July 2015

(Discuss this on the forums.)

Welcome to the first ever “State of the Union address”-style post for Shintolin. I’d like to do these roughly quarterly, so be on the lookout for the next one this October.

In this address I’m going to talk about where we’ve come from over the last couple of weeks, and where I think we’re going over the next two or three months.


I believe everyone currently playing the game knows that there was a prior version of the game (hosted at shintolin.co.uk). For the annals of history I’d like to summarize what has come before us (feel free to skip this if you’d like):

  • March 2009: Isaac launches Shintolin
  • October 2009: Nexus War shuts down; the “Nexal Invasion” of Shintolin begins
  • November 2009: A serious bug (the “White Screen of Death”) prevented anyone from playing for over a month; in response, Isaac open sourced Shintolin
  • February 2010: Buttercup and Miko began developing Shintolin in Isaac’s stead
  • October 2010: Shintolin development pauses
  • June 2011 - August 2011: Shintolin development briefly resumes, then stops again
  • June 2012 - September 2012: Another brief spurt of Shintolin development
  • January 2013 - December 2013: Seeing the lack of activity (and flagging player counts) Ecce works on a new version of Shintolin using a new codebase
  • December 2013: Ecce proposes that he take over the existing Shintolin game; Buttercup declines
  • May 2014: Buttercup asks Ecce to become an administrator of Shintolin; responsible for helping to quell a zerg problem that got out of hand
  • July 2014: One last code change by Buttercup
  • July 2014: Ecce again proposes that he take over Shintolin development (this time offering to buy it from Buttercup); Buttercup again rejects the offer
  • June 2015: Buttercup shuts down the game, rejects Ecce‘s offer to take over the hosting of the current database (to keep player’s characters intact), and rejects Ecce‘s offer to take over the forums (to keep prior conversation threads alive and relevant)
  • June 2015: Ecce launches shintolin.com using a new codebase designed from scratch

Launch Retrospective

Thank you to all of you who have helped me resurrect Shintolin. I wasn’t sure there was sufficient interest to make this worth doing, but decided to take a leap of faith - and you have all proven that there is at least a chance of bringing this game back to a being a thriving, relevant choice in the free, persistent browser-based MMO game space. You all get an extra special thank you for being so patient with me as you helped to identify the many bugs and missing features that were still to be found after launch.

As a thank you, all players that joined within the first two weeks of the Shintolin relaunch (before July 16th at 23:59 GMT) will be granted the “Beta Tester” badge in the new Badges system, an early version of which will launch by the end of this week.

UI/UX Modernization

As the rush to fix the initial mega-bugs slowed down, my attention turned toward something of a pet-peeve of mine: Classic Shintolin‘s horribly outdated user interface. That effort is now “complete” in that I’ve reached my original goal of updating all of the old screens to be something I considered usable/playable. I also spent extra attention to make sure the game played well on a smartphone or tablet. You’ll continue to see UI tweaks and perhaps whole overhauls as time goes on, but the focus can now finally shift over toward the actual gameplay mechanics - in other words, making Shintolin fun to play.

New Gameplay Mechanics & Balance

You’ve started to see a few new or modified gameplay features get rolled out. Just today longhouses and cottages gained the ability to store items like a stockpile. Last week the hunger system was revamped to act as an AP-recovery debuff instead of something that reduced your character’s health and could ultimately kill it. There is an innumerable list of such features that can be built and tweaked to help make the game more fun for all players, new and experienced. That said, you’re going to start to see a shift in how these features are discussed, considered, and implemented moving forward. Rather than consider every mechanic or every point of balance independently, as has been done in the past, I’m going to start taking a “top down” view of these mechanics and implement or tweak mechanics that move Shintolin toward fun, cooperative, social gameplay mechanics.

Core Gameplay Mechanics

In both the current iteration of Shintolin and the Classic Shintolin version there has been one overarching weakness to the game: there is no reason to play it. What makes it fun? What is the point? What is a player supposed to try and accomplish? Certainly some players (Achievers) would try to reach maximul level, some would sit in a hut or longhouse and roleplay (Socializers), and some would murder & pillage other settlements (Killers) but there wasn’t much gameplay to support any of those archetypes - and certainly nothing to encourage bringing players together. I want to fix that. Here is how I’m going to approach it.

Shintolin is a game about a land of primitive people, coming together to seek the favor of their spirits and start the first vestiges of their civilization. You can play the game as a lone wanderer if you wish, but to get the most out of the game you will want to start or join a settlement. Shintolin will be balanced under the assumption that you are part of a health settlement. Lets learn a bit more about the favor of the spirits:

  • Settlements will have to build Shrines to the spirit(s) of their choice. Settlement members can give offerings to those shrines (the mechanics of said offering will differ by the kind of spirit) which ultimately grant favor toward the Settlement, not the player.
  • Shintolin will support (and to a certain extent) encourage competition between settlements, but the primary means of progress will be via cooperation between the members of a settlement. This is not Dealt In Lead and raiding/PvP is not the focus of the game. Raiding another settlement can harm their favor, but will never increase your own.
  • At the end of each Cycle the settlement with the highest total favor will be granted boons by the gods. Sometimes these boons will be temporary (lasting for the next Cycle), sometimes they will be permanent (items or Badges that you cannot otherwise obtain), and sometimes they will be a mixture of both. The boons will be announced before the beginning of the Cycle.
  • Cycles will last for one real-world month to start, and are intended to eventually last three months.
  • Unlike Nexus Clash and other games, a new Cycle does not reset your character’s progress, the map, a settlement’s buildings, or anything else beyond the favor that has been accrued by each settlement.

I’m still working out the individual mechanics that will drive this new style of gameplay, but the above should get your head pointed in the right direction. I hope to launch the first Cycle on August 1st. If you want to be well prepared for the first Cycle, here are some tips:

  • If you aren’t part of one already, join a settlement now. If you aren’t a part of a settlement you have no chance at a boon, and joining a settlement too late in the Cycle will mean you don’t earn any of that settlement’s rewards if they are the victor.
  • Ensure your members have a mixture of skills: hunting, farming, construction, exploration. I’m going to be looking for mechanics that encourage the full use of the skill tree.
  • Do not build any shrines yet; I can’t promise that I won’t significantly change them. FYI: I have temporarily disabled shrine creation just-in-case.

New Player Experience

Once the above gameplay systems have been put in place and had some time to gel, I’d like to focus on the new player experience. I’d like to add a tutorial, easy ways for experienced players to mentor newer ones, and additional ways to contribute immediately to the success of a settlement. With some of these new experiences in place I will begin advertising the game elsewhere in ~October, and work to increase the population of Shintolin.

These are exciting times for Shintolin. This land has a rich history already, but you all are present for the very first days of a new era. Thank you for coming along with me on this ride - I can’t wait to see what happens next.

(Discuss this on the forums.)