December 2000

WARZONE ONLINE [Author: myschyf]


Warzone Online is based on the award winning Warzone tabletop miniatures game and the Mutant Chronicles universe. Warzone Online ha[s] a rich and living background to build on and to take even further with the additional possibilities of being played online with other people worldwide. Warzone Online is currently scheduled to be an Xbox and PC title.

Warzone Online takes place in the dark future when man has left Earth in favor of other planets in the solar system. Almost 1500 years have gone by since the great Exodus and the fighting between the mega corporations has grown more intense and brutal than ever before. The corporations battle it out for the scarce natural resources that still exist in the colonized areas of the planets, humans battle the menace of the Dark Legion for the survival of the species, and everywhere is the lurking threat of betrayal.”

It looks pretty interesting given the limited time I’ve perused their website. Definitely worth a look.

OH THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIG@#%@ -CONNECTION LOST- [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Amid political firestorm, Austin has been slammed with a bitter cold ice storm which reduced ORIGIN’s network to trembling pile of goo. No word as yet whether the shards were effected, but this Eskimo’s guess would be a teeth chattering no. Most shards are not actually located in Austin, you see.

From Cynthe, the far more lovelier and charming version of Calandryll, comes this newsbreak:

“I just wanted to let you know that the icy weather here in Austin has knocked out power at OSI for a while, which has caused our email to be down, as well as possible problems with the log-in servers for UO. This also means that although our websites are up, we can’t update them right now, and unfortunately, the boards are down. We have people working on this right now, and it’ll be fixed as soon as possible!”

Posting earlier this morning, the offsite Tyrant (specifically NOT on a jungle safari at this moment in time), offered the following newsfeed at Crossroads of Britannia:

“From: Tyrant

Date: 12/13/00 at 8:15 am

In Reply To: Austin is having power problems

Subject: Got through, generator is down also…

But there are people onsite working on bringing up the generator. More as I hear from folks there (phones are all out too, only some cell phones working).”

God clearly is not a UO player, and has no love lost for OSI. This is most likely attributed to its unholy alliance with Electronic Arts. OSI, the power of God compels you..

the power of God compels you…

the power of God compels you…

AND ANOTHER ONES GONE, ANOTHER ONES GONE… [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

…another one bites the dust.

Atomic Games, the house that brought us the real computer version of Advanced Squad Leader (quickly renamed to Close Combat just weeks prior to release), has reportedly let go of its entire staff after the cancellation of the large project, Hammer’s Slammers. Atomic Games itself has not released a statement, but if you visit their website, you could always apply for a job as a programmer. The benefits are great, and there’s a slim chance they wouldn’t have to lay you off ten days before any given Christmas.

Source:Gamespot

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END… [Author: Savant]

After years of being a hardcore gamer at a little MUD company, I had sworn off multiplayer gaming as a player. So soon after I picked up a project for a now defunct game, and did design work for them. Later, once that project died (at no fault of mine, I swear!), I picked up a small volunteer coding position for an upcoming Pay-to-Play MUD. Yes, I had gone back to my roots. It brought back good memories as well as cold shakes at night, but no less, it provided an even better creative outlet than strictly gaming did.

While coding for this MUD, I had tried Ultima Online. While I love PvP, I didn’t enjoy being ganked by ten thirteen year olds, who not only looted my newbie corpse, but also sodomized my poor, dead body. Needless to say, my subscription to Ultima Online lasted all of twenty minutes, and I never looked back. Fast forward: 12 months. I was editing and writing for a little unknown e’zine. It was November 1st, 1999, and Asheron’s Call was being released. Time to do a review for the ‘zine.

Picking up my copy of Asheron’s Call was my first small disappointed. Flaw One: Here was what I thought was going to be an amazing new “world” for me to explore, and its box was this dull parchment color, not to mention the graphic on the front and the screenshots on the back left something to be desired. I was determined and had a review to do, so I picked it up anyway. I’m glad I did. It was amazing. I was playing a REAL 3D MUD with graphics. Very cool. I had just entered a new generation of gaming (albeit, a little behind most of my peers). My review was glowing with praise. Character creation was a dream, the skill and stat system looked amazing, the terrain and sky were just absolutely magnificent, and while the user interface was a little clunky at first, it was easy to adapt to. Not only did I give this game a fantastic review, but I was hooked. So while I had no intentions of “playing” a new game for a while to come since my painful experience in UO, AC had me trapped. I gave in to the desires of phat lewt and high levels. Fast forward: 3 months.

I was accepted into the Sentinel program, and dropped my volunteer coding position with the MUD. I got to not only powergame to my heart’s content, but I was also given the opportunity to lend a hand in a game I thoroughly enjoyed. I was in heaven. Coming from a MUD background, I went with what I thought would work best for a newbie: A non-magic swordsman. I had picked up a great patron, and while I was barely competent in combat, I was having a grand time camping those little chests that held phat lewt (before they had keys, and were just on a 26 minute timer). All in all, I was happy. Fast forward: 3 more months.

I’m bored. I can’t hunt anything. Metal armor sucks. Why do robes have the same basic physical protections as plate? To me, the downside of the high AL and good physical protection of plate armor was its poor to no protection from elemental attacks. Logic told me robes would be the opposite. They’d provide better elemental protection while having the downside of poor to no physical. I was wrong. First everyone was in a mattekar robe, and later, it was a mix of Hoary’s and Faran robes. Flaw Two: Robes introduced a completely new dynamic to gameplay. Getting around and finding quality weapons without item magic was difficult enough, but with the introduction of robes, Item Magic became a must. New content had to be shifted upwards to compensate for this new breed of tanks in robes. However, I’m a powergamer, so this was appealing to me. Unfortunately, I was a gimp. A gimp to the extreme. No magic whatsoever. I couldn’t throw on that l33t robe and cast impenetrability on it and become an uber tank in a robe, but I had to have it. Flaw Three: A few small mistakes during character creation could ruin your ability to be a viable competitor in the long term. I was still enjoying the game, so giving up was not an option. Time to reroll.

Asheron’s Call, take two. I did my research, and at the time, the archer was the way to go. So, with Arcane Lore spec’d, I made a 3-School Archer with Lockpick and Healing (Obviously not all at once, but by level 45, it was the perfect combination). Ahh, life had found its way back into the game for me. The game was exciting again. No longer was I camping chests because I was horrible in combat, but I was running around and killing things – Like a machine! Must game… Must get next level… Must compete with everyone else for the most uberdom… Flaw Four: Everyone was in competition. Not directly, mind you. The game wasn’t plagued with kill stealers or uber spawns that you needed to camp, but there was no sense of community. Fast forward: 3 more months.

The honeymoon had ended. Quest items destroyed the economy. Flaw Five: My second most passion, a player economy, had been destroyed. The “Composite Bow” had destroyed the 113% Yumi market. The “Greater Shadow Amuli” (GSA) and “Hoary Mattekar Robe” had destroyed the armor economy. “Sturdy Iron Keys” and an influx of limitless rich monsters had ruined the remaining loot-o-matic (randomly generated loot) economy. What was left was an empty husk of trading. Small shards, sturdy iron keys, and motes became the currency in the game.

Flaw Six: In order to compensate for people in GSA, content had to be shifted upwards again to compensate. Another new dynamic. My uber archer was suddenly a gimp like my swordsman. Things hit so hard, and with so many different element types all clumped together, the lack of a shield or a wand out to Drain Health, was the death of the archer. Sure, one can argue that the archer has range as his shield, but let’s be real: They didn’t do enough damage to even get a monster down to half health before it was in melee range and pounding on you. Flaw Seven: With the specialization adjustment months prior, and the introduction of the “OG Mage” (Life and Creature Magic specialized), content was shifted upwards again with monsters carrying multiple damage types in clumbs, and casting every single attribute debuff known to the game. Landing vulns or draining as just a trained life mage was not working.

I refused to move underground like everyone else. I refused to fall into the Lugian->Olthoi->Tusker XP-Cycle that all these changes had created. AC had amazing terrain and huge landmass, and I’ll be damned if I was going to be driven underground. By this time, I had an offer from someone to purchase my account and all its phat lewt, I had left the Sentinel program, and I was completely bored. Flaw Eight: AC lacks depth. It doesn’t have any notable trade skills or “other” activities to occupy your time. Hunting was its main draw, but there was no way I was going to risk investing months into a third character. I sold. I still played on a new account, but my time in game was dwindling to about an hour a week. There were short spurts of activity for the next month, like when I traded for my old account back and so on, but the honeymoon was indeed over. I was burned out.

Flaw Nine: I was offered no incentive to stick around. The constant beating of the words, “No,” “Not with current tech,” “Not possible in the current AC engine,” “Not enough coders to do that,” and “No, that will never change,” and sometimes even downright rude responses was the final straw. The gamer is fickle, the gamer is a complex, yet overly simple beast. It doesn’t like to hear the word no. It also doesn’t like to know that the game he is playing will forever be linear. I’m definitely not saying promise the world and lie to me, but just have the courtesy to use vaseline when being so blunt. New content, sure, but where is the new technology? Free updates, sure, but where are the expansions with actual upgrades to the game?

Now that that’s said…

I literally felt bad writing this piece. I sincerely did. I feel that I’ve somehow been disloyal to my “family,” as corny as that sounds. So, while dwelling on the negative always makes for good journalism and an interesting read, I feel a sense of obligation to also point out the positives.

Turbine is a fantastic company. Every single developer there that I have spoken with has been nothing but a delight. For a first game, especially in a hugely complex market as the MMO (or PSW if that floats your boat), they did a magnificent job. They made a huge world without “zones” or other similar boundaries. They have a top-notch terrain engine. New content is added every month and “nerfs” are nearly non-existent (Though certain quest items should have never been introduced in the first place). While the economy indeed did go flat, they have an excellent loot-o-matic system that, if fleshed out, would be simply amazing. Microsoft provides excellent customer service. Say what you will, but the way the policy is in place (non-subjective) you will never hear cries of “GM favoritism.” Relatively no bugs – another huge accomplishment. The reason Microsoft was able to actually get away with the non-subjective policies (No item return, no corpse retrieval, etc.) was because Turbine had produced a quality product where situations like this were extremely rare. Playing Asheron’s Call, while it lacks in-game community strength, feels like belonging to a family. The developers are always in touch with the players, and always show a sincere interest in their issues with the product (the directness of the word “No” can use work, however). Pyreal Rat said it best, “…it sounds like MS wants AC maintained as cheaply as possible.” A lot of the issues mentioned in the final flaw would not be an issue if not for AC’s publisher. As you can see, this list too, is very long.

I’ll be keeping my Asheron’s Call account open, because if nothing else, I’d like my ten dollars a month to say, “I appreciate Turbine and I want to see a future product from them.” Just not this one anymore…

EXCREMENT SANITATION AND ROLEPLAY [Author: riprend]

UR1NALMINT, or Ur1 as we\’e2\’80\’99ll call him for short, was a regular in Neverwinter Square, always showing off his pink garb for all to see. He portrayed the best urine sanitation device he knew how, always roleplaying his character to the nines. But one day, Ur1 logged onto America Online to find that his dear name had been deleted and his account had been flagged!

Indignant of the forces at hand against him, he immediately took his case to many of the guilds of Neverwinter, foremostly the Bard\’e2\’80\’99s Guild. In his missive, he becried the evil GMs (known as \’e2\’80\’9cNW\’e2\’80\’99s\’e2\’80\’9d here) as being oppresive of his roleplay. Ur1\’e2\’80\’99s plights went largely unnoticed, and I\’e2\’80\’99m not even sure why I remember him. But one response on the Bard\’e2\’80\’99s Guild board sticks out in my mind.

\’e2\’80\’9cWell, if you wanted to roleplay, you shouldn\’e2\’80\’99t have been a urinal mint,\’e2\’80\’9d is the paraphrased version.

Shortly thereafter, all vestiges of UR1NALMINT were gone, and noone thought twice about him. The pink and white fellow in the Neverwinter Square went unmissed. Yet the larger issue remained – was it within the rights of the staff to regulate roleplay?

Of course, that never did come up. Deep gaming philosophy was replaced by staff controversies such as illegal items going to their players, a mass guild deletion for failing to submit member lists at the first of every month, early and often message board post deletions, and underground amusement at a screenshot showing an assistant staff member\’e2\’80\’99s in-game sex0r with a genderbending player known to be, for lack of a better term, male.

I reflected back on Ur1 when I first read the Abashi-updated FAQ for EverQuest and saw all references to MMORPGs replaced with \’e2\’80\’9cMMOG,\’e2\’80\’9d to my mind, one of many seals of the role-playing game apocalypse. It appeared Verant had given up on making any sort of reward for role-playing, only for the players, like the two-year old in the back seat, to stop howling, sit down, shut up, and endure the ride. A certain fiery tempered guy over at Wolfpack Studios could tell you a story about that.

Then the Mystere banning came up, and I started to draw a few parallels. Mystere wrote about a character which was inconsistent with Verant\’e2\’80\’99s view of proper roleplaying, much as Ur1 was inconsistent with America Online\’e2\’80\’99s view of proper roleplaying. The difference was that Verant had publicly disenfranchised roleplay by its deletion of the \’e2\’80\’9cRPG\’e2\’80\’9d from MMORPG. NWN, even after the $19.95 a month \’e2\’80\’98revolution\’e2\’80\’99 flooded its gates with an endless stream of 12-year olds, never gave up the fight. Good roleplayers were still rewarded, and the hordes of improper ones were either ignored or banned.

Can a double standard be upheld legitimately? Can players be justifiably punished for improper roleplay if proper roleplay is not recognized? Further more, if roleplay isn\’e2\’80\’99t acknowledged, is there really a standard for its propriety?

We see a lot of UR1NALMINTs in online games, noted by their names as well as their mating calls of \’e2\’80\’9csow plz\’e2\’80\’9d and \’e2\’80\’9cwhy u pk me\’e2\’80\’9d. But unless an example is set, and rewards for following that example are given, game developers have no reason to complain about their existence.

YET MORE VELIOUS REVIEWS [Author: Lum the Mad]

From Nosfentor:

Since [sifter128’s] review was a pile, here’s what I’ve seen so far.

I was reluctant to buy Velious. I had heard that the zones were largely geared to uberguilds, and I play on test. Not in an uber guild, but at least we all work together. Still, Kunark was “ok” and I don’t know that I wanted to play a lot more Everquest. Realized I still had a cheque in a birthday card – Go grandma! I picked it up for $20CDN at an EB in the mall, and grabbed Zelda for my roomates for Xmas. They had about 30 copies there, and there were two guys looking at the box. I’m a level 51 bard, and have a regular group of friends I play with – a guild of about 16 people, plus people in other guilds. Grouping means a lot in Velious more so than back on the mainland.

I knew the departure point was North Ro, so I ran over from the Freeport bank. Sat at the dock, and questioned the gnome pirate NPC. When the boat came, he turned and called out that the boat was there. Nice touch. Hopped on and zoned into Iceclad. I waited till we got to the first island, and checked out the gnom there. Another dock on the farside, so I waited for 2 minutes, got bored and fired up the 51 travel song. Started running straight out from the dock, smacking track to check for mobs. Got a location from someone who was on the far side, and headed to them. Easily beat the boat by a good 5 minutes, and had already bought my new level 34 song. There’s a 49 song and some more, that are too high for me yet but they drop off mobs. New song is actually pretty useful. With my magic lute, it stacks with mana regen and the casters love it. The boat that I skipped is sort of impressive, in a maniacal gnome sort of way. Slow tho, and I doubt I’ll ever use it.

First off, no mobs see through my invis. Hooray! That sucked in Kunark, almost everything saw through invis. I run around just taking in the sights. The Tower of Frozen Shadow looks good, and there’s an tinny heart beat from it when you get close. I check out some giants up close, the models are great, and the skins are better. I kill a few green cougars, but don’t get this earring I’ve heard they drop. It’s better than a rare drop in mistmoore, which had been the earring of choice for melee types. I find the bridge to the next zone, it’s impresively large. I wander, and find a turtle. It’s named, and green to me. For some reason, I call out that there’s a named turtle here. Someone replies it’s an undercon – it’ll hit me twice for 300 which is about 40% of my life. I decide to leave it be. Talk to some gnolls, which is new since there’s all of 3 civil gnolls in kunark and antonica. All the named ones have quests. Decide to press on to the next zone.

I zone into the Eastern Wastes, and wander down the bridge to the bottom. There are a lot of mammoths, and these large pseudo bear things. Mammoths are the standard model, the bears are new, but nothing write home about. There are griffons with the same model, and a new paler skin. Walruses are pretty cool, and there are larger ones that walk on two legs. They look good, and are skinned well. I wander and come across the new dwarves. They’re pale little bastards, and are apprehensive to see me. I hit them with a a faction song and they like me a lot more, enough to offer some quests from the named ones, of which there are at least two in each of the 2 or 3 camps. I find some more giants, they glare which is too low for me to adjust, I’d have to kill to prove my worth, but not yet. I wander and find a Giant camp with a named dwarf prisoner, and a named giant. I keep going and find an orc camp. There are people here killing the orcs and it soon becomes apparent why. They drop new chain armor, that’s better than the rogue armor, but not as good as planar armor, or kunark stuff. Still, it looks amazing. The skin for the dark elves looks great. It even looks good on me, a half elf. They let me model some pieces, and urge me to use my guise to change shape so they can get screenshots. Drops are plentiful. They also have lots of necklaces that are so so, and earrings that are better than the cougar one I wanted. And tons of them are dropping. I wander into the camp, and invis STILL works. I wander around and come across a crystal pedestal – I know this is a zone entrance, having read about it on the web. I skip it for now. The group out front are small, and pulling slow, so I decide to kill an orc and see what I get. The first one I see is named – Firkand the Black. I pull him out and kite him for a minute or so. He’s green, and drops pretty fast. I move in to loot and am stunned. He drops gloves, AC 15 5 STR and 3 WIS – these are amazing. (A few days later, Firkand got a lot rarer.) I pocket the gloves for a friend and press on.

Zoning into the next zone, the Great Divide, I note that my framerate has yet to take a real hit like it did in kunark. There are trees, just a lot less of them. The divide is cool. Lots of giants wander, and it’s rocky and snowy. I find a mountain, and track a wurm. I can’t find it, but it should be right on top of me. As I loop around the mountain, I see a small stream leads into a cave inside. I follow the cave in – its large – and a wurm pops on top of me. I jerk the mouse back and get ready to run, but again, invis holds! This is really really nice. I wander the caves a little, and find a room with 3 that con blue, and one sounds impressive – “Shardwurm Broodmother”. I head back out and find people killing the wurms. Apparently, they drop the level 44 spells. Two days later we came back – certain wurms drop 2-3 spells each, and offer good exp, despite them being not tough at all for us. The broodmother is a bitch – she has a ton of hp, easily as many as Nagafen or Vox, if not more. We beat her and she drops – 4 pp and 8 gp. Damn, she’s a quest mob – I went back later and she’s indifferent to me, something I hadn’t noticed. She’s got nothing to say, I leave her alone.

Up the river is a waterfall – one that uses particles and acutally looks good, quite good. In behind the waterfall is the entrance to Thurgadin, the dwarven city. Inside there’s a large bridge after a small winding passage. To the left, are about 20 murder holes, each with a dwarf. I con them as apprehensive, same as the outdoor ones. Even evil races are accepted here – everyone starts off the same, except for dwarves who are a little more accepted. I move in, and hail the first, he replies and turns to his fellow guard, who replies to me as well. Neat. I keep going, and the next room is a small room with a floor that looks to be a trap, albeit for show. Pressing on, I come across more guards – there’s a lot of them, and some are wolfmasters – a large wolf follows along behind them. The dwarf city is nice, but not mind blowing. All new textures, and some transluscent pillars of ice. I find a bank, with about 12 vendors selling loads of items. I wander, and find the paladin and clerics guilds. The paladins are wielding transparent shields that glimmer, and have an etched pattern. These are going to be sought after. A few minutes later, I zone further in, to the castle. It’s across a moat, and again, lots of guards. The first room has a large transparent hollow pillar. Looking down, there’s a cavern with a huge living stalactite that cons even to me, and a large ice golem – also an even con. I don’t want to fall down the shaft. I roam, lots of dwarves. lots of quests. I find the king. Wow, unique skin, unique armor. He looks cool, and tells me to piss off because I don’t know court etiquette. (Another dwarf teaches you this – you have to kneel, and intone a formal greeting.) Apparently he does issue a quest, but I’ve not tried it. At one point I entered a bar, and just in time for a dwarf to announce he was seeking a ban on alcohol. There was a brief pause, and three other dwarves shouted, “Over my dead body” “I think not!” and “Get him!”. The morally upright or uptight dwarf muttered an uh oh and ran for it, with 4 others on his heels. They chased him out, and up some stairs and as he got away, they returned to the bar. Ok. That was a really nice touch. There are a few of these that I’ve seen, and I know there’s a few more in spots where I haven’t spent time. One of the nice things about the dwarf city is that there are a LOT of little details.

After a few days, we’ve done some killing in Velious in a few more zones. Check out the Crystal Caves – there’s a dwarven settlement, the original velious dwarves hidden away from the orcish mine, and the abandoned temple below. I don’t see going back to antonica, for a long long time. Items here are much much better. Experience is quite good – 51 as a level isn’t a lot of fun, but the bar is moving pretty quick. It all looks good, better than the original by far, and in some places, a lot better than kunark. Framerates are good, there’s no Warslik’s woods to crush your framerate. Most loot that you can kill for can be quested for as well. For example, in the plane of growth, you can kill for new, top of the line armor. By the looks of it, you can kill giants, and quest for the same armor by dealing with the dwarves. Which is nice, because if you’re good aligned, you can do plenty of quests for the denizens of the plane of growth. There are lots of dragons, tons of them. Faction plays heavy, you pick a side and stick with it, or two sides and play off against the third. If you’re 30, there’s some stuff to do, but not a lot. If you’re 45 to 60, Velious is a real deal so far. There are stupid mistakes of course – the wrong loot on easy mobs, too much loot – the orcs drop nice earrings to the tune of 30 in 4 hours, and some mobs, and at least one entire zone not itemized. All the usual stupid mistakes that VI makes. They need to fire the QA team and hire new ones, just get it over with. But for the most part, and that’s 99% of it so far, they got velious right. Sure, in a few weeks, stupid things may come to light – but for now, it’s a great addon.

And from Gathu:

Was kinda bored, so I thought I’d post a review from the higher level viewpoint.

Today I logged on in Western Wastes (Dragonland. There are roughly 50 named dragons in the zone). I tried to solo a low blue dog. He hit for 164. He wasn’t a very nice puppy. I eventually killed him, though not before he randomly teleported into water and back a few times.

An interesting side note. Root and snare doesn’t work on about 70% of the MOBs in WW. It lands, sure…just doesn’t do anything.

Okay, a couple hours pass while I read a book waiting for friends to log on. Okay, there’s me, the 60th rogue, and 55th wizard. And there’s that dog that hits for 160 that aggro’d through the cieling, and the wurm that hits for 239. Both blue to the 55 wizard.

It really makes you wonder. Why the hell is something that hits for 239 blue at 55? Froglok reets in sebilis hit for 149, and are even at 55. I guess it’s balanced out by the fact that the frogs have 13k hp, and this wyrm only had 30k.

No, wait…forget it, my brain hurts. That fight took us 20 minutes.

Great, we have 6 high levels, let’s kill that drake that drops spells! Oh, darn, the server crashed.

20 minutes later we’re ready to try again! Oh, wow, that’s a lot of monsters hitting our cleric through the cieling. Run, cleric! Dang. He didn’t run fast enough. 10 more minutes pass, along with about 5 more deaths.

Okay, so we decide that tunnel is evil, and we move in deeper. I go linkdead while invis, nothing aggros on me. I come back dead. I go to get my corpse. A see invis roamer spawns on me. I die again. We go deeper in towards some nesting dragons, and begin to res the 5 other corpses lying around.

Oh, darn, that roamer just aggro’d our cleric. No, wait, now it aggro’d me. Much running around in circles trying to get room to cast gate insues, while the cleric relogs to clear aggro. I gate, zone into Siren’s Grotto, get totally owned by a couple uber walrii, zone back into WW with 50 hp (out of 3200). Okay, next time I avoid the walrii. Oh, look, the servers crashed again. Crash, servers, crash!

25 minutes later I log back on dead. Woot. But what’s this! A disgustingly large number of guides all shouting for people who died in the crashes to shout their names for summons/resses.

Some wood elf in Ethereal Mist then ressed my corpses, and upon learning that the cleric had just blown a peridot on me, tossed me Aegolism and Focus of the Spirit. Yay, Mr. Wood Elven Cleric!

We then ported over to Cobalt Scars to kill some sea dragon. We got 18 people together. It was really anticlimatic. Turgur’s landed on my first cast, and we really could’ve done it with 6. He dropped two haste cloaks, and a Monsoon clone, so who am I to complain though? Also a couple spells and quest components.

We then went back to Western Wastes. Then I died again. I really forget how, I just remember sheepishly asking for a res. Around this point, I was quite grateful that all of our clerics had their epics.

Okay, we have 18 people. That drake is going DOWN! And so it did, and we got a lot of druid pets and ranger spells. Then we killed another. More druid pets. Then we killed Tantor. Poor Tantor. He killed lots of us, and didn’t drop any loot. We felt really bad about killing him afterwards though.

Oh, there’s that little bitch of a dragon that we fought yesterday that gated across the entire zone and summoned us one by one! I had the satisfaction of landing the killing nuke just in time to prevent it from gating. Yay shaman DD!

We moved deeper in to pull dragons easier. But we didn’t mean to pull THAT many dragons. Oops.

40 minutes of CR insues.

Okay, let’s try again. We kill a gigantic leech, and it drops some wierd monk bp. Leeches shouldn’t con yellow at 60 though. There’s something wrong with that.

Oh look. That leech has friends. Two of them. One is quadding me for 540. Ow. Wow, look at all of those people who got gravity fluxed and fell for 10k. Haha, you died! Oh damn, that dragon is still quadding me? Loading, please wait.

90 minutes of CR insues.

Okay, no more dragons. The dragons are evil. Very evil. Let’s kill more drakes. But first, I need to go AFK to grab some food.

Back! Hey, why did that person just say, ‘4 people in group LD.’ What’s up with my lag meter? Awww man.

When the server came back up, like 15 of us were left, and we killed the drake. Tantor came back though! He killed our enchanter and cleric really good. Silly enchanter tried to mez him. Red con mammoths…wierd.

That time he dropped some necro spell, some cleric thing, Burnout IV, and Bearform. Yay bearform! He also dropped about 10 of us. I think around this point our cleric’s resstick had started to fuse into some sort of molten mass.

All in all, this took like 12 hours. Velious has some serious issues. If you want to know what’s REALLY sad, though…?

Western Wastes has far more reasonable MOB power than most zones. Siren’s Grotto (affectionately termed Ghetto) has level 56ish mobs that are immune to magic, have 50kish hp, and hit for 300. They never drop anything.

I think I’ll try Plane of Growth soon. My death tally isn’t impressive enough yet (55 times in the past 3 days).

Gathu the Tactician, Troll Oracle.

SIMULATING THE UNTHINKABLE [Author: delusion]

This isn’t what most of you think it is.

If you think it’s the account of a US prison rebellion, you’re wrong.

If you think the prisoners are Jews, and that this took place in the Hitler’s Germany, you’re wrong.

If you think this is a tale about defiance in a despotic third-world regieme, you’re still wrong.

It’s August, 1971 in Palo Alto, California, and this is just part of the story of something that happened not in a “real” prison, but rather in a university. Welcome to the Stanford Prison Experiment.

There are some interesting parallels to issues we deal with today – as a community of gamers, and in a broader social context.

How does Wolfenstein 3D become more complicated when you, the player, can assume the role of the state-sanctioned thug in an online update? Does the cartoony graphic approach help to keep things abstract and impersonal, or do they enable the player to more easily identify with his or her or her character?

What happens when the worlds of talky social gamers and role-players interact with the more “dedicated” fringe subset of wargamers who enjoy the fetishism of the trappings of fascist authoritarians on the scene of a WW2-era game that can’t decide if it’s a strategy game or a role-playing game?

Is there a reason “role-playing evil” tends toward the extremes of either absurdity or viscera-porn? Do these extremes make it easier to maintain a distance from the moral difficulties involved with addressing the real evil that real people do? Is a game the best context in which to consider these sorts of questions?

All the questions don’t have easy answers, but as the world learned in 1971, sometimes pretend atrocity gets out of hand. Sometimes it’s a horrible – if brief – glimpse of the real thing. Proceed carefully.

LVL 20 LIFE MAGE LFG! [Author: Savant]

“This month, we’re introducing a major enhancement to the fellowship system which should make it much more appealing and useful for all players. In the past, players were limited by the narrow level restrictions of the system, and many disliked the proportional experience point (XP) sharing. Many players didn’t want any XP sharing at all, but wished they could utilize the communication and targeting enhancements that fellowships allowed. In addition, upon reaching extreme levels, the 10-level restriction made even less sense, as a level 55 and a level 80 player might very well wish to collaborate on the same quest but were unable to use the fellowship system to help them do so.”

Did they say they were removing the ten level limit cap from fellowships? I think they did.

“Alternatively, any ten players can join a No XP-Sharing/No Level Limit fellowship, which functions pretty much as it sounds. A level 2, a level 20, and a level 80 player could all be in the same fellowship for targeting and communication purposes, but no XP would be shared between them.”

Now that’s indeed a welcomed change, executed perfectly.

Boy, I sure wish I knew the numbers on XP-Sharing fellowships to see if they were going to make the right changes…

“If all members of the fellowship are within 5 levels of the founder, XP will be shared equally. If members are all within ten levels of the founder, XP will be shared proportionally, much like in the old system.”

Hmm. I need numbers, man, numbers!

“If all members of the fellowship are level 50 or above, all members will share XP equally, and there will be no limit to the levels of the members involved! Players of level 50, 55, 70, and 90 could all be in the same fellowship, each earning 25% of the XP.”

Well, no one’s perfect. It’s a fantastic start, and a definite sign that they care about what the players’ want and need, I don’t feel it’s quite enough yet. In a perfect world, all members within five levels or over fifty would get a true equal share of the experience (50% each), making a fellowship a true partnership where everyone involved is on equal footing, and gaining enough at the same time to make it worthwhile.

However, knowing Turbine, I have faith that this small discrepancy that is left will too be fixed, making grouping worthy enough to be an “option.

For the entire article with even more mathematical explanations of the system, please click on this quite prophetic statement from it: “Well, say hello to progress!” Progress indeed, gentlemen – For the industry as a whole.