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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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#201 by "Night"
2000-04-30 06:52:04
jonathan@systs.net
Nightmare lib?
NIGHTMARE LIB?
I don't have a very high opinion of it, nor of Descartes.  Though he's around...

Anyway...

<b>#196</b> "Earthbound Ness" wrote...
<quote>
All you people have really heard about mankind is some review that bashes it. And not a very reliable one at that. If you want the real story on the game play it!
</quote>
Hmm, I've been playing Mankind for quite some time now, and to get straight to the point, the game itself is boring.  It's tedium and lots of it.  The only things that are slightly amusing are battles, where fighters blow up destroyers and you can build hundreds of them easily.  Seriously, do you really consider it fun to build several thousand d.blades and roll over everyone?  Or wait until someone does that to you?

If there were real missions/quests, it would be better.

If there were more technologies, ships, and(god forbid) those modules for customizing ships, it would be better.

If there was more to do then just roll over offline people with your huge fleet, it would be fun.

If, for some reason, the Mankind website was actually up again, since it hasn't been for quite some time now, well, wouldn't make the game fun, but at least it would be up.

If Vibes learned english, well, that would improve the game right there.  I ended up changing all the files into english myself, and redoing it when the patch them.

<quote>
Trust me if your any good at it you'll love it.
</quote>
If good can be construed as
<quote>
players with every single fucking inch of a star system covered with auto guns and turrets...
</quote>
Or things along those lines.

I suppose I would qualify, but really, the only reason I play(which is rare now), is because it's the only game of it's type.

The game would own if it got the hell out of beta stage and had the functionality, it's got tons of potential, but it's all wasted.
#202 by "Kid McDonalds"
2000-04-30 16:27:45
Kid2@gmx.net http://www.space-pirates.de
FuCk U OfF BitcH!
#203 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-04-30 18:51:04
appliedavoidanc@triton.net
<b>#170</b> "Earthbound Ness" wrote...
<QUOTE>And Vibes always keeps us guessing on what atrocities they will put us through next : ) </QUOTE>

There's a selling point. "Hey, buy this game - you never know what we are going to screw up next!!!" No thanks I've had enough fun with break/fix support playing Falcon4. Not a single patch came out of Microprose that didn't break something that was working in the process of fixing something else. Maddening as hell. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#204 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-04-30 18:58:17
appliedavoidanc@triton.net
<b>#188</b> "Timdog" wrote...
<QUOTE> Why the hell is every MMPOG out there technologically a complete piece of crap?
 
 Morn- Brian Hook (from Verant) gave his reasons for that over at VoodooExtreme (in his 'Ask Hook' column) a couple of weeks ago (don't have a link handy, sorry).  
 
 IMO, its not that they can't add a quality graphics engine, its just that they can't add a quality graphics engine in a reasonable amount of time with all the other, more important gameplay aspects to deal with.
 
 -The Timdog</QUOTE>

Then don't!! The most enthralling versions of the Ultima series were all 2d scrollers. If the #d engine is a secondary concern, and gameplay issues are giving you problems, bag the 3d engine for a while, and make the game work. (this admittedly simplistic view brought to you by pop tarts and folgers coffee)

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#205 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-04-30 19:31:15
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
<quote>FuCk U OfF BitcH!</quote>

Morn ... please ... registration.  :-/
#206 by "Angelus[RE]"
2000-05-01 14:45:44
duke@swissonline.ch http://gilden.mkit.net/re
Morn, a little question : You didnt manage to get your ships out of the base ?!
Ok. Now im not surprised by the crap (yes the name Planetcrap fits quite well) you wrote
I had NEVER problems with getting ships out of bases. And i play since February 99.
So if you dont even manage it to do things easy like that i feel REALLY sorry for you

And you other guys here, you never played Mankind
So stop complaining about it

And to the stuff about limited ammo and so on..
thats crazy
Do you have any idea how many defense turrets a system needs to withstand a medium sized attack fleet ?
Vibes did a great job by strengthening the stationary defenses, and this would all ruin it
Besides..since when do lasers require AMMO ?
And those "grandfathers" arent as almighty as you think
It just needs some other guys who alone couldnt stand against this grandpa, but together they outgun him easily

And the graphic : c'mon, it's not THAT bad, sure there are better graphics in other games, but honestly, i dont CARE about the graphic as long as the games makes fun.
And Mankind makes A LOT of fun.

And about bugs and features : During the last few months Mankind was improved more than all the time before. Guess why ? Cause Vibes has now money. And they didnt have money before because of what ? Cryo.

So, i'll say give the game a few months more and it'll be great.

And stop this "only picking out the bad things and never loose a word about the good things" crap
#207 by "Andy"
2000-05-01 14:52:51
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#206</b>, Angelus[RE]:
<QUOTE>So, i'll say give the game a few months more and it'll be great.</QUOTE>
Well gee, maybe they should have waited 'til then to release it.
#208 by "Angelus[RE]"
2000-05-01 15:01:08
duke@swissonline.ch http://gilden.mkit.net/re
Read all through and you'll get that CRYO insisted to release the game already !
#209 by "David Long"
2000-05-01 17:37:21
ogv@gamestats.com http://ogv.gamestats.com
Which doesn't say a thing about whether or not the game is a piece of crap or not. It certainly hints that there's probably something wrong with it if it was released early.

Why defend the developer in this case? The game obviously doesn't work right and has many, many issues. Just enjoy it and be on your merry way. We'll stick around and gape in open mouthed horror that anyone would bother with something so unfinished and unplayable out of the box when released.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#210 by "Morn"
2000-05-01 21:43:25
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
<b>#206</b> "Angelus[RE]" wrote...
<QUOTE>Morn, a little question : You didnt manage to get your ships out of the base ?!
Ok. Now im not surprised by the crap (yes the name Planetcrap fits quite well) you wrote</QUOTE>

No, I didn't manage to get my ships out of the base, because the game would simply exit to Windows when I tried.

I rest my case.

- Morn
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#211 by "Angelus[RE]"
2000-05-04 09:15:15
duke@swissonline.ch http://gilden.mkit.net/re
SO it was a bug.
Yes, i remember this one.
Some guys had prblems with.
Ever thought about ASKING someone ?
#212 by "Whisp"
2000-05-04 17:04:58
whisp@vt.edu
I think you are missing the point Angelus.  There may be one of the best games of all time underneath all the bugs, but IT DOESN'T MATTER.  There is absolutely NO excuse for releasing a game to the public with as many show-stopping bugs to the public as people have described.  And then to charge a monthly fee to "use" the software is unforgivablee.  While I'm not sure if anyone ever said they ever started charging for play time like they originally planned to, I don't see how they could justify it.  

People have made analogies like this before but here goes another one.  Say this was an expensive sportscar you had just bought/rented.  You take it out for your first test drive and discover it gives you the smoothest ride you've ever had, performs like a dream, and is a lot of fun to drive.  EXCEPT:  The brakes hardly work, the steering wheel won't turn right, and you can't back up.  Not only that, but they put crappy tires on it, used cheap, ugly paint and never put those last few coats on that give it a show-room finish.  In otherwords most of the "gameplay" is there, but none of the fancy eyecandy that the sales brochure showed, despite the fact you had been promised racing slicks and a cherry red paint job.  Twelve months go by, and the car company has replaced the tires, and made it so you can back up.  The brakes now work most of the time, but in fixing the steering they made it so you have trouble turning the wheel in both directions.

Sound ridiculous?  Well it is.  People here don't want to deal with that kind of crap, and don't think we should have to.  That's part of what this site is about.  It's a discussion of all the game related BS like this that goes on.  The goal is to look for solutions and raise awareness so hopefully consumers become less tolerant of games released before they're done.  That way the next by the time Mankind 2 comes out in the stores, it has a chance to win all those "Game of the Year" awards you believe it deserves.

-Whisp
#213 by "err head"
2000-06-10 11:29:25
err_head@yahoo.com
I wonder if morn ever managed
to
get
his
fleet
out
of
space-dock
?

I
won't
try
cigarettes,
heroin,
or
evercrack
.

I
wonder
if
this
will
be
seen
by
anyone
?
#214 by "err head"
2000-06-10 11:40:25
err_head@yahoo.com
damn, guess the formatting isn't broken-space-bar-friendly
#215 by "Joey"
2000-08-06 07:47:13
Ey!
#216 by "SkyLeach"
2000-09-17 02:05:25
skyleach@skyleach.com http://www.skyleach.com
Hehehehe.  I wasn't dumb enough to pay anything for this game.  The reason?  It was made by French people!!!  I'm a developer (programmer, geek, whatever) and I have never met a frenchman who knew how to write software that wasn't crap.

I have never been able to do anything with mankind.  :P

-SL
#217 by "Leon"
2000-09-28 14:03:29
Squall.leonhart@playstation-fans.com
heh heh heh...... i bought mankind thinking it wuz gonna be great...... then I installed it and realised it didnt work so i just took it back to the shop and exchanged it for Metal Fatigue :-)
#218 by "Fiete"
2000-10-11 02:44:07
info@fietefietz.de http://www.fietefietz.de
Thank's a lot! This page provided me with enough information to rethink my decision to get the game...thank you all.

Fiete
#219 by "Fela"
2000-11-07 15:43:14
rambeaud@physik.uni-giessen.de
Dunno if you guys knew it, it's possible to play Mankind for free with a limited account. Means you can never have enuff or the right units to have much fun playing, but at least you can find out if you can leave the dock without the game crashing on you and if you manage to handle the controls ;)
Myself, I havent made up my mind yet, if i'm gonna register or not, what i saw of the game so far wasnt THAT bad, one problem though...too damn many ships ;)
(The controls are far from perfect, but it IS possible to get used to them, i mean, i heard some people played Tiberian Sun after all..)

After what Blizzard did with Diablo2 and battle.net I'm not so easily disappointed again i guess ;) (The suckers managed to fix most problems there in time for me to NOT return the game and now the network is messy again, and not a word of explanation anywhere)

  Fela
#220 by "Sank"
2000-11-20 03:01:50
combine mankind with homeworlds interface and engine, now that would be a game
#221 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2003-12-30 13:57:39
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
test

Leader of the DKDLFDDKE (Death Killer Defense League For The Defence of Death Killers Everywhere)
#222 by Jibble
2003-12-30 14:53:29
fail.

The five percent nation of harmful free radicals
#223 by BobJustBob
2004-01-12 09:07:30
Hey, you guys are prolonging threads behind my back? Weak.

Dood.
#224 by m0nty
2004-08-07 09:28:35
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Not as weak as your attempts to Last Post.
#225 by Jibble
2004-08-09 04:54:04
Yeah, no shit.

убийство!
#226 by Max
2004-08-09 05:07:09
http://massivebraincase.org/
Knock that shit off.

Gaaaaaaaaaay!!!  Also, pix pls. - Shadarr
#227 by m0nty
2004-08-09 05:07:52
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
I don't care who gets Last Post, as long as it's not Bob.
#228 by BobJustBob
2004-08-09 05:12:11
In this thread? Who fucking cares.

Dood.
#229 by Max
2004-08-09 05:19:54
http://massivebraincase.org/
Knock that shit off.

Gaaaaaaaaaay!!!  Also, pix pls. - Shadarr
#230 by m0nty
2004-08-09 05:31:51
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Knock that "Knock that shit off" shit off.
#231 by Squeaky
2004-08-09 05:45:30
fuck you all

"I'm really tired of hearing that eating a few too many pieces of broccoli is going to increase my risk of getting nose cancer." - Caryn
fuck you all
#232 by Jibble
2004-08-09 14:16:39
Indeed.

убийство!
#233 by jjohnsen
2004-08-23 17:50:28
http://www.johnsenclan.com
There is no last post.

Sgt Hulka-I punched the toilets for about 5 mins and never got them to flush.
#234 by Jibble
2004-08-23 17:53:41
14 days...that must be a record of some sort around here.

убийство!
#235 by m0nty
2004-08-23 18:12:02
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Hell no, some threads have gone more than a year without posts, then BAM some random anon fucko posts on-topic and we're away again.
#236 by Squeaky
2004-08-23 18:40:46
wheeeee!

"I'm really tired of hearing that eating a few too many pieces of broccoli is going to increase my risk of getting nose cancer." - Caryn
fuck you all
#237 by jjohnsen
2004-08-23 22:17:11
http://www.johnsenclan.com
14 days...that must be a record of some sort around here.

When I clicked on view unread threads I always missed this one for some reason.  I wasn't trying to cause trouble.

Sgt Hulka-I punched the toilets for about 5 mins and never got them to flush.
#238 by Max
2004-08-24 04:44:30
http://massivebraincase.org/
Tell it to the judge.

I'll become a freegan just as soon as the soulless corporations stop creating such wonderful products. -Shadarr
#239 by "abc"
2005-06-18 19:47:56
a@abc.com http://www.incest--sex.net/
<a href="http://www.brutal-rape.biz/">forced sex</a>
#240 by Gunp01nt
2005-06-18 19:58:12
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Well, #235 sure nailed it.

The only thing that could possibly make me less frightening, is if someone made three movies about my childhood, pointing out how much of a retarded, non-threatening pussy I used to be.

Wait, someone already did that? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
 - Darth Vader
#241 by Dumdeedum
2006-09-25 22:25:09
http://www.dumdeedum.com
Don't worry, I'm not going to do this for every thread...

MP3 Of The Week: Jeez, it's Monday AGAIN.
#242 by Penguinx
2006-09-25 22:26:00
Good.

SKETCHBLOG.
 ;;;
< o)
 / |    //   Hey, kid. Don't get cocky.
( ---////
 -- --
#243 by sharonrock
2009-10-22 15:34:40
shrnrock@gmail.com
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.
sharonrock
Simulation prêt
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