April 2001

CALIFORNIA: FINE FOR SPAM [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Kozmo.com, the online delivery service that fell down go boom last month, found its insolvent ass in court this past week over allegations that they sent unwanted spam to someone. I know I know – I was shocked, too.

Ellen Spertus is now officially $77.50 richer after taking Kozmo to small claims court in California. She alleged that after informing the online corporation that she no longer wanted junk mail from them, they issued her a “okay you are now off our list, by the way here’s this month’s special deals…” message.

I doubt I’ll ever collect,” Ms. Spertus said to reporters after the victorious verdict.

Kozmo.com was unreachable by the press, as well as most DNS servers.

source:Direct Marketing News


Inside.com is reporting that papers were filed late last Friday by previously unknown development house MM3D serving Sierra On-Line with a claim of over $10 million in damages for breach of contract involving “Tolkien Online RPG”, and that Sierra tried to force a 50% revenue cut to complete the project.

A Sierra spokesman said the company hadn’t been served with the suit. Despite the filing, she said Sierra is in negotiations with MM3D and declined further comment.

MM3D’s only public sighting to date before this week was as the mysterious employer of industry pundit and (until recently) Happy Puppy columnist Jessica Mulligan. (She was laid off along with most of theglobe.com’s contractors as a result of that company’s financial meltdown.)


At any rate, I fully expect that Shadowbane will see some form of release. But I’d also be lying if I said there wasn’t reason for valid concern. With a WolfPack staff that’s beginning to burgeon, a lengthy beta process still ahead, server costs that have to be paid for hosting…you get the picture.

Some games are able to be financed privately. PIGs are not among them, with TREMENDOUS costs for bandwidth, web-based promotion, extensive programming…the list goes on. Not to mention the added burden WolfPack faces of programming for two different platforms simultaneously.

And you have to know that the money from the sale of a database company, which financed WolfPack until the GoDGames pickup, will have to start running thin at some point. Keeping nearly 20 people in the tech industry on staff in Austin, Texas is not a cheap proposition. Much less after you’ve already done it for a year before a publishing deal.

Having a break with one of the most visible (I hesitate to say best)publishers in the industry two months before E3 is not a prosperous situation. The saving grace is that Swing! Entertainment is still in WolfPack’s corner. But if WolfPack is relying solely on Swing! at this point for publishing, that’s a scary thought in and of itself. Putting all your stock in an unproven European publishing house is a risky venture for a game that mainly appeals to bloodthirsty Americans. And one Scottish weirdo.

With all that said, I still believe Shadowbane will be released.

I believe in the product. I flew down to Austin last October with the sole objective of meeting the minds behind a revolutionary product. (UO Faire was decidedly second in mind.) They have some bright, if twisted, minds in their favor. They have an incredible passion for their project. If Warden had to burn all the Shadowbane CD’s himself, I think he’d do it. But all the passion in the world won’t make dollars fly into your pocket.

Summary? Shadowbane will not be the game it could be without an American-based publisher, ASSuming another isn’t picked up before release. Testing will be hurried. Release will be sporadic. Shadowbane has a lot to offer: but the entire product could be spoiled if balance is not dead-on or at least reasonably close come release.

But I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Warden’s cheshire grin doesn’t show up in some other publisher’s camp at E3, just to make me look like a blatant idiot. It’d be just payback for that whole Taco Cabana thing.

Oh, yeah, and Vosx…I don’t even drink coffee, goddammit.

UO NEWS AND WHIRLED REPORT [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Page One: The Dumbest UO Player Ever

The following email entered into evidence for your approval:

—–Original Message—–

From: ##########@aol.com [mailto:#########@aol.com]

Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2001 3:40 PM

To: ######@lumthemad.net

Subject: I have Speed Hack

I would like the world of Ultima Online to know about this wonderful program called Gear which is used to speed your character in pvp which I have been using on Test Center and all pls put a link on your page to my site.


At this time, I believe three hundred former members of the “world of Ultima Online” already know about this “wonderful program” but I suspect they have not been using it much in the past two weeks. FREE CLUE: You are Exploiting on a TEST SHARD. This makes you an official Imbecile. A letter of merit from Ed McManus is in the mail.

Page Two: UO:Third Dawn One Step Closer to “Adultima”

Redlow is a name you may or may not be familiar with. Be that as it may, his site has covered just about everything and anything you can imagine. I am not what one might call a habitual reader, but I tend to drop in once or twice a year to see what’s doing. A reader emailed me with news of the lastest incarnation: UO Porn. We knew it would happen, what with every screen that contains at least 3 houses being declared a town or a city or a kingdom, it was only a matter of time before a nudist colony exposed itself. At least now we know where Blackthorne went. Check out the teasingly delicious screenshots here, brought to you by the gnomes of Xrgaming.

Page Three: Free UO Accounts?

Pay-to-view websites are not new. Certain bug sites have been using a “give a bug, get a bug” payment program for quite some time. It seems that in an effort to drum up new business, the pay-to-view hint site uohints.com is now offering free 15 day Ultima Online accounts to new members. Yes, they accept PayPal and they accept shard gold as payment. Of course, if you have hundreds of thousands of gold on Napa Valley, one wonders why you would need a free 15 day account. Can you say Exploitation?

Have breaking News? Write it on a piece of driftwood and cast it in the direction of Upper Manchester. Messages sent at low tide are read first. UO News and Whirled Report is a production of LumCorpNews and not to be confused with CorpNews, NewsCorp, or the WB.


Jason Calcanis thinks he can save the Internet. This is a pretty good thing – what with IGN selling access to message boards with the ability to post HTML and images for a small yearly fee and Derek Smart still running amuck, the Internet is pretty obviously in need of saving. Alas, Jason Calcanis is neither a Greek god nor is he Steven Seagal (my first two choices for entities most likely to save the Internet), he’s merely yet another dot-bomb loser trying to justify his sad and pathetic dependency on overpriced espresso. However, since neither Dionysus nor the star of “Hard To Kill” is available, we’re left with this gem:

Please God, someone make me the CEO of Times Digital. Starting tomorrow, you would have two choices: pay $50 a year for membership or sit through a 20-second Flash-animated commercial (we’ll keep it to 75k, which is just plenty to do a nice text-based Flash animation with an image or two).

PUNISHING YOUR VIEWERS: we’d like to say that we pioneered the concept here at Lum the Mad, but really, we (and by proxy, Jason) stole the whole concept of abusing your paying customers from Interplay. EA may be evil, but they don’t make me sit through an ad for some crappy game no one bought like “Descent to Undermountain” every time I freaking re-install Freespace.

Just in case you haven’t already overdosed on Shadows of Luclin coverage, Daily Radar has another interview with Roy “Rowyl” Eltham and Lawrence “Mrylokar” Poe of Verant. There’s some info about Kerrans there in between all those ad banners and popups that Jason “Hard To Kill” Calcanis is going to save us from. Unfortunately, the writers of Daily Radar are reduced to sharing the six brain cells their entire editorial staff were alloted, and judging from the questions asked, we suspect four of them were busy writing stunning new Xbox features.

Daily Radar: Will characters need to worry about food if they’re on a planet made of green cheese?

Poe: If they were on a planet made of green cheese and they were not lactose intolerant, then, no, they wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t have to worry about food. Sadly, Luclin isn\’e2\’80\’99t made of green cheese. Luclin was formed the good ole fashioned way, some space debris floating through the solar system was caught in Norrath\’e2\’80\’99s atmosphere and formed the Moon.

Eltham (to himself): Jesus, where did they find these monkeys? Everlore?

(note to the humor impaired: we are pretty sure no writers for Everlore work at Daily Radar, nor are they monkeys. The Everlore guys, that is. Daily Radar definitely is monkey-staffed.)

(note to the even more humor impaired: no, no one at Daily Radar is actually a monkey. We think.)

(note to the terminally humor impaired: get the hell off our site now)

In a stunning example of webmasters taking turns doing actual hard research, we saw on The Chosen where they saw on Stomped that they saw on the Denver Post website that the family of a student killed during the Columbine massacre last year has petitioned John Carmack to stop selling games to minors. Carmack was quoted as saying “Yeah, right, whatever.”

Dale Todd, Evan’s father, said he hooked up with Thompson through research he did on violent video games. He even obtained a copy of “Doom” and played it himself. He was appalled.

Then he asked Thompson to write Carmack a letter, “just to let him know we’re on his trail.” Although he doubts the software icon will change his ways, Todd said he may consider other options.

You hear that, boy 3D-engine genius? They’re on your trail, bud. Not only that, they’re probably a bunch of teamkillers who use Gear and are camping the respawn points, too. Other folks are suing video game companies, since it’s common knowledge that the shotguns and assault rifles Klebold and Harris brought to school were actually using old CDs of “Unreal Tournament” as ammunition. Soon the only games you will be able to buy in stores are Pokemon Blue: Pikachu Gets A Spikey, Barbie Concentration Camp Guard, and Ultima Online Third Dawn.


The assertion that Shadowbane has been PK’d by its erstwhile publisher, GoD, just got stronger.

Shadowbane isn’t under GoD’s list for titles to be shown at the E3 Expo in May, nor is it listed to appear at all.

WolfPack, Shadowbane’s development studio, has stated they’ll be present at E3. However, there’s no word on if they’ll be there in Atriarch style with BIG BROWN SHIRTS so publishers can recognize them.

BUSINESS WEEK SUCKS EA’S NADS. FILM AT 11 [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Another entry from the “stop and let the rest of the world catch up” department, Business Week Online has declared that the electronic entertainment industry is on the “cusp of a five year cycle.” Columnist Mara Der Hovanesian is mostly impressed with Electronic Arts’ massive package.

For Electronic Arts (ERTS), the party may have only begun,” she mumbles at the onset of her big love-in. She goes on to predict that EA’s upcoming retail harvest will touch the twenty billion dollar mark.

One cannot argue with facts, and the fact remains that Electronic Arts does in fact remain the only major publisher to actually post a profit of late. In an industry whose largest office supply expenditure seems to be red pens, that is an accomplishment in and of itself. It is key to point out, however, that EA’s largest office cost-reduction action was the castration of Origin Systems. Way to go, EA. You have to love a company who isn’t afraid to destroy lives in order to stuff a few extra dollars in the vest pockets of the “old boys upstairs.”

So keep on buying and playing your 3D accelerated barbie doll dress-up sim games and your bovine tamagotchi populous titles. Every dollar is another vote that says, “Oh yeah! Keep on cancelling costly products. Keep on cranking out top notch graduates from Origin University. I love it, can’t get enough of it.”

Nah, I’m not bitter at all.