs to you and your work ethic and imagination, and tiny little dainty hugs to your cute little guinea pig babies! Hehe


January 23, 2023

Ah, another bake sale, you say? I would be so happy to see that happen too!

And as for new pets, I agree with Auberon and Zelpher. I would love to see cats as a new pet (I love kitties!), but axolotls would definitely be cool too!


January 22, 2023

If it's a lemonade stand/drink sale, an aquatic pet to match seems like it'd be appropriate, and axolotls are definitely super cool. :3 Especially if they're also tiny dragons! :o

I also love The Elder Gays. XD And that your herd is helping out a new li'l baby. <3 (No matter how terrible the poor bugger's past was...)


January 22, 2023

Biscotti is so cute <3 And I love the photoshoot pictures, it gives me ideas >.> *looks at my cats*

And Kim, can I just say that I didn't know that you were the only one programming this whole website? That is just awesome! I can't imagine how much time you put into this... WOW! You are awesome ;-; Thank you for your hardwork, it means so much ;-;

I would be SO DOWN for a bobba collectible *-* I've never bought anything on this website, but the possible bobba collective might make the tables turn, haha. And even though I don't have any, I love the idea of the new pets! I personally would be delighted if you added Jackalopes, they one of my favorite fantasy creatures 😍

I can't wait for future events *cough* Spring Masquerade *coughs* to happen! So happy to see that the office hours were so fruitful <3


January 22, 2023

I would move mountains for Biscotti and the rest of the herd.

I would personally looooove kitty cats as pets. I think they'd fix into 32x32 pixel icons nicely! If I could put a black cat on my profile that looked like my Senator Clove, I'd go absolutely feral. :Y


January 21, 2023

If we were to add a new kind of pet, what do you think it should be?

*slams fists on table*



January 21, 2023

@oven - Yes, for sure invite anyone you think would like it here and enhance our community! And go ahead and use your gallery slots. The amount I offer is carefully calibrated to make it sustainable for me to offer it, and I want you to have the full benefits. :) The RPR's infrastructure can handle many times the amount of average active players than we have at the moment, thanks to our last fundraiser driven rebuild :D And a certain percentage of players that are active invest money into the site, that helps to keep things running smoothly.

The ads we run do help a little bit to keep lights on, but to really make a bigger profit with them the ad folks tell me that I need to make the ads much more annoying (like making them stick to the bottom of the page and follow you around) to make more money off them, and so far I have refused to do it because that seems lame. I super appreciate people who disable their ad blockers for this site though, because even the smaller amounts of money do make a difference in balancing the budget.


January 21, 2023

The Elder Gays! I am so amused and pleased. They are absolutely precious. I have two little kitties that are rescues -- the mother found in a Wal-Mart parking lot and the daughter her only surviving baby that we wound up both foster failing. Aaaaah such is life!

As for your needing backers and doing another bake sale, I would so be down! I really want to catch up on all the missed opportunities of the cookies and cocoa, but I would gladly welcome new ones as well! And missing out on the phoenixes was tough as well! They are really adorable so any chance I have to muster them up as well would be pretty epic! Heck, any old revival of bygone items and profile decor would tickle me pink!

I like the ideas of pets suiting genres of role-play. You'll have the fantastical, science fiction, maybe even something for the horror folks, and perhaps a plain ol' cat for us slice-of-lifers! Really they are all good ideas though that were listed!

Those were the bits of news that really, really appealed to me! As for your working so hard, I appreciate as I'm sure everyone does the hard work and effort you put into RPR. There's no other place I'd rather be especially on a site where pretty much everyone is mostly good to one another and a lot of us are working sods trying to make ends meet. You keep it so free and vast. So thank you, thank you for all you do.


January 21, 2023


question: does it help to bring more traffic / recommend for people to sign up and use the RPR on the chance that they'll throw money at the infrastructure, or is there a risk of having too many users strain the infrastructure w/o support? i keep my adblocker disabled, because i assume the ads help pay for the infrastructure, and i try to limit gallery use / hotlink from my own image sources (only knowing enough from very old dreamweaver classes abt image files vs wordy ones), but i DO want to invite more people around aaaaaaaa


January 21, 2023

I've only just heard of Biscotti and I love him ;_; <3
(not just because he has an italian name XDDD)