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Apprentice 1.45 Released | 4.26.99 | Chris Warden
Apprentice 1.45 has been released, the official press release can be found here. A lot more mirrors will be appearing throughout thenext 24 hours, I will try to keep it updated as quickly as possible. This release realy came down to the wire, a little more so than I prefer, however, Iwould like to thank Ryan Davis for enduring with my insanity and tribulations. He thinksI'm a complete loon as far as 1.45 goes, and I'm inclined to agree, but, we'll see soonenough as we get input on the latest version. I hope you all enjoy it, as always, pleasereport bugs (but dont expect answers from) bugs@dragonstudios.com and send inquiries forhelp/suggestions to apprentice@dragonstudios.com. Thanks all foryour patience and understanding with this release. Its been a long time coming. We hope itmeets your expectations.

The Dead Have Arisen | 4.21.99 | Chris Warden
A lot of news and updates here. First off my apologies for the lack of updates in the lastfew weeks. We really would like to try and update you all with developmentprogress/information at least one or two times a week. To that end, we are expanding ourserver resources and our capabilities. We're plan on setting up some message boards,and provide more efficient methods of letting our users know the development progress as wego, and get feedback from you all. To do this, we will be switching our server by theend of this month, at which time users may experience brief difficulty getting to oursite. We are currently working on the new server, and do not expect to have any realdowntime.

Email. Immense and unforgiving, like a massive tide that has bowled us over. We've gotten aLOT of email and feedback, ESPECIALLY regarding Magic Suitcase, lots of questions, and lotsof support questions. Please be patient with us, we are still learning the in and outs ofall the assorted problems users run into with magic suitcase. We've spent 3 yearssupporting apprentice and have a good idea where people run into problems and why. Wedid not CREATE Magic Suitcase and as such are still sorting through the code to see how itwas written.

I also have answers to common questions we've received, as follows:
1) Regarding Magic Suitcase: NO, we will not be selling or making commercial Gary's MagicSuitcase Software. The terms under which we continue development is that it stays free.

2) Regarding development on other Operating Systems: We are working to try and make all ofour products multi-platform, Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and maybe even BeOS. However,our current code is not easily ported to other OS's, and some of it will requiresignificant re-write of portions on our part. A Macintosh version will DEFINITELY see thelight of day. A Linux/BeOS/OtherOS is not as likely unless we completely re-write thesoftware (Something that has/is been considered.) Also, please dont ask for the sourcecode for software, it is not available to the public, nor do we have any plans at this timeto release it publicly.

3) Apprentice version 1.45: The only part of this news item most of you care about. We'vetook a lot of feedback from the version of 1.4 that was released for a very short period.Yes, we know some of you run it flawlessly. But from what we've seen, the majority did not. So the question you all want the answer to is: Monday. Yes, Monday, no more delays,excuses, or apologies. We want to get something into the public's hands, and right now weare poring over what we have as much as possible. What we release monday may be apublic-beta, or maybe a full release. I will know the answer to this a little laterthis week.

4) We've received a lot of people asking about putting up mirror sites, we think this is agood idea to help make downloading of our software products faster and more efficient forour users around the world. We are looking for webmasters to mirror the Apprentice files,please review the File-Mirror Terms and email us atmirror@dragonstudios.com if you want toparticipate. Additional: As I said to one gentlemen regarding the terms, these are not setin rock solid stone, I'm willing to consider exceptions if good reasons are given. Contactme, we can try and work something out, I'm not trying to be a jerk

5) To everyone who email us about beta-testing: You will be notified en-masse soon, yes wegot your email, and yes, we did not reply to you. We received many hundreds of emailsregarding testing, and we have different plans regarding how to handle this. Regardless ofwhether we do release a public-beta, we still would have need of testers to deal with"Alpha" versions of Apprentice, so your emails have not been in vain.

6) I've received some emails regarding the Dragonstar Announcement List. This list issupposed to be a ANNOUNCEMENT only type list. It seems that somehow the list has gottentoggled over to a discussion-type list. Twice. I apologize for anyone who received emailfrom this list they should not have, it is mostly out of my control. I've contacted listbotabout this, and they said they would look into it, but I have not gotten an answer yet.Fortunately, once the new server is in place, we intend to setup mailing list software onour own server to handle the mailing lists ourselves.So there is a lot going on right now, I'm trying to sort out things in regards to thedevelopment team for Magic Suitcase, I expect to have an announcement on this soon. We alsoare in need of an experienced web designer/graphics artist. Our websites are badly in needof getting updated, especially our Magic Suitcase site. A volunteer is ideal, but if youhave a reasonable price rate, contact me anyway. More news soon,

Apprentice 1.4 Temp-Yanked | 3.20.99 | Chris Warden
You may have heard that Apprentice version 1.4 was available, it was for a short while, anddue to an adjustment in the installation process, was causing a lot of problems for people,as well as a few other problems that COULD be overlooked, but should not be. I would like to personally apologize to everyone who got version 1.4 before it was ready.

What I am doing is quadrupling the number of beta testers for Apprentice. I am accepting applications to beta-test Apprentice v1.X . You can email us at betatest@dragonstudios.comif you are interested.

I hope those that did end up downloading Apprentice version 1.4 understand now why we cannot rush this release, and why we did not release on March 1st as originally indicated. In the meantime, I am making Apprentice version 1.3 available for download on the downloadpage. Thank you all for your understanding,

Mailing List | 3.20.99 | Chris Warden
We now have a mailing list for news/announcements concerning newreleases and updates for our products. Visit http://dragonstudios.listbot.com Or go to theApprentice website and use the form there to join the mailing list. You will be emailedonly by Dragonstar and only when we have news on new versions, releases and updates for oursoftware products.

Suitcase File #6 | 3.9.99 | Chris Warden
It seems while copying over the content for the new MagicSuitcase homepage I somehow missed file #6 for Magic Suitcase. This file is now properlyavailable for download at the Magic Suitcase Homepage. Ourapologies for the error.

Magic Suitcase Now Distributed by Dragonstar! | 3.8.99 | Chris Warden
Dragonstar would like to announce that the popular card database software, Magic Suitcase is going to be distributed and developed by our organization. A week or two ago Gary Karnik, the creator of Magic Suitcase, made the announcement on his website that due to many things he would no longer be developing or distributing Magic Suitcase. His reasons were the problems we ran into with Wizards of the Coast concerning Apprentice, as well as personal issues but Dragonstar still felt the need to salvage the software for the online community. Gary was contacted about helping to keep distributing and developing Magic Suitcase. We consider Suitcase the best card database program currently available on the Internet, and wanted to help ensure it would still have a place in the online community. Gary contacted us back concerning our desire to help keep Suitcase alive, and Dragonstar has been given permission by Gary Karnik continue to develop and distribute Magic Suitcase. We do however, understand that a few other individuals (but no organizations) have been provided the source code, and that we hope that we could all work together to improve Magic Suitcase as well as provide the same compilations of Magic Suitcase so the M:tG community will not be confused by multiple versions and will have a single solid resource for Magic Suitcase.

While we do understand that according to Gary, most of those individuals were mostly interested in the source for personal reasons, we wanted to make an open offer to those people should they be interested in helping to continue Magic Suitcase. We are more than happy to work with them.

Again, we would like to thank Gary Karnik for his years of work and effort on Magic Suitcase. Many people, including the Dragonstar staff, have used his fabulous program. Gary, we are sad that you will no longer be developing Magic Suitcase, but we wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

The Magic Suitcase homepage can now be found at http://www.dragonstudios.com/suitcase ,we copied Gary Karnik's website at http://shoga.wwa.com/~garyk/ with his permission.We hope to have a new design for it sometime soon. Gary informed us his website will beshutting down sometime this month. Questions concerning Magic Suitcase should be directedto suitcase@dragonstudios.com

Netdraft 1.33 Update | 3.6.99 | Chris Warden
Netdraft version 1.33 is reason # 1,524,932 why re-releases shouldn't berushed. If you want the perfect reason on why Apprentice 1.4 is not yet released, pleasenote our mistake from last night. Tiny little oversight on our part for Netdraft version1.33, its been fixed, you can download the update at the Netdraftwebsite. Our apologies for the error, at least we caught it quickly as possible.

Netdraft 1.33 Released | 3.6.99 | Ryan Davis
Netdraft version 1.33, the final version that we will be putting outas a stand-alone program(barring any major bugs popping up out of nowhere), is nowavailable on the Netdraft website. Future work on it will be inApprentice as a component like the Sealed Deck functions. We decided to release Netdraftbefore Apprentice 1.4 because there will not be any changes to anytime soon, we dont expectit to be a part of Apprentice until version 1.5 , please note we do hope to releaseApprentice 1.4 within the next 24-48 hours. Please be patient with me, i'm tweaking code asfast as I can type. While we want to get Apprentice out, we also want it as bug-free aspossible. Thanks for your patience.

A Taste of Things ToCome | 3.5.99 | Ryan Davis
Netdraft version 1.33 is reason # 1,524,932 why re-releases shouldn't berushed. If you want the perfect reason on why Apprentice 1.4 is not yet released, pleasenote our mistake from last night. Tiny little oversight on our part for Netdraft version1.33, its been fixed, you can download the update at the Netdraftwebsite. Our apologies for the error, at least we caught it quickly as possible.

Apprentice for the Macintosh | 3.3.99 | Chris Warden
In the last couple of days, we have gotten a strong incoming stream of email regardingApprentice for the Macintosh. Some of you tried the extremely buggy offering of MacApprPublic Beta we had a while back. Unfortunately the programmer we had working on thatproject was unable to continue it, but we do thank Jon Yurek for the time and effort he putinto it. We are currently working on a re-do of the entire base software, and the macversion is being worked on by Ryan Davis (once he finishes 1.4, he is going to concentratehis efforts more on MacApprentice.). Ryan is quite sure he can port Apprentice over to the Macintosh without a terrible amount of difficulty. However, we have a bit of aproblem.

While both Ryan and myself appreciate and enjoy the Macintosh systems, neither of us, orany of the Dragonstar staff currently have one. In order to properly develop MacApprentice,we need a Mac to work on it. So we are sending out a call to all of our Macintosh fans outthere. We need a kind soul to either let us borrow a Macintosh computer for an extendedperiod, or to donate a system. If nobody can help us out in that regard, any helpin finding the cheapest Macintosh we can get would be appreciated. Anyone who can help usout in any way will get a huge mention of thanks in any release we put out ofMacApprentice. For the record, we need a Macintosh system that has MacOS 8.0, withMotorola 68020 processor or higher, or PowerPC 601 processor or higher , 24 MB of RAMminimum , a CD-ROM drive, and at least 100 MB of free hard disk space. Anyone interested inhelping out, please email me at cwarden@dragonstudios.com.

Again, regardless of what assistance we do or do not get, development on MacApprentice WILLcontinue, and when we have something workable, we will release another public beta test.Thank you all for your time and support, I hope this answers the questions that have beenemailed to us.

Miscellanious Info | 3.2.99 | Chris Warden
Just finished talking to Ryan Davis(Lead Programmer), poor chap is sick yet he is stillworking on Apprentice 1.4! Thats dedication for you, send him kudos at ryandavis@dragonstudios.com , but please dontbug him about when 1.4 will be released. He does the coding, but ultimately it comes downto me, so bug me, not him, he dutifully answers email which takes time away from coding,get the idea?

Just to give you guys some ideas what will be new in Apprentice version 1.4, here is arun-down: Improved Themes(Whoah, they work now!) New Setup Program. (We know that tons ofyou have problems with the InstallShield self-installer. We have created our own solutionto this problem. ) Faster...increased the speed of card refresh, Less Bloat (we removedSplash Screen, Fanfare, Shuffle Screen, and Reduced Graphic Sizes) New Theme Options (butyou won't see them without the theme editor) New Chat Interface (A solution for both peoplethat like floating windows, and for those that dont. ) You can now decrease/increase theturn, timestamped events and tighter security codes for tournament security. Seperate carddata files for each card set makes cardinfo updates at expansion time much smaller, and ofcourse your common slew of Bug Fixes (like the Ins/Del and Draw things). We've also nowhave patching software for Apprentice so that if any bugs strike after release we caneasily provide you with a patch for it. No more messy super-large download bug fix files.

Another thing thing you may have noticed is that we stripped out the "32"from the "Apprentice" software. This was originally added on back when we moved from a16-bit architechture to a 32-bit architecture (in laymans terms: When windows95 came outand stuffhad to be re-written for it). It was done to make the users aware of the difference betweenthe two versions. Ryan brought up the issue to me about how it really isn't necessaryanymore, and I agreed. So the lame "32" has been removed from the software.

In other apprentice news we are also working on Apprentice 1.5 which will have the Netdraftsoftware built-into Apprentice, among some other possible surprises. Apprentice 2.0with multi-player is still in production and is actually starting to take shape, andbecause it was re-written from the ground up, it will have module-support ability, whichwill basically allow us to easily and quickly customize the engine for just about any cardgame in existence. Also, bonus items for tournament players are things like very solidsecurity, save/load/playback options, observer mode(highly desired), and other features.

Thats about it for Apprentice news, in other Dragonstar news, we are expanding and growing.We should probably have some new software projects to show off soon, as well as somepossible new Dragonstar staff members. Of course, we are always looking for new staff thathave programming, graphic design, art or game-creation related skills. If you areinterested in becoming a part of our group, feel free to drop me a line at cwarden@dragonstudios.com. Please keep in mindbefore emailing me that this is not a job posting. We currently only offer free software,and as such, the people that work with us are those that have a love of gaming that like toproduce and create games themselves.

So as you all see, we have a lot in the works right now, and I'm sure I'll be making alot of news posts as things get finalized. In the meantime, feel free to direct questionsto myself, or any of the Dragonstar staff, or just email us at info@dragonstudios.com andwe will reply with all due haste. Thank you all for your undying support,

Apprentice Re-release Delayed | 3.1.99 | Chris Warden
Dragonstar would like to apologize but the scheduled re-release of Apprentice slated for today, March 1st, has been delayed. We found a fatal flaw in the new version (1.4) that was slated for release, and after discussions with the programmers as well as Wizards of the Coast, we mutually agreed that a delay was necessary. We chose not to make Version 1.3 of the software available due to multiple problems with the installer, as well as a few other items of functionality. We feel it is in the best interest of those new to Apprentice to wait for the most up-to-date and fully functional version of the software possible. We do not expect this delay to be severe, and are quite certain we will have version 1.4 out this week. Again, we apolgize to those that have been waiting eagerly to download our software, and again thank you all for your continued support.

WOTC Partners with Dragonstar Studios! | 2.26.99 | Chris Warden
February 26, 1999 (Seattle, Wash.)--Adventure games leader Wizards of theCoast Inc. and Dragonstar Software announced today that the two companieswill partner to re-release Dragonstar's Apprentice and NetDraft softwareprograms beginning March 1, 1999. The programs were developed to offeronline game play for the world's bestselling Magic: The Gathering tradingcard game. Dragonstar Software had withdrawn the software programs fromthe Internet at the request of Wizards of the Coast due to the software'sunauthorized use of intellectual property owned by Wizards of the Coast.

Christopher Warden of Dragonstar Software said, "We look forward toworking closely with Wizards of the Coast and appreciate their support ofApprentice and Netdraft. We would also like to thank the Magic communityfor their support."

According to Joel Mick, vice president of the Magic: The Gathering productgroup, "Dragonstar Software's developers have created a compelling onlineplay experience for the Magic community. As the new sponsor of Apprentice,we want to support this popular method of game play. Wizards of theCoast's long-term goal is to provide Magic players with the best onlineplay experience possible, and players should expect several exciting newreleases in the years ahead."

Jeff Christianson, Wizards of the Coast's senior vice president ofbusiness development and general counsel, said, "Dragonstar Softwareunderstood and acknowledged Wizards of the Coast's need to protect itsintellectual property rights in Magic: The Gathering. We appreciate thecompany's cooperation and professionalism in resolving this matter andlook forward to working with Dragonstar."

The Magic: The Gathering trading card game was developed by award-winninggame designer and mathematician Richard Garfield. In this intense game ofstrategy, players battle to reduce each other's score from 20 to 0 througha series of attack and defense moves using cards with varying numericalvalues. These illustrated cards depict fantastic monsters and imaginativeworlds. With an estimated fan base of more than six million players, theMagic game is played in social and competitive settings, including theprestigious $1 million Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour circuit. Played inmore than 52 countries worldwide, the Magic game is supported by the DCIplayers' organization, the governing authority for all officiallysanctioned Magic tournaments. Helping both amateur and professional Magicplayers track their rankings, the DCI staff currently sanctions more than60,000 Magic tournaments around the world per year.

Dragonstar is an online software development group founded by ChristopherWarden. The company started working on Apprentice in 1996 and continuesits development through the efforts of lead programmer Ryan Davis and manyothers. In 1998, Eric Lewandowski joined the Dragonstar team to work onthe popular Magic: The Gathering drafting utility, called NetDraft. Forinformation about Dragonstar and its products, or to download Apprenticeor Netdraft, visit the Dragonstar website at www.dragonstudios.com.

Wizards of the Coast is a leading developer and publisher of entertainmentproducts, including the world's bestselling Magic: The Gathering tradingcard game. Wizards of the Coast subsidiaries include TSR Inc. and FiveRings Publishing Group Inc. Headquartered just outside Seattle, Wizards ofthe Coast has international offices in Antwerp, Paris, Milan, Beijing andLondon. For more information, visit the company's website atwww.wizards.com.

WOTC Strikes Out Against Apprentice and Netdraft! | 2.12.99 | Chris Warden
On Wed, Feb 10th, WOTC Legal departmentissued us a cease and desist notice, as well as other supporting parties and distributorsof the software. Within 24 hours, supportive efforts from the MTG community had hundreds ofemails pouring into WOTC. It appears that WOTC was not expecting such a reaction, but it ismaking a difference. Please help to keep the flow of email into WOTC steady, so they knowhow the MTG community feels about this. Email legal@wizards.com and let them knowyour feelings in a calm and courteous manner. Thank you for your support. To keep up todate on this issue check out the discussion forums at www.thedojo.com or www.mtgnews.com


Copyright 1999, Ryan Davis