Hello, I’m AvatarAcid. I’m the InsaneMembrane. The above image was created by myself and tweeted out on March 8th 2013. I had been following Richard Garriott’s UltimateRPG countdown and the information around it for some time with great anticipation. You see I am quite a large fan of the Ultima Series, and always will be, and all through my childhood I could rely on the Ultima Series to provide me with new challenges and adventures. Ultima provided a chance to bond with family and friends, enjoy a great story, and challenge my younger self to think about some of the moral issues the game presented me with through Richard’s wily ways. Then in March 2013 Ultima was coming back. One UltimateRPG to rule them all!
Back then the concept of Shroud of the Avatar was still pretty much a Single Player game with very limited Multi Player options and an allowance for dynamic content, like having the same housing and crafted items across all instances of the game. The game instances were also to be hosted on individual PCs spread across as many geographical locations as there were groups of 12-50 players, which would have greatly benefited me where I am living today due to infrastructure limitations on the internet. Having a unique and rare experience that I could enjoy myself and happily share with others also, a decent way to tackle lag due to living in the internet pits of the world, and it was a brand new Ultima successor – Couldn’t be happier! So happy that I jumped in with a Citizen pledge early on which was around ten times more than I had ever spent on any game in my life of buying games for myself. Later I upgraded to Knight and now fifteen times more than I’d ever paid, and while I know that is a big thing to me it is just a drop in the sea when compared to those of you who have spent tens of thousands.
It was good for a while, but I started to notice a few pretty boisterous personalities starting to push for things early on. Ultima Online things, MultiPlayer, and MMO things. On top of that, some of the users were putting forward further processes which outlined goals to segregate community so some could rise above others based on the price point in which they themselves elected to pay for the game. At the same time several really unsavoury personalities started to arise also both in IRC and on the Forum which carried with them more than a hint of racism as well as harassment. Some even openly so! At first these things were properly reported by myself and others. Yet nothing was done and in fact some of the people whom pushed back were on the opposite side from the SotA moderators, since yes, more than one of the Moderators were persons of interest when it came to some of the issues above like racism and harassment.
The big cratering came for me came in an incident where Owain had told moderator UltimaCodex(WtF Dragon) that he can’t have an opinion. I would bet good money nobody out there, not even some of the people involved in creating the Ultima Series, know as much about Ultima as WtF Dragon and the Ultima Codex site contributors do. I had always followed Ultima Aiera then the UC and appreciated all the work they put in to keep the Ultima Series legacy alive and well. WtF Dragon has the right to his opinion and it matters not what his status in the community is and that goes for everyone else in the community as well, yet that sentiment was not seemingly accepted or encouraged. I chimed in and told Owain he could “GTFO” if he didn’t like that someone else had an opinion.
WtF being a moderator correctly informed me that speaking like that is probably going a bit too far which told me all I needed to know, and that is that the most powerful and in your face voices had already gained a beachhead in the community. This problem wasn’t going to be solved without help, but what could I do about it? Should I speak out as AvatarAcid and have my ass handed to me with my account hanging over my head if they decided to ban me? Mind you nothing quite like that had just yet happened to my knowledge but I could still envision it taking place due to how everything was starting to shape up there, the writing was on the wall. Why should I risk my account which was now linked to a thousand dollar donation in order to deal with things that already shouldn’t have been allowed to establish prominence there?
It soon became more. The game development was going astray, forum personalities including moderators were insulting and driving out the typically quiet and more non-aggressive people like me(usually!) to the point where even Developers fear posting, telling them they are useless and stupid, and then there is the question I still ask myself now; What is Shroud of the Avatar actually trying to be and how do I get my feedback out in an environment as confrontational and unguided as that which exists on the Shroud of the Avatar forum? Well I did exactly the same thing Richard Garriott did with the Avatar and created a schism in my personality, my own little personal Guardian! Meet the InsaneMembrane.
I decided to fight fire with fire and parody myself in the situation with positions which would otherwise be mutually exclusive with AvatarAcid’s. People wanted to argue from a point of privilege? PKs want to turn SotA away from an epic single player tale and into a giant MMO UO2 where they camp gathering sites? Moderators not calling nor taking care of obvious rotten apples? That is a job for the InsaneMembrane! Carving up pledges into Founder and Royal Founders, water lot restrictions, Player Owned Towns, unlimited instanced POTs, death of the Dev+ forum and all promises that come with, failing at combat and dumping it, Devs lowering themselves to InsaneMembrane’s level and abusing people on steam…after they ask for positive reviews to be instituted. Madness! There is much more, the one that hit home the most for me was ending the croudsource efforts before I could even get into it. I wanted to do more than just pay for this game, I wanted to HELP it succeed. I was told I could, so what happened to that sentiment and why could I now not? Well InsaneMembrane jumped in and tried to tackle these hard issues and I would like to think he, or I, or we did so not just with the self in mind, but with the rest of the community in mind also. Only InsaneMembrane could do this because InsaneMembrane was unknown and had no leg in the game, nothing to lose to try and get to the source of all these problems and perhaps get some answers. What I didn’t ever expect to happen though was that as time went on and more and more things came out of the woodwork, something else came into the spotlight… Portalarium itself.
I learned through Richard Garriott and Ultima both, you need to challenge yourself, challenge others, to push the envelope! And so I did. That said, I always try to keep to comments related to stuff taking place on the forum and other social media sites directly linked to SotA. I haven’t ever gone after anyone’s personal life or sought out information other than that unless was related to Ultima/SotA community in some way.
At first the warnings and bans to the InsaneMembrane account were cute. But it became clear at some point, probably right around the InsaneMembrane account getting perma-banned for the second time(lul) for pointing out leaks in the Dev+ forum, that I could no longer just blame the community personalities and moderators themselves. Why weren’t the mods moderating the forum properly? Who is looking after the moderators themselves? What policy does that person have and where did they even get it from? My comedy and opinion then turned towards Portalarium and the Devs. Most of whom on a personal level I think are great by the way so I was conflicted about even having to go down this path! But a spade is a spade and business is business, if InsaneMembrane was going to continue on the logical path of finding all Insanity and calling it out, he would need to address the core of these issues. If you aren’t upsetting some people, you aren’t really being brave. If everyone likes you, then you have never said anything true, anytime you speak the truth someone’s going to hate you.
This continued for some time and for the longest time I felt pretty alone in doing this. Statistics sure told me that people were reading here, but I didn’t know who they were a lot of the time or what they thought. Eventually comments started to come in though and I was certainly not alone. The Shroud Unlimited Forum was created by suggestion of a commenter to facilitate even more conversation with the Orphans of Shroud. More and more information was then exchanged and noticed by the many more eyes that were now on the SotA forum personalities and Developer team. Some of them, really, really, didn’t like it this.
Some of them really didn’t like it to the point of committing serious crimes to get at me, going above and beyond the call of duty. To the best of my knowledge on or around August 22nd 2015 someone paid to gather information about me and my family and began sending it to people that InsaneMembrane has “insulted.” I know of at least three people who have seen this information now and one of them indicated it was being “put out there to certain folks” and with the amount of people InsaneMembrane has parodied, you can bet there is more! This included everything from my name, my spouse’s name, our kids names, addresses, work places, phone numbers, passport numbers. I was away for the weekend and at first I pulled back to think, then after about a month of reflection I came to the conclusion that I would sell my Shroud of the Avatar account for whatever I could get for it.
Just to point one very simple thing out here now; some people say that I have been the most toxic asshole to have ever graced SotA’s sphere of influence, yet I have never and would never do anything like that to someone. But one of you in the Shroud of the Avatar community would and did, so ponder that one for a moment everyone and be warned when dealing with what is left of the Shroud of the Avatar “community” under Portalarium’s “guidance,” especially if you are posting on social media with your personal accounts. They came for me, they will come for you too.
Why did I wait until someone started to conduct personal harassment against my family to sell? Why did I put as much money in to community related projects by community members as I did into SotA itself? My love for Ultima and for those who love Ultima, and what Shroud of the Avatar could have become got the best of me. So much so that I felt the need to create the InsaneMembrane to defend the Honour of Ultima in only a way that InsaneMembrane could. But it had become very costly and too costly for many reasons; Too costly personally, through threats to my family. Too costly to play, everything you can think of is being added to the add-on store and I think a grand should have been enough to buy me some nice frigging clothes right? Too costly not to play, the game has been two years+ now and still being derailed by projects never intended to be included in the MMO it has now become, there really is no game(not that I know what kind of game it is or will be any more anyway). This… Is not the UltimateRPG that I dreamt of and it is too rich for my blood on every front. I could have spent thousands on this game also, but apparently I spotted things that others didn’t early on and it saved me a lot of money. I fold.
Not all the way out though, for like many, many, others I was silly enough to try and connect Steam to SotA and now I’m stuck with the $45 Adventurer Pledge. So it looks like I will still be able to jump in and test things out from time to time if I ever break a leg and get holed up for a month or something. Dumping the RF account is a big load off and I thank the community member who purchased it for almost what I paid for it. I still do hope Shroud of the Avatar will succeed but I really can’t understand or see how it possibly could live up to the UltimateRPG I dreamed Richard Garriott was going to produce. At this point I am not even sure if Richard Garriott is even going to like the end product, it is so far from what he described initially!
InsaneMembrane isn’t going anywhere for the moment. My blog will still be up, I will keep posting updates. Shroud Unlimited Forum will still be up and I will be there to provide a place for EVERYONE to come and talk candidly about Shroud of the Avatar and anything else on your mind while you’re there.
Do bad things happen to good people? Most of the time, no, they don’t. Bad things happen usually to those of us who put ourselves in a situation or environment where the path to Virtue is clouded at best and disregarded at worst.
Not long ago the guild of MGT470 felt it necessary to issue a public apology, it seems that one of their members was engaged in relentlessly trolling and attacking other players via “racist language” – The apology came from enderandrew who felt it necessary to alleviate the guild’s responsibility somewhat by indicating it was a new player that did this and not reflective of the Guild’s overall beliefs.
You can find the apology here:
I do know for a fact, this stuff has been taking place for a bit now and it isn’t the first time it happened. As do others, as shown here by the first comment in the thread by Golem Dragon:
“not the first time someone in MGT has done this…. at least this time there is a public apology aimed at whoever was affected…”
– Golem Dragon
Unfortunatly it seems that MGT470 are unable to prevent this activity from occuring, they either seem to have their members grief others or get grief from others directly. This isn’t a terrible surprise, because management of the Guild isn’t exactly stellar. This can be reflected in a post going back to Jan 26th by their GM DavenRock about banning people and controls for housing of all things.
You can clearly see that DavenRock thinks that I am behind this, and just generally very paranoid:
“I will not name names, you may or may not know who i’m talking about. He has a whole website devoted to smashing big names in the community and praises himself on it. ANYWAY, this person will most definitely be harrassing us and trolling our members in-game, and I often wonder if he’s got a dummy account that he’s parading around with. For all we know he could be in our guild this very moment, parading around with the MGT logo, trolling good natured folks and pissing everyone off, while maintaining his harassing approach.”
This is pretty funny. MGT470 seem to still be gun shy from an incident where I infiltrated their guild and meetings from so long ago, see that here. This is very funny, because I had help from an internal MGT470 member to gain that access and information and that leads right back to where we started with the question of do bad things happen to good people? Why would someone inside MGT470 give me information, why would they be so frustrated with their own guild, why would unsavoury people be joining their guild? Maybe because they are a bunch of ass clowns and invite it? Nawwww can’t be them, so it must be me. Oh, even if it isn’t me, it is, see this quote:
Let us address some of their members as Daven was so kind to print out a list for us.
Kvow – Rift’s End Leader
mgt makez me lulz
Isaiah – PvP Leader
General all around twat, thinks he is in law school or economics as every other comment is about bringing legal action to someone or some thing.
mgt makez me lulz
EnderAndrew – PvE Leader
Massive fan boy, but has it’s advantages because he is one of the few who just shut the fuck up put his head down and did something to benefit everyone.
mgt makez me lulz
Bt Tor – RP Leader
mgt makez me lulz
Lollie – Crafting Leader
I haven’t yet taken a good look into this one. Fake gamer girl for sure, so fake she even has no shirt in her forum avatar lulz.
mgt makez me lulz
DavenRock – GM
mgt makez me lulz
DavenRock, cut jizz stains like Izzy the Legal loose. You’ll have a lot fewer issues. Just review his posts man for the past two weeks alone, constant arguing between him and your former member Asguard, dickhead comments, legal speak, many other things. I’d suggest the same for Kvow but I know he bought our- er…I mean… your Player Owned Town, so you really can’t at this point.
In a place which is devoid of mostly good Virtue, you will find only the opposite of Spirituality and Humility. To answer the question do bad things happen to good people I started with, I would say that the right things happen to exactly the right people. I am available for a guest sermon, Priestess.
Our friends at MGT470 show no signs of slowing down, the dribble sliding down their face from the corners of their mouths continues to reach its way directly into the Shroud of the Avatar forum somehow. This example is no different. The post, and maybe thread I forget, was removed it seems.
“I think griefers have a mild personality disorder. ISIS would be an example of when that disorder grows.”
MGT ARE USED CONDOMS
– Kvow [MGT]
So there you have it, MGT has basically linked PvP groups to ISIS. This is far far more inflammatory than linking, oh say, Crafters to Carebears which by the way on the SotA forum…. GETS YOU FUCKING BANNED. I assume Kvow is now banned right?
Evolving MGT470 Guild Logo
Sometimes these articles could write themselves! Damn Lori decided to hold a public contest to give away some minor rewards, all you had to do was enter it by creating a photoshop image with the stock she provided. Not only did she reward a member of MGT470, she rewarded that greedy money loving carpetbagging assbutter Isaiah of all people!
LULZ. My insane brains are actually divided on this one. Damn Lori was herself a member of MGT470, but she has been pretty quiet about that after MGT470’s repeated fuckups exposed on the SotA forum and the MGT470 forum by myself some months ago. Perhaps Damn Lori saw the better part of wisdom and put a condom between her and the rest of those fuckin carriers. I can’t decide if she gave it to Isaiah because he might try to start a MGT470 class action lawsuit against her if he didn’t win or if she just did it out of pity for him.
I mean shit, a public contest is held and the reward goes to a member of the same guild as the organiser and he happens to be the biggest money driven greedy twat in the community! This shit is gold guys, thanks for making my day!
Not breaking news, and not the end of the story. In their latest ill conceived wet dream, Portalarium endeavored to create “The Council of Scribes.” This is the second group of non-staff and non-professionals, third if you count the useless Moderators on the Forum, to rule over the rest of the player base. The first being College of Arms, which I haven’t addressed in much detail yet, but I haven’t forgotten about those neighborhood watch colour coding fuckheads.
The old Ultima Series games had a lot of books in game with content which did enrich the game world quite a bit. The aim here was to have Shroud of the Avatar to have a similar feel to it by having player submitted text added into the game. In theory, not bad at all Portalarium. But you’ve gone and done it again, you keep proping up these fucking player run atrocities, seemingly not give them nor the submitters enough information on what to do or how to do it. If the Membrane didn’t know no better, he might think you were doing this on purpose, letting the community hang itself so it puts you in a position where you can just shut it all down and then say: Its your fault Community… But that would just be Insane wouldn’t it.
The Scribes of Novia post went out on August 1st, which seems to me that it was planned due to the date alone. So they hashed this out right? With who, where? They didn’t post anything about this shit in the Dev+ forum before it got dumped into Gen-pop. Oh wait, the Dev+ forum is just a place where people go for stretch goals which have already been abandoned long ago. No – it seems that from quite early on Portalarium has been cherry picking users of the community to do things with them. Starting from the Housing Article on Polygon, through the College of Arms, and now the Scribes of Novia. Portalarim do have a knack for leading you to believe some of these things are organically grown from community efforts. But not all of them are, the Scribes sure as shit wasn’t.
In any case, it didn’t take long before someone had the same thought I did about this:
So we cant write our own stuff for ingame consumption without having someone check mark it?
Great question, first thing I would have posted if I still had access to the forum, right? 😛 Well, it quickly went down hill for everyone. It did take 19 days however for the final nail to be driven into the Scribes coffin. Driven by none other than…. *drumroll* Yup, former friend of the Blog, MGT470s very own Isaiah! Yes, MGT470 Guild have a long and tired history of fucking shit up for Portalarium and other users there on the forum. Well done Isaiah, as well as others who persisted in being greedy little selfish pricks. Here is what Izzy had to say:
It seems only fair that we get compensated for any books we write that end up in the game. Writing a short story is adding content to the game just like creating a piece of digital art is adding to the game.
We should be compensated. I’m fine with it coming in the form of addon store credit that we can use toward our pledge or addon store items. I’m not asking for hard cold cash here. Just addon store/pledge rewards.
Wow. Fuck you Izzy, you’re a little taint and then some. I never would have written anything because I can’t really write for shit, haven’t you seen that for yourself by now, but within days of opening I saw some decent stuff posted into the sub-forum.
*shakes head* It was doomed from the start. Prop up some vocal insider, Winfield, unduly subject writers to parse their works through the unprofessional group of grammar gestapo and potentially bias members of the community, don’t give anyone enough information on what they can and can’t write about which makes that part of the Scribes job even more fucked up. I could go on for hours, but fuck it, too depressing.
In the end, a Dev locked the posts and announced that the honeymoon was over:
I have locked this thread. There should be no speculation as to what yesterday’s policy decision means, the intent of Portalarium, or other community members intent.
To clarify yesterday’s decision further: “Tales from the Vale”, with production run by FireLotus, will no longer be used to pre-populate the books of the world with fan fiction. With the planned self-publishing system coming online in Release 13 (current expectation) we will wait just a bit longer to see that content in the game.
To MGT470: Could you guys stop calling for lawyers, stop demanding stuff from the devs, stop being dicks, stop leaking Dev+ forum stuff, disband your guild, sell your SotA accounts, and just go to a dark corner of the internet and look for another way into another game? Seriously, fuck you guys.
“I will look into it.”
– Lord British
After taking the time to appeal directly to the King, he has punctually written back with the assurance that he will look into the matter. I suppose this is the best case scenario at least the King has read the letter 🙂
I have decided to write a letter to the King, Lord British, sovereign over all Britannia. A couple of things recently have influenced me enough to try to appeal directly to Lord British himself. Those things are the plight of his people, everyone who supports Shroud of the Avatar and contributes to the Shroud of the Avatar forum, and a comment left on my site today in regards to my BAN, whom is one of those community contributors.
“Inciting and slandering”? If SotA’s disciplinary actions were made publically available, such unfounded censorship would not be tolerated by the community. By trimming their forums of awareness of Dev+ leaking, our community is deafened to the consequences of it. Unfortunately, Portalarium is brushing these issues under the rug, at the expense of all Dev+ backers, just to save face with a few high-tier leaking backers.
Junior Moderator Mystic has been taking advantage of the fact that as a junior moderator he has the ability to remove posts. He has clearly and wrongfully been removing legitimate posts of multiple users under that purview. He has been antagonising, attacking, and interfering with multiple community driven efforts and individual thoughts on a regular basis. Things are sour now, and seemingly continue to ripen. I only hope it is not too late for Portalarium to remove this individual and his efforts in interfering with the community, for I fear that Portalarium may have shown a bias towards him and are now actually unable and unwilling to remove this person from his position due to that. This was illustrated when MGT470 Guild posts where removed, by Mystic, when the MGT470 member reported illegal software activity(which I have now reported to Adobe) . Not only that, but Mystic continued his personal vendetta against this user long after the incident he reported, links for and using pirated software by some other community members, by removing his posts, no matter the subject.
In any case, here is the text of my letter which I am about to send to Lord British!
To King British, first of his name, Lord of New Britannia, Master of Virtue, and Destroyer of Evil.
I most humbly prostrate before the feet of your most excellent majesty, you’re grace’s reputation of Virtue and Honour are not in question to your must humble, faithful subject, who has so critically committed crime against your most gracious highness, I appeal directly to your grace, fearing that by any other means, my humble submission may fall on deaf ears, or worse never presented to your great office.
First, I acknowledge myself to have most unfavourably acted in the court of your excellent highness, in that I have not submitted myself, wholly, to your most Virtuous laws; for my offence therein, which I must confess was to me more than a hundredfold more grievous, to my own person, than it could have been to any other living creature.
Secondly, to open my concerns to your grace, in these things which I have before refused to harmonise with, I do not and would never beseech your grace to have pity and Compassion on my lost soul, but to appeal to your heavenly Love and divine Truth, I seek only Justice, for your entire realm, and to have the people know your highness as I truly do.
Thirdly, as I, as many know your excellent knowledge, Virtue, intelligence and wisdom, put wholeheartedly our faith in your authority, divine beyond reproach in all the land, and beg your grace to review, in only a way your most exulted rule can, the digressions in your court of your privy council, especially the name of Mystic, who subverts your Virtuous and most exalted rule, without regard for your realm of most humble and submissive subjects, and whom dares to upon his own authority, take extraordinary and dastardly measures to supress the will, no, the love of your people, of you, through their voice.
Your grace, I leave you with these final words, in which I have sought comfort and identified with for many years, in hopes that with all your teachings, you may find it of some value. Your most humble servant.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan