October 1999

PLAY NICE, BOYS AND GIRLS… [Author: wirehead]

This was posted on an EQ dev board.

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Play Nice Policies: A revision to the GM/Guide FAQ and Rules of Conduct.

Kill Stealing will now be regarded as disruption and will result in disciplinary action when witnessed by any GM or Guide. The GM or Guide will review these situations on an individual basis and issue a decision which is considered binding upon all parties involved. This may include a requirement to depart the immediate zone or spawn area. Kill Stealing is defined as attacking an NPC with the intent to deprive another player or group of the experience or loot from that NPC. This practice commonly occurs in popular spawn areas. In these instances, the player or group who was first on the scene will have the rights to the kill. Players are encouraged to cooperate in these situations!

Intentional Training of NPC’s and PvP Switch Avoidance will result in immediate disciplinary action when witnessed by a GM or Guide. We are aware that accidents often happen causing unintentional Trains, and will scrutinize each report of this activity closely.

Fraud in all transactions between players will result in disciplinary action when confirmed by a GM. An example of this activity would be offering to recover the possessions from the corpse of another player, and refusing to return that property to it’s owner. Secure Trade Window Circumvention involving the sale of items in-game between players will also be prohibited and punishable under this rule.

The definition of Harassment will be expanded to include any use of any functionality to harm or otherwise inconvenience another player. An example of this would be dispelling another player’s protective spells without his consent. As always, measures will be taken in game code to prevent these activities.

Yielding the Right of Way is an issue where players choose to camp spawn sites (usually for treasure) where the monsters do not provide experience. This problem is initially being addressed in a broad plan involving changes to popular spawn areas and the inclusion of new quests. If and when we are comfortable with the success of these changes, we will consider the implementation of the Yield rule. This will require higher-level players or groups to yield to lower-level players in any situation where the NPC’s being fought consider green to the higher-level players. Due to the controversial nature of this issue, we will be conducting a comprehensive poll on this specific subject.

In the PvP+ environment, several issues will now be included in the definition of harassment. Bind Point Camping, or the practice of killing a player multiple times at his or her bind point. Corpse Camping, in which players lie in wait (often invisible or hidden) to kill another player who is returning to loot their corpse after a death. Zone Border Camping, which occurs when players attack other players before they obtain control of their character after crossing a zone boundary.

Disciplinary issues involving guilds will also be addressed on a broader basis. Guilds whose members habitually violate any of the Rules of Conduct may be disbanded. In addition, Monopolizing numerous spawn areas with the intent to exclude other players will not be permitted. If investigated and verified by a GM, Monopolizing will result in the disbanding of the guild.

I will paraphrase from the current GM/Guide FAQ as a reminder for anyone who may not be familiar with our responsibilities as they relate to the enforcement of our customer service policies. Verant GM Administrators review records of disciplinary incidents on a daily basis. Action is taken based on the severity and nature of the offense, and/or the number of warnings issued to the customer. These
actions may include but are not limited to, temporary suspension or permanent banning from the game. Be advised that you may not receive any notification or warnings, in-game or otherwise, prior to disciplinary action being taken against your account.

As an additional note, please be aware that the /report command is to be used in conjunction with the /petition function for players to inform us of violations of the Rules of Conduct in all issues related to verbal harassment or threats and offensive language. After executing the /report command in one of these situations, remember to follow up with a /petition so that the situation can be promptly addressed.

We will be using the polling function of the Chat Server to gather your opinions on these subjects, and determine what issues are most important to you as EverQuest players. Implementation of the Play Nice Policies, in whole or in part, will be made contingent upon that determination. You will see an official notice on the patch server
message and at www.everquest.com prior to the enforcement of these policies. Until that time, the standard policies will remain in effect.

Although you’re in OUR world now, YOU are the characters whose lives and stories make EverQuest what it is today. You are the most important part of our world. We will continue to improve our policies and service to provide you with the best online gaming experience possible.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read this. From myself, the
GM’s and Guides, and everyone in the EverQuest Customer Service Department, have fun and Play Nice!!!

-Jeff Butler
Lead GM EverQuest
Customer Service Manager
Verant Interactive, Inc.

THE INEVITABLE END [Author: wirehead]

Remember the article I linked to, some time back, on “Ruby Fever”? In case you missed it/don’t play EQ, Rubicite was the only plate-class armor many classes could wear, only appeared in one zone, and people would camp its spawning ground for real-life months.

Verant has fixed this. It’s now worse than ever.

Every class that is vaguely melee oriented (warriors, clerics, bards, shamen, etc.) now has their own special armor that can be quested for. These quests are, not to put too fine a point on it, insane. They all involve “FedEx” type “bring me item a, item b, and item c along with gemstone d” to get each piece of armor. The kicker of course, is that many of those items are rare drops (which means that they don’t appear most of the time as loot) on rare spawns (which means that the creature itself appears only once every few hours or so).

Think that’s idiotic? Wait! It gets better! While the quest items are lore/no-drop (which means that they can’t be traded, sold or given away), the resulting armor can be traded freely.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Verant brain trust apparently missed — right now the servers are swarming with 50th level Druids, using tracking, wolf-form and direct damage spells to steal every possible spawn point, and then collecting said armor pieces to sell on eBay. Meanwhile, rubicite armor, which was never actually removed from the game, is selling now at inhuman prices.

The solution is simple. Unfortunately, Verant will never do it. Rare armor should be player-craftable.

There is plenty of in-game justification, and even the mechanics in game to support this. Say, a master smith, 275+ skill or whatever, when given electrum ingots enchanted by a high-level enchanter, can craft rubicite plate.

Of course, that means that rubicite plate will be as common as GM-exceptional plate is in UO. The question you have to ask yourself, though, is is that a bad thing? What is more fun, dickering with a merchant player, or sitting on your rump, praying to the god Sorebottom, wondering if that orc chief will pop up while you’re watching and KillStealer the Wizard is on bathroom break.

If you can understand what is actually fun about online RPGs (hint – it isn’t bashing the bunnies) then possibly, possibly this problem may be solved. Until then, the only sane response is to play the game as you always do, and wait a few weeks, until the special-class armor has been so devalued in value that you can get it at an auction in Greater Shoutdark for a few plat or so.

AS FAR AS I KNOW, THEY DIDN’T CALL IT “DERETH ZEK” [Author: wirehead]

Turbine opened up a PvP+ server (called “Forced PvP”) and folks have been busy enforcing their will at swordpoint on others, taking over entire towns and the like. Check out Crossroads of Dereth for the scoop, but be quick… I hear the beta is ending Sunday.

Those of you who follow this page religiously (thanks for all the shrines guys, the incense was a nice touch) know that my verdict on AC when the beta came out was “very promising game system, if they flesh out the game world I’m there.” Well, they didn’t flesh out the game world, and I’m not there. In fact from what little I’ve been able to tell wandering around Dereth’s empty plains and hills, NO work on the game world has been done save the liberal sprinkling of spawn points.

Could it be Microsoft rushed the game to market? Say it isn’t so, Bill! Actually Microsoft has a history of being the one company that does NOT rush games to market (see the excellent Age of Empires series for a demonstration of this) so I’d really lay the fault more on Turbine. You can’t make a pretty engine with nothing to show. Well, you can, just don’t expect people to jump on it.

My call – Asheron’s Call bombs, and bombs BIG. There’s no market for “Everquest, only with less stuff”.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM [Author: lum]

Thanks to (a) reformatting my hard drive last week and (b) losing my old UO T2A CD, I made Origin very happy by going and buying another copy. I picked it up from Best Buy for $18.50, coincidentally, exactly as much as I paid at the same time for Nine Inch Nails’ “The Fragile” CD. So what value did I get for my money?

ULTIMA ONLINE
NINE INCH NAILS: THE FRAGILE
A massively-multiplayer online game A massively popular music CD
Live a virtual life in Britannia, adventuring with your companions, baking bread, or making your mark in one of many online communities Live a virtual life in Trent Reznor’s head, watching and waving as you pass the various key points in his life such as “he was depressed”, “he got laid” and “he discovered life isn’t really all bad when you’re a millionaire rock star”
You can be killed (“PK’d”) at any point while playing, unless you remain in one of the designated safe guard zones. No one has yet to be reported killed while listening to this CD.
Bugs have plagued Ultima Online since its release. CD played flawlessly the first time
Large community of fans obsessively discuss every possible permutation of game mechanics Large community of fans obsessively discuss every possible permutation of Trent Reznor’s mechanics
Hundreds of volunteer “counselors” are on hand at all hours, day or night, to help you should the game perplex you No volunteers exist to help you should the CD perplex you
After the first month, your credit card will be billed $10.00 a month should you wish to continue playing. After the first month, you can still play the CD as much as you want
Now that Everquest and Asheron’s Call have arrived to market, many wonder if Ultima Online’s time has passed “The Fragile” is pretty cool, but Art of Noise’s “The Seduction of Claude Debussy” just owns

VERANT SOLD 225,000 COPIES OF EVERQUEST AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY BRONZE SHORT SWORD [Author: wirehead]

989 Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sony keiretsu, announced that “EverQuest has broken all subscription-based online gaming sales records”. I guess they were talking about Sierra’s The Realm? Maybe 3D0’s Meridian 59? Couldn’t be Asheron’s Call, it’s not in stores yet. Dammit, it’s on the tip of my tongue here…

Anyway, an interesting statistic in the press release (you can go here for the original) is the following:

In only six months, EverQuest has sold more games than any other online role-playing game ever released, with 225,000 units sold and an active subscriber base of more than 150,000 players.

I may not be up on my math, but at least one third of the people who bought Everquest decided not to renew their subscription.

Um, that would be bad, mmmkay?

“DR. TWISTER MADE ME THE MAN I AM TODAY!” [Author: wirehead]

GD: You’ve been scrutinized quite a bit by the UO and ORPG community, how do you feel about websites who try to discredit you such as Lum the Mad?

TwisTer: I’ve had 3 sites pop up that are totally against me and all that they were doing is dedicating their life and time just to try and get rid of me. It’s hilarious. I mean… Why?

The fact is, I promoted (Lum) when he first came out. He wrote his first article and it bashed me and I read it and laughed out loud. I mean, I was laughing hysterically and I said, “hey, give the guy some hits.” Well he got gob-loads of hits in his first week and obviously he’s built up a little bit of a following.

OK. I read this. You can stop sending me email about it. 😀

Unlike some folks I’ve never actually denied St. Twister’s right to exist. As he said and I’ve often noted, to the consternation of almost everyone, if it weren’t for Twister’s almost daily linking to me on his page when this site opened, it would have been what it was originally intended to be: a page for me to bitch and moan, easily accessible to about 10 or 20 people. It’s nice that the site took off, but I’m not exactly monomaniacal about counting the “7+ digit site impressions” (in fact, last time I bothered to check the hit tracker was broken).

But this isn’t about me (no one has put up any Anti-Lum sites YET. Get to work, worms!) but about the Patron Saint of L33t Xpl0itz. Believe it or not, I actually consider Twister a fairly decent writer. A messiah complex a mile wide, but a decent writer. The worst thing he ever did for his site was the Invasion of the Updaters, during which I and I suspect pretty much everyone else quit reading the St. Twister Network on a regular basis.

However, quotes like this (so, did the interviewer actually sleep with Twisty, or did they only get to third base?) make me hurl:

It’s been Dr TwisTer’s aggressive attitude towards forcing companies to listen to gamers and to make their games bug free which has made him an almost martyr in the online RPG universe.

…spare me. Twister’s worst nightmare is that OSI/Verant/Turbine’s programmers issue bug free product. Then he’s back to trolling junior high for site updaters.

Let me use very small words here: Twister is not your friend. He does not care about you. He wants hits. To get hits he needs controversy. Failing a GM auctioning off Atlantic on eBay, the quickest route to controversy is posting a gamecrashing bug that causes all the little k3wld3wd pinheads to rush in and find out how to fuck with YOU.

Let me let you in on a little secret here: there were more bugs in UO than Twister ever DREAMED of. Bugs that take you to GM skills in one minute. Instakill skinning knives. Bottles that you fish up that let you get hundreds of vanq weapons (OK so that wasn’t quite a bug, but a feature). I know this is hard for some of you to grasp, but Origin actually managed to fix them without every Joe R00xj00 on the production servers using them to prove their nonexistent manhood. It’s called QA testing. Origin has been pretty pisspoor on QA (and Verant hasn’t been much better) but they do actually have people whose jobs involve fixing the kind of things that make Twister all warm and tingly inside.

The best way to fix a bug is NOT to post it to the entire world to abuse. How many people were actually benefited by Twister’s minons posting the dupe bug, reminding folks about the mushroom bug. What, is there some sort of DEFENSE you can do against duping or house looting? How does this benefit my, or your gameplay? Please explain it to me. I missed it somewhere.

“Well, if he didn’t post those bugs, Origin would never fix them.” Oh give me a BREAK. Maybe two years ago (before Twister was even around) that may have been true. But the current dev team actually plays the game. As players, not with the god client. It’s a nice change of pace, and explains a lot of the long-needed fixes we’ve been seeing. You think THEY want to play in a bug-infested hell-hole of dupes and sploitz? Uh, no.

Meanwhile, Twister’s moved on to other games… and his record has been about par there as well, including posting dupe bugs for Everquest and single-handedly wrecking Asheron’s Call’s magic system. Great work, dude!

Twister has done some good, I’ll admit. He broke the GM Darwin story, along with quite a few other tales of abuse in the support system. Many players feel that he is their only voice. In a way, that makes his betrayal of them all the more sad.

That’s not to say that the kindly gnomes of Austin don’t need watchdogs… but it is possible to keep an eye on your child without choking him to death. Really. It’s usually better for the child that way, too.