In the spirit of community service, I think I’ll start posting some helpful tidbits of AC news, emulating the reporting styles of well-respected journalists!

A Shadow Falls Across Dereth

Whilst awakening from my slumber, I received an odd and foreboding message!

00.00.10.2298.r Portal:compiled Fri Mar 10 11:28:58 2000 : Release
Welcome to Asheron’s Call

What can this chilling phrase mean?  Only time will tell!  Stay tuned for details…

Enough of that.  Why haven’t I updated?  Quite simply, I haven’t wanted to.  There has been a lack of anything really interesting happening in my playing life that hasn’t already been adequately covered here.  How interesting can it be to once again hear how people, ordinarily assholes in real life, pay 10 bucks a month in order to portray an asshole online?  Is it really fascinating to see the count of people who have tried to get me killed by tuskers only to perish themselves in the attempt?  (Okay it is sorta cool, but you had to be there.)  Does anyone really give a rat’s ass that I saved up 2 million xp, got bored and bought 9 hit points?  Really, nothing much is happening.  However, in the wake of Allen Grey‘s announcement of "Musashi’s long departure from AC", I figured I might as well take a break from the greatest RPG ever and post a bunch of crap which didn’t really seem all that interesting when it was happening, and in retrospect, seems even more boring.

 

The Evils of eBay

March 14

Your recent news section told of two recent instances of players placing their characters for sale on Ebay, including the $3,000 sale of Kymil Nimeson’s account.

Frankly, I think it’s bad for the game for 58th level characters to be operated by some loser who simply bought an account. While People can do whatever you want, I think it speaks very poorly of your website that you showcase this practice as if it’s what we all aspire to. I don’t think you need to give any limelight to these fools.

Max Longstreet

March 15

I believe that news related to AC is news. I just report things related to the game. You don’t see CNN filtering news about Kosovo do you?

Caeryn Dryad

March 15

This has got to be one of the stupidest arguments I have ever heard made about any subject. This isn’t Kosovo; This is an on-line roleplaying game. I happened to be a member of the press, and the argument that "it’s happening so we must report it" does not apply to every arena.  Events of world importance are one thing; people selling their accounts on E-bay are another. Furthermore, the COD website presents an example of a COD columnist (the Pyreal Rat) selling their account, albeit as sort of a joke. If this doesn’t represent a tacit endorsement, or at least acceptance, of the practice of account selling, then I don’t know what does. If you had any guts, you would be condemning the practice, and calling on Turbine to refuse to accept a change in account payer name. To be honest, I don’t know if this last step is even possible, but it should be explored.

Max Longstreet-Frostfell

March 16

Some people believe that online gaming is merely that, a game that is played online and that no form of monetary transaction should occur. Verdant [sic] (EQ) agrees with this principle and has a policy against selling items. However, OSI (UO) and AC (Turbine) does not agree with this. In fact I recall they once said that by allowing people to buy accounts it enables those who are busy and do not have time to enter the game without going through the process of building their chars. With this in mind, we also adopt the stance Turbine has taken towards buying games, its the gamers affair and we should not actively condemn it. To conclude, there are people in this game who believe that characters can be sold and are considered property and others who think that the game is just a game. Obviously you think of it as just a game. Kymil MAY have thought of it as a investment and the person who bought the account certainly had no problem paying for it. So we know where THEY stand. So your opinion is all well and fine, don’t impose it on the others who disagree.

Caeryn Dryad

I get all sorts of dumb email forwarded to me.  Most of it is amusing, and I don’t publish.  Suffer.  But this exchange got me thinking again about the phenomenon of virtual property auctioning for legal tender.  It appens in UO.  It happens in EQ.  It happens in AC.  There have been plenty of other pedantic articles about the phenomenon and how it might possibly relate to the situation in Kosovo, so there’s not a whole lot of need to rehash.  However, attaching a real money value to virtual property and avatars has some interesting long-term consequences that I haven’t seen published, only bantered around for about 5 minutes in game before the next tusker spawns to kill the annoying guy who has been following me around for a while.

Is an AC account an investment with a monentary value?  If you endorse the idea of selling accounts for cash, you have to support this idea.  It’s not a far leap to then conclude that Asheron’s Call is an arena of competing investors, each trying to increase the value of his account through the accumulation of experience and phat lewt.  When you give that nice pair of leggings to a vassal you grabbed off an Olthoi Noble (before they got loot-nerfed), you aren’t just doing him a favor or showing your support; you’re improving his account’s dollar value at the detriment of your own.  This gives pause.  It also sheds some light on the idiots who hang around town and spam for free stuff all the time.  Or, for that matter, the morons who want other people to level their characters for them.

 

 

 

It also makes me glad that I basically gave up the allegiance game.  Are the players of Kymil’s former vassals now able to file suit against Kymil’s former player for a share of his $3000, since Kymil was one of the biggest monarchs on Frostfell and garnered a fair chunk of experience from them?  If he DID think of his account as an investment, maybe his vassals should have been told that before they signed up for the ride.  Perhaps before entering an allegiance, a patron and a vassal should work up a contract explaining that the vassal’s work towards improving the saleability of his patron’s account (through experience) is to be balanced by the patron improving his vassal’s own market value (through loot supply), thus avoiding any legal entanglements that may ensue later.  Personally, when I see the need for legal documents beyond the EULA nobody reads, I consider the game too much trouble.

On the pro side for selling, as Kel Riever puts it, "by taking money from the criminally retarded you are doing God’s work".  It does seem fairly stupid to buy a high level account.  The only real difference is that instead of fighting stuff and selling junk at low levels through mid levels through high levels and seeing how it’s all sort of the same, you now start right at the top, fighting the same sort of crap for a while until you get bored.  The "interest curve" flattens way out, as you don’t get the experience of struggling through the world, checking out the various areas you have to in order to advance, working towards better abilities and skills, and making personal bonds along the way… really the ONLY thing which is worthwhile in an MMORPG.  Far from a process which "enables those who are busy and do not have time to enter the game without going through the process of building their chars", it’s sort of like paying someone for their saved game of StarCraft, saved just before Tassadar demolishes the Overmind with the valiant sacrifice of his own life.  Oops, gave it away there… but hey, you didn’t have to give me money in order for me to completely ruin the ending for you.  By the way, the chick in The Crying Game is really a guy.

In addition, there’s something to consider: it is not necessary to be a monstrous killing machine in order to have fun in Asheron’s Call.  There are players I personally know who made up possibly the suckiest characters in the world (from a numbercrunching perspective), and are still level 16-20, having played since release, and are probably having more fun than I am.  If the game was only fun starting at level 50 (a fallacy which fails even in the level 50-obsessed world of EQ), we would all have started there.

Understandably, game publishers have kept sorta mum about the whole thing, as it obviously does more good for them to keep getting the 10 bucks a month for an account which would otherwise be closed in boredom.  They also can’t really endorse it officially, as then the eventual process of being mired in legal hogwash from a bunch of disgruntled kids who feel they got gypped on eBay gets even closer than before. Verant has come out strong on the issue of account selling, but I personally feel this to be more of a manifestation of "Cranky" John Smedley’s apparent mania than a decisive step towards an industry standard policy on the matter of dollars for sprites.  After having to back down from their "we can scan your hard drive and ban you whenever we feel like it" announcement, they have to have some gimpy thing to lash out at players about.

For those of you who are still comfortable with the idea of AC as an investment, I got some advice from my broker on the matter:

The buying of high level AC accounts is what we on Wall Street call a "bubble".  This is where the price of your investment soars, and then somewhere down the road it "bursts" when everyone realizes that what they own is really worthless and they wasted their money.  In this instance, it happens when people stop playing Asheron’s Call in favor of the next stupid online game 2 years from now.  But don’t worry; rest assured that people will be blowing their money in that game too.  Sell your matty coats now while they’re hot!

I have consulted a financial advisor, and an assessment of my own account is in progress.  I  plan to use it to secure a loan from my bank.  For those of you also interested in this service, please contact Kynn, who will perform a cursory examination of your account and give you a report approximately one week after he gets access to your login name and password.  8P

What High Level Guys Do For Fun

 

 

 

Think about this conversation being the high point of your day when you send me your $5000 check for my login information.

The Greatest Gift of All

You may not believe this, but sometimes I become jaded about the nature of players.  Yes, I cease to see them as my generous and well-meaning co-shareholders in this great big crazy mutual fund called Asheron’s Call and begin to think that maybe they might not have my best interests at heart.  Fortunately, someone comes along and restores my faith from time to time.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Galasdor for being that special person.

 

I was out in the south Dires, replenishing my stat buffs (which, for the uninitiated, wear off twice as fast as protections and skill increases), wishing I had a ready pool of stamina to draw from in order to ease my task.  Apparently seeing my trouble, Galasdor took action and, without a word, set off and got the attention of a friendly Tusker Guard, nature’s own stamina bank, and led it back to me.  As a further act of selflessness, he then logged out right behind me, to ensure that the Tusker would stay near me, where I needed it the most!  Scarcely believing my good luck, I drew stamina from it several times, finished my routines, then dispatched it quickly and painlessly.  Shortly thereafter, Galasdor reappeared.  I was about to thank him, but he looked confused about something for a moment, then ran off before I could say a word.  My only regret was that he had only brought one, but who am I to be greedy?

I forgot about it until later I found a couple of corpses of a young man who had met his demise in the black hills.  I paged him to let him know what was going on.

 

 

 

 

A trend appeared within the allegiance.  But how could it be that someone would be resentful of the gift of a Tusker Guard?  Was it even possible that… perish the thought… a Tusker Guard might be used for less-than-honorable purposes?  Maybe Archibald could explain it…

 

 

Ah, he was having such a good time I couldn’t bug him with any silly questions.

Meaningless Thing That Made Me Laugh A Lot

And Now Back to Building My Portfolio…

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