March 2001


J. had the following to say (excerpted heavily) on the official Shadowbane board regarding the current relative lack of information or screenshots being released:

A year ago, you could have got away with it. A year ago, most of us thought we’d be playing the game by now. This vaccuum of information is intolerable.

The justification for not releasing anything at all for the sake of perfectionism just doesn’t fly anymore. Give us the goods, please. We might not appreciate them right away, but eventually we may.

Warden, in response, had the following to say:


And we were worried that Wolfpack didn’t understand PvP.


Just in time for the UO3D release, Dell has a news story up about eBay and UO (thanks to Crashster for pointing it out). Normally not terribly newsworthy, except for the following quote:

This puts the exchange rate at around 15,000 to 25,000 Ultima Online gold units to the U.S. dollar, making a unit of Ultima gold nearly equal in value to the Vietnamese dong.

Words cannot express how ineffably cool this quote truly is.


So what kind of game is A Tale In The Desert? Well according to the FAQ, which says it better than I ever could, “It’s a radically different massively multiplayer role-playing game. It contains no combat: no monsters, no player-killers, no swords or armor. Your character advances by completing, participating in, or leading large projects. Negotiation and politics play a very large role. The game has a plot that unfolds in response to player actions, and when the story is over, the game ends.”

The FAQ goes on to outline some of the types of projects you might be expected to complete. Those of you missing the virtues of the original Ultimas will find this little tidbit interesting: “Leadership: The challenge of Trust. As in Know who to trust. To complete this challenge, a player must bury a significant amount of gold in the deep desert, and then get 1 mile away from it. Next, he must reveal the location to ten trusted friends, and allow 24 hours to pass. After the time has passed, he can retrieve the treasure. If the treasure has been stolen, the player loses the gold and fails the test. There is no penalty for the thief.”

That particular quest sounded impossible to me at first glance. My initial reaction was “no way will anyone ever be able to complete that quest.” But after giving it a bit of thought I think these guys might be on to something. Imagine the feeling of satisfaction of actually being able to complete this one. Whoa. Not every project is predicated on trust however, which is good considering how little there is to be found on the internet.

The graphics are not state-of-the-art — or even 3d. They don’t have to be. Frankly I’m quite glad they aren’t. A game predicated on gameplay rather than graphics — wow what a concept. I’m floored that someone actually has the guts to make this game given how consumed today’s developers seem to be with having lots of eye candy and so little content. These people are bringing a badly-needed breath of fresh air to this industry.

If you go over to the website let me encourage you to take a look at the boards. You’ll find the developers discussing the graphics engine, which they wrote themselves based on OpenGL and after doing research into what was currently being used. They have no prior game development experience but have been designing and playing games for fun for quite a while. Normally my warning bells would go off on seeing that but the fact that these guys have been quietly designing their game for three years and the sheer originality of the idea has quieted my warning signals. That and the fact that they only plan on running the game for a year and a half. Then they plan to quit.

I doubt this game will get the numbers required for it to be considered massive. The developers say they have a European publisher but I can’t see a publisher being willing to fund the server farm necessary for massive numbers and also being willing to have the servers wiped in a year and a half. But maybe these guys have a trick or two up their sleeve I don’t know about. Nonetheless, the originality of what they are doing is something I welcome with open arms. It won’t be a game for everyone. I doubt this will appeal to the Shadowbane crowd and the opportunities for grief players to ruin this are, of course, numerous. They seem to have thought of that though. Josh Yelon, (one of the developers), states on their message boards, “Effectively, we’ve written the entire plot assuming that around 60% of the players will act in selfish ways, and around 10% will be outright psychotic/destructive. A lot of the plot twists we have planned use these “bad” players as vehicles.”

I’ve written them and asked for an interview so hopefully we will be able to hear more about this game in the near future.


Unfortunately, the EverQuest message boards are often a hotbed of exaggerated negativity where only through one-upmanship, melodramatics, and dauntless persistence can one hope to create a big enough thread surrounding an issue as to have it addressed. Posters with the opportunity and time to engage in these tactics at least get to see an Official tell them \’e2\’80\’9cYes\’e2\’80\’9d or \’e2\’80\’9cNo\’e2\’80\’9d, while others with equally valid stated concerns and the same desire to make the game better for everyone see their posts fall off within minutes, only to be overlooked or missed in the end. That, or they simply don\’e2\’80\’99t post at all, avoiding the boards and the negativity found therein (we\’e2\’80\’99ve received a lot of player feedback via email and at Fan Faires attesting to this phenomenon).

Well, this is simply not acceptable. Our original goal for the boards was to have them serve as a place where valid player issues would be addressed and not overlooked. We need and want to hear the feedback of anyone willing to send it. You deserve to know that your feedback is being read, that your issues are being considered by the design team, and that the chance of having your thoughts heard is not tied to your ability to be outspoken and persistent in a public forum. That is one thing all of our goals have in common, and one thing that we need to improve such that we are able to give players the input and feedback they deserve \’e2\’80\ldblquote the current \’e2\’80\’9cpublic\’e2\’80\’9d process.

To that end, we\’e2\’80\’99re making a number of changes, both to the message boards and the procedures for sending feedback.

And what changes are those? Well, the few boards that will remain (the Roleplaying “Harpy’s Head” forum and the newbie help forums) will have draconian guidelines on what can or cannot be posted. General Discussion (what we lovingly call Whineplay) and the QA board (Ester the Tester’s domain)… well, they no longer exist. What replaces them?

The difference here is that attempting to post a message or reply will take you to a special form where you can \’e2\’80\’9cSubmit Comments\’e2\’80\’9d to the Development and Quality Assurance teams. Representatives from each team will read all of the comments submitted and choose several daily to which to reply publicly. Those representatives will then quote your comments if chosen in individual posts under the appropriate read-only forum. These forums will also be used for special announcements, inquiries, and the release of important information as it is appropriate. And we also hope it will be much easier for players to keep track of what is going on in EverQuest.

This is so much more efficient than those old anyone-can-post-any-old-opinion message boards… which is why, of course, Verant was thoughtful enough to build them into the game already. Type /feedback sometime. Didn’t know it was there? Chances are good neither does Verant, any more. And when they did, they casually deleted them as they came in. Too many to read, don’t you know.

Was Whineplay a useless cesspool of, well, whining? Of course. Will this purge and abdication of any responsibility for moderating a discussion board help communication between Verant and its players? Of course… if you define “communication” the same way North Korea does. Verant’s tired of having to defend themselves, and to their credit, they’ve taken a lot of unwarranted crap. The problem is that in the hailstorm of that sometimes unbelievably wacko criticism, a lot of very valid discussion, suggestions, and yes, complaints about Everquest get lost.

A possible answer to this problem is obvious – and, unfortunately, the reason Verant won’t do this is also painfully obvious. There’s quite a lot of third-party message boards for EQ already. Many of them are very, very good. They’re moderated well, the signal to noise ratio is low, and it’s easy both for newbies to get help quickly and for ubers to brag about their +50 Codpiece of Lordly Might. You’d think it would be a no-brainer for Abashi or Absor or even Aradune himself to collect feedback and bat around a few ideas. After all, the board moderators themselves would have an interest in maintaining the atmosphere – which, interestingly considering their “amateur” status was always more “professional” than EQ’s own boards – even were these august personages to pay a visit.

The problem is one of control. Verant is very big on control – it’s no accident that every Everquest-related product has in its credits a shout-out to the “good” websites. The ones that don’t post spoilers – what Verant calls, you know, the basic rules of the game. Verant has made a joke out of banning users who post opinions that they don’t agree with on their own boards – and, in one particularly celebrated case, even for posting things they don’t like outside their own boards. And what we’re seeing now is a typical exercise of control. You can’t behave nicely? Fine – we’ll show you, then. Submit your petitions to the Gods of Gaming, and perhaps we may smile upon them and grant a representative, carefully chosen few our attention.

They’re simply overwhelmed. They tried throwing personnel at the problem – it didn’t work. They tried hiring a nice guy – it didn’t work. They tried just hiding and hoping it would all go away – it didn’t work.

Because in the end, it’s their world. Their rules, their server, their toys. You are but a customer, and one whose opinion, overall, tends to distract people from important work. Sit down, shut up, and send in your $9.95. For god’s sake, you got Medtris, now STFU.

Unfortunately, this attitude is all too prevalent in the industry. Not everyone’s wardrobe is so laughably made up of nothing but brown shirts as Verant’s seems to be – most have a bit more tact, appear a bit lower on the radar. But they all have control over their world. And if you think your opinion really, really matters, well, you’re just deluding yourself, aren’t you.

Until someone else realizes that the role of a game company is not that of benevolent dictator, but unseen caretaker. At that point, well, it could get interesting. You think?

EQ PVP \’e2\’80\ldblquote WHO\’e2\’80\’99S DRIVING THIS GARBAGE SCOW? [Author: Hedron]

Author: Hedron

Topic: Kondra and Gardach – Replies

Posted 01-06-2000 10:18 AM


Hi guys,

I read your two posts in Abashi’s string, and thought I’d like to reply to them without further cluttering the main string.

I’ll copy the text of the original messages here to make the conversation contiguous. And I’ll intersperse my replies within the text.

Kondra’s post:



Posted 01-05-2000 04:06 PM



I want to respond to one point in particular, because I now believe it would help the PVP servers alot (or at least the teams servers alot) That is xp upon death, about half or 1/3 of a normal death. Why would this help so much? Because consequences upon death would now allow battles, especially large ones, to be winnable and losable.

Perhaps winnable and losable, but very infrequent, because it will be a rare battle that people will want to risk their exp bar on. And tactically unsophisticated because the battles will be infrequent. People who cannot practice pvp because of the penalties cannot become good at it.


Everyone who participates in alot of battles or fights knows they degenerate into an endless and pointless naked slugfest. Even if you have a large well-organized force, most of the enemy will retreat after a while, leaving a small group of naked enemy “fanatics” who attack you over and over again.

Part of the reason these fights are pointless is because of the “slugfest” part of your statement. Due to multiple factors, eq combat is relatively skill-less, and there is no decent level cap.

Therefore there is little joy in actual combat. Instead it’s kind of fun to conflict, and have a big fight, but then you want to get back to leveling and stop being bothered by the “slugfest”.

Three things can alleviate this issue.

The first thing is to modify combat to enhance the human skill and decisions made during it. In this way, combat can become an engaging sport instead of boring a slugfest.

The second thing is to get rid of any significant profit motive in pking -other- than the fun of bragging rights and maybe coin. That way people like to fight. Losing doesn\’e2\’80\’99t irritate them, and they don’t mind facing opponents. This would make those attacking fanatics more of a fun challenge and less of an annoying distraction.

The third is to stop the leveling madness. A huge distraction from pvp is the need to level constantly. If people weren’t constantly driven to level, they would actually -interact- with each other instead of hating pvp, and mindlessly killing the same monsters over and over again.

In my opinion, the proper game has you level for a reasonably short period of time (2-3 months), has a very strategic and involving combat system, and does not penalize pvp.

What happens then is:

A) you get a strong community started based on the common experience of leveling up.

B) you have a rich skill-based background of pvp on which to hang your hat and take pride and pleasure from fighting. Instead of just slugging around and at the end feeling like “well, that meant nothing. The outcome was decided by level differences, and classes”.

C) because of the lack of pvp penalties, you get alot of enjoyable combat. People become better at it, skill means more and more, they begin fighting for rp reasons – why not, it doesn’t hurt. Etc. Etc.


Everyone wants to avoid xploss, so if this were implemented, when a large enemy group attacked, you wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t bag up then make irritating suicide runs against them. No, you would have to retreat from the area or summon a large force to fight against them.

This sounds good on the surface, but I think that reality will prove some of these assumptions to be wrong.

Everyone does -not- want to avoid exp loss at the expense of their “fun” of suicide attacking you. You will always find that those fanatics will still be fanatical with or without exp loss.

What will happen is that they will stop making suicide runs. Instead they’ll make opportunity-kill runs. They won’t be so reckless, but they will keep attacking. Only now they’ll pick on the weak. And they’ll kill 10 people for every one time they die. And all of those people will have exp loss. That attacker won’t care about his own exp loss. A little exp loss for 10 kills? Good trade!


Thus in any battle, once one side has enough of an advantage to cause alot more death than it is receiving, it will ROUT the other side from the area (unless they get reinforcements). The more you outnumber a foe, the more quickly and surely you will kill them and cause xploss.

This will encourage grouping and organized battle in a way that suits EQ very well I think.

Mmm. I don’t think it will encourage anything other than alot of running away.

So first, I don’t think people will fight at all if they can help it. (some will, of course, but overall, less will than now.)

Second, I would guess that you probably don’t realize how many people re-enter a battle during the main -fun- part of it. Only even if they decide to fight at first, they now will not come back after dying. Battles will become short, vicious, and over so quick you didn’t know it happened. They’ll come less frequently, and they’ll tick off the losers. This does not sound like an improvement to me.


It will also really mess up the anti-social infamous player killers. Once someone\’e2\’80\’99s name gets known as a dishonorable nasty, there will be hordes of do-gooders out to do them justice. They can keep recreating low level characters, but up though level 5 there is no xp loss anyway, and its almost negligible till lv15. 1/2 of that will be nothing, making the lowbie murderer pretty pointless.

Mmm, nope. History has proven that there will -not- be hordes of do-gooders out to do them justice. There will be hordes of distracted people who are busy leveling for them to kill, who will now have exp loss when they die.

Player justice exists when it’s fun for it to exist. People would rather level, or don’t want to spend all of their in-game time hunting murderers. You know, like real life police, it becomes a job. The killer will kill all the time, because it’s fun and because the killer can -always- find someone to kill.

The policeman will not defend all of the time because they want to level, and they will have a hard time finding the killers. So they’ll spend alot of time running around looking, get bored, and quit.


Everyone remembers the first days of PVP teams, with all the fun and great battles and invasions. One of the main reasons this dwindled was because battles felt “pointless”

Even now when trying to muster a force there is a feeling that organizing into larger groups to “invade” doesn’t achieve anything. It just ends up naked bashing against a few fanatics and spewing insults.

But Add in xp loss, and organizing into large forces will now have a PURPOSE. The enemy can be defeated, routed, whatever. They can be effected to lose xp, driven from an area so that one feels something was accomplished. Victory would be possible as would defeat. Also, counterattacks would be a great deal of fun. Summoning up a massive organized defense will now be necessary.

Xp loss is not a good way to keep score and feel like something was accomplished. There are too many negatives.

I see where you’re going with “driving the enemy from the field”. It’s a good thought. I just think exp loss isn’t the way to do it.

I’d say let’s brainstorm a different method. Verant has talked about making binding city only for all players. This way when you kill somebody, they’re gone. This is too annoying, I feel because it inhibits pvp strategy (proper use of gate is a cool tactic) and adds alot of tedium to life by forcing you to run around alot. It also doesn’t really stop re-entering the fight much, because many classes have alot of conveniently placed teleports anyway.

I think the best thing to do would be to flip their pvp switch to “off” for x amount of time after dying? That’s just off the top of my head. Thoughts?


In other words, xploss will encourage grouping and reward tactics and brave defense. Right Now when there is a big fight, half the folks bag up and continue hunting NPC’s. They can’t be harmed. With xploss they will be “drafted” by the necessity to defend their area from the potentially harmful enemy.

People who are forced to play the game the way others want to play it learn to hate that game and/or the people forcing them. “drafting” players isn’t fun for them. Because they don’t want to fight at that time, they will either move to another spot to level, or they will just log out and come back later.


This will really invigorate the Zek’s and make them so different and interesting from the blue servers. And the xploss won’t be large enough to discourage players from PVP. It may be substantial at higher levels, but high level characters can survive/escape better and have clerics to help them recover, so it is warranted.

I really disagree that he xp loss won’t be large enough to discourage players from pvp. I strongly disagree. Verant thought that 1-item loot plus cash would not be enough to discourage pvp, and would not be enough to encourage naked mage op killers. They were wrong too.


Negatives: We worry about exploits and bind-point camping.

But let’s be concrete: what would they be? With xploss bind-point camping would become the most heinous of offenses, and someone who did it would become infamous (as well as possibly banned)

Not to mention it is very easy to avoid by binding in secure or hidden places or logging out once one realizes he is being bind-camped. I’ve been on the Zek’s from the beginning and only was ever bind camped ONCE. Binding next to zones and in typical blue-server “convenient” locations is not too bright on the Zek’s.

Ok, sure. I buy it. It is a negative, it’s just probably not that impactful.

Other negatives: “Xp assassins” sneaking around zones killing wounded players to cause as much xploss as possible.

Again I think these players would become infamous very quickly and would end up dying far more than they killed. And they can’t bag their xp bar.

I can’t really think of any other negatives. Indiscriminate killers wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t like xploss. They just want some free mayhem. My feeling is that this cheapens the whole Zek experience and makes PVP action about on par with drunken foot races.

Adding skill to pvp is what increases its value. Your statement to me is somewhat equivalent to saying “hey, this rusted out broken car I\’e2\’80\’99m selling isn’t being valued enough. Let’s charge more for it to make it better and more valued.”

Far better to improve the condition of the car than to just try and charge more for it and hope that creates excitement.

We must concentrate on pvp changes to add human skill to the process so people can be proud of their wins, and humbled by their losses.


The False Prophet

Gratuitous RP Signature


They’re here. They’re big. They won’t go away. Ad banners are swelling as dot com “companies” finally catch the snap-back that happens when you stretch a rubber corporation like an old innertube. To save our sinking ship, ad agencies promised that the bigger, more intrusive and disruptive ads will generate more viewer response and increased sales. Unfortunately, most readers are finding clever ways to defeat these uber-ads by way of script scrapping utilities and content blocking plug-ins.

“Since their inception just one month ago, the new IAB online ad standards have not yet achieved a high level of acceptance from Web sites,”

DUH. Let’s think for a minute. Websites are mostly run by creative (mostly) individuals who want to express themselves to others. Usually, this concept doesn’t involve large images that swallow up 80% of your screen. It usually consists of someone writing vast monologues about school, Pantera, and how boys can be such “retardos”. What a shocker that these folks aren’t really insterested in writing a website that serves as a backdrop to a credit consolidation business or an online discount broker.

I guess I just don’t see it. Maybe because that big pop-up is blocking my view.