Knowing that the "Out of Handles" is a large issue to many people, we believe it is time that the issue should be discussed more thoroughly so as to create a better understanding of why it isn't "fixed".
The Out-of-Handles problem is frustrating to both us as players and to Norseman Games as a company. When it happens it can mean an abrupt interruption to game play.
You've all heard it said on numerous occasions that it's a "big" or "time-intensive" fix. Hopefully the information provided below will give some understanding/clarification of the issue.
Why We Crash
For those of you who prefer a less technical explanation...
Before public libraries used computer systems, they used card-catalogs. Each book could be located on its shelf by finding the corresponding card in the alphabetized cabinets. Every book with a different title/author had its own card. In "The Realm", each item/person is like a book, each has their own reference known as a handle. Using this example, when a drawer cannot fit anymore cards, you cannot add any more books. When you get an "Out of Handles" error, it's similar to trying to add a card to a drawer at maximum capacity - it's just not possible to do. To cut out how cumbersome card catalogs were, libraries now database their books on computers - which basically gives them a drawer than can hold an unlimited amount of cards. The Realm's memory management system is old, just like the card catalog, and requires just as large an overhaul to eliminate the problem.
A more thorough explanation...
What is a "handle"?
A handle is a unique identification of a piece of memory. "The Realm" client uses a 16-bit signed integer memory model as written in the early 90's by the game's original publisher, Sierra Online. This memory management system is used to execute scripts written in a script language called 'SCI' (Sierra's Creative Interpreter) - a proprietary scripting language developed in the early 90's. 16-bit means it has 32,768 handles to assign to each piece of memory. This system is internal to the Realm's client.
What does it mean to go "Out of Handles"?
You get an "Out of Handles" error when you run out of unique handles to assign to the memory. Basically, you no longer have a way to store the information on your screen, so the program closes out (crashes).
How can this problem be fixed?
The only way to "fix" the problem is to rewrite the entire client's memory management system in 32-bit handles instead of 16-bit. This would allow for 2,147,483,648 handles, roughly 65,000 times the number currently available. I use the word "fix" in quotations because, in theory, it would still be possible to go "out of handles", but the chance of it happening would be incredibly small. Again, this is a hugely time-intensive task, rewriting an entire memory management system is not something that is done in short order.
When will the problem be fixed?
At the earliest opportunity. We're sorry, but that is the only answer possible. It is all a matter of time and money. The problem, obviously, must be resolved. Equally obvious is that it costs both time and money to do it. Fixing the Out-of-Handles problem is an investment in the future of The Realm. It will be done. But first we must secure "The Realm's" future by providing those features that promote and ensure growth in the subscriber base. That growth will fund the fix to the Out-of-Handles problem and much, much more. Stick with us, honor us with your trust and continued patronage, and we will make good on every promise we make.