March 2001

HIT AND RUN [Author: Lum the Mad]

Looking to relocate? To help you decide, Saudi Arabia has banned Pokemon. According to the mufti of Saudi Arabia, Pokemon is too much like gambling. Also, it promotes evolution, which is “rejected by Islam”, and, just in case you weren’t convinced, Pokemon is Jewish.

Most of the cards “figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel” as well as “different-shaped crosses,” [Shiekh Abdul Aziz] said.

Oy vey pika!

I’ve seen it. You can stop sending me the link now. THANKS.

If you’re looking for work now (and at least 85 of you are, you might want to try Wizards of the Coast. According to Salon, it’s a really, um, interesting company to work for.

That honor lay with his dream of revolutionizing corporate culture itself, of making Wizards a new kind of company. We would build an alt-culture workplace of smart young people. We would destroy hierarchies by a resolute program of egalitarian consensus. We would earn fabulous paychecks and free dental treatments. We would encourage diversity in every form.

Best of all, though, we would fuck like rabbits. On “Who Knew? Day” employees wore badges proclaiming their sexual orientation. Intimate relationships sprouted like mold on bread, cutting across departments and seniorities with the hierarchy-smashing fervor of our consensus-driven team meetings. Heedless of status, even peasants and princes coupled, and fell apart.

The example was set right at the top: Peter and his wife, also an employee, had an open marriage. Wizards was a big horny summer camp, and we were starring in the teen sex comedy of our fevered dreams.

Unfortunately, the article then goes on to say that WotC moved on from Plato’s Retreat to, well, Pokemon. AND THAT WAY LIES JUDAISM!

And in case you aren’t a sex-crazed Hasidic Jew with a stash of Pokemon rares, you can always just go kill people, like every other player of role playing games does.


I have no idea what I’m talking about, though. I don’t know how quality assurance works. I never get into betas, I try not to ask friendly game industry workers too many questions about their jobs so they don’t think I’m using them or anything, and the last House of Game Development whose lobby I visited is rumored to have no in-house quality assurance department at all, so I didn’t get to learn about it there either. But you know, there are some things that are just obvious.

1. Review patch notes before posting them to your website. Even if you’re hard at work moving your office, ask a happy slave labor intern to verify that all things were actually included in the patch downloaded to users’ clients. IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH.

Exhibit A: “The Thaumaturgic and Exarch Plate Coats have been extended to cover the hands” (Zone, marchbuild.asp).

Exhibit B: “Mage armour [sic] does not cover hands” (Namu, CoD post).

2. Don’t tease the more technologically sophisticated of said users with content pulled at the last minute. They use third-party programs, they “hack,” and they know when you do it. If Santa were as omniscient as 1940s pop singers would have you believe, like those people, it would earn you a spot on the “naughty” list.

Exhibit C: New portal.dat icons, complete with new arrowhead types and a really old joke.

Exhibit D: Educated guesses about new arrowhead types by savvy observers.

Exhibit E: Better-educated apologies about new arrowhead types.

Exhibit F: Cheaters blow the surprise anyway.*

3. Put some effort into fixing old bugs. They irritate people. They make you look bad.

Exhibits G: “Sanctuary Recall still broken? You gotta be kidding me….” (Nighthawk, CoD post)

Exhibit H: “Will the life prot bug be fixed?” (Zax, CoD post).

4. Have at least one person run through the final build before it’s released, to ensure that nothing is being retained by mistake. See Exhibit I for complete explanation.

Exhibit I: FIX ME!

5. If absolutely no testing can be done in the time allotted to even an overdue patch, apologize, emphasize the cool new shit, and go show off the rest of the company’s work at a trade show, if at all possible. Say you’re sorry, then opiate the masses, and stuff like that.

Exhibit J: “This month is an anomaly” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit K: Stuff that works.

Exhibit K and a half: “That dynamic as implemented is not the one that should have gone in the game” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit K and a half and a half: “Expect tweaks next month [in reference to above ‘dynamic’]” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit L: An attempt to render an unlicensed Lara Croft in a brand new engine.

In the temporary absense of any kind of quality assurance team, numbers one through four are temporarily excusable, and number five is temporarily acceptable, excepting, of course, the media materials available as part of exhibit L. Bad. Stop that!

[PATCH] *Update, 3/24/01, 2:00 PM MST: Oops! Sorry about that. [/PATCH]


In what’s mostly a recap of our previous coverage combined with the assertion “I heard that too!”, Ms. Mulligan says Shadowbane may be the greatest unrequited love since Antony and Cleopatra (oh, they actually got it on? OK, someone else then), along with her tale of woe when face to face with Big Steppin’ Razor Cat Daddy Fishbone Mike Wilson:

At that point, Wilson leaned toward a microphone and said, “The winners will be companies like ours, who know how to develop top games.”

(These include, I assume, Kingdom Under Fire and Rune.)

At any point, Mulligan misses the point: GODGames doesn’t exist any more, except as a reference in People Screwed By Todd Porter Trading Cards. They got borged by Take Two. Take Two sucks. Trust me, the worst thing you want is for Take Two to actually try and “support” an MMO title. It would be like… well, UO.

The best case scenario would be if Wolfpack suddenly discovers that the Evil Overlord Contract they signed included a Princess Isn’t Technically A Virgin clause and they can book it to be published by someone else. ANYONE else.


What set him off was one of the many petitions on the roll-your-own-petition site (my favorite: Import all of Japan NOW) demanding that EA say “we sowwy” in a childlike, girlish voice and take back all the people they fired and finish Ultima: Woo. Someone signed Markee Dragon’s name to it, saying that he was going to cancel his UO account in protest although he would still run his sites and all, because the ladies demand it. (Unfortunately, the forgery was neither that cool nor that correctly spelled.) Biz Markee fought back thusly:

EA has clearly decided that they were going to stop the development of UO2. When they say they were doing it because it would compete with UO I agree with them 100%. I like UO. I play UO and I don’t want to see anything done to it that would cause the game player base to stop growing.

I expect that most of you envisioned that when UO2 came out that you would play it and UO. Then after a month or two when you and all of your friends are established in UO2, you all close your UO accounts. EA knows that this is most likely what will happen. They know that they can not have both games running at the same time as it will only be a transference of the player base.

All of Markee Dragon’s marquee dragons then chimed in and agreed thusly:

No amount of whining and petitioning is going to change this decision as it is financially motivated.

Live with it people.

Did these people think that this decision was on a whim? Just an idea to throw out there and see what the masses have to say about it. Duh!

We are talking business here. and good business says that you don’t compete with your own product.

I am saddened that the cancellation of UO2 is true, but it was a smart move on the business side of OSI.

Its a no win situation, they lost millions in this cancellation, we lost the hope of playing something that was promised to give a new meaning to on-ling gaming. But you cant have 2 competing at the same time. I just hope they can make UO stronger and better with this decision.

Im actually glad they stopped the UO2

Personally i thought it looked awfull – quake monsters in UO, and i wouldnt have played it either – mostley cause i dont feel like suporting OSI in another project.

Due to a caraccident that I was involved in, I have been playing UO full time everyday for over a year, and I truly feared that UO2 would kill UO. So the other day I was informed that UO2 was taken off development. I marked that day in my calender with a large happy face

Go UO! Let’s have this “old” game continue to beat the pants off everyone else! People play Diablo for a few months, EQ for a year… they play UO for years because of it’s depth and complexity. And only UO has the ability to attract a good percent of us “real” women as players.

You Go MARKEE!!!!!!!!

Looking at responses here, a couple other boards, and the Stratics poll, it appears more people are happy to see UO2 die than are upset by it (this is an unscientific, casual observation, my life is too important to waste time adding up numbers). I am among those happy to see UO2 get treated like an expired goldfish. I, personally, have zero interest in a first person RPG. First person is great for shooters, but would make a role-playing game virtually unplayable – more so when you consider how difficult it would be to play anything in a group.

Because of those game-play issues, I would not have switched to UO2, and I know I am not alone in that. Support for the original UO would have disappeared as two things happened: one, EA would want to focus on the new game, and would therefore move resources from UO to UO2. Two, EA would then see UO as a resource black hole, and would have deliberately (though secretly) reduced the quality of the game in an effort to force people to switch.

Ultimately, I have to say EA did the right thing, regardless of the questionable nature of why they did it.

So there you have it, EA is not actually a heartless keiretsu with the brains of a carp, they’re a pretty canny corporation with the heart of a fish. Or something. After the 30th sig graphic my brain exploded and my neurons began to form thoughts much like the description of this game.


Why are there so many songs about rainbows

And what’s on the other side?

Rainbows are visions, but only illusions

And rainbows have nothing to hide

So we’ve been told, and some choose to believe it

I know they’re wrong; wait and see

Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection

The lovers, the dreamers, and me

Who said that ev’ry wish would be heard and answered

When wished on the morning star?

Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it

Look what it’s done so far.

What’s so amazing that keeps us star gazing

And what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection

The lovers, the dreamers, and me

All of us under its spell;

We know that it’s probably magic

Have you been half asleep and heard voices?

I’ve heard them calling my name

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors

I know it’s one and the same

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it

It’s something that I’m s’posed to be

Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection

The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

La da da de da da do

La la da da da de da do


Guess who’s talking to Gamespy.

I’ve got 85 of my best friends that just got laid off. On the other hand, personally, it could be an opportunity in the sense that my non-compete [agreement with EA] runs out here in about 8 days, and I was debating how to hire a team to get back into the business and I know a lot of the best people, a lot of my best friends who were at Origin, were very committed to their team and to their project and to the leadership around them within that company. Of course there was a non-solicit clause in my non-compete, so it would have been difficult for me to build a team. Well, suddenly now its not so difficult, so its going to be interesting for me to go back to Austin and start up discussions with the large stable of close friends who are now looking for something to do, right about the time that I’m looking for something to do, so that should be fun.

So for those of you who are counting, that makes twice now that OSI has given its competitors a free, ready-made dev team. In other news, EA still has its head firmly implanted in its ass.

Props to Jinx for finding this story.

TAP -TAP – IS THIS THING ON? [Author: Lum the Mad]

Our apologies for the near constant server outages the past few days. We are working feverishly on implementing a mailing list so you can (a) have updates emailed to you as they are posted and (b) not have to click “refresh” 90,000 times like an EQ player trying to level to see what’s been posted.

Also a correction; as you no doubt have seen elsewhere, Jack “Kal El” Wood and Mike “Scorch” Zupan, who work in UO’s volunteer program, did not in fact lose their posts as part of Wednesday’s layoffs as had been rumored. There have been conflicting reports on the future of UO’s volunteer program, with persistent rumors that it is due for a Turbine-style defenestration (that means being thrown out the window, Hedron) and with equally persistent (and unusually vocal) denials of those rumors from OSI. We’ll keep you posted, assuming someone doesn’t breathe on the web server and it breaks again. And another correction: Harry Potter Online was not in fact cancelled, but in fact yanked out of OSI’s hands and given to EA Redwood Studios. Thanks to AVault for that tip.


Yet another school shooting has lead to yet another crusade against the video game industry. It is understandable that parents and students are terrified of the world in which they live. Every time these tragedies occur, we hear \’e2\’80\’9cI didn\’e2\’80\’99t know it could happen here.\’e2\’80\’9d

Hey, you. Yes, you, the reader looking at this article right now. Yes, it can happen to you. That\’e2\’80\’99s right. Even if you\’e2\’80\’99re white, suburban, and have upper middle class parents who drive gas-guzzling SUVs, you too can have a classmate go postal. Actually, gauging by the major school shootings that have occurred over the past few years, it\’e2\’80\’99s probably more likely to happen to you if you\’e2\’80\’99re white, suburban, and upper middle class.

The obvious questions are being asked:

Where does this violence stem from? Who\’e2\’80\’99s responsible? What can we do? There are actually very simple solutions to these problems. Application of said solutions is proving horribly complicated, however.

Video games are an easy target for parental watchdog groups. Doom, Quake, Leisure Suit Larry. All of these will corrupt your children. I don\’e2\’80\’99t care how well you parent. You could be decent, God-fearing, authoritative parents, but your children will burn in the fiery cauldron of psychosis if they even look at these games sideways. It must be stopped. We cannot rest until we have sanitized all of our culture (to the loud cheers of the French).

I\’e2\’80\’99m not sure what I learned from video games while growing up. I learned that a thumb cramp is actually possible to attain. I learned that sitting for long hours makes my ass go numb. I learned having nothing better to generally leads me to doing nothing better.

Oh, and Mighty Bomb Jack really was the bomb.

The simple problem here is parenting. Video games teach nothing. Parents teach. Teachers teach. Video games do not teach.

The unspoken commentary these watchdog groups and our wonderful Attorney General is making is that you, the parent, are no longer trusted in this society. You had your chance. We let you raise your kids. Look at the mess you people have made. Students snapping at the drop of the hat, 12 year olds murdering 6 year olds, the Backstreet Boys. It\’e2\’80\’99s a disaster.

If you can\’e2\’80\’99t parent your own children, well gee golly gosh, I guess the government will do it for you! After all, when the government does things for us, it always works out really well. Right? Right?!

This is about control and trust. Parents cannot be trusted, so the government will step in and do it for you. If you cannot control your children, the government will do that, too. For all the rhetoric about the Left trying to sanitize our culture and enforce politically correct brainwashing on the masses, the Right is doing a great job of the same. Government control knows no ideology. Government doesn\’e2\’80\’99t care whether you\’e2\’80\’99re a Republican or a Democrat. The Government wants to run your life. That is what governments do. It is what they are made to do. And they\’e2\’80\’99re trying to do it here.

This is merely the beginning. Video games today, movies and television shows tomorrow. The government wants to control what your children are exposed to since you people obviously can\’e2\’80\’99t do it yourselves. And even if you do monitor what your children see, you\’e2\’80\’99re obviously not doing a good job.

Because of this, I get to suffer. All of my entertainment will be watered down for the benefit of your children. I no longer get to be an adult. I, being 21, have waited my whole life to do the things adults get to do. I can watch dirty movies, I can drink, I can smoke, and I can play video games chock full of blood, gore, and ass-rapings.

I\’e2\’80\’99m an adult. I play video games, too. This may be shocking, but rumor has it that there are a lot of adults who play video games. Yet, because some parents can\’e2\’80\’99t, you know, parent, we all get to suffer.

If you have kids, here\’e2\’80\’99s some general, unsolicited advice from your good friend, Eldin.

1. Monitor what your child is doing. Watch the movies they watch, play the video games they play, listen to the music they listen to, and read the books they read. If you\’e2\’80\’99re letting your 10 year old listen to Eminem, put the kid up for adoption.

2. If you absolutely have to own guns, either teach your children some respect for them, or hide them. Well. Preferably, try to do both.

3. Pay attention to your kids. I know, I know, paying attention is hard. However, if you don\’e2\’80\’99t have the time to pay attention to everything your kids do, don\’e2\’80\’99t have them. If your kid is depressed, please try to notice these things. Every time these school shootings happen, we learn about how the parents paid zero attention to their children.

4. Realize that when you have children, your life is over. Everything you do from the moment of their birth is all about them. That guy who played EQ over taking care of his kid? A perfect example of how not to be. Sure, you can sneak in some time for yourself here and there, but don\’e2\’80\’99t count on having much free time.

There they are; four simple rules. There\’e2\’80\’99s no need to target video games as a source of violence. Video games are video games. Lack of parental concern is what causes violence. Lack of parental responsibility. Lack of parental control over their kids.

The government doesn\’e2\’80\’99t trust parents these days. And it is the parents\’e2\’80\’99 fault. Let\’e2\’80\’99s see what we can do about this, ok?

And leave my God damned video games alone. I waited 21 years. I\’e2\’80\’99ve earned this.


Today, announced reductions in our bio-drone workforce which will put our executive team on a quicker path to profitability by allowing us to reabsorb stock options, go ipo, and of of course, save on bio-drone maintenance (salary and health-care benefits). I want to make sure that everyone understands that this action must be made to ensure a black bottom line for a chosen few at EA world headquarters.

We’ve made changes in three of our online business locations to align and consolidate our money, provide more money to our successful executives and to transition our extravagent expense at into more money for us.

The reasons behind these decisions are:

We want more money.

We want fewer dissenting opinions from our bio-drones.

We want fewer bio-drones.

The acquisition of put us two years ahead of schedule on closing our few flagship studios. The money we blew on acquiring resources that we were already constructing ourselves must come from somewhere; the headcount reductions announced today reflect an attempted concealment of our poor management ability and business sense.

We’ve also decided to squeeze as much money as possible from our bio-drone cashcow, Ultima Online. After pioneering the Persistent State World genre in 1997, UO continues to amaze us by generating greater and greater numbers of loyal subscribers who will put up with a seeminglingly endless amount of neglect and abuse. Hopefully, we at EA headquarters will be able to make a significant amount of money off these poor fools before we run EA Austin completely into the ground.

The reduction in workforce will impact fewer than 200 people, the largest portion of which is associated with products that are near completion that would have been fun games, but have cost us too much money already and do not reflect our interest in cash up front, fun when we get around to it. Making tough decisions about staff reductions and profitability isn’t easy – but making our online business profitable is the quickest way to demonstrate that EA intends to make money at any cost. In the next few weeks, I’ll send more news about our progress in weeding the human element out of our workforce completely, and plans for the growth of my portfolio.