DD POINTS OUT THE OBVIOUS [Author: lum]

“Designer” Dragon (you may have heard of him, he works at some hi-tech company in Austin and hangs out with “Dr.” Twister on Dollar Draft nights at Hooters) writes:

If everyone stops macroing, then the advancement rates of skills will rise. Less macroing actually will mean less NEED to macro. Because of how the advancement table works, the reason certain skills advance so slowly is precisely BECAUSE they have been macroed.

Just more fuel for the fire. 🙂

Well, DUH.

As I think I’ve made clear over and again, this relates to PvP mostly because that’s mostly how I play. My wife is almost exclusively PvM (and actually lately more PvFish) and she macros almost as much as I do, though. And she is a HARDCORE roleplayer. So although this isn’t a PK or an anti-roleplayer thing, the following comes from my experiences tearing up my fellow man.

PvP is a test of skill. Given everything else being equal, the guild with more skillful PLAYERS will defeat their opposition. This is as it should be.

However, if that guild ties both hands behind their back and hobbles into battle armed only with a butcher knife and wearing a jester’s cap for armor, they will likely lose no matter how bad-assed their players may be. The stats of the player’s characters do come into play.

So, why would ANY reasonably adept PvP combatant choose to handicap themselves against their opponents?

There already are ethical choices in PvP. I don’t use UOE. I think UOE users are slime-infested pusbags and I take great joy in watching my deadly poison cause the screen to fill up with autocasted failed Kal Ort Pors. But UOE gives its users an advantage. UOA users have to hit their Disarm macro button, slam Alt-H to fire off a Greater Heal, and hit Home to target self. Non-enhanced users have to manually drag their weapons off of their paperdoll into their backpack, slam Alt-H to fire off a greater heal, and mouse over to their onscreen representation and click on it. UOE users have to hit Heal Self. Guess who’s going to heal first.

So it’s a fine line that you walk. Personally, my stance is that UOA is not a “cheat utility” like UOE is, but an improvement to UO (which the dev team has stated will eventually be worked into the actual client). And just because OSI decided to waffle about whether or not to grant UOA “legit” status for six months before finally giving it the thumbs down is irrelevant to me. It’s like Microsoft telling me I can’t use Borland Delphi to program Windows apps, but I have to use Microsoft Visual Basic. I suppose legally they could because Microsoft owns the rights to Windows, but that doesn’t mean I will use an inferior tool because Microsoft tells me to. (And all you C geeks just shut your damn mouth. I like pretty guis.)

But, you might say, what’s the difference between hitting one key in UOE and three keys in UOA? It’s still an advantage other players don’t have.

Sure. But let’s look at the facts. People who do pvp either use UOE, UOA, or are so skilled with the client from repetitive practice they find neither necessary. I’m not. I’m a klutz. I drop things on a regular basis. If you expect me to fumble with my mouse for five minutes every time I have to heal myself, I’m going to take a lot of dirt naps.

So do I want to handicap myself? No. Is it unethical not to handicap myself? In my view, my line is drawn in the correct spot. Your line may differ.

So what does all this have to do about macroing? It’s the same drawing of the lines. Where does your ethics draw your line. For me, I’m not going to unilaterally disarm. Why would any sane person involved in pvp NOT macro? “Well, if I can get my anatomy up to 100, I get a 10% bonus on my damage dealt. Everyone I fight, pretty much, in hand to hand is going to have that same bonus. But I don’t want to macro unattended, because it would be wrong, it’s an exploit, and OSI said not to do it. And raising Anatomy by hand will take six months and drive me completely insane in the process. So I guess I’ll just do less damage.” Do YOU know anyone who would say that? I don’t.

Then there’s the bandwidth issue. I know all about bandwidth, I used to work for an ISP back before I grew a clue. You’ve got thousands of people wasting 2K of bandwidth a pop connected to the OSI servers and they’re not even really there.

Well, “Designer” Dragon, that is YOUR fault, bud. You designed the game that way.

You implemented a skill tree with logarithmic progression that cripples itself as more people use each skill. Was the goal to just make less Grandmasters? Um, welcome to human nature. Everyone wants to be a Grandmaster. Everyone wants to win. Especially pvp’ers, who are actually playing to win as opposed to roleplayers who generally are in a “play” environment as opposed to a “contest” environment. (Not knocking roleplayers, mind you, I’ve been intimately involved with several such groups. Both styles of play are equally valid.)

And, from your own rules of online game design,

“Macroing, botting, and automation — no matter what you do, someone is going to automate the process of playing your world”.

So what do you do about it, smack everyone upside the head who dares to follow the dictate of human nature? Depend on your fallible and underpaid GMs and even more fallible and UNpaid counselors to police them? Another of your rules states;

“The in-game admin faces a bizarre problem. He is exercising power that the ordinary virtual citizen cannot. And he is looked to in many ways to provide a certain atmosphere and level of civility in the environment. Yet the fact remains that no matter how scrupulously honest he is, no matter how just he shows himself to be, no matter how committed to the welfare of the virtual space he may prove himself, people will hate his guts. They will mistrust him precisely because he has power, and they can never know him. There will be false accusations galore, many insinuations of nefarious motives, and former friends will turn against him. It may be that the old saying about power and absolute power is just too ingrained in the psyche of most people; whatever the reasons, there has never been an online game whose admins could say with a straight face that all their players really trusted them.”

I’d add a new rule. Call it “Lum’s Laws of Human Frailty”;

Given enough motive, any game admin can be corrupted.
Once corrupt administration is discovered, any online game will be swiftly deserted.

We all know, all have personal experience with GM favoritism and selective enforcement of ingame rules of conduct. I won’t even bother to recite the whole sad litany. I only wonder when we’ll pop open CNet, Gamespot, or CNN and read about the GM who was slipped $5,000 under the table to create an Ubercharacter that would be sold by a third party on eBay. $5,000 to a kid just out of/still in college is a lot of money. And I just see the current “Well, we’ll ban you for macroing, but only if we feel like it” as just another incredible enabler for ingame administrative corruption.

What do I think should be done? Find some way to autoboot anyone using UOE/UOA/UOWazoo. Wipe the shards. Start clean. If you want to reset the skill curve, that’s great. But don’t punish those who follow simply because they showed up too late to get away with it.

LUM TO PK LORD BRITISH? [Author: lum]

If you read the “real” news sites (as opposed to the weird crap I post) you know that the funky guy with the goatee and the permanent RenFair wardrobe is going to grace a UO Player’s Luncheon in Austin with his august majesty in a couple of weeks.

Well, your Lumness lives only one state away from Texas (I won’t tell you which one because you all would laugh and call me names and I’d have to take 15 AK-47s and a Molotov to school the next day) so I’m seriously considering making a personal appearance. Hey, that would make my trips to Austin about as frequent as Lord Blackthorne’s trips to Britain!

I have one question I’d like to ask Mr. Garriot. It’s totally serious, and in no way is disrespectful, insulting, antagonistic or about macroing, but for some reason I REALLY doubt I’d get a straight answer. I’ll tell you what it is, whether I go or not, after the meeting. (We really don’t want to drive all the way to Austin without tickets waiting for us. And cross country driving is hard to macro.)

GOD HELP US ALL [Author: lum]

You all know what happened today. If you don’t, for god’s sake get up from your damn computer for five minutes. Someone will probably tell you.

I am in shock. I have a stepdaughter who is in high school. Her first response was “You don’t understand, this could SO happen here. Security at school is a joke.”

The world is getting worse. When I was in highschool all of 15 years ago, people would excrete concrete products for even bringing a gun to school. Now we’ve got kids who can’t even buy smokes legally with goddamned assault rifles and pipe bombs.

At this writing, it looked like this month’s installment of Hell on earth was perpertrated by a clique of Goths who were pissy because the jocks got all the cool shit. And apparently they were racist too. Wonderful. I so love humans.

I know a lot of you reading this are hardcore PKs. I’ve been in a PK guild myself, so I’m not preaching to you from some faroff ivory tower. I want you to ask yourself, is there even any CHANCE that you are capable of pulling the crap that those two meatbags that resigned from humanity pulled today. Any chance at all.

I’m not calling you sick or perverted or twisted for liking to PK online. I’m just calling for a quick reality check. Make sure that you aren’t being desensitized by the violence we live in today, a violence mirrored by the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the games we play.

It’s not the guns fault, it’s not the schools fault, its not even the parents fault. It’s our fault, society’s fault. And the only way out is for each and every one of to own this, and commit to, in however microscopic a fashion, fixing it.

Thank you. Back to the same old silly shit.

OK, MACROING IS BAD. I WILL STOP NOW. [Author: lum]

I got email from a cartoon character today. Now, I blow off people at work, people at home, hell I even blow off Mayor McCheese if he’s standing at McDonald’s even though he’s kind of vaguely a cartoon character. But this one I can’t blow off. I listened, I learned, I was moved. UO Assist is off my hard drive, baby. Check this:

Lum, How dare you sir! To suggest that unattended macroing is an ethical passtime. Why the very thought is sickening. Lum, what you and your macroing cronies fail to realize that Ultima Online is a roleplaying experience. Skills, combat, success rates…these are unfortunate mechanics that MUST exist to support the intricate and delicate web of fantasy roleplaying that we’ve all come to expect from this online experience.

I am a bard of some renown and I have recently started practicing the art of magery. A local sage passed along a rumor that a high proficiency in the Evaluate Intelligence skill could increase the amount of damage I do with my spells. Well as you can imagine, I was quickly eager to learn this new practice.

I’ve set up a small booth near the First Bank of Trinsic and am offering to guess others IQ for a small fee of 10 gold. I refuse to practice on anyone unknowingly…why this could drastically effect their gameplay. I am quite aware that my rights end where my fellow players rights start. So far I have had 3 takers and although I’ve not gained any skill points as of yet, I’m sure I’ll break that 0.1 barrier in the next few days.

But I wouldn’t expect someone like YOU to understand the simple pleasures that the majority of the UO populace enjoys.

Samwise
Neophyte Scholar, and proud of it.

OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS WELCOME, EVEN IF THEY’RE WRONG [Author: lum]

Now, just in case you thought the userbase of UO marched in lockstep behind my clarion call of macroing freedom, here’s an email I’ve recieved from Kurtis Something (no, I didn’t forget his last name, that’s what it said in the email), unedited.

Guess what? I don’t macro- never have, never will. I’ve got myself a part time job and am in my last year of high school. So as you can guess I don’t have much time on my hands. I’m not sure if your lack of intelligence disallows you from seeing such things as your article might suggest. Oh and by the way, I’m GM in fencing, tactics, and a Master in poisoning. So yes, even though I don’t macro, I can PvP. I play on the Sonoma shard, so give me a ring when you’re done fakeing your way to the top.

Now, I never said that you HAD to macro. I merely said that you had to macro if you didn’t want to spend months and months prepping your character up to the point that it was actually usable. And I’m sure there’s a lot of folks only into PvM that never macro. And some skills (such as Lumberjacking) you can’t really macro at all.

So do you have GM Anatomy on that shake and bake fencer that you Never Macroed on?

Oh, by the way, you’ll have no problem finding us on Sonoma. Give us a few weeks to fake our way to the top, though. You know how it is.

(By the way, just in case you thought everyone else who read this site was a pinhead, so far I’ve gotten about 50 mails on the subject and that was the only anti-macroing one. Everyone else who reads this site is still a pinhead, though.)

BE A MASTER BARD IN ONLY A YEAR! [Author: lum]

Wombat of Wakoku (I just love that shard. The name rolls off the tongue. WaaaKOkoooo.) writes:

I macroed peacemaking on a rather uninhabited shard last nite (well everynite heeee) and I gained 1.1 in 18 hours. 12000 ms delay = 5 repeats a minute. 18 hours = 1080 minutes. Therefore I repeated peacemaking 5400 times for 1.1 gain. Mathematics my man, they cannot twist mathematics to their needs…

So, given that the average Ultima Online fanatic is online staring at their screen 4 hours a day, 5 days a week (which is generous for me and most other adults with lives they call their own), this means that on the shard with not only the coolest name but the least restrictive skill curve, it will take you somewhere around 45 weeks to make GM, assuming that you began a dedicated bard with an initial skill of 50. This also does not take into account the logarithmic progression of skill gain, or, in English, that it takes something short of forever to gain in skill once you break 90.

So if you want to be an honest bard and not one of those EvIl ExPLoITeRS, you best get cracking.

Since I strive every day to be more like my friend “Dr.” TwisTer, I think we should actually get the facts on how you will be totally reamed by no longer macroing. If you’ve got hard figures on what kind of skill gain you get from macroing, send it in and give us something else to be pissy and grouse about!

EVILMACROEXPLOITERUPDATE: Still macroing anatomy (aka looking at our leader’s butt over and over) when I left for work. Sonoma resets after I’m gone, though, so the non-macroing public will be safe from my crimes until tonight.

BAD BOYS BAD BOYS, WHATCHA GONNA DO [Author: lum]

Read the pissy rant I posted below this first, if you haven’t already.

Got a few emails already on this bit, and it set me to thinking.

UO is a virtual world. That’s one of it’s strengths.

And OSI is the DEA.

Bear with me here. Macroing and third party program use is like smoking marijuana. No one gets up during church and announces “Yeah, I smoked a spliff the other day and I still got some left, want some?”, but if you had a Magic Truthsaying Machine I imagine if you surveyed everyone in America under 50 you’d have very few people who didn’t know how to inhale.

And like marijuana, most people understand that macroing, and by extenstion the use of third party programs, while illicit, is also quite widespread. This isn’t a genie you can stuff back in the bottle. And there are quite a few things more hazardous than marijuana, or macroing. Like, say, instant vendor kills. Were my wife’s vendors mysteriously slain? Or was it just a bug, like the time she lost a chest off a boat in thin air and the GM, responding to the call, said “Well, I guess *it just washed off the boat!*”.

But no, instead of actually performing customer service the GMs in UO are more concerned with tracking down and destroying recreational marijuana users — er, unattended macroers. And you know, most of the time it’s because someone narced on the victim in question.

So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised… we put up with fascism in real life, why not Ultima Online. So does Lord British get a nifty silver shield from McGruff the Anti-Crime Dog now?

Personal note: Before you whinging curs jump up and proclaim how much more moral you are than I, I am not condoning drug use. I also am not a hypocrite. I’ve used drugs in the past. Lots of them. I had a problem with them, and eventually I solved that problem and moved on. But my problem didn’t involve weed, and UO’s problems don’t include macro mining.

EVILMACROEXPLOITERUPDATE: We’re still all flouting John Law by mindlessly and unattendingly staring at Tal’s butt. Come and get us, coppers!

MACROING IS NOW AN EXPLOIT, AND WE ARE ALL EXPLOITERS [Author: lum]

If you haven’t already, go here. Now. Check the first paragraph.

Right now – this very second – I am doing something that could get me banned.

I’m macroing while writing this web page. Starting a new character on Sonoma and macroing at Brit guard tower. Hey, come get me if you read this fast enough… I’m helpfully named Lum the Mad. I’m the guy hitting a dummy with my s00per newbie spear and checking out the sweet butt of the guy next to me over and over again.

Because you know what? If I do get banned for macroing – and I plan on making no effort whatsoever to hide it – that will be the final straw. I will quit Ultima Online and find something more productive to use my $10 a month and far more worth of time online.

Out of 100 players, 98 have macroed. Guaranteed. The game system is designed that way. Unless you have no intention of ever engaging in player vs player combat, and for that matter pretty much intend to relegate yourself to maybe beating up the occasional ratman in between hanging out at your tavern, if you do not macro, your character is inferior and will DIE. Constantly.

Not to mention the fact that many skills are just incredibly BORING. Mining. Anatomy. Evaluate Intelligence. Fishing. Magery. The list is long and painful, those are just what I personally have macroed.

OSI even has macroing built into the client.

The kicker is “unattend macroing” – aka actually going off and doing something productive. Although currently it’s cute to be all coy and shit and say “Oh, I NEVER use Banned Third Party Utilities”, everyone either uses UO Assist (if they’re ethical) or UO Extreme (if they’re a pud) or UO Plugin (if they’re a clueless pud). Because they allow you to actually use your computer for something else (like, say, updating a web page) while doing mindless makework in UO.

I don’t play UO to bash on a macro execute key all day. I play UO to engage in interaction with other human beings. Your mileage may vary, I imagine, but even the most hardcore roleplayer, if they’re honest, macros. EVERYONE macros.

Except for the fucking clueless dev team who never fucking plays UO without a fucking jacked up supercharacter that avoids ever having to actually fucking gain skills.

If Designer Dragon or Runesabre or Sunsword or even perish the thought Lord British or Blackthorne had to actually MAKE A NEW CHARACTER, they’d never do it. They are adults with lives.

And so are we, spudboys, so are we.

So go ahead, bust my ass for macroing on a stupid bunny. Do it. I fucking dare you. Hell, if a GM asks I’ll email em where my house is. I WANT you to ban me.

I won’t reassign my password and get around the ban like every other chickenshit exploiter either.

Because you know what? We’re ALL exploiters now, my friends. ALL OF US. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. EVERY SINGLE LAST FUCKING ONE OF US.

Be honest. You know you are. And you know the only honorable thing to do is what I do – to call the GMs and dev team on their bluff. They want to ban everyone for macroing, FINE.

It’ll be a mighty empty game. And the GMs and all their little butt buddies will have no lag whatsoever.

Lum The Mad As Hell, signing off.

EVILMACROEXPLOITERUPDATE: Right now our entire guild is staring at our leader’s butt. We are told this is some sort of initiation rite. At any event we are macroing staring at our leader’s butt unattended. So any GMs slacking off reading this site instead of doing their jobs are welcome to find and ban the lot of us. Once again, we’re on Sonoma, and I’m Lum the Mad, and we’re somewhere north of Minoc, all contemplating the fact that our leader is in fact an ass. Aw come on, ban us! It’d be fun!

HOW TO SURVIVE ULTIMA ONLINE [Author: lum]

It’s a good question. Ultima Online is maddening, frustrating, and overrun with hordes of juveniles who think the coolest thing is to prance a female character naked except for thigh-high boots around Brit bank. And that’s not even mentioning when the guards get slaphappy… (props to Kira Argounova on Pac for that pic)

If you’re a newbie, you’ll wonder when, you know, the cool stuff happens. Because killing bunnies and chickens ain’t it. And dying to a hind if you target one by accident certainly ain’t it. So here’s a quick guide on how to succeed and thrive in UO while still maintaining fragments of your sanity.

NEVER ENTER BRITAIN

This has got to be Rule Number One for every serious UO player. Britain isn’t a city, it’s an infestation. It’s laggy, it’s full of idiots and thieves, it’s laggy, you never find any regs there, and oh, almost forgot, it’s laggy.

GO MAKE A CHARACTER ON ABYSS

The one exception to the above rule is on the Abyss shard. That’s because in Brit there, there are moongates available to make an insta-Shake-n-Bake 7xGM (in other words, a maxxed out character). So this is the perfect place to experiment with what skills you want to work on with your real character. Just ignore the rabble asking you where the fencing gate is. Note that Abyss is PK happy, but hell, so are the rest of the shards so it’s good practice in survival. Plus, you’ll find out after a while that having GM Everything isn’t really that different from your own sad ass character on other shards. You still miss half the time.

JOIN A GUILD THAT DOESN’T SUCK

You could play UO without joining a guild, but in that case you might as well play Baldur’s Gate – the NPCs are wittier and the graphics are better. But take some care when joining a guild. Go on a few runs with them and see if they all die. If they do, you probably want to join another guild. This is a good chance to also see if your prospective guildmates actually speak English (as opposed to Dewdish, Hiphop or Roleplayer).

DON’T TRY TO WIN

No one has ever won UO except Richard Garriot. And we all know what happened to HIM. Just kick back and have fun. That’s how you would “win”, here or in real life. But what do I know, I’m Lum the Sanity Challenged…