Not exactly something you can rant about, but noteworthy, nonetheless\’e2\’80\’a6

Horizons Vault has put up a \’e2\’80\’98public statement\’e2\’80\’99 from David Allen, former CEO of Artifact Entertainment, creators of the (*snickers*) future MMORPG, Horizons. In it, he reveals that he has started a new company called \’e2\’80\’98Pharaoh Productions\’e2\’80\’99, whose chief new games will be \’e2\’80\’98Project-X\’e2\’80\’99 and \’e2\’80\’98Universe\’e2\’80\’99, two very pretty names for two very mysterious games at the moment. No word on whether they are single player or MMORPG titles, or even what the hell they are about.

You can find the website for Allen\’e2\’80\’99s new company here, albeit it\’e2\’80\’99s not totally up yet.

Let\’e2\’80\’99s just hope he doesn\’e2\’80\’99t shut the message boards down and tell us all to get the fuck off his lawn again, hmm?


One memory that truly sticks out in my mind, however, was one of the early summers of my primary school years. I think I was 9, or perhaps 10. It was an unseasonably hot summer that year. Dry, too. So, not surprisingly, one of the local kids set it upon himself to take advantage of the heat, and he went ahead and set up a little lemonade stand.

I think his name was Bradley, or something. I didn\’e2\’80\’99t really talk to him much, or know him that well. He always hung around with the British exchange student who started at our school that year, and the schoolyard bully who everyone called \’e2\’80\’98Bash\’e2\’80\’99. They had their own little gang, although no one admitted it out loud.

Anyhow, Bradley set up a lemonade stand, and boy, was it a hit. People from all over the neighborhood, kids, adults, teenagers, and even people from nearby neighborhoods showed up to buy a ice cold glass of lemonade from the stand. I had one or two glasses myself, but I didn\’e2\’80\’99t really see what was so addicting about it. Suffice to say, however, people loved the stuff. They couldn\’e2\’80\’99t get enough of it.

And at ten cents a glass, it wasn\’e2\’80\’99t a bad deal, either.

It was kind of strange how many people flocked to Verant\’e2\’80\’99s (that\’e2\’80\’99s what everyone called Bradley and company\’e2\’80\’99s gang; I don\’e2\’80\’99t really remember why) lemonade stand. It\’e2\’80\’99s not like there wasn\’e2\’80\’99t anywhere else to get a drink. Just down the street, the Dragons ran an orangeade stand, like they had every summer for a year or two.

The Dragons business was slacking off due to the lemonade stand, though. But they never really complained. Hell, I\’e2\’80\’99m sure if I ever went back to my old neighborhood, they\’e2\’80\’99d still be there, plugging away, climbing on their old Pepsi crate proclaiming things about the \’e2\’80\’98Orangeade Renaissance\’e2\’80\’99 or \’e2\’80\’98Orangeade 2\’e2\’80\’99. They were always good for a laugh, and their product was solid. Sometimes I find that I can still remember the tangy goodness of a nice, tall, frosty glass of Dragon Orangeade.

But I digress. Business was booming for Verant\’e2\’80\’99s stand. And it only kept growing over that summer, AND the next one. Bradley and his cohorts expanded, adding two more sizes of lemonade glass (small, medium and Uber), several more locations, and even a couple of Kool-Aid flavors to their classic standby, lemonade.

I guess I kind of saw it coming. Brad\’e2\’80\’99s stand wasn\’e2\’80\’99t going to survive peacefully forever, even with the firm glare of Bash watching over it. The next summer, the second summer of Verant\’e2\’80\’99s existence, a newcomer came into the picture.

7-11 slapped down a store only about a block away from my house, and they starting dealing exclusively in lemonade Slurpees. I was somewhat surprised\’e2\’80\’a6 But I decided to try a few of the new creations anyway, just to be impartial to the whole messy business that was going down.

They weren\’e2\’80\’99t bad. I never really started consuming them religiously, like some of the newcomers to the shop did, and I gave them up entirely soon thereafter. People still use the 7-11, from what some of my old friends have told me, but not as many as when it first came out. I probably could of predicted that. Lemonade Slurpees are a decent idea, maybe even a great idea, but I\’e2\’80\’99m pretty sure they\’e2\’80\’99re an acquired taste. Even the special \’e2\’80\’98Flavors of the Month\’e2\’80\’99 that 7-11 adds to the store are only really attractive their current customers.

So. My neighborhood was still more or less peaceful. People moved in, people moved away. People died, and people were born. And another year or so passed.

And then, all hell seemed to break loose.

Bradley\’e2\’80\’99s lemonade stand opened up again, but his customers weren\’e2\’80\’99t as happy to see him this year. Bash was starting to get on their nerves, what with him beating everyone up who put a little slip of paper in the Suggestions Box. People started to point fingers at the staff who was in charge of actually making the lemonade. They screamed that they were watering down the lemonade just to save on costs. They screamed that they were using less sugar, maybe or maybe not on purpose.

Basically, the customers just didn\’e2\’80\’99t seem to be satisfied with the quality of their lemonade anymore. Some of them stopped buying lemonade altogether. Some people moved away because the lemonade stand was basically in their front yard. Others opened stands to make known to the public news and happenings in the local lemonade business. Still others opened stands whose purpose was mainly to bitch about the quality of the lemonade, and how they think it could be made better.

And not just Verant was having problems. Regular 7-11 customers had figured out that by being a little sneaky, they could exploit the whole lemonade system by taking one of the Big Gulp GEAR cups and filling it with the more expensive lemonade, instead of the cheaper soft drinks made for the cup. Hence, they were \’e2\’80\’98illegally\’e2\’80\’99 getting more Slurpee for a lower cost. This upset everyone who didn’t use the exploit. They wanted everyone to have the exact same amount of Slurpee for their money as everyone else.

To really make matters worse, some foreigners moved into the neighborhood. They seemed harmless enough. And hey, they were pretty likeable people. I remember they once let me pet their sheep. And they also expressed interest in opening a lemonade stand of their own. At the time, even I had to admit it sounded like a good idea. The foreigners were shaping up to be the messiahs of my little stereotypical neighborhood so long ago.

About a week or so after they settled into their new house, the foreigners began a lemonade stand, across the street from Bradley\’e2\’80\’99s original lemonade stand.

It was bloody eerie. The stands were more or less identical, although the new one looked strangely foreign, like it was from another planet or something.

The new stand never really came into it\’e2\’80\’99s own. The staff was younger and had less experience than everyone else. I think I was 12 at the time, and I was easily a couple feet taller than their regular server. They spilled the lemonade pitcher ALL the time, forcing them to shut down the stand altogether, and I remember once, near the end of that summer, one of them accidentally set the whole place on fire during his smoke break.

They never really recovered from that.

People wanted to try new lemonade out. Lots of people. The foreigners couldn\’e2\’80\’99t handle the demand at first. They still can\’e2\’80\’99t to this day, even after some rough times and a lot of free lemonade.

I was even given a few glasses of free lemonade.

It wasn\’e2\’80\’99t too bad. Kind of bitter, and a bit crunchy, but quite reminiscent of Bradley\’e2\’80\’99s lemonade from the very beginning. Still left a burnt aftertaste in my mouth, however. The cashier\’e2\’80\’99s little blaze (which we referred to as \’e2\’80\’9912.6\’e2\’80\’99, after the Norweigan brand of cigarette the seven year old smoked) had scorched the lemonade pitchers beyond repair, but they still kept using them, despite protests.

I tried talking with the foreign kids and the rest of the lemonade \’e2\’80\’98companies\’e2\’80\’99 a few times, much like everyone else in the neighborhood did (well, those not recovering from Bash\’e2\’80\’99s near-fatal beatings). It just wasn\’e2\’80\’99t going to work, everyone pawning off more or less the same product. They\’e2\’80\’99d have to do something drastic, or everyone was going to stop drinking lemonade, and start drinking vodka.

None of them listened. The ruckus continued far into the summer, people getting fed up, scandals occurring, all the while lemonade being dished out and drank down.

At ten cents a glass. Like it has always been.

Eventually, by the time September came and school was poised to reopen, I was fed up.

My family and I moved to Canada.

I don\’e2\’80\’99t really miss the lemonade wars. They were painful to watch; all that potential wasted by petty bickering, and lack of good old-fashioned customer service.

I live in the west now, in a different house, in a different neighborhood. And I still get thirsty sometimes, especially when the summer hits the dog days when it becomes unbearably hot, like it used to.

But I don\’e2\’80\’99t go out on the street, in search of a young lemonade vendor to quench my thirst. Not anymore.

I usually crack open a Dr. Pepper.

\’e2\’80\’a6I haven\’e2\’80\’99t been able to keep a glass of lemonade down for years.

EQ NEWSBITS [Author: Tick]

Believe it or not, some things still happen there.

Leading off, it would appear that in spite of the fact that the Necromancer class staged one of the best protests in the history of EverQuest at the Necromancer Best of the Best competition a while back, they’re still feeling about as useful as a manastone in the high end game. In what may be a last-ditch effort to save their class, the folks at EQClasses have created a petition to Verant, which is now in its 23rd page of signatures. Here’s a brief excerpt from the open letter that describes the issue pretty well:

The way the necromancer class works is as follows: We damage our hitpoints for more mana points, we then use these mana points to drain creatures of life, healing us. Once we can do that, we have other secondary abilities, such as giving mana to others (since we replenish it quickly) and healing others with our own lifeblood (since we can steal it back). Without the ability to lifetap, this finely tuned system breaks down. This is the core of our class from the lowest levels until the final levels in the game.

With the introduction of Velious came the more common occurrence of the “100% magic immune” mob, a creature that only melee damage can effect. This in effect neutralized the necromancer class because it stops our hitpoint transfers. If we can not transfer the mobs hitpoints to us over time, we can not heal our friends. If we can not lifetap the creature for damage we are reduced to becoming walking manastones, because there simply is nothing else for us to do. As stated by various public relations representatives from Sony EQ:

“we\’e2\’80\’99re not going to make necromancers into living Manastones. Those stones were removed for a reason.”

The quote from Sony’s PR is a little ominous, since it seems to suggest they may do something to twitching versus actually making Necros useful again, but we can always hope.

In other news, we got a heads-up from Yarha (tis she!) that those Rangers among you with Epic weapons might want to keep in mind:

Few days ago Ferkl of Veeshan Guard was hunting in Kael. He died and was looting his body, then looted his lammie in the wrong hand, so when he looted his first epic sword it poofed.

How this happened is why I’m posting. A ranger’s first epic sword is offhand. So if the ranger loots in the wrong order the primary weapon goes to offhand and then epic goes to the ranger’s bags…unless those bags are full. Ferkl’s were and so *poof* all his hard work, his guild’s effort, and time spent just blown down the tubes.

Ferkl of course petitioned and was told this was a “feature” of the game. So he’s now giving up for awhile on his ranger.

Gotta love them “features,” yeah? That little /feedback command might be good to use for those of you who think this isn’t exactly the way things should be working, but in the meantime, loot carefully, folks- the epic you save may be your own.

Of course, all this probably seems like small stuff to those of you who downloaded a patch to your game that made it completely unplayable, or who bought into a game that was arguably never playable to begin with. On the other hand, the small stuff piles up in a hurry, and if we don’t mention it, who will? Hell, sometimes griping about it even works.

THE POPULARITY OF MEAN [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

This website started out as a glorified fan page. Unlike most other glorified fan pages, it was written by someone with a very rare gift for prose and a surgically sharp wit. But what made this page so popular can be best described in one word: mean. Ask the author and he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms when asked why the site changed so dramatically, “we grew up.”

Some might offer that the growing up process was not yet complete, but be that as it may, the fact that the site earned its wings on simply being mean cannot be denied. With the site now winding down and preparing to clean out the cubicles, I find myself taken with thoughts stemming from, ‘what was it all for?’ and ‘was it all worth the effort?’ and whatnot.

I honestly do not know how to address the first question. Probably because it has to be answered by each individual who ever penned an update for this website, and I’m going to venture that each answer would be dynamically different from all the others. Each one with different purposes and goals, as evidenced by the careers that seemed to bloom right out from beneath these web pages. For me, it was about self expression. For the longest part of my life, I wanted to be a preacher. I spent two years as a Jesuit Pastor diligent in studies and education. At some point, I realized that the voice I was listening to was not the Voice of God; but simply my own voice seeking a way to share thoughts and ideas with others. This website allowed me to reach and touch thousands of people; sometimes in a ‘bad touch’ sort of way – but in the end, I made people think and I made people share their thoughts with others. That is all I ever really wanted to do. The question of what sets humanity apart from the animals has been asked for centuries and the answers tend to replace one another with each civilization. Instincts and Religious Theories aside, I believe it is conversation. Animals share minimalist messages by way of grunts and shrugs, but humanity has learned to put sounds to symbol and preserve our grunts and shrugs in a tangible permenant record. The hopes and dreams of great thinkers from millions of years ago are as real and full of life today as the day they were first carved into stone. From papyrus to cave drawings, we can sit and enjoy the conversations of peoples that vanished from our planet so long ago. We can listen to their music and feel the same stirring inside that they felt.

I returned from my vacation to learn that the site would be shutting down. It came as quite a shock and surprise to me, but I suppose it had to happen some time. Every great novel has to have an epilogue eventually. I hope that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, and I hope that in some small way, I have managed to make a change for the better. I’ve not always been the best example of literary genius, and at times, I’ve acted dishonorably – I have my weaknesses, but fortunately one of my strengths is an ability to muster up the courage to walk myself to the whipping post time and time again, and to take the slashes I’ve earned over the years. I’ve made some friends, and I’ve made some enemies. To the former, I ask that you keep in touch. To the latter, I ask that you keep in touch.

I’ve been mean and I’ve been head-strong. I’ve had my episodes of Stupidiocity. The great thing about being a stupidiot in front of thousands of people is that you can get the help you need rather quickly. Being a fucking moron in the privacy of your own home means being a fucking moron for eternity. So in the end, I have no regrets about anything – I’ve done some boneheaded things, but I’ve been able to see them through the eyes of others, and deal with them.

I’m sure there are a number of developers who are doing handsprings and holding their breath until October 1 of this year. I hope they take a moment and ask themselves why they are doing handsprings; and why their customers rarely do.

And so I cast Excalibur back into the lake and board the magical ship to the Isle of Avalon. I return to the white house in the woods near the mailbox. I step through the red moongate that takes me back home; with a smile, a tear, and a wave.

Thank you for giving me one of the greatest thrills of my life, and helping bring the dreams of one pie-eyed writer come to fruition. And keep your eyes on the bookstands. You’ll see me there someday, and you’ll be able to say to the person you are with, “Hey! I used to know that guy! Boy was he a fucking moron!” And you know what? You’d be right.

See ya ’round,

Arcadian Del Sol


Before the corporate lawyers e-bolt a request for suppression, we\’e2\’80\’99ve put the court filing up for you to peruse at your leisure. You can find earlier articles on LtM.net about this lawsuit here and here.

Two things stick out in this latest filing.

First, comes the idea that counselors were introduced two months after the public release of Ultima Online. I suppose those pesky beta counselors didn\’e2\’80\’99t count. They were test counselors. Vapor people. In development human helpers.

But not real counselors. No, no. Those came two months later.

However, that is nothing compared to the mind-boggling revelation that OSI used unpaid people (counselors) to train the paid ones (advisors). Mind you, the counselors weren\’e2\’80\’99t really employees of OSI. They were happy to train the advisors who were going to replace them after they were fired.

Wait. Nevermind. The counselors had no idea they were training the paid advisors. In fact, OSI never said a word about this. Hmm, wonder why. Can\’e2\’80\’99t imagine.

So, OSI basically made a decision to screw over the counselors, but before doing so, allowed those counselors to train the advisors. Gee, when OSI wants to bend someone over and ram it in, they really bring out the heavy equipment. Think jackhammers.

I\’e2\’80\’99m not ignorant of how corporations work, however, I am appalled at the way OSI treated their counselors, counselors who gave their blood, sweat, and tears to make the game better and directly benefited OSI monetarily in the process. OSI\’e2\’80\’99s actions in this case are nothing less than sneaky, underhanded, unacceptable, and patently disgusting.

Seeing as I am not a lawyer, I cannot say what chances the ex-volunteers have of winning the case. However, I\’e2\’80\’99d like to see them win.

If only to avenge my long lost UO2.


Quick definition here:

Incompetence – Inadequate for or unsuited to a particular purpose or application.

With the clusterfuck that is Patch 12.6, I\’e2\’80\’99m not certain the word \’e2\’80\’9cincompetent\’e2\’80\’9d fully illustrates the disaster that Funcom continually perpetuates upon its paying customer base. With literally hundreds upon hundreds of bugs (more being released by the hour), a skeletal wraith of a customer support system, and a habitually ignored tester base, the realization that Anarchy Online was released at least six months to a year too early is quickly becoming apparent to all. On the official forums, long time posters, players, and beta-testers are fleeing faster than CIA operatives in Saigon circa April, 1975 (the similarities are stunning).

Quite simply, the game and the company were not ready to set foot on the MMOG stage, with its glaring spotlight and high expectations. (Who am I kidding? Our expectations are so low, we\’e2\’80\’99d play Minesweeper Online if it had great graphics and ample boobage).

This week, players on the test server cried unto the heavens, pleading with Funcom not to release the patch; that it was buggy, unplayable, a disaster waiting to happen. In true MMOG style, the company decided to go with the patch as is. On a Friday no less! Class, would someone like to explain to Funcom why Friday is not a good patch day?

Of course, official comments from Funcom acknowledging they were releasing a whole new batch of bugs with the patch doesn\’e2\’80\’99t exactly help their case. To paraphrase: \’e2\’80\’9cYes, there are bugs in this patch. But, they\’e2\’80\’99re not as bad as other bugs! We promise!\’e2\’80\’9d

I think the AO community disagrees.

Funcom should pack it in. AO is not ready for the mass market, and continuing to charge customers for this buggy piece of shit should border on criminal. I urge dissatisfied AO players to contact their state Attorney Generals. The Better Business Bureau also works. Customers are being ripped off. Period.

The game has not worked. The game does not work. And no amount of pretty graphics and streamlined sound can make up for that fact. Funcom released a product they knew did not work and have continued to charge customers without delivering on any of their promises as a company to provide a playable game for $12.95 a month.

Good luck, Mythic. I think you just got yourself thousands of new customers come release day.


The latest 12.6 patch, albeit pretty on paper, was little more than napalm in code form. I give you the patch message detailing the changes, sans the exploits, pet and chat channel changes, for space’s sake. They seem… rather tame, don’t they?

First off, let me take an obligatory swing at the Aimed Shot bug of old. How do you screw something up which allows a certain attack to do TWENTY TIMES normal damage, and then leave it for a month or so? Did Funcom not see it? Did they think the attack was supposed to do that? Or was it not even a bug… It was simply working as intended?

Now. The explosion. For some odd reason, even though this patch was in testing for awhile, when it went live, countless new bugs cropped up, and a few old favorites decided to make a comeback, this time armed with sub-machine guns and hollow rounds.

Mission enemies are not only harder, they are invisible, invulnerable, not there and still attacking, not there and NOT attacking, attacking through walls, buffing with unlimited nano, and even attacking above or below their ‘colored’ difficulty.

Chests are broken. Crashes are not broken, they’ve actually been re-implemented, intentionally or otherwise. Rubberband lag is once again in style. Graphic glitches have found a new home.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. The 12.6 patch is doing pretty much everything under the sun except for causing cancer and emotionally scarring small children.

OK, the emotional scarring is debatable. I sure as hell wouldn’t let my seven year old at this mess.

‘Why did you die again, Daddy?’

‘Insta-death bug.’

‘…There’s evil people who can kill you without trying?!’

‘Shut up and go watch Blue’s Clues.’

The ‘BUMP if u want 12.5 again !!’ thread on the official boards has hit 1600 replies. I’m sure mass account deletions will soon follow.

There’s not much more I can say. I always thought of myself as one of the prime defenders of Anarchy Online, but this… is insane. There are less bugs in the DaoC BETA. Jesus.

Funcom put up a ‘daily update’ addressing the issues, which did little to console me. Hey, they usually don’t put those up on weekends! They did this weekend, however. Should I feel special? Yes. Do I? Hardly. The game, if it wasn’t broken before, is broken now. Will people pay to play a broken game? That’s a question I don’t want to answer. Yet, at least.

My last bit of comfort is I’m sure Funcom isn’t purposely screwing over gamers. As my good colleague Shepherd (yes, the Whamadoodles guy) said, Funcom isn’t evil.

Serial killers are evil. Dictators are evil. Verant is evil.

Funcom is merely inexperienced and incompetent. And yet they insist on beginning work on a SECOND game. I don’t care if I can hunt moose and pick berries in it. I want you to learn how to properly run your first MMORPG before you start diving into a new one.

In conclusion, you all have my deepest apologies for my releasing this update without actually being able to log in and play the aforementioned gory mess.

I haven’t been able to get around to spending some time playing.

I can’t get the patcher to stop crashing.


Anyway I posted the following on their boards but their boards stripped out all my scrumpdillyishus HTML coding so I thought I would repost it here with the HTML coding in all its glory. And also to show how research is good.


Crysallis I would think a site that enjoys the good reputation that AO Basher does would do a bit more research before posting something so blatantly false.

First off the site is not closing due to monetary considerations. As I stated in the notification of the site closing down, the domain name is changing because Lum works for Mythic Entertainment now and needs to extricate himself and his ‘handle’ from a site which will probably end up critiquing the game he works on.

I am the owner and managing editor of the site right now. As I stated in the article referenced above, I was recently promoted at work and given a very challenging project to work on. I have dedicated 20 to 40 hours a week to the site and can no longer continue to give that sort of time to a hobby. Therefore I am stepping down.

As he stated in a follow-up post, Eldin is taking over management of the successor site. It will be called slownewsday.net (another ‘inside’ joke which I won’t bother going into here). I have every confidence that the site will thrive under his direction.

The site is nowhere near broke as you reported in your comments. As a matter of fact, as is clearly stated on our site (if you hit the donations link you’ll find a page that clearly discloses how much money we’ve taken in and what we’ve spent it on so far), you will see that we have an excess of thousands right now. That is enough to pay our hosting fees for the next six months. Furthermore the new site has three requests to run advertising. Our advertising brings an average return of 1.1% clickthrough rate (the industry standard is .03%). For a site that only does 2-6 gb of traffic daily that isn’t too bad. As a matter of fact, sites that do much more traffic do not get those types of returns.

Now we come to the parody in question. The parody was based on a movie called “The Producers.” In that movie Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder’s characters cook up a plot to make a play production so bad that it loses money and closes and they get rich from the advance investments which cannot be repaid or something like that. Anyway the focal point of the bad play that they produce is a song called “Springtime for Hitler.” The whole movie is a spoof on Nazi Germany and stage production and financing. Its really quite a good movie. You might try renting it.

Furthermore the parody did not spoof AO alone although AO was, indeed, a target. The “fetus throwing howitzers” were a direct spoof on the now-defunct game Dawn. The producer of that game, Jeff Freidman, in an IRC chat told his ‘followers’ that they would be able to catapult fetuses in the game. No, I am not kidding.

The artwork we are making fun is actual artwork created by a man named Doug Winger. He makes furry hemaphrodite artwork. No I don’t know why but there must be a demand for it somewhere because the guy is quite famous. It is also quite popular among gamers and in any gaming forum you will usually come across a reference to Doug Winger art.

Anyway I hope you will post a retraction to your comments since most of them are blatantly false and show that you did absolutely no research whatsoever.



Managing Editor




Okay, now, I know that, in the past, we at Wolfpack have had a tendency to leap at shadows and think that every idea that comes down the pipe was “ours first.” And yes, we might have been a bit snaphappy to assume that (1) we’re always first to come up with a good idea, and (2) other people had to TAKE the idea from us, they couldn’t possibly have come up with it on their own. Paranoid? Yeah, we are. Guilty as charge. And, looking back, I’m more than happy to admit that the use of the EQ word “disciplines” had nothing to do with SB. Nor was DAoC’s “rock troll” lifted from our “stone dwarves” — these are smart teams with innovative ideas drawing from the same knowledge base (ie mythology) and it’s a compliment to all of us that we see as many design intersections as we do.

That said, not everything in this industry is can necessarily be chalked up to innocent coicidence. Sometimes even our staunchest critics may occasionally blink their eyes, grin, and say, “well, yeah, okay, maybe we’ll give this one to you.”


Coincidence? Maybe. It would be kind of hard for Codemasters to claim they *didn’t* know about SB, especially since I met with them back in Sept of 99 in London when we first went looking for a publisher.

My favorite line from the press release:
“Dragon Empires breaks the mould with the importance of player to player combat to the game – it’s open season on all the other players all the time – and introduces the concept of player clans ruling sprawling cities within the game’s world.”

Oh come on, now — If you want to claim to do it, that’s one thing… but to claim to _introduce the concept_? Two years later?

Like I said, maybe it is innocent. Hell, it might not have anything to do with us at all; they might have gotten the concept from these guys.

Anyway, though, I digress. The real question I wanted to ask was, regardless of where the ideas come from.. why all the sudden interest in PvP? As many of your readers are so quick to point out, PvP isn’t exactly the “most popular” feature of EQ, UO or AC. I love engaging PvP combat myself. I think it provides a really good sense of realism and hightened competition… but I also recognize that I’m part of a niche market segment. When we set out to create Shadowbane, we decided to specifically target a niche group of players who weren’t being given an offering suited to their tastes; to provide interesting strategic and tactical combat to a market segment that wasn’t being satisfied by the existing “big three” titles. Our secondary goal was, in choosing a niche, to remain under the other games’ radars by targeting a small enough player base that they wouldn’t bother to try and compete with us on a feature-by-feature basis. This might have worked, btw — except that SB picked up a lot more marketing momentum then we ever expected (especially with the cancellation of UO2 and AD&D online, something we certainly never saw coming.)

So.. why is it now that everyone is flocking to our niche? Doesn’t that kind of fly in the face of the entire “niche marketing” concept? I mean, a PvP-centered MMOG is good idea, but it’s hardly the ONLY idea out there. Hell, if I started a new game today I might well concentrate 100% on tradeskills and economy. Why? Because no one else is doing it! How did we go from “no one cares about the PvPers, in fact let’s ban em all!” to _everyone_ competing for the same (completely unknown!) cache of PvP dollars — in spite of the fact that no one is positive that the PvP market can support one good title, much less half a dozen. Now it seems like no one is concentrating on the trade skills and cooperative play; what the hell is up with that? It’s the proven market! Hell, Shadowbane looks to have a much stronger economic model than most of these new offerings, and that was supposed to be our weak spot.

I swear I don’t understand this industry some times. I don’t buy the idea that the right way to make money is to repeat the same ideas over and over and over until everyone is blue in the face. I always thought, as an entertainment medium, we were supposed to walk that fine line between art & business — too much art and you produce something unplayable (quick *nod* to jess on that one), but too much business and you end up with a bookcase full of undistiguishable Quake clones.

1. Look at the Market. (What offerings are out there?)

2. Find an interesting area that no one else is doing. (What customers aren’t being satisfied?)

3. Innovate (What unique features/services/support can I offer these specific customers?)

4. Deliver (Follow through with a quality product, quality service, and quality support)

Step four is supposed to be the hard one, folks. Comparitively speaking, one through three are a walk in the park.

Warden, Wolfpack