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T O P I C
Mankind is doomed!
April 26th 2000, 17:11 CEST by morn

Imagine this: a massive multiplayer game gets released and is available in the stores and isn't even playable. Imagine the same game remains in the same state for a couple of months, with barely any of the customers who paid for the game even being able to connect to the game's servers. Imagine the game still barely resembles anything that has been advertised by the developer and the publisher almost one and a half years after its release. A gamer's worst nightmare? No. It's happened, and the game's title is Mankind.



Space. The final frontier. These are voyages of French developer Vibes, on its continuing mission to discover new ideas and develop new games, to explore strange new genres, and to boldly go where no man, no one, has ever gone before: creating a massive multiplayer space conquest game in a persistant universe spanning over nine million planets. Thus was born the premise of Mankind.

"What a great idea!" thought little Morn and ordered a copy of his game in early 1999. Big tears did he cry when he installed the game only to realize that the account creation section on the Mankind's webpage was unavailable, with only a message from the Vibes (the developer), telling him to wait a couple of days while they were fixing the game. At least they promised that his 12 month license that came with the boxed game wouldn't start until they had fixed all the bugs -- so all was good. Or wasn't it?

A couple of months later little Morn received word from Vibes that the highly anticipated patch had been released on Mankind's website, that the game was now in full operation and that the 12 month license would now commence. So he quickly reinstalled the game, fired up his browser, and downloaded the patch, giddy like a schoolboy in anticipation.

And yes, his heart started bumping a little faster when the game actually -- for the first time ever since Morn had bought it -- connected to its server! It greeted him with a wonderful intro screen and some powerful welcome fanfares, making him get all excited about his nearing career as the ruthless leader of a mighty space empire, leaving a trail of death and destruction behind him on the planets of his enemies.

Until he saw the graphics. Tried to use the interface. Heard the sound (the little of it that was there). Realized that most of the screen text was still in French (a language as unknown to him as Lisp or Swaheli). Was suddenly, and with no warning, returned to Windows. Went back to the web site to read that the game was still not completely done, and for now all players would have unlimited money, and all units equal power.

"What a crock", thought Morn, and played some more SiN.

As it seems, almost anything that can go wrong with a computer game did go wrong with Mankind. So many weirdnesses have happened that I find it difficult to write a funny and entertaining text around them, so I'll just present them as a simple list. Here goes:

  • The game was released in France in December 1998; shortly after that a German version was also released. There has apparently been a UK release, too, but no US release from what I've seen. Up until Summer 99 the game simply didn't work. Players could not connect to the servers or experienced severe difficulties keeping their connection up. Even today there are severe problems with the availability and stability of the servers.

  • Cryo, Mankind's publishers, had the balls to release and advertise a "Special Version 1.5 Enhanced" edition of the game. With the arrival of patch 1.5 in mid-99 the game got only marginally more playable (read: you could connect).

  • I recently got hold of one of those "1.5 enhanced" copies of the game and have been, er, trying to play it since. The CD box contains a little "scratch me free" field that covers the unlock code I need to activate my account, with the somehow oddly composed words "Warning: please read carefully the MANKIND licence before scratching the code." The license is a very interesting read indeed, as it contains the following phrases (the most interesting bits highlighted in bold):

    "3. LINKED SITES. Vibes is not necessarily affiliated with sites which may be linked to this site, is not responsible for their content, and does not endorse them. You access any such linked sites at your own risk." - Uh-huh. I thought I was reading the manual, not a web site.

    "4. GRANT OF LICENSE. a) VIBES grants you ("Recipient") a limited, non-exclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license to install and use one (1) copy of the software accompanying this Agreement ("Product") on a single computer located on Recipient's premises, solely to test the compatibility of Recipient's application or other product(s) which operate in conjunction with the Product and to evaluate the Product for the purpose of providing feedback thereon to VIBES. All other rights are resevered to VIBES. Recipient shall not rent, lease, sell, sublicense, assign, or otherwise transfer the Product, including any accompanying printed materials. Recipient shall not reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the Product except to the extent that this restriction is expressly prohibited by applicable law. Recipient may not disclose the results of any benchmark testing of the Product to any third party without VIBES's prior written permission. VIBES and its suppliers shall retain title and all ownership rights to the Product. (b) Any bug reports, test results and other feedback made by Recipient to VIBES shall be the property of VIBES and may be used by VIBES for any purpose. Due to the nature of the development work, VIBES is not certain as to when or if errors or discrepancies in the Product may be corrected. (c) Recipient's use of the Product is not subject to confidentiality restrictions. Recipient is free to discuss features of the Product or details with respect to Recipient's use or intended use of the Product, provided that use of the Product shall take place solely at Recipient's site. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Recipient may not demonstrate or show the Product to third parties without the express written permission of VIBES."

    I think all this speaks for itself. But there's more:

    "5. TERMS OF AGREEMENT. a) beta test: The term of this Agreement shall commence on the date Recipient receives the Product and shall continue until terminated upon the earlier of (a) VIBES's written notice to Recipient, (b) the commercial release of the Product by VIBES, or (c) a maximum of 12 months starting from the date the Recipient receives the Product. Upon the termination of this Agreement, Recipient shall cease use of the Product software. b) Commercial release: The term of this Agreement shall commence on the date Recipient receives the Product and shall continue until terminated upon the earlier of (a) VIBES's written notice to Recipient, (b) a maximum of 12 months starting from the date the Recipient receives the Product. Upon the termination of this Agreement, Recipient shall cease use of the Product software."

    Particularly interesting in this section is the bit about the agreement being terminated 12 months after the purchase of the game. When you buy Mankind, you are supposed to buy a license to play it for 12 months. Shouldn't those 12 months start when you actually start playing the game, instead of when you buy it? Especially considering that you can't even create an account right now (see next point)?

    Here are some other funny bits:

    "7. PRODUCT MAINTENANCE. VIBES is not obligated to provide maintenance or updates to Recipient for the Product. However, any maintenance or updates provided by VIBES shall be covered by this Agreement. Servers on which operates the Product are subject to maintenance operations whereas scheduled or not and such operations, no matter how long they last shall not be considered as an alteration of the use of the Product."

    As I understand this, it basically means: if the servers are down, I don't have the right to complain, no matter if they're down for an hour or for half a year. Shhyeah, right.

    Last but not least:

    "8. DISCLAIMERS AND LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY. ALL MATERIALS ON THIS SITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS". [...]" -- uhm, okay. Website. Alright.

  • Luckily I didn't need to scratch the code free (and thereby accept the license agreement), since Mankind's web-based account creation is (and reportedly has been for a couple of weeks) unavailable. In other words: if you buy the game today, you can't even start playing. (Paired with the "12 months" bit from the license agreement mentioned above, it basically means that you'd be instantly paying for online play time which you can't actually use.)

    They even had the balls to put up a notice saying, and I quote: "- ON GOING UPGRADE - New players registration is temporarly unavailable. The registration service will reopen later this evening. Sorry for the delay and see you soon in the Mankind Universe." Days seem to be very, very long in France.

  • Not being able to play the game myself, I went to a Mankind IRC channel and talked to some french mankind players. One of the things they told me was that even today, there are still many bugs and missing features in the game. Up until a couple of days ago, there had been a bug which allowed you to simply steal money from all other players. By fixing that bug, Vibes reportedly introduced new bugs.

  • The same people also told me that Vibes are already working on Mankind 2. I wasn't able to confirm it, so take it with a grain of salt, but if it's true, I seriously wonder if I'll get a free copy of Mankind 2 for my unused copy of Mankind 1. I have the feeling that I won't.

  • In late 99, some clever programmer hacked his way through the Mankind protocol and used the information he gathered to build a Mankind client emulator, which basically enabled him to cheat in a multitude of ways. The simpler cheats involved scanning any section of space for enemy players, but the spectrum reached to nastier cheats like cloning your own starships or making them jump to any position within the exisiting universe. Vibes/Cryo reacted with a lawsuit, and probably rightfully so, but the real lesson learned from this was that the protocol Vibes designed for the communications between server and client must have been, well, utter crap.

  • Last but not least (and this is merely my own, personal opinion): Even when it works, the game is a horrible piece of crap. The graphics are mediocre (although the website and intro artwork is pretty nice), the interface is worse than Star Wars Force Commander's on a bad day, and the controls are so horrible I'd rather play Quake with a three button keyboard.

Now, there is a Mankind community out there, and a pretty strong one at that. But from what I've been told, most Mankind players have simply decided to accept their fate and see Mankind as a huge "role playing game", with clan wars taking place rather on their webpages than within the game. When asked for the things Vibes did right with Mankind, one of the players I talked to simply stated (after thinking about the answer for a moment): "The communication system. It's like a mini ICQ, and you can give money and units to someone."

Mankind is so broken, PC Gamer UK recently gave the game their first (and only) "N/A" rating, saying it was so utterly terrible and incomplete that it wasn't really a game.

I want my DM 70 back.

C O M M E N T S
Home » Topic: Mankind is doomed!

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#1 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 17:13:12
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Holy Crap, what a behemoth. Enjoy. :)

- Morn
#2 by "Preacher"
2000-04-26 17:17:06
preacher@unreality.org http://www.unreality.org
Oh my God..

WTF is wrong with that company?!

/me goes back to playing Asherons Call
#3 by "Chango"
2000-04-26 17:35:18
papa_chango@hotmail.com http://www.btinternet.com/~jedi99/
Based purely on the fact that they have sold what they readily admit is a Beta version more than deserves an absolute pummeling in the courts.


I say take them bitches to court and screw em for eberything they've got, Mr0n.

I'm still reeling over what a complete scandal this is.  The unfortunate part about this is that, although Vibes started out with the best intentions (and I'm sure they did), they've since observed it falling to peices, but insdtead of taking the responsible step and withdrawing the product until something containing genuine gameplay is avaialable, they have instead decided to let it ride and screw their faithful customer base out of more and more money.  The only upshot I can foresee coming from a complete debacle like this is that software publishing laws shall become stricter and less flexible.  And when that happens, I'm sure we, the consumers, not to mention the more respectable software developers, will feel the sting.

Jeesus, Mr0n; you, and everyone else who bought it, got well and truly screwed on that one.

-Chango
#4 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 17:40:26
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Chango, what I'd really like to know is whether Vibes or rather Cryo is the "bad boy" in all this mess. Publishers doing something stupid isn't really new, so it wouldn't surprise me if Cryo was the one to blame here. I'll try to get some of the developers to comment in this thread, other than that I'll just await the letter from Cryo's lawyers. ;-))

- Morn
#5 by "Chango"
2000-04-26 17:58:34
papa_chango@hotmail.com http://www.btinternet.com/~jedi99/
No, Mr0n, no no nonononnono.

I agree that the publishers probably took the more sinister, money-spinning role in this mess, but you stated that you bought the game in 1998.  It's now 2000 and there is very little RIGHT with the game.  It's buggy, certain crucial features are missing, and there is has been 1 signle solitary patch over those 2 years.  Now the only people you can hand blame to on that front are the people responsible for coding that peice 'o' crap.

KILL THEM......KILL THEM ALL

-Chango
#6 by "Ronin[WM]"
2000-04-26 17:58:38
kai@gamez.de http://www.actiongamez.de
I donīt want to believe that some developers who have a strong idea and are putting their work into this idea would really make some bullshit like this. So imo the only possible reason for this mess called mankind is cryo by pushing vibes to release this game (can you really call it a game, or maybe more a strange experiment?).
BTW, I also bought this game and made similar experiences with mankind and what should I do with it now?
#7 by "Dungeoneer Draogn"
2000-04-26 18:00:27
dungeoneer@mystics.de http://www.mystics.de
You know, Morn... I always found it fascinating how you managed to put on patch after patch on a non-working Mankind...get frustrated *again*... until the next patch which only made things worse, and did NOT throw that MONSTROSITY through the next window. (And I survived Ultima IX...). I thought it was over.. but they are STILL selling this ?? And they dont't even try to hide they are charging people for a beta ?
Incredible.
Morn, you've got a mission...
#8 by "Lumberjack"
2000-04-26 18:00:34
noone@nowhere.com
This was made by a french company?.....no suprise there.....(I will apologize to any French readers now for my bigoted remark) :-)
#9 by "Chango"
2000-04-26 18:01:53
papa_chango@hotmail.com http://www.btinternet.com/~jedi99/
Is there any way you can edit your posts?

my spelling and grammar leave a lot to be desired.

And mr0n, this text-box isn't set to 'wrap-around'.  My last 6 posts have all been very very very long one-liners.
#10 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 18:03:57
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Chango: It might not be obvious from my (possibly poorly written?) article, but there has actually been an entire series of patches. They all sucked though, as they were all utterly useless.

Dungeoneer Dragon: I think someone simply accidentally placed the wrong license agreement in the manual, as it reads like the NDA for a beta version of the game. Either way, it's either a stupid mistake that shouldn't have happened or a huge rip-off that shouldn't have happened either.

Lumberjack: I like "Heart of Darkness", which was also made by a French studio... =)

- Morn
#11 by "Bad_CRC"
2000-04-26 18:05:54
someother@planetaccess.com
I read the info twice, and I still swear you were talking about Unreal.
 

:)
 
anyway, software licenses suck.   basically they take 100% of power from the consumer, which can never be good.
#12 by "Chango"
2000-04-26 18:23:34
papa_chango@hotmail.com http://www.btinternet.com/~jedi99/
Damn Mr0n, you're fast as lightening - I just saw one of my lines as quote of the nanosecond, adn I typed it, like, 5 minutes ago!!
#13 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 18:27:27
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
When I first started reading this article I thought it was going to be about Ultima Online.  Oh well, I guess even UO functions now (hehe)

Isn't there some possible legal recourse?  IMHO, there are some sorts of laws in countries like the U.S. and France that prohibit overly restrictive EULAs and other contracts.

It's too bad that there aren't any good futuristic MMRPGs out there - it'd be utterly amazing to play Privateer 2 by Origin (a Chris Roberts production, i think) with thousands of others at once.  UO, AC, and EQ are too fantasy-based and aren't gritty enough for my taste - they're all geared toward 15 year olds, with the possible exception of UO.  And anyways, the real secrets of the game (cough cough exploitable bugs) are only available to those who come home at 3pm and log on and play until their mommies tell them to go to bed.

It'd be great to have an MMRPG not dominated by power-gamers, futuristic or not.

-db

Great to have you back PlanetCrap!
#14 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-04-26 18:58:31
tc10NOSPAMPLEASE@st-andrewsNOSPAMPLEASE.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom
Wow. What a mess. Where to start?
Well, I'd say that the first recourse ought to be a concerted effort by everybody that these two companies (and it <b>is</b> the fault of both of them, developer and publisher) have ripped off to make their collective voice heard, and demand recompense.
I have honestly never heard of such a complete clusterfuck (and I've used Windows... ;) in this industry. Admittedly, I have only mr0n's word for it, but, what the hell, I trust him :)
I'd be interested to hear if either the developer or the publisher have ever made any public statements with regard to the situation. Anyone?
#15 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 19:43:21
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
How do you say, <B>"Vibes is gonna make you their bitch!"</B> in French?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.
#16 by "crash"
2000-04-26 19:46:27
http://www.gamecenter.com
morn: the saga sounds to me like a cross between BC3K and UO:R.

Preacher: what server do you play on? i need vassals on Leafcull and i can hook you up phat. :)
#17 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 19:52:53
dah@gmx.net
short summary: vibes *hates* cryo ... for? guess what ...
there was a so called 'concerted effort by everybody' (MK Rebellion). they got frustrated and gave up.

nobody would ever have played this game yet, if there would not have been a well known publisher insisting on CDs and boxes. MK would have been a longlasting beta only downloadable over vibes' website.

cryo offered player to get their money back. some did take this offer, most didn't. guess why?

you may write the most sarcastic text about this .. have fun with it.
but there are actually players that *love* this game.
because they don't mind a 'mediocre' graphical impression.
because they don't mind bugs and report them.
because they had the best, strongest online-community *ever* unreached by any other online game (although there was vibes')

sites like www.planetcrap.com take all fun out of me i ever had in a computergame. trying to find all the funny mistakes one can find and write about so everybody laughs about.
(i'm sorry i can't express this any better. i'm german)

'Morn has had roughly 14 cups of coffee and 1 oven pizzas since the relaunch of the site on April 21 2000, while 10298 consumers world-wide have been ripped off with crappy games.'
what can i say? what an ugly site. how unbelievable brave you are, my friend.
#18 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 19:57:19
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
Believe it or not, I own a Mankind account.  I haven't played it in a while, but I had fun with it when I did.  The interface is terrible.  Its still half-translated French!  The game crashes all the time.  Somebody needs to take this idea and make a game from it that doesn't suck.

Let me tell you, if you and your buddies want to do some garage design, this would be the type of game.  A lot of the really hard to solve issues with massively multiplayer FPS games aren't here and you don't need to be a shit-hot graphics programmer to put together the renderer...hell it doesn't even have to be 3D.

But Mankind sucks and has potential at the same time.  There are some guys playing it that have played it so long they are undefeatable.  Players with every single fucking inch of a star system covered with auto guns and turrets so that if you send a scout there its destroyed before your computer can load their zone.

There is a clan on there called "the Collinades Superior" or ColSup.  They are a bunch of pricks and they force everyone to pay them duty or they destroy your planets.  They are so huge, you can't possibly stop them.  They'll steamroll your planet in less than five minutes.

That's a big problem with persistent MMPGS.   You get the grandfather effect where the early adopters can kick the shit out of any newbie on the block.  Mankind is really imbalanced in that way.
#19 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 19:59:16
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
You guys remember Trade Wars?  Somebody needs to make a massively multiplayer persistent 3d Trade Wars clone.

That's what Mankind WANTS to be, but it doesn't come close.

Take Master of Orion plus Trade Wars plus Imperium Galactica II and put it all online and you'd have a great game that would be easy to expand and would be really popular, IMHO.
#20 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 20:06:33
dah@gmx.net
'Master of Orion plus Trade Wars plus Imperium Galactica II'

a perfect idea. but if a game isn't desgined to be an online game from the very beginning you can't just decide to put it on a server and call it 'persistent blabla'

merging those games and bringing them online would be the programming effort of some years ... that's what vibes tried to do.
take a game and code it.
take the same game and code it for online purposes and you can programm three times as long (at least).
#21 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 20:10:30
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
Aquila, I disagree.  If you started this project from the beginning, you'd do it with the persistance in mind.  You would need skill, yes.  But I can see a game like this be developed for persistent deployment in less than two years.  I'd say two years just for safety.  Two years is a perfectly acceptable development period for a game.

You never start writing a game you intend to be a commercial product without a good design phase.  That would be part and parcial of the two years.
#22 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 20:11:20
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
GreenMarine: <I>"That's a big problem with persistent MMPGS. You get the grandfather effect where the early adopters can kick the shit out of any newbie on the block. Mankind is really imbalanced in that way."</I>

Well, I'll be one of the first to agree that extortion is no fun in a game if you're on the receiving end of it.

My question is: how do you deal with such a situation?   When does the developer have to back off and say "I can't make this any more <I>fair</I> without hurting the established players"?
#23 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 20:17:26
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
Rantage, I think there are a few ways of dealing with it, but I think that any method of dealing with it HAS to be carefully considered during the early game design.

Method 1: PK zones.  Make certain star systems (perhaps the majority) open to conflict, but make many others, including the starting location off limits.

In Mankind, you have several star systems where you can't have conflict in space.  You can still have fights on the surface of planets though, which makes the whole rule useless.

Method 2: Safe homeworlds.  Never allow for complete destruction of a player.  Let his home system be his castle.  People can fly through, but nobody can build or attack there.

I like method 1 better.  Method 2 still allows for people to get boxed into their homeworld.

Method 3: I am the law.  Make it impossible for a player to attack another player whose combined galactic value is a certain amount lower.  Calculate the value in terms of military + civialian + research capability.  More difficult to balance, but much more in line with the concept of a ladder system.

Most people aren't smart enough to use diplomancy to get out of bad spots and most aggressors will attack anyway.  Why should you let this guy get a foothold in your system?  He might be your buddy now, but he could just become your enemy.

The virtual lives aren't real, so you really don't have too much to lose in a preemptive strike.  You aren't going to be violating any human rights laws :)

So I think you need to draw some unviolatable lines in the rules that say "You are not allowed to attack this player because he is too weak."

Look at 10-six.  This is another game where newbies get utterly stomped by the more established players.
#24 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 20:19:21
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
One problem with Method 3 that I see is the "I attack you while you are offline, then I scuttle my fleet so you can't attack back."

These are problems that need a deep discussion and time before they can be resolved.  As opposed to Ultima Online, where it seems they just implement whatever sounds like it will pacify public opinion.
#25 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 20:29:26
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>GreenMarine:</B> Good points.  I also like Method 1; it would certainly provide a haven for newbies.

As for Method 2: hmm, I dunno.  I'd allow free combat on homeworlds, otherwise soon enough you can't deal with your annoying neighbors or neutralize the clan that's making raids on everybody in another area.

And Method 3: well, I wouldn't make it <I>impossible</I> to attack a lower-ranking player.  If I'm minding my own business and keep being pestered by a llama who <I>just won't go away</I>, I should be able to resort to less-polite means to get him to leave.  Without this, you'll see troublemakers create newbie characters for the sole purpose of annoying others.   Can you imagine having to wade your way through these, unable to do anything about it?

I agree that these are issues that need to be discussed.  Like a few others in this thread, I'm looking forward to <B>Dark Sector</B> (I'm not a big RPG/fantasy guy) and these are the sorts of problems my clan and I are going to run into.
#26 by "Valeyard"
2000-04-26 21:02:57
valeyard@ck3.net http://www.ck3.net
What about life spans and aging effects?  I realize that you don't want to punish a player who has invested a lot of time into building a strong character, but certainly there are things you can do to limit the effectiveness of the "grandfathers".

Personally, I'd WANT to start over from time to time.  The game is in the challenge.

While this might not work for ALL MMORPG's, why not try something like a tier based system:

Build a kick ass Tier 1 character, retire them and you can now start building a Tier 2 character.  The tier 2 characters have different classes, items, quests...whatever.  It wouldn't take much imagination to make this plausable...reach a certain level and you can transfer your "soul" to another land with another character.

Frankly, I think this could be a good solution to network issues as well.  Shift your Tier 2/3/4 people off to another "world"...and another server.  What better way to constantly make the experience new for players?  What better way to provide constantly changing goals and a much more level playing field?  You could also use the time it takes a player to "graduate" to the next level...to BUILD the next level.

Granted I don't play EQ or any of the other MMORPGs...but I might, if there was something like this included.

-Valeyard
#27 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:25:27
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
i administrate a wishlist for mankind. (see link to the right, it's in english) 'aging effects' and such are in there.

how about solving the grandfather phenomena by just telling the newbies that they can easily join an established guild first until they feel strong enough? combined with the 'safe homeworld' idea this would solve the prob without much more programming work, right? or did i miss a point?

(the wishlist project is an effort to put a list of things in front of vibes' nose of what they do wrong and what the players want. i consider this a better idea by far than writing a 'this is such a bad world - planetcrap text' ... just my opinion. not meant to take personaly.)
#28 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 21:25:36
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
Lifespans....hmm, now <I>that's</I> interesting.

I don't think a lot of players will go for it: they're likely to become attached to their character, and would be mighty pissed to lose it due to old age.

But for <I>organizations</I>....now <B>that</B> could be interesting.

The clan that GreenMarine cited earlier sounded like a real problem.  What if there were a slight penalty applied to large organizations as time wore on?  For instance, say a large clan sets up shop on Planet A, the site of their headquarters.  After a certain time, and the planet becomes more populated, the old-timers have to pay a certain fee or tax?  This may encourage them to pull up the stakes and move elsewhere to avoid the tax (for a while).  This doesn't necessarily mean the death (using the lifespan idea) of the clan, but the forced restructuring.  During this time the clan would be vulnerable and preoccupied with moving.

Another option would be to remove any "no-fighting zone" around an established team's headquarters after a certain period.  <I>That</I> could possibly make things a bit hairier for the "grandfathers".
#29 by "enyak"
2000-04-26 21:27:32
enyak@numonium.de
In 1995 I actually made the mistake of buying a Cryo Game. Up until now, I can still feel the pain. Excuse me while I headbang the desk.

-enyak
#30 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 21:40:41
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'cryo offered player to get their money back. some did take this offer, most didn't. guess why?'</i>

Because they didn't hear about it? Like myself? Cryo never informed me about anything like that. And yes, my copy is registered (it's a MMPOG after all).

<i>'sites like www.planetcrap.com take all fun out of me i ever had in a computergame. trying to find all the funny mistakes one can find and write about so everybody laughs about.
(i'm sorry i can't express this any better. i'm german)'</i>

PlanetCrap is not a humour site. It's the kind of site that picks up topics all the happy puppy gaming sites out there don't want to touch, and then people discuss them. It might be time I finally wrote the "What the...?" section linked to at the top. Oh, and I'm German too, by the way. :)  Keep reading -- it might still take all the fun out of games for you, but for different reasons. :-)

Also, from the sound of your comment it feels like you've misunderstood the entire article as a rant about the Mankind community. I was not complaining about the Mankind community, I was complaining about Mankind itself, and its makers.

And regarding defending them on these issues: I paid the full price for not even half of a game. If you don't think that this is something to get upset about, I'll just need to ask you: Do you buy new cars without engines, too?

Take it easy.

- Morn
#31 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:40:57
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
'slight penalty applied to large organizations' (rantage)

would not help - at least in mankind. organisations are *rich*. they don't mind paying a tax.
all day live for grandfathers is to build a small base where they need it and then forget it (until it decays ... what does not happen :)
so this idea would not help to solve the problem.


enyak: 'dune I' was cool ... don't you remember? *g*
 must be years ago ..
#32 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 21:45:36
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>Aquila:</B> Well, I can't speak for the game 'Mankind'...other than it sounds like something we here in the States would stuff into a flaming paper bag and place on somebody's doorstep.

In other games, it may be an effective method of "culling the herd".   I wonder if any <B>Digital Extremes</B> people are reading this thread?
#33 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 21:46:43
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila, wish lists are cool as long as they don't need to include "fix the damn game up until it's playable as advertised."

Geez, are you even aware that you're in breach of the license agreement if you show Mankind to a friend? That Vibes could take the servers down forever and you couldn't do anything about it? That it's totally up to Vibes to make the game work as advertised or not? Yup, that's exactly what it says. What? Most people don't read their license agreement? Oh.

Gee, that's just really stupid, is it. :-)

- Morn
#34 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:49:35
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn: you're right. sure, i might be too idealistic. but knowing this still doesn't make me actually like this kind of site ... we'll but please don't take this personaly. just my humble opinion.

"Do you buy new cars without engines, too? "
i think it's a difference if i buy a practical thing like a car to use it daily or if i buy a game for having fun making it easy to wait and even to support those vibes guys a little.
i bought the game (perhaps you too?) because this was what i was dreaming of. vibes had the same dream and i won't blame them for being unprofessionel because i can wait. there is no game like mankind anywhere (although other projects have started).

Vibes does have money now. Vibes has more programmers now. Vibes has signed a contract with cryo but doesn't need them anymore. vibes is about to change it's 'information politic' and slowly learns how to keep a fandom alive.

i think this is enough to keep my idealistic hope alive. :)
#35 by "Lumberjack"
2000-04-26 21:50:52
noone@nowhere.com
I think that the reason these games have the unequality and the "grandfathering" as they do, is that it is a simple reflection of our own human society.  There is an established, strong, group that have a lot of the power and control, and there are the masses of the weak that can barely eek out an existance.  As much as I would like equity in these games, it simply won't work just as Communist Socialism just doesn't work....I know that this is a stretch of an analogy, but I think that it does somewhat hold true.
#36 by "spyke"
2000-04-26 21:53:16
spyke@planetquake.com http://www.planetquake.com
Geez, you'd think that people would have heard about this before they bought the game, especially in North America. If I remember correctly, I heard about this entire fiasco at least 9 months ago, and had a good chuckle over it.

But it's still pretty scary to think that people waited through the entire clusterfuck at the beginning to actually play it. Lord knows I don't have that kind of patience.
#37 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 21:53:20
not@themoment.com
Raw Ideas, discuss how to implement them:

1) Do not reward more experienced players for killing less experienced ones, unless they are attacked first.

2) Tax more powerful characters, giving them a reason keep adventuring/generating income.

3) Reward more powerful characters for taking less powerful ones under their wing.

4)Encourage newbies to band together, either through a common threat, or a puzzle/adventure that can only be solved by a group who works together.

5) Give more experienced players a reason to be elsewhere, away from the newbies, be it the land tax described below, a reputation system that keeps them out of certain areas, or an incredibly low reward for killing people who are less pwerful than they are

(exp=1/x base, where x=level of killer plus -(y) y = exp level/points of killed)

I hope that made sense...
#38 by "Desiato"
2000-04-26 21:53:24
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com
Here's one effect that may or may not be viable. How about gradual inefficiency(sp?)creeping into the system. Your turrets start to degrade over time, maintenance is required. Or inflation eats up the value of the money that you've built up. These effects could be scaled so that they are minimal when you start out, somewhat average when you are a "mature" player, and highly corrosive when you are a "grandpa". Perhaps other systems are more effective, but this was the first thing I thought of. Mobs or simply strong players would have to eventually replace a large looming infrastructure, so they would be hard pressed to maintain a large empire.

Oh well...whatcha think?

Desiato...
#39 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:54:49
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn:

you get this thing with the license in a strange view.
i'm pretty sure vibes does not have the slightest idea of what is written in there in english. it's just a rumor, but translations are not one of vibes' hobbies. most of them don't speak more languages than 'french and english sounding french'.

the german translation was done by a player (feivel, who now works for them). the chinese translation ... well, i one of them has a chinese girl-friend.

i'd like to read the _french_ version of that license agreement _before_ cryo put it into a box. there is no such license agreement on the website (vibes' work) ... right?
#40 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 21:56:27
not@themoment.com
I like the idea of having to maitain your empire... assuming that the infrastructure exists. Also, you could introduce newer and better tech as time goes on, so that amazing gatling gun is no longer an effective deterrent to the plasma gun weilding 50' walking tank that approaches...
#41 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 22:00:44
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>Desiato:</B> I like it.  I don't know about a gradually increasing amount of entropy/corrosion/crap-don't-work-no-more though: I think having it be a constant would be enough to place a burden on large empires.

Large groups could serve a purpose, after all.  Sure, you're going to have your evil PKing clans, but you'll also have those who will try to assist the newbies.  No sense in trying to drive <I>them</I> into the ground....
#42 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:02:22
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
ryan:
1).. unless they are attacked first.

a system of 'rewards' would have to be implemented from the beginning. i'm afraid this would mean too much work.

2) Tax more powerful characters, giving them a reason keep adventuring/generating income.

there are taxes. the mega-rich don't even notice them because they make more money than they can control. they won't even notice there's something missing.
if you introduced taxes that really hurt, veterans would stop playing after they reached that point. the game looses every fun. it starts to become unfair. no balanding this out would ever help :(

3) Reward more powerful characters for taking less powerful ones under their wing.

this is nearly implemented. empires get special techs.

4)Encourage newbies to band together, either through a common threat, or a puzzle/adventure that can only be solved by a group who works together.

... well, if vibes would have twice as much programmers.

5) Give more experienced players a reason to be elsewhere, away from the newbies, be it the

... how exactly do you think this should work? grandpas can be everywhere they want, right now. this might be a raw solution ... but it's very vague, i'm afraid.
#43 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:05:57
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'but knowing this still doesn't make me actually like this kind of site ... we'll but please don't take this personaly. just my humble opinion.'</i>

Don't worry, PlanetCrap will grow on you, since you seem to be a discussion type of person. Lots of smart people here, more than the site's name might suggest. :)

I think everybody is allowed to do whatever he wants to do. If people want to buy cars without engines, sure thing, I'm not gonna stop them. Personally, I would hate to buy a new car only to find out that the engine is missing and that the contract says that I don't have the right for one.

Having said that, I don't know where the difference between those two (the car and the game) is. I paid money for a product and didn't get it. In the old days, Vibes (or/and Cryo) would have already clubbed to death by a pack of pissed off cavemen and cavewomen.

If you claim that an incomplete car and an incomplete computer game are different, I'd like to know where you draw the line? When does it start being <i>important</i> enough to complain?

Also, you need to realize that there is a far bigger problem than me (and some others) having lost those DM 70/whatever it costs in other countries: If other companies see that Vibes/Cryo get through with this, they'll start to imitate it. As long as people are arond who defend that kind of behaviour, I'll be able to simply put a fake 20 MB installer in a box, print a manual that states that all the docs will actually be on the web site (as they did with Mankind) and sell it. I'd not put any servers up, and once John Doe complains about not being able to connect, I'll just refer him to the passage in the license agreement that says that I don't <b>have</b> to make sure the server is up, no matter how long it's down. Of course John Doe will still defend me because he digs my vision and stuff. Cool!

Whoever wants to see this gaming future happen simply doesn't deserve better.

- Morn
#44 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:09:00
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
about this idea of 'decaying ships' (at least 'growing ineffetiveness' :)

internet access is horrible expensive in most countries.
this lead to the fact that most player prefer 'fast gaming'. they build a fleet when there is a war and they build a base near their enemies shortly before they want to attack them.

afterwards the whole fleet is destroyed (and they don't care) and the temporary base is of no more importance.

this leads to the fact that a great part of the players just don't care about decaying ships.

'fast gaming' is an effect in UO, EQ and AC as well. these players don't want to care about all such things like 'decaying ships and maintenance cost' ... they want a two hour fun because one hour online means one dollar less for them.
#45 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:17:11
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'you get this thing with the license in a strange view. i'm pretty sure vibes does not have the slightest idea of what is written in there in english. it's just a rumor, but translations are not one of vibes' hobbies. most of them don't speak more languages than 'french and english sounding french'.'</i>

*shrug* Not the customer's problem. I know a couple of good language schools in the UK though. Dunno if that could help. =)

<i>'i'd like to read the _french_ version of that license agreement _before_ cryo put it into a box. there is no such license agreement on the website (vibes' work) ... right?'</i>

The manual (don't have it here at home) includes at least a German and a French version next to the English version. If you really want it, I'll type it down in here.

The English version, by the way, does sound like it was written by a lawyer to me. A lawyer who's probably sipping cocktails somewhere in Mexico by now. ;-)

Please don't get this wrong, I'm not out to complain about anything and everything simply for the sake of bitching around, and I'm not replying to your comments only because I hate you or anything. I'm just <i>really</i> concerned about how people on the net (or 'people' in general) simply seem to have stopped <i>caring</i> about these issues. The result will be an industry which will sell us <b>NOTHING BUT CRAP</b>, because they know nobody cares.

You know why console games (from a purely 'code' point of view of course) are so much better than PC games? Because all games for the major consoles go through very, very strict quality testing and need to be approved by the console manufacturer before they can be released. Sometimes I really wish we'd have that kind of quality control for PC games.

- Morn
#46 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:25:38
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn, yes, you are a discussion type of person, too.

this progress of unfinished games being published has indeed started a few years ago and lead to ultima IX and mankind.

but please accept my point of view that not every firm does this because they just hate their customers and only want their money. as far as i know, vibes did not get a pfennig of your 70DM (cryo did, yannis said this once). vibes only takes the registration fee ... oops, the registration servers are down. well, it will once start to make money with the net-distributed version of the game.

where i do draw the line? merlin and feivel visited vibes and convinced me that vibes loves this game (and does not code any other games or projects). this makes me sure that they will definitly not shut down the servers (although i had much more fun than i ever got for 70DM and most money went to the telekom).

i do make a difference between a group of idealistic programmers that do their best (and sign a wrong contract) to realize a dream ... and a firm that brings out such a license agreement because it intends to fuck the players after enough money cumulated.

this is indeed the point that i like least on your 'humor' report ... for readers that don't know anything about MK it defintly leads to the oppinion that vibes is a group of bad guys that only started this project because ... well, i don't have the slightest idea how to express this :(

somehow i feel like morn just consideres my opinions less worth a debate. must be my strange grammar or something.
#47 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:31:05
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
well, quite two completely different points of view we have.

i think that if this strict quality control would apply to computer games, the net would be dead today. there would be no more idealistic 'just for the fun' programmers.
you can't control everything this way. if you do, you get static.
you would take the consumers right to decide if they want to support this product and it's idea anyway (although it's far from perfect, but they accept it)
or if not, if you don't let all those frustrating, small, imperfect ideas slip through your quality control.
i (personaly) want to decide this.
#48 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 22:31:24
not@themoment.com
Aquila- What is the benefit of attacking a newbie? Do you get their gear when they die, loot their ship. or get to drag the carcass back to a port and fix it up? Just the pure joy of killing another player?  Basically, why would you want to attack a newbie?
#49 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 22:32:05
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
What I've noticed about MMRPG players is that the powergamers and mega-rich players torture newbies simply because they are bored and have run through the game's quests and challenges.  While this may have a seemingly obvious solution (just rename a quest and say it's new) it all boils down to the fact that running around and slashing things just gets old after a while.

Say Origin were to introduce an arena only for those at GM level.  You could have a programmer assigned to maintain it.  Maybe a UO capture-the-flag game, or everyone randomly morphs into a different monster every five minutes, or a giant paintball game.  Who knows.  But if Origin just sits back and says "HERE IS OUR GAME!" and let the powergamers run through it in two weeks, then the newbie torture will begin.

-db
#50 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-04-26 22:33:27
Darkseid@captured.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
www.planetarion.com

online game like you suggest above :)


Now if you took damage in combat properly and had to service your ships, and rearm them, then the game would become more strategic. Instead of (at the present), send fleet out, fight, return fleet, add more ships, send out ....

You can never be totally out of the game in PA, because while you get your materiel from mined asteroids, which can be stolen, your home planet also has surface mines which although pitiful in amounts, would give you enough components to build a few new asteroid stealers over time.

Ds
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