April 1999

PAGING LINDA TRIPP, LINE FOUR… [Author: lum]

OK, I like mean, vicious gossip as much as the next waste of bodily fluids, but this latest exchange in “Dr. Twister vs. those mean and nasty gumps at OSI” has just left the playing field.

There’s so many sad asses in this tale that you can’t sort them out. You just can’t. Rest easily, however for, I, Lum the Sanity Challenged, have sorted this all out for you.

Some background. There’s this game, Ultima Online. Many people thought it was a neat idea once. Unfortunately, the UO programming team hadn’t QUITE worked through volume 2 of “C for Dummies” yet, which included the chapter on debugging and QA teams, so they hit on the idea of posting their unstable code on a test center (called “Test Center”, doubtless to conceal their fiendish plans) and then after a week moving that unstable code to the production servers, where after a while those bugs would be moved to the “creative uses of the game’s system” column and new bugs would be introduced to the test server.

This went along happily for a while, except that people started characters on Test Center. They worked over them, slaved over them (well, they let UOAssist slave over them while they watched Buffy and Dawson’s Creek), formed guilds, towns, citadels, lives. They considered themselves cooler than all the other UO LewSers because, you know, they’re on test center. Debugging. Man, it’s hard work debugging. You have to hang around the Brit forge all day and kill newbies. But pros can handle it.

Needless to say, these players were not unhappy when talk started of the Test Center being wiped (apparently missing the big bold letters that said TEST CENTER on the login page). One of them was a Counselor named Senith.

Counselors hang around in their own *secret*private* IRC channel. In fact, that’s all that the great majority of them do (which explains why your call for help goes unanswered for upwards of, oh, forever). Because, you know, it’s hard work counseling. You have to hang around the IRC channel all day and page GMs little kiss up notes. But pros can handle it. Anyway, one night in this channel Senith buttonholed a GM named IronWill (you notice how all GMs have these FEAR INDUCING names? You never hear of GM Bunny Rabbit or GM Friendly Puppy or GM Zippy — oh wait, there is a GM Zippy, nevermind) about how mean it was that the Test Center was down.

IronWilly then showed that he had zero experience in cover-yer-ass Corporate Amerika by actually speaking his mind about the wonderful aspects of humanity that you see on Test Center. The whole thing is here. It’s here because Senith left the *secret*private* channel and immediately ran out and posted it on the first message base he tripped over.

IronWilly then presumably was called into the principal’s office and informed in no uncertain terms that OSI employees were forbidden from having opinions; as part of his penance he had to write “I will not be mean to people on Test Center” 500 times in email to UO sites.

Senith then decided that the only proper… the ONLY moral thing to do was to immediately quit UO and form a “The Matrix” fan club. I only wish I were joking. In a letter to Dr. Twister (the moral conscience of Ultima Online, and if you don’t believe it he’ll tell you again!), he muttered darkly about upcoming shard wipes (which of course the KeWl ExpLoiTer Twisties immediately took as warning of a wipe of all production shards) and that Necromancy sucked.

Ignoring for the moment that EVERY skill in Ultima Online pretty much bites the death cookie, Dr. Twister rode the ensuing controversy as if it was his guest star on http://www.ourfirsttime.com/. Every day or so in between new housing breakins (Hint: this time it’s SHROOMS!) he would post a breathless news update on how obviously OSI, a noted pawn of the Electronic Arts combine, were out to personally whiz in every UO user’s wheaties. (And I have faith, if anyone could whiz in all 100,000 UO user’s wheaties on a personal basis, it would be Designer Dragon, the man who has made Online Presence a new fighting discipline, sort of like Jeet Kune Do, but on message boards.)

Just when this tale could not possibly ever get any more mindbogglingly stupid, The Ministry of Information chimes in, aka LadyMOI, refugee from another train wreck of computer gaming, now the friendly face of the evil that is OSI. LadyMOI then proceeds to break the first law of corporate public relations, the one known as “When your company’s internal politics spill into the public view, do NOT point it out to everyone you know in press releases” by issuing press releases to the usual suspects (here’s one), where OSI emphasizes in no uncertain words that IronWill was a bad person, the shards will not be destroyed, and Necromancy is going to be cool, although you’ll need to be a GM tinker, GM mage, and probably a GM beggar to use it.

The truly scary part, though, was that LadyMOI signed the press release “WooWoo!”. Words fail. In response, Dr. Twister demanded that every UO player get 2 weeks free game time because LadyMOI said “WooWoo!” and, you know, Everquest players got 2 weeks free game time when Brad McQuaid said “WoahWoah!”.

OK. This has to stop. Everyone involved is probably too young to drink legally, yet this is starting to resemble some sort of Byzantine conspiracy.

Senith was an idiot. He pulls IronWill’s pants down in Act 1, and then wonders why no one else at OSI will talk to him in Act 2. Here’s a FREE CLUE – people tend to really hate having their drunken monologues replayed at work the next morning.

IronWill was an idiot. He actually bitched about coworkers and clients in a channel choked with about 400 12 year olds waiting some “ELEET EXCLUSIV NOOZ” they can mail Xsploitz with. The boy is obviously too stupid to be trusted with important machinery, which come to think of it makes him the perfect GM.

Dr. Twister was (and continues to be) an idiot. You cannot assume the moral high ground while fucking your best friend’s wife. It’s bad manners. Either stick to posting the latest EREET HOUSING BUGS or stick to being the noble defender of Ultima Online, but it’s just plain silly to do both. Or, on the other hand, he could just continue to point at himself regularly demanding attention. Hmmm.

LadyMOI was an idiot. She issued the “OSI RESPONDS TO THE IRONWILL/SENITH INCIDENT” press release juuuuust a few minutes after no one really cared any more. I guess it was important to note that Necromancy really wasn’t a cruel joke to keep people from defecting to EQ, but y’know, I suspect DD could have passed that message somewhere in the 320 megs of outgoing mail he sends out.

And Lum the Mad was an idiot, because he just spent gawd only knows how much time dissecting this whole sorry affair.

*Lum the Mad washes his hands*