The Rise and Fall of CCNGTA

This is what you would call in English 101 a first person narrative. A writing where the story comes from the mind and perspective of the main character. That being said, you need to understand and accept that the information being given to you is a point of view perceived from the narrator themselves. You’re influence over it, your opinion of it, and whatever else you may have to say regarding it is irrelevant. What’s done is done, what’s said, thought, and consumed cannot be undone. I’ve written a story like this before, I even thought it would be my last of such nature. Here I am again though, typing out another story of “what really happened” from my point of view.

This story will not be linear and it will be as candid as I can make it. I’m not looking for sympathy, praise, forgiveness, respect, or anything else for that matter. I expect nothing to come of this. I’m doing this because I feel that CCNGTA has affected a lot of people and everyone should know the story from the best vantage point possible. This would be my position as head administrator, server owner, or whatever else you want to refer to it as. I want to write this so maybe people can try to understand what its like, perhaps even learn something off of this, or at its very least come to their own conclusions as to why things happened they way they happened.

A lot of my opinions on things I kept to myself or within the upper echelons of the administrators for the purpose of keeping drama down. Other times issues were publicly ignored and privately worked on to diminish the effect of the issue, give the people causing the issue little reaction which causes them to abandon their efforts out of boredom. This has happened more frequently then you might imagine. Trust me, sometimes all I wanted to do was yell from the top of a building, “We’re fixing it, we’re working on it, we care!” but that would have compounded our problems.

I plan to talk truthfully about staff members, players, and myself alike. This will undoubtedly upset some individuals will more then likely not sway any already sour dispositions of me. My story may come off a bit negative because a lot of what went unsaid from me was the negative portions of CCNGTA. Don’t get me wrong, CCNGTA was an absolute blast, I’m so glad I did what I did. It’d be foolish to say I didn’t have any regrets about the course all this took, however CCNGTA was by and far the best SAMP server out there. I know I said this wouldn’t be linear, but I should really start at the beginning…

 

 

Getting Started

 
 

This is going to pick up the day I decided to create the GTA server. If you’re looking for more background on CCN itself, you can view it on our history page. I have a bit of a history in game server staffing, I was a staff member for many months on the Ultima Online shard In Por Ylem under the direction of Azaroth and then many months after that on UO:Redemption under Cetus. My skin has been amply thickened as I cut my teeth on those servers. A lot of the gameplay concepts that I enjoyed from UO and staffing techniques employed by both game servers I brought to CCNGTA. UO was a difficult environment and took the “sandbox” stance on creating goals for players. Outside of technical direction, tools were tossed into the sandbox for the players to use and give meaning to. It was a free market where value was given to items based off of popularity and guided by the lightest influence of the staff and coding team.

getting2I knew right off the bat that CCNGTA was going to be a difficult vision to realize, especially with my aspirations for the atmosphere I wished to create. In the beginning the server was sparsely populated. Just a small clique of friends experimenting and wandering around. Immediately coding dominated my time and progress was being made at the rate of a major patch daily. I was enthusiastic and inspired by the work I was doing and the feedback I was receiving was overtly positive. Still, I continued to solicit the staff members of wtfman.com but was unable to receive any assistance outside of a server to use from Ryan of RunUO. I was on my own in terms of help from WTFman.com outside of a medium to address the users of the site. I turned to CCN, then known as Fromunda.net, in an attempt to get some help. Prior to any GTA work, the other administrator of Fromunda, Tarzan and I had partnered up on virtually every undertaking. From game tournaments to site development we worked together on everything and I expected him to be on board with this project as well, however it required damn near groveling to get him on board. I do believe at the time he was worried I would jump ship to abandon nearly a years worth of work on CCN/Fromunda to join the WTFman team. In hindsight I suppose him forcing the act of requesting for help must have validated him in some manner.

 
 


This initial act should have been an indicator to me of the future problems to come however after knowing Tarzan for so long I knew that mildly eccentric and strange behavior was just his cup of tea and mostly harmless. Some weeks went by after beta launch and we had our coding problems but people were pretty understanding. Ample progress was being made and a lot of problems with the original godfather script were being worked out. I had enough time on my hands to jump into the game and interact with players in more of a D&D style "game master" fashion. I wanted to see the player dynamics and hierarchies form so I spectated over the shoulders of players and gave them mild direction to help influence events in a manner that was natural and unscripted.

You have no idea what an absolute blast this was to do. Granted the mechanics weren’t really there, there wasn’t any real gang system to speak of and there were issues with the game mode that relied entirely on faith that the player would comply as opposed to scripting out the illegal ability. The players made it work. At this point everything was pretty much utopian until eventually my hand was forced into bringing down the first ban. I remember it pretty vividly, it was a player that had pushed the envelope frequently in terms of tolerance. The final straw was his act as a cop; he was killing people in jail after skyrocketing their wanted levels so he could receive a bonus when he killed them. He was quite clearly exploiting the system, profiting greatly and flat out ruining the game for multiple players.

 
 

The ban didn’t go as I had thought would. During my previous staffing positions I had mostly been an authority figure sorting out disputes or jailing people who were breaking rules. I never had actually brought the hammer down on anyone, and now that I had actually done it, it was not what I had expected. There was no fanfare or swelling sense of pride. I didn’t smile, gloat, or laugh. I wasn’t relieved to be rid of him or excited I banned someone. The first thing that popped into my head was, “Why the hell would he have been so stupid to do that? Why couldn’t he just play?” He was the first of hundreds I banned and the mentality behind it has always remained the same. I never felt rid a problem, I always felt like I lost a player.

I laid down a definitive set of ground rules after this and posted them on the forums. I wrote them with the intention of keeping things civil, respectful, fair, and balanced. All the things on a game server you would imagine would be implied however they need to be stated so people cannot say you're banning on you're opinion. While laying down these rules does absolve me somewhat of the responsibility, it simultaneously bounds me to adhere to them despite my own personal opinions. This has, time and time again, proven the hardest to explain to the people I like the most as I showed them the door.

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The Glory Days" class="system-pagebreak" title="Getting Started" />

The Glory Days

 
 

 

The Crew

What would largely be considered by most the “glory days” of CCNGTA were strangely enough plagued by the exact same problems people attest to its depopulation later. If not, considerabley worse problems. The code at the time was still quite young and problematic. Issues were cropping up day in and day out but our population was booming so people stayed happy because there were so many people to interact with. I had to carefully balance my time between in game activities and coding, which at the time was quite doable. The shallow hierarchy and the obvious necessity for in game administrator influence to govern certain aspects of the world were frequently rubbing me the wrong way.

I expect the citizens to reach for the stars and actually have the means to achieve their personal goals. I want their achievements to have little to do with the favor of the staff but rather their clout as players. It matters what’s behind the keyboard the most, not numbers stored in a database. Players wanted to group together as social dynamics in these types of situations normally dictates so I was manually coding in gangs one at a time. There had to be a better way to do this, which is when I came up with the gang system. Creating a system where gangs can dynamically be created in game using simple commands. Allowing them to set up shop in various predefined headquarters around the map complete with upgrades. All you had to do was meet some basic criteria which were intended to prevent the predefined slots from filling up with 1 man gangs. I wanted to throw a few more tools into the sandbox.

When I pitched the idea on the forums to the general population the majority consensus was thunderous.

Most thought it was a stupid idea and it would ruin the server. They cried for my head. It wasn’t until later that I really figured out why the notion of the gang code was so ill received. I was basically handing people their gangs, they got whatever cars they asked for, whatever headquarters they asked for within reason, and whatever color was available to them. It was absolute freedom of choice with only the price of time that it took to yell in my ear to get me to do it. Now I’m taking that away, forcing the colors to be earned, limiting the spots, and restraining the headquarters based on budget and locations.

 
 

Despite a difference in opinion I proceeded with coding the update to near completion until my computer died. Luckily the hard drive was fine and I had backups anyway but the fact of the matter was that I’m completely offline and cannot afford to get back in. All of this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Tarzan was growing considerably resentful towards the population and I had buried myself in code and become reclusive in game to work. Now any fruits of my labor were trapped, the administration of the server was shaky at best, and to top it off people were saying I was lying about my computer to solicit donations. I did the best I could from the situation I was in. Tarzan had sent me over a copy of the source pre-gang code and I was editing it in notepad from work with no means to test it.

 

Burn baby, burn.

 

Programming typically goes like this: think, research, code, test until correct, deploy, and repeat. All I had to work with was code and deploy. I was doing it 100% blind. Not to mention secretly chasing down odd changes Tarzan decided to make such as putting in “The Gay” as an STD. When I finally got operational I surged out some code. Buy some food for a weekend, lock myself in a room, and don’t leave to do anything but code, shit, and eat. In the end I’m swimming in a mountain of graphing paper filled with technical notes, burnt out to no end, and usually sleeping at my desk or staring at the TV which is set to the DVD player's menu screen when there’s no disk in the tray. It’s about all I can process at that point. The gang code was released and loved. Fixes and new features were continually added. Cops, gangs, and everyone in-between had all the neat tools for their sandbox. The marathons continued, weekend after weekend I’d lock myself away. Everyone saw me and said I was on fire. I was burning bright. I was burning hot. Like anything else on fire, I was burning to death.

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The Gangs of CCNGTA" class="system-pagebreak" title="The Glory Days" />

The Gangs

 

Meeting

It’s no secret that I favored the gangs. Not in a manner that was unjust or unfair. What most people probably don’t realize is that I was envious. All I ever wanted out of SAMP was encapsulate into the gangs. I wanted possession, competition, and respect from my peers, a leadership position and influence over others. I sought war, mayhem, and violence. I desired the power to solve my own problems and the authority devoid of outside influence. Something earned and honored. The only way to establish such an atmosphere for the gangs I had to resolve to never, ever, become part of it myself. My involvement would only corrupt it and I couldn’t have that happen. You could say my role as the Don of Don’s I trumped everything. That’s exactly the problem. There was no journey to the position; there was no fight to achieve it. I had no enemies and no failures, therefore no allies and no victories. I simply was.

The gangs were a big source of pride for me. Not only was it a beautiful addition to the code but it was also such a great avenue for the players to express themselves. I loved watching and following the politics of it all. Seeing the rivalries and friendships born of it. I’d secretly peer over the shoulders of the Ganglords during meetings and I’d follow along with roving crews as they soldier through enemy turf to stir up trouble. On occasion I’d pay them visits and task them with various things to do such as rob banks or roll another crew.

Even with the bugs inherent in the various phases of the gang code players were pretty accepting. When I sensed things getting to easy for them I would focus on giving the police tools to combat them and make their lives challenging. I encouraged the police as much as I could to push them, to lean on them, to give them obstacles to overcome. It’s unfortunate there were quite a few gangs that missed the point of it all. Victory is nice and always the goal, but defeat, difficulty, and loss is how you better yourself. If you’re always winning you’re never challenging yourself. You will always learn more in defeat then you ever will in victory.

 

There were some that saw the obstacles thrown in front of them not as the opportunities that they were. Other gangs completely lost their place in the world; they forgot what they were doing and why they were there. What role they played in the grand scheme of things. The Goonies, the Diablos, the Grenades, the Hells Angels and many others. They got consumed by the numbers game and failed to see that it’s the experience that counts. You don’t go to the beach to collect sand, you go to feel the sun on your face, swim in the ocean, and take in the air. All the money and stats mean nothing without the people you depend on to interact with. On the flip side there were a lot of gangs that did it correctly. They got involved; they engaged in politics, they made friends and enemies alike. They enhanced the experiences of everyone around them. Basically, they helped me live vicariously though them by doing things how I would have done it.

 
 

Successful gangs were always a flight risk to our server. It was an unfortunate side effect to the atmosphere we created. We would empower these player leaders so much we would entice them right off the server. Nearly every splinter server created from ours was the product of a Ganglord. Our relationship was a lot like parasailing. While your up there its easy to get the impression that your flying. The guy on the boat will even tell you your flying. The second you cut that tow line, your going into the drink. So many times I've seen it happen and each time I wonder what the hell they were thinking. Why would you think you could fly without the very thing that makes it possible? I was always quick to attribute the success of a player to the player themselves and now I realize that I should have also stressed the fact that it was entirely possible thanks to CCNGTA. By humbling my efforts and the server's, I was in fact doing the player a disservice because I misguided them. They thought they were flying because thats exactly what I told them, I shouldn't have been surprised when they jumped off a cliff and dragged people with them.

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Circling the Drain" class="system-pagebreak" title="The Gangs of CCNGTA" />

circle1

 

Private admin meetingAt this point the GTA server and website was still very much a partnership between Tarzan and I. The server’s popularity was quite a source of stress for us all, whether you want to admit it or not, overseeing such a project can really be a test of one’s patience and tolerance. I can’t really say for certain what happened, nor will I think I’ll ever know, however I can tell you my account of what transpired with Tarzan. I’ve discussed this before however I didn’t really elaborate how close we ever were to being completely screwed over. After I had returned from the computer failure and the gang code was in full swing we were seeing a high degree of success.

Due to my high level of involvement with the code, the website, and in game I continued to push the server into the directions I felt it needed to go. When things get hectic and busy, anyone will tell you I get tactful. Pleasantries fly out the window and if you’re not moving I will push you. I will not ask you to do things, I will simply tell you. There will be no tolerance for whining or complaining. Afterwards there will be time for appreciation, criticism, and laughs. This part of me, what I do, is probably the most misinterpreted part of my demeanor. I don’t do this because I’m bossy, demand yes men, or infinite loyalty. I do this because I believe in the people I task. I trust them and I want to empower them with responsibilities. My appreciation is implied during and announced after the fact. I lead from the front, while in the thick of things, and this does not always afford me time to answer “Why” or say “Please”.

 


Eventually all of the stress built up with Tarzan and he grew extremely spiteful towards the site, the players, the staff, and especially me.

Real life factors pressed hard on him too and a considerable amount of paranoia came into play that was accented by some former friends that were banned from the server. Ironically these players were banned by Tarzan himself, however they somehow managed to screw the facts up and blame me entirely. They were flying around in a harrier killing people like crazy telling everyone I told them to do it and Tarzan axed them from the server and from the website. I didn’t even know it had transpired until many hours after the fact. That was fine by me, I stand by the decisions of the staff, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Eventually though I found myself consistently unbanning players from the site and server because Tarzan banned them for some personal reason. I had frequent talks with the other staff members who were trying to quit because Tarzan told them off. Poor MrBarragan caught the brunt of the abuse because Tarzan “didn’t trust Colombians”. Barragan later moved up the ranks of staff to become one of the most valuable staff members I've ever had on my team. None of that would have been possible if I had let him quit.Got tickets to the gun show?

I offered Duce a staff position, who later became one of our best administrators as well, but he refused because Tarzan consistently berated him for his affiliation with another player who he inexplicably thought his wife was cheating on him with (from hundreds of miles away mind you). I even found myself getting kicked from the server mid-event by Tarzan. It just kept getting worse and worse. Finally we hit the eye of the storm, Tarzan came to me and announced he was done. Done with everything, wanted nothing to do with the GTA server and website. He told me that GTA ruined everything for him. I tried convincing him otherwise, that the server was a good thing, and that he could stick around and start a different project. He would hear nothing of it.

 

 

 

At this time the fromunda.net domain was soon expiring. I specifically asked him what we were going to do about that and he told me I could have it. After repeated assurances he told me just to take it. I contacted the other admin on fromunda.net, the one who actually owned the domain name and took the measures to make the transfer final. I didn’t jump on it though. I trusted Tarzan, he had access to full everything. Ventrilo, the server’s FTP, the source code, head admin rights on the site, and everything else I had. You don’t just share that with people you completely plan on screwing over. Next thing I know I’m getting a message from Beer that Tarzan is having a meltdown on the front page.

I pull it open and it’s a multiple post full blown meltdown demonizing me, a ton of players, and citing donations as the root of the problem. This is the first I’ve heard donations were a problem. You’ve got to be kidding me. I get word from Duce that Tarzan is going ban crazy on the vent server. I instruct him to get everyone off the ventrilo as fast as possible. One of our old school members was providing the vent server for us and I wasn’t about to turn it into a battle ground by contesting his admin rights. Didn’t matter, Tarzan yanked my access right away anyway. I quickly bought another vent server and worked with Duce to get people over there.

 

 

 

The website was another story; I quickly changed Tarzan’s meltdown posts to admin view only so he at least thought people were reading it while I worked out what to do. I hadn’t finished transferring the domain yet because I felt there was no real hurry but now with the current circumstances I had to rush it through. Tarzan also decided to start banning people he didn’t like from the site, and handing out admin rights to the two clowns he banned before and let me take the blame for. While I was working out the domain and hosting changeover Beer was frantically scrubbing and simulationously backing up nearly 100,000 individual INI files for Tarzan’s admin characters fully expecting that to get hit next. He was already wrecking havoc on the site and vent, please let us at least spare the GTA server.

wtfman3Thanks to the quick response of Duce, Beer, and I the damage was mitigated. I never really fully explained how close we were to pretty much losing everything. After all his rights were removed, site ownership swapped, admin accounts deleted, and vent server bought the only thing he was able to do was incite some e-drama. I would also get randomly banned from the IRC channel in the later weeks because I forgot to tell Beer to cut off his rights on that. Everything we had worked so hard to create was nearly burnt to the ground in an instant. I lost a great friend in him, his wife, also an admin for CCNGTA (Tits_McGee) was collateral damage because I couldn’t keep her rights active without allowing him access, and I had a lot of perplexed players to conduct damage control on. Some good did come of it though; I didn’t have to walk on eggshells anymore with creative direction of the site and server. I could have done without all of this though, if it was up to me we’d still be partnered, he’d be sane, my old friends would have not walked all over everything I’ve done, and none of this would have exploded violently in my face. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty terrified that everything was about to go up in smoke.

I sometimes wonder if this failed event by Tarzan was intended as some big e-Penis comparison show of power nonsense with the objective of scaring me into feeling powerless or if this was some half ass fumbled attempt at destruction that was thwarted by our quick thinking. I'm sure if you asked him he'd go with former as not to look incompetent. I think the only reason everything didn't end that day was because I was a little quicker on the draw pulling the plug then he was. For weeks after there would be a bit of drama that would crop up and I'd get the occasional cryptic message from him. Sometimes cruel, other times suicidal, and completely all over the place. He hung the fact that he had the source code to the server over my head. I was always prepared for him to release it so I made another huge coding surge to out date it as quickly as possible. Play what you’re dealt though right?

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Why so serious LSPD?" class="system-pagebreak" title="Why so serious LSPD?" />

 

lspd1

 
 

The players were divided up among the staff based on the player’s alignment. We established what I call a “career ladder” for each side of the house. You had evil which consisted of the criminal elements and you had “good” which was all of the law enforcement people. Due to the nature of the game, most players gravitated towards playing a criminal; this wasn’t really much different when it came to staffing. Now don’t get me wrong, any staffer would always assist a player regardless of affiliation, however advising the players and decision making was segregated. You had Budd, duce, and MrBarragan heading up the criminal elements while Beer and Xanavi were overseeing good/neutral.

I would float between all of them regardless of affiliation to oversee complete operations while the junior staffers would assist, and be trained by, the senior level guys. The good side of the house, despite its significantly lower population, was always considerably more difficult to manage because it was much more delicate. From a technical standpoint good affiliated players were given abilities that made them more powerful then individual players of the other alignment. Plus they were given armaments, vehicles, and mitigated personal expenses to entice players to fill these roles. The goal of the good sided staff members was to control their population in contrast to the criminals and to prevent misuse of their abilities.

 

lspd2

 

We had a decent string of leaders in the law enforcement in the beginning. Beer was actually our first police chief. He reached the position by coming in 5th in a motorcycle race for the spot and the other 4 guys didn’t want it. This was back when the server population was less than 10 and we needed people to fill faction spots. People came and went in the role and retention was tough. Eventually we worked Tony Furello up the good career path to FBI and were priming for introduction of the National Guard. Tony was a natural choice because he was already the FBI director so we moved him into the position, which was previously occupied by administrators to protect the heavy vehicles from misuse. This was the only staff run faction that could have been run by players, we wanted to do away with anything of that nature.

Fred Durbin took Tony’s place as the FBI director and Silvio Persone took the reigns as police chief. This is where things started to go awry. Tony and Fred established a laid back and fun administration for their guys while the LSPD went the complete opposite route coming down with rules, regulations, and even specific ticket pricings. I was glad to see some of the things that were brought to the LSPD, like a more solid awards and promotions system. The good was starting to more and more outweigh the bad. Complaints about and from the LSPD skyrocketed. The criminal side was upset at how lame the LSPD is playing and the LSPD was complaining, attempting to get administrators to enforce LSPD policies and RP on the criminals. We don't take that level of interaction into player politics, players play the game how they deem fit so long as they abide by the server rules.

There were people that enjoyed the LSPD style of administration Silvio brought to the table; this was kind of his saving grace. But he also managed to build a rift in the LSPD and there was a clear cut polarity within the department. The interesting thing was the ground rules were laid out and a political game was played inside the law enforcement. The “good” affiliated staff worked overtime trying to keep it stable and we constantly advised the law enforcement to tone down the seriousness. Have some fun with it. Cut back on the rules and focus on having a good time. We cautioned the LSPD on how it could end badly and our advice went unheeded. This was their right to do, this is a player run server and we stood by that, good and bad.

 

lspd3

 

The part we were involved in was the creation of leaders and this was really our only time to influence the course of player politics. This was mostly due to the functionality of the code that we were in charge of this, however it was also kind of our safety net to ensure the player heiarchy staied on course without any major interruption from us. We wanted to keep the career path moving for the good side so once we felt everyone had their run of things, we would do an administration change. Typically moving one or two key people up the ladder and allowing those individuals to choose from there who moved up below them. Fred was an obvious choice to move up to National Guard with Tony but that left a gap in the FBI and left us fearful of who would move up from the LSPD since the political process there was causing drama like no other. Complaints across the board were rising and the LSPD needed a big bucket of “calm down” and “have fun” which was clearly never going to happen with the current people in charge.

At this point in time I was trying to groom Xanavi to take over my position as head administrator (which was later occupied by Din/Dr_Doctor). A lot of the players liked him because he was helpful and available, however he didn’t seem very confident in decision making. He fumbled through a lot of the tasks he was assigned to sort out and anything aside from simple customer service received lackluster results. I was attempting to ease him into the role and I thought perhaps I was going a bit to slow with it, he expressed that he was feeling undervalued because he was underutilized. This was happening because he was only excelling at the most remedial of tasks however moral was always a concern with staff due to the nature of it, and consequences are high when a staff member goes rogue, so I decided this administration change in law enforcement would be a good transition for him to decide on and oversee. I was banking that his lackluster performace with his previous decisions was due to inexperience in the field and not incompetence.

What to do in this situation was pretty clear, or so I thought. All the problems stemmed from the current LSPD chief’s heavy hand for regulations and we needed someone in that position that would lighten up the department, keep the good aspects of what Silvio created, and bring fun back to the law enforcement. This would reduce problems across the entire server and stop the snowball of issues that was compounding from ever turning into a full blown avalanche. Xanavi had the task of identifying players that would accomplish this, replace Silvio as LSPD cheif, and use the player hierarchy to lightly influence the player disposition for the better.

 

lspd4

 

Xanavi chose instead to promote the most vocal player (because the biggest complainer with the largest biased is the best for the job?) on the opposing side of Silvio’s LSPD, Mark Jay and with him John Swift, and advance Silvio up into the FBI director’s role. He did what? We were flabbergasted. I almost wondered if it was purposely sabotage. The results of staff decisions often have a big effect on the players. This one was no different. Silvio promptly fired the vast majority of the players in the FBI and promoted up the LSPD that stood on his side while he was chief. He brought his administration style with him to the FBI and laid out similar ground rules across the board. Mark Jay, not opposed to regulation, but rather just Silvio, kept what was already in place. Silvio was very apt to use the chain of command established by the career path down the chain to oversee people below him but completely ignored things coming from the top. Mark Jay took this and ran with it by ignoring most of Silvio’s request based on his example.

Now we had a chain of command no one observed outside of their department, complaints from everyone surged, population of the law enforcement plummeted, people quit the server in droves, and there wasn’t anything we could do about it because of our established staffing policies regarding intervention with player politics limited us to worst case scenario and light influence. Down the line this law enforcement administration panned out as we assumed it would. John Swift ended up banned because he thought it was OK to drive a tank and spawn kill a guy we were fast tracking up the law enforcement chain to see if he’d make a quality administrator. John Swift was let back on with liens on his stats and the understanding that Mark Jay shared his fate if he should get banned again in an attempt to tone thing down. The departments continued to feud and eventually Mark or John hacked Silvio’s CCN forum account and force a big round of ill received bannings. The long standing LSPD forums were purged by Mark/John in a rage quit scenario despite the staff’s best efforts to get the civil services to migrate to CCN’s forums. We saw months and months of drama from these law enforcement leaders, not even a major patch to the law enforcement professions served to quell the unrest in them. Silvio remained pretty untouched in the whole ordeal because technically he didn’t violate any server rules and our rules and policies protect the players regardless of staff disposition. The aforementioned was the pique of law enforcement drama and for the most part before and after things ran relatively smooth.

Multiple bannings, a purged forums, and numerous players lost, a lot of the accountability fell into my lap because bannings are inevitably high profile with a well known community figure. This is a somewhat correct mindset, I cannot completely absolve myself from responsibility in this because the seat I occupied touches virtually every aspect of the server. The good must come with the bad and it was my failure to identify Xanavi’s limitations as an administrator and entrusting him with this decision that caused the butterfly effect of repercussions it did. This is the last time Xanavi was ever entrusted with anything other then the most simple of tasks. Not promptly firing Xanavi for this fiasco would later prove to be another poor decision.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The Gift of Embitterment" class="system-pagebreak" title="The Gift of Embitterment" />

The Gift of Embitterment
 
There’s no doubt in my mind we had the best staff of any SAMP server. This was achieved in a couple of different ways. None of them were allowed to be players. As a matter of fact in the beginning I tried to grab people who had very little or no experience as a player. The standards the staff were held to were nothing short of exceptional and selfless, however it was nearly impossible to tell how someone would fair unless we actually put them in the role. Bringing on a new administrator was done in a pseudo-democratic fashion. I consulted the preset staff and then decided based on their input. The same debate always ensued after proposing a new staff member.

The players we chose were always great assets to the player community and we always had to ask ourselves if we were ready to take that away from our players. A model player in the community can be far more valuable to everyone then an administrator, especially if that player does not have the talent for staffing. When we looked for staff members we watched for some key characteristics. We looked for a player who was not overly impassioned regarding a certain subject. The role of our staff was to be subtle and let the players decide what’s popular, right, and wrong. We needed someone active in game but not to the point where they were consumed, having an actual life outside of the game let us know that if it came down to it you could keep it in perspective.

Hefty player ties complicated matters because once they joined staff there would be a severance between them and the community to fill the obligations of staff properly. They’ll need to assist everyone, regardless of whom they are, and developing a heavy biased is detrimental. Finally, from a personality standpoint, they need to be as tough as nails. They will be abused by the players, they’re efforts will be disrespected by the community, they will fall under the watchful eye of myself, and worse yet their every action and word will be scrutinized by the players.

Choosing the best players for staff is like gambling your best assets. You’re going all in or nothing. You either add a valuable asset to the team or you make an enemy for life. Since there was so few of us and so many of you we were vastly outnumbered. We always needed to stand together, whether we agree or not and as it would seem there is only a handful of people that really understood that. Its unfortunate the route a few of our ranks have taken and the players we’ve lost because of a failed transition to staff. It can be difficult not to find yourself wrapped up in the social drama and negativity from some of the more vocal players.

Taking criticisms under stress and not airing your grievances in private with the source of your issue require a strong personality. I tell new staff members before they start that it’s not an easy job and I consider it a favor to me by joining our ranks. I cannot offer any compensation accept for gratitude because I receive nothing myself and have nothing to pass along. I expect you to be a leader and handle your tasks in the best interest of the players. You will make mistakes and you must learn from them, once you cannot do that you will be given a courteous goodbye and thank you. I will support you completely and I expect the same in return, so please do your best to not make any stupid decisions and I will do likewise. Finally, if you stop having fun then step away, you’ll do none of us any good by being miserable. Keep things in perspective, this is your hobby, what you do for fun. Not everyone listened, and not everyone made it.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The WTFMan Debacle" class="system-pagebreak" title="The WTFMan Debacle" />

 

wtfman1

 
 

Everything about CCNGTA was a collaborative effort, right down to the websites that were affiliated with it. CCNGTA drew its audience from a lot of sources, Wtfman.com, Fromunda.net, RunUO.com, CitizensCoup.net, and SomethingAwful.com. Wtfman.com provided a great launching off platform as it had an abundance of MMORPG enthusiastic players prime for a new game to play that closely recreated the environment they were used to. A lot of what CCNGTA’s game play captured was very reminiscent of what that community was used to. Their affiliation with RunUO.com put me in touch with their project manager, Ryan, who oversaw the hosting of various different websites and game servers. RunUO is the emulation software used to create Ultima Online free servers.

My staff position as a writer for wtfman.com allowed me to broadcast to this audience and aside from the server from Ryan, there really wasn’t much else in terms of assistance received from wtfman.com. Just a name and a box. It wasn’t for the lack of trying on my part. I solicited everyone on staff there to come and staff on the GTA server but it wasn’t in the chips I guess. Instead I turned to CitizensCoup.net / Fromunda.net to populate the staff ranks. CCN also provided a better medium for conveying information. WTFman.com wasn’t on any kind of CMS such as e107, Joomla, WordPress, updates are done via notepad edits, and I had no ability to create forums or mass PM information so we were limited in terms of communication.

Don’t get me wrong, we owe them for a great start.

I like wtfman.com, and still do to this day. We continued to fly under the WTFGTA name and code in Easter egg tributes to the site and its staff. Most of which were completely unnoticed by the wtfman.com staff because they never played there. I continued to operate on both forums and both of them exploded in activity. The non-GTA residents of wtfman.com grew very intolerant of the WTFGTA players whenever they ventured out of the GTA forums, forcing a lot of players to turn to CCN for their online community fix. Ryan was increasingly difficult to get a hold of as time wore on and troubleshooting the server was very time consuming and difficult. I understood, he’s a busy guy, and despite the money we sent him perhaps he had a lot more important things to worry about. I can empathize.

About this point in time the server died. Ryan told us an entire raid array was lost on our box and the files on there are gone. The way the original game mode script was set up it was not really meant to handle the volume of players we were lucky enough to get. Backups of the files took literally all night and bogged the server so bad it was borderline unplayable. Scalable data management was clearly a foreign concept to the original developer so we wanted to migrate to a SQL database which would handle this better. Make the most of this situation.

MrBarragan and I continued to work on the code as much as possible but seeming that the SQL addition was critical to our development we needed to know how to code our new additions. Days turned to weeks. Weeks to months. Ryan was near impossible to get a hold of, however we would receive sporadic communication that would lead us to believe we are on the cusp of getting a box back so we can fire the server back up again.

 

wtfman2

 

Meanwhile, we had everyone’s favorite, recently ex-staffer Xanavi slowly getting banned from each one of our services. After his royal screw up with the police he was never entrusted with anything aside from day to day admin work. He had even resigned to go back as a player and I foolishly let him back on staff when he said he wanted back on. Finally he received a demotion to a junior level staff position after jumping the gun and making duce an admin without permission. Luckily, duce worked out for the best, however prior to making someone an admin I sit them down and remove any ambiguity about the position and back up their user file so they have the option to revert back to being a player right where they left off. Staff has limitless money, guns, and power and that cannot transfer back into the player realm. If duce had decided after I detailed the job to him that he didn’t want it, he’d be screwed. Back to square one. Time wasted, player lost, do not pass go.

Xanavi was let go privately as always in an effort to prevent embarrassment and hopefully transfer them back into the player community productively. Unfortunately this leaves it up to the ex-staffer to explain the lack of admin rights and sometimes people mistake them for still being on the team. So when Xanavi went onto wtfman.com’s forums, called them useless, its easy to get the impression that he represents the staff’s opinion and by proximity my own. He did what? Too late, damage was done and a response was posted to his comment by Nighthawk, the owner of wtfman.com, and a thread was started on the staff forums giving me an ultimatum to drop CCN. Ryan also posted quite an enraged reply to the thread stating that the server was ready for weeks and he was holding off because he felt I wasn’t associating enough with wtfman.com, effectively stalling the development considerably. I barely had much opportunity to respond and that evening all of my rights on wtfman.com were pulled and the drama began.

Ironically I was getting cut off because of my lack of association with wtfman.com, which was as quick as pulling FTP/Mod rights in a few minutes, and three days of recoding various advertisements, tributes, place names, etc on my end. Not much transpired between Nighthawk and I, for the most part I said thanks and attempted to bow out without much backlash. Ryan didn’t really have much of that and I got a trashy front page post and belittling thread replies in my honor. Most were quickly pulled down because it was pretty clear they were emotionally charged. I don’t believe I lost any players over the split and wtfman.com’s activity hit the floor as it went back to its previous state.

I still visit wtfman.com from time to time and I’ve spoken with Nighthawk a few times after the fact. We’ve aired some grievances between the two of us and for the most part I’m going to just have to chalk this up as one of those things that I wish could have gone the other way. Nothing particularly harsh was exchanged between him and I. I do wish wtfman.com would not continue down the path it is in turning into a haven for people who don’t like CCN and me. That’s not for me to decide and I won’t turn those forums into some faux battleground out of respect for it. A new server was bought the next day and production on 3.0 continued largely in part to the efforts of MrBarragan.

CCNGTA relaunched under WTFGTA/CCNGTA to begin a slow transition over to using exclusively CCNGTA. We had a lot of players come in directly form the SAMP lobby with no knowledge of the websites and I wasn’t about to lose those players. Many people spent a lot of effort propping up the WTFGTA name and I wasn’t about to demolish that work because the people it paid homage to no longer supported it. As for Xanavi a mix of things happened after the fact. While I do see him as the catalyst for these events he wasn’t the cause of them. He was banned from CCN and circumvented under a new account to start a thread about his laundry list of screw ups. I informed him many times what and how he’s screwed up, and what I think of him. The thread spun circles as he failed to grasp that he was a royal screw up until finally we just locked it and every other thread, tossing him out the door. The threads remained public to show people that we gave it the old college try, he just wasn’t getting it.

 

We wrongly assumed that would be the end of it. At the time of this writing, six months have gone by and we’re still banning Xanavi as he continues to circumvent bans. Eventually we stopped looking for him because it became painfully obvious who he was. Plus his “friends” on CCN would out him the moment he came clean to them. I’d say maybe one in four times do we ban him from actually looking for him. He comes in, starts drama, gets banned, and repeats. Sometimes PMing me or begging to come back and let bygone’s be bygones. Some of his IM’s are comedy gold and I’ll give him that he can be very entertaining. This is where the story for Xanavi ends though. I'm sure you'll see him surface from time to time with a snarky remark, trolling around the forums in some strange effort at acceptance or revenge through trivial acts of dissent. With staff I always try to highlight the things they do, that part of the story is always told. I could fill pages and pages about how Beer’s leadership has influenced the course of things. I could tell you how much Budd has impacted the community and kept things interesting. How duCe’s actions in game and with the radio have stood this server up. There’s Din’s help with the code, Noodles cool headed admin style, Bogka’s events. You all know that already, that’s why there was so much about Xanavi’s failures in here, because that was the portion that went untold.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The Return of CCNGTA" class="system-pagebreak" title="The Return of CCNGTA" />

 

The Return of CCNGTA

getting3

During the downtime caused by a combination of our hardware issues, development time, and various drama problems we still wanted to keep interest moving on CCNGTA. Previously I had not given a whole lot of information regarding patches unless they were either just ideas in my head or advanced stages of development. With the idea of keeping people interested in sticking with CCNGTA I put out a lot more information during every stage of development. As time wore on, it started to become pretty clear that I was getting a bit over my head in ambitions for the CCNGTA code and we were slowing turning into vaporware and I wanted to give people something to play.

Open beta began and we were immediately met with problems.

We successfully hit 140 players within the first hour but after a few hours we were quickly shut down with DoS attacks. I don’t know who was doing them and I really don’t care at this point. The funny thing was, every single time something bad happens to CCNGTA, a whole army of pissed of, banned, and childish people rush to take credit. We continued to receive attacks on a nightly basis for the next couple of weeks. As any good programmer knows, you should always assume your code is the problem, so over the next few weeks we continued to pour over the huge additions to the script looking for any sign of a crash issue. We were looking for any consistent player behavior that might be causing the issue but alas, we found none.

Later, after coordinating with SZR who was apparently getting hit right along side of us, we installed a filterscript that would block the standard script kiddie from taking down our server. That didn’t really stop things though, ever since the launch of 3.0 we were brought down randomly about 5 times a week by anyone with basic knowledge of SAMP and a beef with CCNGTA. Seeming that our ban list sported over 8,000 accounts at this point from various different cheaters, hackers, and problem players we had a significant problem and there was nothing we could do about it.

The hacking problems were minute compared to what was happening in my real life. My dad passed away and my family was devastated. My soon to be ex-wife was trying her little gold digging heart out to pillage my monthly paycheck and use our daughter as a bargaining chip. My computer fried out, again, to add a little flavor to the mix. Of course I didn’t really bother stressing this to the players that I had some other, very important, issues to deal with because on the internet none of that is ever met with understanding. Even when I did tell people of my real life problems, most brushed it off and complained about the way the server is.

I still attempted during this times to throw in hot fix patches and take corrective action but a lot of what was needed to be done was considerably time consuming. A lot of the population had come to expect from me a huge amount of time dedication with a disregard for my personal time. After all, I was the guy a few short months ago grinding out massive updates over weekend code-a-thons. Telling people “I don’t have the time” came as a slap in the face. I guess I can only blame myself for setting the stage for that reaction. On CCNGTA we raised the bar in terms of code development, staff policy, and overall gameplay. People were getting pissed off about everything and unfortunately this gave a lot of fuel to the people who have been jumping on our every problem since day one.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Derailed Mindset of the Long Time Player" class="system-pagebreak" title="Derailed Mindset of the Long Time Player" />

 

Derailed Mindset of the Long Time Player

If you think about it, it was pretty damn hard to get banned from CCNGTA. All you really needed to be to play on CCNGTA was a halfway decent human being. So long as you leaned more towards “productive” instead of “destructive” you were pretty much set for life no our server. There were quite a handful of players I didn’t care for playing on the server that I never touched or showed the door. The rules and banning policies were designed so that staff couldn’t ban exclusively on disposition because that’s not fair to the players. This especially applied to me. Unfortunately for a lot of people we also brought the unprecedented element of accountability to our players. This is great news for players who are positive influences on the server because they see a lot of recognition for their actions, but the negative ones get the raw end of the deal by getting booted out for their actions.

I often compare the internet to the podium effect with public speakers. When a speaker addresses a large group, from a psychological standpoint some require a podium to alleviate nervousness. The podium technically doesn’t matter whatsoever because the audience can still see, hear, and identify the individual behind it but the speaker feels safer because the majority of their body is covered. So, despite it being painfully obvious who they are, they feel more brazen and able to convey their message. The internet seems to have the same effect on people. People say, act, and behave in ways that they would not normally because they feel they’re protected and have a safe buffer, like a podium to a public speaker. However the reality is the same, when it boils down to it, your still you. Whether you’re an idiot under the handle RedNinja5 or PartyHatBoy, you’re still an idiot. 

Can't be bothered with sleeves.

 
 

These folks who got the boot for these reasons typically hold a grudge, despite the fact that we don’t ban if you’re an idiot, just if you break the rules. You’ll have people that will play on our server for months and months, invest thousands of hours, then decide out of the blue to exploit or cheat only to get banned on the spot. “How dare they”, they’ll ask. They will see us as betraying them, we should have flexed on the rules, and we should have understood and respected their time on our server. They thought we were friends. Well, we hold the same feelings. We watch, we may not catch everything, but when we do we hold everyone to the same standards and this upsets people. We kick their podium down and drag them off the stage, just like everyone else who has purposely attempted to harm our server and community.

These same players were the ones giving standing ovations when we did the same to run of the mill cheaters. Now they’ve picked up the Animal Farm philosophy of, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Fairness is only fair if it applies to everyone but me. It’s easy to demonize me and the rest of the staff for enforcing these policies; after all we’re the executers of the unpleasant action. Our stance on the server rules was purposely meant to tie our hands on these matters. Trust me when I say that banning a long time player is just as unpleasant as being banned if not worse. We’re left to deal with the repercussions of your actions while you’re simply shown the door.

Most of these players never let this go. They’ll never understand what was done was necessary and they’ll never hold themselves accountable, just us. Aside from these long time players we had problems with another sect of long time players. In general, when things are going great everyone’s your friend, that’s just how life goes. When there’s a free lunch, everyone eats. I think I also did this to myself as well, but there’s a person behind this wall of text and that can be a hard concept to grasp for a lot of people. I say I did this to myself because I didn’t do a lot to convey that in the things I did and a few of my actions came off rather inhuman. The code I produced, the bans I executed, certain talks with problem players, the server reports, etc.

Even players I had spent gobs of time with fell into this mindset after a period of inattentiveness from me. Eventually, figuratively speaking, I had to say, “All this comes at a price that I can’t afford anymore.” I was met with a lot of, “Fuck you for not paying.” Not a whole lot changed outside of the code for CCNGTA. There was no management change, the rules were amended once to add a caveat for illegal activities (yes, someone was mad for being banned due to real world criminal behavior against CCN) but they hadn’t changed since late 2007, my skill set actually got better over time with the code, and we had the same drama and problems we always did. But now that there wasn’t time to dedicate, I was a hack coder, a draconian leader, a liar, a donation swindler, and an all around evil bastard. I was ironically getting butchered for the exact same reasons I was being lauded for 6 months prior with a big adjective change because I didn't have the time to put in. The most discouraging portion of all this was the fact that a lot of long time players sank to this mentality. People who I’ve spent time with, helped, and defended forgot all that. They cast aside their experience and allowed others to do the thinking for them. I was made out to be the devil because I couldn't provide to the server the sacrafices I had provided before.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The Splinter Servers" class="system-pagebreak" title="The Splinter Servers" />

 

The Splinter Servers

The senior staff and I call it the “grass is greener” mentality. CCNGTA started similar to a lot of other servers in the SAMP realm. We played on other servers then we asked ourselves, “How can we do this, but better?” I couldn’t really be mad at people who came to CCNGTA and wanted to start their own server. Yeah, I walked them all out the door for reasons I’ll explain, however there really wasn’t too much animosity for the simple fact of starting your own little world. Most of that didn’t come until their actions later. The problem with most of the servers out there spawned from CCNGTA is that people started these servers for the wrong reasons.

First, a lot of people think it’s easy. They jump on the SAMP forums and see all the code out there and believe they can throw something together. Code integration is a whole problem in itself, plus when you’re presented with a pile of cookie cutter solutions you’re often forced to use what’s closest to solving your problem, not really what will actually solve you problem. Then you have a lot of frivolously “oh neat-o” features that provide very little in terms of expanding big picture game play but are implemented because the code is available. This also opened the door for exploitation if theirs economics involved in the addition. The Godfather script came stock with a few of these. Take fishing for example, we had a world full of hardcore gangsters with the richest among them were avid fishermen. How lame is that? To me that stuff is all fluff and no substance. A little fluff is ok but when it’s the staple of your server there’s a problem. bitter2

Others started servers because they want to run the show. A lot of our splinter servers started because they were rejected in some manner from staffing on CCNGTA. Some were ex-coders, some we ex-admins, and others were never given the chance on our staff for problems we identified prior to recruitment. I don’t know if it’s some sort of power trip they want or if its spite, but a lot of that comes through on their servers and damn’s them from the start. These servers I never really worried too much about because I’ve seen what they can do usually. I can’t help but chuckle when I drop a guy from our coding team because he can’t accomplish simple tasks without supervision announce shortly after, “I’m starting my own server, I’m coding it personally, and it’s going to be better the CCNGTA”. Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out why all their in game text boxes look like a speak-and-spell puked on my screen while prodding a car with a broom handle trying to knock it out of the side of a wall that they put it in.

 
 

The biggest reason these people get banned from CCN services is because when I ask myself, “Ok, they’re starting a server, where is their player base coming from?” The answer, invariably to most, is typically “My server and forums.” I had no issues with other players checking out other servers, I said that many times on the forums, because they always seem to come back. The coding wasn’t as promised. The staff was abusive. No population. Those servers were bad for us simply because they gave everyone the grass is greener mentality. People are always looking for the next best thing and it’s natural to strive for it. These servers would come and go, our population would ebb and flow, and unfortunately some of the players would burn bridges at CCN and lose their welcome.

I can’t count the times I’ve seen people backpedalling out the door to their new servers with their middle fingers raised, obscenities flying, hacking away, only to find them climbing in the window a few weeks later with a new IP. Players that came back from these servers went two ways, they came back and really appreciated what we had to offer or they felt jaded that their greener pasture was full of dung and want to keep looking because they think they tasted the better life when in fact it was an empty promise. I tried initially to keep these aspiring server owners on board with CCN, even though they had competing servers, because I liked them on a personal level however 100% of time I’d catch them soliciting my users. I would say the most common reason we banned players outside of fact out cheating was for server advertising.

People claimed they loved the community but they’d do everything in their power to fracture it. After CCNGTA closed up shop we had a considerable amount of splinter servers crop up prior to the discontinuation of services. Like I keep saying, I can’t really blame people for that but I am pretty displeased with the common behavior of these other server staff members. CCN’s forums are now open for servers to advertise but my stance remains the same regarding those individuals that burned bridges with us.

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="The End" class="system-pagebreak" title="The End" />

 

The End

bitter3All being said it was a rough ride. There were times when I felt bitter and hurt by some of the actions by our community however it was far outweighed by what we’ve accomplished here. As I stated when I started this story, this is just my account of it and it may seem a little negative when you read it but this is the untold portions of what we’ve done. CCNGTA ran from Sept 9th 2007 to Oct 17th 2008. During that time we saw thousands upon thousands of players. We hovered in the top ten game servers for a considerable amount of time, even bounced off the ceiling for the number one coveted spot. The whole thing was never supposed to run for as long as it had, to be honest it took off with me chained to the side.

This whole thing was an astounding success in my eyes. The numbers don’t lie. We can’t fake the flurry of activity on the forums. We can’t make up the figures produced by the game rankings. There’s no one spinning player stories or experiences they had. We all had a lot of fun, despite some people’s best efforts. I’ve written a story like this before documenting events revolving around a game server and I’m going to end this story in a similar manner with a slight modification. Last time I told people about where I think my life might be going from here.

My life has significantly changed since all this started, CCNGTA unrelated. Granted things have been difficult for me but nothing can really stop the positive changes that are happening. My career in web development is flourishing and I’m in the process of getting a startup company off the ground for web consulting. As it turns out I have a knack for marketing web sites and after repeated successes with small businesses I’m laying the groundwork for something more official then simple freelance work.

CCN continues to move forward as we take more of an initiative to produce front page articles and content. We still receive roughly the same level of hits we do when the server was operational even if the interaction is slightly less. Before when I wrote my story I ended it wondering if this would be the last time I would engage in an endeavor that would put me in the public eye. For some of you, CCNGTA may be the last time we cross paths and to those I bid goodbye. The nature of the internet keeps people moving from place to place, multi-tasking their attention, and all I can tell you is we’ll still be here. I can’t really know with much certainty what my next project will be outside of the website, all I can say is I’m restless enough that there’s bound to be another. And another. And another. Seems to be my nature.

 

 

 

Rallied at the administrative compound on the outskirts of Las Venturas, the staff listened as I handed out quick assignments. I welcomed the new guy to the team and immediately tasked him with running an event. Our most junior guy prior to the latest addition was assigned to assist him in the event and handle crowd control. It would be a good opportunity to test out our new staff member and get our former junior guy accustomed to moving up in administration by handing him a trainee. Technically you could say I’m throwing both of them under a bus because we’re putting them in a highly public situation up against the server’s toughest critics, the players. The senior admins know the drill with this by now and are a nice safety net in case something goes terribly awry. They’re not there to stop the bus from running over our new admins though, merely to throw in the towel on their behalf and to provide a debriefing on how they can hone their skills as leaders in this type of environment. Good or a bad, a lesson is learned and hopefully the staffer is better for it.

I threw a few guys on roving patrols, it sucks not watching the event but someone has to keep an eye on things while that’s going on. Roving patrols basically meant the staff hopped player to player spectating, checking stats, and acting on system messages that indicated malicious behavior. We didn’t ban on system messages or the word of players so it was important we had a reliable set of eyes keeping our server safe. The last guy got put on reports. When a player had a problem he’d be dispatched to assist while the roving patrols would observe related activity. Normally things are much more play it by ear but the population was high and things needed to be delegated to prevent us from pulling our hair out. The chat box flew by as system messages, reports from the event, and staff chatter sped by.

 
 

[blockquote]“I’m on ID 87 right now, someone jump on 55, they’re acting shady.”
“I got 55, what’s he doing?”
“They’re health bars are stacked and I don’t see any drugs. 1 hour play time.”
“55 just popped a deagle.”
“Alright, don’t hit ‘em yet. Wait on 87 so we can nab them both.”
“87 just cycled past a sniper rifle.”
“We got this, drop them.”[/blockquote]

 
 

Two quick ban messages fly by as the admins proceed on to check on a possible speed hacker and render assistance with reports. Business as usual. I jump from the compound to my perch overlooking the spawn area in Los Santos. I watch from the roof as the players below bustle about. The area has become a makeshift haven for black market goods, an area players congregated because the clientele for drugs and weapons spawned nearby and the building itself auto-jailed anyone attempting to spawn kill. That didn’t prevent some hackers from terrorizing the locale. I observed many things happen below me. A car ran over a pedestrian, countless arms and drug deals, the sporadic shootout erupted over minor disagreements. Occasionally a patrol vehicle from the LSPD would pull up and haul an unlucky citizen off to jail. A chopper flew into the area and hesitated above the active corner, he pivoted in the air towards me as I flashed an RPG. He wisely decided to move on.

A car pulled up, you can tell right away by the vibrant colors and model the car was from an affiliated gang member. The gangs were advised to steer clear of the area, although I sometimes understood that they needed to pick up new friends or pass through. The man with a colored name stepped out of his car, which everyone on the corner was wise enough not to touch. From the roof I uttered, “If your affiliated, move along.” He stepped back in his car and left. Our admin on reports materialized next to me and asked why I always stand up here. I explained that this was what we called in the military a command presence, that simply by being nearby or observing a situation, you can act as a deterrent for problems.

A report came across the wire of two player’s power leveling up their mechanic skills, balking at the system to get ahead. The story of this city was already manifesting and growing by itself, fueled by the citizens I watched below me. I responded to the report over the admin channel, “I got this.” The world, the social hierarchies, the players, and everything else have grown into a life of its own. I pulled two Tech-9 machine guns out of my coat. Everything has grown and become entirely “big picture”. It was bigger then any one administrator, server owner, or coder. I whisked myself away to the location of the reported powerleveler and landed on the hood of a dull green aging sports car with a hollow thud as the cheap metal buckled under my weight. It wasn’t about just us; it was about everyone. Raising my guns I blasted a hail of bullets through the windshield, killing the driver nearly instantly. The passenger fumbled out the side door and got clipped with my bat on the downswing. I jumped off the hood before they could recover and proceeded to bludgeon them to death, the sound of metal crushing meat and bone filled the night air, as the blood sprayed all over my neatly pressed suit. It no longer needed much beyond a subtle nudge from us in the right direction. The cursed few protecting the world they can never be part of.

That’s just how we do things.

 
 

[blockquote class={quotes}]It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it
-Ronald Knox[/blockquote]

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Epilogue" class="system-pagebreak" title="Epilogue" />

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

GTM Datalayer