THIS IS A PANDA?!?!?! [Author: Snowspinner]

First off, let’s get the picture of the panda out of the way.

Compare that with this, and you may see my objection.

Zoological oddities aside, however, how is the zone? I have to say, if this is the new Lake of Ill Omen, I’m glad I mostly hunted in South Karana.

Off the bat, let me complain bitterly about the way into Stonebrunt. I didn’t try binding in Paineel, but I’m assuming you can in fact bind in the newbie area there. Because if you can’t, the run from Erudin to Stonebrunt, while naked, would be obscene. Even with a Paineel bind, though, you get to traverse The Warrens.

I spent a bit of time in the Warrens trying to get through to Stonebrunt. A good ten minutes of hacking through kobalds and rats, trying to find a zone line, before I decided it was more productive to just pay 100pp for an escort. I have to say, it’s possibly the least graphically interesting zone I’ve ever encountered. Endless identical tunnels and kobalds. Hordes of kobalds. Making it an easy death trap. To say nothing of the possibilities of trains.

But this isn’t about The Warrens. This is about Stonebrunt Mountains. Which you just have to hack your way through The Warrens to get to.

So what do you get after wandering your way to Stonebrunt? I have to say, not a hell of a lot. You get an overly large zone (8000 by 6000) with a few low level kobald camps, some wandering zoology, and a shitty cat city that you can’t bind in.

Is it a pretty zone? Well, the geography is, yeah… but the mob templates don’t really impress. Aside from the, ummm… unique view of what a panda is, I have to say the Kerrans themselves did not stun me. Why? Ummm… because of this:

I recongize that these models probably haven’t been updated since the original release, but, um, this isn’t exactly stellar, even by EQ standards.

So what do we have here? An overly large zone with crappy models, continuing to expand a continent that was obviously unfinished at the time of release. This marks the fourth zone added to the continent of Odus. And it has a tunnel in the Kerran city that really obviously leads to a brick wall for them to add yet another zone to someday. Not that they might have put out the continent before they finished it. Not at all. They’d never do that.

So that’s an hour of my life, and 130pp of my savings trashed. You’re all damned lucky I enjoy this job, lemme tell you.

Pictures were provided by Allakhazam’s Magical Realm.

I WANT A PONY, BIYOTCH! [Author: Tick]

I guess this means the camp time on JBoots is going to be a lot shorter.

Planar Armor. Feh. Epic Weapons. Bah. A roleplayer cares not for these things. But a horsey? On the other hand, you paladins out there waiting for a chance to buy your own personal Trigger may need to start saving now- they’re not going to go cheap:

You will be able to buy horses from horse traders, for a price-a hefty price. The thought is that they will be symbols of status, and the desire is that the more exotic appearances or higher maximum velocities wll be more expensive.

Apparently you’ll be able to fight on your horse, but the animal itself will be immune to damage (which begs the question of whether it stays with your corpse or comes with you when you re-spawn). Also, races will get to buy horses of various sizes, depending on how big or small they are.

I wonder if they’ll be selling jackasses for those of us who can’t afford 150K platinum for a status symbol…

MORE BETAS AND A NEW FUNCOM GAME [Author: myschyf]

YOU EDUCATED STUPID AND HAVE NO crossEXPLANATION dimensional TRACT!FURY!wave?

I went to the Mimesis Online website and tried to figure out what this game is about. I read it once. I didn’t understand. I read it twice. I figured the NyQuil was doing strange things to my brain and went to bed. I woke up this morning and read it again and I still don’t know what its about. Maybe its about philosophy. I’m not being witty here. It really is a very strange website.

Here’s an excerpt from the ‘about’ part of the site: The idea behind Mimesis stems from Aristotelian philosophy. Mimesis means the inventive and conscious act of creating a potential and objective reality. The world created through Mimesis is an autonomous whole, not ruled by the laws of the real world. It is capable of strongly playing on and moving the emotions of those receiving it, and its influence leads to Catharsis. Catharsis, according to Aristotle, is a feeling of mercy and fear. It allows the one who feels it to reach a state of inner peace and acceptance of their fate.

See what I mean? I only know one other person who can bring this level of obfuscation to an otherwise non-obfuscated subject. Gene Ray, of Timecube, had this to say:

You have received a message!

Ignoring Time Cube is Evil.

It is best to be uneducated and

Wise, than educated with Lies.

You are an educated stupid ass.

Word is counterfeit & fictitious

representations of true values,

as in form, substance and deed.

Adult word god is a counterfeit

and fictitious evil upon children.

Well I don’t know about you but that cleared everything up for me! In any case there’s a beta signup somewhere on that site but I’m too scared to find it for you. You are on your own with this one.

You have no chance. Make your time

I have no better words to describe Motor City Online than Lum did in the Round-Up. So I’ll just use his words. OK, now this is a bright idea: persistent-world drag racing. Tune your wheels, get your hot rod on the road, and if you lose, pull out your H&K MP5 machine gun and turn the streets red with blood. OK, so you can’t do that last part. But everything else, yeah.

The beta for this game has already started but it appears as if its not too late to get in if you want. Go here to sign up for the beta.

Can’t we all just be friends?

A Tale in the Desert is, to my knowledge, one of the few games out there not based on hacking and slashing but, rather, on building and questing. I meant to interview the developers some time back but then I got a new job and then Lum left and I never answered their mail and I think they might be mad at me. Oh well. Sorry guys.

Anyway they’ve gone through an alpha and I think the game is still in beta. You can still sign up by going to that link and putting a note on their boards that you want to be in the beta. Its really that simple. The people that were able to be in the play test so far seem to really like this game. One note: If what you like to do is be the biggest and baddest roxxerer on your block, this game is probably going to be a bit boring for you. If you are the merchant/crafter type — head on over. This is your game.

You’d think they’d learned their lesson but nooooooooo

Well those glutons for punishment at Funcom have not fully exercised their masochistic tendencies. You would have thought, after the horrorshow that was the launch of Anarchy Online, that they’d think twice before jumping into yet another MMOG. You would be wrong if you thought that. Midgard is not going to ruin Anarchy Online and I’m sure those of you who have managed to actually play AO are really glad to hear that.

What’s this game about, you might ask? Well I’m not sure. I know it won’t ruin AO. I know it has a medium-sized team. I believe you can pick berries and go moose-hunting in Midgard. (No, I’m not making this up. Ragnar T\’c3\’b8rnquist, Game Director said so on their website. I linked to it. Go read it for yourself). They have a vision. Really. There’s a link on their website that reads “The Vision.” That was when I got scared and left. Visions frighten me.

DOES THIS MEAN THEY’RE GOING TO BAN ARADUNE? [Author: Tick]

In a chain of events that can only be described as “ironic,” a 17-year-old hacker has been picked up for using a hacked “superuser” EverQuest account. An excerpt from the Seattle Times article shows the difference between what happens when YOU get hacked and Brad McQuaid gets hacked:

Federal agents have seized 10 computers and other computer gear from the home of a Snoqualmie teen suspected of hacking into Sony’s extremely popular online game “EverQuest.”

The hacking would have given him access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of players and Sony employees.

Agents also say the hacker, who was 17 at the time, was able to access the home computer of the company’s vice president of product development, Brad McQuaid, and downloaded documents for an as-yet-unreleased version of the popular role-playing fantasy game.

Wonder if this is going to change their stance on hacked accounts…

Update – 31 August 2001, 5:40PM: John Smedley released the following statement regarding the hacking incident:

We have seen the article in the Seattle Times regarding an incident almost a year ago in which someone apparently got a hold of one or more superuser accounts for a short period of time. We want to assure our customers that at no time was any consumer billing information compromised. Noone should be worried that their credit card information got out… IT DID NOT. In addition, some time ago we added additional layers of security in an effort to prevent this from happening again. Beyond this, it is inappropriate for us to comment in light of the ongoing investigation.

OK I’VE HAD IT! [Author: myschyf]

Note to development companies: This site is NOT, I repeat, NOT, lumthemad.monster.com. I am sick and tired of having to replace writers because you people keep sucking the life out of this site. Every time we get a new writer, along comes yet another development company with yet another game that requires yet another community coordinator.

This is a plot, isn’t it? A conspiracy, right? You are just trying to shut us all up. WELL IT WON’T WORK! We shall overcome. We can find writers faster than you can develop new games. So there.

Case in point — Niobe. She’s off to Las Vegas to work on Earth and Beyond for Westwood Studios. You know, it was EA that stole Great Bob from us. Maybe its just EA that is plotting. Of course they are probably in collusion with Mythic because it was Mythic that took Lum.

Anyway we wish to congratulate Niobe as she rides off into the sunset and we look forward to giving her as much of a hard time as we give all of you other community coordinator types. All you other hiring types at development companies should take note that in the future there will be a $5,000 finders fee for taking our writers. That is all.

ATRIARCH ENTERS BETA [Author: myschyf]

The Atriarch beta is underway and we have received this from Serafina:

I would like to invite all who are interested to apply for the Atriarch Beta Test.

Atriarch is a 3-D, massively-multiplayer, online, persistent game depicting life on the alien and organic world of Atriana. Atriarch puts an emphasis on the player’s ability to build persistent structures in a massive game world. Fight or build. Chat or explore. Whatever your game style, we would like your help to test Atriarch. For more information about Atriarch, visit the official site.

The Beta Test is planned to be in four stages, beginning with a technical beta. For more information about the stages or to apply directly for the beta test, visit our new beta website.

We hope to see you all there!

Thank you,

Serafina

President & Lead Game Designer

World Fusion

/GU… COMICS COMES TO A CLOSE [Author: Tick]

Yeah, we’re doing a lot of EQ stuff today. Some of it’s even been positive. What IS the world coming to?

What was the inspiration for /GU… ?

Anyone that plays the game knows that /gu is the abbreviated command line the lets you speak to people in your guild, and ultimately that was the inspiration for the comic strip, all the wierd and funny stuff that happened in guild chat day in and day out. I was maintaining the guild’s website at the time, and illustrated a few of the jokes to put on the site for guild members to see. And that’s where it all started… a little bitty guild site.

Did you expect it to become as popular as it did?

Absolutely not. The strip was only meant to be seen by guild members. Then I thought I’d share them with the EQ community, if they were interested. So I sent email to the guys at EQAnswers (it was big at the time) and asked them if they’d put a link to the strips in a brief news article. The response was almost immediate, they contacted me and said “News link? How about we host you and put you infront of everyone?” I jumped at it.

So, GameFan/EQAnswers was hosting me and the traffic was rolling in. Then… GameFan went down. I thought GU was going with it, but I decided to ask Everlore if they might be interested in picking me up as an affiliate. They said yes and had been hosting GU since October 2000.

The strip really took off when Tim over at Evercrest linked to GU. The daily visitors were steadily climbing, links started popping up everywhere, guild message boards were putting in GU images left and right. Everything just kind of came together and meshed and GU was a success. Of course I never really realized that. I was just having fun, you know? It sank in when I saw the stats for the first time.

Why are you closing up shop?

Well, it’s a number of things really. But the main reason would have to be lack of time. I used to have the time to really develop an idea; work with it until it was written just right and got to the point in the shortest amount of time, that’s what made GU funny… rapid delivery. Now, the humor is a bit strained. The ideas don’t flow as freely, and what I come up with isn’t hammered out entirely before I HAVE to sit down to draw it. Basically, the strip just wasn’t what it used to be. So I decided it was time to bow out gracefully. Leave people with the memory of a great strip not the bad taste of forced humor.

Will the comics archive still be available?

Everlore is kindly hosting it a bit longer, giving me time to sell off the last of the GU Coloring Books as keepsakes. There may be a short period of downtime, but I’m working with some people now to host the GU archives a couple of months down the road here.

Do you still play EQ?

Yup, I still play and no matter what anyone says **cough cough** I still enjoy the game. EverQuest is phenomenal in my book and where it still has some flaws and some issues, it’s a rather nice alternative to vegging out on the couch, scarfin’ chips, and watching the Stupidity Enhancement Device.

Woody, you gave us a lot of laughs. The Tick salutes you.

LOSING MONEY TO EQ IN A MAJOR WAY [Author: myschyf]

Greetings-

Sony Online Entertainment and Ubi Soft today announced the postponement of the European Fan Faire. Our European community of EverQuest\’c2\’ae players has seen much growth in the past year and we are excited about all of our initiatives in this market and beyond. While we regret the delay in bringing what has been an incredibly successful and one-of-kind event in the U.S., we know that all of our international initiatives will enhance the player experience, increase our international fan base, and lead us overseas in the coming months.

We want to thank all of the fans who had planned to participate in this inaugural event and will be sending a full refund in addition to a special gift from our Fan Faire team. While we are disappointed that we cannot meet you next month, we hope that our presence in Europe continues to grow. We will be able to better serve you by postponing this event to a more suitable time and place for everyone. We apologize for any inconvenience.

EverQuest boasts more than 410,000 players on a worldwide basis including the U.S., England, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand. We recently announced the availability of Game Cards on retail shelves worldwide, giving cash holders the ability to play in 90-day increments. And, the initial phase of localization involving both human and automated translating agents, beginning with French, German, Japanese and Korean, is well underway. Sony Online Entertainment is continuing to build a bridge between nations and is actively working toward new server deployment plans with Europe as a primary target.

This winter, all EverQuest players can look forward to the launch of
EverQuest: The Shadows of Luclin. The new expansion pack will introduce an enchanting moonscape packed with new adventure zones, new items, creatures and spells, a new playable character race and more.

Thank you for your continued support!

Cindy Archuleta

Community Relations Manager

Sony Online Entertainment

YOU DIDN’T NEED TO KNOW THAT ANYWAY, DID YOU? [Author: Tick]

We have pictures, too. I like pictures.

Yes, if the test server is any indication, players may soon be doing without the player counts on the server list. In place of the actual numbers, you’ll either have the word “UP” or the word “DOWN” to the right of the server’s name. Oddly enough, you’ll still be able to sort by server population.

Before:

After:

A regular player on the test server added this bit of information (they asked not to be named, so yeah- this is hearsay):

During a server downage, Ester the Tester came into the General Chat room. She was asked if, since the number of players is no longer displayed, the ability to do “/who all count” would be disabled. Much to my (and many other’s) suprise/disgust, she answered “yes.”

For the record, UO doesn’t show how many players are on each server shard, and they never have, citing competitive secrecy. Anarchy Online doesn’t either, but it’s likely they don’t have server counts because they never expected to have more than one server. Asheron’s Call does show player counts, and they always have.

Without becoming too speculative as to the reasons for this perhaps imminent change, it’s been my experience that suddenly withholding information that was always freely available in the past is a step in the wrong direction. The only reason an organization would want to do something like that is because it’s the lesser of two (or more) evils. So, what does Verant foresee for server populations, and why is it important that people not be able to see them?