Monday, July 30, 2012

Beware of Criminals & Slumping in-game Support.

Sunday, it's been officially 12 years of play for me!

I started not long after Tram came to be.  A long time fan of Ultima, I had no interest in this online version that gave us a world of virtue ruled by murderers and criminals.  Those criminals were more about tricks, not about scams.  I don’t know what ‘the creator’ was thinking, but I wasn’t playing that game.  I waited.  Then soon enough, I loved the online world and making friends and playing with people all over the world.  It wasn’t so easy at first... with a weak computer, but I still had fun and collecting gold was a big challenge, far from today.

It wasn’t long before I was dealing with the real criminal element inside the UO world.  The cyber bullies.  The scammers, hackers, thieves, and general jerks that turn a good thing sour for so many.  We had wonderful in-game support then, but it was still up to the player to keep clear of the criminals.  People trying to sell houses that they didn’t own... that was a big thing.  Some actually played into the part while scamming... some acted like they were the true owner.  Many people lost a fortune this way.  The same thing could be said about sudden rare artifacts.  When stone furniture was new, some jerk tried selling me an extremely “rare” stone chair that was crafted only seconds before.  It never seamed to end.  My first house, a small marble shop, on Atlantic... 1.2 million and that took a lot of effort to buy.  You couldn’t find free houses!  Now you can't give a small marble shop away, but it was a different world.

As I started welcoming newer players into our game world and starting the seeds that would become the Red & Purple, I would warn others of these dangers other players would bring into tram.  I even acted as a housing broker to make sure houses were safe to buy, more acting like a real life housing agent.  I saw a lot!  I saved a lot of people a lot of heartache.  In those days... months saving up for a small house?  People would end up quitting over a single foolish moment.  I would also warn the young ones to stay away from a path of being foolish.  I would say “You never know who your ripping off... maybe a staffer... maybe a game master.”  One time, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair when a young friend reported “I should have listened to you.” then told me how he stole from the wrong player that turned out to be a Game-Master.

The biggest warning I said then... I’ll say again now:  A huge warning that you are dealing with an in-game criminal is in how ‘aggressive’ they are.  The “rules of conduct” are a little on the obnoxious side, if you ever actually tried to read them before checking that you agree.  Some of the rules are extremely clear.  You will see the aggressive criminals using disposable new accounts because they know they risk being banned every time they are out breaking the rules.  These people think it's “their right” to break the RoC.  Using illegal 3rd party scripts, running their scams, doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing.  That aggressiveness should be your warning!  Do not do business with them.  The many staff teams we’ve had have worked a lifetime to plug every hole these criminals fine... and yet it never stops.

I never understood cyber-bullies.  These cowards that hide behind a keyboard, say and do things they would never get away with doing in real life.  The staff is not saintly, sometimes a bad seed will show itself.  I had a bad run in with a player who turned out to be a Game-Master as well, but this one attacked and harassed me.  Abusing his GM powers, I was able to get his boss interested.  This personal attack wasn’t unique.  Others have been corrupt.  Extremely bad attitude problems when coming into contact with players.  Fabricating very unique items to sell.  There was even a time where a group of “staff favorites” had access to an area the rest of us didn’t.  Many got into trouble.  Corruption is alive and well.  Being stabbed in the back by people who are here for us... it happens.  Even today.

Reporting criminals today?  It's sure not like the old days.  Nameless cookie-cutter game-master responses claiming they are “investigating” the issue.  It's bull to the 25th power!  We can only do so much to help support our fellow players, our friends, and our community... without staff help.  So far, Mystic, only seems to have 1 staffer who cares.  It's a real shame.  Even though EA doesn’t want to put UO in the retail market where people can see it, they don’t want to hear complaints, they also don’t seam to care our ranks are ever shrinking.  Atlantic is still highly populated.  It's just so amazing that the in-game support doesn’t respond... time after time after time... after time, to the same issues.

I would personally like to thank the only helpful staffer I’ve seen in the last couple years, Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong... who did a wonderful job on our town banner.  And I would also like to give the thumbs down to our game-master staff.  You guys need to improve if we are going to see a 16th anniversary!  15 is just around the bend.  :-)  And rock on to everyone in our community that pays and plays.  We are the true heart of Ultima.  They need to remember that.  hehe

* Also... Check out the area that used to be the old Blackthron's Castle, north Brit.  A NEW design is in its place.