December 1999, after years of domination by KoC over Chesa we had recently moved on the SP server.
No need to say that move made a lot of people rather unhappy and they were whining daily on the boards and to GMs in game... Since SP was composed of guilds harboring Devs and GMs of the EA/OSI company, these whines soon led to action being taken to shut us down...
Over 250 accounts of KoC's and friends of ours were banned in the process. No exact reason was ever given to us to explain us which specific action in game had been assimilated a to a violation of the Ultima Online Terms of Service.
The threatening letter : guilt by association
(associating in a game with players met in that same game can get you banned)
''Return-Path: <email@example.com> From: UO Account Admin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Inappropriate conduct within UO Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 20:08:10 -0600
This letter is to inform you that the Ultima Online Player relations Department of Origin Systems has witnessed various levels of misconduct regarding actions of characters on your account. This misconduct includes being associating with one of the largest guilds in Ultima Online that employ exploitative activities to increase their game status at the expense of other players as well as the game itself.
No action is to be taken on your account at this time - this letter serves only as a warning that this conduct has been verified and will not be condoned. In the event that any such actions continue, the offending account will be terminated immediately without any chance of being reopened. This is certainly not at all what we want to do; rather this is the point of this letter as it is what we want to avoid. However the decision to terminate accounts is done with the best interests of the game and its players in mind, and we will move to protect those interests.
To have to engage in this discourse is not enjoyable, but at the same time we want to make sure that all parties are aware of what will happen should these actions continue. It is our hope that we can move forward from this and you the customer may enjoy your Ultima Online experience.
Thank you for your time, patience, and understanding with this matter.
Ultima Online Player Relations Origin Systems, Inc.''
So basically I'm guilty of hanging in a game with others players this company allowed to play their game.
Now that was just a "warning" but within a few days this warning was immediatly converted into a perma ban.
The ban letter
(no precise reason given, the letter is even more vague than the previous one)
''Return-Path: <email@example.com> From: UO Account Admin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Account Termination Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 08:58:02 -0600
Ultima Online Origin Systems, Inc.
At this time your account with Origin Systems has been permanently closed due to repeated violations of the Terms Of Service or the Rules and Regulations. Although we regret the closure of any account, we feel that the termination of your account is in the best interest of the service as a whole.
The rules of conduct, http://www.owo.com/conduct.html, address these issues in this way.: While you are a member of the Ultima Online Service, you must abide by the following rules. IF YOU BREAK ANY OF THESE RULES, YOUR ULTIMA ONLINE ACCOUNT, AND YOUR RIGHT TO USE THE ULTIMA ONLINE SERVICE, MAY BE TERMINATED IMMEDIATELY BY ORIGIN SYSTEMS. IF THIS HAPPENS, YOU WILL NOT BE ENTITLED TO ANY REFUND OF ANY AMOUNTS PAID BY YOU TO USE THE ULTIMA ONLINE SERVICE AND YOU WILL FORFEIT ALL OF YOUR UNUSED ACCESS TIME.
The rules are:
1) You may not harass, threaten, embarrass or cause distress, unwanted attention or discomfort to another player.
2) You may not use any offensive or sexually explicit language.
3) You may not use any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable language toward any other player.
4) You may not impersonate any Ultima Online Customer Support representative or other employee of Origin Systems.
5) You may not market, promote or advertise anything, or make any other form of solicitaion (including pyramid schemes and chain letters) on the Ultima Online Service or through the Ultima Online Web Site.
6) You may not violate any local, state, national or international law or regulation.
7) You may not modify any part of the Ultima Online Service or Web Site that Origin Systems does not specifically authorize you to modify.
8) You may not arrange for the exchange or transfer of any pirated software or other contraband while you are on the Ultima Online Service or Web Site, or use the Ultima Online Service or Web Site for any other illegal purpose.
9) You may not organize any guilds or groups that are based on, or espouse, any racist, sexist, anti-religious, anti-ethnic, anti-gay, or other hate-mongering philosophy.
10) You may not use the Ultima Online Service or the Ultima Online Web Site for any activities other than activities that are permitted within the game world.
11) You may not post or communicate any player's real world personal information within the Ultima Online Service or through the Ultima Online Web Site or bulletin board.
12) You may not give false information or intentionally hide any information that is required at the time you register with the Ultima Online Service.
13) You will not upload or transmit on the Ultima Online Service, or through the Ultima Online Web Site or bulletin board, any copyrighted content that you do not own all rights to, unless you have the express written permission of the author or copyright holder.
14) You will not attempt to interfere with, hack into, or decipher any transmissions to or from the servers running the Ultima Online Service.
15) You will not exploit any bug in the Ultima Online product or the Ultima Online Service to gain unfair advantage in the game and you will not communicate the existence of any such bug (either directly or through public posting) to any other user of the Ultima Online Service.
16) You will not attempt to play Ultima Online on any service that is not controlled or authorized by Origin Systems.
17 ) You will not create, use or provide any server emulator or other site where Ultima Online may be played, and you will not post or distribute any utilities, emulators or other software tools related to Ultima Online without the express written permission of Origin.
18) You will not do anything else that interferes with the ability of other Ultima Online users to enjoy playing the game in accordance with its rules, or that increases the expense or difficulty of Origin in maintaining the Ultima Online Service for the enjoyment of all its users.
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU AGREE TO THESE RULES AND WILL ABIDE BY THEM. YOU FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD. YOU FURTHER AGREE THAT THESE RULES WILL APPLY TO ANYONE THAT YOU ALLOW TO USE YOUR ULTIMA ONLINE ACCOUNT OR USER ID, AND THAT YOU ARE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES (INCLUDING TERMINATION OF YOUR ACCOUNT) THAT MAY RESULT IF ANY SUCH PERSON BREAKS THESE RULES.
Further, the terms of service agreement, http://www.owo.com/agreement.html, establish your acknowledgement of the rules above, and your responsibility for all activity on your account.
b) Passwords. Upon your registration for the Service, you will select a password. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your password and you are responsible for any harm resulting from your disclosure or allowing the disclosure of any password or from use by any person of your password to gain access to your Account and User ID. At no time should you respond to an online request for a password. Origin Systems employees will never ask for your password online. You acknowledge that although the Service may offer a feature that allows you to "remember" your password and thereby bypass the password protection, this feature makes it possible for third parties to access your Account and User ID. Use of this password bypass feature will be at your own risk. It is strongly discouraged. Likewise, please DO NOT use your User ID as your Password.
(d) Conduct and Communication. You, and anyone you authorize to use your Account and User ID on the Service, agree to follow the Rules of Conduct published by Origin Systems. The Rules of Conduct may be found on the Web Site. The Rules of Conduct may change at Origin Systems discretion, at any time. Origin Systems reserves the right to terminate your Membership if it determines in its sole discretion that you have engaged in any impermissible conduct whether or not such conduct violates the Rules of Conduct. You acknowledge, however, that Origin Systems does not pre-screen Content or communication over the Service.
We consider this banning of your account to be permanent and irrevocable as agreed by you in the Terms of Service agreement.
Under Section 3: Subsection C is states:
(c) Former Members. Members whose Accounts have been terminated by Origin Systems may not access the Service in any manner or for any reason without the express written permission of Origin Systems. Active Members may not knowingly allow former Members whose Accounts have been terminated to use the active Members' Accounts or User IDs.
Future mails concerning this issue will not be returned nor is this matter subject for review. All such reviews have been made and we are satisfied that appropriate action has been taken. Origin Systems considers this letter sufficient notification of your account termination, and considers any relationship with you terminated at this point.
UO Account Administrator Origin Systems Inc.
Please do not call our Billing Department, as they will not be able to help you. The Account Administrator is the only available help to Suspended players.''
The unban letter
(fighting corruption with corruption)
Corruption of OSI employees leading a personal vendetta against KoC is what had caused this MASSIVE ban.
Since I was a counselor on european servers and knew a few GMs for chatting with them in private IRC rooms, I decided to fight fire with fire. I had 3 GMs vouching for me to force the GM Lead to actually review my accounts and tell me what I was being accused of instead of just sending me a prefiled letter.
Few days later I had my answer and was unbanned on all accounts I had requested to be unbanned, but one which had our GM IP on it and used to be holding the guildhouse/stone on SP...
''Return-Path: <email@example.com> From: "Leverett, William" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "'RAK'" <email@example.com> Subject: RE: From Counselor TMO (Euro shards) about my banned accounts Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 12:48:44 -0600
I have completed the in-depth check of your accounts, and the news I have for you is somewhat bittersweet. We have decided to reactivate the accounts jmk and hebus accounts while keeping the other accounts closed. However due to the fact that they still have some recent links to other accounts which were terminated, we will not be returning any of the houses or property owned in those accounts. The characters will still be there but nothing else will be returned.
This was about as good as a compromise as we could come up with for this situation. To be honest, it is very unlikely that your account would be reactivated at all without several people coming forward saying that you had been extremely helpful within our volunteer program, which you will still be able to be a part of when the account is reinstated. Had that not occurred, these accounts would have been terminated.
While I am happy to reactivate your accounts, I am sorry to say that we were placed in a position that forced us to take some sort of action. I will be happy to help you with whatever else I can. The accounts should be turned on within a few hours, and you will be able to play soon.
Again I am sorry that this entire situation has gotten so ugly. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.
- They didn't return the houses because they had decayed while the accounts were under their controle, something which he wouldn't admit :p
- "Had that not occurred, these accounts would have been terminated" => In other words, without links within the OSI staff, my accounts would still be wrongly banned.
Oh well, I sold both accounts for about a 1000$ total.
When I later came back to UO before AOS, I got one of the account back from the guy i sold it to and resold it again a few weeks ago after quitting UO for good.
Ultima Online Player Relations Origin Systems, Inc.''