Oh, Like You Have Better Wishes

In cooperation with the Make-A-Wish foundation, Blizzard bumps a kid with a terminal brain tumor up to level 70, clears Black Temple for them, adds a quest written by him, complete with an NPC that has his voice… oh, and gives him a crossbow that shoots fire. Seems appropriate.

“I’d like to be paid to test and play the game and test weapons, but I don’t think I meet the age requirements,” he said. “I’m only 10.”

I move they be called the “Worlds That Fly” awards

Two relentless self-promoters manage to get an entire CNN.com story.

The academy will accept nominations on its Web site for categories like “Best Virtual World,” “Best Virtual Fashion Designer” and “Most Dynamic Virtual Economy.”

The winners will be announced in February and will receive virtual statues at “live” ceremonies in “Second Life” and “Entropia Universe.”

I remember when virtual worlds meant something else entirely.

Community Relations Is Hard

For those following the Tseric saga, he was apparently let go/resigned this week.

For those not following the Tseric saga:

Tseric was a forum moderator/community person for World of Warcraft. His main job involved gathering feedback from players on the official forums. There are words for jobs like this. Note: there are also other words.

Late on Sunday, Tseric gave what I like to call the Roy Batty Speech. This is a speech that everyone connected to a community on the internet gives at some point if they either (a) lose perspective about their life causing rampaging self-pity, (b) undergo a significant amount of stress causing rampaging self-pity, or (c) get so drunk they have an attack of rampaging self-pity but unfortunately not so drunk as to be unable to type into a web browser. (I have given several variations of this over time.) The Roy Batty Speech is something wildly dramatic, overwrought and self-indulgent. Note that Roy Batty had an excuse for being wildly dramatic and overwrought: He was a robot, he was Rutger Hauer, and he was dying. Unless you are a dying robot named Rutger Hauer, you don’t have enough reason to give the Roy Batty Speech. Tseric’s version of the Roy Batty Speech is preserved forever, because this is the Internet.

Posting impassionately, they say you don’t care.

Posting nothing, they say you ignore.

Posting with passion, you incite trolls.

Posting fluff, you say nonsense.

Post with what facts you have, they whittle down with rationale.

There is no win.

There is only slow degredation.

Take note. It is the first and only time you’ll see someone in my position make that position.

You can be me when I’m gone.

It went on for a while. Apparently posting on the forums has nothing to do with being teargassed in anti-globalization protests, just in case, you know, you were unsure. Also, you don’t understand what it’s like dealing with forums. Also, trolls suck.

The dirty not-quite-a-secret is that everyone even tenuously connected to the oversight of online games, or other internet communities, have said much these same words in various combinations. The difference is that we didn’t actually, you know, tell the customers these words. We didn’t give The Roy Batty Speech while we were on the clock. Because while blowing off steam is important, and necessary, it’s also something you by necessity do behind closed doors. Otherwise it’s not just venting steam, it’s merely venting. And that has its own connotation, and it’s an unpleasant one.

And that’s why Tseric is “pursuing other opportunities elsewhere”. Because part of having the fancy coloration in your name when you post is understanding that, no, you can’t just dive into the muck and root around with everyone else. You lost that privilege when you got the fancy colored name. You have to be different. You have to set the standard. And yes, that means you take a lot of unjustified punches. It comes with the territory of, as the Penny Arcade comic put it, eating bees. Sometimes the bees sting, and what are you going to do? Dude, you took a job eating bees. It will happen. And you’ll bitch about it to your friends off the clock constantly – but not on the clock. Not to the customers paying your way. It’s not how communities are run.

Anyway, it’s not really that important in the scheme of things. Well, it’s important to Tseric, since he’s LFG, but for the rest of us, it’s just another inappropriate context for the Roy Batty Speech. And it’ll happen again. People being human and all.

Many Dramatic Arm Gestures Were Used In The Making Of This Interview

Michael Zenke interviews the always quotable Paul Barnett of Warhammer Online.

EA basically means that we have a ton of money. And we have more resources than we did before. So when Mythic was making it alone, it effectively had a reservoir of cash, and it had a sort of marketing, and sort of resources and effectively had to make the best game it possibly could with that reality. With EA, and their bountiful riches, and their gold bullion that they send to us every week on the heads of slaves …

Sigil gone?

Rumor mill goes into overdrive.

As someone who’s been through rounds of layoffs: if that happened, it’s pretty crappy.

As Damion commented in the F13 thread, closing the company down to liquidate outstanding debts and then sending offer letters to the employees left standing is a fairly standard procedure… it’s what happened when Ubisoft acquired Wolfpack Studios. Hopefully SOE can pick up most of the guys working on the game; no one likes abandoning their baby.

(Edit: It’s official. More comments by John Smedley are here.)

Remember: These Folks Are Professionals At Industry Analysis

BusinessWeek reports breathlessly that Second Life may have some new competition: get this – people are playing online games not called Second Life! I know, I don’t believe it either. But it’s true!

Suddenly it looks as if Second Life, that 3D virtual world that last year became a favorite hangout for hard-core techies and trend-watching corporations, has competition. A new crop of online multiplayer games is coming, targeting a broader audience with simpler navigation and customization than Second Life. These games also rule out lewd behavior.

It’s a wacky thing, going up against Second Life, but it just! might! work!

Also in other mainstream media accomplishments: according to Time, Philip Rosedale, head of Second Life’s Linden Labs, is one of the 100 most important people in the world, edging out Kim Jong Il AND Lindsay Lohan. The justice, I tell you. The SPACE JUSTICE.

(Businessweek mockery nicked from Alice)

Blizzard to Arena teams: GG nubs, lrn2play

Exploding on the forums today: In preperation for flying the top-tier Arena teams to California for an e-sports frenzy, Blizzard apparently disqualified many of them for account sharing.

A writer from one of those teams had this to say:

Preparing to book travel for the qualified teams, Blizzard checked their real names against the names and addresses listed on their account info, disqualifying players whose information did not match up regardless of the reason. About a week ago, teams were contacted if they had information that did not correspond. Shortly after that, an eSports admin contacted teams saying there may be some hope, but two days ago it was confirmed: the disqualified players would stay that way. Of the top eight teams, a whopping twelve players were removed on a total of five different squads.

And why were those accounts shared? Levelling is hard, y0.

Right now, practicing is a daunting proposition for any team. It’s a huge time investment to prepare a character for arena play, so if a player wants to switch classes, try something new, or practice different set-ups, it’s impossible without sharing characters.

“The account thing is such a huge barrier to people even getting into WoW as an eSport. In order to practice, you have to put in such a huge amount of time commitment before you can even begin,” says Pandemic’s Quinn, “and when people kinda take a short cut to get to that point (buy/borrow an account) they can’t even participate in one of the bigger tournaments.”

In other news, when people kinda take a shortcut to get to competitive sprinting, they can’t even participate in the Olympics. What’s up with that?

Snarkiness aside, here is the disconnect made manifest: PvPers dislike levelling. I know, it’s a crazy concept, but work with me here.

As a game designer: If you design a game around character development, and then offer a sub-game/side-game/elder game around PvP, don’t be surprised when people try to race straight to what they consider the fun stuff. Instead, make channels for them to get there quickly; if possible, leverage their desire to get to the cheese somehow, possibly through rapid alternate advancement within the game world competitively (PvP ladders or the like).

As a “eSport competitor”: dude. You just collectively announced you were unable to level a character in World of Warcraft. I mean, come on. It’s freaking World of Warcraft. The easiest game to level in, ever, and you are collectively whining that you, the best of the best, the hard-edged core, training on the ragged edge of PvP mastery… yeah, following a powerlevelling guide is too hard. Pardon while everyone else snickers. It’ll be a while before they stop.