AC 2 DEVELOPMENT CONFIRMED [Author: Lietgardis]

That 404 at the Zone yesterday was finally replaced by a real, live, and fuzzy press release confirming the development of Asheron’s Call 2 as a joint project of Turbine and Microsoft. Apparently, the game’s been a secret project since the release of the original, despite months and months’ worth of “THERE IS NO AC2, SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT ALREADY – NT” dev posts at CoD.

Blues News’ SECRET INSIDER INFO may explain this mystery, as they let us know the game’s going to use the Turbine Engine 2. We’ve known about that engine for a while, supposedly developed for licensing purposes; it’s entirely possible this work since last fall has been on the engine until recently, when the game project began. Expect screenshots sometime next month, when the engine’s shown off at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Jose.

I TOLD YOU NOT TO MAKE BANNER ANGRY [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Just when you thought it was save to go back to UGO:

According to the MSNBC article, The new shapes are larger, more eye-catching and best of all, don\’e2\’80\’99t require users to click through to another site. Many will be sizable enough to carry the advertiser\’e2\’80\’99s full message.

So basically you’ll be able to see all of Gary Coleman instead of just his face, or his bowling shoes, or his autographed UGO ballcap.

The article goes on to speculate that due to the size of these new ad formats, companies will have to change the layout of their pages. That could mean slimming down their own content to make room for the bigger ad formats.

The Internet Advertising Bureau plans to reveal standards for seven new ad shapes that include two vertical units and five large rectangular units. Gone from the standards will be the familiar long and lean “page topper” ads we’ve come to know and love and ignore.

Here’s just a sample of things to come:

Hang in there, Crossroads! You’re not dead, yet! I’ve already begun working on “slimming down content” to prepare. The new version of this update will read: Bigger Ads – Me No Like. Discuss?

LUMNEWS- (C) 2001 STRATICS REMIX [Author: Mako]

If you’ve ever wanted to watch the slow decay of a human being as the pain of time, neglect, and isolation take their terrible toll on his soul, check out Dr. Twister’s Everquest site. I really feel bad for this guy. Here’s a quote, from a news story with the title “Blows Ass”:

This server sucks…… Twister isnt responding to any mails……i think hes AWOL…….YAHOO has suspended all auctions like eBay did……Black market sites will be a venue that is going to mean a lot of people getting ripped off…….EQ is now the number one choice game for KeWl D00Dz…next to Tanarus …but i like Tanarus better than EQ anyway ……..In tanarus news…

And then, later (after POSTING HIS EQ ACCOUNT FOR SALE ON THE EQ NEWS SITE):

I am currantly playing Asherons call, as i have lost ALL interest in EQ in all is its monotony.

So i bid EQ a foul fairwell and look out to the future for other games.

If for some reason I’m forced to become the sexual slave of some third-world regiment somewhere and get brutally beaten every night, at least I’ll be able to say “Well, at least I’m not the EQ guy for Dr. Twister.”.. and for that, I should be thankful. I think… …You know, we here at Lum’s really like to help the developers. Sure, we mock them sometimes, but that’s just our way of expressing our affection for these wonderful people. With that said, we have something special for our friends at Glitchless: A special article on gamedev.net we found. The topic? ‘DirectX8 for Visual Basic, Part 1.’ We love you too, Jeff…

WomenGamers.com linked to a PlanetDreamcast editorial on sexual harassment in PSO. This guy’s female character with a feminine name (apparently gender is decided by class in PSO, a la Diablo 2) has been harassed, taunted, chased, stalked, hit on, spammed, and all number of predictable things. At the same time, he was given lots of free crap (including his best weapon) because everyone thinks he’s female. Frankly, I’ve used the same tactic myself in online games. “Hmm.. I want people to give me loot for no reason. Hey, I’ll roll up a female character!” It’s frighteningly effective…

…Those wacky peeps at BattleVortex linked to some new Shadowbane backstory material (‘legend of shadowbane’) off the official website, Part 1 of 4. It must carry special meaning for the 50 people in beta right now. Those 50 people still don’t include J. Baby J wept… …Now in a bit of older news, here are some new Camelot screenshots. We have “the sweet hot shaft of flaming assrape” and “thor’s ‘hammer’“, which sprays particle effects everywhere. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. For Anarchy Online fans, AO basher and Crossroads of Rubi-Ka are constantly linking to new AO Beta screenshots, so check them out… …Speaking of the AO beta, it’s slowly swelling with additional e-mails and beta CDs being sent by Funcom. Last count on their Phase III beta participants is 6500. As far as I know, they’re the biggest beta out there right now. Woo woo…

…for people who want to access the Elemental Age alpha (which apparently has been running since forever, not since last thursday), random lummie Vol told me you have to E-mail them to get access/an account once you’ve downloaded the testing software. “The alpha crashed my comp to kingdom come, but that’s another story.” As expected…

…And now for the stupidest poll ever, straight to you from your friends at Camelot Stratics.

I would like DAoC to be,

-The best MMORPG around!

-The most innovative MMORPG around!

-A fun MMORPG!

-The most interesting MMORPG around!

-I don’t care, I’ll be playing something else!

My brain is on fire. Hey, wait a second, that’s actually a great idea. IT’S LUMTHEMAD.NET POLL TIME! Where you, our brave readers, get to choose the direction our site takes. Use Glitchless’s unique mind-reading technology to fill out this form!

I would like ltm.net to be,

-The best website around!

-The most fun website around!

-The most interesting website around!

-The rantings of Myschyf the Mad!

-The rantings of Ithaqua the Mad!

-Copyrighted (C) 2001 By Stratics!

-I don’t care, I only read the Dr.Twister Network!

Your opinion counts here at Lum’s. Really, it does… …Well, come on now, we don’t want to mock Stratics too much (Stratics is (C) 2001 Stratics), now would we? I mean, sheesh, at least they have the courage to bring you THE REAL STORIES IN UO. Talk about edgy content! Woo…

The Trade Wars: Dark Millennium site has been updated with a FAQ and some other random stuff. But wait! Check out what was e-mailed to us from Epic Interactive Strategy! (side note: the official Epic Interactive Strategy mail account is a yahoo.com free e-mail account. I pity humanity.)

Epic Interactive Strategy (EIS) would like to announce the next phase in the Trade Wars 2002 / TWGS development. We are currently working on the final text addition release as well as a new, modern

graphical remake. The tentative release date for this is sometime in the year 2002. This will be a “rebirth” of Trade Wars 2002.

But what about Dark Millennium? Read on.

We are sure that you in the Trade Wars community are aware that Realm Interactive is in the process of releasing a MMPOG called Trade Wars: Dark MillenniumT. While EIS will be working closely with Realm on their new release, these two releases are completely separate in both scope and style. The similar dates of announcements are purely coincidental.

So there are two graphical Trade Wars games coming out, operating off the same brand name and with ample opportunity for confusion. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!…

LUMNEWS #SOMETHING [Author: Mako]

Just in case your room wasn’t filled with enough pointless capitalist crap anyways, now you can also fill it with EVERQUEST ACTION FIGURES! Happy Puppy has a guide to video game figurines up, and here’s a quote: The figures are six to eight inches in height and can mostly stand up on their own. (You may need to prop some of them against a supportive surface, however, especially the Dark Elves.) ..It’s almost as if the figurine had two gigantic weights making it hideously topheavy and unrealistic, isn’t it? Gosh… …in case you didn’t feel ashamed enough playing MMOGs on your console system, pretty soon you might be able to play it from anywhere with a PSOne Cellphone attachment. It’s only for the PSO (Playstation One, NOT Phantasy Star Online) right now, but this sort of thing will probably continue with future consoles–it can’t cost that much more than normal internet support to implement. Play your MMOG from ANYWHERE! Full mobility in your video game experience! Wall socket and Television not included. Oops [Edit] Fine, fine, there’s a PSO mini-screen. But damn it, cellphone connections right now aren’t enough to support half-decent gameplay on anything except Play-By-Email games, unless there’s some magic negative ping time technology being used. Hmm..[/Edit])…

Adrenaline Vault has a ‘Fallen Age’ preview with the ex-ltm writer ‘Savant’ asking a few questions. It doesn’t really mention anything that important, but I thought it was weird hearing an ltm writer as the primary contact point for an MMOG. Kinda reminds you of the LumAshi saga, doesn’t it?… …AVault posted an article on ‘injecting creativity into games’, which may bear some meaning for the developers and future players of the new MMOGs on the horizon–with so many games coming out, how can any of them NOT be cookie cutter copies of other games?… …Jaxx at the Las Vegas Gamers Association pointed out a new MMOG, Elemental Saga, which just started their alpha testing a few days ago (Seems you can download the alpha version and play it.. but on further checking, all the links are labeled ‘coming soon’ and don’t work.) and has their beta testing starting in.. two weeks? Looks like we found our ‘does not understand the game design process’ winner for this year, everybody go home.

GO HOME, I SAID.

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, NOW OR LATER [Author: Lietgardis]

Macro portal-summoners aren’t anything new. For the experienced AC macroer, there’s not even any challenge in making a character stand up, prepare itself, cast a portal, ask for donations, and lay back down for a few minutes. Said characters are godsends in busy places — while the illiterate morons of Dereth, whose mantra is “NE1 GOT HUB????,” rarely remember the macroers and their frequent “/e summoning hub, donations appreciated, next portal in two minutes” announcements, they stop spamming and leave when the portal is actually cast.

Naturally, just casting a portal every two minutes and asking nicely for donations isn’t very efficient. This bot business is considerably more complex, better for the person running the macro, better for the player that needs a portal. Said “protals 2 hub” are valuable for most players because, logically, the towns that players congregate in are the ones that have the best buying prices for loot. These towns also have the highest selling prices. Good little economists, most people want to go to other towns to buy their supplies, where they can find the lowest prices. This is where the “hub” comes in — with portals to most towns at the very bottom of the dungeon, players are able to go to the cheapest places to buy their healing kits, mana charges and spell components, while still enjoying a base where the vendors pay upwards of 100% value for their loot.

Some would say this is a stupid system, and all towns should be the same, or there should be better places to sell than Ayan Baqur and Fort Tethana, better places to buy than Glenden Wood and the Mayoi archmage — and then others respond with wacky conspiracy theories like “the more spread out the players are, the worse the lag is, so they want us to pack ourselves in only a few places, MICROSOFT WANTS US ALL TO QUIT” (this being a fine example of CoD dev board logic: dev makes one cryptic comment about the causes of lag, players combine that with the idea that “Microsoft doesn’t want us to play,” and voila).

Another player spammed all the CoD boards two days ago with an advertisement for what he calls “first fully functional AC combat and lewt bot.” It slices, dices, loots and collects for any “distributed camping quest item” you select, and all for the low price of $40. These “distributed camping quest items” are collectables certain monsters drop, required to make shadow armor and atlan weapons, among other popular things, and most players don’t particularly like to kill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of the same creature to get 16 motes or 32 shards to complete the quest.

In other third-party AC optimization news, this little project has been quietly existing for some time. I imagine it has a variety of uses, but for now, people make it components or something (again, most players don’t particularly like to spend half an hour buying components after they go through so much trouble to catch a portal to the Abandoned Mines “hub,” take the portal to Mayoi at the bottom, and run to the archmage’s tower). And if you’re not concerned about fancy macros ridding AC of perceived annoyances, check this for benefit instead: some people are even making pretty new user interfaces.

“The AC Team” runs no “AC Pro” program, not even at Microsoft, and all third-party applications are legal, just like everything else one could possibly want to do. Insert stern moralizing statement here.

CHANGES [Author: Buur]

— We’ve redressed the amount of hate generated by heal spells. Previously, and *partly* due to a bug, the high level heal spells such as superior heal or complete heal would generate no more hate than greater heal. In fact, so little hate was generated by these spells that it made controlling NPC aggression trivial. Heal spells will now generate an amount of hate more in line with the number of hitpoints actually healed. Due to our desire to leave the lower level game more or less untouched, two separate caps have been placed for targets level 50 or below, and 51 or above. Heal spells will generate significantly less hate for targets below level 51 than those at or above that level.

This particular change has clerics everwhere up in arms. What Verant did was make Complete Heal pretty much a death sentence for clerics everywhere. As soon as a cleric complete heals a tank, MOBs will instantly aggro the cleric. This wouldn’t that big of a deal if it were possible to actually taunt the MOB off of the cleric, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. This is a pretty significant change for everyone involved and changes the way high level groups have to operate. No longer can you count on your cleric to CH when you are low on HP’s. Doing so will pretty much take your cleric out of the group, the hard way.

In addition to that particular change druids and shamans were both given bumps upward in the healing department. This change has clerics wondering if they have a role anymore. Why would you take a cleric in your group if it’s one main advantage, Complete Heal, causes uncontrollable aggression from a MOB. Shamans and druids have the advantage of better offensive spells to go along with very good healing.

This looks like a change that wasn’t very well throught through by Verant. By changing hate they have effectively changed the way all high level players have played the game for roughly two years. But more deaths = more time played = more money.

On the plus side there are some nice ranger changes…

NEW BOARDS [Author: myschyf]

As some of you may have noticed we have set up some new boards elsewhere. This is a temporary place for you to converse and flame each other and us until XRGaming gets their problems resolved. These are WWW boards so as they collect more and more posts they will get slower and slower. So things like the water thread may not be a good idea. Enjoy.

OLD SCHOOL SMARTEYMEN [Author: Mako]

We normally don’t update about new MMOGs appearing on the horizon (partly because there are so fucking many of them with no actual coherent proof that a game MIGHT exist SOMETIME in the FAR FAR future), but I figured because of the old-skewl nature of this new MMOG, some mention is deserved.

I bestow upon you: TRADE WARS, DARK MILLENNIUM. Ta daaaaa. Their website is pretty and they promise a major site update this friday, that’s about all I can tell you. Oh, and their new developer, Realm Interactive, is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game developer–despite not having even a single game under their belt. Woo woo!

From reading the website, this is Realm Interactive’s only project right now–they bought the TradeWars rights from Epic Interactive Strategy (the original TradeWars maker Epic, not the Unreal Tournament Epic), and the original programmer will still be allowed to support the original TradeWars while they gain the right to use the TradeWars name in any future projects of theirs. I know I fire up the ol’ 300 baud and dial in to play that game every day…but I suppose everyone has their crusades. Check out what they’re planning to do with tradewars and the tools they’ll be using:

Realm’s core architecture is a rapid application development framework / methodology that dramatically decreases the time to market of robust C++ applications. It provides simultaneous cross platform development through a hardware abstraction layer with an extensive programming and component library.

Ummm.. I’m sure that means something to somebody. Maybe this really is the holy grail we have here–a quake game with advance netcode. (On that note, this is supposedly going to be an RTS. Wheeeooo)