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.
Who’s the More Troll, the Troll, or the Troll Who Follows Him?
Just finished, reviewing – I don’t know if that is the right word, the Shroud of the Avatar R19 post mortem dev chat video. Aside from Chris calling the Forum just a bunch of “angry posters…” Which by the way it isn’t any longer – Portalarium have been able to remove 9 out of 10 contrary opinions from their forum at this point by charging for access and banning players. We had a special segment just for us.
SotA Forum Moderators have gotten a Royal Warrant! LULZ, to do what, fail more?? Yes in what I can only assume is a troll aimed at us from total boredom, RG has issued a Warrant award to the moderators. Apparently they are all professional cool headed even handed and none of them have knee jerk reactions…. BHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good work guys.
RG can’t even claim ignorance to this, thanks to the letter which I have written him about Junior Moderator Mystic’s failures as community member let along a motherfuckin moderator. So yeah, they be trollin.
Shroud of the Avatar services have been under constant disruption now for about a week. This has had a great deal of impact to all of their services including the “pre-alpha releases” themselves, with players unable to contact Support, play the game, or use the forums. They are keeping it quiet for the most part, but they have indicated they suspect a DDOS attack. Again this just goes to show how old school these guys thing, host the stuff and don’t use CloudFlare.
On top of that, either through the same mob or just a coincidence their forum is currently hacked and under attack as well.
I was hoping that while this was happening I could sneak in a few shots at Junior Moderator Mystic(more to come later) but no such luck. Grand Wizard Darkblade was actually on the job.
You may remember enderandrew. He was pushed out of the Shroud of the Avatar forums due to moderator abuse, an all too common story! You can read about some of it HERE in a previous post. Well he has returned, and has started work on his FAQ again! We shall see how this goes, but now that Junior Moderator Mystic has been asked to tone down his presence on the forum, hopefully enderandrew will have a better time of it!
(artist’s rendition of Junior Moderator Mystic)
Another fine example in what is troubling so many in the Shroud of the Avatar community, brought to you by the one and only Junior Moderator we all love and wished would get cornholed in a back alley, Mystic.
One would think by now Portalarium would have at least had a chat with this guy to try and get him to tone it down a bit. I guess not, otherwise he wouldn’t be this fucking stupid. Unless he got wasted and was drunk while beating off looking at all the posts he’s moderated again. I’ll bet that happens a lot.
<Mystic> Okay, I require creative assistance
<Mystic> I owe my neighbour, who happens to be a complete troll, $146. I need to find a creative way to give it to him that won’t anger my bank cause we use the same one.
<Mystic> I thought about giving him all dollar coins but I think that would make the bank tellers really mad. 😛
<Mystic> Hmm, maybe I could write him a check and send it certified (he lives next door and works during the day)
<GamerQuest> $146 $1 money orders
<Mystic> He’s have to go to the post office to sign for it
<Mystic> Or I could just send it through paypal and make him wait another week to get it. 😛
<Mystic> Nah, this is going towards his medical bills so I can’t be TOO mean
<Joviex_w> or, just a thought, you just pay him.
<Mystic> No fun in that
<Mystic> Lemme put it this way
<Joviex_w> guess its ok we do stuff like that on the forums then eh?
<Mystic> Actually, lemme show you what his dad did to him this past christmas
<Mystic> Can’t find the one from last Christmas… here is the one from previous Christmas https://i.imgur.com/U6ITw.jpg
<Mystic> Last Christmas his dad gave him money towards a new computer. $1 bills taped end to end. Like $150 of them. Plus a couple $50s and $20s also taped in.
<Mystic> Bank almost wouldn’t accept it cause they all had tape on the ends when he finally cut them
<GamerQuest> This would take alittle work but if you have any rubber bands around the office you could do the following. Write him a check and start putting rubber bands around it till you have a rubber band ball. Hand him the ball and say here is the money i owe ya!
<Mystic> Ooooo interesting idea. Might have to put the check inside a little plastic tube to keep it from being mangled.
<Mystic> Or better yet, don’t put the check in and just hand him the ball
<GamerQuest> ya, fold the check haha
<Mystic> Then when he gets it all done, I’ll give him the check after
<Mystic> “You can have it back when I get all my rubber bands back” 😉
<Bubonic> how did u come to owe him money in the first place
<Mystic> He gave me M:TG cards to sell at the shop in the city since I was selling some there as well
<Bubonic> personally, since he gave u an item to sell for him in good faith, i would just give him the cash, troll or not 😉
Congratulations Mystic, you’re an asshole. Kudos to Joviex and Bubonic for having the virtue to call his bullshit.
“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