December 2000

VELIOUS REVIEWS – CORPORATE AND PERSONAL [Author: Lum the Mad]

After much begging and pleading and promising to be good my EverQuest account was returned. Hurray!

Friday I took my untwinked level 14 rogue to oasis to kill some orcs. I quickly learned that the lower level players of today suck more than ever. The usage of commands like assist, the ability to take out the caster first, the common sense to, you know, actually be with the group rather than off selling or whatever. After four different groups three deaths and one group that took over an hour to do nothing, I logged my little rogue.

Day two: I ran out to the local BestBuy and got a 9.99 copy (yep, it was $9.99 here) of SoV. I installed, loaded the patches, thought what UI upgrade, and hopped the raft in North Ro with my level 39 necromancer, who was nearly level 40, and headed for the land of frozen.

After the mandatory long ass wait, and one boat swap later, (Hey, I saw no ice being broken!), I arrive in the IceClad Ocean. I kill a few cougars in self-defense, (these things are thick like newbie rats and green at level 39, they also hit HARD.), I also manage to kill a few Dire wolfs and Dire Wolf Stalkers and level to 40! Wee, no real loot, just a few worthless skins.

I push west to explore. I’m jumped by one, no two, no three cougars! I die, I lose level 40. My bind at the pirate camp didn’t take. I’m back at the Breaker Boat Island. I sit and wait on the boat. Several minutes later I arrive and caste shadow invis and go to get my body. I begin dragging my corpse to the waters’ edge while invis. The cougars see through my invis and aggro on me (dragging a corpse causes this?). I die again.

This time my bind at the pirate camp stuck. I do the normal prep and go get my body, loot all my stuff and head west again. I come across a dragon ring and a Snow Derv sees me, he’s green to me, this should be no problem. I die. I’m able to drag my body to the waters’ edge and loot my stuff.

I continue west. I zone in to the “Eastern Wastes” and run north along the great divide until I find a place to sit in safety. This zone is huge. I finally find a place that “looks” good, (for those that know, you can actually see safe places to rest, if you know what to look for.) and summon a pet. I med up and begin pulling Tundra Kodiacs, Wooly Mammoths, Tundra Mammoths, and A Walrus. I watch how slowly the experience is coming. I laugh to myself and continue on.

Compared to the Bard in South Karana and the Troll guards in Rathe Mountains, SoV mid and low thirties mobs suck, they drop shit loot and give absolutely pathetic experience for their hardness. They have a huge total of Hit points and they all hit very hard for their levels.

In my opinion, from what I’ve seen so far, It appears that SoV, isn’t worth the effort at this point. A level 39 necromancer would be far better off in SK or RM.

AND ANOTHER ONE GONE… AND ANOTHER ONE GONE… ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST [Author: Lum the Mad]

Gameglow, owned and operated by reputed “self-made millionaire” David Suit, aggressively set out, apparently financed out of Suit’s pocket, to build one of the largest gaming website affiliate networks on the web. Unfortunately, in the process, they made one of the more common mistakes in the “dot com” world – namely, spending more than you take in is a bad thing.

See, for the ad banners they displayed, Gameglow paid its affiliates $2.50 per thousand page views (when they were paid, which near the end wasn’t very often, according to some affiliates), which is pretty generous in the gaming news industry. They got their ad banners from everyone.net, which in turn resold banners from Flycast.

The upshot? For every thousand viewers a Gameglow site got, Gameglow paid their site owner $2.50. Gameglow supposedly was getting $2.75 per thousand from everyone.net. Then again, in negotiations with other web sites, Suit told them that he could only afford to pay them niney cents per thousand. To put it mildly, the internet advertising market has some issues.

Why would anyone purposefully try to lose money? Well, it was fairly common in the “dot com” economy to talk about building your business for the future, the long haul, without worrying about “old money” concepts like, you know, profit and loss. One key component in Suit’s building of Gameglow – affiliates were required to sign over ownership of their content to Gameglow. In other words, once your site was “hosted” by Gameglow, you became, not an independent site owner, but a Gameglow employee. (Other site owners, who signed on later in Gameglow’s life, say they never were asked to sign any contract, much less one that signed over all content rights.)

Gameglow’s owner, the aforementioned David Suit, posted in a thread here about Vault Networks’ problems, (using text almost identical to the form letter he sent out periodically to sites hosted by other gaming networks)

GameGlow is a profitable network and is not losing money. We currently display over 80 milion banners with over 70 gaming sites across the internet including diablo2.com, aoe2.com and many more. We work differently than most other networks in that we guarantee that 100% of the banners on our affiliate sites will be sold and paid for at a set rate. This rate is in writing and can be as much as $ 2.50 CPM (per thousand banners displayed) depending on the number of banners the site displays monthly. This gives our affiliate sites a set amount they can count on every month as an income, not a largely variable income like the ?% of what we get IF we can sell your banners” model. We aren’t as well known as most of the others out there, but we have been around for years and running profitable since day one.

Well, that was certainly news to everyone.net, who told David Suit last month that there was no way in hell they were paying for 80 million banners (the figure I heard was closer to 25 million, but who’s counting) at $2.75 per month. They told him, despite what their contract said, that they were only going to pay for 3 million banners at that rate.

What could Gameglow do? Sue? Cry? Cut their losses finally and close?

Looks like option C at the moment. We’ll keep you updated if the situation changes.

MANKIND’S NOT READY… [Author: Lum the Mad]

While installing Mankind, and idly wondering why I’d never heard of it since, you know, I try to keep track of all the new and promising game developers I can crush underneath my iron heel, I read the box packaging. The game, which was apparently designed by Frenchmen, promises

“an intuitive interface”, where you can “trade with other on-line players and barter with the Empire.” Ooh, dreaded galactic Empires. Sounds good so far. “Time never stops. Logged in, or off-line, your space crafts [sic] keep performing your directives: Your mines keep on extracting resources! Your planets keep on manufacturing space crafts! Players can attack you while you are sleeping, and your space crafts will automatically fight back! Receive messages on your mobile phone notifying you of an attack!” Wow. And I thought Sovereign was going to be the first game which actually interrupts my staff meetings to inform me that the Zarquon Hierarchy was ass-raping my corpse. The box also uses the word “exploit” repeatedly. Since I’m a Republican, I approve of exploiting the teeming hordes. I anxiously fired up Mankind and spent the next fifteen minutes or so staring at the patcher, complete with helpful ad banner.

Finally, after patching, I got the following screen:

Clearly, Mankind had defeated me this go around. I was on #lummies IRC at the time, and asked for advice at this point. “Demand they surrender”, one helpfully suggested. I stared at the screen coldly. All right, demonic French program, you send Coco Chanel out to fluff the pillows and leave fresh mints for the Wehrmacht, but for me, you give cryptic error messages? Oh, this will not do, mon petit cher. Mankind obviously was terrified by my resolve, and stopped crashing.

Hm. Lots of, um, stuff. Lots of dots on the screen. “Those are the ships of all the people who gave up”, someone in #lummies explained. Well, I WOULD NOT GIVE UP! I cracked open the helpful tutorial, and figured out how to make my little ship move around. Hah! No newb I!

So, I figure, I should probably find some unsuspecting planet on which to begin my reign of real-time terror. So, following the manual, I begin to manipulate the “helpful interface” and see lots of eye candy as star systems zoom into galaxies which zoom into nebulae which zoom into other star systems which then tell me I’m too far away to actually go to.

I land my ship on a planet, finally, which I think was the planet I started orbiting around, and start following the tutorial’s directions for building my first base.

As I tried to deploy my base, I was told I had no money to buy my base with. I looked in the documentation for how to make money, and apparently it involves building a base. Obviously this is French logic, and probably socialist in nature. Remember, I’m a Republican. I believe firmly in the principle of working for your imaginary space credits to begin your reign of terror against the hundreds of other players who gave up long before you did and left their first ship in orbit in a massive junkyard of construction ships. Maybe you’re supposed to pull into the space station, look up a government functionary, and plead for your monthly space welfare check before beginning aforementioned reign of tyranny. I don’t pretend to understand these things.

I’m a fairly experienced guy when it comes to online games. I mean, I understand how UO’s skill system works. I actually believe that you can make money off of EQ’s trade system. Yet cunningly, Mankind has defeated me. Zut alors!

And so, instead, I played the other game I bought, which involved lots of mindless slaughter. And life was good.

PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING [Author: myschyf]

What he wrote was “…so too should the folks who find nothing wrong with naming your group of online friends after some of the most efficient mass murderers history has ever witnessed take a few steps backward, if only to reflect on how they’ll explain it to Senator Lieberman next year.” Now there’s something telling in this sentence. I think we need to take a step back here and examine how these games will be viewed by the general public. Online games are hitting the mainstream. Of that there can be no doubt. TV Guide has one of the largest (if not THE largest) subscriber base of any print magazine. EQ making the cover is going to bring people to the game. If nothing else it will give more people recognition of online games as a genre. People will notice not only EQ but other online games. Games like WWII Online.

Now I don’t care about historical accuracy. I don’t care if its not an RPG, or a persistent world, or even if those of you playing the game wouldn’t hurt a fly and work at soup kitchens 3 days a week. I don’t especially care if one side’s battle gear looks ‘cooler’ than the other sides. I don’t play warsims. Not my cup of tea. But here’s the thing — neither do the people that will be looking in from the outside and judging that and other games.

Please do not misconstrue my meaning here. I really don’t have much of an opinion on whether or not the game should be made or people should play Germans or if the swastika is a symbol of peace or hate in Asia. You folks can argue about that till you’re blue in the face and more power to you for caring. I have different fish to fry. So while you may want to take back the swastika and make it the symbol of peace or Finnish pride or whatever the hell other excuse you’re using this week to display one of the twentieth century’s most objectionable symbols, what do you think Joe Public is going to think when they see it plastered all over your guild’s website? You won’t have a chance to explain that it used to be a peace symbol in some arcane religion a hundred years ago and that you are taking it back. I mean, to me, the swastika looks like a Nazi symbol. I’m forty years old and that’s what its been all my life. I see a game with guilds that have swastikas plastered all over their website and I’m going to dismiss it as a game for hate groups. And I’m educated about games. I know games. I work for a website, the purpose of which is to provide commentary about games. So how do you think this is going to appear to Mrs. Cleaver watching over Beaver’s shoulder as he shows her this great new online war sim? Hmmmm?

You may think that won’t matter but please think again. It does matter and it reflects on the industry as a whole — not just some little game by Cornered Rat Studios with a limited audience and player base. While this article deals with players and guilds more than the game companies I do believe the game companies, especially Cornered Rat Stuidos, really don’t seem to understand that they will be burned by the users, which they cannot and should not, try to control. On the other hand, a game company should be very cautious about what ideas it wants to put into the player’s head. John Smedley, President and CEO of Verant Interactive, said about banning a user once, “It is very important for everyone concerned to understand that EverQuest’s reputation is a very important thing. In this day and age, video games are subjected to an ENORMOUS amount of scrutiny by watchdog groups and the federal and state governments.” In the specific case of WW2OL – there is a special subsite for the guys in the cool uniforms. Not for the Russians, or the French, or God forbid the British or Americans – just the Germans. If we continue to believe that our actions don’t matter, if game companies do not understand how their players give them an ‘image’ and do not take responsibility for it, that image and those actions will be censored. Don’t believe me?

After the Columbine Shootings it was noted that the shooters played Doom and listened to Marilyn Manson. “OH MY GOD” cried the national conscience “video games and Marilyn Manson are BAD!” Whereupon the gaming industry did the best ostrich immitation in the history of mankind. The game companies collectively stuck their proverbial heads in the proverbial sand and tried to pretend they were invisible. Marilyn Manson took to the talk shows explaining that no, he was not a blood-sucking satanistic pervert, that only vampires sucked blood and White Wolf was in charge of those. After a while the furor died down. How many well-meaning mothers looking over Beaver’s shoulder do you think it will take to stir that furor up again?

This industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and as it gets larger, scrutiny will get tougher. Dungeons and Dragons has already come under attack in the past by well-meaning, but very misguided, Christian groups. There’s already a rating system. Not a very good one but there is one. Congress has already taken an interest in violence in media. Not just in video games but in movies and music as well. As inner-city street kids with gifts for rhyme and rhythm who exhorted their listeners to kill cops and rob from the rich made censorship a reality for ALL musicians, so too will games that are associated with websites that bear swastikas and glorify the Third Reich make it a reality for ALL games. Let me reiterate that it doesn’t matter if you are only playing Germans because their equipment was better or you like the scenario. These guild websites, complete with swastikas in some cases, are all its going to take. If we do not police ourselves, we will be policed. We will probably be policed in any case. The real question is, how much ammunition do we want to give to Senator Lieberman and other well-meaning, but totally misguided, people who would seek to censor this genre? Think of this article as just a little food for thought while you plaster Finnish peace signs all over your guild’s website.

UO CHRISTMAS GIFTS: NOT MADE BY ELVES [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Holiday Bells

Choosing a holiday bell will give the character a random bell. Each bell plays a random sound when double-clicked, says which Development Team member it is from when single-clicked, and is hued a random color. The sounds, development member name, and colors are random for each bell selection.

I’m hoping for a silver “Cal Bell” that moos.


Snow globe

The snow globe is a round orb on a small stand, that glows and has \’e2\’80\’9csparkles\’e2\’80\’9d inside of it. The snow globes will be named “a snowy scene of \{town name\}”. The names of all non-player created towns will be possible within the name, and will be randomly selected. The snow globes will function as a small light source.

Read: Crystal Balls


Snowballs

Selecting the snowballs will place a snow pile in your backpack. To throw a snowball at another player, double-click the snow pile and target a player. Only players who have a snow pile in their backpack can be targeted in this manner. You will receive a message if the targeted player is not a valid target.

There is a delay as to how often you can throw a snowball from the snow pile.

The snow piles have unlimited uses.

Holiday Tree Deed

Selecting the Holiday Tree Deed will place a deed in your backpack.

To place the tree in your house, double-click the deed. This will bring up a menu window, allowing the choice between classic and modern style trees. A classic tree is the model used previously in UO, and will not have visible foliage if used in Felucca (only if display settings are set to not show tree foliage). The modern style tree will show foliage on both facets, regardless of foliage display settings.

Holiday Trees cannot be placed within two tiles of your front door or within two tiles distance of stairs and cannot be placed outside.

Players will be able to re-deed their tree and choose either tree style, as desired.

Holiday Trees can only be placed by the house owner.

The rewards are currently on the test center shard, for the window shoppers among us.

Sorry, no black dye tubs.

ALICE IN MOVIELAND [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Gamespot is reporting that American McGee of “American McGee’s Alice” fame, has confirmed rumors that the newly released game will be developed into a full length feature movie. The film rights have been acquired by the heavyweight Dimension Films, and Wes Craven has already been slated to direct.

You can verify the information here.

MYTHIC PLAYS HOST TO PROFANE EX-VOLUNTEER; TWEETY MANAGES NOT TO BE PRE-EMPTIVELY BANNED FROM CAMELOT [Author: Lum the Mad]

The Corporation, the news site that won the “Let’s Get Tweety To Write For Our Site!” sweepstakes (and no, we at LumCorp are NOT FUCKING BITTER and the rumors of a hostile takeover of CorpNews in the works are just vicious rumors. Don’t believe everything you read on the net. Especially on this page Oh, where were we? Yes, actual news) reaps the reward, as Miss Tweety visits Mythic Entertainment, the Dark Age of Camelot folks.

Without a marketing or even a public relations guy (I called the press contact number, and got the producer), DAoC is at a disadvantage in the game of \’e2\’80\’9cwho can develop the biggest frothing fan base.\’e2\’80\’9d Their focus is entirely on making a great game right now, and as a result the word of mouth is not spreading as fast as it could be. Conceivably, this game could get to market without being widely anticipated, and in an industry where perception is everything to early sales, that\’e2\’80\’99s going to hurt. After actually seeing the game, I\’e2\’80\’99m not sure why there aren\’e2\’80\’99t more EQ refugees eagerly looking forward to this puppy.

SS AMERIKA [Author: Lum the Mad]

I find a great deal of irony in these and other threads on this topic as well.

See, I was first a pen and paper, then computer wargamer long before any MMORPGs came out. No, really. I’m well aware of the tendency of some folks in that community to glorify fascism – I still remember once when Strategy and Tactics, SPI‘s house organ, ran their regular survey of “rate which games we’re thinking about making” and one of them included was “Case Gelb” (I think that was the name, working from memory) which postulated the Axis defeating Britain and Russia, then moving on to the invasion of America.

It was the highest rated suggestion S&T ever posted. SPI never made the game. Why? Because after self-examination, they decided that wasn’t the kind of game they wanted to make – it played right into the SS-worshipping mindset.

Interestingly, that game did finally get made ten years later, by another company, as “SS Amerika“. I own a copy. It’s interesting as science fiction, I suppose (the thought of Nazi Germany building a navy and then landing hundreds of thousands of troops on US soil is pretty removed from reality, thankfully). Has a nice cover painting of a guy right out of Nazi propaganda reels raising the swastika standard over a ruined Capitol dome.

The threads on this subject ask if it’s appropriate to do a PSW on World War 2. What’s funny is that they answer their own question. If you go to Cornered Rat’s own forums (they show up in my referer log often, from people angry by what’s been posting here and demanding that the loyal troops come to defend the standard) you see a ton of really, really really angry people, calling myself, my site, and its posters any number of foul ephitets, by folks who apparently without any trace of irony sign their posts with references to “squadrons” (WW2OL’s version of guilds) such as “Hermann Goering Panzer Division“, or the “Das Reich 2nd SS PG Division“.

Of course, you could argue the point that Waffen SS divisions weren’t the elite shock troops of the Nazi party that most folks remember them from Hollywood as. What’s a bit harder to argue is that patterning yourself after the Einsatzgruppen – the flying squads of killers who hunted down and killed Jews and Communists on the Eastern front in massive genocidal quantities -would probably not be the most appropriate way to simulate the War.

Unfortunately, some folks seriously argued that it was simply hunky dory.

You see this is the problem that you get with “political correctness overaweareness” Einsatzgruppe means Task Force in German, This is a Navy unit only. Task Force -and I’m sure the German equivalent has been used far longer in the Navy than it had ever been anywhere else.

Why should he have to have a disclaimer explaining the name of his squad? Just because someone is too stupid to know the difference? I’m sorry, but I don’t see why he should be asked to provide information for someone who is going to get on his case anyway.

PC sux…keep the name. It has nothing to do with death squads. If someone has a problem with it…that’s their problem.

Let me be perfectly clear here – the problem doesn’t lie with the developers, the publishers, or anyone else remotely associated with developing or designing the game. In fact, Cornered Rat is actually developing an “alternate world” World War 2 where the Germans are de-nazified. “Killer”, one of the Cornered Rats, posted this in response to Nicademus on their own board:

The people here have been dealing with this particular set of issues for over a decade, we have taken precautions in game play, in web community support and elsewhere to keep this problem under control and disruptive behaviour to minimum.

Will it be a challenge? yes.

Will Nazi grief players show up in the game? definately. This we have known since before game’s conception and are prepared to handle.

We cannot control players web sites or any aspect of a players actions outside our system. We can provide top notch web hosting for any fan sites that would like that service and completely neglect those with innapropriate content.

We can and will do anything within our rights to alienate disruptive politically or racially based sites or viewpoints from the games general community.

We can enforce keeping politics out of the game itself. We can provide tools to make that process more efficient and effective than UO or EQ players are familiar with.

This isn’t the first online WWII game, it isn’t our first online WWII game, and I can promise everyone that we are and have been from the conception of this game much more aware of community issues such as these than the developers of UO, EQ, or AC or -any- of the posters on LUM’s board. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, thank you.

Will we do this to the satisfaction of everyone? No, grief players will have to actually cause an amount of grief to be banned, and will probably be given warnings depending upon the offence. We refuse to let them control the game or the community.

Will we do it to the satisfaction of the many of the anti WWIIOnline posters over on Lum’s? No, you simply can’t please everyone, and were not trying to.

Will we do it the satisfaction of the majority of players of the game and standards of common sense? We had damned well better, our livelihood depends on it.

To Honestly compare what other companies have done with their initial foray into online communities and player bases to our’s is unfair at best and apples/oranges at worst. It is quite obvious to me that those teams didn’t realize what they were in for and much of these issues were handled in a completely reactive manner.

Even so without the actual game being released what I say simply will not be accepted by many of the posters at Lum’s so I will not waste my breath in posting there.

You can’t really fault Cornered Rat:they’ve gone to every effort to remove the stench of genocide from what by all accounts should be a pretty decent game.

So why do the players insist on dragging it back into the game?

I don’t have the answer here.

I’d like to think it’s because of people honestly ignorant of history, like the brain dead morons who actually tried to argue in an earlier thread that there was no real difference morally between Nazi Germany and those who defended themselves from it. But obviously many of WW2OL’s enthusiasts are avid, knowledgeable students of history.

I’d like to think it’s because a few people just like pretty uniforms. But that doesn’t explain the often humorous re-appropriations of Nazi propaganda.

Maybe I just don’t get it. But just as someone at SPI twenty-five years ago decided that making a game about the Nazi conquest of America left the realm of “historical simulation” and entered the realm of “historical pornography”, so too should the folks who find nothing wrong with naming your group of online friends after some of the most efficient mass murderers history has ever witnessed take a few steps backward, if only to reflect on how they’ll explain it to Senator Lieberman next year.

FROM THE OFFICE OF: GAMES THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM… [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

The best place to start is always the beginning, and the beginning of the Cataclysm/Arcanity story is a rather interesting* one to be sure. According to the official Arcanity website, Brick House Trading Company was founded some time in 1999 as a daytrading firm. According to their own biography, the company was “failing miserably” and the owners “decided to shift the focus of the company to something for which they were better suited.” Charming and warm this story may be, the very same owners admitted later, in an RPGVault interview, that “…we used to joke around about starting a day trading firm on Wall Street and trading the stock market. So the name actually refers to a firm that never was.”

Fresh with a new mission and letterhead already in stock, they began development on a game called “Cataclysm”. This changed sometime in late August when Sierra On-Line released the hounds. Turns out that Sierra kinda-sorta has dibs on the name already. With pencil to paper and ear to the millstone, they conjured up the replacement name for this MMOG project: Arcanity. Now personally, I have to confess that I know very little about Arcanity – it may not even be a real word. So I decided that in preparation for this article, I would read the FAQ.

To my dismay, it is only two questions long:

Q. Will your game allow the player to customize the colors of different types of text?

Indeed. We still play other MMORPGs so we know how hard it is to read text as it flies by your text box. Sometimes it’s the color of the background that makes it hard to read and sometimes it’s just that there is too much text scrolling by. Arcanity will allow you to set which types of text you want to see (or filter out) and also set different default colors for each type of text. For example, when someone hits you for combat damage, you probably want that in yellow or orange or some other bright color so you don’t miss it.

Q. Alot of players react to graphical quality and speed, will you include High-Res resolution like say 1600×1200 that modern PCs have no trouble running?

Of course, you’ll be able to select a resolution from 640×480 all the way up. I can run Quake3 at 1600×1200, why can’t I run the latest MMORPG at the same resolution? Why is that? It seems most MMORPG developers spend so much time on other game issues that they forget about (or run out of time to finish) the graphics engine. We agree that the gameplay related issues should be delt with first, but there’s no reason to let frame rates drop down in the single digits at 640×480 on a voodoo3. I bring up that example because I’ve seen it happen in a popular MMORPG that is out now. Currently in alpha testing, we’ve been running 1024×768 on voodoo3’s and TNT2’s and we are getting frame rates around 60. Keep in mind that we like to finish things before we optimize them, so there is room for much improvement. On card like a geForce 2 GTS, you will be able to run 1600×1200 very comfortably, probably in the 50+ fps range.

There must be some unspoken law of FAQ that states if you don’t have more than four questions, pad the document with needlessly verbose responses. My summary of the above FAQ is:

1. Can I change font colors?

A: yes

2. Can I change screen resolution?

A: yes

Was that any less helpful? I like my FAQ much better because it fits in my wallet. I can answer Arcanity questions while waiting in line at the deli. Now I don’t know about you, but after reading the FAQ, I found myself starving for even MORE Arcanity information, so I looked at the technical information provided. I’ve only enclosed my own summary this time, at the personal request of Baby Jesus. All green text is directly quoted from the original document.

Platforms: Arcanity is PC and Windows only. There is no reason we couldn’t also support MacOS, Linux, BeOS, and console systems.

Graphics: Arcanity supports only OpenGL extensions, but not all of them.

Landscape: NO ZONES. Better looking bodies of water than you may be used to.

Dungeons: Your “run of the mill” 3D engine here. This is a solved problem and it is much less interesting than the landscape engine.

Music/Sound: 3D sound positioning. An awesome feature that most new games support. You can turn it off and listen to your MP3’s instead.

Physics: Don’t expect anything revolutionary. We think truely realistic physics engines are overhyped.

You can read all this and more over at the official Arcanity/daytrading website! My advice? SELL! SELL! SELL!

(*a lie. Sorry)

DISPATCHES FROM THAT VELIOUS THING [Author: Lum the Mad]

The first Velious adventure involved actually, you know, finding a copy of the game. Apparently Sony’s distributor seriously underestimated the initial demand. Then again, I suspect after the first week anyone who’d want the expansion will have somehow bought it, so flooding every store in the country with 20 copies would have been kind of silly. At any rate, some folks report consistent shortages and having to drive 50 miles or more to find a copy, while other folks wonder what crack everyone is smoking since their stores can’t give away the copies they’ve got. Since I’m lazy, I ordered mine online through Outpost.com, which means I should get it sometime in March or so. By which time I may actually be high enough level to play the damn thing.

The two components of Velious – interface enhancements and new zones – both seem to be well recieved. One quote by a Velious owner when examining their inventory for the first time using the new user interface was something on the order of “HOLY SHIT THIS ROCKS”. All mad pr0pz0rz to Rrowyl the Almighty for actually fixing some of Everquest’s nagging interface quirks (including throwing you out of “heads-up mode” whenever doing basic things like accessing your inventory and looting your kills). Some folks were unhappy that these changes weren’t available to folks who didn’t buy Velious, especially since they were patched to the client anyway and only actually, you know, worked if your client was marked Velious-enabled.

As for the new zones, they seem to continue the trend we saw in Kunark of huge mobs with large numbers of opponents carrying somewhat more randomly distributed loot. And, like Kunark, most of the high level zones such as Skyshrine and Siren’s Grotto apparently never had any phat lewt installed. However, most of the lewt farmers are waiting on the spoiler sites to post detailed maps and quest walkthroughs anyway, so most of the reports are from folks who enjoy exploring the unknown, of which Velious has plenty at the moment. The faction system still isn’t terribly understood, but apparently you can pick and choose who you’ll eventually be KoS to depending on your actions. Wow, what a concept.

Meanwhile, EQ Vault has a news template you can use for when your guild bravely slays the Ubermob and loots the Pointy Hat of Godliness. And when you decide to bitch on Whineplay about how the Pointy Hat of Godliness is unfair to necros, there’s a ready-made template waiting for you there as well. Or, you could just wait for FoH to kill everything. That in itself is sometimes a great adventure.