It's been a little while! For some of us this has been the longest we've been separated from the Layo website for a very long time! We hope everyone got by alright in the mean time with our limited forms of communication.
For those of you just getting the details of what happened and why we were out so long here's the event in a nutshell: A few weeks ago the hard drive that housed all the data for the website, IRC and a few other aspects of Layonara suffered a critical failure. Evaluation of the drive later revealed that the drive suffered physical damage to the drive itself, and the failure wasn't just a matter of corruption or some other kind of software malfunction, as we're probably used to seeing. When this kind of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to retrieve any data. To compound matters, because the site was still being adjusted, off-server backups were not up to where they needed to be.
A poll/pledge was taken via social media from the community as a whole, as to whether or not we should attempt to have the drive rebuilt and the data retrieval attempted, given the steep expense associated with such an effort. This was met with a pretty resounding 'meh'; the community seemed willing to help if the cause was important, but since the data lost was mostly in forum posts, no one seemed particularly anxious about getting that data back. This is an absolutely fine decision and as such we have rebuilt the site from our last save point.
As an aside, it was asked earlier on via social media, whether or not any MMO data/work had been lost as well. We just want to reassure everyone that all of the MMO data that was stored on the same server was actually well backed up and none has been lost. This repository has since been restored. The NWN servers and all their data were unaffected. The bulk of the loss was suffered by the community in posts and our frequently used services. Several months of posts were lost, but in truth, it could have been much worse.
The latest backup seems to have brought us forward to early March (though the back up is listed with an April date for us). This means there will be a lot of necessary reworking on our parts as well as yours. We want to note a few things for you to keep in mind that will help us all get back to normalcy as soon as possible. First of all, there are a lot of tweaks done to the site previously that need re-doing, and as such you may see some slower load times, slower responses all together and things of this nature. Not all functions may be fully operational, and some things that existed before the crash may be missing. All of this really will be a process of adjusting will probably happen over many months (just like our original switch-overs from previous versions of our website) until we feel like it's as good as it can get. The immediate difference was noticed last time by the community when we moved over, so we wanted to point that out now to remind folks that this part will take some time.
As mentioned above, we have some other features that were lost or crippled in the data loss. The most noticeable of this is likely to be the NWN character imports though we are hoping to restore them in the near future. Right now we can't make any promises or give an estimated time frame, but we -are- hoping that the replacement coding will be finished soon. Everyone is working very hard in their available time to get things back to what we have become used to as 'the basics', and so that we can start moving forward into progress once again!
Another really notable issue is the loss of character applications/approvals during the time covered by the lost data. As was mentioned before, we're not going to rescind the approval of these characters but we need them resubmitted as soon as possible. We'll try to push those applications through as fast as possible so that it's no longer a concern for anyone. If you're unsure if youre character(s) might be affected, please do a quick search of the approved characters and see if your character is listed there with an approval. We will also be getting a list from the database to contact people directly but anyone who can get the process started sooner would be greatly appreciated. Please note somewhere in the top of your biography that you are re-approving when you submit! More information will be available on this topic in a later post but here is no need to wait if you happen to have a copy of the application saved and ready to post up.
So onto the other side of all that happened...
We did move our hosting services of the website server, which splits the website and NWN servers to two different places. IceDragonDuvessa was able to help us negotiate a great price on a dedicated server where she works with good services, data redundancy and online backups to protect us from a future catastrophic loss as we just experienced. As well, we've developed a better plan for the leadership team side of things to further protect us from potential losses, which we hope will mitigate the complications from any future event as much as possible.
For those of you who used the IRC service, it is back on-line as well. Everyone who has access to special, team-related channels will have to re-register their nicknames, as the IRC server had to be rebuilt from scratch. Remember that the command for registering is: /msg NickServ REGISTER <password> <email> (changing the relevant details). Here is the basic information you'll need to get reset up if you need it. It probably goes without saying you should not share your password if you do not wish to share your handle.
Anyone with needs for permissions in special channels (Ex. GMs) will need to register their handle before permissions can be granted. Once you have registered please /query Dorganath and let him know who you are (if necessary). You will need to do this for your alternate handle if you need for that handle to also have permissions to restricted or private channels (such as a log in from a work address). People who do not need permissions are not required to have their handles registered, though you are more than welcome to lock them down via registration.
Two really important notes! First, if you have your log in to Layonara's IRC channel set to auto log in, and you auto-log into permissioned channels before you have necessary permission, the server will ban you from those channels and Dorganath will have to release you from ban before the invite to special channels can happen. This will not stop you from registering nor logging into the main NWN channel, but keep in mind the process may take a few minutes depending on what Dorganath is doing at the moment. Secondly, make sure that when you initiate a query to him to handle permissions and/or ban problems, that you have a good amount of time available to wait, just in case! If people log in and ask for permissions and log out before response is made, we can't help you.
In other news, related to our return to the website: We'd like to make sure that you have had a chance to read our thread on the new Fortune System found here. This goes over in detail what the system does, how it works and some up coming additions we have planned for it's use. Additionally there is an FAQ going up for this system soon so please feel free to ask questions over there so we might build a better guide in the long run.
One more thing: We should all thank Dorganath, Orth and OneSt8 for the tremendous amount of work over the last few weeks getting all of this organzied and ready to go! They are still hard at it making everything work like we've come to expect (for good or ill) and a lot of kudos are deserved.
As always, if you have questions please reply here. Otherwise, welcome back once again and get comfortable!