The Gremlins Strike Back

After a successful campaign by chief server operator MattPeddlesden, his lackey haddock1000 and that-bloke-who-comes-along-but-no-one-knows-why EasilyConfused during March, it was declared that the gremlins that had infested the server were eradicated (well they weren’t eradicated, we just moved the server somewhere else, but that’s academical). However they struck back with all their might yesterday, while haddock was surveying, and Matt and EC were too busy playing trains.

The first attack came in the form of skeleton horses. They were first spotted in Meepton City, where at first, the problem seemed to be manageable. Meepler was overheard saying:

A bunch of skeleton horses just spawned in my city so I’m going to the roof to take em out

However, after only two minutes, the slight inconvenience turned into what was a major inconvenience (Well at least for Meepler):

OMG more herds of skeleton horses keep spawning! And I need to build here!

over the next 3 minutes the hordes of attacking skeleton horses were kept at bay, but then things started to get a little too much for one Meepler to handle:

OMG YOU’RE KIDDING ME ANOTHER SKELETON HORSE HERD

By this time, Amarillon had decided to join in the citizen’s defence. However he seemed to be a little dazed, and was not entirely sure who or should I say what) was the enemy:

Oh, for goodness sakes! What’s with all the spawn clouds?!

At this time, the all seeing all sensing mentor to EasilyConfused, Bryn_chan arrived (how she knew that something was up, nobody will know). And like a new, accidental, Boudica she rode into battle and wielded her all-powerful magic to defend the world for the time being (This was only done once EasilyConfused told Bryn_chan what she had taught him through the bush telegraph). However while there was a lull in the Gremlin’s attack, it would not be the end of it.

That was until haddock1000 logged on. And saw that minecarts were¬† moving rather slowly. After checking that EasilyConfused hadn’t been using Treacle as a rail cleaning agent again, it became clear that the tps was 12. If you’re not sure what tps is, don’t worry, just know that 20 is all OK, and 0 is stopped. then minecarts stopped working altogether. They simply didn’t move. A restart of the DTM world was needed.

After the first restart, which clearly didn’t work, as everyone was just being repeatedly timed out, the server returned for the second time. However it was still clear that the server was still very ill. What happened in this time is not clear, as the logs became corrupted, but haddock1000 can recall some of the issues

After running a timings analysis of server load, I was shocked to find that the server’s tps had plummeted to 9, and the load was 588%, which is clearly not right. After checking that no-one on the server was not up to no good, the server was evacuated with only essential personnel remaining inside the spawn house. This meant that as many chunks could be unloaded for memory, and alas the tps recovered. We therefore knew that the problem did not exist within the spawn area.

At this time, EasilyConfused had arrived. He quickly decided that the most useful thing he could do was for him to go away and make posts on Facebook, and go for a fridge break. This left bryn_chan, haddock1000 EasilyConfused and Frank3103 in a crisis meeting to try to decide what to do next. The four of us (well two, as Frank had gone to get Matt, and EC was probably away with the fairies) decided that they didn’t know what to do.

MattPeddlesden was summoned using the joint effort of haddock1000 through that famed jungle telegraph, and by Frank3103. No-one knows exactly how Frank managed it, but apparently some people in the nearby area heard a lot of shouting, as she was wasting valuable mining time. As soon as Matt came on, it was agreed by all that everyone still had no idea what was exactly going on, so the decision was made to go for it and reopen the server.

When people returned, thinking that the Gremlins’ attack was over, the DTM Team returned to whatever they were doing. haddock1000 went back to checking the railway and the farms were running. Bryn_chan went back to her house because BigBossAyrton probably was waiting to “deliver fish” to her. MattPeddlesden disappeared into thin air, Frank3103 went deep underground, and EasilyConfused remained with the fairies. It was at this time that the first victims were identified. Bryn_chan was overheard saying:

Umm, where are my mooshroom cows gone? BigBossAyrton is not going to be happy.

Initially nobody was really that concerned. 3 cows and some mushrooms? Not a problem. Then Bryn_chan discovered something much worse:

All the villagers have gone too.

At this time haddock1000 reacted immediately. While gremlins killing mooshrooms is OK in his mind killing his vegetable growing slaves, however useless they are, is simply not on. It does not matter that they seem to be perpetually on strike, no-one kills haddock1000’s slaves. They are the only way that the DTM team can produce the iron to satisfy EasilyConfused’s insatiable appetite for laying railways. If EasilyConfused does not lay railways, he turns to the biggest mortal danger to the server.

TNT

EasilyConfused and TNT do not go together. If the two meet, the energy released would make two black holes colliding look like a minor bump by a granny in a supermarket car park. It is one thing for the server to go down gallantly fighting against its worst enemy, the Gremlins, it is another to be completely and utterly obliterated due to (another) misadventure on a (the same) DTM team member’s part. Action needed to be taken.

It was at this time at the lag returned again. this time it came in waves. One minute the server would be running fine with a tps in the 19s, the next minute the server would be running at a tps of 12. After a bit more of a close analysis by the DTM team, now realising that this problem could not be solved by turning it off and on again, or simply hoping it would go away, it was identified which chunks in the world were causing the problem.

It turned out that something mysterious had happened in a plot that had been unused for months. Inside a building, a fenced off area had acquired some chickens. Well, when I say chickens, I mean hundreds of chickens. These were not in your usual free range situation either. They were crammed into a 2×2 pen. This caused rapid and repeated AI movement calculations to be performed on these chickens by the server, meaning it was too busy realising that they could go nowhere, and thus didn’t bother allowing everyone to play on the rest of the server.

How these chickens got there, no-one knows. The current accused is the gremlins again, simply because we have no-one else to blame. The chickens were culled, the products placed in the furnace, and the server returned to some form of normality. Hopefully that will be the end of the gremlins on the server, but you never know.

One thought on “The Gremlins Strike Back

  • 1st June 2016 at 11:19 am
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    Stormclouds, Spawnclouds… Whatever.

    Anyone want a skeleton horse? We’ve penned them in and can supply them with a free saddle!

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