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Dragonstudios is STILL Alive and Kicking and NetSol SUCKS | 4.26.01 | Chris Warden
Hello everyone. Its been a LONG time since I've posted anything(Wow, almost 2 years), since I've taken a back seat on Dragonstudios to focus on other projects. I recently got contacted by an old friend that dragonstudios.com was seemingly down for the count, and a article posted somewhere on the web stated we were dead for good. I'd like to state EMPHATICALLY, that while we may be inactive in terms of software updates or news posts, we are far from dead.

I dont know how long dragonstudios.com has been inaccessible, not extremely long, but apparently long enough to make most people assume we were gone for good. What I do know, is that I *HATE* Network Solutions, because they did NOT send me an email invoice for dragonstudios.com to let me know that the domain payment was due. They sent me an invoice for another domain of mine that was due up a month or two ago, but I received NOTHING from them for dragonstudios.com . I sincerely apologize for those that were inable to access this site due to the domain downtime. It may take a day or two for the internet to catch up with the correct domain information.

I'd also like to state while its a very low priority for us, we ARE still trying to make some minor updates to Apprentice, specifically, to deal with the massive online cheating problem thats broken out over the last year. And no, I have no idea when it'll happen. All I can say is we will *TRY* to get an update out in the near future. Thats the best I can offer.

It doesn't help that this operation is a one man team, and that man is the one and only Ryan Davis. Ryan is a fantastic guy and programmer, but to be 100% honest, both he and I have had a lot more important issues to deal with unfortunately. Ryan's been struggling with college life, and I've dealt with the death of a parent and a sibling, and started my own business. (For those curious that live in the Philadelphia, PA suburban area, please check out www.cyberspacematrix.com We are a gaming center where one can play computer games, videogames, Board games, and of COURSE, card games. End of Shameless Plug )

So to summarize, WE ARE NOT DEAD. I have *NO* intention of shutting down this site now, or in the future. I've had many offers in both the past and present to host the site, which is entirely unecessary, but greatly appreciated. No, frankly, if the site goes down, then its a technical problem. If thats the case, please let us know by any means possible. Thanks,
Christopher Warden

Apprentice Users Group Established | 9.1.00 | Steve Mac Donald
Dragonstudios is pleased to announce the establishment of the first official Apprentice Users Group, which was founded and is currently operated by Mike De Michele (ihatevanpelts@aol.com). The group allows individuals to participate in an online league by means of contacting one another through the America Online (AOL) and America Online Instant Messenger (AIM) services and organizing head to head matches. For further details on the league scoring and prize systems, information on joining, and a complete list of all current members, please visit the Apprentice Users Group homepage here at Dragonstudios.

Calling All Programmers! | 8.21.00 | Steve Mac Donald
Dragonstudios would like to announce that it needs the assistance of skilled volunteer programmers for an upcoming project that will take online play to whole new levels. The purpose, goal, and all supplemental details regarding the project will be kept confidential until it's completion and only a select group of developers will have access to such material. Any individual with the knowledge and willingness to help Dragonstudios excel in this project is asked to read further for complete details and information on contacting us.

Anyone interested in volunteering their services for this project should first check below to make sure that they meet the necessary requirements. If each of the requirements has been met in full and you're still interested in volunteering, please see the next paragraph for information on contacting us regarding a position. The requirements for volunteering are as follows:

    • You MUST be 18 years of age or have parental consent prior to applying
    • You must have the ability to create a stand-alone executable application
    • Intermediate to advanced knowledge of networks and their components
    • The ability to create an entire interface and accompanying menus from scratch
    • Intermediate to advanced knowledge of the Apprentice software and it's functions
    • The ability to spend 8-10 hours a week on the project and work around a deadline
    • Dedication to the project and the ability to keep all information confidential

If you meet all of the requirements described above and you'd like to apply for a volunteer position on the development team, please contact us at apprentice@dragonstudios.com and be sure to include "Application for Volunteer Programming Position" as the subject. In addition to stand-alone programmers, Dragonstudios is also in need of volunteers with CGI experience to write several scripts for the site. If you have the ability, knowledge, and skill to write complex scripts with multiple components, please contact us at the same address and include "Application for Volunteer Scripting Position" as the subject.

Victory is Ours! | 7.13.00 | Steve Mac Donald
After several weeks of battling the Netscape compatibility issue with our Apprentice and Technical Support pages, we've finally found the solution and corrected the problem once and for all. All areas of the Dragonstudios website should now be accessible to users of Netscape 4.x and there should be no further trouble with pages loading correctly. We'd like to thank everyone who donated their time and effort in assisting us with this matter and we hope that this growing support continues throughout the release of Apprentice 2.0.

In response to the growing number of requests for a chat room here at Dragonstudios, we'd like everyone to know that your voices are not going unheard and we are in fact currently working to obtain such a room. We'd like to thank everyone for their kind suggestions and patience at this time and to better speed along the process, we ask that further emails regarding this topic not be sent.

Effective this morning, our forum Administrator will be removing any and all posts prior to Wednesday, July 12 from the message board as a weekly maintenance procedure. This act assures that the forum will always contain fresh posts and that it's organization won't be confusingly cluttered with old and pointless messages. Please be advised that this maintenance procedure will be carried out on a weekly basis and all previous messages will be discarded, there are no exceptions.

As you might have already noticed, we've also converted the Netdraft and Magic Suitcase pages to the familiar Dragonstudios layout everyone has learned to recognize. The entire site now carries the orange, white, black, and green color scheme to better organize things and provide an overall better viewing experience for everyone. We hope you like what we've done in the past few days and remember, your questions, comments, concerns, and suggestions are always welcomed here at Dragonstudios.

Check Out The Forum! | 7.6.00 | Steve Mac Donald
Lately a lot of individuals have been asking us to start a discussion forum where people could share ideas, opinions, and things of that nature. Well, I thought about the idea for a while and I ran it past Ryan and we both agreed that it sounded pretty good, so we went ahead and added one to the site. You'll now notice a new link, "Forum" located next to "Contact Us" at the top of the page. This link will take you to our new forum policies page where we've listed the terms and conditions that apply to anyone deciding to post a message. Failure to abide by these terms and conditions at all times will result in the temporary suspension or permanent termination of posting privileges. We hope the new forum provides a source of additional assistance and acceptable entertainment for everyone, play nice and enjoy all that it has to offer!

And So We Continue... | 7.3.00 | Steve Mac Donald
Even though work continues to correct the Netscape compatibility issue with the Apprentice page, we still have no answers as to what the possible cause of the problem might be. To account for the fact that many individuals are unable to access the Apprentice download location because of this conflict, I've added direct links to the Windows 95/98 and NT/2000 versions of the software below as well as the new Oracle card set update. Again, we thank everyone for their patience and support during this time and we'll be providing a solution to the problem as soon as we can.

Windows 95/98: Apprentice 1.46 (from Dragonstudios)
Windows NT/2000: Apprentice 1.46 (from Dragonstudios)
Card Update: Oracle Update (from Dragonstudios)

Netscape Users Draw a Blank | 7.2.00 | Steve Mac Donald
Quite a few of the messages that we've received lately have to do with one main issue - the fact that the Apprentice download page has not been loading correctly for some individuals. It's been reported that the only portions of the page that are loading properly are the background, title bar, and category headings. This problem, which seems to be exclusive to Netscape 4.x users only, is currently being investigated and we hope to have an explanation and possible fix within the next week or so. If you have experienced this same problem with any other browser, we ask that you contact us as soon as possible with the browser specifications as well as a detailed description of what happened. We thank all those who has taken the time to report this problem to us and we ask that everyone remains patient while we try to correct the situation.

Technical Support Update | 7.1.00 | Steve Mac Donald
In hope of dissipating the constant flow of e-mail that has been flooding Ryan's inbox, we've added a brand new technical support section to Dragonstar Studios. The new section currently contains a quickstart manual for Apprentice 1.46 as well as a list of the most frequently asked questions we've received. As time goes on, quickstart manuals for Netdraft and Suitcase will be added as well as any new questions that we feel belong in the FAQ list. We ask that you use this new section as a source of technical information and troubleshooting help and that you consult the FAQ before contacting us at Dragonstar for any reason. We hope that you find this new section both helpful and convenient and we thank you for your loyalty and support. If you find it absolutely necessary to contact us because of a technical issue, support can be reached at it's new e-mail address, apprentice@dragonstudios.com.

And on the Third Day... | 5.7.00 | Ryan Davis
Emails I’ve been getting lately seem to be about three things.

A lot of people want to know if Dragonstudios is dead. Contrary to popular belief Dragonstudios is not dead at all. I’ve gotten a lot of “WotC ruined you” mails. I thought this would be a good time to point out WotC doesn’t own us, nor has it ever. They simply were kind enough to sponsor us for a bit. A lot of this mail was due to the fact that the main link on the Apprentice page went down for a while. The mirror link continued to work but nobody seemed to notice it. To stop the flood of email I updated the Apprentice page with all the goodies one could want restoring Apprentice 1.46, the theme maker, and the themes. I also added an Oracle Set Update that has all the newest sets. I even got the page to look good in Opera while I was at it. Work on Apprentice has been slow recently as I’ve been preoccupied with school work, college applications, and other general busyness. Work on Netdraft and Suitcase has been non-existent. If there are any skilled programmers out there who want to update or rewrite any of these programs please feel free to send me a sample of your work and what you want to and can do. Also if you want to create any new CCG, fantasy, or sci-fi related programs that you feel would jive well with Dragonstudios don’t hesitate to email me as well.

A lot of people had simple help-related questions. They wanted to know where to find players, how to play a game, or what an IP was. In response to that I converted the news box to the right to a FAQ box. Hopefully it will preemptively answer a lot of people’s questions (and to the people that have been sending them I’m sorry I don’t have time to respond to all of you). If a lot of people begin to ask me something I will try to add it to the FAQ.

Finally, I’ve been getting quite a few emails asking about the future of Apprentice; Apprentice 2.0, Apprentice for Mac, and Apprentice for Linux. Apprentice 2.0 will be a complete rewrite of Apprentice with a four goals in mind. First it will be small and fast. Second it will be multi-player. Third it will have several security features to prevent cheating. Fourth it will be able to play a wide array of card games. When will it be done? When I finish! I will have more and more time as summer approaches and once summer is here my free time should increase drastically. No porting of Apprentice will occur until 2.0 is done (because it would be a waste to port code that will be obsolete in a few months). When Apprentice 2.0 is done Linux will see a very quick port as Delphi for Linux comes out this summer and I hear it is very easy to migrate your code. Mac will come later (and while I’m mentioning it if there are any Mac and Magic fans that want to see a quick port after 2.0 comes out an old Mac that can run Codewarrior would be welcome).

Netscape Users Rejoice | 11.28.99 | Ryan Davis
Maybe we will keep this page after all! After several hours of labor I managed to get the Dragonstudio's page to comply with Netscape, though some colors are a shade or two off, but I don't think many of you came here to see a perfect shade of brown. Anyway give me some feedback on the new look. Hate the colors? Perfect as is? Scrap the whole thing? Back to programming Apprentice 2.0 now I suppose...

What's Up at Dragonstudios | 11.17.99 | Ryan Davis
This website will probably be scrapped shortly and replaced but something prettier, but until then I found it easier to modify. Anyway, there has been alot of talk about Apprentice in general lately and we at Dragonstudios, being busy people, have not updated the website as frequently as we should have so let me explain and apologise. It has come to my attention that Apprentice has been down for a good amount of time, so today I fixed that and uploaded the long-awaited Mercadian Masques. (thanks go out to Planeswlk). To install the update, download the file into the "Apprentice" directory, and unzip it. Overwrite all the files it requests to, and make sure "cardinfo.dat" is placed in the "Sets" directory.

As for Apprentice 2.0, it is slowly progressing. Spectating, multiplayer mode, Any-CCG support, 64-bit encyption (for security), save game, firewall support, self-added art and themes, and a new database are all planned. We are still on the very basic stages but as soon as we have anything resembling the current Apprentice, we will of course conduct an open beta test. Our mission is, as always, to provide the best free CCG product we can, and we thank you for your support.

Website Updates | 10.3.99 | Chris Warden
We're currently in the middle of some website updates and changes right now including a redesign of our website. We're going to be shuffling things around for a little bit until everything is in place. We thank you for your patience and understanding while we are in the midst of this transition. Thanks again.

Files Back Online | 9.3.99 | Chris Warden
Apprentice version 1.46 and Netdraft 1.33 with 1.34 update are back up and available for download. Magic Suitcase should be back up shortly as well. Again, we apologize for this situation, but it was un-avoidable, since we brought Magic Suitcase into our family of software our bandwidth usage has more than tripled. Thank you again for your understanding and patience.

Bandwith Problems | 9.1.99 | Chris Warden
We would like to apologize, we have temporarily taken down the files for Apprentice, Netdraft and Magic Suitcase for 24 hours as we move all files off of this server to another file server. The reason for this brief downtime is our bandwidth usage has been through the roof lately and the amount of users trying to download files crashed the server yesterday. Our upstream connection provider has informed us we are utilitizing 100% of the bandwidth that is allocated to our server. This is highly unexpected as we moved off our previous server several months ago in order to INCREASE our bandwidth usage. The mere fact that in a little under 2 months we have maxed out the increase is nothing short of amazing. The popularity of our software is staggering. We will continue to work to increase our server and bandwidth capabilities to meet the demand for our software. Thank you for your continued support of our software.

Apprentice 1.46 Released | 6.21.99 | Ryan Davis
Lemme just clarify what Chris said below because I had to read it twice for it was a tad misleeding. We thought we lost a month of work on Apprentice, but thankfully we didn't. It wasn't that mysterious a crash -- my computer froze because I did something "naughty" in Delphi so I had to shut off the computer. My computer obviously decided before it shut off it would overwrite my FAT tables just to spite me for cutting its power. I laugh at the word "backup." Anyway, I didn't post this to tell you of my adventures in hard drive repair. I'm writing to announce the release of Apprentice 1.46. This version (which is fully compatible with Apprentice 1.45) mainly consists of small bugfixes, but also includes a new deck editor function and a card database update with Urza's Destiny. It can be found on our download page so go get it! Soon to come...about 8 new themes and some bigger Apprentice upgrades.

Mysterious Hard Drive Failures | 5.19.99 | Chris Warden
It seems this is the week for mysterious hard drive failures. First Ryan (Shroomie) had some problems earlier this week with his hard drive, and we thought we lost a month or so work on Apprentice (We have since taught Ryan the meaning of the word "backup"). Then sometime yesterday dragonstudios.com's server suffered a mysterious crash which required us to restore from a backup. We apologize for this inconvenience and are working on ways to make our systems more reliable to avoid this kind of happenstance in the future.

Destiny Update Slated for 21st | 5.14.99 | Christopher Warden
Next week we will be making an update for Apprentice which will include bug fixes, database corrections, and Urza's Destiny. We also plan to have an update of the Apprentice Theme Editor around the same time.

A lot of people have been wondering why an update for Urza's Destiny has not been forthwhith since the release of the spoilers. Previously our practice is to have an update available shortly after set spoilers hit the web. I apologize for the delay in putting up something about this, but hopefully this will help clarify things.

One of the details that was worked out with WotC during our negotiations of licensing and sponsorship of Apprentice was timing on the release of updates. What we came to agree on was 2 weeks after the official release date in stores for new expansion sets. While this may dissapoint or anger some, I feel this is a pretty fair solution. I do admit that personally I would like to have updates available on the same day as product hits the stores. This is something I will try and talk further with them about, because as we've seen by the number of hacks that are running around out there, it isn't very effective. (Which, btw, i highly reccomend you do NOT use, if for no other reason that it seems some malicious people have put viruses in some of these hacks, we have gotten emails from angry people with infected pcs, to which we kindly explain we have nothing to do with these unofficial updates.)

I also know that a lot of people seem to have reservations about our agreement with WotC and what exactly it entails. I've seen the polls on mtgnews.com , I've seen the commentaries in articles and musings on The Dojo and many other websites. I would like to take a quick moment to assure our users that we are not under control or owned by WotC or anything of that nature. They have been very fair with us, and in turn, I try hard to be fair with them. They sponsor and license our work, and in turn we abide by certain guidelines we have mutually agreed on. If you have questions you want to ask regarding Apprentice, WotC, and what exactly the whole deal is anyway, I will try and answer them. Feel free to direct them to me via email, it may take me a little while, but I eventually answer all my email. I hope this helps to re-assure the Magic community that we have their best interests at heart in all things. Thanks again to everyone for your support of us and our work.

Magic Suitcase Updates and Info | 5.14.99 | Christopher Warden
I thought I would take a long overdue moment to let you all know there have been a bunch of updates to Magic Suitcase. We have some great people heading up the development team for Magic Suitcase -- Autrijus Tang, and Michael Jennings. We currently have publicly available beta versions of Magic Suitcase 5.0 available for download. There is also a great discussion list we have setup which I reccomend you sign up for on the Magic Suitcase Webpage. We've also finally cleaned up the website some. My heartfelt thanks go out to Autrijus and Mike, they are doing a great job, and thanks go out as well to all the helpful people providing input and help with suitcase. As always, input and sugestions are welcome, if you have something you would like to see improved upon or added to Magic Suitcase, email us at suitcase@dragonstudios.com.

Theme Editor and Theme Page | 5.9.99 | Ryan Davis
Well those of you who have been begging me to make themes can begin and those who just want to enjoy them will soon have a good amount more to enjoy. The theme editor can be found on our download page and if you're looking for some themes they can be found on the theme page. A new user-made theme is there and I hope many more will follow!

Copyright ©1999, Ryan Davis
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