Why Things Have Been Quiet

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tomorrow (04/01), I had something really fun planned from a couple weeks ago that I hinted at to you all. Unfortunately, it appears that the time for fun and games has ended.

On Friday of last week (03/23), I was alerted to a series of significant internet fraud related crimes that were perpetrated in an attempt to shutdown this blog.

Upon learning of the activities, I immediately contacted the appropriate authorities. Based on the evidence provided, the illegal acts were carried out with forethought and willful acts of malice that involved at least one individual. This week, I'm confident I know who the person is and I have been working with various third parties in an ongoing investigation.

Even after requests to cease the activity, the individual (possibly others as evidence points to at least two other persons involved) perpetrated yet another series of criminal attacks this past week. Given the sheer coincidence of the attacks (the dates), the intention of the attacks, and other strange things going on (like odd comments, hoaxes, and users trying to push me or provoke me into doing things), it appears that this has been planned for a very long time and there is some kind of elaborate and more sinister plan still at play that I don't want to be any part of.

This has become a very serious situation, and there have been direct threats made against me. Given the obvious mental instability of this aggressor, the crimes committed, and I've been told that they have access to private and confidential information, there are also concerns (as well as hints already) of violence and other plans of future malice.

For now, upkeep and maintenance of the blog will probably suffer as I need to re-prioritize.

I'm not sure when I'll be back due to these threats, but I'll leave the blog as is for now. I won't be checking/approving comments here, unless they are pertinent to the case, so please refrain from speculation.

I will still try to make some updates if I can. But they might just be for really important discoveries. Due to the automated nature of Blogspot and the constant (and variety of) attacks, if for some reason the blog is temporarily or permanently suspended, it will not be due to any legitimate reasons; it will be purely due to outside events.

Paid Industry Trolls

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An interesting read on the "confessions" from a former EA Viral Marketer. I caught this yesterday on Reddit too, and just decided at the last minute to write about it.

This is a known job (mostly outsourced and Work At Home) by many in the gaming industry, but most people don't talk about it. There are a lot of job titles and duties that the industry really doesn't like to discuss. :)

It really doesn't matter if this person is a phony or not as what they say about the job is true. I'd really like someone to come along, though, that can provide real evidence of their job and duties and even provide several real world examples of things they've done.

All Andromeda posted, unfortunately, were public Quarterly Shareholders documents that everyone has access to. And they spent very little talking about their job, and more time attacking the company and it's games. It would have been far more convincing if they had provided real documentation from their job (since there would have been a lot of it, and none of which could have been traced back to them.)

That's why I appreciate some of the recent comments made by Brian Fargo, for example, about the real inner-problems that happen between Developers and Publishers that no one knows about. Now, we finally have a recognizable and trusted name providing proof that what many suspected really does happen.

Andromeda's job is basically conducting creative viral marketing on sites and forums (including /v/), praising their employer, and derailing threads or putting down competitors to deflect and control perception about a game.

You never really know who these people are. They spend years creating online identities, and they have multiple identities on several major and minors forums or blogs. A forum poster on MMO-Champion, for example, might have a dozen identities each with hundreds of posts (or one primary account with thousands and a "good reputation"). They're paid to do this 8+ hours per day, so you can only imagine how much time they spend on sites, forums and blogs building up trust and familiarity over several months or years.

It's a pretty easy job too. And there are different kinds of "marketing" responsibilities.

Some of these professional sockpuppets or shills will primarily engage in praising or controlling the perception of a company or it's game. Others, though, might have the task of attacking competitors, talk trash about their games or generate bad press, try to organize mass "uprisings" against certain companies, constantly attack the reputation of someone who is critical of their employer (any attempt to discredit them, including lies), create bad reviews of competing games (mostly targeting crowds to do it for them), or they engage in unethical practices to deplete the marketing and customer support budgets of competitors.

The key though is manipulating crowd psychology. They want as many people on their side as possible to do the most damage, so they're usually highly social (online) individuals within forums and they use sites like Twitter. They also have multiple accounts, so they're hard to distinguish since each account might have different followers. And, the more followers the better. What's also nice is that they can buy the obedience of many followers by handing out free stuff given to them by their employer. :)

It's really hard to spot these shills though. They engage is casual chatter, talk about their day or their family, movies they watch, etc. And, they're hard to distinguish from simple fanboys. Maybe they even act as fanboys as part of their cover. There probably is a detectable pattern, and a way to find these people, but one would need some real and proven examples of posts from their various identities. I'm sure that some of the more talented viral marketing trolls could probably spot each other though.

Just Like WoW

Posted by Daeity On Monday, March 26, 2012

Gamespy had an article where Blizzard's Next Gen MMO was mentioned again. (Anything we can scrape together, right?)

In it, they discuss WoW's basic formula and if there were any major changes planned for Mists of Pandaria. An interesting connection between Titan and World of Warcraft is implied.

"We have some awesome ideas, and we're developing a next-generation MMO here at Blizzard, so we're experimenting with a lot of different ideas there," said lead quest designer Dave Kosak. "I can't say any more about that, but I'll tell you that we're not going to significantly change up WoW at any point in the future. I think there's an expectation when you play WoW. Honestly, I think our combat game is really fun. When you get a quest to kill ten things, that lets you be your class, and you know exactly what to do, which means that you can concentrate on the story, concentrate on the atmosphere, concentrate on chatting with your friends. You can really be in the world."
A while back I had believed that Titan would be very similar to WoW, but much more improved, dumbed down for larger audiences, better NPC AI, and more action packed. I think this is the first team they ever said something like this (ie, "using WOW" rather than "it won't compete with WOW.) Basically, they take WOW and now they're experimenting with different ideas and ways to do things to create a new game.

Most of the original Titan team came from scifi driven backgrounds, including Halo and the old Starcraft Ghost team. But, now they're trickling in WOW developers to continue work on the project.

I'm reminded of Blizzard's "Decision Gun".. maybe it was used for Titan too? :)

Now, it's been a while since I talked about the subject, but if I recall, the WOW Engine was used as alpha testing for Titan.. or possibly Warcraft 4, I can't remember (heck, maybe both.)

There have been some fun rumors that the Next Gen MMO will be a giant new DOTA type game. I'm not sure if I agree with that.. I think there will be facets of shorter action games (like MMOFPS matches) within it, but I am most certain that eSports are planned for Titan (which is also the reason why I think it will be more action packed.) Blizzard has been updating all of their eSports Job Postings too.. they used to all be "Starcraft 2" specific but now they just mention eSports initiatives for Blizzard titles in general. :)

Meaning that eSports is planned for their other future games.

Diablo 3 is one potential too, but not for a long time. Some employees are "all for" a PVP Arena (with RM wages), but the game will be primarily PVE to start out. If there's a lot of PVP integration by the time Diablo 3 X1 comes out, things will look more and more likely for larger PVP battles and arenas. I can see a larger push for competitive PVP especially if JW is moved to head up another project, as unfortunate as that would be.

This is news! Dawnguard Trademark filed!

Posted by Daeity On Friday, March 23, 2012

This just in! Zenimax filed for a trademark called "DAWNGUARD" and it appears to be an expansion/DLC for Skyrim.

Shacknews: "Dawnguard trademark filed by Zenimax"

Kotaku: "‘Dawnguard’ Trademark Filed, May Point to Skyrim Expansion"

VG247: "Bethesda files Dawnguard trademark, could be for anything"

Nowgamer: "Skyrim DLC: 'Dawnguard' Bethesda Trademark Hints At Elder Scrolls Content"

.. etc. etc. etc.

It's making the rounds on the internet now. This is just like "In-Game Ads Planned for Titan" happening all over again. /sigh

(In case you didn't know, I already broke the Dawnguard news a month ago. And the Titan In-Game ads I revealed 2 months before it made the news.)