August 2007

Windows, I Just Can’t Quit You

Warning: I am going to totally geek out in this post. This probably marks me as one of those evil tekki-wikkis destroying Second Life, but that’s just how I roll.

Tipa at West Karana tells about her blissful upgrade from Ubuntu to Mint this morning. I mention this because, well, I’m jealous.

I tried, once again, to move my laptop from Vista to Linux, using Mint this time. And again, I went back to Windows over one single issue: video driver support. Specifically, the embedded Radeon x600 in my year-and-a-half-old laptop. Apparently Radeon and Linux just don’t… get along.

I use my laptop chiefly as my ‘communications’ machine, and take it to and from work to check email, keep up with IMs, store files, listen to my MP3 collection while working, take notes, etc. I’ve been pretty happy with it, though I find I rarely use the tablet functionality as time wears on simply because I type much faster than I write and there’s no cultural aversion at NCsoft to people merrily typing away into laptops during meetings.

The programs I use most often on the laptop: Outlook, OneNote, Winamp, and Trillian. There’s Linux alternatives to all of these, though I could do with a better interface than Evolution (unfortunately as NCsoft uses Exchange, that’s really the only option) and note taking apps for Linux are still fairly primitive.

But the kicker: I need to be able to dock my laptop. And when I dock it using Vista, it smoothly switches from the 1280×768 internal widescreen display to an external 1280×1024 monitor. But with Linux, it …doesn’t. Despite repeated cajoling of .conf files, the best I can ever get is a madly flickering 1280×768 resolution on my external monitor, either mirrored or extended. Which, on a non-widescreen LCD monitor? Looks like *ass*.

So, I’d really like to walk around with a Linux laptop. I’m willing to give up tablet functionality to do it. But I’m *not* willing to give up my ability to dock to an external monitor. Linux, thou hast forsaken me! Or my video card. Which is kind of the same thing, really.


The Darkfall Forum isn’t happy I closed the 2 1/2 week old post on a Darkfall commentary that turned into PK VS ANTI, PART 87,308,022. I’d have posted this on their forums instead, it being considerably more relevant there, but, well, their forum has a 72 hour waiting period. Yes, posting in Darkfall’s forums is much like buying a handgun.

What kind of bullshit is that. I know this is kinda off topic, but to have a entire page mocking this game, yet shutting down the discussion because the peopel who support it come to….support the msot ridiculously self centered and self righteous thing i’ve ever seen anyone do i na forum. I guess i dont’ visit enough forums or something.

I know the distinction is probably lost, but I wasn’t mocking Darkfall, but the *manly man* commentary someone made about it. To mock Darkfall (which I wouldn’t do anyway since I rarely if ever talk about specific games due to working on competing products), I would have to know anything about it, preferably through – you know – playing it.

And I shut down the post comments because it was in response to a Darkfall developer almost literally telling his fans to go “defend the faith” two weeks after the post actually had been made. Said fans did so, and did so vociferously and without knowing or caring about any other posts on the blog, which, frankly, I didn’t find terribly amusing. Yet still, I let it run for about a week, so that everyone who wanted to get in their points could. When the post war showed no sign of ending, and in fact started repeating themselves (easy to do since the identical arguments have been raging since the previous century), I put the whole thing out of its misery.

This no doubt pissed off the participants, who then went back to Darkfall and muttered the same frat-boy juvenile things they muttered since I mocked the literally exact same people for literally the exact same reasons EIGHT FREAKING YEARS AGO.

OSI hired Sir Adrick and Evocare. I laughed and then I cried.


Who cares about what Scott Jennings does on his own worthless section of the internet? His blog is completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. He posted a completely bullshit response to an article, and when his ignorant ass got called for it and the Darkfall community stepped up to the plate, he realized that the average Forumfall members excrement contains a greater degree of intelligence so he ran like a bitch. I don’t see the issue. Let idiots be idiots.

You know, I’m not sure what would piss them off more – the realization that I’m actually not just a random blogger, or that Evocare is responsible for the PvP and systems design on a somewhat popular game.

But let’s move on to the key mistake they made about my personal investment or lack thereof in all of this:

Yeah, he apparently feels that he can be a critic, but wants to be above criticism himself. I guess it sucks to be called out on a facetious remark on your own blog.

he can dish it out, but he has to go cry and lock the post as soon as he’s called out… lame… O.o…

Except that for the most part, I didn’t take part in the *very* *long* *argument*. Because, well, nothing new was being said. It’s the same argument that raged back when people were pissed off that someone stole their house keys in UO. It’s the same argument that Shadowbane fans made any time someone dared point out that the game they were rabidly following TO THE DEATH did not yet technically exist.

I didn’t say anything mainly because, well, I already did, years ago, and there’s no real reason to repeat myself. So really, I had no dog in the hunt; the comment thread itself was closed simply because the blog’s actual readers as opposed to forum invaders had moved on, and in my capacity as site janitor, it was my job to shut it down so as to not clog the “new comments” indicators.

So there you have it. Feel free to chuckle and high-five each other about how you pizz0wn3d the carebear. (Despite, you know, my being neither.) Hope you have fun in Darkfall!

Play Money, Real Fraud

So, say you decide you want to make a bank in Second Life. I mean, hey, people have money, right? And, well, what do people do with money in RL? They put it in a bank! So, there you go. Simple enough. Make some ATM machine models, a sleek building, promises of wild 100% interest compounded annually, and you’re good to go.

Until, you know, people decide they want to pull their money back out of the “bank”. Whoops.

After considerable thought, we have concluded that the only way forward from this is to convert, compulsorily, all customer deposits into a tradeable debt security called Ginko Perpetual Bonds. These bonds, listed on the World Stock Exchange (, will allow Ginko Financial to recover from recent events by removing all pressure from our cash reserves while providing accountholders with a way to cash out on an open market.

World Stock Exchange being… um… another wholly virtual and fairly troubled entity within Second Life. There’s lots of adjectives that could be used here for this whole thing, but what probably comes the closest: Ponzi scheme.

Linden Lab’s traditional response to all of this is that they don’t regulate anything, and no one should treat these “banks” and “stock exchanges” as anything other than mini-games, on the order of your office’s fantasy baseball pool. Well, assuming the guy who took your money lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Philip Rosedale, Linden’s CEO, was actually asked about this in a recent online chat:

[14:19] Jay S.: lol, is there any new policy concerning the Ginko scandle, Ie it looks more like a ponzi scam
[14:19] Philip Linden: jay we haven’t created any policy thusfar on bank, etc.
[14:19] Philip Linden: we try very hard not to make rules we do not need to.
[14:20] Philip Linden: We haven’t made any about banks
[14:20] Jay S.: ok
[14:20] Philip Linden: I would note that there is a lot of transparency around projects like Ginko
[14:20] Philip Linden: moreso that in the real world

As Nobody Fugazi commented,

Phil says Ginko Financial is transparent. Meanwhile, a two fingered sloth in Suriname is awaiting powdered goat milk. One of these statements is true – pick one.

For more on this, check out Nobody Fugazi’s blog, and especially Virtually Blind’s complete coverage (written by Benjamin Duranske, attorney and SL commentator). He’s been writing about this strangeness from the start, and most notably got Ginko’s elusive owner in an interview (the one linked above). Matt Mihaly has his own commentary up here.

Prokofy Neva also has a few articles on this, which as best as I can tell alternate betwen laughing at people foolish enough to invest in Ginko and furious that something might actually be done about it.

Putting your money into a pixelated online object hooked up to an anonymous avatar is about as risky as putting it in under a park bench in Central Park — it could be gone by morning. And yet…it has worked better than people thought, in this “fastest growing economy of the world” precisely because of the fast rate of growth and the incredible volume of Lindens. There *are* usually enough Lindens to pay withdrawals, offer high interest — and keep it going for years! People like Benjamin Duranske quick to scream “Ponzi” are completely — witlessly — neglecting to notice that the RL original Charles Ponzi started and tanked and was in jail in a mere six months from December 1920 to the summer of 1921, even in a world without the Internet. Ginkos, however, has lasted for more than 3 years. That simply has to be *explained* and not merely screamed at witlessly.

No, actually, when someone takes your money and doesn’t give it back, yes, screaming witlessly is a valid option.(I’d say more, but I’m still mad I didn’t make his enemies list.)

Oh, and can it get worse? Yes, it can get worse.

As more and more people sell their L$ on the LindeX, Linden might choose to maintain its L$270=US$1 peg for some amount of time, but operating under the assumption that it has not maintained 100% US$ reserves, it will eventually run out of US$ or decide to stop selling them, and the L$ will depreciate rapidly. In either outcome, residents will discover that they possess less wealth than they perceived they had during the time leading up to the crash.

To summarize, it appears very likely that Second Life will experience at least some form of economic recession.

See, no one ever demands that Blizzard puts the Azeroth GP on the gold standard.

My New Levelling Technique Is Unstoppable

Brandon Reinhart thinks about death knights too much. (And that’s just part one.)

Brandon hates alts. I’m an altaholic. Brandon is a hardcore raider. I saw Blackwing Lair once. So. Our perspectives differ somewhat. Brandon comes from that wacky “knows what he’s talking about” school of design. Hah! We altaholics laugh at the thought of actually experiencing things ourselves. Instead we carp from the sidelines. So, from someone who actually hasn’t gotten a character past level 60 yet (except for, um, all the ones my wife levelled so she could farm Outland), my commentary.

I kind of understand where Brandon is coming from; even agree with most of his logic. Mainly, from his perspective, since a player’s primary character is his investment, any time spent with an alt is a wasted investment – it’s not assisting him in moving towards his goals, but simply serves as a distraction. Making an achievement that acts, not in concert with this, but encouraging that distraction, is seen as, well, distracting. Unlocking a Death Knight won’t make your Rogue better. It won’t help your guild, because you’re going to have ramp up time in getting your new toy up to speed. It won’t help in raiding, because lord only knows the rivers will run red with the blood of fallen gnome Death Knights. There’s gonna be a bit of DPS Tank surplus for a while (hey, howabout them belfadins!) If an alt is seen as a waste, than an end game goal of alt unlocking is not only a waste of time, but a waste of achievement as well.

But that all is predicated on one assumption – you don’t enjoy the journey, but merely the reward.

I also play City of Villains. And one common feature of that game is that few players get past level 30. Well, you can, but the level grind past that point is ridiculously prohibitive, and for little gain. There really isn’t an end game with City of Heroes/Villains – you simply reroll. And there’s no reason really, *not* to reroll once you get to where the game gets tough. So most do. The new player areas in City of X are among the most populated and alive areas in any MMO, despite the game’s age, simply because the players of those games that still play, play to reroll.

Now, the players looking for the end game get frustrated and leave – because, as I said, there is none, and the journey to find that out quickly becomes prohibitive. But is that really an issue for those players who actually enjoy the journey – the experience of taking some superpowered entity into caves and beating the snot out of random enemies?

So, then, the Death Knight hero class, which is unlocked at some undetermined high level after some quest of undetermined difficulty, which lets you, presumably, play WoW again. Yet skipping the, as I with no little biterness labelled “level 21 to 57” in the Stephen Colbert Notice Board, part of the game, which even Blizzard admits, in the Burning Crusade era, is fairly weak.

Does this help one’s main? No. Does this probably hurt the raiding game as everyone runs off to make their little gnome death knights? Probably.  Does it depopulate the newbie zones, similar to DAOC’s /level command? Probably.

Is it a good idea? Sure. And why is that? Because it helps people have fun. Which is sort of the point of the exercise, after all. It allows people to skip to the newer content in the game, without skipping ahead to the “endgame” directly so that there is still some assurance that said level 80 Death Knight actually knows what the keys on his hotbar do.

It’s perfect for, well, alt-a-holics like me. Assuming I can ever get a character to level 80. I’m pretty sure I can by the time the Nightmares of the Emerald Dream expansion ships, anyway.

Unless I get tempted to play my Warlock.

That Mox Pearl Is Bind On Pickup

Hey, there’s another MMO company besides Blizzard? Hold the phone!

SOE, in their inimitable scheduling style, also is holding a fan fair this week, and today John Smedley’s keynote lifted the veils on Legends of Norrath, a cross-game CCG. Zonk has the writeup.

Interesting concept, and like Smedley noted in the interview, you can scratch pretty much any MMO dev and find a varying degree of Magic: The Gathering player within somewhere, so it’s less a weird fit than you might think. (Oh, if you wanted to read about some other fan fair, WoW Insider has good coverage.)


It all led up to this.

When I first came to your planet and demanded your homes, property and very lives, I didn’t know you were already doing so, willingly, with your own government. I can win no tribute from a bankrupted nation populated by feeble flag-waving plebians. In 2008 I shall restore your dignity and make you servants worthy of my rule. This new government shall become a tool of my oppression. Instead of hidden agendas and waffling policies, I offer you direct candor and brutal certainty. I only ask for your tribute, your lives, and your vote.

— General Zod
Your Future President and Eternal Ruler