October 1999

NOT IN ENOUGH SCREWED UP ONLINE RPGS? TRY THIS ONE [Author: lum]

Interesting story here. I originally posted this this morning, but found out the AC site wasn’t open admission yet. Was told to hold off until later this afternoon, but our car died and I’ve spent the past 3 hours waiting on a wrecker. So I am not in the best mood to answer the “What happened to the AC Beta story!?!” email. Pestilence Out!

Allen Grey of our sister in inanity, Crossroads of Dereth, sends this word… now YOU can know the joy of the Tank Archer!

Yesterday Microsoft pulled off the gloves on Asheron’s Call. Because of a screwup with the printing of the Asheron’s Call Beta coupons included in the November Issue of Computer Games Magazine, they completely removed the need to have a coupon number to play the current Asheron’s Call Beta. Open Beta on Asheron’s Call has begun.

So apparently, who downloads and installs the beta can play Asheron’s Call. You’ll need to do the following:

Get a MS Internet Gaming Zone account (free, sign up here)

Download the Asheron’s Call client here

Go to the Asheron’s Call MS Zone page to activate your MS Zone account for Asheron’s Call here.

You can find out more about Asheron’s Call from the serious folks at Crossroads of Dereth or the seriously freaky Mushashi. Hint – be an archer.

Also, I’m told that archery has already been nerfed in AC, so I don’t really have any smarmy advice on what to be. I guess be a Tank Mage Dex Monkey or a Halfling Druid, those seem to work in other games.

REACTION TO TWISTER’S “SUIT” [Author: lum]

Some points to consider:

(1) It is highly likely that Twister was served with a Cease and Desist order, not a lawsuit. In other words, he was given legal notice that if he did not pull the offending material off of his web site, he would be sued. You generall have to do one before the other. HOWEVER…

(2) …in this case, Twister has actually done serious and real harm to Origin/EA’s interests. Not from making you not want to play the game (and for every Ultima purist busily vomiting, there’s probably 3 guys going “Rock on! Juka Nation 4 Ever!”) but from posting detailed information (including dates for milestone targets, his last posting) that competitors would die to know. Just in case you forgot, Everquest 2 has been in development for about six months now. And while the guys at Origin and Verant con amiably to one another, they are business rivals, and in those sort of games, people tend to play for keeps. Posting UO2’s dev specs is way beyond posting how to dupe a house deed.

(3) Am I a hypocrite? After all, I posted a confidential Verant doc online not too long ago. Well, yeah. I also pulled it when they noticed the site. After all, it’s all fun and games until they figure out where to garnishee your paycheck. I’m sure Twister feels the same way. And I’m also pretty sure OSI is quite a bit more pissed at Twister than Verant was at me. I mean, the guide doc actually reflected well on Verant, and was 85% knowledge already in the public domain.

4) Do I want Twister to be financially ruined or go to jail or anything silly like that? Of course not, and I doubt any of these things would happen. More then likely, Origin’s worst-case scorched-earth scenario is to get Twister’s site hosts to kick him out, and it’s doubtful they’d even go that far. Never make martyrs of your enemies. Now of course if Twister actually kept the UO2 files up instead of pulling them when getting a C&D order, then he would be in serious legal kimchee.

5) I think we can safely assume Origin knows who Dr. Twister is.

WHOOPS [Author: lum]

From http://uo2.drtwister.com

Origin Systems, Inc. and Electronic Arts have decided to pursue legal actions against me and my family for the contents that I have published on this site. Currently, in a three page document that I was hand delivered earlier today, OSI/EA have claimed that I “have illegally published certain confidential and proprietary information concerning our client’s development of Ultima Online 2.”

For this reason, although not admitting to the above accusations, I have temporarily broken all links to all materials on this site until further investigation into the allegations that OSI/EA have made are rectified.

Thank you all for your support, and I apologize for any inconveniences that this might have caused.

WAITAMINNIT – UO? ROLEPLAYING? SCREW THAT, WHERE’S MY GLOCK… [Author: lum]

Banstyle has a few things to say. You may disagree with some of them, but hell, that’s what makes America great (or whatever country you happen to be in, unless it’s Australia, in which case it’s a great country with 900+ ms ping times)

I did some brainstorming over the weekend. Did anyone else notice that OSI has been giving us alot of goodies lately? (i.e.: Skill Control / Management, death of blue healers, more exceptional quality items, “Change name” Registrar, and not to mention the incredibly stupid “bless item” trashcan system) Anyone put some thought into why these changes are going in so fast? Is there some competition out there that we don’t know about?

Lets take Skill Control for a second and analyses why in god’s name this exists and OSI is even considering implementing it into Britainnia:

Roleplay Factor:

Basically, I’ll be honest. I think the people at OSI are very smart people, not all of them though. Here we have a system that lets you take control of what you learn and do not learn while adventuring in this world. No roleplay value whatsoever. In the past, before changes we made and things were added daily, alterations used to go through a little roleplay test. For instance, remember back in the Necromancy “hope” days when some bright-eyed Dev Team member created a way to “change your character’s gender” via a potion? Well, luckily it was never implemented into the normal shards, but the fact that it was actually considered and created on Test Center amazes me. A potion that changes your character’s sex. Again, no roleplay value whatsoever. It is on the borderline of not making any sense at all. It was an idea at first, then it went into a little room where people think about how it can be added into the game in a “roleplay” fashion. I fear that system is dead, and there is a good reason for it, which I will get into later.

Being able to “control” what you learn and what you do not strikes me as odd. It is the same as if I, in my character, were to physically open my head up and take out the unnecessary memory portions of my brain. It has no roleplay value, it shouldn’t be part of a roleplaying game.

PvP Factor:

“But what if roleplaying is dead anyway? What else is there to screw with?” said OSI, in a low, surly voice.

Now we see PvP as something that has been virtually torn apart from day one. The great thing about the PvP’er is that they adapt to whatever change OSI executes. You could basically nerf magery down to Magic Arrow and the mages of the world would still continue to fight/PK/war with each other until the end of time, only after a few harsh words, of course, but I blame that on the Ritalin.

Skill Control will forever change PvP as we know it. We will now see 6xGM mages (with, lets say, 50 hiding skill) hide from their enemies, and the Grandmaster Swordsman BillyBob using a mace because its the only weapon he had at the time. These are just examples, but the possibilities are endless. Joe the Cook, for instance, used to cook Freddie’s fishsteaks after he fished for hours at a time. Now Joe is useless, for Freddie can cook his own steaks after a few tries, and not worry about losing his GM fishing status. More money for Freddie. It goes on and on.

Long Term Factor:

The whole point of this essay is to come to grips with the beginning of the end. All these changes would ruin the economy of Britainnia within the next four months. These changes came *directly* after the announcement of UO2. There is no surprise what is happening here.

UO is dying. It will soon be replaced by it’s new and improved rival offspring. OSI’s focus has now changed from “Help the economy and player community to last a long and wonderful life.” to “Make the customer happy.” Finally! No more stupid-ass patches. Less lag. Skill Control. Make any item newbiefied! Everything we ever wanted and bitched about over the past year is finally coming to us, and it’s coming fast. Why?

If you ask me, it’s because UO is not going to last long, and OSI wants to remind you that they are the nice people here. This way, they’ll know you’d forget all the bad blood that has happened in the past, and remember what they wanted you to remember. Not a bad idea, I actually applaud them. Within the next year, you will find you will be very happy with UO. You will slowly and surely get everything you asked for, and once you change over to UO2, you will see this whole downward spiral, happen all over again.

MORE ON GUIDES [Author: wirehead]

Here’s an interesting note someone sent me regarding Bum the Sad’s guide program analysis:

===

Still a Sony guide who has been trying to resign for a while….

Once a guide is promoted as a senior guide they go OFF the schedule. Guides never know when a guide or a GM will be online. That coupled with the fact that you can not talk between servers and no icq or irc means often guides are totally isolated.

You are subjected to /tell spam. There is a certain percentage of players who lacks the maturity to understand that a human being is on the other side of the guide program. There is an expectation that a guide should be responsive to anyone who sends a /tell (by players… as guides well know the problem of trying to work on a petition only to be getting 12 different conversations from a variety of people.

The guide bbs is heavily censored by those who never want anything bad being said about the program or the game for that matter.

Each server has its own sub board where guides report on each shift. These reports often have questions that never get answered.

For Verant it is a two edged sword. They have to try to keep the spoilers down on quests etc. but this leads to keeping guides in the dark on many issues.

The bottom line is that increasing guide numbers has become VERY difficult.

For me it was too wearing, too frustrating, and led to me quitting EQ even as a player… (well it was not the guide program completely, but the number of ill-conceived solutions to perceived problems…. (can anyone say lore items?))

For me, OSI has a lot of problems, but at least they have tried to establish a channel to the player communtiy.

I am back in UO on Siege and feeling a whole lot better.

*waves*

YOU THOUGHT BLUE HEALERS WERE BAD? [Author: wirehead]

Here’s a letter from Erik, who’s given this issue some thought:

===

With all the madness over the Decay Patch, I feel something is being overlooked. All I’m seeing anywhere is (not from you, mind you, but others):

The Decay Patch is going to force me to throw everything away, but I’m glad blue healers will be fixed.

I’m hoping that with the increased number of secure containers allowed, and removing the weight restrictions, that this may not affect us nearly as much as we think. We shall see of course, but that being what it is, we need to be probing OSI regarding the details of the blue healer patch. You know their history: They briefly describe the patch, everyone talks about it unintelligently due to a lack of disclosed information on OSI’s part, then they implement it in some weird way that somehow screws us.

My concern about the blue healer patch is threefold: If you heal a guildy, and you go orange to that guildy’s enemy guilds, are they orange to you, and thus can you attack them like any other orange? Do corpses of people who are temporarily orange to you go orange as well, making them lootable? And (less important) What exploits could result from allowing someone to make themselves red for two minutes by healing a murderer?

IE:

I’m Erik the Blue Healer Patch Exploiter. I start a guild of one member called ERK. I want to exploit the patch against a guild I hate called DIK. I have 10 blue, non-guilded friends available. They locate a DIK group of 5 people and hang out. I walk into the room incog’d in case they realize I’m friends with those people. Perhaps I heal myself for a moment to let waste mana, then suddenly all 10 friends throw me a heal, making the 5 DIK’s orange to them, and lay waste to the room, and we all laugh it up. Suddenly, guildwars are NERFED since a “guild” is no longer made up of the people guilded, but rather whatever friends happen to be nearby at the time. Battles no longer become predictable to any degree, since you may not don’t know who’s friends with who. You no longer know who you are really warring. Each battle needs some predictability, so that each side can decide on some tactics! That’s what war is: Evaluate your enemy, plan, attack, then win or lose. Another exploit:

I’m a nobody, watching BOB and JIM, two warring guildies, battle it out. BOB gets low in health. I heal JIM to make BOB orange to me, and loot BOB since BOB’s corpse is orange to me. Granted, JIM can attack me now, but he’s busy looting too, probably confused a little, and I more easily get away since I’m not getting ganged by everyone else – since I didn’t go gray. Or perhaps simpler, I heal whoever looks like they have crappier loot right at the start, so I can help him kill the other guy for his loot. A Mage vs Townie fight would always result in the mage losing if other mages were in the room. Vice versa if a nearby fencer decides he wants the guy’s kryss.

I can’t wait to see no one wanting to be order/chaos (mostly a town activity it seems) when whichever side starts losing suddenly gets ganged by everyone in town by them healing the winner and jumping in for the loot.

Imagine the results of battles where some idiot with a dragon who is nearby notices a friend offscreen getting attacked, and heals that person and turns his dragon on his friends attacker. Guildwars NERFED! You send in spys, you gather guildmates, and tactically assualt an enemy group, only to be killed by supposed “bystanders”.

The solution should be obvious by now, and if OSI is wise, they are already planning this: If you heal a guildy, you are orange to that guildy’s enemy guilds, but THEY are not orange to YOU, and neither are their corpses. A minor detail OSI has left out, which could cost us all dearly. Additionally, to prevent any possible exploits, I see no reason to make someone red for two minutes. It makes no sense. People will only find ways to exploit it. What’s the point of it? When you heal a murderer now, you’re gray, and attackable, what’s the difference?

SOMETIMES THE SIMPLE IDEAS ARE BEST [Author: wirehead]

Gront posted the following on our message base:

A thought:
Since they have smartass trashcans and spell spam above your head when you cast, maybe they could do something useful like have the moongate reveal it’s current destination.

I don’t think a simple thing like having “Minoc” change to “Britain” change to “Yew”, etc. would be all that hostile a programming change.

Makes sense to me.

GREATER FAYDARK AND WEST BRITAIN BANK – REALLY THE SAME PLACE? [Author: wirehead]

Played some EQ this weekend on my cancelled-yet-for-some-odd-reason-still-active account. The good news is that I gained 4 levels. The bad news is that they were all level 15.

Playing on Veeshan, one of the oldest servers, it was almost funny watching the player-run economy decay before my eyes. As a Brand-Spankin’-New level 15 shaman with plat burnin’ a hole in my pocket, it was time to get banded. Should be easy, right? I’m in Greater Faydark, the zone with hundreds of people yelling at each other at all times (usually involving the word “biznatch”) and smithing is the only trade skill that isn’t completely broken, right?

Well no one was selling banded. A few folks were selling hand-me-down bronze (which my character, being a shaman, can’t use) but banded was yesterday’s news. Everyone who needed banded already had it, you see, and since it never decays, is looted, or otherwise goes away, the blacksmithing market dried up and all the smiths went to camp Cazic for rubicite like everyone else.

Which doesn’t help my poor mid-level shaman running around in leather, but hey…

Anyway, speaking of EQ, I’ve been working through my backlog of submitted articles. Here’s Bum the Sad’s analysis of Verant’s guide program, based on a certain document we’re not supposed to talk about.

THEY’RE RIGHT BEHIND US… DUMP THE DEV LOG! DUMP THE DEV LOG *NOW*!!! (AYE, CAP’N SUNSWORD…) [Author: wirehead]

In a probably successful attempt to change the subject, the Dev team did a nice little infodump on the In Development page. It’s crunch time here at Lum’s Real Job but I’ll take a bit of a break to go over what carrots have been dangled:

Blue healers are going away. About goddam time.

All exceptional quality items will have a special exceptional mark. About goddam time. Grandmaster smiths and bowyers will be pissy but those of us who don’t wish to devote a good chunk of our (real) lives to master a UO trade skill will be grateful. Only GM made stuff still gets the YourNameHere Gear logo so there’s still a reason to monomaniacally make long spears for 6 months. Sort of.

Vendors will be patched to report the selling price before the buyer actually buys the item. About goddam time. I’m sorry, no sympathy for gimps who get their jollies sneaking in 10,000 gp greater heals. Get outta my yard.

Pets can’t be named “you” or “your bag”. Whatever. I guess there are still three newbies who fall for that trick.

The double slip when healing from magical assault is fixed. About goddam time.

You can heal animals with Veterinary skill. Except for some monsters, which use Healing instead. Whatever. All 2 of you veterinarians will be happy, I guess.

“Other major changes to boat functionality will be announced late next week. These changes will be designed to prevent boats from being used as permanent storage.” Grab your anatomy, boat owners, you’re about to feel the gentle caress of the New and Improved Dev Nerfers. We home owners wish you luck and promise to stop giggling.

“You will no longer get the item, “a scroll”. These items have been removed and you will now get a genuine, usable magic scroll.” Woo hoo.

“You will be able to purchase a deed that will allow you to change your character’s name. A new NPC called a “Registrar” will be available in towns and the deeds will cost 10,000 gold. You will only be able to change the name of a character once. Therefore, once you change a character’s name you will not be able to use another deed to change it again.” This would be called, I guess, the “I fucking grew up and realized that R0xx3er Th3 M1gHty was a bad name” rule.

So, while wondering what the hell to do with everything in your house, you will have genuine, usable magic scrolls. Woo!