player owned towns
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.
Over the past few months we’ve seen some big names sell out from their SotA investments, today another decently high level backer in Shroud of the Avatar is leaving; Ravicus Domdred. Ravicus has a RF Duke, F Baron 3, and a Metro POT with overland map access “with all the building bonus’s.”
While not even close(just a puny $20,000 Ravi has in SotA) to someone like Blake Blackstone’s massive $60,000 investment in which he chose to close down, it is still some serious cash Ravicus had invested. I wonder what lead him to this decision? Well, I don’t really, just read this forum. Lack of direction and management have to be at the top of the list. On top of all that, this announcement from Ravicus comes hours after a thread he posted requesting help was deleted by Portalarium on their forum:
Again it seems that the heavy handed deletion of user feedback is a serious problem, in this case the fact that someone had a problem with a community member posted for help, got trolled, then had their thread deleted and probably warned due to it, was probably the straw that broke the Lich’s back.
Once more though, it doesn’t really seem to matter to Portalarium. They don’t change their practices. They don’t need to, they already have Ravi’s money so they don’t really give two shits about his problems or him selling out because that money stays with them. Ravi can only do his best to try and recover as much of his investment as possible. It will however probably end up hurting the PvP community a bit, as there are only a few PvP players out there, and there goes another.
We haven’t always seen eye to eye Ravi, but good luck with it and I hope that you don’t end up losing too much of that hard earned $$$ you gladly gave Portalarium in hopes of an epic game we’ll never see.
A user going by the forum handle Envy has indicated his intent to leave the Shroud of the Avatar Forum due to moderation. We have all either experienced the poor moderation either by being on the wrong side of it or by observation, and if you claim you haven’t actually noticed it go to TED and listen to the talk on Wilful Blindness.
Users exiting the Shroud of the Avatar Forum is not news because many do due to it’s policies and lack of protection against hostile party liners. High level backers leaving SotA Forum isn’t news either really. But from my own opinion, when a high level backer and owner of a whopping seven Player Owned Town whale trolls someone(seemingly forces Devs return $5 paywall due to this also), gets moderated, indicates he is leaving, then an executive Portalarium offers him a relaxed rules subforum? Well that is news we can all believe in 😛
Let us begin. Firstly you should have a look at this backed up thread where Envy proceedes to troll the BMC:
Clearly something has taken place to allow Envy to be bold or aggravated enough to start trolling BMC in their own threads, with apparent alternate accounts to boot. One must wonder how this conflict started. Could Whale Envy have met his match elsewhere in Whale Duke Cooper, leader of the BMC? Hmm, it would seem so but there is more evidence to consider here.
Some time after that post was cleaned up, within 16hrs at least I would say, Envy posted to the Shroud of the Avatar Forum his “Bye Bye” thread. Don’t bother reading it on the SotA forum, it has been moderated and cleaned up, read it here:
I will break some of that thread down for you now because I’m sure it will be a little bit of a case where TL;DR is a major factor for all you cranked up kids out there. The Bye Bye thread is an important one, so slap yourselves in the mouf and pay attention.
Initially Katrina Berserkers called Envy for leaving the forum for the same reason I suggest, trolling BMC and getting slapped for it. However Envy did have this to say about it…
“Actually that had nothing to do with anything… Nobody wants a toxic forum for obvious reasons, equally when a forum is moulded to an extreme in the opposite direction it becomes equally as damaging but for different reasons..unfortunately that is where this forum now current is and that is why I am walking away from it.”
Despite the fact Envy claims not to be bothered by his trolling being removed from BMC’s thread, I don’t think I could fault him with the rest of his sentiment there. I almost believe him, he is such a big Whale I doubt he’d ever get more than a slap on the hand for anything he ever did there. Shroud of the Avatar’s forum has been moulded to a very extreme and opposite view through Portalarium’s heavy handed management and moderator henchmen. I don’t know if Envy is thinking the same thing I am for the same reasons, but I’ll just assume he is.
Next up is where the real beef of this story hits our plates. Dallas, long term friend and employee of Richard Garriott and COO/Co-Founder of Portalarium himself drops in and posts to Envy’s cya wouldn’t wanna be ya thread. Here it is in full:
Envy, I, too, agree that you are an asset to the community. Although your communication style often pushes the limits of the SotA forum policies, that doesn’t alter the fact that your passion for the game, and tireless energy to share your learnings, are of great value to the SotA community in general (as demonstrated by my including your latest Grand Tour Quest video in the weekly Update of the Avatar).
I am one of the primary architects of our current forum policies. It has been my experience that the vast majority of people prefer a safe, healthy, nourishing environment to hang out in. A small minority of human beings have a thick skin and are not offended by aggressive/confrontational/”bear-poking” communication styles. These can often be (but not always) the players that prefer PvP over PvE.
That being said, we are attempting to create a game that satisfies some of the needs of the PvP’rs as well as the PvE’rs. I am intrigued by the notion of experimenting with the same design philosophy within the forums. Having a special sub-forum within the main forums that was more lightly moderated might satisfy the communication needs of those that feel they are being too tightly constrained. If we were to create such a sub-forum, would you be interested in being a volunteer moderator for that area, or have recommendations for others that might be willing to moderate that area (PM me with suggestions if so)? The majority of the SotA Dev Team has expressed discomfort in hanging out in such a lightly moderated forum so they would be officially reprieved from ever having to respond to any posts there. The participants in that sub-forum would have to be accepting of that.
In general, I’m wondering if having such a sub-forum would satisfy the needs of the few without compromising the needs of the majority. I haven’t yet convinced the rest of the management team, but it sounds like a worthy experiment to me.
What can we take away from Dallas’ post?
- Dallas believes that Envy is abrasive.
- Dallas thinks Envy is a community asset anyway and put his videos in Update of the Avatar in place of The Mad Hermit’s videos.
- Dallas is one of the people who developed the forum policies.
- Dallas thinks PvP players are the small minority calling for aggressive and confrontational communication styles.
- Dallas suggests a new sub-forum which is more lightly moderated.
- Dallas offers Envy a volunteer moderation position in the new forum.
- Dallas mentions that Portalarium Staff would not be allowed to post in this new Envy forum.
Ok, what, the, actual, frack? Did that just happen? People have been complaining about moderation for YEARSSSSSS. I can’t count the number of people who have left the forum, the GAME, due to the hypocrisy on those SotA forums. But Envy leaves the forum, he gets offered his very own sub-forum where he is a moderator? Just what the hell is going on at Portalarium?
Dallas went on to say in a reply shortly after that when someone said they hoped that Devs would post in there:
I’m afraid that it would be almost completely Dev free. We have a code of communication conduct at Portalarium that we do not allow members of the team to speak to each other in any way that can be construed as disrespectful. We find that communication styles that can be perceived as disrespectful are corrosive to long-term team cohesiveness and cooperation. Because of this fundamental Portalarium principle, we only attract team members that are in alignment with that principle.
Thus, if any member of the community wished to air their grievances in such a way as to promote Dev Team responses, they would have to do so in the more normally moderated areas of the forum. All this means is they would have to be less confrontational/aggressive/”bear-poking” (or “ass ripping” as Duke Ezekial so colorfully expressed) when airing their grievances.
Oh, that is very rich Dallas. Apparently there is a code of communication at Portalarium that says your employees can’t speak to each other in any way that would be disrespectful. That is great, and of course as it should be. But clearly that same rule doesn’t apply to Portalarium staff members when they are speaking to the community does it. Indeed, we know from past Dev comments that most of them aren’t even comfortable posting in the normal forum so why in hell would they go over to Envy’s “less moderated” sub-forum and risk their asses?
Is there something wrong with me? Could I be the only person in the world, because I am a toxic sledge throwing slimeball of a troll, to think that Envy is being damage controlled here by the COO because he is a serious investor in the game? Nope. I don’t think that I am and Ashlynn, who’s comments I’m usually impressed with, had the following question about the matter:
Hold on a moment. So a high-level backer with what might be described as an abrasive personality gets moderated for trolling some other guild so announces they are leaving. This warrants a personal response from the developers and discussion of the creation of a forum just for such behaviour?
– Ashlynn [Pax]
Ashlynn, your mind to my mind, my mind to your mind, our minds are one. Dallas simply responded, quickly, with that wasn’t the case and this was just the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” But… I don’t know about that. It has been years and innumerable backers have left due to this issue, it takes a Whale to make a wave like this? Such a wave he even gets offered a sub-forum and moderator position? This is unbelievable.
I’m going to try and put all of this aside and not insult Envy here… too much. Why would I insanely do that? Because as you read in that very post, in the SotA forum, on my blog, and in my forum, the moderation there at Shroud of the Avatar Forum is truly terrible. So terrible it too could have finally “bitten the hand” that collects the cash of the totally clueless people who put it and it’s policies together. Envy could actually be a victim of this forum and it’s policies in this case and it would not be a stretch of the imagination at all to understand how!
The Shroud of the Avatar community was rocked to it’s very foundation this week, go hyperbole, when none other than the great housing mogul Blake Blackstone announced his departure (Shroud Unlimited Forum Post) from it. I won’t try and speak for Blake as I am sure this is much more complex than we’ll ever know, but I can have some educated opinions on the matter based on the Ghost of Portalarium Past.
Although Blake didn’t really seem to carry the same stigma attached to the definition, there is no doubt he was a Shroud of the Avatar Whale. Blake was into Shroud of the Avatar from anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000! If that isn’t a Whale, you can call me Ahab. Blake created quite a decent looking website and theme behind his Player Owned Town Blackstone Bluff, and despite his status as a SotA Whale he always seemed like a person who was pretty logical and reasonable about what he said and asked for to me.
Jumping into the croundfunding of Shroud of the Avatar for 60k large must have earned Blake a lot of lunar cred with Portalarium, right? Well, what do we know? We know that Portalarium, most notably Richard Gariott and Starr Long, are into the idea of a “Land Rush” and were headed towards it balls to the wall.
“We want people to feel value and attachment, we want to create a thriving economy. Players want their home and businesses to be in high-traffic locations.”
– Starr Long
This statement by Starr does seem to echo the early vision in which Richard had during the Kickstarter campaign for Shroud of the Avatar. I’ll admit even I was interested in this due to being able to place a vendor on the property stuffed full of all the chairs and clock parts I steal from dead crafters, so I jumped in at Citizen which included a tax free lot.
Blake Blackstone must have been interested in this also, after all he did have a large number of high value properties and Player Owned Towns. Ah, yes, Player Owned Towns. Humbug! I don’t want to dwell on this all that much as it isn’t the main subject of this post so I’ll just say this; everything Player Owned Towns are and stand for are a slap in the face to every early backer who bought into this “Land Rush.” It was a poorly executed bait and switch, we went from valued player homes in game towns straight to unlimited and valueless lots in both instanced and non-instanced Player Owned Towns. So much for the westward expansion, we’ve just entered the black hole of the unlimited housing multiverse. Which makes this next statement pretty special.
“There won’t be any more left. That’s when we think the secondary market between players will really pick up, when people will want to sell real estate between players.”
– Starr Long
That would have been interesting, it really is too bad that Richard’s vision of having something special will never come to be. I bring this up because Blake’s announcement comes just two around two weeks after this announcement. This could be pure coincidence but it is a rather large paradigm shift, it goes against everything they’ve always said about Player Owned Towns and housing lots being limited and of value.
“We absolutely believe people will group themselves not just on individual pieces of land but in adjacent land as well. Over time certain villages and towns will start to define themselves with certain characteristics. Some of those groupings will be influenced by the nature of the game world, proximity to resources being the biggest factor, but sometimes the groupings will just be based on common play patterns like adventuring, gardening or commerce…”
– Starr Long
Well what can I say, it seems that they’ve put all their efforts indeed into Player Owned Housing. Everything that has been said about this matter will now need to be reset and we’ll have to start the Housing Clock at 12:01AM.
Blake came into SotA after Player Owned Towns were available, but still limited. He went to work and produced Blackstone Bluff and worked with/in Tantalus Consortium, of which Blackstone Bluff was the Capitol, as well as the leader of The Weeping Seven. This isn’t someone like me packing up and leaving, Blake’s departure is going to be noticed and by people who were involved with him I would guess quite sorely missed. Why did Blake leave!
If you wish to know beyond all doubt I would encourage you to speak with Blake on the matter so he can dispel any rumours, some of which I’m about to spin myself. Since Blake got in on the action a little bit later than some of the other Whales I can immediately see that there would be a problem as an, outlander, of course. Both by players and developers a like, Blake was probably treated like a second class citizen even despite his seemingly massive buy-in to Shroud of the Avatar. We’ve seen it all before, if you aren’t hand picked by a developer then it seems as if you’re just someone insignificant to their little niche game. This attitude is rampant in members of the community and has been this way for years now. It even looks to have permeated into Portalarium itself, if not fostered as an indirect result of how Portalarium has actually been dealing with the community. You decide…
There is a long list of things being handled by friends of the developers, whether or not the person doing it is actually qualified to do so which is the real shame here. The initial commitment from the team to leverage the backers for crowdfunded assets and resources was admirable, but it was clearly shot in the face some time ago. Even as they were pushing the now failed marketing for limited valued housing in Shroud of the Avatar, Portalarium had been handing out preferential things to people severely under-qualified as best as one can tell(part 1, part 2, part 3).
Yes, there is a long and noted history of Portalarium handing these things out without justification or qualification what so ever who are seemingly nothing more than friends to them. With so many talented and qualified people out there that is only going to hurt them in the long run, as quite easily demonstrated by Blake Blackstone’s departure from Shroud of the Avatar.
What is the message in all of this? Learn from Blake. Blake went into SotA at a massive level, tens of thousands of dollars, yet seemingly at every turn I can see him running into roadblock after roadblock trying to simply follow up on the simple rewards in which his pledge and Player Own Town afforded him. So much so he must have felt he would have been accomplishing nothing. Even worse we’ve also seen before how the Portalarium can just change things whenever they wish, so Blake could just have easily fell victim to many other bait and switch tactics through his dealings with them.
The message is Blake started outside the Portalarium’s inner circle and was never going to be a part of it. Neither are you. Know your place.
Well this is an interesting one. The Dev Stand Up Corner has been made public. The Dev Stand Up Corner is a pretty simple and lightweight concept; the Devs get together once a day in a scrum and pop out what they are working on. That is all it is, just a line next to a name. Example: Richard Garriott – Story
So it isn’t overly detailed, yet it was still locked behind a 50$+ pay-wall to get access to it. Unfortunatly it doesn’t really give anyone any detail on how much time is spent on each item or any idea at all about the cost of the item in development time. It kind of leaves us to believe that in the example above Richard spent the entire eight hour working day on the Story, but see if this were the case there would be a lot more going on in the game. Unless it is all true then take a look back and see all of the things drawing the Devs away from the Core game, anything that says “POT” or “Player Town” next to it.
Why did this come to pass? Well you have to read this steam review:
Yeah that is quite correct my friends, someone left a negative review and a Portalarium Staff member got all pissy with them and said they should read the Stand Up Corner notes. The very same notes that cost 20 bucks more than the Steam buy-in. Lawl.
So they are going to unban Caliya now right?
Shroud of the Avatar Devs, including Richard Garriott, on the R23 dev chat have confirmed a lot of player’s fears for quite some time: POTs are going to be unlimited.
Unlimited POTs = Unlimited Housing = Destruction of Early Backer Investment
Your housing values just tanked my friends, along with mine. Enjoy it.
FireLotus: Sara Dragyon would like to know how many more player towns are are planned to be sold?
Starr: Well, uh, as many of you know we, dre-, uh, drew a line and stopped selling Player Owned Towns that have direct access, uh, to the over-world. Uh, and, because of that decision we currently don’t, uh, see a particular need to limit sales of those because, uh, they won’t be cluttering(muffled) up the over-world. Uh, and speaking of which, uh, Novians are starting to notice that, uh, and, uh, they’re not too happy about it…–
Something tells me it isn’t just Novians that will be having an issue with this.
Molenix Claims Latest Victim – Caliya
Not long ago in forum right smack in our face, there was a discussion about Player Owned Towns started from a Poll by Spoon. This was one of the better discussions out there to take place on that forum, but that means it was getting a little bit hot in Portalarium’s chair. When we turn up the heat, they tend to just lock the thread in question, remove all of the posts within said thread cos “troll,” and just pretend it never took place. That is what was done here, and if you would like to read as much as the tread as you can at this point before Portalarium started to clean it up, you can download the PDF here.
Ok, so enough about the Trolling from the SotA Forum-Norm you can read about that in the article linked. What is this post about? Well mainly the unfair banning of Caliya from the Shroud of the Avatar Forum. But first, lets have a very short history lesson. I was perma-banned twice(lulz), and the second time I was perma-banned it was for asking Portalarium what they planned on doing about the Dev+ leaks from the MGT470 guild, and others.
Now we can move forward! But first. This:
oh yeah, click this puppy to enlarge or get higher res pdf here
Blues = Thread Commenter | Greens with Blue border = New Topic Branch
Reds = Rule Violators | Greens with Orange border = New Interesting Branch(imo)
Yellow = Thread Derail Troll | Greens with Red border = Topic Violation
Purple = Banned User | Yellow With Blue border = Thread Derail Branch
Small Red Dash = Comment to Topic
Large Green Dash = New Branch Starter
Large Red Dots = Comment to Violation
As human beings, social animals, and people able to read and write, you should be familiar with the idea of a conversation tree. Hell you’re an Ultima player probably, you’re VERY familiar with a conversation tree. This is an attempt for me to visually map out that POT Poll thread started by Spoon. I was curious to see how a Poll can be started and end up resulting in the ban of a player for something totally unrelated and the answer is going to surprise the hell out of you. So I began and I will help you to understand what is in the picture.
You start with people. The first few posts were on topic(I couldn’t always place direct topic comments where they cropped up and moved them to the front due to size of this conversation). But of course it is a Forum, right, so even the initial posters are going to make a comment that is going to branch the conversation out from the root. It is natural, and nothing to be afraid of. Great examples of this early on were posts produced at the very start by Ashlynn, Kendric, and Xandra7, this too is to be expected as it would have been the first related thing to the poll discussed.
As the conversation continues, more posters reference the current branch and start new branches of their own. It really is all at the mercy of the community what is brought up and what is discussed. One of the most interesting topics brought up for example, by unicornslady, was the simple fact that developers underestimate the demand for Virtual Property. I agree, but really the only person to talk about that was Blake Blackstone.
Lets not get bogged down, as I said it was an interesting conversation and it was painful but enjoyable to map out like this. Moving on to all the red stuff which is standing out in there, but just before that now is a good time to mention what Caliya was banned for. Caliya was banned for disclosing information about the “Dev Standup” from the Founder Forum. There are three levels of access. Pleb, where you post. Founder, where you have access to the Dev Standup. Dev+, where Whales compare the sizes of their…POTs.
What is the Developer Standup? Well, it is a “Scrum.” In short, you get whoever is available at whatever time you can get them and stick them into a room. Go around the room and simply ask everyone “hey what are you doing today” and expect a one line ten second response like “I’m working on Player Owned Towns.” This isn’t anything special, it takes five minutes, and is strictly high level with no drill down to any detail. In any case, you aren’t allowed to discuss the information in the Founder or Dev+ blogs in the main Pleb forum. Despite Portalarium not requiring anyone to sign a NDA, and people leak stuff from both the Founder and Dev+ all the time both on the SotA forum and their own fan sites.
RED. The first name you’ll see half way through the conversation is Sean Silverfoot. He was the first SotA forum user to reference the Dev Standup Comments from the Founder Forum directly. Further on in you can see that cartodude joined in with his own direct disclosure of information from the Founder Forum, not only that but he continued to do it three more times. Next up forum favourite Duchess Wyldemane had to be sure to include her insider knowledge also, a couple of times. So there you go, count them: seven rule violations across three people.
So Caliya was banned. No wait, what? But she doesn’t have any big red dotted violation lines! She did reference what others mentioned and discussed the Dev Standup Comments Insane! Yeah she did, but she was addressing what was already disclosed to her by the other users. She didn’t go to the Founder Forum and start nor continue the conversation on the SotA forum with any “insider” information at all. So then how did this conversation lead to her banning!?
After the thread was locked, Caliya came over to the Shroud Unlimited forum to discuss the topic out in the open. There while in discussion on the matter some information from the Founder Forum did make its way onto Shroud Unlimited in a round-about way. So Caliya was banned, after the POT topic was locked, after three other people violated the same thing that got her banned, seven times before her… And, it is still there:
So what can we possibly take away from such a heavy-handed moderator & community response like that? Was that fair to everyone involved?
Not by a long shot! Message to Caliya is:
Why are you guys still here? Oh! All the yellow stuff down at the end? Totally nobody you need to worry about guys, so inconsequential!