Sinking Island Frequently Asked Questions & Answers


Questions

Introduction

Getting Started

Conduct & Etiquette

About the Island

Technical Issues

Answers

Introduction

What is Sinking Island?

Sinking Island is our private island resort dedicated to quicksand and created exclusively for Deep Sinking members.

On Sinking Island, you can:

And the best part is, you can do it all without leaving home!

What is Deep Sinking R/T?

Deep Sinking R/T is the custom technology platform that operates Sinking Island. Many old-timers will refer to Sinking Island as "R/T" for this reason.

How is it different from a regular chat program?

In a regular chat client, like IRC or Yahoo! chat, there is essentially no relationship between any two chat rooms... no connection, no common element. On Sinking Island, "chat rooms" mimic a set of physical locations; they are connected, and you move between them by travelling in a physical direction.

(For this and other obscure reasons, all locations are known in the local parlance known as "rooms," even if they are outside.)

It also provides a number of game-like elements and actions designed to facilitate certain types of role-playing. Such elements are completely optional; you are welcome to use it as a perfectly ordinary chat client.

There is another significant difference as well. On Sinking Island, you will only encounter other people who share your interest in quicksand. This means that, unlike ordinary chat rooms, you do not run the risk of encountering people whose sole purpose is to annoy or harrass you, or people who will condemn the things you are interested in. Sinking Island is a warm, supportive environment specifically designed to share and support your interests.

What is it like?

It's sort of like:

Does it cost anything?

No! Access to Sinking Island is provided free of charge to Deep Sinking users. Of course, if you enjoy the time you spend on Sinking Island, you should feel free to donate to Deep Sinking to help make sure the forum stays afloat.

Getting Started

How come it's so hard to find?

Currently, the Deep Sinking R/T is beta-quality software. "Beta" is an ancient Greek word meaning "it barely works and I can't believe they let anyone use it." Consequently, it's not a bad thing that only the persistent people find it. Once it proves itself to be stable, it will be featured a little more prominently on the site.

Why can't I click the "Enter Sinking Island now." link?

This means you do not currently have access to Sinking Island. There are three possible reasons for this:

How do I gain access to Sinking Island?

Most active Deep Sinking users have automatic access to Sinking Island. However, if you're new or if you aren't active in the forums, you may find that you are unable to visit. If that's the case, visit How to Get to Sinking Island.

Does it come with instructions?

Yes. The online reference manual can be accessed at any time by clicking the link here, or by using the "Help" button while on Sinking Island.

Conduct & Etiquette

How should I act on Sinking Island?

You should observe most of the conventions common to other chat rooms. In general, you should try to be nice to and respectful of other visitors to Sinking Island and, when in doubt, you should treat them like you would wish to be treated.

However, different people may well wish to be treated in different ways (a dominant person and a submissive person, for example), so keep in mind that "treat them like you would wish to be treated" may need a bit of adjustment for perspective.

What behavior should I avoid?

You should not:

What behavior will get me kicked off the island?

The following is a partial list of activities that are likely to result in temporary or permanent removal from the island:

The operators of Deep Sinking reserve the right to revoke anyone's access to Sinking Island (and the site as a whole) at any time and for any reason, as necessary to ensure the best possible experience for the largest number of users.

Do I have to be myself?

No, you are free to adopt any persona you like to explore Sinking Island. The Edit Profile page has a number of options you can set to control your appearance and presentation to others.

Please be aware, however, that the more you stray from your "real" identity, the greater your responsibility to ensure that you have the informed consent of anyone you role-play with. In particular, intentionally deceiving people about your "true" gender to obtain cybersex from them will not be tolerated.

The flip side of this freedom is that you should exercise some caution when interacting with others. Do not automatically assume that the character presented has anything in common with the person on the other side of the keyboard. If that matters to you, it is your responsibility to restrict your role-play interactions to those people who have positively affirmed through their board profile that they possess the attributes you require. This is why the penalty for that type of deception is so severe. If they have not freely volunteered the information, remember that it is very rude to ask, so you'll just have to assume the worst (whatever that means for you) and make your decision to participate accordingly.

Remember, the standard for role-play interaction is "informed consent," even if that means that you are making an decision to consent based only on the information that you have no information.

Is the "R/T Interactivity" profile option a substitute for role-play negotiation?

No! This is a technical setting, not a social setting. It enables or disables certain types of actions based on how disruptive they can be if misused (such as dragging people away in the middle of a conversation). This feature is provided primarily for the benefit and comfort of people who have little to no interest in role-playing, as it allows them to feel safe knowing that they will not, even be accident, be subjected to activities that they find unwelcome.

There are many reasons why a person may or may not have a certain interactivity setting, and it is highly inappropriate to presume that a certain setting implies willingness to participate in anything.

Commensurately, you should not only not assume anything based on others' use of this setting, but also not use this setting yourself as if it advertises your interests.

About the Island

Where is Sinking Island located?

Sinking Island is located in the Western Caribbean, not too far from the Cayman Islands. (Unlike the Cayman Islands, no offshore banking facilities are available on Sinking Island.) The precise location cannot be revealed, as this would enable reporters and paparazzi to find the island. For this reason, you will not find Sinking Island on any map.

What is the general layout of Sinking Island?

Sinking Island, as a result of a unique underwater escarpment, is naturally divided into five areas.

First and foremost, the entire island is ringed with scenic beaches, ranging from soft, powdery white sand on the south side to black volcanic beaches on the north side. The beaches are a great place to sit and relax, and they're perfectly safe. Well, most of them are.

The southwest corner of the island contains the only portion which supports development, and that is where the modern resort facility is under construction (the cantina, the spa, and Psychic World South are already open for visitors).

The northwest corner of the island is home to a lush jungle. Most of the jungle is currently impassable, but there may be a surprise or two lurking down those forbidding paths.

In the northeast area, the ground becomes too soft and wet to support the dense growth of the jungle. The foliage is still thick, but in most areas it flourishes closer to the ground, forming a thick swamp.

Last but not least, the southeast quadrant of the island houses a trackless moor filled with quivering black bogs.

If I am making a map, can I safely assume that all the connections between rooms are straight lines?

No! (Well, you can assume it, but not safely.)

It is very tempting to assume that when it says that an exit is to the "west," it means that the connection between the current location and the next one runs rigidly due west for a fixed distance, and consequently that it should be possible to return by going east the same distance. Even though this is true in many cases, it is a faulty assumption to conclude that it always holds true.

While that would be a little easier to figure out, it imposes a nasty amount of orthogonality on the layout of the island... it basically turns everything into squares). Sinking Island is round (egg-shaped, actually) and so it is not unusual to see curvature, particularly along the beaches.

Thus, when there is an exit to the "west," it means that the exit itself is located on the west side of the current location, not that the associated path travels due west. If the path is ordinary, you will be able to return by going east. If the path is complex, you will be able to return by going some other direction. If the path is one-way (such as the exit from Limbo), you may not be able to return at all.

For example, the "west" exit from the South Beach location leads to the West Beach location, and "south" exit from the West Beach leads to the South Beach. From this, you would conclude that a path (perhaps a long one) runs south from the West Beach and curves around, following the shore, until it hits the west side of the South Beach.

This is done because the details along the way may not be very interesting. Adding additional locations would just lead to a lot of empty rooms that would slow down navigation without adding anything to the Sinking Island experience.

Similarly, while you can represent all locations with equal-sized boxes (and that's how the maps are usually designed), not all locations are the same size. Consequently, if you attempt to make a map using equally-sized boxes that touch each other directly, you will wind up very sad, because it won't work. The same applies to the lines connecting the boxes; they are not of set length.

As an example, consider again the beach locations. A handful of locations and the connections between them completely represent the perimeter of the island, even though there are far more "interior" locations that couldn't possibly fit inside unless the beach locations and their connections are construed to be quite large.

If you are making a map, try using square boxes connected by (not necessarily straight) lines. When you arrive at a new location, you can make little stub lines in the directions of the exits, then wait until you actually go that way to figure out the next room. Another tip: use a pencil. Wink

What is Psychic World South?

Psychic World is the creation of Fred588. It is a facility where visitors can enter into and participate in exciting virtual worlds.

Thanks to the popularity of Sinking Island, and due to the kind permission of Fred588, Sinking Island has been able to franchise Psychic World, which led to the creation of Psychic World South.

At Psychic World South, brightly-colored keycards are used to control access to a range of virtual environments. Unlike Sinking Island, which attempts to model the physical world fairly closely, the rules of physics are only guidelines in Psychic World South.

The most important thing to know about Psychic World is that it offers enhanced privacy for two or more people who want to interact without interruption. In order to make use of this ability, make sure that all the people in the group (often just two people) form a party before entering Psychic World. Once one member of a party has entered, only members of that party will be allowed in. Everyone else will be blocked until their adventure is complete.

If you die or log out while in a Psychic World South virtual reality, you will wake up back in the Psychic World office.

What is Little Mangrove Cay?

Little Mangrove Cay is a second island recently discovered off the west coast of Sinking Island. Despite the name, it is only very slightly smaller than Sinking Island. However, unlike Sinking Island, Little Mangrove Cay is largely undeveloped, consisting primarily of a thick, nearly impenetrable mangrove swamp. It does feature a beautiful, secluded beach overlooking the placid lagoon between the two islands, and boat service is available between the two islands.

The management of Sinking Island can take no responsibility for the safety of visitors to Little Mangrove Cay as it is rumored to be under the control of the notorious Dr. Boggis.

Who is Dr. Boggis?

Whenever there is a good thing, there is always someone jealous who wants to ruin it or claim it for their own. As the crown jewel of the exotic special-interest resort getaways, Sinking Island is no exception. The notorious Dr. Boggis is insanely jealous of the people and facilities present on Sinking Island and has sworn to destroy or conquer them.

Q. Where did he come from?

A. Dr. Boggis is believed to be a renegade voodoo priest from the bayous of Louisiana. As such, he appears to possess a variety of dark, unnatural powers, the full extent of which is unknown.

Q. Is Dr. Boggis man or machine?

A. Conflicting reports exist on this subject. Some claim that Dr. Boggis's actions are predictable and repetitive enough to imply some sort of machine element, but there are scattered reports that this is an elaborate hoax designed to lure his victims into a false sense of security.

Q. Is Dr. Boggis a real doctor?

A. No. A background check has revealed that although Dr. Boggis holds a Ph. D. in Orbital Terraforming, it is from a "prestigious non-accredited university."

Q. What does Dr. Boggis look like?

A. No one can say for sure, as he has never been seen without the gruesome mask shown in his Deep Sinking profile.

Q. Does Dr. Boggis have any relatives?

A. We're not sure, but we think he may be related to Mr. Boggis, the president of the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Thieves.

Q. Will Dr. Boggis attack me?

A. Although Dr. Boggis is persona non grata on Sinking Island, he controls much of Little Mangrove Cay, and if you wander beyond the developed areas (currently limited to the beach and dock), you do so at your own risk.

Dr. Boggis's behavior is very erratic, and consequently no one can predict exactly who, when, or where he will attack, much less why.

Q. Will Dr. Boggis be my friend?

A. No. Dr. Boggis is much too evil and socially defective to have any friends or allies.

Q. What is the connection between Dr. Boggis and the mangrove ring?

A. The mangrove ring is the creation of Dr. Boggis and he has imbued it with certain dark magics. The full scope of its powers are unknown, although many explorers who brave the Mangrove Swamp prefer to do so with the ring in their possession, even though it seems to be one of the factors that may provoke Boggis to attack.

As an additional warning, it is rumored that as the creator of the ring, Dr. Boggis has caused it to "listen" for his name and enable him to overhear any statements made by the wearer about him. This may also have some relevancy to the frequency of his attacks, but it is apparent that simply mentioning his name while wearing the ring is not sufficient.

Before using the ring, one should carefully look through all of its mysteries.

What is the "mysterious icon?"

It depends on who you ask.

Prior to the release of the initial beta version of Sinking Island, the icon for it appeared at the top of the forum pages next to the words "Mysterious Icon." Clicking on the "Mysterious Icon" led to a page containing random obscure error messages from early text adventure games. Therefore, a strong argument can be made that Mysterious Icon must be the mysterious icon.

Even so, after the first beta release, an ad for Sinking Island appeared instead that alleged to allow people to solve the mystery of the mysterious icon. Therefore, once people began to explore Sinking Island, the "mysterious icon" took on a life of its own. For a time during its development and immediately after, Psychic World South's access cards, as well as the PWS building itself, were emblazoned with a mysterious icon. This led to speculation that the Psychic World South logo (an intricate combination of the initials "PWS") was the real mysterious icon.

However, when the mysterious icon disappeared from Psychic World South and its access cards some time after the facility opened, this theory was dealt a significant blow. Some concluded that the "mysterious icon" is a harbinger of future events or a warning to those who would attempt to solve mysteries whose time has not yet come. If so, these theorists claim, the mysterious icon will appear again when it is least expected, presaging some strange new development in Sinking Island history.

Still others believe this is all a lot of nonsense.

Technical Issues

What browsers does this work with?

It is strongly recommended that you use the Firefox browser to visit Sinking Island. Sinking Island is developed on and for Firefox and all other browsers receive only limited compatibility testing.

Here is the list of preferred browsers, in order of preference:

  1. Firefox (Windows & MacOS X)
  2. Opera (Windows & MacOS X)
  3. Safari (MacOS X Only)
  4. Camino (MacOS X Only)
  5. Internet Explorer 7 or higher (Windows Only)

No matter what browser you use, make sure you are running the most recent version. The Deep Sinking R/T platform makes extensive use of "bleeding-edge" Javascript and AJAX technology, so compatibility issues with older browsers cannot and will not be addressed.

The version number is 0.#.# IFB. What's IFB?

IFB has been added to the version number to indicate that "It's Beta."

What's the F for then?

Emphasis.

What special "administrator" features exist?

Certain additional administrative abilities are needed to help develop and test Sinking Island, and to fix any problems encountered by the visitors. These abilities include:

What about privacy?

Sinking Island was designed from the ground up to protect the privacy of its guests.

For that reason, all events and chat messages are automatically deleted from the database after 60 seconds. You may issue the status command at any time to see how many events are stored in the database and how old they are.

Furthermore, all visibility is bidirectional, period. If you can see what someone is doing, they can see what you're doing. If you can't see someone, they can't see you. There is no provision (nor will there be) for "invisibility." (Thanks to Fred588 for pointing that out as a potential concern.)

Events are stored in a coded format based on user ID's, partly to make them not very interesting to read without a lot of work, and partly to save space, so that one event can produce "Test User orders herself a drink" on your screen and "You order yourself a drink" on mine.

The negative consequence of this is that we are completely reliant on visitor reports for finding out about problems (whether those problems are technical or behavioral). Even if you could contact someone right away, by the time they could get to the database server, the records would be gone. That's why it's crucial to use the "Report" button to provide cut-and-paste copies of text when reporting bugs. If you don't show someone the problem, it won't get fixed.

What if I find a problem or have a suggestion for an improvement?

Please submit problem reports using the "Report" button in the Deep Sinking R/T client. When submitting such a report, it will include the current contents of your chat window. Please trim as much extraneous text as possible, leaving only the portion you wish to report. This will save time while processing your report, and will help protect your privacy.

If you are unable to use the "Report" feature for some reason, please send us email instead, and please describe the problem in as much detail as possible.

If you have suggestions, please post them only in the Technology Talk Show Forum. If you prefer, you can send an email instead.

Suggestions for improvements are absolutely welcome and strongly encouraged, but many seemingly simple things are completely impossible and the time available for such things is very limited. Still, you won't know unless you ask, and it is very easy to add things to the "future ideas" list, even if they are tough to actually do.

What programming language is this written in?

The Deep Sinking R/T client runs in your web browser and is written entirely in Javascript using AJAX technology. The Deep Sinking R/T server software runs in our web space at our hosting company and is written primarily in PHP, with small portions in Unix shell script and certain key components in other languages as appropriate for performance reasons.

Can I help with the programming?

Thank you for your offer. At the present time, this is not feasible. A variety of reasons make that the case, including, to name a few, the structure of our hosting account, the development/test server's lack of Internet accessibility, the sensitivity of the Deep Sinking user data, and the extremely complex yet poorly written and completely undocumented nature of the 20,000+ lines of source code behind Deep Sinking R/T. This was not a project originally designed with software engineering in mind.

How else can I help?

There are many great ways to help, including spending time on Sinking Island helping out others and making sure to send complete, concise reports when you find a problem that needs to be fixed. However, there are certain other specific things that are needed. Check out the wishlist for more information, and thanks for asking!

How do I get my favorite drink added to the Cantina bar?

Due to the enormous number of potential beverages and the nontrivial time required to add each individual drink, it is simply not possible to fill every request of this nature. Consequently, a policy has evolved where in order to have a beverage added, you must provide a sample for research purposes. Unfortunately, the legality of shipping alcoholic beverages over state lines is murky at best. Therefore, the following instuctions apply:


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