July 2001


Well, great, whose bitch am I going to be now? Shortly after finally spitting out Anachronox, Eidos/Ion Storm spit out marquee-name designers Tom Hall and John “Hubris? Never heard of it” Romero. I guess the prospect of Daikatana 2 never really caught on\’e2\’80\’a6

Opposition to the addition of mongbats to the Tatooine ecosystem was pretty much universal: Joystick101\’e2\’80\’99s Ksquire lauded Raph Koster and company for the heretofore unheard-of design eureka of listening to the fans while building Star Wars Galaxies. It sounds crazy, we know, but it just might work.

Oh, that\’e2\’80\’99ll be helpful: Perhaps succumbing to one of Koster\’e2\’80\’99s Jedi mind tricks, John \’e2\’80\’9cKiller\’e2\’80\’9d McQueen, the president of Cornered Rat Studios, actually asked the official discussion boards what they thought he and the rest of the brain trust behind WW2O should be doing now to fix their troubled game. \’e2\’80\’9cI’d pretty much stay the course. I mean, let’s face it, the majority of your clients are idiots,\’e2\’80\’9d quipped one of the more intelligent responders.

Coming this week, Dinant cliff-diving: Other bored WW2O fans, filling the void until the Big Patch makes their lives worth living again, have started organizing Cannonball Run style road rallies. It\’e2\’80\’99s kinda like the Grand Prix, but with two-ton trucks. And strafing.

Scopes trial of gaming grinds on: Pre-trial motions continued in the Columbine families vs. the violent game makers in a Denver court room. The interesting news is that SquareSoft is no longer under the gun: either the prosecution theory that Klebold and Harris were trying to reenact the plot of all nine Final Fantasies wasn\’e2\’80\’99t holding up to scrutiny, or opening day revenues really help settle lawsuits, even after Baldwin took his cut\’e2\’80\’a6

That should solve the court\’e2\’80\’99s expert witness problem, anyway: Brad Bushman and Craig Anderson of Iowa State released their awaited meta-analysis of the game-violence connection this week, not surprisingly finding a link. (Anderson is famous for coining the phrase, much used by Republican senators these days, that the link of games to violence is stronger than smoking to cancer: makes one wonder why another study was needed, then.) Anderson was quick to note that he didn\’e2\’80\’99t get any funding for his research, no doubt a polite dig at his nemesis, the MPAA-funded \’e2\’80\’9cthere is no link\’e2\’80\’9d Jon Freedman, who equally politely stopped short of saying what he really thought of Anderson\’e2\’80\’99s “research.”

Our own worst enemies? Also last week, a Half-Life \’e2\’80\’9cColumbine\’e2\’80\’9d mod curiously dropped right off the radar screen. You know, teachers of America, all that effort you spend in keeping sixth-graders from bringing nail clippers to school could really be better spent tracking down the no-doubt adolescent geniuses behind that creation, and slapping some sense into them before they ruin things for the rest of us.

Well at least this hiatus is allowing them to clean up the Nazi problem: Letters went out this week to WW2O players whose in-game names break the terms of service. The rule is you can\’e2\’80\’99t change your name once it\’e2\’80\’99s chosen, but players who picked an offensive one (\’e2\’80\’9cKraut2go\’e2\’80\’9d and \’e2\’80\’9cNazisbob\’e2\’80\’9d are among those on the list) are being given a one-time only chance to change their name, or get booted. Predictably, Old Man Murray (the aforementioned \’e2\’80\’9cNazisbob\’e2\’80\’9d) has reacted with outrage. (Can Chet and Erik react with anything else?)

Wow, that metaphor fails on so many levels: HardNews mars an otherwise serviceable 3/10 truth job on Anarchy Online, with \’e2\’80\’9cThis game sucks up more memory than a wet-dry vac after a bukakke shoot.\’e2\’80\’9d


NOT DENSE. NOT DAILY. GET USED TO IT. [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Funcom to Industry: “If we release the game early, does that mean we can charge early, too?”

Pushing the envelope of tolerable software beyond the pale, Funcom’s Anarchy Online has been reported to actually have been online now. A hiker carrying a camera had been tracking this elusive abberation of nature and was able to snap this image that clearly depicts some…thing logged on and enjoying AO.

Reported first by the prophet Jeremiah, and recently repeated in the AO forums, it would appear that Funcom has begun charging accounts for access to the AO servers, despite the fact that the first free month has yet to expire, and that billing should not have been initiated yet. Either that, or this guy just doesn’t know how to read a credit card statement.

In other news, Funcom has stopped emailing us the Code Red Worm Virus.

Update: DUH

Upon further review, the batter is out.
Usually when your bank statement shows to identical charges with identical reference numbers, it means they double-impacted you for the single sale, and if you went online half-cocked and let your brain explode about it, well you might wind up having to do this. I don’t know if Funcom emailed me about this situation, as I am still deleting all their emails unread until I find out whether or not “Odin” has any kind of virus protection software on it.

Props to Thunderlips for finding this information and posting a link in the discussion thread.

World War 2 Online patches. No wait it doesn’t. Wait, yes it does get a patch. No wait, it doesn’t.

The latest word is that World War 2 Online has not changed from the day it was unleashed upon an unsuspecting retail populous. According to the official website, Cornered Rat has a “weekends are for playing only” policy. At first I thought they were talking about the players, but given the on again/off again status of “The Big Patch”, a few are beginning to wonder if that policy refers to Cornered Rat Programmers.

At press time, Cornered Rat has yet to email us a virus. It might just be that the server infrastructure is running slowly there. Ask me again next week.

UO Housing: busted.

Nobody is going to lose a house in Ultima Online this week. That’s because the house decay system has been shut down and houses are being auto-refreshed by the servers, reportedly because “permanent housing” was collapsing around the shards. The only scenario I could dream up in which this could happen is if the faction strongholds relied upon faction members to enter them in order for them to be refreshed, and the absolute and utter failure of the faction war system might have resulted in NOBODY ENTERING A STRONGHOLD for over two weeks. I can see that happening. Many house owners are frantically reporting that while the house informs them that they are “like new” (for non-UO players, that means “fresh squeezed”) but has been marked for demolition (for non-UO players, that means “you are 6 hours from being homeless, you procrastinating idiot”). Normally, you wouldn’t see both of these messages at the same time. OSI has reported on uo.com that they are aware of this problem and are working to correct it. No houses will fall, to the delight of Ebay users everywhere.

say where did everybody go?

When Destination Games starting tossing around the idea of ‘Tabula Rasa’, most people assumed they didn’t mean their own website. Give it about 14 hours before fatbabies.com invents a mass layoff story.

Update: Domain Campers Foil Destination Games, Website Updater.

A Blue Fairy within the torch ensconced halls of Destination Games was quick to point out this morning that the website linked above is not the actual corporate domain, which can be found here. So who was it that camped and stole destinationgames.com?
DiamondDogIndustries 5745 Bat Cv BritSos, TX 78701 United States of America

“BritSos” Texas, huh? I don’t see that on any map.


Remember Doctor Twisters big “We post bugs to get them fixed. We are the good guys.” manifesto? Maybe he should make it required reading for his DTN staff…

“I am very interested in other bugs and have a few myself.. If you would like to trade email 1 for 1 to plughzz@aol.com.” – Pretzel, DTN Staff

If you happen to have some cool AO bugs and you want to trade them one on one with a member of the Doctor Twister staff, email him at the address posted above, or contact him in this DTN thread. Because, you have to understand; they aren’t trading bugs in email 1 for 1 to exploit, but so that we can protect ourselves and so they get patched faster.

In the meantime, if anybody at DTN wants to exchange rules of grammar 1 for 1, contact me at arcadian@lumthemad.net

Just dont send me any viruses

(See story below)


The Twistard AO site has just been updated with a “Weakest Link” farewell to Pretzel, now officially the former member of the DTN staff. Given that the thread existed for almost 48 hours on DTN before any action was taken, and then within hours of it being posted here, the thread is gone and Mr. Pretzel is looking for a job as an updater. Give credit to your stories, Twistard, and tell your admins to spend more time on your site than they do here, so I dont have to handle your administrative duties.


The above update to the update was tongue-in-cheek. Stop emailing me.


Right now it\’e2\’80\’99s a little crazy with the tank-fest going on and we\’e2\’80\’99re exploring things that will help with game balance a bit…. We continue to hammer away on the optimizations and we\’e2\’80\’99ll have some good ones coming out soon. As we get them in and tested we\’e2\’80\’99ll be releasing them. Sorry they are taking some time, but we need to make sure that we tackle the issues surrounding them before we release. –Michael “Gryf” Weber, WW2O game manager, June 24

You’re leaving now

It’s in your eyes

There’s no disguising it

It really comes as no surprise

To find that you planned it all along

We are currently working hard on version 1.20 and it will have some new features that ya\’e2\’80\’99ll should enjoy. We do not have a solid date on release, but do not expect it this week. Soonest would be NEXT WEEK and we\’e2\’80\’99ll tell you more at that time. Most of the features for 1.20 have been announced already so I\’e2\’80\’99ll just leave it at that. We may have added a thing or two we haven\’e2\’80\’99t announced but I\’e2\’80\’99ll just leave that as a surprise for ya\’e2\’80\’99ll. — Gryf, July 4

The 1.20 update is coming around very well. It\’e2\’80\’99s been slow going but we have now got all the features and fixes in, and are currently in a CODE FREEZE. Internal testing is going well, and we\’e2\’80\’99ll be shipping this out to the closed beta team to hammer on over the weekend. We\’e2\’80\’99re aiming for a release EARLY THIS COMING WEEK — Chris “Mo” Sherland, WW2O producer, July 11

I see it now

It becomes so clear

Your insincerity

And me all starry-eyed

You think that I would have known by now…

1.20 testing went very well over the weekend. There were a couple of issues brought to light that we are addressing today. Some small art changes, and some code work still need to be done, then a quick test or two and we should be good to go… Some final testing still to be done, then we\’e2\’80\’99ll wrap it up, double check the data patcher, test the installer, and let her fly. NO DEFINITE DAY/TIME, but we are close here! — Mo, July 16

Fixed the Autogun bug, and the grenade bug as well. Tomorrow we will re-compile the client with any last minute fixes and bundle it up, then spank this server around a bit and make it jump through a hoop or two. If that all looks sweet\’e2\’80\’a6well\’e2\’80\’a6who knows? (grin) — Mo, July 17

Now, sure as the sun will cross the sky

The lie is over

Lost, like the tears that used to tide me over

Anyway\’e2\’80\’a6the data is done, we knocked out all the bugs that the beta crew found, and some that surfaced in-house as well. Corn [Neil “Corn” Huntley] is building the installer now, and after we test the following last items, we\’e2\’80\’99ll give it back to the beta team for a few hours just to be sure, and then we\’e2\’80\’99ll be ready to roll it out to you guys. TONIGHT? TOMORROW? I CAN’T SAY FOR SURE, but we don\’e2\’80\’99t release on Fridays, and there\’e2\’80\’99ll be a mob at the door by Saturday, so our choices are limited. — Mo, July 18

Ok, it\’e2\’80\’99s all packed up and we are sending it to the testers for the evening. If they don\’e2\’80\’99t burst into flames, we look good for getting it onto the version servers and getting 120 out to \’e2\’80\’9cy\’e2\’80\’99all\’e2\’80\’9d… Ok, look for the next update to be from Gryf in the AM, or near then. He will get the release out as I\’e2\’80\’99ll be on my way to VT for A LONG WEEKEND WITH THE IN-LAWS –Mo again, same day

One thing is sure

That time will tell

If you were wrong

The brightest ring around the moon

Will darken when I die…

Here\’e2\’80\’99s the word on 1.2.0: WE ARE NOT GOING TO RELEASE IT TODAY. Since I know we\’e2\’80\’99re going to catch some flames for this, I\’e2\’80\’99ll explain the situation a little so you can understand our position… We\’e2\’80\’99ve finalized the features and the data for the patch. We will not be adding anything new to this build while we track down this connection bug because that would negate the testing process. What we are doing is everything possible to fix connection problems that may be cropping up due to increased traffic between host and client. This is the root cause for most all of the host connection problems and we have SOME SOLID EVIDENCE where it lies. — Gryf, this afternoon

As you know we have a weekend is \’e2\’80\’9cplay only\’e2\’80\’9d policy and we do not want to interrupt that for the patch. Especially considering how involved the 1.20 patch is. So in light of that, WE WILL NOT RELEASE THE 1.20 PATCH [until July 23 at the earliest]. –Gryf, earlier this evening

You’re on your own inside your room

You’re claiming victory

You were just using me

And there is no one you can use now…


> # of players cheering for the Alt-Tab Hackers: ~350,000

Minus one. Don’t fucking cheat when you play a game with me.

Don’t fucking make it trivial that I work my ass off to get the equipment I have because you can dupe money, or kill things at fifty times the rate I can.

Don’t fucking play with a hacked Taunt feature so that, even though I spent a month on the auction, I can’t possibly out-taunt you.

Don’t fucking make it so that the actual effort I put into the game is overshadowed by the fact that you can run some goddamn application your 31337 haxor friend told you about while you were going out to recess.

Don’t fucking do it. I’ll cheer for every goddamn banning of you scumsucking assholes there is. And if I can’t read my e-mail while I play EverQuest or DAoC because not reading e-mail is going to cut down on the number of you fucks, then take out the e-mail, by all means.

And then, in a PvP game, multiply all this by a hundred. Because then, not only am I being fucked over because you trivialize my effort, I’m being fucked over directly as you PK my ass with your l33+ hacks.

I can run a Google search as well as you can, you shitheads. But I’m a lot more interested in playing EverQuest, and probably in DAoC, because they require skill. Don’t fucking try to take that away from me. You have all the single-player games in the world to hack and enter cheat codes into.


Nicely put, Snow. Hope you don’t mind the repost.


I would have used the Star Wars icon but it seemed so inappropriate. Raph Koster, lead designer for Star Wars Galaxies, talks to Computer Games Magazine Online about game design in general and what went wrong and right with UO. Mad props to Sky for posting about the interview in Samizdata because I’m way to busy to go visiting websites like I used to. I actually found the interview pretty interesting so go check it out. Plus they grief-linked us! And Raph pushes his music! Woo woo! I’ll bet most of you forgot he was a musician too.



1) Last night was a landmark of sorts, as the Big Giant Belgium saw 2,000 simultaneous players for the first time. Back when the game was launched, the servers didn\’e2\’80\’99t work, so the virtual realm had to be split into several 1,000 player shards. The goal of uniting them all into one playing space continues, and 2,000 was a big barrier. While there\’e2\’80\’99s still talk of (sensibly) offering two shards in the end, one with Quakified playing rules, and one with the \’e2\’80\’9cReal War\’e2\’80\’9d to keep everybody happy, progress is progress.

2) The much-feared speedhacking threat has yet to materialize. Standard Gear software doesn\’e2\’80\’99t seem to do much for WW2O, and there\’e2\’80\’99s not enough here yet for the serious client-hackers to be too interested. This writer has yet to see a speedhacked player\’e2\’80\’a6 other reports, while occasional, are still so anecdotal it\’e2\’80\’99s even possible it was all lag-effects from the start.

3) The designers remain stunningly uncompromising about Their Vision (the one part of the game that was ever complete), refusing to dumb down anything for anyone. They\’e2\’80\’99re insane of course, but you\’e2\’80\’99ve got to love the thinking of people like Chris \’e2\’80\’9cMo\’e2\’80\’9d Sherland of Cornered Rat Studios, who said in one famous discussion board post:

There are some details that we are going to keep quiet. And that will remain until we feel differently. Call it adhoc if it makes you feel better about how we do things, frankly I don’t care. I am bound to my contract and the interpretation of it, and I am bound in that way to CRS, NOT THIS COMMUNITY.

You get the feeling from these guys that if they are left with a game that they only play with each other on a basement LAN, they\’e2\’80\’99ll call it a moral victory. Also, there is still no firm sign of the clock starting on everyone\’e2\’80\’99s free month of playtime, which is more than can be said for the competition.


1) The One Big Patch (v1.2) is, it appears now, only going to contain 40-50 per cent of the content that was promised in the game manuals, but left out of the initial rushed release. Grenades are in, machine guns are out; the Hawker Hurricane is in, the level bombers are out, and so on. There\’e2\’80\’99s miles to go before these guys sleep, I\’e2\’80\’99m afraid. Bringing the game up to its own advertised specs before Labor Day is seeming increasingly unlikely, never mind big fancy additions like another theatre or naval warfare or anything. It\’e2\’80\’99s somewhat ironic that the entire battle of France only lasted a month, but the diehards may be forced to play it over and over again for several times that.

2) The tone of even those diehard fans on the official discussion boards has gone from a Homer-Simpson-chasing-the-roast-pig-like \’e2\’80\’9cIt\’e2\’80\’99s still good, it\’e2\’80\’99s still good,\’e2\’80\’9d to a more Yoda-like \’e2\’80\’9cDo or do not, there is no try.\’e2\’80\’9d There\’e2\’80\’99s been too many letdowns, too many broken promises. At this point an eventual paying subscriber base of 10,000 would seem a realistic projection\’e2\’80\’a6


The exploit of the month for July has been the Alt-Tab button, which, besides switching you to another program, also renders you invisible in game. While the ensuing battles between Frodo Mk VI tanks have been amusing for the participants, it\’e2\’80\’99s enough of a disruption the designers are determined to nerf it as part of the Big Patch, even if that means an Everquest-like disabling of Alt-Tab functionality. This, in turn, has royally pissed off the users of voice communication software, who will need to find workarounds for channel-switching and stuff, not to mention those who adjust their video card gamma when night falls. (Curiously in representing night, the designers only darkened the screen instead of reducing the clipping plane, allowing gamma crankers a remarkable degree of night vision.) The interesting debate on the official boards this last week has been centered on how far a game can legitimately go in subverting the use of your PC to its needs. (Kinda like here, in fact -ed.)

Well, that\’e2\’80\’99s what you\’e2\’80\’99ve missed. Hopefully in a week or so we\’e2\’80\’99ll be able to give you an update on World War v1.2, and whether there\’e2\’80\’99s hope for this franchise yet.