December 1999

OLD MAN MURRAY VS. ASHERON’S CALL [Author: wirehead]

The cranks at OldManMurray.com, fresh from their assimilation by the BorUGO Collective (hint, guys, if you reload often enough, you’ll see a nude Lara Croft in your ad banner!), reviewed Asheron’s Call, as opposed to merely prancing around in the beta like an effeminate sailor.

When it comes down to it, these games have no real story, no fighting strategy, no fast action, just lots of walking and repetitive tasks as you try and raise your stats.

I personally have not actually purchased Asheron’s Call yet, as my brief experience with the beta did not exactly convince me to go out and actually spend money on the game. Azile seems to like it a lot, and as she is rapidly gaining on LadyMOI as the Online RPG community’s scary stalkerish adoption of women who actually talk to us online (well, she doesn’t technically talk to you, unless “Corp Por” counts), it is probably worth checking out, if only so you can log in and pledge allegience to her so that she doesn’t kill you. Much.

COMMENTS FROM THE LADYMOI TEAM [Author: wirehead]

While I have made a strict pledge to YOU the HOME AUDIENCE (capitalized emphasis specifically for Jinx’s benefit) not to sully our new, pristine, kinder, gentler, and Mahir-centric page with the rantings of YOU the HOME AUDIENCE, we make exceptions for pretty much anyone with an origin.ea.com mailing address. In that totally craven spirit, here’s a comment from LadyMOI on the previous update:

So.. I was reading your front page and noticed a comment about tOAD posting (an actual dev team member). While I haven’t been totally explicit about it yet, one of our plans with the comments section of the site, is to not make it Comments from the Dev Team.. but rather, Comments from the Team.

In my opinion, the different areas of the service that run UO are all as valuable as the development of the source and design. How the product is QA’d, how the product is supported, how the OCR team works, how the web team works.. all of this is important. The comments section is about to get a major reworking, where you will not only hear from designers, programmers, and the producer of the team, but you will also get regular updates from the Volunteer relations team, Support, OCR, web, and more. The idea is that people don’t really understand who is doing what here, and by making it more obvious, you guys all have a better understanding of the scope of this service.

Anyway.. I just wanted to give you a heads up on this section of the site. Soon to be known as: Comments from the Team. heehee.

I understand. Do you understand? We all understand now. Wheeeeee! I look forward to updates from GM’s on how to say “Sorry, I cannot help thee with that” in Japanese.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO tOAD [Author: wirehead]

Comments from the Dev Team was updated, this time from an actual dev team member. tOAD explains why he is tOAD and not, say, Romuald the Fearless, and that Necromancy is all his fault and you should cover him with email with 82,045 variations of “fix iiiiiit noooooow!”. While that will actually be harmful to any further development of Necromancy (which has been postponed in favor of stuff that actually may be somewhat useful), while you are sending him email, you are presumably not sending ME email about which SRC is sleeping with whom. And, as I remind you, this is a good thing.

Now that the dark secrets of Necromancy have been laid bare, we are set to find out next week that Sunsword’s research into a new Alchemy system devolved rapidly when he decided to “playtest” the six new kinds of mead set to be introduced into the game, and player races were personally vetoed by Tyrant because “I hate those goddam elves.”

WELCOME TO MY HOME PAGE! I KISS Y… *CORP POR* *CORP POR* *CORP POR* [Author: wirehead]

Who’s the Turkish private dick who’s the sex machine to all the chicks? Mahir, baby. The Mahir story is, like most things related to male anatomy, growing out of control.

The Mahir phenomenon continues, as poor Mahir, who only wants somebody to love, or perhaps have sex with, keeps trying to find places that don’t shut down his love shack. One webmaster totally disavows the Mahir page, although he would like you to visit Turkey, or perhaps read A History of the Aberdites. Another prankster posted his own riff on Mahir-baby, and poor Mahir himself, obviously distraught that Lum was gone, posted his own rant. He was just misunderstood. The UO community responded in fine fashion, as Dr. Twister gets in touch with his own sexuality by posting a link to observed LLTS cybersex on Atlantic. And Azile and GM Ja still need to get together for drinks sometime. Hell, I’ll buy.

STATE OF THE NATION [Author: wirehead]

Yes, that was the shortest “one month vacation” in history. To re-use the site’s BrandSpankingNew motto, &Blow me. A 4 day weekend is about all I ever get off from my day job, either. Anyway, at LumCentrale, we’re recharged, out of the deep funk, ready to crack heads and take names, and, most important, we now refer to ourself as “we”. Wheeee!

OK. Just in case everyone isn’t ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY CLEAR on the concept, we are still pissy. We still hate everyone. We still think the largest problem in online RPGs isn’t that people PK, or killsteal, or refer to your mother in obscene sexual ways, but that OTHER PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO PLAY.

The best ORPG I ever played was Baldur’s Gate. Fear the Hamster of Death! The best game I’m currently playing is Septerra Core. Neither one of them have ANYONE named Pimpzlappah.

People are the problem. I’ve often thought that a solution would be to require that everyone pay for UO/EQ/whatever with a credit card, but alas, with the advent of secured credit cards, any low-grade feverish weasel can get a gold card with only a bare minimum of lying on forms.

And the biggest fuckup this site EVER made was in letting PEOPLE… OTHER PEOPLE… decide what content appeared on it.

I know this is a Priority One Red Alert News Flash for some of you out there (some of whom are STILL emailing me) but NO ONE CARES WHO THE PERSON FORMERLY KNOWN AS SRC SONYA IS, WAS, OR EVEN POSSIBLY WILL IN THE FUTURE SLEEP WITH. REALLY. Sometimes you just know too much. And, again, this may be the final shock that sends you along with Fred Sanford to the Big Happy Rest Home In The Sky, but it has nothing to do with YOU. Unless you personally are, were, or may in the future sleep with Ms. Sonya. In that case, you go. Preferably somewhere else. I don’t want to know.

GREETINGS FROM BORA BORA [Author: wirehead]

Just a quick clarification or two.

The site’s not going anywhere but it will change. I’ve let the submitted email drive the site, and it’s taken it in a direction I don’t particularly want to go. When it returns the updates will be somewhat less frequent, all from my own feverish brain, and hopefully somewhat more enjoyable. There are plenty of places on the site for you the viewer to state your case, from the “Got milk?” links at the bottom of every story to the well-used even if gimped forum.

I know this will be seen by some as juvenile grandstanding or a ploy for attention, but after almost six months of this I really do need a break. It just hit me after sorting through my mail deciding which flame to post this time that it just wasn’t fun any more. So there will be less flame, more fun.

Anyway, 12/1 sounds like a nice round number. See you then.

ENTERTAINMENT, NEWS, BOTH OR NEITHER? [Author: wirehead]

(Apologies for those who recieved this via email multiple times. Apparently UGO decided to fwow up on me.)

In the spirit of the New Order, the following submission is shaded for your protection. My comments afterwards.

Some thoughts on your post regarding the UO Vault making money off of information fed to it by OSI. It doesn’t take a quantum leap of logic to see through this kind of conspiracy theory, something both your and Twister’s pages thrive on.

The fallacy here is in the assumption that the UO Vault posts “sugar-coated” information “fed” to it by OSI. Anyone who reads the page regularly knows that eight out of every 10 posts are about player events. These posts are “fed” to the vault by players. The remaining 20 percent or so of the vault’s posts, the ones pertaining to the game itself, are lifted from UO’s official web page. Occasionally posts are derived from running threads on the Dev board. Hardly a secret pipeline.

The exceptions here, perhaps, are the posts regarding the awards UO occasionally wins. I think these kind of posts probably add up to less than a couple dozen over the life of the UO Vault page. Hardly a torrent of “exclusive” information “fed” from the parent company.

What I find disappointing, actually, is the fact that this latest post was prefaced with the usual blather about you being unable to confirm the information. This kind of hands-in–the-air, wink-wink type disclaimer has been stripped across the top of many of yours and Twister’s more salacious posts over the past few months. Every now and then, your dear readers are treated to an addition line about the “restraint” you and dear Twister showed in holding back the information and trying to confirm it.

In the end, however, it is never confirmed because it cannot be confirmed. I have worked as a reporter and editor in the newspaper businesses for 12 years (which, of course, you cannot confirm …) and the only way stories are confirmed are when real people using real names go on the record to describe events that correlate and cross-check. Off the record sourcing is still used, of course. But outside of the Beltway in Washington, it is being examined heavily as a means of reporting due to the complete collapse in the public’s faith in the media. Gannett, for one, forbids off the record sourcing, with rare exceptions.

The vast majority of the insider exposes that grease the pages of yours and Twister’s sites are one-sided, single-source stories that in my business have ZERO credence value. None whatsoever. What they do have is entertainment value.

Alas, blessed be the power of the ‘Net whereby fiction takes on the seeming appearance of fact and the rabid ramifications of that transformation run loose without a leash. I think Tyrant had a valid point that was glossed over — or perhaps seemingly ignored — in his response to the whole “Sex, Lies and GM’s” thread. That is, he said “These ‘corruption’ stories from the past set us back by damaging consumer confidence.”

Indeed they did. For so long as egomaniacal players with access to web space such as yourself and Twister — and PLEASE, let’s stop kidding ourselves that you and he are not virtually one and the same — serve up these posts, and so long as they are read by players who lack the understanding of how little value they have given the utter lack of on-the-record confirmation, then the myth of OSI as “a corporate, profit-minded cabal out to screw the player” will continue on into perpetuity.

Good day,
Bosola of Catskills

Never let it be said I don’t spotlight criticism; here’s some fairly well-targeted thoughts, and some I’ve wondered myself of late. Let’s run down the list.

About the UO Vault. I don’t think anyone thinks the UO Vault is engaged in a secretive conspiracy with OSI to get the R33T st0ries in exchange for d0llops of dollar$. It’s a touch more banal than that — The Vault is now a money making concern, and as such has no editorial integrity in covering stories that might reflect badly on Origin — botched patches, broken promises, felonious GMs, what-have-you.

This is a concern faced by all the “major”, “respectable” sites. Stratics, for one, has shown some editorial spine in the past lambasting Origin for among other things abandoning any pretense of a plot line in UO. Most gaming “news” sites, however, MMORPG related or otherwise, do exhibit an unsurprising lack of willingness to bite the hand that feeds them.

As for Origin, specifically, I’ve seen the email press releases that Calandryll sends out (not to me, specifically, I’m not l33t enough to be on The List, nor should I be since I’d ignore 9/10ths of them) and UOVault is one of a very long list, including some sites I’m sure many of you have never heard of. Origin makes an effort to keep as many sites in the loop as possible.

The point of the article wasn’t that Origin and UOVault were involved in some Seekrit Cabal, but that UOVault is a money-making operation that left the word “news” somewhere off in the distance.

As for the “wink-wink nudge-nudge” prefacing the story. You are correct in that I do not pretend to be a paragon of journalistic sourcing; you are incorrect in assuming that I have ever pretended to be so. The title of the website is not “The News, Reported By Lum the Mad” for a reason. There are many other websites who do that well, some of which are not named “UO Vault”.

There’s probably two models for this website that I try to emulate, both of which as a “professional journalist” you no doubt despise. Those would be Matt Drudge and the Free Republic. The former as a self-professed “publish everything, and get 60% of it right” amateur “journalist”, who is far more well-read and influential than those who condemn him, and the latter, as a voice for those who don’t feel that they have much of one.

As for Tyrant’s concern that the recent stories on volunteer/GM corruption have “damaged consumer confidence.” — am I supposed to be responsible for this? Cry me a fucking river. I don’t make up these stories out of whole cloth. And on this particular subject I had sat on numerous submissions about volunteer/GM collusion before starting to run with some of the more outrageous ones. They were not single-sourced. I have dozens more like them, unpublished, and I ran them by my editor (that would be me) before running the stories. These were not an isolated phenomena or the caterwauling of the mentally unstable. There are some real problems with Origin’s system of using volunteer labor to staff its customer service, and that is what is causing Origin’s “damaged consumer confidence”. Shoot the messenger all you want.

The bottom line is that this is an opinion/gossip/unprofessional rantings site, not a news site. And if you disagree with my choice of news stories, the Internet has about 9 trillion other pages more worthy of your attention.