The Corporation Accosts Lum the Mad
posted at 9:00 PM on Monday, January 22nd, 2001
Upon hearing that Lum the Mad, notorious website ranter of all things Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming, was looking to become a tool of the Man, we took it upon ourselves to get one last interview out of him. This was rather difficult at first, since he tends to be a little shy at times. At first we tried kidnapping his wife, but apparently she comes with genital-seeking knife attached, so we gave that up pretty quick. Finally after threatening to go into the future and kill his yet-unborn firstborn child, he relented. Or maybe he just got tired of us asking him. Tweety provided her Robin Quivers-esque commentary to my Howard Stern. Galt was there for shits and giggles. Presented for you now: a down and dirty heart-to-heart with Scott 'Lum The Mad' Jennings about MMOGs, archenemies, and all things Mongbat:
The Lum Interview Part One: How It Began, Dr. TwisTer, and Abashi
[14:18] Subversive You ready to start the executio... er, interview?
[14:19] Lum_ yeah, whatever
[14:19] * Tweety snickers
[14:19] Subversive All right.
[14:19] Subversive Well let's get off by having you tell our viewing audience. You know... the two homeless drunks in the back there... who you are.
[14:20] Subversive Start off.
[14:20] Subversive Not get off.
[14:20] * Tweety sighs
[14:20] Subversive Just woke up. I'm tired.
[14:20] Tweety The crack of 2 PM
[14:20] Lum_ My name's Scott Jennings, and about 2 years ago I started posting rantings about UO under the nom de plume "Lum the Mad". They became really popular.
[14:21] Lum_ Eventually, in 2036, our hordes of brainwashed minions took over a small Central American country (Costa Rica) and held it as a stronghold.
[14:21] Subversive Fascinating.
[14:21] Subversive How does it feel to be on the other side of the interview table, by the way?
[14:21] Lum_ From there, our crack brigades (no, really, they sell crack) fanned out throughout the world, spreading delirium and delight.
[14:21] Lum_ It feels like I'm typing in IRC.
[14:22] Lum_ I'm not being much help, am I?
[14:22] Subversive Hokay. So tell us all what you write about now. For the benefit of those the crack brigades missed.
[14:23] Lum_ Right now, not much. Before I stepped down from my editing post, I poked fun at and occasionally looked seriously at issues affecting the massively multiplayer gaming community.
[14:25] Subversive Those games being Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron's Call, and the bazillion ones that haven't/probably won't ever come out yet.
[14:25] Lum_ Especially the ones that probably won't ever come out yet.
[14:26] Subversive ...Like Dawn.
[14:26] Lum_ I suspect there are more fans of Dawn then Asheron's Call at this point.
[14:26] Subversive That scares me on a spiritual level.
[14:26] Tweety Like that's hard.
[14:26] Subversive YOU scare me on a spiritual level, Tweety.
[14:26] Lum_ It makes me want to fill my socks with mustard and toss them out a high window.
[14:28] * Tweety stares
[14:28] Subversive So anyway, you've had a few crusades on your site from time to time...
[14:29] Lum_ We're quite fond of breasts, for example.
14:29] Subversive I'm thinking more the screaming, beating fists against chest, kind.
[14:29] Lum_ I don't like those kind of breasts.
[14:29] Subversive Why don't you tell me a little about your relationship between Dr. Twister and Abashi.
[14:29] Lum_ Dr. Twister and Abashi have a relationship?
[14:30] Lum_ Wow. The mind just kind of reels.
[14:30] Subversive Nonono. Your relationship with the two of them.
[14:30] Tweety Dear god, that's worse than a Kubrick/Spielberg love child
[14:30] Lum_ Hey, wait a minute. I don't do three-ways.
[14:30] Lum_ I'm still not being much help, am I?
[14:31] Tweety "no comment" is way faster....
[14:31] Lum_ But this is so much more fun. Seriously, obviously our coverage of the two has been vastly different. Or so I would hope, anyway.
[14:32] Lum_ But both, each in their own way, helped shape the community outside of MMOGs. Which is why we devote so much virtual ink to them.
[14:32] Subversive Well Dr. TwisTer started out as a bug site for UO and EQ. And you sorta started out as an anti-TwisTer site, right?
[14:32] Subversive I mean, I was actually there from the beginning. From when he linked you.
[14:33] Lum_ Well, not so much an anti-Twister site, as more another point of view. When I started posting my screeches, you had the "corporate sites" (not THE Corporate site mind you)
[14:33] Lum_ and you had the bug sites. Not much of a middle ground there. You could either read wedding announcements or you could read a poorly-spelled diatribe on why GMs are horrible forces of nature.
[14:34] Lum_ I think a lot of why my writing quickly became so popular is that I spoke for a large segment of the MMOG community who didn't see gaming companies as perfect bastions of reason and light, yet at the same time didn't really appreciate the kids from the short bus looting and pillaging their way through the games I played.
[14:35] Subversive Yes, but at the same time, you owe a lot of the initial word on your site to that link by TwisTer, which you spent large amounts of time comparing to Keanu Reeves. Without that, the word might not have spread. At least not as rapidly.
[14:36] Subversive Would you say that's accurate?
[14:36] Lum_ Sure. As I said elsewhere, "Dr. TwisTer made me the man I am today."
[14:37] Lum_ Would my writings have ever attracted any attention had Twister not graced me with a dozen links? I don't know. I like to think so.
[14:37] Subversive You ever meet him in real life?
[14:37] Lum_ No, he has consistently avoided meeting me in real life.
[14:38] Tweety He just doesn't want to admit his inner bumpfuzzle
[14:38] Lum_ The fact that I had a camera with me probably had something to do with it.
[14:38] Lum_ He didn't know any elite digital camera exploits.
[14:38] Subversive Heh.
[14:38] Subversive What do you think about him and his game network these days? I think it's safe to say that your opinion of him has changed over time.
[14:39] Lum_ I think it's a shame that he quit writing. He had a viewpoint (which I often disagreed with) and the silencing of viewpoints is rarely if ever a positive thing.
[14:40] Subversive So you don't necessarily think that posting bugs can ruin a game with the influx of expl0it kiddies.
[14:41] Lum_ No, I absolutely believe that the public posting of game bugs is harmful in an MMOG environment.
[14:41] Lum_ In a single player game, who cares. In an MMOG, you are going to use those to either further yourself faster than anyone else can, or directly hurt the gameplay of others.
[14:41] Lum_ Maybe I'm weird, but I don't see that as a good thing.
[14:42] Subversive Well those two viewpoints seem dichotomous then.
[14:42] Lum_ However, Twister had views on the industry over and above the latest l33t expl0it. It's a shame that we don't see that any more.
[14:42] Subversive True.
[14:43] Lum_ He publicized the corrupt UO GM who was selling property he created on eBay, for example. That was very much something that needed to happen (the publicity, not the corruption) and in that sense he was actually good for the game he was covering, since OSI went to great lengths to clean up their own house in the aftermath.
[14:43] Lum_ People are rarely black and white.
[14:44] Lum_ I, for example, am a sort of jaundiced minty green.
[14:44] Subversive Yeah. That the world isn't in two shades of light and dark is something I find myself espousing upon at the Corp often.
[14:45] Lum_ The world is often in 16-bit color!
[14:45] Tweety Take Pop, you just can't GET lighter, and yet he's from the Dark Side
[14:45] Subversive I want my EGA
[14:45] Lum_ Well, Pop is really Eminem's twisted twin brother
[14:46] Subversive I have a nickname for him actually:
[14:46] Subversive "Platnium Haired Vampire"
[14:46] Lum_ All those nasty lyrics about gay bashing and wife beating? Pop really wrote those.
[14:46] Subversive That and "Enormous Piece of Shit That Makes Me Write Stuff Every Day"
[14:47] Lum_ So he's a grade school English teacher, then?
[14:47] Subversive Probably.
[14:47] Tweety He kicks us from the channel if we call him Slim =(
[14:47] * Subversive is glad that Pop is sleeping right now
[14:48] Lum_ So, we've covered Dr. Twister, and Mr. Poppinfresh.
[14:48] Subversive So enough about your nemesis, TwisTer, and mine, Poppinfresh.
[14:48] Lum_ Both of whom, I might add, don't technically write for my site.
[14:48] Subversive Let's talk about your other nemesis, Abashi, who might one day make you dance like a little meat puppet if Verant hires you.
[14:49] Lum_ I suspect the "meat puppet dance" is probably on the agenda for any game company that sees fit to hire me.
[14:49] Subversive Well as I understand it, it's been that way at the place you're working for now.
[14:50] Lum_ Yes, but my arms have kind of gotten used to the cattle prod pokes.
[14:50] Subversive So. Abashi. Describe the love.
[14:51] Lum_ Well, Abashi is much happier now
[14:51] Lum_ At least that's my impression.
[14:51] Subversive Yes. He's not Dealing With People now.
[14:51] Lum_ I can understand this. My method of Dealing With People usually involves snarling and throwing feces.
[14:52] Subversive Well prior to his current bliss, he WAS Dealing With People. He was the guy in charge of EQ Customer Relations, right? Or was that Internet Relations?
[14:54] Lum_ I believe his title was Internet Relations Manager, but I'm not entirely sure. But yes, it was his responsibility to listen to every loser pinhead with a wild hair up their butt about class balance.
[14:55] Subversive And he wasn't a good listener.
[14:55] Lum_ Well, I think his biggest problem was that he allowed people to bait him into an adversarial mode of communication.
[14:56] Lum_ The low point was when he started threatening nerfs to get people to quit griping.
[14:56] Subversive I don't remember that specifically. Must have been mixed in with the rest of his threat/"shove off" messages.
[14:57] Lum_ It was involving lightweight tailor bags that combine items within them. Very popular among monks, since monks are weak and can't carry any weight at all.
[14:57] Lum_ So someone requested that they put in a confirm dialog when combining (and losing) items so people wouldn't accidentally lose stuff.
[14:58] Lum_ And Abashi's response was basically "they're supposed to work that way, you're using them in an inappropriate manner, and maybe we need to just have them eat everything they contain on logoff. You want that? Huh? Huh?"
[14:58] Subversive Oh, I remember that.
[14:58] Lum_ This did not sit well with people. Can't imagine why.
[14:59] Galt Well, at least he professionally represented Verant
[14:59] Subversive I remember when Abashi-bashing (that rhymes so well) was a sort of daily ritual at Lum The Mad.
[14:59] Lum_ Well that was part of the problem. People thought he was supposed to represent the players, not Verant.
[15:00] Lum_ What can I say, I'm lazy. When stories write themselves, I kick back and allow them to continue to do so.
[15:00] Subversive That's not necessarily a bad thought. Having a corporate player representative.
[15:03] Subversive But yeah. The drama went sort of like this, if I recall: Abashi would say something vaguely threatening or deplorable to the players, and you would post it and make fun of him. Tell him to stop. Then it finally came to the point where you announced that Verant should "promote" Abashi out of that role.
[15:04] Tweety AND THEN THEY RANDOMLY DID IT
[15:04] Subversive Yes they did.
[15:04] Lum_ Yes. Which it turns out Abashi had already requested they do, which then made it look awfully embarrassing were they to do it at The Evil Lum's bidding.
[15:05] Subversive Which brings up an interesting point:
[15:05] Subversive (Dum dum dummmm)
[15:05] Subversive How much power do you feel you have over these MMOG things. Or had, at least, before you sold out.
[15:05] * Tweety ducks for cover
[15:06] Lum_ I suspect I had more power when I wrote about them then what I will have after my selling-out.
[15:06] *** dignity has joined #corp
[15:07] dignity hello everyone
[15:07] Lum_ And with that, I defer to dignity.
[15:07] Subversive Heh.
[15:07] dignity what lum
[15:07] Tweety Hey Dignity, can you come back later?
[15:07] Subversive You're interrupting a VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT.
[15:07] Tweety Private chat at the moment, the moderator is just not here to change the setting
[15:08] Lum_ dignity you can not ban me here like you did by lummies
[15:08] *** dignity has left #corp
[15:08] Tweety That worked amazingly well
(Insert much snickering at Lum's Mighty Powers here)
[15:10] Tweety So we were quantifying power?
[15:10] Subversive Anyway, getting back to the matter at hand, do you think you changed stuff in these games?
[15:11] Lum_ Well, we fixed Oak Bark Tannin!
[15:11] Subversive Oh?
[15:11] Subversive Must be an EQ thing.
[15:11] Lum_ It is.
[15:11] Tweety Your wife fixed it, what have YOU done for us lately =)
[15:11] Subversive See, I still play UO. I feel like some grizzled old has been.
[15:12] Lum_ Well, I personally didn't do anything. By writing about what the community is concerned about, I may have helped some game companies be a little more aware of what impact their decisions make
[15:12] Subversive You don't think you've ever gotten players unbanned?
[15:12] Lum_ Not that I can recall.
[15:13] Lum_ I mean, Tweety's still banned.
[15:13] Tweety sniff
[15:13] Galt But Tweety's evil. We know that.
[15:13] Tweety SNIFF
[15:13] Galt =)
[15:13] Subversive I recall a few that you wrote up on. People that seemed innocent of the crimes they committed. That had their bans summarily removed.
[15:14] Subversive I mean, that seems like simple cause and effect.
[15:14] Lum_ Well, companies now have a bit more checks and balances in place, I think. We don't get nearly as many "OSI banned me for just sitting here!" letters.
[15:14] Lum_ Then again, that could be just because we're all craven sellouts, too.
[15:14] Subversive No one trusts ya anymore.
[15:15] Lum_ There you go. They should write to you instead.
[15:15] Subversive Yeah right.
[15:15] Lum_ SAVE THE INNOCENT MASSES, MR. SUBVERSIVE!
[15:15] Lum_ SAVE THEM!
[15:15] Lum_ FOR STARMAN AND PEACE!
[15:15] * Tweety stares
[15:15] Subversive I'd get tired of the whining in about three seconds. Then I'd whip out the Hurty Things.
[15:16] Subversive It must have gotten pretty bad for you over there.
[15:16] Lum_ You've yet to explain the problem.
[15:16] Subversive Hell, I'd start channeling Abashi.
[15:16] Lum_ You've still yet to explain the problem.
[15:16] Subversive Heh.
[15:17] Subversive No problem for you, I'm sure.
[15:17] Lum_ SUFFER, WORMS!
[15:17] Lum_ Sorry, just practicing to work at an MMOG company.
[15:18] Subversive Worms Online. So hold on. Getting back to the point...
[15:18] Lum_ There was a point?
[15:18] Subversive Somewhere back there before the suffering and whining.
[15:18] Lum_ Ooh, let's get back to the suffering parts
Editor's Note - Be sure to come back tomorrow and read the Lum Interview Part 2: The Revenge of the Wombat, and What Lum Wants.
Part Two can now be found here. Enjoy!
Discuss how Lum suxx0rz for selling out here.