December 1999

IN OTHER NEWS, LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE IN AUSTRIA AND PALESTINE DIED, DID NOT GET QUITE THE SAME LEVEL OF ATTENTION HERE [Author: lum]

The QQ Staff has made numerous phone calls to the police department and all of the funeral homes surrounding the area where Sheyla was reported to have lived. This was not Colorado as reported earlier. The police department told us there had been no suicides or suspicious deaths for a week in that area. None of the funeral homes had any person by the name of Sheyla Morrison or Sheyla Arnold. The Medical Examiners office, that covers 1/3 of the state, advised us that they also had no information on a Sheyla Morrison or Sheyla Arnold.

Note: Sheyla herself said she lived in Colorado according to the chat Runic posted. There is a Sheila Morrison listed in the phonebook in a small rural community there. My own attempts to contact her, the police, newspaper and county coroner there were unsuccessful.

In addition, we have learned from the domain of the IP used to post the “Forest Wind” posting that the IP was stolen and that there have been complaints from their customers of this person using a Trojan Horse Backdoor virus.

The e-mail that Sharac received, that was supposedly the “husband” of Sheyla, was sent via “Private Message@ezboards.com. This person was asked to use a valid e-mail to respond and has not done so. This message was sent from the EZ Board account of Tolena. Tolena is the poster that first mentioned the rumor of Sheyla’s death on our boards on Sunday morning and then posted the first “official confirmation” of her death saying she was a friend of Sheyla’s. We have since been told that Tolena was another character of Sheyla.

Please understand that we are not saying that this was a hoax or that Sheyla is alive. All we are conveying is what our investigations have so far come up with. If anyone has some valid information that we could call to confirm the reports of Sheyla’s death, such as an obituary in a paper or a funeral home we could call, we would welcome the information and be happy to check on it further.

More doubt was cast on the story by members of Afterlife, the primary uberguild on Mithaniel Marr, Shayla’s server (the one she played on, not guided on). From their message board came this:

Honestly, I believe that story was fabricated. Sheyla and I were very close a few months ago, and she wasn’t married and didn’t have a child. I’ll call her sister and see what’s going on. Keep you guys posted.

Okay. I got a phone call. It was from a girl who used to be a roommate of Sheyla’s sister. She said that Jolena(who used to play as Tolena on Sheyla’s account) moved out a while ago. She said she would try to get a hold of her for me.

There are some inconsistancies.

For one, the girl I spoke with named Treana said that Jolena didn’t have a sister that she knew of. Treana had no clue of who I was referring to.

Also, I’ve known Sheyla for quite some time and she had neither a husband or a child as stated in the post on Lum’s.

Things just aren’t adding up. I’ll remain skeptical until I read an obituary or hear it directly from Jolena.

Then again, maybe part of me just doesn’t want to believe it…

And, from someone else on the same thread:

now if you all remember, originally there was a flame war on this board dealing with sheyal. And what was she accused of ? she was accused of falsifying her sisters “death” and then raking in sympathy gifts ingame. now personally i dont believe this.

it COULD happen but i severly doubt it.

As for all the links etc, someone could have gone around and complained to ezboard etc etc that all posts containing this person be removed etc etc , due to recent death etc etc.

Meanwhile, Verant has been wiping all posts dealing with this subject as soon as they are posted on their official boards. Guess that’s as much an official statement as any.

CAN YOU HEAR THE PRAYER OF THE CHILDREN? [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

“They are alone. They are a dying people; we should let them pass.”

-Kosh

Today we wish a tearful farewell to the shard of Sonoma, who will be patched today with version 1235313223.20c of the Factions System. The eyes of the UO world will watch with baited breath as Sonomans log into the game and brace themselves for impact. Never, in the history of patches, have so few sacrificed so much, for so many. Our hopes and our prayers are with you, Sonoma. May you mount up with wings as eagles, and may the Good Lord have mercy upon your Souls. Amen.

Then again, it might turn out just fine.

I’m still going to lock my house doors.

LONELY AMONG US [Author: lum]

Sheyla wasn’t able to escape.

She was 18 years old. She told everyone she was 19. Why? I don’t know. Probably because in her mind, being a mother at 17 was somewhat more respectable then being a mother at 16. Her mother died when she was 14. It was a violent, messy death, and afterward she became a ward of the state. Being a ward of the state is, well, hell. There’s no other way to describe it. Not to imply that Sheyla’s foster parents were cruel or abusive – they probably weren’t. The courts deemed that she was not fit to raise her child, and it was given over to her now ex-husband to raise. She wanted her child back, and was fighting to get her child back.

She didn’t have a steady job. Well, actually she did, but it didn’t really pay that well. It was called Everquest. Her dream was to work her way up through the guide program and get on with Verant as a GM. Thanks to a forged message board post, that didn’t happen.

She sang. She painted. She cried.

She was very attractive, and probably found herself very ugly when she looked at herself in the mirror.

She had friends, and people who said they loved her, and people who say they will miss her. She had enemies, and once they threw her past back into her face in public, and by doing so showed how removed from what you or I would call humanity they actually were.

And, by all accounts, last weekend she shot herself, and in doing so perhaps showed you how close or how far from humanity you actually are.

This isn’t about Verant, it isn’t about a game, it isn’t about stupid people and nerfed classes and clueless dev teams. Anyone who seriously expects Verant to be able to do anything – to prevent the truly broken from impaling themselves – in a situation like this needs a clue transplant. Yes, Verant was slightly involved in her presumed death – by removing her from the guide program due to what may or may not be a faked post (remember, it is entirely possible that Sheyla added the “Ha Ha Busted” tag herself to try to excuse her earlier mistake of posting on a public board) – but to say that Verant somehow is responsible by doing this asserts that, well, Verant is responsible for life. And that’s not an assertion I think anyone is ready to make, if they carry through to the logical conclusion.

Verant is no more responsible for Sheyla’s death than you or I are. Which is to say, yes, a little. But no more than you or I.

If you are somehow moved by this, I ask you not to flame Verant, or the people responding to these inevitable threads, or any of that nonsense, but to simply renew your ties to someone else in your life, and assure them that yes, they are wanted, needed and loved.

As we’ve seen, it’s a message that bears repeating.

GOING TOO FAR [Author: lum]

The first piece of evidence is this post. Made by someone called “The Forest Wind”, an EZ-Board account with only one post (this one), it was a fairly innocuous “fuzzly” post where the purported guide thought this particular Quellious board was kewl and you could /petition whenever you wanted and included a wholly gratiutious link to http://www.everquest.com/. In short, the sort of thing you’d expect a zealous MMORPG volunteer to post.

What you wouldn’t expect a zealous MMORPG volunteer to post was edited into the post later by “The Forest Wind” six hours after the initial post:

HAHAHAHAHAHA SuXoRs I got her fired!!!!!!

According to “Runicmyst Stonehenge”, the person most recently to talk to her, and supposedly the only person to contact her husband after her death, Sheyla was sent the following letter:

Greetings Leza,

It is with great sadness in my heart that I write to you today. The Quellious SMT has been concerned about your future as a guide for several weeks now. After the incident with the Vox raiders last week, and the post you made on Quellious Quarters, we have reached the decision that while you are a wonderful person, and all on Quellious enjoy being around you, you do not fit the Guide Program. You have shown consistent lack of judgement in some serious petition situations, failing to consult and follow the P&P, as well as your fellow guides. You have also violated the P&P by posting as a Guide, using your guide name even, on an outside web site.

During your apprenticeship, there were some concerns raised regarding your ability to handle angry petitioners, your ability to think clearly in a tough situation, your ability to make the right decision (the P&P decision) on difficult calls. The SMT assigned different guides to work with you and assess your abilities, hoping we could iron some of this out. We now see that we were unsuccessful in doing so.

There are many wonderful people in this world, Leza, and you are one of them. But not everyone is cut out for the rigors and demands, and face it – insanity, of guiding. We don’t have very much free reign here, everything we do is governed by Verant. Guides that cannot stay within those parameters only hurt the rest of the staff, and the players of Quellious. I believe that your heart is in the right place, and that you are/were truly dedicated to the players of Quellious. I hope that you will be able to transfer that dedication to another project soon.

If you should choose to appeal your release, the steps you will need to take are detailed in the P&P.I wish you good fortune, and happy trails,

May the peace of the Tranquil guide you always.

I have been able to verify that much of the above letter is in fact a form letter written for Server Management Teams (SMTs) to use as a guideline when dismissing guides.

“Runicmyst” then went on to post the entire log of his chat with Sheyla. In my opinion, either “Runicmyst” is a talented fiction writer or — well — look for yourself.

Leza> oh, on top of this crap, im fighting for custoday of my child =(

Leza> i sent an e-mail to Montel Williams

Leza> i cant talk about it without getting upset =(

Leza> i have been crying all night

Leza> basically the Computer ruined my life

Leza> and eq

RunicMyst> or rather saved it..

Leza> yes =(

RunicMyst> you said before that guiding is hte only thing left… perhaps someone is trying to tell you you need to guide yourself?

RunicMyst> =)

RunicMyst> one never knows.

Leza> you may be right, soo right

RunicMyst>

Leza> god you made me cry now

Leza> i sorry

RunicMyst> im sorry. just trying to open things up…

Leza> god why me *cry*

Leza> i need so much help =(

RunicMyst> i can relate…

RunicMyst> perhaps i can help?

Leza> i have no freaking money for court, no money for past bills, no jobs around

RunicMyst> looks like were in the same situation..

Leza> i need to do this myself

Leza> @#%$ing eq has ruined me

RunicMyst> ive learned something.. its times like this you CANT be alone…

Leza> but i am, i am so alone at this time

RunicMyst> wow i like that eq portrate too

RunicMyst> wish i could draw =\\ i want one

RunicMyst> perhaps i could convince you to draw one for me one day =)?

Leza> if im still around, perhaps

RunicMyst> still around?

RunicMyst> where do you plan on going?

Leza> *shrugs*

RunicMyst> tell me… where were you planning on going…?

Leza> i donno

RunicMyst> you werent thinking of hurting yourself were you?

RunicMyst> were you…?

Leza> i donno

Leza> i dont know what i am doing anymore

Leza> i cant stop thinking of my baby

RunicMyst> how old?

Leza> will be 2 march 22nd

RunicMyst> take no offence at this… i dont mean any but you were very young when you had a child.

RunicMyst> 16/17… what happened?

RunicMyst> get used by some jerky guy? =\\?

Leza> 18

Leza> not really it was me not paying attention to him much, and more to eq

RunicMyst> eqs a great game =) hehhe and heck you meet great people on it =) in my opinion

Leza> it was something i did

RunicMyst> what did you do if i may ask

Leza> Played eq all the time

RunicMyst> hehe thats what i do =) heheh

RunicMyst> verant got us trapped in the matrix =\\

“Leza” signed off around 6 AM on Saturday. According to Runic, later that day she took her own life.

I’ve not been able to find any other confirmation of this from Colorado police reports or newspapers, so obviously this is still in the “wild rumor” stage. The board admins of “Quellious Quarters” have been in contact with Verant about this, who are apparently as confused and know nothing more than anyone else, and have been locking down all posts on the subject until something definitive is discovered.

However, one thing we can pretty conclusively conclude: people, especially one lonely young girl, are broken.

And sometimes these games we so enjoy ranting and raving about help to put those broken pieces back together.

And sometimes they don’t.

When people make an MRPG their primary social outlet, and are only making friends through that medium, any substantial change (banning, kicked out of program x, etc) is like killing off most of their social life. — Delusion

WELCOME TO TOTAL BASTARD AIRWAYS. WE HOPE YOU EAT A BAG OF HELL AND DIE. [Author: lum]

This is probably the only LtM update that will be fired from the front desk of a crappy hotel somewhere near the Austin airport. Most of LumCorp along with a random Canadian who resembles Eminem (“You want to die? You want to wake up in the middle of the night with a chainsaw over your head? Change that name. I swear. Damn you.”) who resembles Mr. Poppinfresh are now stranded in Austin thanks to Continental discovering that scheduling flights is HARD.

LUM PLAYS FAIRE: DAY 2 [Author: lum]

THE GREAT RANT SCRUM: We arrived fashionably late for this one since Austin saw fit to remove large chunks of I-35 while we slept (YOU PROBABLY THINK I’M KIDDING). Most of the audience actually ran their own websites and most of their questions involved asking Calandryll how they could get his attention. (Hint: email holds the clues.) Someone asked me how come I no longer hold Origin in the same level of putrid contempt that I used to, and I muttered something about “I dunno, I guess we grew up and got responsible and stuff.” Joshua Rowan from Stratics emphasized that some sites had journalism and ethics and morals and stuff. Jinx said the Mets really bit. The rest of the session involved Angel Storm explaining what we needed to do to improve the world in scrupulous detail.

THIRD DAWNAGE: Got a chance to play with this some more. It’s cooler than the screen shots make it appear to be, but frankly, I don’t care if it looks like rejects from Stile Project photoshoots as long as they start doing the dynamic updated content thing. I spent about a half hour trying to take down an ogre lord with my mad skillz. Paralyze has visual feedback of concentric circles surrounding a monster when you cast on it. That was pretty cool. Ebolts look like little snowballs. They were not cool. It went sort of like that. Here’s some screenshots from the obligatory press kit that every other site too lazy to photograph the screen themselves will post rapidly.

Looks like a shrine, I guess

Eat my para, spider biyotch

Corp Snowb All

Paras are unfair to some

I wonder if lizard men will have the same problem old and new Klingons have when getting together

Yet another pic of a guy ganking things on horseback. I dismounted when I played, just to be different

I’d like to state for the record, that’s one huge-ass balron

Looks like a shrine, I guess

Looks like a shrine, I guess

UWOOOWOOOOWOOOWO: Origin showed off Origin at a really loud bar. The video was louder. Fortunately it was also pretty cool. I’ll state for the record: not all Meer look like useless gimps now. They showed off in action a warrior Meer dominatrix and what we can only describe as a Death Necro Meerling. They also showed a human woman running around in a thong and a Juka styling in a black trenchcoat. Oh, and lots of people kicking the shit out of each other in really motion-captured ways. Origin has the motion caption thing down cold now and we can look forward to many duels of “my kung fu is superior!”. You will note that this was a movie and not an actual client running. Guess that’s for the next show. Anyway the movie is worth the humongous download when Origin gets it online.

We also had dinner with the UOWOWOWOOOWOWOOW team (there’s a WHOLE GODDAM LOT OF THEM) and Ubiq offered to put mongbats in the game if I give Origin-the-game six months of gushingly positive coverage when it gets released. I’m still thinking about it; if you see mongbats when you log into OWOWOWOOOWOWOOW you can rev up the conspiracy theories.

We’ll have the beta out on Soon the 3rd.

— Starr Long, being helpful

You’re all a part of a selection process. The game selected you as people who could tolerate an immense amount of pain and frustration. Normal people wouldn’t put up with that.

— Tyrant, gathering his army of pain-immune minions

OK, Lum, on three, shout Shadowbane Roxxors!

— Belthior to Lum, outside a bar (I did)

I know you think we’re quite casual and don’t give a damn about causing problems in your game, but we take that quite seriously.

— Tyrant, explaining customer service

We suck.

— Tyrant, going into further detail about customer service

Customer service is HARD.

— Tyrant, really breaking down the whole customer service thing

What did I ever do to you? No, don’t answer that.

— Tyrant, when told about this update

LUM PLAYS FAIRE: DAY 1 [Author: lum]

ULTIMA DAWN: THIRD ONLINE As we arrived, Gordon “Don’t Throw Balls At My Head” Walton was eagerly describing what you all have already read about, UO’s next expansion and client. A video was shown which could probably have been put together by the WWF. It had flashing large letters and a screaming announcer and very loud guitar power chords. I only pray this was some sort of parody.

The game itself was in an alpha state and crashed pretty consistently, but it was playable enough to get a clue of what we would be in for. UO3D looks quite a bit like “UO Does Diablo”, with lots of animation (30 frames per second), including idle animations. Your paperdoll is also animated now, and seems pretty bored at just sitting around on your paperdoll. The client doesn’t really look too terribly different from UO2D other than the obvious eye candy; you still ride around on a horse and gank things. The expanded lands (with the Trammel ruleset, because all you people only play in Trammel like the total stupid cheese gimps that you are) seemed much easier to navigate then T2A. How much land is there? Couldn’t tell you. It had cities and rivers and swamps and mountains and whatnot. Alpha testing is unfair to some. Anyway I’m sure you will hear entirely too much about this until the open beta begins in January.

UO WORLD FAIRE ATE MY BALLS My personal highlights usually involved throwing Happy Fun Balls at people. Carly “Running UO is HARD!” Staehlin has been traumatized for life from an XRGaming contingent carpet bombing her with 50 Happy Fun Balls. A rumor spread throughout the faire that the WHITE Happy Fun Balls were RARE. A brisk trade in rare Happy Fun Balls immediately developed. Jinx was too sophisticated to participate in my evil guerilla marketing schemes. Must be that New York sensibility (enjoy Hillary!).

THEY ACTUALLY HAD SEMINARS AND TALKS AND STUFF The Dev Team dispersed to conference rooms to listen to the UO playerbase bitch. One of the most active seminars was one run by Adrick on murderers. It seems some folks don’t like murderers. I know, it’s a shock to me as well. Runesabre helmed a hardcore powergamer discussion on weaponry with lots of suggestions on making magic weaponry not totally suck. Each seminar had dev team staffers taking copious notes: we weren’t learning from them, they were learning from us. After a couple of days of this the dev team should have plenty of things to occupy their time.

Tomorrow: All the snarly ranters in one discussion panel, phat U:WOO lewt, and MORE HAPPY FUN BALLS.

AND NOW FOR THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE [Author: myschyf]

EA’s Ultima Online To Enter New Dimension

Ultima Online: Third Dawn to Feature 3-D Characters, New Lands and Monsters; Unveiling Takes Place at Inaugural UO World Faire

AUSTIN, Texas, November 10, 2000-Call it a makeover, an exciting new look, a change of face or just the latest chapter for the Internet’s most popular virtual world. Today, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and its Austin, Texas subsidiary, ORIGIN Systems(tm), announced plans to launch Ultima(tm) Online: Third Dawn(tm) early next year. Third Dawn is the latest upgrade to the highly successful Ultima Online (UO) game, which currently boasts more than 200,000 active subscribers. Third Dawn was formally unveiled this morning at the first annual Ultima Online World Faire taking place today and tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center.

With Third Dawn, Ultima Online will be more immersive than ever with fully animated, motion captured 3-D characters, each with enhanced gesturing and animations. In all, Third Dawn will feature more than 700 motion-captured animations on nearly 200 different character models. An enhanced lighting and shading system, a new land to explore, more than a dozen new monsters, a particle system for spell and magic effects and improved music and sound effects will make Ultima Online look and sound better than ever before.

“Third Dawn is really going to give our players a brand new way to

experience Ultima Online’s virtual world,” says Gordon Walton, ORIGIN’s vice president for online services. “We’re not just adding more of the same thing. We’re creating 3-D technology that will enhance how each person plays and identifies with their character. It opens up an emotional attachment between players and their avatars that we’ve never had before in Ultima Online.”

Third Dawn also will allow development teams greater latitude to make

additions and enhancements to UO long after Third Dawn launches. With Third Dawn, ORIGIN Systems is making a commitment to its players and fans for a long time to come.

Beta testing for Ultima Online: Third Dawn will begin soon and will be open to current UO players only. More information on Third Dawn can be found at http://www.uo.com/thirddawn.

Ultima Online: Third Dawn was announced this morning at the Inaugural Ultima Online World Faire. More than 800 Ultima Online players from around the world are attending the two-day event which includes roundtable and panel discussions, period costumes and music, medieval weaponry and art exhibits, a Renaissance village of vendors, a charity auction, parties and game demos.

About Ultima Online

Ultima Online is a thriving, persistent, virtual world where more than

200,000 people live and play on the Internet. Players can enjoy true social interaction with other participants in real-time, form adventure parties, engage in battles, take on perilous quests or chat in a tavern over a goblet of virtual ale. More information on Ultima Online can be found at http://www.uo.com.

About ORIGIN Systems

ORIGIN Systems develops and publishes state-of-the-art entertainment

software. To date, the company has released more than 60 titles, including the award winning Ultima, Wing Commander(tm), Privateer(tm) and Crusader series of games. ORIGIN is based in Austin, Texas and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts (EA). More information on ORIGIN products can be found on the Internet at http://www.origin.ea.com.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts, headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world’s leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts posted revenues of more than $1.4 billion for fiscal 2000.

The company develops, publishes and distributes software worldwide for

personal computers and video game systems and markets its products under two brand names: EA SPORTS(tm) EA GAMES(tm) and EA.COM(sm). More information about EA’s products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://www.ea.com.

ORIGIN, Origin Systems, Ultima, Third Dawn, Wing Commander, Privateer,

Electronic Arts, EA SPORTS and EA GAMES are trademarks or registered

trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

EA.COM is a service mark of EA.COM Inc. All other trademarks are the

property of their respective owners.