more than you ever ever ever wanted to know about
OSI's most famous GM
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August, 1998: Kevin Roseler, then known as "Kanis", first surfaces via posts to Usenet advertising a "Napa Valley Shard Times" website. One of the postings included his ICQ number, which caused him no end of grief a year later.
September, 1998: Kevin Roseler hired by Origin Systems, Inc. as a part time employee at the salary of $10.00 an hour; assumes the identity of "GM Darwin". He posted a few times the first week he was hired, including one defending poor GM response times.
September, 1998 - June 1999 GM Darwin was, from all appearances, assigned to serve on numerous shards, most often sighted on Catskills and Lake Superior. Most reports of his conduct are positive; some players noted that he had helped them even after GM hours. A few were less than complimentary, including one player that was told in December that if he didn't like theives, he shouldn't be playing UO. Another in January complained that he refused to refresh a player's house, even though he was called up by the military and was unable to himself. Overall, however, there are few complaints, especially in comparison to other notorious GMs such as Carnox and Cochese.
May 29, 1999 - GM Darwin makes his first purchase on eBay, as userID imagine691, which he later changed to shopper691, with an email address from a large Austin-based ISP. This is later changed to [email protected] after his termination from Origin. Over the next few weeks, according to eBay logs, he purchases 256MB of computer memory and some Mickey Mouse memorabilia.
June 1, 1999 - GM Darwin places his first auction on eBay, a large house and 2 million GP on Catskills. The auction closes at $700.01. He and his wife later state this was to aid a friend with financial and marital problems and no personal profit was made from these and other transactions.
June 10, 1999 - Nighthawk, webmaster of the PK-friendly Joy of Villany website, is banned from Ultima Online by GM Boo for saying "I love bashing jap healers". This is deemed a racial slur. An hour later, his tower is deleted by a GM, despite the fact that it was co-owned by many players who were not banned. Protests from throughout the UO community, including but not limited to PKs, begin.
June 11, 1999 - According to GM Darwin, the GMs are ordered by "someone from upstairs ie. the dev team or the community people said to unban him [Nighthawk] since he had all his friends protest." Nighthawk is told that his punishment has been changed to a 72-hour penalty box and that his tower will not be restored.
June 12, 1999 - GM Darwin places two auctions on eBay, a tower and 2 million GP on Napa Valley which sells for $510.00 and a placed castle on Baja which sells for $1,025.00. A day later he places two more auctions, a placed castle on Napa Valley which sells for $750.00, and a large house on Pacific which sells for $611.00. His total proceeds for the two days of auctions: $2,896.00
June 14-18, 1999 - GM Darwin places several orders for computer hardware, also through eBay. He purchases a flatscreen 19" monitor, two complete PIII/500 systems (one / two) and a tower case as well as a failed bid on another PIII/550. Total purchased in this buying spree: $4,212.00. His wife later states that this was intended for and paid by his mother. Shortly thereafter, he bids on another monitor, but the sale falls through as both call each other deadbeats in eBay complaint reports.
June 16, 1999 GM Darwin had a busy day. In addition to taking a call on a friend of Dr. Twister which is lovingly described the next day on his website (apparently the corpse of a thief was changed from gray to blue after the thief successfully placed a murder count on his killer, which should not have happened), he places four auctions on eBay, each for 2 million gold, on Chesapeake, Europa, Sonoma and Lake Superior. Total take that day: $1491.38.
July 17-21, 1999 The great majority of Dr. TwisTer's website is taken up by polemics against GM Darwin, and "the fools that OSI thinks we are" over the alleged corpse coverup.
June 20, 1999 GM Darwin places four more auctions up for bids on eBay, again 2 million gold each on Pacific, Baja, Yamato and Great Lakes. Two of them fall through, including one to T. Elliot "Myscha the Sled Dog" Cannon of Epic Games. They both complain that he was a scammer unable to provide the gold that he was selling. The other two auctions apparently went through, for a total of $735.00. These are the last sales GM Darwin makes on eBay; his total proceeds (not including eBay fees) are $5,822.39.
June 21, 1999 A letter from an anonymous hotmail account is sent to all GMs, most major UO web sites, and this author, mocking Dr. TwisTer for concentrating on GM Darwin's alleged lapses against the user Vader as proof that he is fact Vader on the Baja shard (Dr. TwisTer's UO identity is a closely guarded secret, since it is an open secret that OSI would like nothing more than to ban his account). This despite the fact that the word "Vader" appears nowhere on Dr. TwisTer's site, as is pointed out immediately.
While I have no proof, I now, in retrospect, believe that this letter in fact originated from a GM, if not GM Darwin himself. The full letter is online here, near the bottom of the page.
Sometime during this week, someone discovers the pattern of GM Darwin's auctions and reports them to OSI. GM Darwin claims that it was Nighthawk, who was rewarded with a keep and 5 million gold. Nighthawk later denies recieving any reward but does not comment on whether or not he was the one to discover and report GM Darwin.
June 24, 1999 GM Darwin is placed on temporary leave of absence pending an investigation by Origin. He posts the following letter to the Gate Traveller's Test Center message base:
.. I am no longer employed with Origin Systems Inc. and thus this ends my time in UO, as they not only blocked the two accounts they gave me but, my personal one as well. Is not a problem as I could never play the game again anyway.
I hold no ill will toward Origin Systems Inc. as my leaving was my fault. I wish you all well and, I hope you goes on to be a bigger and better game. I will no longer be on ICQ and all my email addy's have been changed. So this is my farewell to all the Test Center players I met or even did not meet. I will not even take the time to bore you with a list of all my friends I have made as the list is long and distinguished.
Thanks again to all the players, GM's and PD's that make this game what is it. Good luck and farewell all.
No longer any boards friendly flamer Tolky , Sir Gateway and GM Darwin
June 28, 1999 OSI informs GM Darwin that he has been terminated, but that no legal charges will be filed. OSI issues the following press release:
On Thursday, June 24th, Origin Systems (OSI) was alerted to the possible misconduct of an individual employed within the GM Support Department. Upon investigation, OSI found reason to believe that this employee was engaging in activities that breached the trust that must exist between a company, its employees, and its customers. The decision by OSI management in this case was immediate dismissal. All actions that are taken by members of our support staff are logged and monitored, and we investigate all reports of GM misbehavior that we receive. We are grateful to players who bring these incidents to our attention, as these reports are used to ensure that OSI representatives are providing the best possible service at all times. If you believe that a GM or any OSI representative is behaving in anything less than the highest standard of service, we ask you to please email [email protected] with the details of your issue. Only the most senior representatives of our support staff read this mailbox, and we assure you that your issue will be thoroughly investigated. We take our responsibility to our customers very seriously, and we will not allow anyone -- staff or otherwise -- to abuse our service or our customers.
That same day, the now ex-GM Darwin places a bid to BUY (not sell) an account with a 7x GM character and a tower on Napa Valley. The auction is still ongoing as of this writing. He is not the high bidder. Darwin's wife, Alysha, emails me, wanting to tell Darwin's side of the story, but offers no details.
That night, Dr. TwisTer breaks the story of Darwin's eBay auctions. Word spreads rapidly.
I contact Darwin and conduct a brief interview. Among other things, Darwin claims not only that Dr. TwisTer is in fact Vader and that this is known to OSI, but that he was also a counselor named Retsiwt ("Twister" backwards). He is apologetic for his actions, but is defensive and quick to assign blame for them to others, asserts that other GMs would and are doing the same thing, and that given the chance, he would do it again.
In the following days several mainstream gaming and internet news media outlets express interest in the story, including Blue's News (the main Quake news site), evilavatar.com, Gamespot, Gamecenter, and ZD-Net. Dr. TwisTer's web site is down during most of this time, in probably the worst luck ever suffered by a UO-related web site. My site sees a 500% increase in site traffic.
Darwin lies low during all this, not commenting to anyone after our interview. His wife Alysha, however, writes this website and is interviewed by Scott "Samwise" Kurtz, a satirist and online-gaming commentator.
Most writers and posters conclude that the affair is merely proof of corruption within the GM and support system of UO that they have long had anecdotal and personal evidence of.
OSI has had, and continues to have, no comment beyond their original press release.
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