July 2001


Well, in spite of the fact that Ventani, the fourth warder in the sleeper’s tomb, has been labeled a part of EverQuest’s “end game,” it only took a few weeks after the Conquest debacle for another crack commando unit to get their tactics on, kill Ventani and poke Kerafyrm (the Sleeper) in the ribs:

What happened after Kerafyrm was released was complete chaos. The first place we’re sure he was spotted was in Skyshrine, where he subsequently went around killing everyone in the zone. After that, rumors poured in about where he was, and honestly we can’t be sure where he went. I’ve been told that he went everywhere from Great Divide (I have no idea why), to Wakening Lands, to Western Wastes, and lots of other zones. I’m sure I speak for my guild when I say it was easily the most entertaining time we’ve ever had playing the game.

As for whether or not this unplanned series of events is going to get them in trouble, that doesn’t seem as though it’s going to be a problem:

Lots of people have asked if we’re going to get banned now. Thankfully not. Several GMs sent us congratulations, and some said how proud they were that it happened on their server.

Congratulations to Blood of the Spider of The Rathe server for proving once again that life… finds a way.

SPOOON! [Author: Tick]

In the new spirit of customer service that appears to be gripping the MMOG world lately, Verant recently announced that they would (for a hefty fee) be happy to review your requests to move from one server to another, or even split characters off of your main account onto a new account.

There are a few restrictions, of course. You can\’e2\’80\’99t go to a server that\’e2\’80\’99s less than six months old. You can\’e2\’80\’99t go to a PvP+ server if you\’e2\’80\’99re PvP-, and vice versa. Also, nobody goes to Test or to Sullon Zek.

Oh, and one little detail: if you\’e2\’80\’99re moving from server to server, you\’e2\’80\’99re making the trip naked as the day you were rolled. From EverQuest\’e2\’80\’99s character transfer page:

For moving Characters from one server to a different server, Characters will only be moved without ITEMS AND COINS. (IMPORTANT: Coins and all items will be deleted from characters before the characters are moved. This includes all items located in the character’s bank. All scribed spells will transfer with the character).

For a game in which equipment is as important as your level (if not more so), that\’e2\’80\’99s a painful price to pay to be with your friends. But according to Aradune, it\’e2\’80\’99s a necessary one:

What we don’t want are extreme power gamers hopping from one server to another, collecting ‘phat lewts’, ever in search of servers where one can ‘buy low’, and then transfering to another to ‘sell high’.

Also, players know how many high-end items are in the game, including no-drop items. We don’t want to disrupt that aspect of community either. Some players take pride in knowing they were one of the first on their server to obtain an item, and I think it might be a bummer to suddenly have someone else with that item transfer in. So that’s why we’re not allowing no-drop items to move either.

All of which is designed to protect the economies of the various servers that will be getting flooded with high level characters from, well- other servers.

But let\’e2\’80\’99s face it folks, this isn\’e2\’80\’99t going to be all about community and bringing friends closer. As heartwarming as it may be to think of that little wood elf family on Mithaniel Marr that\’e2\’80\’99s been saving their gold pieces for three months so that they can buy armor when SoulrazorX (his name was already taken, dammit) comes from the far-off lands of Fennin Ro, that\’e2\’80\’99s simply not going to be the case most of the time.

Ask yourself this: all other things being equal, who\’e2\’80\’99s it worth FIFTY DOLLARS to so they can move their character to another server where they\’e2\’80\’99re probably unknown? You guessed it:

The Cassanova: He\’e2\’80\’99s had cybersex with half of the female characters on his old server, and two-thirds of the male characters. He\’e2\’80\’99s been married more times than Eva Gabor and is always hitting on a cleric or a druid so he\’e2\’80\’99ll have a rez and a \’e2\’80\’98port ready whenever he needs it. If you\’e2\’80\’99ve got a female character, you\’e2\’80\’99ve got a friend in Cassanova.

The Bloody Know It All: He or she knows how to play your character better than you do, no matter what character it is or whether they actually have one. They\’e2\’80\’99ll tell you what spell you should be using to buff them with while they\’e2\’80\’99re completely blowing the opportunity to taunt the mob that\’e2\’80\’99s pounding your cleric to pieces. They know just where to pull to on every raid, and they don\’e2\’80\’99t hesitate to let the puller know it. Of course, what\’e2\’80\’99s worse is NOW they\’e2\’80\’99ll not only tell you how they play your race/class, they\’e2\’80\’99ll tell you how they do things on their OLD server, while going on about how \’e2\’80\’98nobody on this server knows how to play a (insert class here).\’e2\’80\’99

The Guildhopper: This person has burned bridges with every guild (uber and otherwise) on their old server, and they\’e2\’80\’99re \’e2\’80\’98just looking for a good home.\’e2\’80\’99 Problem is, within five days of being admitted to the guild, they\’e2\’80\’99re talking to the guild leader about how all the officers are wankers, and saying the same thing about the guild leader to the officers. It\’e2\’80\’99s worth fifty bucks to this person just to have somebody to talk to.

The Scam Artist: No explanation needed. Opening a trade window with this scumbucket is just asking for trouble.

Worst of all, there is the creature who is assisted perhaps most of all by the new policy… The Ebaydiot: This is the intellectual fireball who casts sentinel in Kael and wipes out an entire raid when the eye brings the Armor of Zek to the pull spot. The druid who used Gate as an evac spell. The cleric who mana dumps stun spells on the mob, lets half the group die and then says \’e2\’80\’9cIt\’e2\’80\’99s cool, I can rez.\’e2\’80\’9d

So that these rejects can have a new lawn to piss on, the prices of droppable uber weapons go through the roof, groups of level 40s are suddenly fighting with solo level 50+ characters over Hill Giants in the Rathe Mountains, and that little family that\’e2\’80\’99s been saving for some equipment for their long lost cousin\’e2\’80\’99s going to have to save a couple more months.

And you, the normal, everyday player (should you actually exist outside Verant\’e2\’80\’99s imagination) will get to deal with:

StrombladeX tells you: \’e2\’80\’9cNeed a port?\’e2\’80\’9d

You tell StrombladeX: \’e2\’80\’9cNo thanks\’e2\’80\’9d

StrombladeX tells you: \’e2\’80\’9cBuffs? Sow?\’e2\’80\’9d

You tell StrombladeX: \’e2\’80\’9cNope\’e2\’80\’9d

StrombladeX tells you: \’e2\’80\’9cGot any spare plat?\’e2\’80\’9d

You say out of character: \’e2\’80\’9cGET THIS UBER NEWB OFF ME!\’e2\’80\’9d

That ten-hour camp you were planning for uber item X might get a hell of a lot longer if some disgraced guild decides to re-form on your server; on the other hand, the cost of a rez might go down to a fine steel mace and all the copper you have on your corpse.

Of course, all of this depends on how many people decide to make the move. Fifty bucks is a lot of money for a virtual relocation; that said, the character transfer form is down, presumably because they’ve received so many requests.

Then again, ducking one\’e2\’80\’99s reputation on another server might not be as easy as waving half a C-note under Verant\’e2\’80\’99s nose; a naked 50+ character raises a few eyebrows, and people might just go looking to find out why Hunka Burninluv doesn\’e2\’80\’99t want to be on The Nameless server anymore.


I feel the need to preface my thoughts with the fact that I am not a Christian and not a fan of organized, institutionalized religion in general.

With that being said, the idea of in-game churches for real world religions grates against my thoughts on what online games should be about. Online games are an escapist pastime, places to go to lead a another life for a few hours a week, a world that lets you get away from the real one. Dealing with pamphlets at the mall, on my university’s campus, or outside the local grocery store is one thing. People are certainly free to proselytize their religion in the United States. However, after skimming across the deserts of Tatooine in my landcruiser for a few hours, I’d rather not enter port to be greeted by a wookie selling healing services and telling me Jesus saves.

Besides, the Force might get jealous of God, and then we’d have the Middle East played out on Hoth. Sure, the Gungans don’t want you to kill or eat Banthas on Saturdays because Banthas are unclean. However, killing Banthas is the only way for the Naboo to powerlevel. And then there are the Ewoks. They seem fairly pagan. Obviously, the Jedi will sweep in to convert them (see Episode Six), because that’s what the Jedi do. The next thing you know, Yoda is driving down the street in a Pope Mobile and a Sith takes a shot at him with his blaster. It can get rather messy rather quickly.

That aside.

Real world religions should stay in the real world. I certainly do not pay $10 a month to be converted. However, the question that is begged here is as follows:

If a church based on a real world religion takes shape in an online game, should the company take action against them?

That is a question I cannot begin to answer. At best, I have visions of devs fleeing this question in terror, if only because any answer they give is bound to offend someone somewhere.

Still, the establishment of religion within online worlds disturbs me. And I imagine it disturbs others.

Thanks to Damarr, the Irish Griefer, for the link.

JUDGE NOT, LEST… (PART 2) [Author: BruceR]

Represented on the panel by their editors are nine print magazines (PC Gamer, CGW, and seven mostly console titles), one TV show (Electric Playground), and a number of websites (Gamespot, Gamespy, Gameslice, Gamepro, Game Revolution, Games Domain, Gamers Republic, Happy Puppy, UGO and five judges from IGN). Also present were the game reporters from Red Herring, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, and the L.A. Times. No doubt ably representing the female half of the species were L.A. Times tech reporter Alex Pham, and Wired contributing editor Van Burnham. Um, that’s it. Out of 36 actual gaming press representatives, none were women.

36-0. Is that the best we can do? At our most prestigious awards at our largest gaming convention? 36-0?

It’s not that the talent wasn’t there. Present at the convention, but not part of the judging, were writers such as Gamespy’s Caryn Law, Stomped’s Vangie Beal, and radio host Pam Dixon (who was there to moderate a panel.) And if those magazine editors had extended an invitation to all the talented women game reporters they have, it would no doubt have improved matters\’e2\’80\’a6 or would it? Well\’e2\’80\’a6

You see, getting women on the editorial staff isn’t something the big gaming magazines, at least, seem very good at. The percentages on the awards panel are pretty much the same as you find on the editorial boards of the major magazines as well: currently one out of 10 editorial staff, art staff, and contributing editors (managing editor Holly Fleming) is a woman. At PC Gamer, that number is one out of 20, and assistant art director Chiaki Hachisu doesn’t write that much. The balance improves, obviously, when you start factoring in the more traditionally female production, marketing and advertising staff, but on the writing side the two biggest magazines between them have a current balance of 28 men, and two women.

28-2. 39-2. 36-0. Mm, hmm\’e2\’80\’a6

Those balances might have been improved somewhat if the third North American computer gaming magazine, Computer Games, had chosen to participate (two of its six editors are women)\’e2\’80\’a6 but as we mentioned last week, that magazine dropped out of this year’s awards, feeling they have become vaguely disreputable. No wonder. The trouble is that the absence of people like CG’s features editor Cindy Yans and West Coast editor Tricia Gray can only have the effect of making these awards even MORE sketchy than they were.

We’re not going to bother giving you the stats on women who play these games, because we know some people don’t put a lot of stock in them. Nor do we deny PC Gamer’s own estimate that 95 per cent of its readership is male. Whatever. But what we think is UNDENIABLE is that the gender balance can be quite different in some genres, such as adventure games or MMOGs. And because women aren’t part of the process, those kinds of games may be being given short shrift. We pointed out a couple of the obvious problems with previous awards the last time. Isn’t it just possible that a judging panel composed entirely of men might have something to do with Oni being chosen over The Longest Journey as the top adventure title of 1999? Or the still-vaporware-today Team Fortress 2 over the about-to-be-launched Asheron’s Call as the top multiplayer title in that same year?

Awards organizer Rob Smith says the editors are encouraged to poll their staffs before casting their votes, although the final decision is up to the individual. And the editor of PC Gamer also says that the panel is meant to be made up of people like him, the editors-in-chief of the sites, a selection process he has no control over. But Smith doesn’t mention that nine (25 per cent) of the game industry judges were currently not on a masthead anywhere, just other (male) writers, no doubt added for what people thought they could contribute to the judging. And the burping contests. But mostly the judging.

And what were the women writers doing while the men beer-klatsched over who to give “best of show” to? Holly Fleming, as managing editor of CGW, the highest ranking woman in game writing today, was there. What was she hard at work at? Um, asking the, um, “booth babes” what they really thought of “gamers.” (Note the implicit gender assumption.) “Many Babes spoke out in praise of gamers,” she burbles:

I’m here to tell you that they like Asians in particular.

“Asians are polite and they smell good.”

But even if you’re not Asian, there is hope. “These guys are more creative and fun than at other conventions.

“There’s a lot of computer nerds. I don’t know. They’re cute,” she said wistfully.

Now you’ve got to congratulate CGW on the editorial genius of sneaking One of Their Own into the girl’s clubhouse. (Thank God PC Gamer didn’t try it: the thought of Greg Vederman in drag scares us all.) But it’s a sad comment on game writers as a whole that a number of good women writers were consigned to writing E3 atmosphere pieces while the male gamers hung with Raph Koster in the LucasArts suite.

One pictures the editorial mastheads of these sites, sitting around, trying to decide what the Other among them should DO at a gaming convention while they judge. “Um, Jodi, we’ve got a big assignment for you. You go out and find us some ‘cute guys’ on the showfloor, okay?” And after the no doubt earnest young reporter romps out, the interrupted discussion can continue: “Okay, guys, let’s vote\’e2\’80\’a6 Soldier of Fortune 2 or Aliens vs. Predator 2?” “I can’t remember, which one had the strippers?” No, I’m not saying that really happened\’e2\’80\’a6 but that’s the impression given when a panel has a make-up like this one.

Don’t think for a second that the gender bias is lost on those who market these games, either. If you know that the judges handing out the awards are all male, what exactly is your disincentive for creating spectacles like GOD Games’ “Promised Lot,” complete with strip shows? As Wagner James Au pointed out for Salon magazine, the inevitable upshot is an industry and its affiliated press that portrays ITSELF as not-ready-for-the-big-time:

Boys will be boys, after all — you have to wonder if the pandering is really holding gaming back, or if it’s just what these hormonally supercharged teenagers deserve. Whatever the case, mainstream cultural credibility is still a long way away: This year’s E3 was a snapshot of an industry stuck in the geek ghetto, with little hope of breaking out.

If those planning to pick up an award had to think of making their presentations equally appealing to judges of both genders, E3 would at least have one reason to look a little different. Maybe Sierra would feel it didn’t need the whip-wielding babes in lycra this time out. Maybe GOD could have cut back on the porn budget and used the money to help FINISH SHADOWBANE, even. And these awards could conceivably be a force for progress, giving E3, and by extension the gaming industry as a whole, a helping hand out of a niche market. But instead of fighting stereotypes, the entire structure of the Game Critics Awards is only reinforcing them, relegating all of us for years to come to a public persona which Au neatly summarized as “mouth-breathing dudes in ‘Akira’ T-shirts.”

The controversial writer for Salon could even have been talking about the prestige of winning an E3 award under these conditions when he wrote:

But whatever the outcome, the victor will dominate an industry that is still grossly unprepared for the mainstream, a disreputably grab-ass, twerpy adjunct to the real media. Billions of dollars will change millions of hands, as they always have, but in the end, it won’t have any impact on the larger culture going on without them outside their digitized walls. Just more money shuffled back and forth in an underground economy of lost boys.

Lost boys giving lost awards. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The E3 Game Critics Awards are a sorry excuse for the leading laurels of our mutual obsession. But they can be fixed. Herewith, a few suggestions how.

First, a stipulation for even being nominated in an E3 category should be displaying a game that is playable by someone other than a developer ON THE SHOWROOM FLOOR. Not because Brad Wardell wouldn’t get to see it otherwise: that doesn’t matter. But because a game so far developed that it can be shown to the masses would be more likely to, unlike numerous previous award winners, cross the final mile and get released sometime in the same century. These are, after all, the Best of Show awards\’e2\’80\’a6 should they not be on display?

That doesn’t mean the wowza closed-door tech demos need be completely ignored. The Game Critics actually have a second class of award, the Special Commendation, last given in 1999: meant for games that don’t meet all of the awards’ currently extremely loose criteria. If the graphics on Star Wars Galaxies and The Sims Online had blown everybody away, the judges could have given them special commendations, and saved the real awards for a game someone actually might play before 2003. They can do the same thing again this year.

Second, there must be some kind of attempt to include gamers of both genders on the judging panel. Two out of 41, no matter how talented or nice those two may be, is just not acceptable. Even if three-fourths of the spots are reserved for editors-in-chief as now, there was no reason the remaining quarter of the gaming press spots shouldn’t have included up to half-a-dozen of the best women writers on the gaming scene today, to balance things out just a little. It’s the price of being reputable, people. (Plus they’re a lot more real than those pneumatic blondes in spandex Au and others think you prefer, guys.)

And if the guys behind the E3 Awards don’t want to cooperate? Then Doug Lowenstein and the rest of E3’s organizers have to get off their asses and stop PLAYING PILATE here. Like it or not, these are currently perceived as E3’s awards, and the reputation of the organizers from the Interactive Digital Software Association suffers or rises accordingly with their success or failure. Some, like Computer Games editor Steve Bauman, believe E3 needs to start putting out its own awards, and just let this questionable predecessor fade into well-deserved obscurity. It might be harder than that, though\’e2\’80\’a6 these things have five years of street cred, and people will prefer to have some continuity. No, the best case would be for the powers-that-be at the IDSA to sit down with Rob Smith and his friends, or not, and create a suitable successor award that everyone can get behind. Perhaps some collaboration with the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (whose lesser-known Academy Awards for Games were also a highlight at this year’s E3) could be in order.

There is no shortage of goodwill with this one. Gamers want awards that tell them something. Game writers want to be taken seriously. Game developers with cool products want the recognition. Only three years ago, in 1998, one could hardly argue that the judges hadn’t picked the undisputed Games to Watch For. But since then they’ve been going off-track, and taking the gaming press’ collective reputation, and by extension that of the entire gaming community, along with them. It’s not too late to turn that train around.


It’s ludicrous that a level 80 character can be witch-hunted into oblivion because somebody decides after 80 levels that if you re-arrange the letters in his character name a certain way, it’s offensive. The whole thing is beginning to remind me of the good old days of playing heavy metal rock records backwards to reveal the “secret” satanic messages. What a joke.

I would just like to say to the player of Cupid Stunt that I fully support you in your fight against the evil empire. You’re nothing but a vocent innictim in a warsh horld of injustice. Even if it IS possible to rearrange the letters of your name to something offensive, it’s fother mucking ridiculous to presume that anyone could decipher that unhappy accident and find it offensive.

Cupid my man, you are a snall batcher (that’s a Latvian term meaning hero of the community). You’re an absolute scairy hrotum (that’s an Indian term meaning upstanding citizen). And anyone who thinks otherwise is croking smack.

Ok ok ok. On a more serious note, I’m not going to try and defend this guy on the basis that he didn’t know what he was doing when he chose that name. He was indulging in an age-old practice of pushing the envelope with the authorities. I know it well because I used to do it myself on a regular basis. I remember fondly the restrictions of the AOL terms of service that kept you from really blistering an in-game enemy on the boards in exactly the terms that you really wanted to use. Being forced to say things like:

“You are such a moron that you can’t tell the difference between a woman and a goat. Not that I’m making a statement about your sexual preferences – that might be offensive.”

Instead of:

“You goat fucker.”

was actually fun. In all honesty it lent a challenge to a good flame war that is conspicuously absent from more permissive forums. But when you pushed that envelope you knew you were risking the wrath of the admins. There is, however, a vast difference between that situation and the one perpetuated by the UO/EQ/AC triumvirate. The difference was that back then when you pushed the envelope, you knew what was acceptable and what wasn’t far better, and you knew exactly what “punishment” would be handed out for the violation. You knew because the standards of the community were actually enforced on a regular and (mostly) consistent basis. The replacement for this in the modern gaming world appears to be this:

“Let’s write the terms of service as broadly as possible to give ourselves complete leeway on what we decide to censure. And let’s not specify what will happen if you violate this broad statement so we can give ourselves complete leeway on enforcement. AND let’s just enforce it in two ways – a) when we feel like it, and b) when someone complains.”

The above is clearly a strategy completely designed for the convenience of the company having to deal with it. It does nothing for setting the standards of the community and does nothing for defining boundaries. It just empowers the company to crash the hammer down on anything that bothers them or that bothers enough of their customers that their customers are bothering them – and it’s a load of shorse hit. One of my favorite examples of this is how Verant will change the names of characters without notice that are either offensive or not in the role play spirit. That’s fine, but if you walk around enough of the world you can find LOTS of NPCs in the game with names that would probably get changed on most players.

I DO have a substantial problem with the common practice of inconsistent and unclear standards and heavy-handed retribution that this industry indulges in. For a character with the name of Cupid Stunt to make it to level 80 in AC without correction only to NOW be threatened with complete deletion implies a few things:

a) It was ok at some point to have that name, but now that’s changed basically because someone complained. Therefore you will never know what’s ok and what’s not unless you stick to the most conservative of standards – because every player walking around that world has a different standard for offensive in their heads.

b) If you do something that ends up offending someone in the game – even if you have done it a thousand times before to no effect – you can have NO expectation of what actual consequences that will bring. You just have to call yourself Ben Dover and see what comes up.

c) Even though the “offensive” nature of the name was hard enough to spot that no action has been taken through 80 levels, it’s “offensive” enough now to merit a complete character deletion.

Usually the more conservative players fully support the above three abominations. That’s because they fully expect never to get caught up in them, not because they actually think they’re wise or logically consistent policies. It’s easy to like a gun that you perceive to be pointed at people you don’t like – it gets a little hard when the muzzle turns toward you. And I’ve seen it happen.

Change his damn name and get over yourselves. If you want to change your standard of enforcement from one that lets “Cupid Stunt” get as high as level 80 to one in which he would never have been able to get that far, then change it and enforce it – but don’t beat down people retroactively.


The False Prophet

Gratuitous RP Signature


From somewhere and everywhere on the web:

All servers are down for emergency Maintenance. There is NO ETA at the time. We are currently experiencing Database problems. Thank you for your patience. There will be a rollback.

Apparently, characters weren’t being saved properly and reverting themselves to older saves. Thus, trades, item transfers, and leveling were being profoundly affected. I experienced this yesterday on Thistledown (though I didn’t take umbrage with it at the time).

The rollback has been rumored to be anywhere from 30 mins all the way up to 12 hours.

Which means all those levels and phat lewt I gained yesterday is for naught, and I’ll have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ah well. Sounds like the guys at Turbine have had their weekend ruined as well. At least I’m not alone in this.


The servers have returned with the most minor of roll backs. Since I was playing last night when the servers went down, my character on Thistledown reverted to about 20 mins prior to the server going down.

The result? I need to buy mana stones again. Very minor, all things considered.

Good job, Turbine.


The official Press Release:


Diamond Bar, California, July 27, 2001-Fallen Age, the innovative massively multiplayer online game from Netamin has been placed on hold indefinitely, the company announced today.

“We have run into creative differences with our partners in Korea, and have decided this week that we had no choice but to put the game on hold,” said Daniel “Savant” Manachi, Producer of Fallen Age. “As a result, the beta servers will be shut down this weekend.”

“We sincerely apologize to our testers for the time and effort they’ve put into helping test the game,” said Manachi. “Because of their dedication, we are working with the folks at Mythic Entertainment to enable Fallen Age testers to move to the Dark Age of Camelot Beta.”

“We’ll have details in the coming week(s) for the testers regarding this move, and we greatly appreciate Mythic for working with us. While we are all competitors, it’s nice to know that the players can come first,” said Manachi.

Savant, Producer of Fallen Age, also sited disagreements in decisions concerning beta such as patching to the player base. FA testers are expected to hear about their acceptance into DAoC beta in approximately one week after final arrangements have been made.

When asked about the possibility of the return of Fallen Age, Savant had this to say:

Savant – Fallen Age, as it exists as you know it, can’t break away from Killride… They own the Intellectual Property and the source code. Fallen Age the name, belongs to us — So technically, you may yet to see “Fallen Age” (if we can’t patch things up) but it will not be like what you were testing until now.

Netamin plans on continuing development of two unannounced titles including one MMOG sport title.


—–Original Message—–

From: SamPenguin [mailto:***********.com]

Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 12:25 PM

To: arcadian@lumthemad.net

Subject: Sorry

Point taken.

I guess I didn’t really consider what I did was griefing. I simply intended to have some fun with my allies, which several others of my allies were also doing. But given the light that that is the main mode of playing the game, i can see how it can be viewed as a grief, and very unprofessional. I sincerely apologize. I have removed the post, and I will personally post much less in the future on TP, and never again about the industry I work in.

Again, please do not think I was trashing Majestic. Indeed, I greatly

respect their ability to integrate so many technologies, and especially the new ideas of the game itself.

Please realize this has nothing to do with anyone or anything I work with. This is solely my responsibility and my own time, and I should be the one all mail bombs and hate letters should be directed to. I am sorry for the trouble I have caused to my fellow employees and company, especially GBob, our “front lines” guy. He will undoubtably catch a lot of flack for this, when it is my fault.


Sam Penguin Nerd in Charge

Tiny Penis, Ltd.

(Nerds are ok) http://www.tinypenis.com

JUDGE NOT, LEST… (PART ONE) [Author: BruceR]

Release estimates for SWG range from Fall, 2002 (Gone Gold) to Spring 2003 (CGW). What Koster was showing the journalists is best described as a \’e2\’80\’9cpre-alpha\’e2\’80\’9d build, with alpha and beta still to come. Some would say it is merely a graphics engine.

No problem, you can always play the previous MMOG award-winner, right? Um, well, no: the 2000 award went to Bioware\’e2\’80\’99s Neverwinter Nights, which isn\’e2\’80\’99t out until this winter or maybe next spring. And it\’e2\’80\’99s not just MMOGs. In fact, out of the previous two years\’e2\’80\’99 awards, a third of the games nominated have yet to appear. In many cases, as with SWG, they won awards on extremely early builds of the game in question. If this were the Academy Awards, it would be comparable to giving Oscars to rehearsals.

But so what, right? SWG is cool. It has wookiees. Why not give it an award? Only one problem many other games that ARE ready, and will be released before the next E3, never got a chance. Even next year, when SWG may be ready, it will be eligible to win again — and likely will. But Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest: Shadows of Luclin, Anarchy Online and World War Two Online will be in players\’e2\’80\’99 hands. They may be good, they may be bad: but they never got a chance at what is perhaps the most prominent award in the computer game industry.

Founded in 1997, the Game Critics Awards advertise themselves as the \’e2\’80\’9conly independent\’e2\’80\’9d awards given out at the computer industry\’e2\’80\’99s largest trade fair. In an industry that has nothing to compare yet to the Academy Awards for movies, a judgment of games by \’e2\’80\’9ceditors from nearly every major online and print magazine and newspaper that covers games\’e2\’80\’9d about what impressed them the most has a lot of weight. Why, there\’e2\’80\’99s even a logo you can download and put on YOUR website (should you happen to be promoting one of the lucky winners) so that you can bask in the prestigious accolades. The award website goes into great detail about the stringent measures taken to ensure the voting is not biased. However, an examination by our writers shows a couple biases that the industry\’e2\’80\’99s leading bauble still needs to rise above.

‘It’s the way the industry works’

Rob Smith is a big man in the game media scene. In addition to being editor of PC Gamer, the largest magazine devoted to computer games, he is a co-organizer of the Game Critics Awards. And he sees nothing wrong with the granting of the laurel to SWG this year.

Star Wars Galaxies was playable enough to be qualified based on our criteria. It’s early, so what? It’s playable, there’s an engine, there’s wandering around looking at monsters, characters, technology. It’s the way the industry works.

But other journalists have different opinions about whether what Koster was showing qualifies as \’e2\’80\’9cplayable.\’e2\’80\’9d Said Tom Chick of QuartertoThree.com: Let me be the first to distance myself from all the praise being heaped on this tech demo. Because that’s all that was showing at E3: a tech demo with the sound of developers in the background making promises. And Geoff Keighley of Gameslice, who actually co-organized the awards with Smith, also seemed to have his doubts, saying in a recent editorial Star Wars Galaxies is really nothing more than a glorified 3D rendering engine at this point.

Smith disagrees that there\’e2\’80\’99s any problem: There has never been an issue with trying to vote for games that were near launch to my knowledge.

But that may not be EXACTLY TRUE. While the editors of PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World were among the judges, the third North American computer game magazine, Computer Games, declined to participate this year on exactly these grounds. Says editor Steve Bauman: We declined to participate because we don’t feel it’s appropriate to judge and give awards to incomplete games, particularly ones that have no demonstrable gameplay or are only controlled by company representatives.

It\’e2\’80\’99s not making some people in the industry happy, either. In a column this week in the Adrenaline Vault, developer Brad Wardell said the palm to Star Wars shows only that game writers are more in bed with corporate PR than was previously thought.

The gaming press essentially picked titles that weren’t really at the show in the sense that mere mortals (aka independent observers) could see them. To see Star Wars: Galaxies you had to go upstairs to the private LucasArts suite. Only VIP press people were allowed. How can such a game be “Best of E3?” If the game is so good, why not put it out on the show floor for everyone to make their own determination?

Wardell isn\’e2\’80\’99t the only one. Game columnist Jessica Mulligan said essentially the same thing in her column for Skotos.net:

As always, the computer gaming press came through with flying colors with their “Best of E3” lists and, as always, they all pretty much picked the same games for the same awards, i.e. those with the best marketing machines, parties and gifts\’e2\’80\’a6

For these and other remarks, Mulligan’s column would be EVISCERATED by angry game writers, who closed ranks in an indignation-filled discussion thread at QuartertoThree. Insulting the integrity of game journalists, or the awards they put out, never makes you friends in this industry.

But even some of the other award organizers are beginning to question what’s going on here. In a fascinating mental excursion in Gameslice, organizer Geoff Keighley astutely identifies the growing perception problem his awards have, then, apparently realizing where his thought process is going, drops the entire question abruptly:

The good journalists in this industry often debate these questions. After all, is Max Payne a better game than Star Wars: Galaxies? One game is shipping in a matter of weeks; the other likely won’t be out for a matter of years. Do you reward completeness E3 or sheer potential? It’s not an easy question to answer\’e2\’80\’a6 Nevertheless, there’s no question that Best of E3 lists serve their purpose\’e2\’80\’a6

Just keep backing away slowly, there, Geoff\’e2\’80\’a6

Industry pressure, or game critic caving?

Part of the problem here is the E3 award rules are SO VAGUE: while they state a game can only be nominated if it\’e2\’80\’99s playable, the judges\’e2\’80\’99 definition of PLAYABLE is\’e2\’80\’a6 somewhat different from most people\’e2\’80\’99s: \’e2\’80\’9ca game in real-time running on its native platform.\’e2\’80\’9d Games can be shown on the show floor, or not\’e2\’80\’a6 games can be in beta, alpha or pre-alpha: it clearly DOESN’T MATTER.

It wasn\’e2\’80\’99t ALWAYS this way. Back in the award\’e2\’80\’99s second year, 1998, 11 computer games won E3 awards, all after showing beta builds. On average, they were released six months after the award ceremony: the exception was Homeworld, which ended up delaying its planned fall, 1998 launch\’e2\’80\’a6 but even it was evaluated on a (very) early beta. But for the last three years, as game companies have taken more and more interest in an \’e2\’80\’9cindependent\’e2\’80\’9d award they can gloat over, the judges have awarded their prizes to games much earlier in production. Two other winners from 1999, Freelancer and Team Fortress 2, still haven\’e2\’80\’99t appeared, 26 months after E3.

The problem is exacerbated because fewer games are GETTING awards as well, with multiple awards for many titles (Only six PC titles won all the awards in each of the last two years, down from 11 in 1998). That concentration means games coming from smaller development houses, like Funcom, Croteam and Mythic, risk being ignored. As an example, in 1999 Funcom\’e2\’80\’99s The Longest Journey was shown at E3. Reviews of this game have been fantastic, with it being called “arguably the best adventure game ever made.\’e2\’80\’9d So what beat it as the best adventure game for E3 1999? There wasn’t one: as opposed to the previous year, that category was changed to “Action/Adventure:” allowing the action game Oni to win an award without having to deny the actual action game winner, Team Fortress 2, an award. (Oni is a lot of things, but it does not qualify as an “adventure game” in any sense of the word.) An excerpt from the rules makes it clear that the categories for each year can change largely on the whims of the Chairman:

Before E3 the Game Critics Awards Chairman, in consultation with the Associate Chairmen and Judges, determines the list of categories that will be voted upon each year. The Chairman has the final say as to which categories will be open for voting. The inclusion of a category one year does not necessarily dictate that it will be included in future years.

In 1998 the category for MMOGs was “Online Only.” Of course the winner, EQ, was probably the only game at E3 in 1998 that even qualified for that category (Asheron’s Call was released in late 1999, UO in 1997.) But that heading was then changed in 1999 to Multiplayer Online (dropping the ‘only’), allowing the judges to grant Team Fortress 2 yet another prize. (and denying AC its chance to win). Of course, Team Fortress 2 still has not been released over two years later. One has to wonder, what form was it in, in May of 1999? (In 2000, Neverwinter Nights, also far from having a full game at that point, took the multiplayer category; it has also won the best RPG award the last two years running.)

So what changed after 1998? PC Gamer\’e2\’80\’99s Smith attributes it to industry pressure. \’e2\’80\’9cThe industry has changed, and developers/publishers are showing their games earlier — though the credibility and importance of the [E3] awards to all these organizations is such that they have ensured that playable code is available to see [to the judges]. I’m delighted and proud of that fact.\’e2\’80\’9d

But if one is to believe Wardell, that kind of passing the buck onto the marketers is just typical: Obviously, the game magazines are free to cover what they want. It’s just obnoxious to see them also complain about how little originality and innovation there is in gaming when they are one of the causes of that sad state of affairs. I wonder, how long [will it] be before the magazines complain about companies with private suites at E3, when there wouldn’t be private suites at E3 if the magazines didn’t cover them.

What is the upshot of a select group of \’e2\’80\’9cstar\’e2\’80\’9d games being judged on their alpha or pre-alpha builds, and more and more behind closed doors to a select group of industry-friendly media? For starters, it\’e2\’80\’99s a clear encouragement for developers to delay their product, even though they\’e2\’80\’99re hyping it early\’e2\’80\’a6 with the proper marketing savvy, a game now can win one E3 award for its alpha build, and another one for its beta build. Games from smaller publishers (like Mythic or Wolfpack) or those with original and creative ideas find it harder to build up word of mouth because only half-a-dozen of their peers, who may have very little in the way of an actual game to show, took that year\’e2\’80\’99s award away from them. For game fans, it means their need for news is more and more in the hands of a few behind-closed-door marketers, and the journalists they think they can control. (Not to mention the awards themselves are based on less and less information: knowing what we know now, would you have picked Oni as the top action title of 1999? No doubt it looked pretty good when it was just Konoko jumpkicking around a level, though\’e2\’80\’a6 maybe even as good as Star Wars does.)

But there\’e2\’80\’99s an even WORSE potential problem with the E3 awards: an entire class of computer game journalists that are largely excluded from its proceedings altogether. In our second part, we\’e2\’80\’99ll look at who doesn\’e2\’80\’99t get a voice in selecting gaming\’e2\’80\’99s premier awards, and what the backers of E3 itself need to do now if they want to bolster a legitimacy that is now increasingly under question.

(Story by Myschyf and BruceR)



To some, this site is not new. It is a mix between Something Awful, Lum the Mad, WTFman, and Stile Project. It offends, it lampoons, and it tears apart the weaknesses in the online culture like dry rotted stitches in a weathered mainsail.

The latest update was brought to our attention by the following email, and it is a real scream:

—–Original Message—–

From: Ryan Seabury [mailto:**********@netdevil.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 6:47 PM

To: lum@lumthemad.net

Subject: Majestic Morons

I thought you folks might get a kick out of our most recent feature,

creatively titled “Majestic Morons”. The result of “trying out” the new Majestic game. I love online games. Enjoy!




Sam Penguin Nerd in Charge

Tiny Penis, Ltd.

(Nerds are ok) http://www.tinypenis.com

It seems the site admin has enrolled himself in EA’s recently released online game Majestic, and decided it was his duty to inform the world that it is VERY GRIEFABLE, and does so by taking thirty players on a wild goose chase that very likely will ruin their game exprience for weeks to come. Read his update here because we’re going to talk about it in a moment.

First thing you want to tuck away for use later is the first thing the Majestic Bot says to him:

MainerdKyle: Hello, I’m Kyle, the System Admin from Majestic. Is Ryan Seabury there?

And the player answering to the name Ryan Seabury?

PenguinSamS: Would you like to talk about Ryan Seabury?

PenguinSamS = Ryan Seabury. Remember that, there will be a quiz later.

Just for flavor, lets sample one of his grief diversions to someone who unwittingly trusted him enough to try and work together to solve the mystery of Majestic…

PenguinSamS: You are a clever one.

PenguinSamS: I can see this won’t be easy. Have you heard of Level 3 DsKooL hacking?

DeanosutS: not recently

PenguinSamS: If tammy is there, she can explain. Look… this is what i need you to do.

PenguinSamS: go to http://www.skirtman.org… there are several news articles.

PenguinSamS: somewhere within these articles is the clue to the pusher bots docs.

PenguinSamS: we have to find it before midnight tonight.

PenguinSamS: i am covering the other suspected websites.

DeanosutS: i can do that

PenguinSamS: report back to me if you find ANYTHING!

DeanosutS: we’ll do

PenguinSamS: I must go now! Good LUCK!

He has sent this player to a site belonging to a man who is very open and honest about his personal life, albeit a very difficult one to be open and honest about. Why is this? Because of needle dicks like Mr. Ryan Seabury, SENIOR DEVELOPER for Net Devil, the company launching the massive online game, Jumpgate.

I really hope they release a grief-free game. I really really do.

Because I’d hate to see paying customers being griefed to death by the SENIOR DEVELOPER.

So unlike certain other developers who felt compelled by honor and ethics to not host a rant site while working for a developer in the industry, Mister Ryan Seabury continues to host a site that, upon reading it, has all the look and feel of a thirteen year old’s grief site.

Except thirteen year olds can’t host their sites on NETDEVILS OWN NETWORK. For those who dont care to follow that link, here’s what network solutions has to say about TinyPenis.com…


Tiny Penis, Ltd. (TINYPENIS-DOM)

890 W. Cherry St. #240

Louisville, CO 80027



Administrative Contact, Billing Contact:

Seabury, Ryan (RS11359) ryan@TINYPENIS.COM

Tiny Penis, Ltd.

890 W. Cherry St. #240

Louisville, CO 80027

(720)890-#### (FAX) (720)890-####

Technical Contact:

Seabury, Ryan (RS29985) ****@NETDEVIL.COM


890 W. Cherry St. #240

Louisville, CO 80027


720890-#### 720890-####

Record last updated on 06-Apr-2001.

Record expires on 20-Mar-2003.

Record created on 20-Mar-1998.

Database last updated on 26-Jul-2001 06:48:00 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:



How nice that Net Devil Ltd has agreed to host a website with Grief Cybersex stunts and other vulgarities. Very very professional, Net Devil. Just the kind of thing that distributors like 3DO like to see in a partner.

Now just to be fair, I would be remiss if I did not warn you about Majestic – it is VERY GRIEFABLE. The structure of the game invites you to work in a group with up to thirty strangers, via the AOL Instant Messenger, to swap clues, URLs, and other tidbits. Often, you will rely on the knowledge of your “allies” as they are called, to help you through a particularly difficult puzzle. Sadly, this interaction between players is entirely unmoderated and unpoliced. If your group of thirty allies has a sufficient number of Ryan Seabury style assholes, you are at a huge disadvantage, and in extreme cases, sometimes these major assholes can send you on wild goose chases through a series of shocking and disgusting websites, all the while, they sit back and cackle with glee while you struggle to figure out what parts of Majestic are real, and what parts are the invention of an immature employee of Net Devil, Ltd.

This puts a major wet blanket on the potential for Majestic. Basically, once the griefers find out it is entirely unpoliced, well kiss your game experience good-bye because it is all over. Which I suppose serve’s Net Devil’s needs rather nicely. Each disgruntled Majestic player is a potential Jumpgate account owner. Maybe Net Devil should encourage ALL of its employees to grief the hell out of their competition, to draw people to their own game.

The only problem is that the reports on Jumpgate right now are “THE SUXS” – so don’t get your hopes up Net Devil. Maybe if your SENIOR DEVELOPERS weren’t so busy being needled dicked pricks in your comeptitor’s games, they would have found time to make your own online title NOT SUCK.

No word from Net Devil at this time. I attempted to place a phone call, and it rang off the hook. At 5:15pm. Guess they all had to rush home and try to cybersex with people trying to play Majestic. But I would love to hear something about this. GBob, are you out there? You are the online community coordinator – come address this one, big guy.

(And man-to-man, I’m really sorry bro. Honest, I am. But I absolutely cannot swallow this one. You took the job, and you gotta take what comes).

So let’s hear it. Tell me how Net Devil approves of being the host for www.tinypenis.com, and how it has no problem with the behavior of its SENIOR DEVELOPER. Then I’ll tell you how fast I’ll line up to pay this guy so he can continue to act like a childish prick. Oh sure, there will be a few who think this is cool, and will be even more excited to play Jumpgate because of this.

So tell me, is excessive griefplay and grief cybersex messages bannable in Jumpgate?

****UPDATE: 7/27@8:23am EST***

Interview with Scorch at UknownPlayer.Com

To answer that last question, I direct you to an interview by Unknown Player with Net Devil President, Scott “Scorch” Brown, posted on 7/26 only moments before this update broke

Highlight question #9…

9. What is your stance on people who: exploit, grief play, cheat etc? Will players have the ability to get in game and real world help? What’s your policy on banning? Will players be able to appeal a ban/suspension?

The banning policies (and all other policies for that matter) will be at the descression of the publishers, MightyGames and 3DO. Cheaters/griefers are a sore subject with me. I never imagined how much time would be lost both fixing hacks and changing game mechanics around player’s loopholes. Its frustrating when you have some really exciting new stuff for the game, and it gets shelved because a new hack was discovered and it takes a week to get it resolved.

***STORY UPDATED: 7/27@12:02PM EST***

linked files being removed, links changed to local copies.

NetDevil Senior Developer Ryan Seabury has deleted the files linked to this story. Fortunately, I have backups, and have changed the links to locally mirrored files. They are unaltered and appear as they did on the original site. Previously unlinked is the front page in which he applauds his efforts to spoil the experience for a few Majestic players.