July 2001

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! [Author: niobe]

Ever get tired of those annoying players spouting off about items for sale and stealing all your polygon resources? How dare other people invade your massive multiplayer experience! Today Funcom announced a solution to your problems in their Daily Update

“There has been done a lot of bugfixes in this version and it should also contain one thing some of you asked about on the bulletin boards; to be able to toggle players on/off to reduce numbers of polygons on the screen. We will keep you updated with more information on this patch as soon as it is ready.”

UPDATE:Funcom’s latest Daily Update in response to the discussions over yesterday’s news:

“….We will as soon as we get the memory leaks under control have this situation under control as well.

What we will do is make a slider bar, where you can define your own viewdistance and only your own, and within that viewdistance you will not be able to see other players. This is mainly a function that can be handy to have in the larger citites where we know a lot of players have problems. We hope that this will give people some aid for now, when they are in areas that hold a lot of other players.”

Golf clap to Mizery for pointing out that latest in single player gaming.


Duck and Cover aka RPGPlanet has reported that Black Isle Studios, makers of the praised Fallout series of games and credited with the rediscovery of the CRPG industry, has CANCELLED all production on the project “Torn”, an RPG title borrowing technology from the Fallout series, and talent from the Planescape team. Citing professional differences, several key members of the Torn team were released, including our own red name favorite, Chris Taylor. Hopefully, he lands on his feet quickly. I personally will buy any game with his name on it. It is a seal of quality, to be sure.

Thanks to pinkypinky for the info.


Taken from Red Herring:

Electronic Arts wins Tolkien movie rights

By Dean Takahashi

Red Herring

July 25, 2001

Gearing up for competition over one of the most valuable entertainment licenses available today, Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) (EA) is expected to announce Wednesday that it has acquired the rights to make games based on New Line Cinema’s upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.

New Line Cinema reignited the craze for the works of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien with its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, set for December release. The film is the first of three that will be released each year through 2003, with a cumulative budget of $270 million. Sources close to the matter say that EA will announce only that it has secured rights, but will say later what kind of game it will make and when it will release it.

The deal is a coup for Redwood City, California-based EA because it’s a backdoor way for the game publisher to tap into one of the most valuable game properties of all time. More than 100 million fans have read Tolkien’s novels since they were published in the 1930s. The novels inspired the Dungeons & Dragons style of role-playing games that today account for 20 percent of all game sales. The movies have been hyped for months, thanks to New Line’s strategy of marketing the film on fan Web sites. Millions of people have downloaded trailers for the first movie even though it’s months away from release.


Previously, the Tolkien estate (also known as the Saul Zaentz Company, based in Berkeley, California) had licensed Vivendi Universal’s (NYSE: V) Sierra Studios unit to make Tolkien-related computer games. But when Sierra’s prior owners canceled one game and delayed another, the parties became locked in a lawsuit. They settled the suit earlier this year, but the delays cost them dearly in game production time. As a result, Sierra won’t have a game ready until January 2002 at the earliest.

Under copyright law, New Line created a new work of art with the Lord of the Rings films because it modified the story in its scripts and created new artistic assets for the movie. Hence, New Line has the right, separate from the book rights held by the Saul Zaentz Company, to license the stories it created for the movies to EA.

As a result, EA and Sierra will produce rival games under the Lord of the Rings name, much as publishers like Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI) and Interplay (Nasdaq: IPLY) dueled with opposing Star Trek games.


Sierra officials showed off the first game, being developed by Seattle-based developer The Whole Experience, at the recent E3 trade show in Los Angeles. It will be a role-playing game in which players act as Frodo, the main character in the Tolkien novels. Those who viewed it noted the challenges of making games based on the Tolkien novels, since fans are sure to quibble with the style of art and how closely the game follows the plot of the novels without becoming too boring.

Sierra officials say the game, being developed for Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) upcoming Xbox console, is only the first and that Sierra has the rights to make games based on the novels for eight years.

Besides EA, New Line has also licensed Finland-based Riot Entertainment to make Lord of the Rings games for cellular phones. Riot expects to launch its games in September. The startup maker of portable device games will also create a wireless “Middle Earth” community.


The Press Release is short and to the point – and disspointingly without secret code words hidden between the lines of text. Previous emails from the Majestic team included secret telephone numbers, AOL Keywords, and names of imfamous assassins and their victims. The gist of Majestic is that it will send you out on wild internet searches using various words or topics that may or may not be important; and during those searches, you will never know if the website you found or the phone number you just called is an actual business, or a facade propped up by the Majestic team. What could be more fun than playing an MMOG and getting your name added to the FBI’s “Online Troublemakers” database at the same time?

If you participated in the beta test, you can play the first episode online now, which is free to all players. The Majestic model uses a serialized method of offering monthly content in exchange for monthly access fees via the EA Platinum Service.

I’ll have a non-spoiling review of Majestic: Episode One later this week – unless the secret Yeti Cabal running the shadow government in Alaska kidnaps me and hands me over to the alien visitors as an experiment subject in order to appease them and prevent an all out attack on humankind.

You can almost hear someone yelling, “MULDER?!” into the foggy twilight.

THIS IS CUTE [Author: myschyf]

Ryan Palacio, game designer for Star Wars Galaxies, weighs in with Comments from the Team. You know the last time I posted about an SWG developer making comments somewhere, that particular developer didn’t have anything to say about SWG. This time is no different. Ryan does, however, have some amusing thoughts about the day-to-day life of a game designer at Verant Austin as well as some cute cartoons depicting life under the direction of Raph “Holocron” Koster.


J., of Shadowbane fame, pointed me over to lover\’e2\’80\’99s quarrel between a developer and an empire.

After reading a fairly recent review of Anarchy Online at gamesdomain.com, Jason Booth, a developer at Turbine, seemed to take issue with the following paragraph:

With such experimental technology and the genre in its infancy, should these teething problems be expected? I pointed out that Asheron’s Call seemed to launch with few hiccups. “Yes, but with AC, they also removed features to avoid the issue of bugs they hadn’t worked out,” responded tester Daniel Sato. “Did you know when the game first released, they had no secure trading model whatsoever – incredible considering how important trading was in the game’s dynamic.” Microsoft also failed to market AC with any gusto, which might have contributed to the fact that the servers didn’t initially flood with players like the other MMOGs.

Who is Daniel Sato? He would be this guy. He\’e2\’80\’99s apparently sucking on the teat that is Funcom at the moment.

Booth, rather irritated and impatient with this treatment of his baby at the hands of the unholy reviewer/developer alliance, had the following to say:

Why is it that … after being the only MMP to ship with a stable launch, the press and other developers often feel the need to insult the quality of our product to make up for their inabilities? That somehow, what they’re doing is so revolutionary that they’re excused from proper testing? That so many people simply buy into this line of thinking, and gleefully discount the extra months of work we spent making sure we didn’t have those problems? That the market does not reward, and in fact, penalizes, those that prioritize stability over features? . . . time and time again, this industry makes me sigh..

Not quite the thrashing I personally would have preferred, but it will do under the circumstances.

After all, every verbal blowjob given by game \’e2\’80\’9creview\’e2\’80\’9d sites needs criticism from time to time.


The following was posted by Sean Huxter of Turbine in the same thread that Jason Booth made his comments in:

I thought about it for a few moments, and said, “Absolutely.”

I had worked on it for some years, and I knew what we wanted it to do, and what it did when we released, and I had to say, “Absolutely.”

It was true.

It was ready.

Was it finished? Hell no. It’s still not finished. There are going to be additions to the game every month until … hopefully for a very very long time.

But was it ready to ship?

I can tell you, I was biting my nails the day we shipped. I am a natural pessimist. I fear the worst, because usually that’s what you get.

But I watched the numbers climb. I was logged into the world, running my new character around killing drudges and bunnies, and it was all going so… so damned smoothly!

I was thrilled!

We shipped when we were ready, and we shipped stable.

I have never disparaged the competition publicly to make my game look better, even when countless peole decided to look at the gaudy blocky environments in EverQuest and say it looked better than AC. (Like hell it does.)

But if crap like this continues, I may have to break my rule.

I will be writing the authors of that page today asking for a retraction of that comment by tester Daniel Sato, and asking them to forward him my comment.

Not like I expect anyone to respond.



Under terms of the agreement, VU Publishing has been granted the exclusive license to manufacture, market, and distribute Dark Age Of Camelot at retail locations throughout the United States and Canada. Mythic Entertainment will publish the online pay-for-play, massively multiplayer game for the PC CD- ROM platform.

“Leveraging Vivendi Universal Publishing’s strong distribution channels will enable us to offer Dark Age Of Camelot to a broad consumer base throughout North America,” said Mark Jacobs, President of Mythic Entertainment. “This distribution deal is a major win for Mythic Entertainment, as we continue to expand the franchise’s exposure and reach.”

“Mythic Entertainment is one of the industry’s most prolific online game publishers,” added Philip O’Neil, Senior Vice President of Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America. “Dark Age Of Camelot falls right in line with the high caliber of our interactive entertainment portfolio, and we are looking forward to delivering this title to the masses.”

Dark Age Of Camelot is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game conceived and developed by Mythic Entertainment and jointly published by Abandon Entertainment. Abandon Entertainment and Dimension/Miramax recently announced a partnership to develop and produce a new television series based on the Dark Age of Camelot franchise. Additional information and screenshots of Dark Age Of Camelot can be found on the official Dark Age of Camelot game site at www.darkageofcamelot.com.


I’ve seen a lot of Ultima Online in my day.

I’ve seen Firedog and I’ve seen Rainman.

I’ve seen Sunsword days I thought would never end.

Okay, so I’m not James Taylor. Neither is James Taylor anymore.

Quick, before I derail once again, here’s the point of this update:

Stratics gets the nod for discovering this. These fanciful creations, plus a whole lot more, can be found at the “Tower of 1000 glacial staves” on Sonoma (You have 1000 guesses how it got that name, and you can only imagine what that looks like).

Head on over to Stratics for more info.

Oh, I was unable to obtain a UO:3D image of what those decorations look like, so I called a few friends to build this lifesize model. Just pretend it has fewer polygons.

CANADIAN SHAKIN [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

News from the world of off-line games (For some of you, it is news that such games still exist), as Gamespot reports massive layoffs at SirTech’s Canadian outpost. Progress on two major projects has been stopped: Wizardry 9 and Jagged Alliance 3.

SirTech cites financial troubles as the reason for the layoffs and project cancellations, leaving most to ponder what other reasons there could be for layoffs and project cancellations.

The fire is out, but the coals still smolder: SirTech has indicated that should they be able to obtain funding within the next few weeks, both the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance sequels would resume development. For the sake of Mauritania, I hope and pray they find a way.


Computer games are good for you, says a study from the British Economic and Social Research Council:

“People who play games regularly seem to develop a mental state that we have seen before only in serious athletes or
professionals SUCH AS ASTRONAUTS, whose life depends on
concentration and co-ordination,” said Jo Bryce, who led the
research. “Their minds and bodies work together much better
than those of most other people.”

So, so far this week, we have studies that say games make you both more violent AND more intelligent. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we must regulate and restrict these new gameplaying superbeings, before they use their mutant powers to get John Romero his job back, or some other such horror.

God help us if they learn how to breed…