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Friday, March 30, 2007

LOTRO Announces One Million Open Beta Accounts: A Play In One Act By Kunochan

Bilbo Baggins: Master Elrond! Master Elrond!

Elrond Halfelven: Not now, my little friend. I am composing an history of the First Age, that fails to mention Túrin Turimbar. So as to be less depressing. Also, the bit with the dragon is a bit much.

Bilbo: But Master Elrond! Rivendell is overrun by strangers! And they have odd, non-Endorian names, like "HarryPotter1217" and "Arwensaslut!"

Elrond: Yes, I am well aware, my Periannath friend. Naught occurs in Imladris without my knowledge.

Bilbo: But there are thousands of them! Many many thousands! Eleventy-hundred thousand!

Elrond: Ah, your Hobbitish innumeracy amuses me. But there are in fact one million visitors, Mr. Baggins. They have taken advantage of Turbine's "Lord of the Rings Online" Open Beta offer.

Bilbo: Huh?

Elrond: From April 6th to April 24th, anyone can get one of one million open beta keys, and play. Of course, one must purchase a copy of "PC Gamer" or sign up on the GameSpot website in order to obtain such a key.

Bilbo: I do not understand you, Master. Have you lapsed into Quenya?

Elrond: No, no, my diminutive gastronome. But my wife left me, and traveled into the West, 510 years ago. And the loneliness and sexual frustration may have driven me mad.

Arwen Evenstar: You're sexually frustrated? I'm 2,777 years old, and I'm still a virgin! And you won't even let me screw my boyfriend!

Elrond: My darling daughter, perhaps we can discuss this later...

Arwen: And I pre-ordered! When do I get into the beta?

Elrond: Why, today, I believe, my daughter.

Arwen: Oh! Nice! I bother to pre-order, and I get a one week lead on the rest of the planet! And my box hasn't even arrived yet!

Bilbo: Please do not fight! It aggravates my incontinence!

Arwen: And speaking of my box, I'm going to my room. I think the "evenstar" needs some "polishing." [Exits.]

Bilbo: Curses. I have soiled my trousers.

Elrond: Sigh. I should have volunteered to be King of Númenor. I would be dead, but I would be happy. [Exeunt.]


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China Cracking Down on QQ Economy

Via /., The Wall Street Journal Online reports on the Chinese government's concerns about the QQ coin.

Created by software company Tencent for their QQ instant messenger, the QQ coin is now used by many East Asian online service providers, including MMOs such as Tencent's own "R2Beat," as currency for the purchase of service time and virtual items.
Then last year something happened that Tencent hadn't originally planned. Online game sites beyond Tencent started accepting QQ coins as payment. The coins appeal as a safer, more practical way to conduct small online purchases, because credit cards aren't yet commonplace in China.

At informal online currency marketplaces, thousands of users helped turn the QQ coins back into cash by selling them at a discount that varies based on the laws of supply and demand. Traders began jumping into the QQ coin market as an opportunity to make a quick yuan off of currency speculation.

State-run media reported that some online shoppers began using QQ coins to buy real-world items such as CDs and makeup. So-called QQ Girls started accepting the coins as payment for intimate private chats online. Gamblers caught wind, too, and started using the currency to get around China's anti-gambling laws, converting wins in online mahjong and card games back into cash. Dozens of third-party trading posts sprouted up to ease transactions, turning the QQ coin into a kind of parallel currency.
It can't be easy, trying to segue from Authoritarian Socialism to Authoritarian Capitalism, at the very moment that technology is destroying both traditional Authoritarianism and traditional Capitalism.


PS: You find the best things on the Internet. I was Googling "MMO QQ" to find out which MMOs accept QQs, and I found a scientific paper, "Naked singularities, event horizons, and charged particles," which contains the phrase: "when the inverse square gravitational and Coulomb forces are exactly equal, giving the condition Qq = Mmo..."

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

When Experts Expound on Things They Know Nothing About

Via Poorer Than You, an article on CNN Money called "Second Life's looming tax threat."

The only "news" in this article isn't news -- if people in "Second Life" are making real live U.S. dollars, the government wants its cut. Snore.

But the article goes further, making the absurd suggestion that entirely virtual economies, like the one in "World of Warcraft," should be taxed by the U.S. government.


Grace Wong, CNN Money staff writer, quotes Christopher Frenze of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, who sensibly points out that "as long as virtual activity stays within the virtual economy, it shouldn't be taxable."

But there are always two "sides" to any argument, and trust the mainstream media to find the "dumbass" side. "As soon as you start looking at what's going on in these worlds, they look a lot like real economic transactions," says Texas Tech professor Bryan Camp. According to Wong, Camp believes that "profits that come from, and stay in, the virtual world are taxable." I hope that's a misquote.

As Stephanie from Poorer Than You says, "Unless the IRS is prepared to tax my Monopoly winnings, they should really stay out of this."

So is there really a controversy here? Is the IRS going to tax my WoW gold? No. Although Ms. Wong would like to imply an impending danger, she quotes an IRS rep:
"Any time someone wins a tangible prize or award, the value is reportable as taxable income. An accumulation of 'points' would not result in tax consequences, but redeeming or selling them for money, goods, or services would."
So, there's no there there. Thanks, CNN Money!


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How NOT To Spam For Guild Recruits

Here's a very cool little blog post on how to advertise for guild members -- and how not to.
Do not load up your message with **l337** symbols and other crap. Your potential recruits don’t have time or desire to decipher, so just use plain English.
Stay away from over-used terms so ubiquitous that they are now meaningless. Ever seen anyone advertising for unfriendly, immature and inactive members? Almost all guilds are friendly, mature and active, so don’t use up precious space talking about it.
Use goood speeling. You may not care about every day chat spelling and grammar, but nothing makes you look more like a stupid n00b than spamming the same error over and over. Check it first then store it in a macro or text file.

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April Fools on "EverQuest II"

I'm holding an SOE "Media Alert" that promises some kind of gag for Bristlebane Day, aka April Fool's Day, on "EverQuest II."

If someone sees what it is, please let me know. I'm curious.

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"Matrix Online" Is Two Years Old -- You Could Have Some Cake, But There Is No Spoon!

"The Matrix Online" is two years old, and SOE has announced an anniversary event:
Disturbing rumors are circulating about recent viral outbreaks inside the Matrix. This "Smith Virus" apparently appeared after pieces of Agent Smith's viral code were found inside the Matrix. Data Miners have located odd objects at the center of each outbreak; however, we have lost contact with all Operatives dispatched to investigate.

Reports have also come in of programs called "Smith Virologists" that have appeared near the various city monuments. When approached, they state that they carry a message from the Oracle. All available Operatives are requested to contact the Smith Virologists and obtain whatever information they can from the Oracle.
The anniversary event takes place March 29 - April 10. Get "luggable" items and new t-shirts; fight new NPCs, and meet The Oracle. The new update also allows you to make changes to your Residual Self Image, aka your avatar.

Update 50, containing the new content, was released on March 8th.



Monday, March 26, 2007

MMO Hackers Give A Pound of Flesh

The Chinese version of Korean medieval action MMO "Cabal" has made an interesting offer to hackers.

Players banned for using cheating hacks can get their account back -- if they donate a pint of blood.

Over 120,000 players have been banned for hacking, and so far 100 have taken the company up on the offer.

Moliyo, the company behind "Cabal," made the offer to “create a civilized society, and enhance online gamers' appreciation of social responsibility and public welfare,” according to

Chinese hospitals have had trouble getting blood in recent years, after scandals in which donors and patients contracted HIV.

On a personal note, it's scandalous that U.S. hospitals have so much trouble getting blood and platelets. If you're not donating on a regular basis, you need to start. (The answer is "yes," I do. Platelets. Takes two hours. You get to watch a movie, and they give you a cookie.) And if you're not willing to donate organs, then you are a scumbag.

Via Boing Boing via Texyt.

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