“OK, WE’LL CALL THIS MOON SHADOWY DARK AGE OF FELUCCA. AND WE’LL PUT IN FACTIONS. YEAH, THAT’LL WORK!” [Author: Lum the Mad]

GM friend let slip that apparently the SoL expansion will consist of mostly forced PvP. Devs are also toying with allowing the giant bane spell to work against barbarian PCs. All zones will function like the arenas found in cities.

The new PvP server will have a rule set damn close to DAoC PvP where /OOC and /SHOUT will be disabled for people on opposing teams.

Stealing Camelot’s thunder? As another game developer once told me, “I’ve given up trying to convince people that there’s anything like intellectual property in the gaming industry.” The question remains – is Verant that gutsy – or judging from the reaction of most EQ players to PvP, that monumentally stupid – to turn off the PK switch in Luclin?

One would hope, if in fact the new expansion IS PK+ only (and bear in mind, the above is an unsubstantiated rumor) that Verant steals a working PvP system while they’re busy doing “research”. After all, with the Zek servers happy havens of crossteaming, invulnerable healing, and ‘god-mode’ delevelling, surely some effort would be put into actually fixing EQ PvP?

Nah. BRING ON MORE GNOMES!

God DAMN I wish I could kill these people” – Lum the Mad, in /guildchat, almost every time he plays EQ.

UO NEWS AND WHIRLED REPORT – SUPPLEMENTAL [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

PAGE ONE: Official: Trammel is the best no worst i mean best no wait worst added feature of all time

Two threads:

Top 3 Negative Achievements of UO

Top 3 Positive Achievements of UO

The Number One Positive Achievement? That would be the anti-mirror called Trammel

The Number One Negative Achievement? That would also be Trammel

God bless the UO community.

PAGE TWO: Holy Tajima, a new Ultima Online title?

Hot on the Achilles heels of Ultima Online 2: Nexus comes the following leak from Tajima, former co-producer of Ultima Online:

I was the Co-Producer/Development Director of Third Dawn, and am now focusing on the next UO title among other efforts.

I have not logged into UO for a few days. Did they quickly go and patch everything that was fubar (and then everything that patch would have fubarred as a result?) or did he just mean that he was working on the next “Oh no, Verant/Turbine/Mythic/Wolfpack is about to ship!” reincarnation of our beloved and besmirched Ultima Online I? Be it the former or the latter, my vote is that they fix the digital entomological index that is UO:3D before they go out and start discovering entire new species of online insectoids. Tajima, if you are looking for a fancy name for this new update, I strongly suggest “Ultima Online: All the Crap that Should be Working Already” – and if you hurry, you can get www.ourcustomersaresaps.com

PAGE THREE: Picking at it until it scabs and bleeds

Yeah yeah yeah, that “15 days of UO free” offer expired. Thanks to all thirty of you who informed me of this. But I’ve also heard that this was not the only such offer to lurk within the crawlspaces of uo.com – and at least one OSI staffer took me to task for making a problem worse than it may have already been. Insert customary “dont shoot the messenger” comment here. If you ask me, anybody with a current UO account doesn’t need a free 15 day account to preview Ultima Online. The form should be smart enough to check information against the current user database to find out if the user or that credit card was already being used to pay for an account. Making a problem worse? Hardly. If anything, I’m guilty of taking a problem and making EVERYBODY KNOW THERE IS A PROBLEM. Why do I do this? Because if I’ve learned anything in my tenure here as an editor, it is this: OSI is slow to action and even slower to reaction when introduced to a problem. If nobody is looking, they don’t care if they aren’t wearing any pants. Put pictures of their bits and pieces on the internet and guess what – they reach for a bathrobe and cover their pink little cheeks. I don’t particularly like this system but so far it works and that handsomely.

PAGE FOUR: The Mother of All Fanfics

Markee Dragon, the unstoppable and immutable web grognard has published an Ultima Online fan-Fiction written by Elizabeth “Shahressa” Wilson entitled Days of Golden Dreams. What makes this fanfic so interesting? Perhaps the fact that it has THIRTY SIX CHAPTERS? You can read and/or download the story here.

“BUT REALLY! A BROWSER -COULD- HAVE WORKED!” [Author: Riprend]

Adellion, that red-headed stepchild of the PIG world(as opposed to the mutated fetus, Dawn,) has decided after three months of complete communication inactivity, that, well, browsers just DON’T WORK REAL WELL for graphical games.

You know, small details like the total inability to use DirectX usually lead most programmers to that conclusion before they announce a product. But it’s okay. Because they can always draw PIKTURES!

VERANT, TURBINE INK NEW PARTNERSHIP [Author: Lum the Mad]

Submitted for your approval, this press release:

In a news release that sent shock waves around the massively multiplayer world, Turbine Games and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) today announced they would be conducting a trade for the words effect and affect, effective immediately.

SOE has been known to be shopping for a replacement for the word ‘affect’, used extensively in their popular online game, EverQuest, but has been stymied for months due to a dearth in available proper English from other online game companies. The problem has been particularly acute for players who attempt to dismiss spell icons with a right mouse click; for two years now EverQuest’s messaging system has been telling them ‘You cannot remove this affect’, effectively affecting the quality of the game so badly as to make the game writers appear ineffectual.

‘We knew we needed to correct this problem,’ stated Brad McQuaid, the
producer of EverQuest. ‘But until today, we were unaware that Turbine had a proper substitute on the trading block.’

Sony first became aware of the availabilty of the word ‘effect’ when a news release appeared on the XRGaming network’s Crossroads of Dereth boards, stating ‘In an effort to stop misconceptions and rumors before they begin: Yes, we let some employees go last week. The staff changes will not effect (sic) the development of Asheron’s Call or its sequel.’

Insiders state the trade will be a one-for-one word swap. The stock price of neither Microsoft nor Sony is expected to be affected when the change is effected, though both companies are expected to put on affectations to the contrary.

15 DAYS OF UO WITHOUT ALL THAT BUG NONSENSE [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Supplemental to the most recent edition of UO News and Whirled Report, a stalwart reader sent me the following:

RE: the free 15 day UO accounts UOHINTS.com are offering, i highly susspect they are getting them from http://www.uo.com/pcgamer/uk/ or somewhere very similar. Basicly PCGamer UK gave away UO for free, along with free 15day accounts. You can get as many as you want, you simply need a different email address for each one. Might as well ruin uohints.com day and tell everyone they can get these accounts for free by visiting the above site.

Perhaps this explains much of the factions shenanigans with the endless supply of [young] members. Yet another good reason to not allow [young] to join factions.

ezboards: ezcome, ezgo

LAYOFFS AT TURBINE [Author: Lum the Mad]

Fatbabies is reporting a rumor that Turbine laid off anywhere between ten and eighteen people under conditions of strict secrecy.

Turbinites are being tight-lipped because they have been told not to talk publicly under penalty of dismissal. Turbine does not plan to make an announcement about the layoffs, hoping they will go un-noticed. The termination agreement that each laid-off employee must sign to get their severence (three weeks pay plus one week for each full year with the company) requires them not to talk about the company or the layoffs, or even mention the termination agreement they have to sign to get their money. One producer, one game designer, one tech lead, five artists, and five QA people were let go, and the rest of the layoffs came from admin staff. No engineerng people (programmers, etc.) were let go.

Given the small size of Turbine and the active relationship many of AC’s developers maintain with the playerbase, one would think that such a layoff would not go unnoticed. And since a rumor on Fatbabies holds about as much weight as Anna Nicole Smith swearing off banging elderly tycoons, we’ll keep a cynical, baleful eye on this one.

Edit: Well, maybe Anna Nicole’s joining a convent, too, because Turbine just confirmed the rumor on the CoD boards.

In an effort to stop misconceptions and rumors before they begin: Yes, we let some employees go last week. The staff changes will not effect the development of Asheron’s Call or its sequel.

Allan Maki

Community Representative

Turbine Entertainment Software

Thanks to El Gallo on the boards for the quick heads up.

Of course, any ex- or current Turbines willing to jabber on or off the record are cheerfully encouraged. From our experience with Origin State University, we’re already well conversed in how to talk to folks with post-employment contracts!

SOL RO AC SPAWN, BUY NOW ONLY 5,000 PLAT!!!!! [Author: Riprend]

Forgive a small segue before I reach my main point.

If you ever played the RTS Total Annihilation, you know how important mobility is to a successful offense and a successful defense. Technically, \’e2\’80\’9cBig Berthas,\’e2\’80\’9d which were giant artillery cannons, could wipe out most any land or naval unit in a single hit with a ridiculous range, with a good deal of splash damage to boot. The same holds true for siege tanks in Starcraft. In pretty much any RTS, you will find massively powerful artillery-based units, with only one weakness.

Mobility.

Small, speedy units could surround and pillage a Big Bertha or a siege tank, with little damage suffered. This made flash tank rushes in TA and vulture runs in Starcraft effective tactics even in the latter stages in the game. I even posted a theorem about mobility advantages a long time ago relating to PvP. It’s a good read if you’re bored and PvP inclined.

The analogy of RTS mobilitiy advantages transfers well to EverQuest. An advantage in mobility over an opponent is often the deciding factor in any type of engagement, whether it be FPS, RTS, BBS, CIS, whatever. In EQ, a mobility advantage means you can:

\’e2\’80\’a2 Kite;

\’e2\’80\’a2 Flee an outdoors encounter;

\’e2\’80\’a2 Reach a destination faster;

\’e2\’80\’a2 Outrun Kunark and Velious MOBs to separate camps;

\’e2\’80\’a2 Be more successful at backing up to land a root on a creature without risk of interruption.

That\’e2\’80\’99s why vendor-saleable mobility is so disconcerting to me. Before now, players had to go through an excruciatingly long camp to get this type of mobility advantage. You paid a cost in time invested to receive an item. Unlke most people who whined and complained about the \’e2\’80\’9cJBoots\’e2\’80\’9d camp, I thought it was a warranted evil. It kept a mobility advantage confined to a small class of players who were willing to make that type of sacrifice.

In a class-based RPG, where mobility is a class-defining ability, it has even further ramifications. Before, you had five choices: suffering through that camp, making friends with a druid, shaman, or high level ranger, purchasing a Spirit of Wolf potion from a shaman, doing a rare (and limited) quest in the Northern Karanas for a set of boots that held a very limited amount of charges of Spirit of Wolf, or making friends with a gnome who could craft clockwork greaves. Three of those options contribute to grouping and player community in EverQuest. The other two, by their very nature, confined themselves to players who already are unlikely to be participatory in the overall player community.

EverQuest has done a lot right in the past few months. Experience changes and ramping up attention to trade skills have made great strides in fostering greater grouping and player-economy dynamics.

(As a side note, if you haven\’e2\’80\’99t looked lately, trade skills are now viable to the high level market, with high-benefit items at reasonable cost. Exhibit A.)

But taking away class-defining abilities is not a way to foster community. Especially when the item we\’e2\’80\’99re referring to is rumored to be equal to the 57th level druid-casted version of SOW. Druids, rangers, and shamans have complained loud and long, often unwarranted, about their lack of attractiveness to groups.

This time, I think they have a legitimate bitch. Giving this ability to any Tom, Dick, and Harry who can sell enough fire beetle eyes to raise 5,000 platinum is a step back in Verant\’e2\’80\’99s efforts to promote community within the game.

However, the spirit of the change is in the right mind, even if the form is not. If Spirit of Scale, a faster travel spell that removes itself if the recipient engages in combat, were attached to the boots instead, it would create a legitimate gold sink, reduce travel time, and be a happy compromise for all parties involved. Reduction of travel time, taking excess gold out of the market, and maintaining class integrity are three traits of a good advancement in a socially-dependent game such as EverQuest.

PRESSURED PSINET RUNS OUT OF AIR [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Now that all the successful fan-sites are crushed, and most of the ad banner conglomerates that hosted them have tumbled, the next level has begun.

PSInet, an emerging international ISP, has been delisted by NASDAQ due to stock values dropping like anvils out of airplanes. Most analysts consider this just a whistle stop on the bankruptcy express – and have little in the way of promise for the customers and corporate clients of PSINet. The debt amassed by this faltered ISP is considered to be so great, that no other ISP would be willing to touch it. Most likely, the hardware and various services will be diced and divided between telephone and cable companies.

I bet they sure wish they had that $150 million dollars back.

There’s a guy who lives next door to my dad who insists that the Apollo Moon Landing was filmed in a Hollywood studio and that Kennedy was shot by men working for the Vice President. He also thinks the Internet is just a fad. Once ISPs start filing for bankruptcy, you kinda have to reconsider that whole moon landing theory of his.