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It's been awfully quiet around these parts, so I figure I might as well make this announcement.
I've been spending some time setting up a virtual machine hosting a linux server on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud services platform (comparable to Amazon’s S3). The eventual intention is to use this server as a replacement for the aging installation of Ubuntu I run off of my home internet connection, which hosts Thorn Valley (and various related sites), and NIMHmuck.
Now, I could just do a straightforward migration of the software and data, however most of the software running there is pretty old and out-of-date, so just transplanting them is pretty much out of the question. Not to mention I run PostgreSQL as a database server, and just about everyone writes web software to MySQL most of the time. Long story short, the server move will entail a fair amount of change. My general plan is to find a CMS (Content Management System) that runs on Python or Ruby (because PHP is the pits, even if there’s a lot of software that uses it) and migrate the content over either manually or using scripts to automate it.
So far, so good, right? I mean, it’ll be a bit of a pain, but doable. Robin’s and the art gallery will be the toughest nuts to crack as they run on top of their own CMSs so moving them to a different CMS will take some doing. But it’s not impossible either, and a fresh start will go a long way towards making Thorn Valley less of a chore for me to deal with and instead a fun little playground where I get to try different web technologies out.
This brings us to the last thing I have hosted on that server: NIMHmuck. Like everything else on that server, NIMHmuck’s really old. The player base is also practically nonexistant. I keep it up mostly out of nostalgia’s sake, and every so often one or two players log on and generally do nothing more than either idle or chat OOCly. But increasingly, I feel the time has come to move on. Thus, I’m not planning on moving NIMHmuck to the new server. It’s had a good run, but it’s just not worth it to me to keep it going in its current state.
That said, while I don’t plan to move over NIMHmuck, MUCKs in general still interest me. Part of the problem, though, is that I’ve always had to find someone proficient in MUF to do anything useful with the existing TinyMuck-based MUCK servers (and yes, pretty much all MUCK servers can trace their lineage back to TinyMuck). However, I believe I’ve found a solution in Evennia, a Python-based MUCK server. It’s written from the ground up using modern technologies and languages, and since the programming model is Python, it will be much more comfortable for me to program for.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to relaunch NIMHmuck as an Evennia-based muck, however. Instead, I plan to launch my own MUCK, tentatively-titled “Thorn Valley MUCK”. Despite the name, the muck won’t have a set theme (though I definitely would love to see a NIMH-themed area there), and will welcome pretty much any RP that is PG-13 or below. The general idea is to make it a MUCK that encourages experimentation and is welcoming to new ideas without being encumbered by over-burdensome rules and a long and twisted plotline that discourages new players.
I've also talked with Jeff, the current owner of the NIMHmuck domain name, and he's agreed to give it to me for safekeeping. That said, while I'll put up a notice on it about the existence of Thorn Valley MUCK, I won't just redirect it silently to my own server. If there is interest in making NIMHmuck a thing again, I'd be happy to be involved and point the domain at someone's server, but I myself probably won't be hosting it.
As for timeline, I’m still not sure. My current goal is to have most of the major work for all of this done by the end of the year, but we’ll see. I’ll post more stuff to the forum when I’ve done more work to finalize my plans. Right now, I’m still exploring various options and learning what I need to get it set up. Hopefully the results will be worth it, and as ever, if you’ve got questions, feel free to ask me them.