August 2001

SO VERY COOL [Author: myschyf]

The new patch for UO has all sorts of UO3D goodness attached. I haven’t seen it in person for myself because I am busy achieving GM status in “asking Arcadian to refresh my houses” skill. However, those nice French elven people at Jeux Online have put up the new scenario art for all to see.

WARNING!!!! SPOILER!!!! This is the new scenario stuff. If you don’t want to see the stuff before you see it in game do not click the above link.

Eeeek! A mouse! No actually I forgot the new fashions Heather has been doing over at COB (yeah COB still exists sort of — its part of Warcry now). Anyway Heather found the new UO3D clothing artwork and put together a compendium of mens and womens fashions and also fantasy weapons. Very spiffy. Check it out. Please note that most of the items are not yet in game, however the art for it does exist. I’m not exactly sure what that means but its still spiffy.

SPINNING WHEEL GOT TO GO ‘ROUND [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

First, Vivendi aimed and fired the following email to the Vivendi staffers who were not, as of last night, locked out of their offices…

—– Original Message —–

From: “****** *********”


Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 8:47 PM

Subject: Sierra/dynamix

To All Sierra in Bellevue,

As you may have heard or read by now, we closed the Dynamix facility today in order to consolidate product development and marketing functions. Management of the Tribes franchise, including the Tribes 1 and Tribes 2 Master Servers and Dynamix IRC, will move to our facilities here in Bellevue and will continue uninterrupted.

So that everyone will have an opportunity to be comfortably seated and to hear what is being said, we will be hosting two town hall meetings tomorrow morning in the 2nd floor training room. The first meeting will begin promptly at 9:00 AM and will include all departments except QA, Tech Support and SierraHome. The second town hall meeting in the same room will start at 9:30 A.M. for QA, Tech Support, and SierraHome.

Please be on time as we have a lot to cover.

Thank you.

So Tribes marches ever onward, for those of you who were concerned about that particular franchise. As you can see, no word on Middle Earth.

Next we have the email issued to folks on the Press Release mailing list. Let’s get out our red pencils and compare…

Bellevue, WA – August 14, 2001

Sierra On-Line, a studio of Vivendi Universal Publishing (VU Publishing), announced today a strategic reorganization that will improve operating efficiencies through the consolidation of non-developmental functions. Within the new

organization, Sierra will focus on product development and brand management and more closely mirror the operating structures of other VU Publishing studios Blizzard Entertainment and Universal Interactive Studios. “This reorganization creates a more efficient operating model,” said Sierra President Michael Ryder. “It also allows Sierra to focus on what we do best — creating and growing some of the most successful and enduring brands in the business.”

Key elements of the Sierra reorganization include:

Non-Developmental Functions.

A number of key functional areas within Sierra’s Bellevue, WA headquarters will be consolidated and managed as corporate functions within VU Interactive Publishing. These moves will improve efficiency and allow VU Interactive Publishing to maximize

operating synergies across studios.

Product Development.

There will be several key changes within Sierra’s internal and external studios. Dynamix, based in Eugene, OR, will be closed and the development of key franchises including Tribes will move to Sierra’s Bellevue studio. The Bellevue studio will remain central to the new organization, and will, in addition to Tribes, be responsible for the best-selling SWAT and Hoyle franchises. Concord, MA-based Papyrus, which has a strong heritage in the development of racing games, will continue as a key studio, maintaining responsibility for the NASCAR franchise. Cambridge, MA-based Impressions, will remain a key development studio, responsible for a number of pre-eminent titles including the Ancient City Building series and Lords of the Realm.

Sierra Home.

The Sierra Home division, which produces a range of

cooking, gardening, genealogy, and publishing titles, will concentrate on the development of its print business. All other product categories will be divested. VU Interactive Publishing will retain Sierra’s best-selling Print Artist franchises, which will continue as an important part of the Sierra portfolio and be managed out of the Los Angeles office.

In total, 97 positions will be eliminated with the closing of Dynamix, and another 148 will be eliminated in Sierra’s Bellevue office. Approximately 20 positions will be transferred to VU Interactive Publishing’s Los

Angeles headquarters.

“While any reorganization involving staff reductions is difficult, there is no doubt that this is the right thing to do for the business,” said Sierra President Michael Ryder. “We are now in a strong position to forge ahead with our new and established franchises.”


Sierra On-Line, Inc., a studio of Vivendi Universal Publishing and part of its Games division, is one of the original developers and largest worldwide publishers of interactive entertainment and productivity software. Sierra is renowned for releasing critically acclaimed and award winning titles that represent a wide variety of computer entertainment on both next generation console and PC platforms.

They have a way with words.

A lot of words.

So Dynamix is indeed gone, and Sierra has once again been massively reduced in size. I wonder whatever could have happened to this once great game company. I wonder where they went so very very wrong.

On a side note, if anyone is interested in learning more about the once great company called Sierra On-Line, check out this site.

And finally, no Sierra layoffs update would be complete without this funny jaunt down memory lane courtesy of the amazing talent that is Penny Arcade:


Mad props to Quarter to Three (one of my most favorite websites) where I found two awesome links.

The first, a very interesting interview with the creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov in the LA Times. I think most of us have played Tetris at one time or another so I think just about everyone will be interested in this interview.

The other, a royalty calculator at If you ever wanted to know how little you’d make in royalties as a game designer, this is the place to go.

This last little thing is not from Quarter to Three. CNN is reporting that big-name companies are creating online games to foster brand-name recognition. Apparently its not creating a lot of traffic but its a novel idea nonetheless. Worthy of a read if nothing else.



Since he felt comfortable to post this on AC Vault, I feel comfortable enough to put it here. An e-mail from Iluvatar.

Dear Sir,

I was alerted to your article this morning located at While I believe that you have every right to form your own opinions, and even that you have the right to free speech and posting those opinions on the internet, I believe your article may have crossed the bounds between free speech and slandering someone.

The time frame for releasing the bugs had nothing more to do than a marked increase in the number of people publically posing on forums that they had the information, and would disclose it for a price. I’ve never asked for anything for disclosing the information, and my sole purpose was to make sure these bugs were brought to the highest attention. I have given my word to the developers and the admins that I will not disclose anything further. The ones I did disclose seemed to be common knowledge, from most of the response I recieved in teh subway, nevertheless, it did provide me with an opportunity to disclose them all to someone who could do something about it.

As for the allegations of industrial sabotage. That goes too far… WAY too far. We are currently trying to license the rights to use TURBINE’S world engine. That’s right, we’re gonna pay them to use their code base, which means we’ll have these same bugs to work through. You have taken comments of mine out of place and twisted them to put me in light as some dark nefarious character. Why don’t you talk to my monarch or people who play with me on a day to day basis, and see whether I am really this nefarious evil character, or whether just maybe I had good intentions for doing as I did. In either case, your suggestions of this being industrial sabotage are baseless, and border on slander. I would reccomend taking them down to avoid possible legal implications towards you and your site. I’m not trying to make a threat, because you have your rights to post as you see fit; however, please try to keep it outside of slandering me. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even consider when the patch was in making my decision to do something about it. I got tired of seeing honest people being exploited time and again by a few of the scumbags, so I did what I saw fit to do.

For what it’s worth, I would like to apologize to any people who have been hurt by this, and give major props to the admins for being quickly responsive and understanding what I was trying to do. They have not banned me, and they could have if they wanted. I have nothing but respect for the devs and for the admins who have made the best of the first generation MMO’s. Yeah, in a few years, I may be competing with them, but it won’t be AC 1, and my hope is that it’s a friendly competition, with them playing our game, and vice versa. Anyway, I guess I just wanted to let you know my side of things, not sure if I did that, seems more like I ranted. Anyway


Iluvatar of Solclaim



Imagine you are a gaming company running a successful MMOG. While readying your servers for not only a patch that adds new content and software, you are also upgrading the hardware of those servers. The day before the patch, one of your customers decides that immediate action must be taken against a laundry list of bugs and exploits he finds distasteful.

Please note that this customer had knowledge of these bugs and exploits well before the day he chose to reveal them to the general public, yet he chose that day, the worst day possible, to practice Twisterian Philosophy.

The question I put forth is this: Is this player a hero or an inconsiderate, selfish prick?

I found myself pondering this after reading a thread on our own boards and one on AC Vault. A player who goes by the handle Iluvatar recently entered an area of Asheron’s Call called the Subway. The Subway is a dungeon-like place where many players on non-PK servers gather to trade. It is not unusual to count over one hundred merchants and buyers in this tiny area during peak playing time.

After Iluvatar made the announcement that he would reveal every scrap of knowledge he had about bugs and exploits, over 200 players crammed in to listen to what he had to say. He publicly disclosed how to perform the following bugs:

Refilling kits
BDing stack of arrows (the way that works)
No Drop anything
Reduced comp burn rate
1/2 of dupeing without being caught/banned (Didn’t give the whole thing away, that would cause a rollback or worse)

He is a principled man, to be certain, in lieu of his consideration for rollbacks. Excuse me for a moment while I scramble around the floor, looking for my eyes. They seem to have rolled right out of my skull.

Would he have revealed more bugs and exploits? It’s hard to say. An admin showed up and whisked him away, whereupon the player told the admin the rest of his bug secrets.

I recommend reading the AC Vault thread and Iluvatar’s responses. I find an interesting current running through them:

“Yes I’ve heard of “Word of mouth” and I was counting on that exact phenomenon. I told 200 people, and by tommorow 10,000 will know. That’s why the devs contacted me As soon as they found out. I hadn’t let the really bad ones out of the bag (the ones that would have caused rollbacks, and server downtimes while they fixed). I only let a couple loose, but it was enough to convince them to take me seriously.”

“The no drop and BD on stack were enough to show the devs that I meant buisiness. . .”

“Again, please do not message me asking for this info. I’ve had more than 100 PM’s in the last hour offering various things for this info. I will not give it out. I only gave a couple out in order to make sure the devs listened to me.”

While Iluvatar does sound as if he has good intentions (all inward routes to Hell aside), through all of his comments, one word repeatedly surfaces in my mind: blackmail.

“Pay attention to me, or else.”

“Fix these bugs now, or else.”

Not only that, but he could not have picked a worse time to do it. The day before a major patch and during hardware upgrades? What does he honestly expect the devs to do? Take the servers down longer? Delay the patch immediately?

In reality, the devs will not halt the hardware upgrades or the new patch. In fact, they are going in right now as I write this. They have a schedule to keep. While the player claims to be nobly revealing this information so nefarious exploiters cannot trade their knowledge for items and favors in game, I must criticize and question the timing of Iluvatar’s actions.

Not only has he blackmailed the devs into diverting resources, but also he has given players the maximum amount of time possible to abuse those bugs. Anyone knowledgeable about Asheron’s Call knows that patches are made on a regular, monthly basis. Hot fixes do not get performed unless there is a dire, server-threatening emergency. Instead of giving fair warning to the devs, he chooses to play hero when his actions will cause the most damage over the longest possible period of time.

I’m not here to debate Twisterian philosophy. I do not wish to engage in an argument over whether or not releasing bug knowledge to the general public is an appropriate avenue of communication with the devs.

I am, however, here to debate time and place. There is a time and a place for everything. Releasing bugs to the public the day before a major patch and during hardware upgrades is not the time nor the place.

I’d like the devs to fix bugs as quickly as possible. Granted, they have much to do in maintaining their game, but I’m as dogged as anyone in ranting against companies who allow too many bugs in their game and are too slow to fix them. However, I believe the devs should be afforded some level of consideration from the players. Iluvatar’s actions showed zero consideration to the devs, the development cycle of the game, and the schedule under which the devs are working.

There was a better time for this bug battle. August 12th was not it.


Now I get to a much more serious discussion. I am loath to write this, much less post it. However, I believe the events and their implications must be expressed in a public forum in order for the true weight of their importance and seriousness to be felt.

While reading through the AC Vault thread in which Iluvatar’s actions are posted, I came across this post from him:

I’m a computer programmer and Lead Producer for an upcoming MMORPG, these types of things are all based on code exploits… if you understand /WHY/ things work as they do, finding the holes is rather easy.

Furthermore, he reveals in the thread that he is a former volunteer admin for Asheron’s Call.

Upon reading that, I quite literally stopped what I was doing. My gut reaction was “Is he for real?” However, given the earnestness and honesty with which Iluvatar has posted in the forum, I have no reason to disbelieve what he says.

If this is true, then we have a Lead Producer from a company in direct competition with Turbine entering their game and knowingly causing damage by publicly releasing a laundry list of bugs.

After consulting with people much more knowledgeable on the subject than I, the full significance of what occurred made itself known.

I have no doubt in my mind that what Iluvatar is done is unethical on a scale of massive proportions. However:

What he has done here might very well be considered illegal.

Industrial sabotage is the phrase. One competitor directly interfering with and knowingly damaging another competitor’s product is not only unethical, but may be illegal.

No matter what Iluvatar’s justifications may have been for publicly announcing bugs, he now falls under a cloud of suspicion. While his intentions may have been innocent, his actions may now be not.

Certainly, I leave it to Turbine’s legal department to determine whether they are willing and/or justified to take legal action against Iluvatar or his company. I am not an attorney, and the finer points of such laws are beyond my understanding.

However, if what happened here is all it seems to be, we may be in for a frag fest the MMORPG world has yet to see.

Note: In case of thread disappearance, all pertinent material has been mirrored.

HEY SMED! [Author: Snowspinner]

Not posted to Lum, because it would threadjack the thread in question painfully. I may post this as an update in the next day or two, I may not. I haven’t really decided yet.

Since I’ve criticized Verant for not responding to their critics, though, I really have no choice but to put my money where my mouth is, and fire off a few suggestions on what I think would actually improve EverQuest. Indeed, I pretty much have a suggestion on all the topics I’ve criticized you for so far.

1. Realize that EQ is not a roleplaying game. EQ is a hack and slash video game. It is a hack and slash video game that lends itself to very, very limited roleplaying experience, very much like D&D, only, frankly, moreso. The only characters that are really at all entertaining to see on EQ are comedic ones. I play an atheistic paladin. It’s, in many ways, a one-joke character, but it’s a character that works within EQ, because he can be
drawn out convincingly and completely in about two minutes, while pulling lizards in Cazic-Thule. My primary alt at the moment is a bard who worships Veeshan, on the grounds that humans must be fed to dragons to keep the dragons alive so that we can kill them for their phat lewtz. He reasons that this is OK, because death demonstrably has no consequences. You just reappear at your bind point, or show up again a week later.

These characters work really well in EQ, because they are characters that do not get in the way of the main business of EQ, which is killing monsters, looting their corpses, and repeating until that neat “ding” sound comes out of your speakers. But part of EQ, like D&D, is that characters with wildly different moral and personal attitudes come together because of the strange concept of “the party.” Why? Because the game is structured so that the only quantifiable rewards are experience and equipment. Contrast with White Wolf, where there isn’t a quantifiable “level”, and equipment is really not a big deal at all. So the reward the players can chase after is the more abstract one of character development and character accomplishment within the game world. There, the games are structured the opposite way, and getting a big hack n’ slash fest into the game is just as challenging as getting serious roleplaying into EQ or D&D. c.f. the Vampire video game.

The upshot of this is that, without a fundamental change to the dynamics of EQ, that is to say the introduction of another quantifiable goal beyond your level and equipment, roleplaying based EQ is a doomed idea. The only thing I can possibly think of would be to have a really, really dedicated staff of GMs on the roleplay server that made the world truly interactive. If there were actually lots of unique quests, lots of personal goals, and an interactive world to provide character motivation beyond kill loot level repeat, the server has a chance of working out well. But the manpower needed to do that would be enormous. Maybe you could do it with volunteers. I’d certainly volunteer for that position in a second. But I can’t think of any other way to make it work.

2. Do not implement the trivial loot code ever again, anywhere. More importantly, do not put it into Luclin. This is a point I have aside from discussions of the merits of the TLC, which I think is a bad idea. Luclin, if Lawrence Poe is to be believed, is going to introduce “caster focus items” that do things like decrease casting time, increase effectiveness, decrease mana cost, etc. These items have been requested by casters pretty much since day one. And Luclin is putting them in.

But Luclin is also putting in a trivial loot code on all its zones. And here is where the difficulty is going to arise. Because casters want these items. And they want them in Kunark. The result of this is, I would wager, going to be that casters are going to want the items immediately. The combination of limited supply, and the fact that the trivial loot code SEVERELY restricts where they can get them is going to lead to lower level characters managing to loot the items, and turn around to sell them at extremely high prices to upper level casters who have wanted these items for over a year. This is just how the player based economy will work.

The result of this will be a massive influx of cash down to lower levels, which is going to do really nasty things to balance. I could see putting Trivial Loot on for the first month of Luclin, to allow people to play in the zones that are appropriate to them immediately, and then taking it off. That might still damage the player economy, but probably not as bad. Perhaps the better idea, though, would be the opposite. Allow a month of ruthless bottom feeding, and then put the code on for a while. Probably take it off again after a few months as well. Because things will balance out. You don’t see popular low-level Kunark camps with a few decent items camped by high levels all the time. The only one I’ve ever seen camped is the goblin fort in Warsliks Woods, and I have never seen someone camping that who wasn’t willing to PL me while they did it, and give me the one item I wanted from it. And, frankly, I’ve also never seen a low-level group try to go to the goblin fort in Warsliks, because the 30 goblin that everyone camps it for will wipe groups that are appropriate for the camp out really easily, unless they’re good groups. And that’s unlikely.

3. Try to make CS look less like a matter of convenience for you. Your calling me on this on Lum was actually a pretty good step. So was Gordon’s reply to me in e-mail. But it still very much seems like you’re only answering the complaints that are convenient for you to answer, with a few fairly public opportunities to make it look like you’re taking steps in the right direction. How about posting the questions that don’t get answered in Developer’s corner? Or opening a new Whineplay alongside Developer’s corner? That would allow pressing questions to get answered in a way that doesn’t descend into Whineplay, while still making our contact with your CS seem actually interactive, and less like we’re banging our heads against a faceless monstrosity.

4. Turn high-level encounters on their ears. I recognize that class balance at lower levels is pretty good. Uber-raids, though, suck for a lot of classes, and this is something said across the board. And equipment like Primal Velium does not help that. The game needs a massive re-evaluation at high levels, and, frankly, it needs to be a re-evaluation that isn’t based on player requests. (The lovely paradox. Players don’t know what they want,
but you need to convince them that you’re giving them what they want anyway. I confess, there may well be no possible solution to your customer service problems.) The Wizard Anti-Gate spell is a nice touch. But things like this need to be done for almost every class. And the given things have to actually be challenging. Lawrence Poe has said that he does not want to add mobs just so enchanters have something to do. Why not? The enchanters already have to be along on the raid. Why not add something for them to do,
even if it makes it harder? The point here is that going at the high level encounter problems from the approach of “How can we change the classes to be useful in the high level encounters” is not enough. The question “How can we change the high level encounters to be interesting for all classes” must also be considered. Will you get bloody cries of “Nerf” if you do this? Yes. Will people cancel their accounts? They probably haven’t with every other nerf you’ve made. Pissing off your entire player base is not, in fact, a bad thing. Pissing them off and not addressing their concerns after you do it is.

So there you have four suggestions. Make of them what you will.


As you may have heard by now, the GodGames family has decided to move on and do something new.

Take 2 decided to stop funding the shitty and unfinished games we were publishing.

We had a great run in the gaming business, released some fun titles, and threw some hellacious parties.

We tried to lure you with girls and beer to get you to buy the shitty games we were publishing but it didn’t work.

Along the way, we made a lot of friends. If you\’e2\’80\’99re receiving this email, you\’e2\’80\’99re one of them.

You were on the GodGames mailing list. We are hard up for customers and you are the first lucky sap… err we mean loyal Godgames customer that we are going to try to con… err we mean introduce you to our latest endeavor.

Later this month, we\’e2\’80\’99ll officially announce SubstanceTV, a DVD-based videomagazine that will be devoted to high-quality interactive feature stories, and a wealth of short films, documentaries, music videos, movie and game trailers, and more.

After having been at the forefront of two gaming companies and watched them fail under my leadership and direction, I shall now devote my energies to the publishing industry. Maybe I can buy another car with company funds and wreck it before this one goes bankrupt too.

It\’e2\’80\’99s an idea whose time has come, and we\’e2\’80\’99re proud to be creating a product that will go beyond the limitations of mass media and network programming to explore the people, ideas, and events that bring real meaning to life\’e2\’80\’a6

Girls! Girls! Girls! Boobies! Yay!

Hence, the name \’e2\’80\’98Substance\’e2\’80\’99.

I, too, look good in a skirt.

We\’e2\’80\’99ve already launched the SubstanceTV site, and are using the interim to contact all of our friends in the gaming community and invite you to become among the first to subscribe. We have no doubt that SubstanceTV will appeal to the tech-savvy, independent spirit of gamers.

Take2 quit paying us and we need your money. Badly. For the
girls… err we mean children.

So, if you\’e2\’80\’99ve ever enjoyed the GodGames E3 experience, attended one of our release parties, or been a fan of our games, we hope that you will seriously consider becoming a Charter Subscriber and help us to make SubstanceTV everything we know it can be.

We didn’t mention the lapdances at the CPL because that little marketing scheme sorta backfired on us. But if you were there and enjoyed it, subscribe to Substance today!

A 10-issue subscription for 2002 is only $14.95, and we will distribute an Introductory Issue to all new subscribers in November of this year. If you change your mind after seeing the Introductory Issue, your subscription price will be credited back to your card at your request.

Sort of like how we kissed off Shadowbane.

Thanks in advance. We hope you\’e2\’80\’99ll take a moment to visit the site and order your subscription, then join us in our journey to find the real essence of life.

Show us your Substance.

That’s the new word we are using instead of ‘boobies!’


Ignoring the fact that a roleplay server is a stupid idea (Let me save you time in the discussion forum here, actually. “Players want it!” “Players don\’e2\’80\’99t know what they want. Players will spend 5 minutes on the roleplay server, realize they don\’e2\’80\’99t have any friends there that they can talk to, and go back to their main servers.”), this is mind numbingly stupid.

The goal of a roleplay server is, one would assume, to allow people to play the game while roleplaying characters. Two simple things. Roleplaying, and game. Instead of providing these, though, Verant\’e2\’80\’99s Amazing Wonder Crack\’e2\’84\’a2 has produced a scheme that erases all trace of a playable game in favor of having the players smash their heads into the wall.

Quoth Absor from a later discussion on the matter:

Actually, that’s rather the goal of language restrictions. Races in Norrath are rather insular. We want people to spend their lower levels dealing primarily with people of their own species. This promotes community among the races and means that those that can communicate with others outside their race have spent the time and effort to do so. This is exactly what we’re looking for.

Sure, some people will find it frustrating that they have trouble grouping with and communicating with people outside their species. That’s unfortunate. But, just like many of our alternate rules servers, the idea here is to make things different in order to promote certain play styles. Here we want to make it harder for people that don’t care about the race they have chosen to play as much as they care about getting experience in the most efficient group.

So, at least in this area, frustrating is just fine.

Let me rephrase: “We\’e2\’80\’99re going to make the game frustrating as hell so you can only roleplay with your own race. Why? Because you can only roleplay with sprites that look like you.”

Now does someone want to tell me what this achieves? Cause I\’e2\’80\’99m not seeing it. It doesn\’e2\’80\’99t seem to make the game any more fun. It doesn\’e2\’80\’99t seem to encourage me to roleplay. It seems to make it so that much of the time I won\’e2\’80\’99t be able to find a class I really need, because none of the clerics speak Lizardman.

So I can sit and bitch about the lack of clerics with the other Iksar. “You know, Sslar, I think if Cazic-Thule were really all that hot, he\’e2\’80\’99d give us a class that could heal.” “STFU N00B! U GOT PLAT?”

Welcome to roleplaying.

News-flash to Verant: A hack n\’e2\’80\’99 slash video game is not the forum where great roleplaying will occur!

If I wanted to play out grandiose tragedy against the backdrop of fantasy, I\’e2\’80\’99d be playing White Wolf. I\’e2\’80\’99m not. I\’e2\’80\’99m playing EverQuest. And I\’e2\’80\’99ll wager, like most EverQuest players, I wanna wade into a dungeon, kill some monsters, and crack some jokes about how I\’e2\’80\’99m an atheistic paladin.

I could start in on how the planned removal of the NODROP tag trivializes accomplishment in the game, but why overwhelm my flamers with stuff to respond to?


Well, here’s a completely innocuous little update offering up just a mild-mannered informational finger pointed happily at a Shadowbane interview done by IGN.

No hysteria, no boobs, no biased reporting, no fan bouys, no lesbian pr0n, no mass-firings, no collapsing ad networks, no CS abuses that are so trite now that we’re all bored reading about them, no caffeine, no Cupid Stunts, no ranters-gone-to-the-dark-side, no lost publishers, no new publishers, no failed technology on game launch, no refunds, no shoes, no shirt, no service, no way, no how, no who-what-where-when-and-why because I’m not a fucking journalist, no human interest, no cat-ass, no no, no yes.

No shit.

Just good… clean… fun. Otherwise known as a slow news day – because EVERYTHING is a slow news day to someone. Check your “jaded” meter reading to determine whether this qualifies as a slow news day for you.



The False Prophet


(Gratuitous RP Signature)

(P.S. Now isn’t the fact that was registered but never developed into a web site just crunchy? I love that. I really do. I guess there’s no fighting ennui.)



Two emails arrived regarding the state of affairs at Artifact Entertainment and its forward thinking online product, Horizons. The first one was a cut/paste of an update at another website, so forgive me if it reads like a stereo instruction manual.

Short of it… David Allen [CEO, lead designer of Horizons] does not work at Artifact Entertainment anymore. The story was reported by Dave on Horizons [] and I confirmed it tonight with an anonymous AE employee.

The second email was basically that very article on…

Fearing the worst, I called Artifact Entertainment on Thursday afternoon. After first going through the company directory, I could not find any reference to David Allen. This is the first trigger which I found odd about the whole ordeal. Since I could not find David’s extension in the directory, I decided to go the human route and talk to the receptionist. Here is the part that really disturbs me. When I asked to speak with David Allen, the receptionist stated, “David Allen does not work in the office anymore. He is still employed with Artifact Entertainment, but he is no longer works in the office.” When I asked how long he has not been in the office, the response was, “David Allen has not been working in the office for about 3 weeks.”

The assumptions made are that David Allen is no longer with Artifact Entertainment, but the only stretch I’m willing to make is to say that it would appear he is no longer working on Horizons, and has not been for the past few weeks. He has yet to come up for air, and so far, nobody else on the Horizons project is saying anything.


A lot of email on this one, so lets get started.

Heard Wednesday, confirmed Thursday. Dynamix is closed, permanently. Won’t be officially announced until Monday supposedly, but everyone was sent home on Thursday.

And then this email…

Tuesday 200 people will be laid off. Everyone at Dynamix has been laid off ( They do Tribes and tribes 2 ), 104 people, last Tuesday. They just walked in and threw everyone out of the building. The Employee’s there cant even come back for their personal items until Wensday. Apparently no-one at Dynamix even heard the rumors about the lay off’s.

My friend says that their dept. isnt going to be ambushed that badly but will be given 60 days to finish off their work and get out.

My friend thinks that Vivendi Universal Interactive ( the parent comapany) purposely left everyone in the dark so that people would not start stealing equipment and jumping ship. They are apparently offering a small but respectable severance package for the people being laid off.

And finally from “The Sierra Songbird”, a confirmed and reliable source, arrives this email…

The rumors surrounding Dynamix are true as posted on Tribalwar. Just as an FYI for you, Dynamix got scaled down when *** CONTENT FILTERED *** and it was always understood, or so I was told, that Dynamix could go away at any point once Tribes2 was out the door, so I don’t see why this comes as a complete surprise to the Dynamix folks.

As for Sierra itself…

Right now the employees are sitting around watching the rumors fly.

Nothing definate has been said nor is anything going to be known one way or the other until Monday.

Some of the folks being laid off this week are among the industry’s most talented individuals. I hope they land something soon, or this could be a bleak holiday season for gamers.