April 2010

Activision’s Legal Position On Infinity Ward: NO U

Well, then.

In a lawsuit that read more like a dramatic Hollywood script, Santa Monica-based Activision claimed it fired Jason West and Vincent Zampella in March because the two “morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision’s assets for their own personal gain.”

EA, when asked to comment:

We don’t have the time to comment on the many lawsuits Activision files against its employees and creative partners.

So there you go!

David Allen v. Derek Smart: Dramasign The Likes Of Which Even God Has Never Seen

Well, we haven’t had much Derek Smart/David Allen/Alganon news here, mainly because it’s been fairly quiet, with Derek Smart’s new crack team of developers busy implementing new totally-not-WoW-cloning content. Which is true! I am fairly certain World of Warcraft does not have the ability to loot “the head of David Allen“. But David Allen, or perhaps a higher power such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer has smiled upon us, and brought to us more drama. Specifically:

In an effort to enhance Alganon’s® market visibility and following the direction of certain investors, QOL hired Derek Smart as a consultant on December 3, 2009 to assist in the area of sales and marketing. Soon thereafter, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, Mr. Smart began a smear campaign attacking my credibility, first privately among the investors, and then publicly. As many have read on various Internet websites, Mr. Smart has made disparaging remarks concerning my professional work and comments that could lead others to question my loyalty, honesty, and ability to successfully create, build, run, and manage a multi-million dollar MMOG development company; something I have been doing successfully for over four years. Please be aware that Mr. Smart’s comments are false and that I have filed a civil action against him in Maricopa County Superior Court for his defamatory conduct, among other things. I have been advised by my legal counsel to offer no further comment at this time on this matter during the pendency of the litigation.

And like all good courtroom drama, the paperwork has been posted!

As a result of these false accusations and their effect on Allen’s reputation, he cannot secure acceptable gainful employment in his industry and, as an entrepreneur, it has hindered his ability to procure capital from investors and supporters for any new business venture.

Perhaps as part of the legal proceedings we, the interested public, can finally find out, in open court, what really happened to that Coke machine.

Edit: THIS JUST IN: Did you SERIOUSLY think Derek Smart could NOT comment on this?

I know you guys are all anxiously waiting for either myself or QOL to respond in an official capacity. Unlike David, we are actually running our response through legal counsel before we release it.

Oh. Well, that makes sense. I guess he’s not going to commen… oh wait, he kept typing.

The facts are clear and without interpretation. His complaint (there is no lawsuit btw, thats just rubbish) is without merit and is just designed to strong arm people to do what they have been doing these past four years: give him money.

Right now he should be more concerned about the FBI, the IRS and the SEC more than filing frivolous suits that he has NO money to see through. Whatever money he had left, has already been spent on attorney retainers. Lets see how exactly he plans on bringing about frivolous lawsuits to no less than fourteen individuals and two companies. Not to mention the counter suits and cross complaints that are in the works and which he is most likely going to be buried in for the next ten years of his life.

We’ve known about his complaint since it was filed back on Mar 25th. But he chose to issue a press release on April 7th? My guess is that he’s out looking for a job or some fool to give him money.

In typical David fashion, he has no clue wtf he is doing or what’s coming down the line. All this is just noise to take away from the fact that he screwed several investors, screwed thousans of gamers, nearly destroyed the company and left a frigging mess behind. A mess that I have been tasked with clearing up and fixing.

David – once again – severely underestimates the investors. Because he pretty much spent four years feeding them bullshit and them giving him money, he thinks that they’re just going to cave and pay him to go away. When no less than ten people unanimously vote you OUT of a company – TWICE – it means only one thing: they want you GONE.

When David Allen decided to bring me to QOL to HELP him, then LIE to me and try to get me to play along with his scheme to continue bilking the investors through lies and deceit he drew the line. Had I gone along with that plan, it would a different story today. The court documents will show EXACTLY what happened. So go ahead David, bring it.

Derek Smart: canny publicity genius, or secretly a stimulus package for the legal industry?

Mythic Decides Billing People Is Fun, Can’t Stop Doing It

[EDIT 4/9 8:30p: Mythic made an official statement today explicitly taking responsibility and pledging to make right their error. This is far better than their earlier comments that I rail about below but it does make much of the rest of this post look unjustifiably whiny. Frankly, I’d rather look whiny and people get good CS then the reverse.]


This is pretty much the worst thing you can ever do as an MMO: abuse the trust your customers give you with their credit cards. Suffice to say that most people were only mildly amused.

Today, my bank notified me that Mythic entertainment had billed my credit card 44 times in a single day for $14.95, for a total of more than six hundred dollars. This was interesting since I don’t have 44 Warhammer accounts. Indeed, I cancelled my Warhammer subscription a few months ago.

Mythic’s official response has been: whoopsie.

We have confirmed with our vendor that players who have been charged multiple times for their subscriptions should start seeing a reversal of charges within 24-36 hours. We anticipate that once the charges have been reversed, any fees that have been incurred should be refunded as well. If after 36 hours, there are still incorrect charges or fees on your account, please follow these instructions:

  • Please begin by contacting your financial institution and explain to them that you were incorrectly charged multiple times and, as a result, over drafted. Most financial institutions will reverse these charges
  • If your financial institution is unable to remove these charges, you may contact our billing department by calling 650-628-1001 during our hours of operation, which are 10:00 AM EDT – 10:00 PM EDT, 7 days a week. Please have the phone and fax number of your financial institution ready when you call.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this issue may be causing our players. Please continue to watch the Herald in the coming days for further information regarding this issue.

Note what is missing from this:

* A clear-cut statement of responsibility and assurance this won’t happen again. As is standard operating procedure from the CYA manual, all that is offered here is an “apology for any *inconvenience* that *this issue* may be causing”. Because hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees (which, contrary to Mythic Rumor Control, banks do not reverse when you ask politely), you know, is a minor inconvenience – not “our mistake”, not “our issue”, just “this issue” – that can be addressed with a statement that refers to “an event” that, you know, just happened.

* Any sort of compensation to players for their financially damaging *inconvienience*. Because, I suppose, that would entail some statement of responsibility. For, you know, cleaning out your customer’s bank accounts. Instead of just, you know, assuming that just somehow *happened* by some unnamed *third party vendor*.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. And, you know, Flagship Studios isn’t around any more. There may be a connection. If you can’t even be trusted to collect just the money you’re supposed to… there may be some issues. Oh. Sorry. “this issue”.

Games, Rumors, Courtroom Meltdowns and Lu Lu

Evony is in the news for a few reasons:

* They just launched a shiny new version, with 100% more queens to save!
* They stopped suing blogger/gadfly/really getting quite creepy stalker and not in a good way Bruce Everiss
* Walt Yarbrough, whom I worked with on Dark Age of Camelot, and who’s now heading up Evony’s Boston studio gave an interview with Ars Technica, where he did about as well as could be expected given, you know, hey, Evony.

It’s all very standard stuff, Evony’s rework looks very slick for a free to play game, they’re promising to stop shaking breasts in your ad banners, and all that. But as always the most intriguing things are in the margins, such as this line from the Guardian piece:

Everiss’s lawyers, led by Damian Sturzacker of Marque Lawyers, also established links between Evony and two companies, Regan Mercantile of Hong Kong – owned by a mysterious woman named Lu Lu – and Regan Mercantile of New York.

That’s right, one of the most popular free to play games in the world is apparently the property of A MYSTERIOUS WOMAN NAMED LU LU.

I’ve thought about this for the past ten minutes and I can’t think of anything funnier than just stopping right… here.

A Brief Meta Note

For those of you waiting for your weekly dose of MMORPG.com postings from yours truly, I’ve quit doing them thanks to lack of time and, over the past six months or so, having written about everything. So future meanderings will appear, you know, here. This blog. That I update. Sometimes. Maybe. Also Twitter, when I remember. I was dared to make a tweet about a scatological reference I made to a certain monument being entirely appropriate for New Jersey. But I didn’t. Because I’m a big chicken.