THE UNREAL COST OF CHEATING [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Those of us who remember playing Global War on bulletin boards remember how frustrating it was to learn that the two remaining opponents in your game were actually one player, and that you had no chance of winning. A friend of mine programmed an official Global War Editor Utility that allowed a policing SysOp to demolish cheaters in their games, or even recreate games when they became too far damaged by exploitation. We both had a no tolerance policy for cheaters: If you cheated, your accounts were deleted and your phone number would be blocked. The logs would show that these banned cheaters would continue to call day after day, checking to see if they could again connect to the service and cheat their way atop the various game ladders.

Fast forward to the age of online internet frag-festivus. Team Fortress Strategic Command staffer MisterTea has written a review/rant/warning about a fast spreading utility known as “TFC Speed Hack”. According to those who have witnessed this hack in action, you can literally tap the up arrow on your keyboard and you are instantly on the other side of the map. You can fire slow-loading shotguns like .50 caliber belt-fed automatics. You can run, jump, shoot, hide, and heal with alarming speed. The hack raises the windows clock speed allowing any locally run software to operate much faster than it should. It makes one virtually indestructible and unbeatable. It also bakes your computer like a slice of Texas toast. You can almost smell the ozone as cheaters appeared on most every online Team Fortress server on the internet, and then quickly seemed to vanish overnight. In an attempt to thwart the cheat, some sites have added a laundry list of viruses bent on the elimination of the hackers. The ironic justice is that the very tool these losers are using to claim victory will be their undoing. And I find that just great. Why? Because these people will never change. There is no redemption for those who live life with the end being the justification for the means. They cannot be reformed. They can only be restrained.

The guy I told you about? The one who wrote the Admin Tool for Global War? His older brother would cheat his own mother out of her last dollar, and he felt no remorse, regret, or shame about it. For him, there were only winners and losers, and he was going to do what he had to do to be a winner. Rules didn’t apply to him, you see. That is, until he lost his baseball scholarship, and likely ended what most people predicted would have been a serious shot at playing Major League Baseball. Welcome to the world beyond your own, tough guy.

The hack has been spotted mostly on Team Fortress servers, and most of the popular ones have gone private / members only. Given the nature of the hack, it will likely find its way to just about every online game, depending upon the nature of the client. I have no idea how this will (or will not) effect The Big Three.

Just say no to this speed hack, folks. That is, unless you already have your replacement CPU and video card on order.

SAVANT’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, PART II [Author: Savant]

The first topic was the one I mentioned yesterday, the one I was excited about. “Narrative Environments: Worlds that Tell Stories.” The first wonderful speaker Janet Murray (Hamlet on the Holodeck), while was well prepared (had actual game footage and stuff) and a fantastic author, had no idea what she was talking about. Two of the most notable quotes are:

“You essentially save the game by going to something called a lifestone.” about Asheron’s Call.

“The backrub is a landmark advancement\’e2\’80\’a6” about The Sims.

Quickly I dialed Kevorkian, but I guess the cops in OZ don’t allow phone calls. Lucky for me, Raph Koster stepped up to the podium next and made me reconsider. He saved me from suicide – So the next time I write something to disagree with, you know where to send your hate mail. Koster’s speech, as expected, was fantastic. He said he rewrote it in the shower that morning, so for the rest of the speech, I pictured him covered in soap bubbles holding a rubber ducky. I can’t help it. A lot of what he said seemed to go over the heads of the non gamers there – You know, stuff like “Impositional and Expressive Narration in games.” Like I said, he did an excellent job, in usual Kosterization fashion.

Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions (Grim Fandango) was next. He did an ok job and stated right off the bat that he did not agree with Raph in the sense that he made games from the impositional viewpoint while Raph does it from the expressive. Not the best public speaker, but he was humorous and did manage to plug his game quite a bit. The game actually looks so good (Yes I’ve never played it, bite me) that I’ll be picking up a copy this week – so I guess the shameless plugging worked!

Finally we heard from Ken Lobb of Nintendo (Zelda). I’ve gotta admit, the man was funny. His first line was, “We don’t care about story.” Hah! Aint that the truth. Also referenced EverQuest as EverCrack and EverChat. Talked about games like Donkey Kong to Super Mario, and even showed a clip of the original Legend of Zelda, which brought back memories.

Now the discussion round. I won’t discuss all of the questions except one. Warren Spector gave a little speech (I suppose he felt he didn’t have enough time when he was actually up at the podium) and mentioned how any sort of narration made him cringe. He finally ended up with a question, twenty minutes later: “Why aren’t you writing novels instead of making games?” to which Tim Schafer responded simply with, “Well, because I like games.” I’d like to take just a small moment for a newsflash for Warren – DEUS EX WASN’T THAT GREAT, STOP BEING SO ARROGANT. Uppity bastard.

Break time. I went and used the restroom. I don’t know why this is significant, but hey, it’s filling up an entire line isn’t it?

“The Tail that Wags the Dog: Is Entertainment Driving Technology?” I wouldn’t know, I left halfway through. Tom Hershey of Sony Pictures and Imageworks and Paul Debevec of USC’s Institute for Creative Technology were putting me to sleep. I left before Ken Perlin of NYU and David Javelosa of Yamaha got up to speak. It was either going and having a cigarette or using the sniper rifle and being in prison. So my life was technically saved a second time, and while Raph had nothing to do with it, I’d like to make him responsible again – Just cause I can.

Lunch time! Nothing special, no one spoke at lunch today. Food was edible.

I wanted to make it to the next discussion, “Educating Game Designers” but got caught up talking to several people upstairs and missed it. I looked over the program and the speakers were Henry Jenkins (MIT), Eric Zimmerman (gameLab and NYU), Robert Nideffer (UC Irvine), Randy Pausch (Carnagie Mellon University), and Celia Pearce (USC). Educating is right – not too sorry I missed this one, are ya now?

As I said, I was busy upstairs chatting away with folks. Alex Mars was first (one of our loyal readers). Great guy – had a cowboy hat on and was quite a cool fellow to speak with it – props to our site for having such a great fan base. Shortly after, Raph came by. I forget what the topic was about, but I do know he left quickly to go to some television interview (Can nothing stop this man?)

I also got to meet Serafina of Atriarch. Apparently, she feels we don’t cover her game enough. I’m not quite sure if it was the fact that she kept telling me that, or if because she was chanting “atriarch, atriarch, atriarch” in a hushed tone for the rest of my time up there. Either way, I don’t see why she feels that way, I feel her game gets plenty of coverage! Well, maybe if she didn’t dodge every question I asked about the game, I’d have something to say! I was able to find out that they plan to have all users on a single server and have permadeath (nothing new for those of you follow their website), and that they plan to publish worldwide and already have some publishers lined up – No dates on beta or anything folks, sorry. Though I do know that I even got a nifty atriarch sticker out of the deal. Did I mention she is the lead designer of Atriarch? I sure hope so, because you know our motto at LtM – “We aim to please!”

At this point Raph and Bluebaron joined us again, and we rambled on about random junk for a short while – with lots of shouting that included something along the lines of “I DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS ON SOME WEBSITE TONIGHT.” Lucky for you all, I’m deaf – oh wait…

I did manage to sneak in one “official” type question to Raph. “How much creative control do Sony and Verant have over Star Wars? Cause, well, you know\’e2\’80\’a6” Rest assured, loyal Jedi’s, Raph told me that he’s apparently “in a very unique situation” and that no creative interests will be compromised in the making of this game. I did a small happy dance.

We rambled some more, and eventually I got to make my way down to the hall for the next speech of the day that I was actually looking forward to, “Self-Authorship: Role-Playing Games and Avatar-Based Worlds.” Geoffrey Zatkin of Verant/Sony (EverQuest, Sovereign) was first, and was followed by Matthew Ford of Microsoft (Asheron’s Call). Both gave great speeches. Most notable were:

“\’e2\’80\’a6GM’s as in game police\’e2\’80\’a6” from Geoffrey, and a small tidbit for you Asheron’s Call players from Matthew, “The Virindi are the focus of the next major plot\’e2\’80\’a6”

Last on the panel to speak was some guy named Steve DiPaola of Stanford University (OnLive). I don’t quite know how attached to reality this individual was (much like many of yesterday’s speakers) as nearly his entire speech revolved around some chick named “Purple Tears” from one of his virtual worlds, and how she’s some married housewife who likes to “play” different “more open” characters. He went on and on and on about this lame woman, and even showed us some of the “places” she’s built in his virtual world, and how she gets in and out of relationships JUST LIKE IN REAL LIFE. Gee, Steve, that’s amazing stuff, really. If I didn’t know better, I’d have guessed he was her current “love interest.”

The discussion part was pretty lame except for two individuals who have massive sized brains. The first was some kid in a suit who jumped up and plugged that kid who levels characters for you in Asheron’s Call (No, I won’t link to the bastard.) and asked about Verants latest EBay crunch (more about this in a second). The second was some dude who took about 20 minutes to ask a question no one understood, and the panelists asked for a one sentence “summary.” His questioned asked if games like EverQuest could be used as Desktops or OS’s. What a peen.

Time for a break! Instead of going upstairs, I rushed to the front of the seats to be able to speak with Geoffrey and Matthew. Introduced myself, and of course, they were quite polite when I mentioned the site. I asked Geoffrey if he felt that the massive amounts of time it took to get anywhere in EverQuest was reason enough for the EBay stuff, and also if the upcoming releases of some of the newer games was the real prompting for the recent EBay crackdown. He sounded genuinely sincere when he said that “No.” it wasn’t, and they simply felt that it wasn’t in the best interest of the game – from a customer service standpoint, and a general one. He also stated that they weren’t “scared” of any of the new competition, at all. Do I believe him? Yeah, probably. Like I said, he seemed sincere.

Next I jumped over to Matthew Ford, and complimented him on the approach that they’ve taken with Asheron’s Calls customer service. You may not agree with some of their policies, but in all honesty, they are the most fair (which is probably why you don’t see too many stories on them here, Twinkie scandals aside).

It’s funny because standing up against “the man” becomes a bit more difficult when he suddenly has a face, a name, and a good personality. A thumbs up to both Geoffrey Zatkin and Matthew Ford for being very personable, friendly, and overall good guys who took the time to answer questions and give their real opinions.

You’ll have to excuse me, as I skipped the last discussion again. My ass was hurting and I wasn’t interested in it. Here is the program:

4:15pm-5:30pm

Games at Work: Simulation and Training

Long before the advent of the computer, games have been used for simulation and training. From chess to jousting, adults have used games as a means of learning valuable, if not lifesaving skills. These early military simulations are precursors to modern VR training systems. In the age of computers, simulators have been used in a variety of applications. Every commercial airline pilot learns to fly by essentially playing a computer game. Today’s military is now using modified consumer games to train soldiers, and recently gave a grant to USC to create a military/entertainment hybrid lab dedicated to using entertainment technologies and techniques in simulation and training. This session looks at the use of game in a variety of workplace training scenarios.

Terry Hackett, Jellyvision, You Don’t Know Jack

Mont Hubbard, UC Davis

Larry Tuch, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Lee Milligan, NovaLogic

HOW TO SELL ON EBAY [Author: Buur]

For example, check out this recent eBay auction for 1000 platinum pieces:

Buy my time in getting yourself 1000pp for free. Bid on one unit of time and get 1000pp for free for every unit of my time you purchase. Each unit of time is listed at $20 per unit as start bid. Can deliver to Greater faydark, butcherblock, freeport, commons and north karanas at stone bridge. Please allow 5 days for checks to clear. I accept visa/mastercard payments via Paypal.com. Payment must be recieved within 5 days as of close of auction or I hold the right to refuse sale after the 5 days have expired. Check out my user feedback for buyer security and check out my other auctions going on right now!! GOOD LUCK!!! Disclaimer: *Note, I am auctioning a *service* of acquiring the above item(s). You will be paying me for the *TIME* I spent *acquiring* the item(s). Once payment is received, I will deliver the item(s) to you in game for *FREE*. LEGAL ISSUES: I am selling the TIME I invested only. I am not selling any proprietary interest of Verant Interactive. What you are buying is the time I spent; time which is solely my property and to which Verant holds no claim. If any term(s) in the above bid documents makes this statement ambiguous, this statement prevails to the extent of such ambiguities. In other words, I AM SELLING A SERVICE By Bidding on this property, you acknowledge the following: You (the Buyer or Bidder) are not an employee of, independent contractor of, nor in any way related to Verant Interactive or any company or individual acting on the behalf of Verant Interactive. You (The Buyer or Bidder) are not bidding on this item to obtain information about the seller. You are making a Good-Faith bid for the purchase of the time spent to collect, handling and time use to deliver.

This type of auction will work for a while. I should know, I won one by accident. Verant will soon stomp these out too, though. In the meantime lets give the players some credit for coming up with ways to screw with the system.

Oh, and if you want some commentary on eBay, just go read Riprend’s. I agree with him.

NEWS FROM BEYOND THE PALE [Author: myschyf]

Well I’ve asked Mako to come on and do this sort of thing three or four times weekly — but he doesn’t start until next week so I guess I’ll have to fill in until then. Those of you who hang out in #lummies will know that most of us are huge Farscape fans. So while this news may not thrill some of you, others will be happy to see the Computer Games Online report that Simon and Schuster Interactive is going to produce a Farscape game. Lets hope its not a lame FPS. Moving right along to actual MMOG news, the Adrenaline Vault reports that Interplay is forming Interplay.com in order to move themselves into the online market. Interplay owns, among others, Black Isle Studios, the publishers of Fallout 1 and II, Baldurs Gate I and II, Icewind Dale and PlaneScape Torment. You can read what the Grumpy Gamer has to say about Black Isle back over at Computer Games Online. MSNBC has discovered gaming. More specifically they’ve discovered EA and have some interesting things to say about Majestic and Sims Online. In other news, it appears that Stevie Case is leaving Ion Storm. Breaking up is hard to do. Her website, as well as Ion Storm’s, was down when I wrote this. Back over at the Adrenaline Vault there’s an article about how Black and White will be all touchy-feely. There’s also a great article by Bob Mandel on the Characteristics of the Ideal Computer Gamer. Last but not least, Jinx has a few good things to say about UO Veteran Awards, the new 3D beta and the AOL ads on UO.com.

EVERNERF [Author: myschyf]

EverNerf lives up to its name.

With the latest of nerf hitting the clerics right in the chest, EverQuest’s Allan Vancouvering tried yesterday to justify why they were nerfing the clerics donals breastplate armor. Allan tried to first stun the playerbase with a little compassion:

\’e2\’80\’9cI think we should have deleted the item.\’e2\’80\’9d

When that did work he moved on hoping players would get over it. Yet today the discussion over the breastplate still rages on.

The breastplate lets clerics cast a powerful healing spell (Complete Heal) without the need for any mana. Apparently it took all 300,000 players of EverQuest and an entire 6 months to figure out that this was bad, mmmkay.

The Sony mathematicians quickly jumped on the problem with their uber calculators and came to the conclusion that there was an error with the following formula:

Unlimited \’e2\’80\’9cmana-free\’e2\’80\’9d healing + Tank = Ability to kill any mob in game.

\’e2\’80\’9cLet me restate that. One cleric and one warrior, using this one magic item, can defeat ANY opponent or any number of opponents that are not capable of killing the warrior in under 30 seconds.\’e2\’80\’9d \’e2\’80\ldblquote Allan

So in true EverQuest fashion they poked a few clerics in the chest with the ol\’e2\’80\’99 stick o\’e2\’80\’99 nerfage and came up with this:

It no longer heals every 30 seconds. Instead it complete heals once every 7.5 minutes. The spell itself takes 30 seconds to cast, but now leaves a small \’e2\’80\’9cbuff\’e2\’80\’9d up not allowing the spell to be cast on the same person twice for the 7.5 minute timeframe.

Clearly the EverQuest team realized sometime ago that the breastplate was over powered as the openly admitted to \’e2\’80\’98adjusting\’e2\’80\’99 high-level monsters in game to compensate for the breastplate.

On Fennin Ro, a level 60 cleric cried.

The question we should be asking is not; what will they nerf next? The question is: what will be the next moronic uber item will they let drop in game that’s so unbalanced they have to buff up the uber monsters to compensate for it.

FACTIONS STILL BROKEN. PLAYERS STILL NEED PATCH [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

My stealing is in the mid 80’s which makes me a valuable asset to any faction. In order to control a city(which I say while swallowing my own venom. You actually control absolutely nothing), a thief with at least 80.0 in stealing must grab a little bauble from a monument located either in another faction’s fortress, or in the middle of town (if you log in at server restart).

Thieves like myself who have devoted a lifetime to the true thief skills such as hiding, stealthing, snooping, stealing, detect traps, lockpicking, and reveal hidden, have little to no magery skills or combat skills to speak of. This makes you easy prey in a faction skirmish. So rather than lose a set of armor and a GM kryss every five minutes, most thieves will use their guard-fooling skills to steal reagents from the enemy mages, be they orange (the color of your opponents) or blue (the color of your opponents, thanks to an almost two year long unaddressed problem with the combat system in Ultima Online.) This often means that you, as the faction thief, will be gray. In a battle, with 5 or 6 of your comrades behind you, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Warning to True Britains of Chesapeake: THIS IS A PROBLEM.

Why? Because the instant you steal the mandrake from an enemy and flag criminal, you not only have the whole opposing faction to contend with, but you must also elude and outsmart YOUR OWN FELLOW BRITAINS!

This past weekend, during a raid by the ShadowLords (those are the guys OSI has determined will ultimately dominate every single shard. I’ll explain the various reasons why I feel this is the case in a future rant), I was chased by five of my fellow True Britains because I was gray (inside Lord British’s castle are barrels full of free armor and weapons, but you gotta steal ’em.), and during my flight to survive, we passed by a single True Britain being demolished by a pair of ShadowLord mages. With the numbers suddenly turned against them, you’d think the ShadowLords would flee. Once the posse behind me ran RIGHT BY THEM, they realized they were perfectly safe.

Way to go, Imiscor.

But wait, there’s more.

So during the afternoon last Sunday, we get word that the Council of Mages, who have five town “baubles”, left their fortress unguarded. So we gate in, and I being the only thief, stealthed all the way across town, which took me almost fifteen minutes, and grabbed the Magincia stone. Immediately, I am surrounded and beset upon by my fellow True Britains of Chesapeake, and am disoriented with shouts of “PLZ GIVE TO ME I WILL PAY 10K GOLD!” “FLAG GRAY AND THEN GIVE TO ME PLZ I WILL PAY U!!!”. The only thing on my mind was to get the hell out of Magincia and back to Britain so I could place the stone in our fortress and begin our capture of the town of Magincia. That is all there is to factions, and that is how you play the game.

“What a fagit! Kill him!”

“Newbs shouldn’t play factions!”

“dumbass thief!”

and so on…

I learned later that there is a bug in factions that is so “hot” and so rampant, that players have been ignoring the ENTIRE PURPOSE OF FACTIONS, and have been keeping town stones for themselves instead of placing them in the True Britain fortress. When a thief steals a town sigil stone, they turn a bright shade of purple. This is so that everyone who sees you knows you just stole a stone. This is where “capture the flag” turns into an episode of “Dastardly and Muttley” and YOU get to be Yankee Doodle Chicken. Only, there is a bug where you can permanently turn your clothes, your weapons, and your spellbook to this shade of purple. This is why, when I’m doing my best to hide and stealth all the FUCK across Magincia, MY OWN FUCKING FACTION KEEPS REVEALING ME AND SPAMMING “I WILL PAY U FOR SIGIL!!”

Later on Sunday, I saw one of our faction’s thieves mass producing purple sandals and spellbooks for quite a tidy profit. One True Britain lamented, “I need to find a cheap exploiter.” I passed this along to Calandryll who told me it’s being fixed. Unfortunately, until it does get fixed, faction players will not care what cities they control, but only which one of their members is willing to forego the purpose of the system and hue their spellbooks purple.

And the fault for this rests at the feet of OSI. Why? From the very onset, people told them that the factions system was asinine because there were NO BENEFITS OF VICTORY. You can buy a fancy colored horse? JUST GIVE US A HORSE DYE TUB, THANKS. You can buy a fancy colored dagger? CAN I HEAR A “WEAPON DYE TUB” IN THE HOUSE?. They castrated the system design so that nobody would feel any impact of the system, be it a participant, or a non-participant. Do the True Brits or the ShadowLords own the town you live in? IT DOES NOT MATTER. But I ranted on that particular issue until I managed to hue MY OWN FACE a bright shade of Sigil Purple. Memo to OSI: When you offer ZILCH FOR REWARDS, players will find their own.

And they have. Line up for your purple spellbooks while you can folks because when they fix this particular bug, it will remove the *ONLY* reward for participating in the Faction system.

SAVANT’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, PART I [Author: Savant]

The remainder of the day wasn’t nearly as disappointing, as you will soon find out – at least the storm had passed.

The first panel was to discuss “The Computer as Storyteller: Procedural Narrative.” Just what we need, new buzzwords: “Procedural Narrative.” Lisa De Arauji of Creaturelabs (Creatures) and Sean Baity of Maxis (The Sims) sounded more like they were at E3 instead of a discussion conference on the interactive age. Not to take away from the great work they have done with their respective games, but I was quite honestly expecting thought-provoking speeches on what the topic was about, not about how great their games did at storytelling and how their next game(s) will too. Having never played Creatures, I got to hear about “Artificial Life” (buzz word!) and how great it was.

Next up was the topic “The Movie Game.” Marsha Kinder, a professor at USC, sped through her nonsensical speech as if it were one of her lectures in class – I was barely able to understand, and of what I was able to catch, she was completely off base. Hal Barwood of Lucas Arts was next to bat – He did an excellent job. His speech was educational, well prepared, and executed perfectly. He didn’t plug his game(s) at every opportunity, and actually snuck in a few jokes (licensing ones!). The final panelist was David Perry of Shiny Entertainment (Earthworm Jim) who also did an excellent job. Granted, David did plug his work almost exclusively, but he did so while sticking to the actual topic. He was also funny. Then followed a “discussion” round – where the audience got to ask questions to the panelists (this happened after the first discussion as well, but wasn’t nearly as entertaining). The two questions (out of three) of note went to the beloved Marsha Kinder – The first was, “What are your three favorite and worst games?” to which she responded with Myst, and then rambled on. The next question, asked by path of a particle girl J.C. Herz, was classic, and helped her regain some respect: “Have you ever actually played any of these games? Cause, you know, that’s sorta important.” (paraphrase) to which Marsha’s answer was an obvious “No, not really.” (paraphrase)

At this point we broke for lunch, where Will Wright of Maxis (Sim City & The Sims) gave an excellent speech. I am intimidated by the size of this mans brain. His ability to Kosterize statements and theory was astounding. After lunch, shortly before I was herded back into the conference room, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Raph Koster face to face. I’m not sure whether my mental prowess caused his bladder to chemically react, if he just wanted to avoid me, or if the man had to actually pee – but after a quick few words, he made off to restroom – silently muttering, “Piffle,” no doubt.

Back to the grind, the topic was now “New Genres.” Panelists were: Emma Westecott (Starship Titanic), Alex Mayhew (Ceremony of Innocence), Bill Tomlinson (MIT guy), and Jean-Marc Gauthier (Isabel). I’m sorry if anything interesting was said, but I wasn’t able to catch most of it – but it involved games with flies, butterflies, and wasps, and how they were breaking new ground and what new potential markets they can get (I’m not kidding).

The second to last topic of the day was probably the best: “The Audience Takes Charge: Game Engines as Creative Tools.” First to the podium was Warren Spector of Ion Storm (no, not THAT Ion Storm – the other office (Deus Ex, Ultima)) – He was followed by Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka of Bioware (Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate II). All three of these individuals did a fine job of talking about MOD’s and how the industry was changing by giving people the tools to make the job easier. Before you get too excited, please note that they both found way to sneak in their production clips of their respective games (the E3 ones) and videos showing how great their proprietary tools were at giving the users the ability to modify the world, but overall, I enjoyed their speeches – nicely done.

You thought it was over, didn’t you?

Continuing with “The Audience Takes Charge: Game Engines as Creative Tools” was the next panelist Anne-Marie Schleiner – apparently someone who has created MOD(s) and does other stuff. The microphone was so close to her mouth that the heavy breathing prompted some of the men in the audience to hastily head in the direction of the restroom. I couldn’t make out most of what she said due to the before mentioned situation. She ended her speech by showing Anime pr0n (I’m not kidding), and mentioning that she was working on an “adult-oriented” erotica game with someone (I’m really not kidding).

Last on the list was Eddo Stern, an “Artist/Teacher” from USC. Remember when I said the storm had passed earlier? I lied. This young man got up to the podium and unveiled some of the most amazing things my virgin eyes had ever seen. First up was (I can’t remember the name) THREE MICE (the computer kind) SOMEHOW GLUED TOGETHER and how he used them to play EverQuest with three characters simultaneously (on three separate computers with three separate internet connections) – and how they ran in circles in the town of Qeynos and were like NPC’s. Apparently me banging my head into the chair in front of me didn’t slow him down, because he then showed us his next masterpiece: VIDEO GAME CLIPS TO MUSIC. This was a series of video game clips to a soundtrack that had some sort of theme to it. By now I was bleeding from the ears and eyes, yet still he continued – He revealed his final and greatest invention: AN AUTOMATED MACHINE ON TOP OF HIS KEYBOARD THAT HAD NAILS WHICH TAPPED THE KEYBOARD TO… GET THIS… ARE YOU READY? PLAY EVERQUEST FOR HIM – IT WAS EVEN DECORATED WITH A RISK-LIKE MAP ON TOP OF THE MECHANISM. University Dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen – I guess he’s never heard of macros. I wish I could make this stuff up. He finally stepped down with many guffaws and chuckles emanating from the crowd, and I’m sure his account has been banned.

Pooduck is even scared of this fella.

As I was about to sneak out and head for the hospital before the final topic began, I muttered to my co-worker next to me “I can’t wait to write about this tonight.” to which a gentleman two rows in front of me asked, “Oh whom do you write for?” I proudly said, “LumTheMad.net” – His eyes gleamed like that of a little boy on Christmas morning, “Which one are you?” “Savant” I said bashfully. “Oh hey!” he responded, “I’m Bluebaron.” — “Ahh, the man working on the s00per seekrit game,” I said. The short conversation then continued with him asking about my recent selling out, and by me mentioning whom I now work for and the fact that we’re developing a certain new genre MMOG. Of course, I should have mentioned that I’m PM over the MMORPG’s currently and have not yet gotten my hands into the new game, because he quickly started asking questions in a mad-scientistic manner to which I had no answer. Embarrassed that I didn’t know, bleeding from the head, and pleased I got to meet bluebaron and Raph that day, I snuck out before the final topic.

Oh, and in case you were just dying to know about the last subject, here’s the program:

“4:45pm-6:00pm

Games and Cognition

While controversies rage about whether games are good for kids, cognitive research shows that games can have a variety of emotional, behavioral and cognitive benefits. Health and educational professionals across the country have been looking at ways of using the excitement and interactivity of games to develop important cognitive, spatial, and other life skills for both children and adults. Interactive games and media are being used in a diverse array of applications, from training autistic kids to cross the street, to curing phobias, to treating Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome to early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers will look at the cognitive attributes of games and their use in a variety of clinical applications.”

Tomorrow should be good, Raph is up first and the topic is “Narrative Environments: Worlds that Tell Stories.”

COMINGS AND GOINGS AT ORIGIN UNIVERSITY [Author: myschyf]

I’d like to clear up a few things before any rumors start regarding Gordon Walton and UO2. When Gordon joined OSI back in March of 1999, he came on board as the VP of Online Services. Although he has spent a lot of time being directly involved with the UO community, it is important to know that Gordon is, and always has been, involved in UO2 as well. After Jeff Anderson left for another opportunity, it seemed appropriate for Gordon to shift more of his focus to UO2. However, the core group of leadership remains in place and the team is as excited as ever about the product. As part of his role as VP of Online Services, Gordon started shifting his focus towards UO2 months ago actually as we started building the UO2 Live team.

Does this shift of focus mean UO2 is in trouble? No, not at all. It’s mostly about the fact that UO2 is a very important product for OSI and as it moves forward, it is important for our executives to give it more attention. In fact, even I have been focusing more time on UO2, while Leilo and Melantus take more of the reigns on UO.

And before you finish chewing on that, Rich Lawrence has left Digital Anvil to work at OSI as Technical Director, whatever that is. Guy with the clipboard is how he explained it to me. I’m still trying to figure out how one gets technical with a clipboard but I guess he knows and that’s why they pay him the big bucks.