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Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted General Article: The EI Catastrophe, Part I

By Carolyn Koh on October 27, 2006

Horizons: The EI Catastrophe (Page 2 of 3)

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On the 7th, the Community Forums were once again open for General Posting. Open "letters to EI" however, remained unanswered and posts reporting that of formal complaints and urging other players to report their problems to their local Better Business Bureaus and the Montana Attorney General's office were deleted, but it is to be believed through posts on Gamersinfo.net and GUComic forums that several formal complaints have been registered.

In continuation of this Public Relations nightmare, Dr. Raymond C. Rask, President & CTO of EI Interactive responded on August 10th in a forum post that was subsequently deleted but copied and pasted in other forums, informing players that the former method of accepting payments would once again enabled and alleged that uncooperative Tulga employees were delaying the process.

To add to the drama, a death threat was received by the Lead Moderator of the Community Forums. A player claimed responsibility for this threat on GUComics Forums and instead of expressions of outrage for his action, the community was quiet apart from a few general hand-slaps for taking such a drastic measure to have his account banned as he was unable to cancel it.

"I decided (obviously inappropriately) to take matters into my own hands and force the banning of my account."
Finally, on the 16th, a new player stepped in. Nicholas Dobbins, Director of Marketing for EI Communications Corp. was appointed a member of the Horizons Community management team and began open communications, in the closest it came yet to an apology. Using the sobriquet Nagafen** he posted on the Community Forums and answered questions on the boards.
"I am starting this thread on behalf of EI in an effort to cultivate a constructive dialogue about the future of Horizons... We have definitely had some problems along the way, and recognize that we have made some missteps in the past couple of weeks that have added some frustrations for all of us."
In response to the silence from EI and the board moderation issue, he had this to say:
"Some of the comments being tossed around about EI were, by any standards, out of line. However, we recognize that our silence was only contributing to the general anxiety and many of the calls for communication were valid."
He also assured players that:
"We will be handling complaints on a case by case basis. Customers who were billed incorrectly or who were unable to cancel their accounts will be fairly reimbursed, credited, or otherwise compensated for their inconvenience."
Finally, on the 17th, it was announced that a new billing system was in place and email addresses provided for players with billing and account issues.

Their troubles were not at an end, however, as Kelly Heckman, owner of GamersInfo.net provided notice to EI publicly on the forms on August 18th, that she still owned the licenses to various pieces of software that ran on www.istaria.com. In the post, she alleged that notice to have the licenses transferred had been ignored by EI. That thread has since been deleted and acknowledgement posted that such action was taken when another player brought the issue up again (Editor's Note: This post has since been removed by EI Moderators).

MMORPG.com's initial calls to EI Interactive for comment were not returned, however, on August 24th, Dr. Raymond Rask posted a new thread:

In it he explained what the buy-out of Horizons encompassed:

"E I Communications Corp. purchased all of the game related assets to operate and continue development of Horizons and those assets included hardware, software, etc. As part of that purchase, we also purchased all websites, and all related systems, including the forums, IRC chat, content management systems, trouble ticketing systems, etc. That asset purchase included all needed software and software licenses."
He addressed the allegations made by Ms. Heckman and others:
"Tulga management has in writing, on more than two occasions, informed all current and former vendors of software and software licenses that those assets and related licenses were to be transferred to E I Communication Corp."
He also further assured players that their forums (and hence community) was safe:
"Specifically, as it relates to these forums, David Bowman personally handled the transfer of the vBulletin license to E I Communications Corp."
When contacted by MMORPG.com, Ms. Heckman informed us that indeed the vBulletin license was transferred, but despite what EI Interactive may believe were contained in the sale of assets; certain software licenses belonging to GamersInfo.net are non-transferable.

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