June 2001

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS HARD! LET’S JUST BAN PEOPLE! [Author: Lum the Mad]

As the population of Norrath increases, so too do issues regarding stolen or compromised accounts, and/or accounts that have been transferred from one player to another in violation of the User Agreement. These issues – and the time it takes to investigate and attempt to resolve them – hugely detract from the time that SOE’s customer service staff have to devote to providing quality customer service to issues that impact upon the gameplay experience. Accordingly, SOE must remind all players that:

(1) Account security — whether it be password protection, running virus checks, disabling file sharing, or any other element of making sure accounts are not stolen or compromised — is the sole responsibility of the account owner.

(2)Any and all stolen and/or compromised accounts that are reported to SOE will be banned, and no items will be reimbursed. Any player found to be involved in an account theft will have any and all of his/her accounts banned.

– The EverQuest Customer Service Team

A few people read point 2, shook their heads, and said “waitaminnit – did Verant just say they would ban people who reported their account stolen?” They then went on, assuming that Verant couldn’t be that mule-headed. I can say this, because that was pretty much my reaction.

I was wrong. That’s exactly what they mean. The following statements were posted to the EQ guide’s board when they also had that “waitaminnit” moment. Here’s how it was explained to them.

First, from GM Nangwaya: What we mean by compromised is, “A third party, unbeknownst to the owner, accessed the account and maliciously did such things as deleted characters, removed items from the characters, had the characters killed, or other various things such as turning someone PVP+”. These are all things that of course the player would definitely not want to happen to their account.

When a player comes to us or you and states that they think their account was hacked, compromised, etc, our first step is to refer them to the www.everquest.com where they can read the policy on Compromised accounts. If the player still wishes for Customer Service to get involved, that is when we will investigate the situation and, if need be, take action based upon the circumstances and the Compromised Account Policy.

Everyone went “huuuuuh?” in unison. Finally a senior guide spelled out what the Compromised Account Policy was.

Yes, if it is compromised in any way, it will be banned. SOE is not longer taking action on accounts that players say are ‘hacked’ either. It is their home security, and their system set-ups, thus, it is their reponsibility to keep it safe. Not ours. Any and all accounts that are found to be compromised, will be banned.

Here’s Verant’s version of customer service: If you have a problem, don’t tell us about it. If you do, we’ll quote legalese jargon at you in an attempt to scare you away. If that doesn’t work and you haven’t gotten the message that we don’t care, let us know so we can ban you.

Verant’s customer service is already the joke of the industry. And when you think it can’t get any worse – they prove you wrong.

Again and again and again.

Pity. It’s actually a good game, if you can survive the murderous “GM events” where bored customer service reps kill their clients for fun and manage not to attract the attention of the secret police for having too much money or clearing an encounter too quickly.

If you enjoy EQ, like we do, our advice is to just avoid the customer “service” regime. Like any police state, keep your head down, don’t make yourself a target, and everything should be OK. And for the love of god don’t do something foolish like /petition or otherwise ask to be helped. You’ll make them work. And that has been shown to make them angry. And you won’t like them when they’re angry.

XRG DIES. [Author: Lietgardis]

The Crossroads Gaming Network, down since sometime yesterday, apparently isn’t getting back up any time soon. Former Crossroads of Dereth site manager Allen Grey posted the following on an ad hoc board run by veterans of CoD Discussions:

From: Brent

Date: June 08, 2001 at 2:08 pm

Subject: looks like crossroads is dead folks

word is the colocation service provider has terminated service for lack of payment.

I’m waiting for CoD, the only site in the network to enjoy any popularity since the murder of CoB by boards.uo.com, to follow Crossroads of Shadowbane’s lead. Otherwise the entire AC community will end up at AC Vault, and I don’t want to see the good CoD posters corrupted into using alternating caps in their text sigs.

(The board link to Allen’s announcement was removed by request as the owners are already perilously close to maxing out this month’s allotment of bandwidth. Welcome to The New Era.)

TRUCE DECLARED IN WORLD WAR 2: PROBLEMS WITH RESOLVING CONFLICT BLAMED ON ROUTERS IN BELGIUM [Author: Lum the Mad]

Many observers have said that Playnet/CRS would need to do something dramatic to make up for the shoddy state of World War 2 Online’s release; today they announced a move in that direction.

Playnet.com, Cornered Rat Software and Strategy First announced today that they will be \’e2\’80\’9cstopping the clocks\’e2\’80\’9d on the free 30 day trial period they are giving players that have purchased a retail copy of World War II Online.

\’e2\’80\’9cWe\’e2\’80\’99re working to catch up with the overwhelming response to the game\’e2\’80\’99s release and having to scale our infrastructure to address it. Until we are able solve some of these challenges, we want people to be able to experience the game without losing days from their free trial period,\’e2\’80\’9d says Al Corey, Marketing Manager for Playnet.com.

You probably already knew this if you were one of “the chosen few”. A spy behind PlayNet lines reports:

First off I want to say that you make some good points about the game in its current state. One thing you didn’t mention is how the developers are also playing “favorites” right now. The “Closed beta” testers, who are also the ones who run around kissing ass and yelling at everyone to return the game if they don’t like the wait etc. etc. get access to special info and have their own little secret updates page, which shows, among other things, up to the minute stats on the servers and # of people online.

This really fucking disgusts me, that on top of everything else, the company has a chosen few asskissers that it keeps in its confidence, while the rest of us paying customers are left out in the goddamn cold. These “closed beta” testers walk around high and mighty, and anyone who bitches about the state of the game, they instantly gangbang saying how they are whining idiots, why by god, what gives you the right to expect to PLAY the game you bought? Why, you should count yourself lucky there was a fucking CD in the box, according to their logic.

The war rages on. Oh, and sometimes in the game, too.

AFTER ACTION REPORT [Author: Lum the Mad]

The following was originally a message board post which I decided belonged on the front page. Call it editorial hubris.

OK, I am going to weigh in here. (Pause for requisite size jokes from WW2OL fanbois – god my mail has been fun the past 2 days)

You may remember a little discussion we had a week ago or so about journalism, ethics and this site. As I read it, the conclusions reached were that while we should still rant, rave and talk like drunken sailors, we also have a wooly-defined responsibility to remain one of the more bluntly honest outposts of opinion in gaming (deep breath) journalism.

That being said. I feel if we did NOT warn people off of buying WW2OL, and informing them EXACTLY what they are in for, we would be remiss in our “jobs” as industry watchdogs. What do we need to communicate? In my view, these following opinions.

(1) WW2OL is currently, for the great majority of people, unplayable.

(2) WW2OL’s developers are negligent in allowing WW2OL’s release in this state

(3) WW2OL’s publishers are negligent in only being prepared for 600 simultaneous users on one server when a simple call to EBWorld would have given them a good idea of how many pre-orders they had (and don’t kid yourself – they knew)

(4) Until that negligence is rectified, you purchase WW2OL at your own risk, and not incidentally reward negligent behavior

(5) WW2OL may well be a good game once repaired – our writers/readers do not agree on that point and in any case it most certainly is not for everyone.

I feel that Bruce Rolston’s review covered all of these points adequately. I also feel that if we had delayed an indepth review of WW20L’s features and problems we would have been negligent ourselves.

Despite what the hardcore fans of WW2OL would have you believe – and we’ve been informed that many of the beta testers of WW2OL knew the game was hideously flawed, and in advance of the game’s release planned on exactly the publicity blitz you are witnessing on our forum and others, specifically to save Cornered Rat’s reputation – for literally 99% of the people who purchased WW2OL, there is no game there. After literally redownloading the entire game (calling it a “patch” is a joke), and logging in at 6 AM, the only time that the servers were under the 500 person limit, I found that

the mission structure of the game was broken. The entire point of the game itself was broken. You had to use a bug involving mission creation just to get into the game.

Nothing excuses this. NOTHING. I don’t care how true-to-life the combat experiences are in this game when it works. IT. DOES. NOT. WORK. Releasing the game in this condition is FRAUDULENT.

Mr. Rolston has indicated that he is sticking with the game despite its problems and if in 2 or 3 months it’s moved past its problems and has managed to come close to fulfilling its promise of a dynamic virtual battlefield, he – and we – will update accordingly. Nothing would please us better than to see the MMO market grow, and more importantly for the market to reward innovation in design.

Right now, however, WW2OL does not display innovation, but fraud. And the market should not reward fraud – and neither should you.

WORLD WAR 2 CONTINUES INTO SECOND DAY, SOME COMBATANTS ACTUALLY FIND ONE ANOTHER [Author: Lum the Mad]

World War 2 Online continued onward, with publishers Strategy First and developers Cornered Rat Software busily spinning the game press on how being totally unprepared for your game’s launch is actually quite normal.

Rodney Hodge of Playnet added that the team didn’t expect such a large influx of registrations. According to Hodge, the company received approximately 20,000 registrations during the first six hours after the game launched. In order to handle the load, the team redirected all other Playnet.com Web resources to the registration task. Hodge also noted that he expects most pressing issues to be resolved by this evening or tomorrow morning.

Responding to questions about the game’s beta test, he stated, “We tested everything to the best of our ability, but some things just don’t rear their ugly heads until you actually do it for real.”

About the patch, Hodge said that Cornered Rat has been working hard since the game shipped in order to optimize the game and add more vehicles and features for players, and that patching in online games is a common occurrence.

Especially redownloading the entire game the first day. Quite normal. Happens all the time. Yup.

Voodoo Extreme actually asked someone at Cornered Rat about our little performance art with WW2 Offline last night.

Hodge also commented on an IRC log that the Lum The Mad web site posted up which showed “Lum” having problems playing the game offline. “He didn’t bother to read the .readme files or the manual,” Hodge said of Lum’s experiences, “I don’t know about you but I have never played a game like that.”

For the record, not only did I read the manual (which wasn’t a difficult chore, since only 4 pages or so actually detailed how to drive vehicles) but the chat log actually shows me reading from the manual while trying to launch my STUKA TAXI. Then again, given the stellar QA testing WW2OL betrays, CRS’ unfamiliarity with attention to detail is understandable.

We’ll have a full review of WW2OL up in a few minutes (and no, not by me, so you partisans can put down your pitchforks and torches). Until then, we’ve been getting word that the game is actually fun on the rare occasions that it works.