August 2001

OSI GIVES THE COLOR PURPLE TWO THUMBS DOWN [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

ILLEGAL PURPLE-HUED SIGIL ITEMS

In a strengthened stance against exploits, and due to the high number of support calls generated, we are now taking a stronger stand on illegal purple-hued sigil items. As of today, any players found selling these items, either in-game or out-of-game, will receive an automatic 72-hour suspension from Ultima Online, a final warning on their account, and the items will be deleted. Any accounts that have already been placed under final warning will be terminated.

Players with these items already in their possession should note that these items are illegal, and should dispose of them through the nearest waste receptacle, or place them in a backpack and hand them off to an NPC Cobbler to be disposed of.

I am all in favor of banning exploiters – do not get me wrong. But at some point, you have to wonder where the line is drawn. Yes, purple item creation was causing additional breakage to the already broken state of UO Faction Ganks (It is no longer a ‘system’ – it is disorganized Team Fortress tournaments only without the cool visuals), and that had to stop. But they fixed that bug, like, six months ago maybe?

I have three accounts – and in those accounts I probably have eight or nine purple items I stole using the perfectly legal and legitimate stealing skill. I didn’t exploit any systems, I didn’t trade animal furs and mushrooms for them. I simply clicked my steal button, and targeted a player, and *wham* I got me a purple mask. I suppose I can be banned for this confession now. And of all the things I could have done to get banned, wouldn’t owning a purple mask be a dumb way to go out? I now officially own a piece of UO contraband. If I take it out in public, or let anyone know I have it, then I’m going to get a 72 hour suspension.

Here’s a suggestion: Ban the exploiters, and fix the exploits. Leave the rest of your players alone.

SHE’S AN INKSPOTS FAN – YOU JUST KNOW IT [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

In a recent interview with IGN Vault (and since when did three questions qualify as an interview?*), she admits that her first foray into the digital realm was fueled by a desire to become a hacker.

Check it out.

She also lists Fallout as one of her favorite games, to which I responded by immediately erecting a statue of her in my back yard. It took almost all the Legos I have. I might not be entirely impartial, given that I’ve been an Inkspots fan since the first time I heard them. You’re probably a fan, too. You just didn’t know what to call them.


Page Two

In a related story, some might recall that recently I was duped by the confusion surrounding the destination-games.com domain. It turns out that Destinationgames.com was camped and registered by someone that might be a familiar name to a few old school UO Griefers. Seems there was a rather notorious Lake Superior player by the name of Diamond Dog – and informants tell me that the company who camped Garriott’s corporate identity is calling itself “Diamond Dog Industries.”

Things that make you say hizzzzrmm.

* Joke. This footnote added for the unfunny among us.

AND NOW, A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM JOHN SMEDLEY [Author: Tick]

Tick here. I received this email about fifteen minutes ago, and it seems the concern is genuine, so up it goes.

—–Original Message—–

From: Smedley, John

Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2001 5:15 PM

To: ‘tick@lumthemad.net’

Subject: Read please

I don’t often ask for places like Lum to make “Public Service” advisories, but I’d sure appreciate it if you guys would post this:

We have become aware that the Code Red Virus is hitting the @home network particularly hard right now. Although this has nothing specifically to do with EverQuest, @home users may experience some potential network problems that could cause some degradation of their network performance. Once the Code Red virus infects a machine, it attempts to infect other machines. Users that have firewall logs may see random IP addresses attempting to access port 80 (which is the HTTP Port). This is the Code Red virus attempting to spread itself. We thought it would be a good idea to let people know about this.

People really should check out their firewalls, particularly if they are on @home. It’s pretty serious and getting worse literally by the hour.

John Smedley

Chief Operating Officer

Sony Online Entertainment

Here’s to hoping someone can whip out some good ol’ networking JUSTICE on Code Red.

FROM THE INSURANCE FIRM OF MOORE, SCHILLING & HUCKSTER [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM TONY SABBATTI of MOORE, SCHILLING & HUCKSTER

Dear sir or madam,

We are most pleased to inform you that our long-standing client, operating under the name of “Lum the Mad”, a friend of yours and mine, has seen fit to honor our family with another timely payment for services rendered. We are thuswise pleased to report that said “Lum the Mad” website has been successfully protected from any accidents that oft befall the hapless and uninsured webmaster – such as accidentally driving into a river while getting one’s self ensnared among the ropes and jumper cables that often inhabit one’s trunk.

You can read all the fine print here, and on behalf of Moore, Schilling & Huckster, we wish you a safe and happy month of overly-dramatic rantings and Euro-Minimalism.

SHAMEN PUT ON SUICIDE WATCH [Author: Tick]

Sadly, looking at Velious, it looks like someone forgot to get this news brief over to Verant in time. Gary Gygax must have forgotten to forward it along after he figured it out in 1975.

Because when this starts being “gimpy loot”, we are all in trouble. Why is it gimpy loot? Because this drops off a mob that was killed months earlier.

Now call me a naysayer, but does anyone realistically think that Verant has a way to expand from this? What are they going to do, make a 40/20 weapon (1HS, of course. The 2HS has to be at least 70/40) that has a permanent effect Avatar? Because, I mean, Primal Velium doesn’t trivialize Shamen enough. We need more. Maybe something that procs Avatar 2. If you have any friends who play Shamen, now might be a good time to find them a suicide counselor. Or a way into the DAoC beta. I’d mention enchanters, but most of them hung themselves when they realized they could trade their Tobrin’s Mystic Eyepatch for this Befallen drop.

No, what they’re going to do, as we’ve seen, is take away entire classes’ abilities to function on the uber encounters.

Yeah, the new caster items in Luclin that do things like reduce mana cost and casting time are going to help some with this problem, but where the fuck are the melee weapons going to go next? Maybe they’ll give warriors a sword with a clickable Tashanian? After all, Enchanters complain that all they do is Tash and die in Velious, so we may as well let someone else Tash.

The warriors will have a non-aggro producing version, of course. So the Enchanters can at least keep dying.

Note to Verant: To keep your players in the game, you have to actually leave them room to expand. Requiring even larger tank Zerg rushes doesn’t count.

Give the enchanters something to do. Give the shamans something to balance out the fact that the melee classes have a weapon that procs their best buff. And find something for the tanks to aspire to now that they have a completely unbalancing weapon.

And no, adding in a second minigame to accompany Gems doesn’t fucking count, either.

PUT THAT GIANT BACK, MUTHAF—! [Author: Tick]

That something, according to more than one source, was to brutally beat charming high-level giants in Kael with Abashi’s Rod of Disempowerment.

Now, it’s understood that Verant can’t have people just walking up and repeatedly pimpslapping the Avatar of War. It’s bad for business. People get cocky, and they start thinking they can do things. Silly things, like waking up the Sleeper five or so months ahead of time.

The problem with this particular solution is that it’s made the entire enchanter class nearly useless on a Kael raid, and not just for knocking off the Avatar of War. Enchanters in Kael are now relegated to casting Clarity before the fight, then casting Tashani during the fight and waiting to die for it.

To quote an understandably pissed Enchanter named Dashi Primus of Shock of Swords:

“Words cannot describe my thoughts on this……

Chanters finally get a REAL role to play in an uber fight, we get to do it 2 times and they nerf it. I am so disappointed at VI rash decsions and stealth nerfs to prevent a mob from being killed on ONE server. They did this to prevent us from killing AoW because they didn’t want him dead. I can accept that really I can. Their nerf has EQ wide results though that is total BS.”

The funny thing about this (if there IS a funny thing about this) is that all this will do is force the tacticians to come up with a new strategy. One that doesn’t include Enchanters.

Even if I agreed with the reasons why, I tend to think there had to be a better way.

THE GREAT ARTHURIAN MIND-CONTROL CONSPIRACY [Author: myschyf]

Mark Jacobs, President of Mythic Entertainment, had this to say: “Well given my argumentative nature we decided we just couldn’t afford the bad publicity. I had our crack team of experts develop this new mind-control technology for our beta test. This allows me to stay calm and collected when reading the message boards at LumTheMad and eases the workload for Sanya Thomas who, after all, was hired for her great taste in bagels and because we have truckloads of money to give away. One of these days we will actually find a qualified person for the job but until then, we thought this new mind-control technology would work really well and kind of do the job for her.”

Matt Firor, Producer for DAoC followed up with: “I’m not sure why other game development companies haven’t developed a mind-control client themselves. I suppose its just that we are extremely innovative here at Mythic and always looking to see what new technologies will be needed in the future. In our analysis of this demographic, we noticed right away that some sort of thought controlling device would become extremely useful. We’ve always thought that the best way to predict the future is to create it and we feel we are doing exactly that.”

According to some of the testers, the new technology works extraordinarily well. Hah-lucky of the grief guild KOC reports: “Well when they let KOC in the beat we were all like yeah we are going to r0xX3r this game. So we signed the NDA with no intention of keeping it and entered the game and started looking for the best way to cheat. But then something happened. I don’t know what they did to me but I went to our website to update it with all the l33t info on where to get the ph4t l3wt and I realized that we hadn’t cheated! So I said hey whats up with that and went back into the game but everytime I tried to cheat I just had these nice thoughts of how stable the client was and how great the game was. I even wrote Lums to tell him this was a really great game! And that’s another thing — my speech is almost normal now. Its getting harder for me to crank out the d3wd speech! Whats up with that?”

People who have not yet been exposed to the new technology have pointed out the lack of negative reports of DAoC on various message boards only to be attacked by rabid fanbois who seem to be increasingly under the control of Mythic. One poster on a message board had this to say to someone accusing Mythic of mind control “The reason you haven’t seen any big rants about DAoC is because THE GAME WORKS. The company is PROPERLY TESTING IT.”

The response from other developers has been supportive. Todd “Warden” Coleman from Wolfpack Studios is reportedly very interested in
acquiring a license for the new technology. “As many of you know, I have an argumentative nature as well. Now our fans are already well within our control but having access to this sort of thing would give us an opportunity to crush our detractors.” Raph “Holocron” Koster noted that “If this sort of technology had been developed four years ago I’m sure the UO beta and the first couple of years would have been much different.” Gordon “Tyrant” Walton from EA.com said a press release about EA’s plans to purchase the new technology and incorporate it into The Sims Online would be forthcoming. John “Smed” Smedly, when asked for a comment, was only able to babble incoherently about giving Abashi his old job back while yelling for his secretary to get Mark Jacobs on the phone. No word yet on whether the mind-controlling technology will be able to withstand the destructive customer-service techniques Abashi perfected during his time in that position at Verant.

MY BUM IS ON THE SWEDISH, THE SWEDISH [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Project Entropia Phase II Beta Test Update

Preparations target late August start

Gothenburg, Sweden – August 2, 2001 – MindArk AB, the developer of the

ground-breaking Project Entropia virtual world, revealed today that

preparations for Phase II of its beta test are progressing towards a

probable starting date late this month. As previously announced,

approximately 500 new testers will be added that time, joining the

50 who have been participating in the initial phase since May.

At this time, our plan is to send out notices to the selected

applicants by around the middle of this month, most likely during

the week of August 13 to 17,\’e2\’80\’9d said MindArk Marketing Manager Patric

Sundstrom. \’e2\’80\’9cNaturally, we will have to allow some time for their

replies to reach us and for distribution of the Beta II CDs, but we

think this can be done within a reasonable amount of time. We don\’e2\’80\’99t

want to set an exact date until we\’e2\’80\’99re certain, but as of this moment,

our projection is that if all goes well, we will be ready for Phase

II to begin by the end of August.\’e2\’80\’9d

Project Entropia is a revolutionary new form of Internet-based

interactive entertainment that will be made available at no initial

cost and with no subscription fees to millions of Internet users

around the world. In the roles of human colonists on the virtual

planet Calypso, they will be able to meet and socialize or adventure

into wilderness areas where they will face challenges from wild

indigenous creatures and invading robots. Prospective beta testers

may still apply at

http://www.project-entropia.com/betatest/apply.asp?topic=betatest

Information about Project Entropia can be found on the official

website at http://www.project-entropia.com/

MindArk (http://www.mindark.com) develops technology solutions

that address the entertainment needs of millions of Internet users.

With novel applications in the interactive entertainment sector and

browser infrastructure, MindArk is a world leader in expanding

the new universe.

TO BETA OR NOT TO BETA [Author: Tick]

*swish goes the rolled up newspaper of JUSTICE*

Bad fans! BAD FANS!

The beta test (and kids, isn’t it funny how many people leave the word “test” off anymore?) is for the company, not the players. It’s a process of having people go through a basically functional game looking for bugs that might, if not caught, make the game fall down and go boom on release. This helps the company by protecting their reputation, and it helps you the fans by giving you a working game on go live day, assuming the beta testers have done their job and the developers have followed up (whether or not it’s humanly possible to have a working beta test on an MMOG is another rant entirely).

Though many have come to look at the beta test as an opportunity to play the game (for free) before anyone else, the position of beta tester is a JOB. If you get the JOB of being a beta tester, you get to play and make friends and rest assured of being uber on the new game when it comes out to the general public after commercial release, right?

*swishhhh* WHAP!

No! You get to sit for long periods of time, doing the same thing over and over to make sure that the bug you THINK you’ve found is really a bug. You get to sit in a piece of world geometry for twenty or thirty minutes until someone summons you out or you restart the game (and often your machine as well), and then you go BACK to that EXACT SPOT and see if you can get stuck again if you come from the opposite direction. You then get to write about it in as much detail as possible and send that report up to the developers, who will throw it on the stack of bug reports and curse your name for finding something else, ’cause they’re going out of their minds trying to make sure the game is as bug-free as possible before it goes Gold (or before game day, if the game company can cope with the bad press of a 50+ megabyte patch).

If you’re doing it right, beta testing ISN’T fun. Rewarding, perhaps, but “fun” is what you get to have when the game’s been tested, fixed, tested again, fixed again and so on and so on, etc.

Some of you do this because you love the game enough to go through hell to make it more playable for the other people. Some of you do this because you want to be one of those who knows what’s on the other side of that wall, because you’ve seen it a hundred times before the game went Gold. Some of you just want to be First (capitalization intentional), period.

But being in the beta test pool is not a right given to the people with the most “first post! W00t!” replies on the game boards. The folks in charge of lining up beta testers for a popular game do their best to be fair and above board about the process, but in the end it’s a crap shoot. You get in or you don’t. I know it’s frustrating, but someone who DID’T camp the company web boards for six months and sends in their beta test application stands just as much chance as you of getting in, perhaps more if they have some experience beta testing or a background in client development, 3D game mechanics or databases.

To those of you who get into your favorite game’s beta test, congratulations- I don’t envy you the job. It’s largely thankless, and the game you test is often not the game you end up playing by the very nature of the process of beta testing.

To those of you who don’t make it into beta testing but shrug it off and continue to camp the boards, talking the game up to all who come- good on ya. You make the Tick proud. Not every fan is a fanboy.

To those of you who don’t make it into the beta tests who threaten to quit and tell everyone you know not to play the game…

WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! BAD FANBOY! BAD! BAD! KNOCK OFF ALL THAT EVIL!

SHADOWBANE FINDS PUBLISHER, PUBLISHER FAILS TO SAVE VS CRUSH [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Here it is. I have done you the favor of putting all the outrageous fabrications in italics for you.

Ubi Soft announces deal to publish Shadowbane as part of an aggressive strategy to enter the online gaming market

Ubi Soft Entertainment, one of the top 10 video game publishers in the world, announced its plans to enter the massively multi-player online (MMO) gaming market with a deal to publish Shadowbane in North America. Already the publisher of another well-known MMO in Europe, this agreement will mark the first foray of Ubi Soft into the North American MMO market. Ubi Soft will use its renowned marketing and distribution network to publish the boxed version of the game, while its new online division will play host to the intricate worlds of Shadowbane. The highly anticipated game is being developed by Wolfpack Studios, based in Austin, Texas.

Shadowbane is expected to launch online commercially in the first half of 2002. Ubi Soft targets to attract several hundred thousand players and to generate in excess of 40 million dollars over the first 2 years of operations. Ubi Soft\’e2\’80\’99s online division will handle all back-end support for the game including network and server infrastructure, billing, customer service and in-game support. Wolfpack Studios will continue to play an essential role after the game\’e2\’80\’99s release by developing updates and ongoing episodic content that will feed the game and its players for years to come.

Shadowbane is the first persistent world massively multiplayer online game to combine the fantasy role-playing and strategy genres. In addition, Shadowbane is the first such product to embrace a dynamic world design model, in which players can physically affect the history, politics and landscape of the game itself. In Shadowbane, you can build castles, raise armies, and lay siege to vast areas of virtual terrain. These kingdoms remain even as players come and go– the game simply continues evolving over time. Early buzz about the game has been phenomenal, with \’e2\’80\’9cPC Gamer\’e2\’80\’9d fans repeatedly voting Shadowbane as the most anticipated game in the \’c2\’ab Waiting Is The Hardest Part \’c2\’bb poll, most recently in the August 2001 issue.

Ubi Soft\’e2\’80\’99s new online division will concentrate on the most profitable area of online gaming: pay-to-play games, including MMOs such as Shadowbane. The MMO market is a fast-growing sector in which current games have pulled in $40 to $50 million dollars annually, with 350,000+ subscribers playing an average of 20 hours a week per person.

Gilles Langourieux, General Manager of Ubi Soft\’e2\’80\’99s online division, stated, \’e2\’80\’9cShadowbane is an extraordinary opportunity for us to further strengthen our online presence. According to Datamonitor, 80% of all online game revenues in 2000 were generated by subscriptions or transactions. Ubi Soft intends to make its presence known in this market, and working with Wolfpack Studios gives us a chance to grow with a quality development team and an excellent product in order to do just that .\’e2\’80\’9d

Josef Hall, President and Co-Founder of Wolfpack Studios added, “Ubi Soft is the perfect partner for us in North America. Not only are they enthusiastic about the potential of Shadowbane, but they also have a strong understanding of the online marketplace, and are a leader in product promotion and distribution.”

For more information about Shadowbane, along with the latest screen shots and info about the next beta test, check in regularly at www.ubisoft.com or www.shadowbane.com.

About Ubi Soft

Ubi Soft Entertainment is a global developer, publisher and international distributor of interactive entertainment products. A leading company in the industry, Ubi Soft\’e2\’80\’99s strong and diversified lineup has grown considerably over the past couple of years. As well as developing original properties, Ubi Soft has recently acquired several high-profile game companies and blockbuster titles. The company has offices in 18 countries including the United States, Canada, France, Germany and China and sells its products in a total of 52 countries. For more information about Ubi Soft, please visit http://www.ubisoft.co.uk

About Wolfpack Studios

Founded in early 1999, Wolfpack Studios, Inc. is dedicated to servicing the Internet gaming marketplace. Focused on pushing the boundaries of Internet technology, the Woflpack Studios develops products and services for a worldwide customer base with the mission of establishing a new standard in the areas of virtual 3D environments and persistent world gaming. For more information on Wolfpack Studios\’e2\’80\’99 upcoming titles, please visit the company’s World Wide Web site at http://www.shadowbane.com.

PS: some have asked for an explanation of the italicized text. ShadowBane is not the first to introduce strategy and landscape alteration to the MMOG market. It may (or may not) take these elements further than before, but sorry boys – that is still a stretch. Second, Ubisoft, if I am to believe our discussion board, takes boxes of EverQuest, puts them on trucks, and drives those trucks to European shopping centers where people can then purchase those EverQuest boxes. Technically, that means they publish it, but you and I both know that all it really means is that they drive crates full of EQ boxes from the airport over to the shopping center. I would have looks harder at this release for more questionable claims but I’m dizzy from the spinning.