skill of the day: html
"god DAMN Frontpage 2000 sucks!" - Lum
101 - Rowanne
Sites That Don't Suck As Badly As We Do
5:30 PM BUT IT'S FULL OF BIG WORDS AND NUMBERS AND STUFF. I'LL JUST READ THIS WEEK'S THE SLUGGER AGAIN.
A new article on economics in MMRPGs and why you should care has been posted.
5:30 PM TALES OF GLORY FROM THE HARD SHARD
Tal'Mah'Ra, our intrepid and oft-banned guildmaster, sends in this:
11:30 AM RUMORS OF MY DEMISE ARE ACTUALLY PRETTY COOL
No, I'm not dead. No, I'm not going to go work for the Dr. TwisTer Network.
Yes, I'm swamped at work. Yes, I do most of my updating from work because most of the time my job involves being available at my desk in case a server go boom. Yes, the Broken Mirrors series will be updated, along with a new article on virtual economics and a couple of tales of woe from The Hard Shard (it's easier to type than Siege Perilous).
Yes, Tallon Zek and Vallon Zek are up (I'm waiting on Zallon Zek myself.) I'll create a gnome necro or something there and report in.
Yes, a new MMRPG came out and I checked it out too. Will report more shortly.
Yes, Greybeard quit, and yes, for $1,000 the last time I checked, you too can be the new Butt Naked Avenger.
Yes, this update sucked. I'll have the actual content up later. Check back around 5:00P CST or so.
2:00 PM YOU MEAN PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE PVP?
There was this server, called Tallon Zek, which was intended to be Everquest's answer to the problems and pitfalls of PvP in EQ. It went up the same day that Siege Perilous went permanent in UO.
I had planned on checking out Tallon Zek sometime, but I was pretty busy on Siege, and at any rate, it seems I didn't miss much. Apparently Verant (a) has no way of actually limiting how many people log into a server, (b) over 5000 people logged into Tallon Zek, and (c) Verant, um, didn't think people would want to play on Tallon Zek. Of course, (d) ensured with thousands of very pissed-off would-be race warriors flooding the EQ chatrooms when Tallon Zek was taken back down. John Smedley, Verant's President, went online to announce that "we had no idea it would be this popular" and that a new server was on order, but until then Tallon Zek would stay down.
Meanwhile, that sound you hear? Lord British in his castle, laughing.
This is just completely pathetic, and points out one of the primary differences between Origin and Verant. As much as we like to flay GMs and mock the programmers, Origin listens to the community. They have people whose job (Hi Neve!) is to monitor the various community web sites, to find out what the UO players are concerned about and to relay those concerns to the development and management teams. Verant, on the other hand, reads EQ Vault once in a while. Verant ignores their community, and in fact actively discourages it, by changing key elements in gameplay without notice, specifically to "neuter" "spoiler" sites. It's an ugly thing.
EQ is sure pretty, but I'd be very surprised if anyone that began playing EQ at its launch is still playing after a year (the time Verant estimates it would take a dedicated player to reach level 50). Meanwhile lots of folks are still playing UO, 2 years after launch. There's a real difference here, one I am busily writing about (you may notice those unlinked rant titles to the left).
But this TZ fiasco is just inexcusable. Verant just displayed how completely, unutterably clueless they really are.
Not that I care, I'm having a blast on Siege Perilous.
11:00 AM WARNING: ACTUAL NEWS STORY
As most of you already know, Designer Dragon and a few other folks were transferred off the Ultima Online project. Since then, speculation has run rampant on what new, non-ultima project he was tasked with. OSI of course wasn't telling, since, you know, they're a large evil corporation and large evil corporations aren't supposed to just give away information. It's in the Large Evil Corporation Handbook.
Well, I put on my snoop hat and commenced a-snooping. Everyone's first guess was Privateer Online, called by most "Wing Commander Online" (OSI, however, apparently has a better idea of how most folks will spend their time in that universe). However, Origin has a different team working on that project; speculation has it that it is now being lead by Andy Hollis, the Janes-Skunkworks programmer who was just pulled off the now-cancelled A-10 Warthog flight sim.
Plus, come on. Designer Dragon does Wing Commander? I don't THINK so.
So I snooped around the InterNIC records that Origin filed recently and came up with this entry:
Scoot over to Altavista, favored search engine of geeks, snoops, and corporate spies everywhere, and the first entry was the background for a Call of Cthulhu campaign. Hmm. Don't think that's it.
Tried to find some other game connections. There's a game company called Mythos Games which recently published a fairly rank X-Com fantasy knockoff, but they don't seem to have any connection to Origin or EA. A closer connection may be Chaosium, which issued a "Mythos CCG" (collectible card game) based around... H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories. Seems to be a whole lot of Cthulhu going on.
My speculation is that this is simply just a completely new fantasy MMRPG, unfettered by the "Ultima" baggage of UO. We'll see soon enough, I wager.
2:00 PM SOMETHING TELLS ME THE NOTE ON MY ACCOUNT READS A BIT DIFFERENTLY
I know, I said no more smurf stories. Well, this one is only parenthetically about smurfs. As you read this, bear in mind that I haven't been able to confirm this (obviously) but it's certainly interesting enough. Not many people say "you know, I should have been banned, but I wasn't..."
11:00 AM MORE ON THOSE ANGRY LITTLE BLUE PEOPLE
And just when you thought we couldn't have any more Hell Smurf Updates, the Invisible Counselor writes in with this. It's a long letter, but read it all anyway, because there will be a test later. My comments afterward.
OK, where to begin.
First off, there was some controversy over publishing the Crom-Damsel letter at the Lum the Mad Advisory Board (consisting of me, my drink, the peanut gallery in IRC, and the occasional reproving stares of my better half). In the end, I went with it, not because I thought Crom needed to be banned (he didn't) or because I couldn't see that the letter writer had quite a nice big grudge against SLC Damsel (s/he did) or even because I just wasn't tired of bashing smurfs (I am, believe me, I am).
I went with it because I pretty much picked that letter at random out of the 50 or so in my email bitching about SRCs/SLCs/ASRCs/SDGWPRCs. (Unfortunately, the last abbreviation is the only one that I made up.)
Ya want my opinion? Of course you do, that's why you came to this page. I've talked to quite a few smurfs lately, including Papa Smurf himself (sorry, that conversation was strictly off the record), and my opinion of the program hasn't changed from the days when every K3wld3wd guild had a pet smurf as an invulnerable teleporting scout.
Frankly, recruiting players to give support and aid to other players is a mistake.
Not because those players are somehow evil (most aren't) or because those players abuse their powers (most don't); no, it's a bit more subtle than that.
No, recruiting a player support system from the player base is a mistake because it fosters an atmosphere of cliquish elitism, both among the "rulers" and the "ruled".
I think the best example here is Siege Perilous. Here we have an expert-level shard. You have this huge sign come up when you log in basically saying "If you aren't a hardcore expert, stay the hell out."
Guess what -- SP has Cs and SRCs and SLCs and ASRCs and whatever cool abbreviations I forgot. And my question is um, why?
GMs I can barely -- just barely accept on SP, mainly because getting stuck on T2A with no way of moving is a very real possibility. But smurfs? I mean, jesus, who the hell is going to call a smurf for help on SP? What, "Hey, Mr. Counselor, I can't sell anything to these NPCs, what up wit dat?" I mean, this is an expert shard. With expert players. Do they really need a hintbook?
I don't think so. And I think Siege is getting the usual buttload of Helpful Ultima Online Monkeys because, well, Siege is a cool shard. The same reason we had 10 GMs running around banning macroers the first couple days it was up.. they thought it was cool, too, and their own, special way, they thought they were helping.
I mentioned "rulers" and "ruled" before, and the metaphor bears repeating. I can't begin to count the number of emails I've gotten from Cs and SRCs, some well written, some not, that made the case that C/SRCs were hard working devoted servants of the people unjustly slandered by what I write.
That's the same thing a Congressman says when the press catches him with the intern. "I'm just trying to do the people's business!"
I'm sure there's lots of folks who are Cs and SRCs because they want to help people and help the game that's eaten far too much of their life already, and I'm sure many, many newbies have appreciated personal tutoring in the vast and bizarre complexity of the Ultima Online gaming system. But ya know what? There aren't many newbies on Siege.
Unfortunately, and this is a fact that is going to be powerfully argued against by those smurfs reading this, a great many Cs/SRCs get into the program because It's The Next Step. You know, they got the GM Tinkers, they rocked the enemy guild in PvP, they did the townwars, now it's time to get the robe and get the kewl powers. And once they do that, the Next Step beyond that is to get more letters in front of your name. SLC? ASRC? There's so many acronyms in the support program, it makes the US miilitary look like a paragon of clear speech. But those acronyms are important -- it's a tangible reward. Along with that goes access to GMs (although why people would fight over access to barely-street-legal glorified tech support clerks boggles my mind), access to news and updates not given to everyone else... you know. Access. Juice. The part and parcel of being inside.
Communities foster this raging elitism... I've gone on before about the "Test Guild" and the "Shardies", and this is another, more openly visible symptom thereof.
But you know what pisses me off, why I keep raging about all this?
Not that the people themselves are imperfect... the last perfect person got nailed to a cross and left for the crows a couple thousand years back, and we've been pretty short on perfect people since. No, what really trips my flamethrowing pineal gland is that OSI, and to a much lesser, much less organized extent Verant, have hit on the possibilities of exploiting that elitism for their own corporate gain. Because when you have hundreds of people willing to work for you for free supporting your product, why the hell would you ever need to pay anyone?
And that's why this will never change, and why this is the last rant on this particular subject. Because human nature, and the nature of greed, are not things that can be easily fixed. Merely pointed at, for easy recognition, while we whistle in the dark as we pass.
All original copyright © 1999 Lum the Mad, LLC. Investors are invited to watch for our IPO. Trademarked content on this site owned by its original trademark owners. Stuff I made up still is mine. What's yours is mine. What's mine is mine. In 1999. Hunh. WAR! What is it good for? Absolutely NUTHIN. (Say it again!)