IPY UO Server Release Date

I know that I said our target was the middle of October, but at this point I don't think that's too likely. It being the 30th of October and all.

However, it's not really our fault. The host is putting together a new facility or something, and they're taking longer than expected. Word is that they'll be good to go on the 10th, so we're setting our release date for the 14th. This is pretty solid as long as our host doesn't fuck us, so plan on it.

We'll be starting the beta here in the next few days, so if you're interested in squashing bugs for us, have a whole bunch of Pre-UO:R experience, and some UO:R experience (even though it makes you a fruit - we all know real men quit as soon as precasting changes were announced), email me with your experience. Beta will be fairly exclusive, so don't expect a spot. We aren't even sure how many people we're letting in right now, but it won't be too many. I'm not interested in running a zoo, I just want to get Pre-UO:R inconsistencies squashed and fine tune PvP.

For anyone that doesn't know what the fuck I'm talking about in regards to the server - we've (myself and a friend) been working on a Pre-UO:R (or "classic") UO shard for the past little while. Or, he's been working on it and I've been directing traffic while drinking beer for the most part.

Information is available at our website (yeah, so my r33t skillz cut it in '98, but not so much in 2003). Read the FAQ, and visit the message board - it's got a lot of good shit on it.



It's not easy being purple...

Not that long ago I started playing Planetside again. Of course, I made the mistake of starting off as a Vanu not knowing what gimpy little bitches they were. Luckily the latest balance patch made us a little less impotent, but I found a funny topic on the official PS board about how the devs must have a sense of humor, since the image on the forground of the new Core Combat expansion just happens to show a scene many of us Vanu are familliar with... a squad of Vanu getting their asses handed to them. It is with that scene in mind that I decided to create a slightly more appropriate name for the new expansion, and a graphic to go along with it. -Greybeard


Movie Review Time

Last night I attended the Detroit premiere of Bubba Hotep. I gotta tell you, it should be a crime that this movie isnt on 3000 screens nationwide. I simply laughed my ass off during the majority of this movie, it was that funny. It will be playing only in select theatres for a very limited run before it goes to DVD, so check the web site to see if it will make it to your town. I think its only going to be playing for a week here in Detroit and it's only on one screen at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. Bruce Campell was there in person to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards, and it was a complete blast. Normally indy films arent my bag, but if you only see one Elvis vs. The Mummy movie this year, it should be this one. -Greybeard


Hail to the King, Baby

I stumbled across this article, and can only hope it comes true. Ash coming back for round four, would simply be all that and a bag of chips. Until that happens, we Bruce Campbell fans can enjoy his latest film portraying Elvis as he battles the evil Bubba Ho-Tep. Good, bad, hes the guy with the sequined jumpsuit. -Greybeard


Selling the Right Way

Admittedly, I'm not the most handy guy around the house. I can handle the occasional odd job, but if you need a room built or an electrical outlet moved there's not much I can do to help ya. However, that doesn't make me immune to advertising of this calibre. I don't know if that ad is for a store or a brand name or what, but I do know I have the sudden urge to go tool shopping.

The chicks at Home Depot sadly look nothing like those. =(

- Nighthawk


Dial D for Dumbass

Just when I thought my faith in mankind couldnt get shaken any worse. This company named Suncomm apparently spent millions of dollars developing a high tech anti piracy software that would stop would-be music thieves from making copies of audio CD's. They in turn licensed this miracle software to music labels who could crank out copy proof CD's and save even more millions in royalities. Just one problem... if you press the shift key, it wont work.

And if this wasnt fucking stupid enough, this same ignorant assed company has decided to sue the guy who figured out his uber l33t h4x0r shift key tactic. Hey guys, heres an idea.. how about you spend some of that money on LESS FUCKING RETARDED PROGRAMMERS instead of a lawyer. I know its a wild and crazy idea, but it just might work. -Greybeard


Carebears In Games

Or "Forget Passion, I Want Items!"
Or "The Road Ahead"
Or "Holy fuck I just wrote one long ass post - Even *I'm* not going to read it all"

I think that most of us can agree that the current MMORPG market is in trouble. People are making money, sure, and there are probably more people actively playing massively multiplayer online games right now than ever before.

I wouldn't be so quick to call that success, however. For Sony and other huge, soul devouring companies, sure. Not for us, especially when the future looks so incredibly bleak for our favourite hobby. If you're looking at this situation from the viewpoint of a well-traveled gamer who recognizes that mindless monster bashing and item collecting can only carry the genre so far, which happens to be exactly where it is right now, then word you're looking for is failure, plain and simple.

Right now, as is, the MMORPG genre looks like a failure. Everyone who sees EverQuest for what it actually is can see that, and, eventually, the people who are playing EverQuest will hopefully see it.

"Oh, wow. I can pay you money every month to press a button and watch my little character whack a monster? Cool."

"Alright.. that was cool for a bit, but I wasted some time and some money, and now this is getting a little repetitive, pointless, and stupid. What's next?"

Sorry JoeCarebear23, nothing is next. Not until the gaming community as a whole begins to smarten the fuck up.

Sure, people will continue to pay a monthly fee to spend countless, and extremely pointless, hours watching their character whack a monster so that they can collect the awesome neon loot it drops. Sure people will continue to place that next 'ding' of a raised level at the top of their priority list, gaming or otherwise. Gerbils enjoy running in those little wheels, and a donkey will walk forward when you hang a carrot in front of his face. As is my understanding from various cartoons, anyway.

Humans, on the other hand, either think, or, hopefully, begin to at some point. I truly believe that at some point in time all of these companies making nothing but EQ cash cow clones will have a carrot shoved squarely up their collective asses by an eventual, and most likely very gradual, mass exodus of gamers who have gained a little experience and decided for themselves that paying a monthly fee to watch numbers go up and emote sex acts with 60 year old men 'roleplaying' female elves just isn't cutting it any more.

The genre's whole problem isn't just that companies are pounding out cookie cutter games. They're doing that for a reason, and that reason is that those games sell. They can continually feed the same bullshit to us, because we let them get away with it by giving them money over and over again.

People are very, very used to having a game entirely centred around themselves. The idea of other players actually being in the game world with them is appealing, as long as those players don't get in the way or affect them in any way, shape, or form other than existing as little more than a graphic on the screen and some interactive text in a chat window.

That's how the average online gamer is born nowadays. Coming from a gaming world where there's noone to interact with, the in-game community is nonexistant, and nothing can happen that would detract from them 'winning' the game, they're thrust (gently nudged, after being given a cup of warm cocoa?) into the same thing, with a little chat window. They think this is pretty sweet - they can play the game to win all they want. They want watch numbers go up every once in a while, and get a nice little false feeling of accomplishment. They can even fit their character with awesome loot so their numbers will go up even faster, and, as a bonus, they end up looking pretty bitchin'.

To them, they're doing what they want. Wasting away hours of life accomplishing absolutely nothing, but having a good, solid time doing the same thing over and over again, never worrying about the complete lack of substance. This is just online Diablo, after all. Go whack some monsters, get some gear, watch levels go up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Pay a monthly fee for it. Buy an expansion every six months so you can do the same thing on a new island.

Fortunately, UO came out before EQ. That gives us a bit of a head start, and some hope for the future of MMORPGs.

See, what UO was was a community. A living, breathing community. People did good things, people did bad things. People crafted, people fought, people bashed monsters. People interacted heavily. It worked out pretty well, because everyone was forced into the same world with, and get this, different types of people.

It was a dangerous world full of challenges - everything wasn't made easy because the company wanted you to give them more money every month (in fact, quite often if you were to page a GM for help, you were told to STFU and a pre-lubed dildo would arrive at your door with instructions to insert and ride in 6-8 weeks). It had it's ups, and it had it's downs beyond finding your favourite spawn already camped. That gave it feeling. That gave it substance. And when that big, black 12 inch dildo arrived at your door in the form of a bad, buggy patch, you'd punch that fucking monitor with all your might only to be pissed later because you couldn't type your UO password in fast enough with a broken hand.

It was, in fact, the living, breathing community that the original designers had been aiming for. It fell short on some of their expectations, but compared to the games that have followed it, a remarkable job was done.

Greed ruined the party for everyone, though. Origin was gobbled up by Larry Probst like a fat cock, and seeing the success of EQ, it was decided that they could be making more money if they catered completely to those who wanted to choke the substance, feeling, passion and community out of the game so they could hunt yellow swords all day without being bothered.

Trammel came along, and money was made by all. EQ was a complete and utter carebear land, with zero community or passion beyond finding an awesome new piece of loot, but it flew off the fucking shelves because the people buying the boxes had no prior grasp on the intagibles that made an online world great. Of course, now, obviously every game to be released from here on out will be a complete ripoff of EQ. EA decided to take it even further than anyone else and put out a game that's actually a single player game + chat.

Now, obviously, if the entire genre continues on the course it's on currently, which happens to be the "make the most money without any regard to the quality or intangibles of the game" road, it's going to end up in a very, very sad state in a few years. MMORPGs will officially be declared a fad by anyone other than housewives who want to feel like they've been accomplishing something by hitting auto attack, going to change the baby, and coming back with a dead monster at their character's feet.

The overwhelming majority of current MMORPGers have absolutely no respect for the passion that goes beyond the single-player mememe type, or for the type of living word full of challenges that creates the passion that we got a glimpse of in Ultima Online.

Why? Because they're not exposed to it, mostly. They come from single player RPGs and action games and expect the same thing in these games. They get it, all the while hearing about how terrible the old days of UO were from people who got PKed once, decided they weren't in for any kind of challenge and certainly didn't want to attempt to make their way in a challenging world, and went off to either fluff their pillow and go back to sleep or, even worse, pay a monthly fee for a single player game.

Does EQ have it's merits? Absolutely. There's no reason why people can't have a mindless good time and collect items if they want. The problem is that these games have effectively killed what online worlds were shaping up to be. At one point, the future of these games looked completely outstanding. There was nowhere they couldn't go. Now, however, we seem to have hit the ceiling at EQ because noone wants to go for a dip in the icy water. You can tell them "Dude, it's refreshing - just jump in" all you want, but they're not listening. Either because they're one of the people who decided they don't like challenges and don't like a game to have feeling beyond "Awesome! Level 32!", or, because they're one of the people who listens to them on a daily basis and just really doesn't know any better.

While some games, like Darkfall, could start the healing process, I really think it's either too early or too late. Either the entire MMORPG market has made it's decision and aren't interested in living online worlds complete with passion, a brain, a heart, and a challenge - or there are still some newbies that will get tired of the current bullshit that's out there right now and give something like Darkfall a try, only to start a bit of a revolution and make companies decide that the next round of games might be profitable as real online worlds.

It's just too bad Darkfall is seemingly starting to slip with obvious BS lines and a complete slacking off when it comes to community involvement. More importantly, though, they're betraying their vision and the hopes of people who think this genre might still have a fighting chance by giving in and trying to grab some cash by quite possibly doing away with full loot. Full loot is a big deal, as noone wants to PvP a bunch of item whores who never lose their Sword of Faggotry +82, which, obviously, starts the everyone on the "items for teh win!!1" mentality that UO has fallen to. But what's even worse is that they're starting to give in before they've even begun the beta test. Sorry to say folks, but Darkfall is one of the only hopes we have left to begin to break away from the current cycle we're in. If they sell out, which looks more and more possible, we all might as well start using our computers as doorstops and porn downloading devices again.

You can't blame them for getting a little worried, though. Selling out looks like a pretty good option when 90% of the MMORPG audience wouldn't currently consider playing a game with open PvP and full loot. There'll be PKs there, and that should be avoided at all costs. Because those PKs may interfere with my gathering and hoarding, and we can't have that. Besides, PKs are just mindless 14 year olds who get off on ruining someone else's day. Right?

Heh, well.. yeah. Actually, for the most part, yeah. I'd love it to not be the case, but fuck if the average PKer isn't just some fucknut twerp who gets off on knowing you're pissed and taking your stuff.

So, there. I've just validated the carebear argument, right?

Well, no. These people provide a very important aspect of a living, breathing online world. They provide danger, they provide challenge, they can provide surprise. No matter what, they're providing an aspect of feeling. Does it matter what their motives are? They're still doing the same thing. Some people claim to not mind PKs as long as they 'roleplay' a murderer, but I'm sure you'd find yourself equally as pissed if every person to come along and kill you were spouting thee's and thou's.

But, see, that feeling of being pissed was a feeling. It was a negative feeling, sure, but to create a realistic online world you need to take the good with the bad. That's part of what makes it a world and not a simply a game. That negative feeling not only set you back 500 gold, but it etched a memory in your mind. It made you remember the name of that player to see if you could extract revenge at a later date. It made you go to the bank and actually talk to other players about your experience, and hear the experiences they've had. And when your friend got on, you would explain your situation to him and go out to find the offending player to see if you could kick his ass. More than anything, it infused emotion into your online world experience.

This took things beyond "Hey dude.. let's go camp the 50th level spawn for four hours and see if we can get an awesome drop so we can... go camp the 51st level spawn for five hours..".

A sense of accomplishment in character progression is very important, and can provide a very good hook to keep players coming back for more, but what's more important is making sure that these elements aren't the only ones included in every single game that's put out. Unless, of course, you're just out to make money and destroy the potential that online worlds could have had.

I'm not saying PKs and PvP make an online world, I'm just saying you can't make an online world without PKs and PvP.



UO Screenshot Contest

As it was promised quite some time ago, I'll finally put up the winners of the UO screen shot contest. I got quite a few entries, so it'll be a Top 10 instead of a Top 5.

Some of these files are ludicrously huge, but I'm presenting them as is. Mainly because I'm pissed that I got so many fucking sets of ten 500k screenshots in my mailbox when I specifically went out of my way to request that noone did that. Water under the bridge, but you're all a bunch of fucktards.

Drumroll, please:

10. Banned again - In this screenshot, our friend ever so articulately describes the frustrations many of us have felt when dealing with the Origin Systems Inc. customer service.

9. Sing It Bitch - Our friendly TLC heroes give a villain one last chance for redemption.

8. Ghost - Yes, this does deserve #8. Note the text in the bottom right hand corner - it makes the whole thing.

7. Tell Off - In this capture, another of our heroes eloquently voices his frustrations with customer support.

6. Tiger Fai - Funny. Funnier when you've actually stolen a newbie's iron ore for kicks. Sent in by a fan of Spleenshots.

5. Never Again - Speaks for itself. Fight the power, brother, but I don't think they're listening.

4. Tamer - Come on, this is funny as shit.

3. Captain Dirtnap - Another favourite from a fan of Spleenshots.

2. Dies - One of these things does not belong.

1. Fishing - Sent in by Loko. Daddy's clear favourite.

Honourable mentions go out to these two pictures. Since I got so many "mass" this or that pictures, I thought I'd pick a Bob vs. Fred war - and since I also got several shots of corpses in interesting poses, I thought I'd post that one. It also happens to be from the TLC site.

Now - if for any reason all of this gets your UO juices flowing again, don't go running back to what UO has become. Check out what a friend of mine and I have been putting time into for the last few weeks or so. Keep an eye on it as the website will be completed when we get closer to releasing the shard to the public.