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Horizons: Special Report: The EI Catastrophe

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

Staff Writer Carolyn Koh files this special report on what has gone on with Horizons and its community since the game was purchased by EI Interactive from Tulga Games. The article includes some startling allegations and reaction from EI's Ed Anderchek.




image The transition has proven anything but smooth. The first sign of trouble was seen publicly when EI attempted to change the problematic billing system they inherited. On July 28th, players of Horizons were informed via email & a posting on the forums that come 12:01am August 1st a new billing system would be implemented and they would be required to re-enter their billing information on or before their renewal dates. The news also announced:
"This new billing update screen will provide you with a number of payment options to select from... secure via PayPal Subscription, Direct Pay, and Credit Card entry."
Unfortunately as forum user Steelclaw informs us in the Istaria community forums, the new billing screen was anything but secure as they were not sent over an encrypted https* connection but a regular http connection.

The whole report is here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

«134

Comments

  • MrbloodworthMrbloodworth Newport News, VAPosts: 5,615Member
    Ouch, so what is the state of things now?


    ----------
    "Anyone posting on this forum is not an average user, and there for any opinions about the game are going to be overly critical compared to an average users opinions." - Me

    "No, your wrong.." - Random user #123

    "Hello person posting on a site specifically for MMO's in a thread on a sub forum specifically for a particular game talking about meta features and making comparisons to other titles in the genre, and their meta features.

    How are you?" -Me

  • DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

    Originally posted by Mrbloodworth
    Ouch, so what is the state of things now?
    This is just Part I of II... so expect more soon.


    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • martinj63martinj63 Saint Albans, VTPosts: 83Member

    The only good thing that has come from any of this is David Bowman will most likely never work in this industry again. I think  folks really can't appreciate the negative impact Bowman has had on the MMOROPG industry. One only needs to revisit AC 2  to realize what a consummate screw up DB  is . I knew Horizons was doomed the moment they brought him on board and from what info I have been able to glean from a friend at Tugla  Bowman has basically misrepresented  what Tulga did and did not own and EI is now paying the price. I just hope the new owners are smart enough to bring charges of Fraud against this snake oil salesman.

     

    I always knew Bowman was an Incompetent that basically achieved his position by stabbing co-workers in the back, but I was blown away when I found out just how royally he screwed up AC 2 and almost single-handedly ruined Turbine. When I look at the original design docs of AC2 and see those designs being implemented so well in WoW (Thanks to Mark Kern Formerly of Turbine/Microsoft)   I  am sickened. Anyone at Turbine will tell you that the Asherons franchise failure was due  to the lies and thievery of one person David Bowman. 

      I honestly wish the best for Horizons new owners, they have purchased an MMO that was built on lies and deceit. The only saving grace is that small Polly-Anna like community that has so far stuck by this Titanic through thin and thinner.

     

  • ShadukarShadukar baltimore, MDPosts: 3Member
    I was a beta tester for Horizons... I had been following the game since it was announced.  I knew David Allen, and he had a great idea for a game... While it was clear that he could not execute the needed action to get it off the ground, David Bowman... was only ever interested in one thing, Money.  AE, and Tulga, and now EI... These small time no name companies with their half backed developers need to give up.. let the game die already.  I would love to play again but not unless a titan of a company (Blizzard is an example) sunk a large sum of money into the game and redesigned the graphics engine, fill original design promises and upgrade the hard ware... AND FOR GOD SAKE FIX THAT MEMORY LEEK ALREADY!!

     


    "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!"
    Julius Caesar (Act 3, scene 1) by William Shakespeare

  • ShadrakShadrak Hometown, ALPosts: 375Member
    Great writeup. Horizons has always had problems like this. "The vocal minority that wishes them ill" lol thats funny as hell. EI had to have known what kind of mess they were getting into with Horizons. Surely they knew the history...if not then they got exactly what they deserved for not researching it.
  • docminusdocminus J.Posts: 717Member
    yes, this whole thing was quite a disaster - was the reason why i didn't continue the trial (unfortunately i only found out about problems after i signed up...). i loved playing as dragon and the crafting system.
    of course i couldn't cancel, and my card was charged. posting, etc. didn't help.... :(
    but, after emailing & waiting, the dear dr. cancelled the account and i did get a refund.

    a good example of why silence from the devs/distributers hurts more than it helps. but the companies just don't seem to get it. my guess is, that noone wants to take responsibility in fear of loosing their job. sad.



    imageimage

  • OrlenaOrlena Lititz, PAPosts: 22Member
    It is interesting to me that Mr. Andercheck continues to speak out of both sides of his mouth.

    Irrefutable fact is that billing was insecure for a number of days.  Fact also is that their servers which stored all client information, including login information, credit card information, etc, was stored as a text file on a server which was known for being easily hacked.  Whether it was actually ever hacked in to or not no one can prove.  No one has stepped forward to say that future problems with unauthorized credit card transactions can be linked directly to EII's unsecure storage of this information, unfortunately.

    As to the "vocal minority", I have been a part of that group since long before the sale.  When Tulga ran the company, they not only listened to this minority, they responded to it.  Not as we always wanted, of course, but they listened and responded.  EII's response to the "vocal minority"?  Gag orders.  Anyone who speaks out against them in any way is immediately banned from the forums, and in most cases their very existance on the forums is completely removed.  Every post ever made by Ophelea (Ms. Heckman in the MMORPG article) was removed from their forums, regardless of the content.  EII so wanted to deny Ms. Heckman's claims that they have chosen to deny her very existance.  I remember when each of my three children used to do this.  If they didn't like what mommy or daddy was saying, they would close their eyes and plug their ears and pretend we didn't exist.  Of course, my children out grew this by the time they were 4 years old.  How unfortunate it is for the Horizons community that Mr. Andercheck and company seem to have not outgrown this method of interacting with people who disagree with them.

    One clarification of fact I'd like to make regarding the article above.  When Horizons was turned over to EII, the billing issues were nearly resolved.  The billing issues they "inherited" were due to the need to become compliant with new Federal laws which the billing company for Horizons had until August 1st to put in place.  Rather than continue with the company which was trying to become federally compliant, EII attempted to use their own billing system, which is why the problems in August started.  At no time did EII attempt to consult with anyone from Tulga games, former employee or contracted, for help with resolving the billing system.  While they can attempt to lay the blame on the Tulga employees and Gamersinfo.net, and there is nothing that anyone from either of those companies can do to prove that they were NOT contacted, you also will not find that EII has any record of when they DID contact them, or with what problems.  Thankfully in the US people are innocent until proven guilty, so the need to provide evidence to support his claims falls on Mr. Andercheck.

    I and many others were paying subscribers to Horizons when the transfer happened, and we tried to work WITH the new company in the same manner which we'd worked with Tulga for a long time prior to the sale.  Rather than working with us, the management of EII chose to ban us from all forms of communication with them, and ignore our voices.  Whether minority or majority matters little to me.  The proof of how large a group of customers Mr. Andercheck is refering to when he says "the vocal minority" is in how subscriptions 3 months after the sale are.  Perhaps the writer for the second piece could ask that question... though I strongly suspect I know the answer he/she will get already.

    As I said, the proof is in actions, not words. :)



  • KlausWKlausW Denver, COPosts: 165Member


    Originally posted by martinj63
    Bowman has basically misrepresented  what Tulga did and did not own and EI is now paying the price. I 


    David Bowman did not sell Horizons, as he was not the owner. That decision was made by Chris Baker of CP Baker, who was the primary investor in Tulga Games. David actually tried to impress on EI what all went into running Horizons and urged them to hire the Tulga team members, especially critical personnel such as Smeglor and Amon. As far as I know, none of the critical personnel got even a single phone call from EI management. If David was trying to sabotage the purchase or mislead EI about something, why would he be trying to talk them into hiring critical staff?

    One comment about Ed's statement on the billing issues:

    "That is completely false, we have no log of any customer confidential information being accessed illegally."

    It is not illegal to access an unsecured file. Their systems were not 'hacked' as they were not protected in the first place. They have no log of who accessed the file in question because they probably were not keeping such a log. However, the file was there, it was not secured in any way, and I know personally at least two people who accessed it at the request of one of the players who discovered the file and reported it to EI. Personal information entered by Horizons players was, indeed, stored in an unsecured file and was indeed viewed by members of the public. For EI to say it was not is a flat-out lie.

    Let me stress once more that it is not in any way illegal for a member of the public to view the contents of an unprotected file on an unprotected, public area of a server. There is no security breach if there was no security in the first place.

    Guildleader, Mithril Council, Chaos

  • DresanDresan Toronto, ONPosts: 75Member
    Wow i had no idea and i was going to suggest horizons to a friend. Great article, i look forward to reading more.


  • martinj63martinj63 Saint Albans, VTPosts: 83Member

    I never said that David Bowman owned Horizons...please learn reading comprehension. image

    Bowman was the chief cook and Bottle washer and the owners were little more than venture capitalist looking for an investment return. Bowman was the one that handled the buyout up to and including the transference of intellectual property and what Tulga did and did not own.  I know this because Glenn Parker, and David Spradling told me so. Glenn and David both left Tulga two weeks before the Ummm”Buyout”  due to ethical concerns.

    This one is going to get messy ladies and gents, I see many Class action lawsuits and DB being charged with fraud.



    Originally posted by KlausW





    Originally posted by martinj63
    Bowman has basically misrepresented  what Tulga did and did not own and EI is now paying the price. I 


    David Bowman did not sell Horizons, as he was not the owner. That decision was made by Chris Baker of CP Baker, who was the primary investor in Tulga Games. David actually tried to impress on EI what all went into running Horizons and urged them to hire the Tulga team members, especially critical personnel such as Smeglor and Amon. As far as I know, none of the critical personnel got even a single phone call from EI management. If David was trying to sabotage the purchase or mislead EI about something, why would he be trying to talk them into hiring critical staff?

    One comment about Ed's statement on the billing issues:

    "That is completely false, we have no log of any customer confidential information being accessed illegally."

    It is not illegal to access an unsecured file. Their systems were not 'hacked' as they were not protected in the first place. They have no log of who accessed the file in question because they probably were not keeping such a log. However, the file was there, it was not secured in any way, and I know personally at least two people who accessed it at the request of one of the players who discovered the file and reported it to EI. Personal information entered by Horizons players was, indeed, stored in an unsecured file and was indeed viewed by members of the public. For EI to say it was not is a flat-out lie.

    Let me stress once more that it is not in any way illegal for a member of the public to view the contents of an unprotected file on an unprotected, public area of a server. There is no security breach if there was no security in the first place.




  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    BBB Reliability Report

    The Better Business Bureau®
    Serving Middle Tennessee
    P.O. Box 198436
    Nashville, TN 37219-8436
    (615) 242-4BBB
    www.gobbb.org

    Enhanced Interactive Communications Corp
    501 East Front Street
    Butte, MT 59701
    Telephone: (406) 299-9174

    The BBB reports on members and non-members. If a company is a member of the BBB, it is stated in this report
    BBB Definition:

    report - A summary of activity reflected in a company's BBB file. Includes basic business background, BBB membership information, and Bureau complaint activity over the previous three years. Also reports may include any known government actions, advertising issues or other information that results from activity conducted by the BBB.


    .

    Principal: Dr. Raymond Rask, President
    Customer Contact: Dr. Raymond Rask, President - (949) 705-6825
    File Open Date: August 2006
    BBB Membership: This company is not a member.


    Additional DBA Names

    EI Interactive

    Principal Officer

    Dr. Raymond Rask is the President of the company.

    Customer Service Contact

    Dr. Raymond Rask is the complaint contact person for this company and should be contacted at (949) 705-6825 before filing a complaint with the BBB.

    Customer Experience

    This company first came to our attention in August 11, 2006. We are attempting to develop information on the company. At the present time we do not have enough information to issue a report.

    The Bureau develops a report on a firm based on inquiry or complaint activity. The information provided, however limited, is presented to assist you in your purchasing decisions or for any other purpose you deem relevant.

    If you have information to assist the Bureau in developing a report, click here.

    The BBB suggests you read and understand company promotional materials and contracts and check company references and licensing, where applicable.


    Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record
    BBB Definition:

    unsatisfactory record - A company has an "unsatisfactory business performance record" with the Bureau is based on the experiences reflected in BBB files. This file condition results when the company has failed to resolve or respond to complaints, repeatedly failed to respond or resolve issues in a timely manner, failed to resolve the underlying issues for a pattern
    BBB Definition:

    pattern - More than 2 complaints involving the same allegations usually within 12 months that are significant in relation to the company's size and volume of business.


    of complaints, failed to honor their commitment to mediate or arbitrate disputes or honor mediated agreements or arbitrated decisions, failed to substantiate, modify or discontinue false advertising claims that are challenged by the BBB, or failed to discontinue unauthorized use of the BBB name and logo, a Federally protected trademark.


    with the Bureau due to unanswered complaints.

    When considering complaint information, please take into account the company's size and volume of transactions, and understand that the nature of complaints and a firm's responses to them are often more important than the number of complaints.

    The Bureau processed a total of 9 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 9 complaints closed in 36 months, 9 were closed in the last year.

    Billing or Collection Issues
    BBB Definition:

    Billing or Collection Issues - Claim alleging billing errors, unauthorized charges, or questionable collection practices.



    No Response
    BBB Definition:

    No Response - The company failed to respond to the complaint.



    3 - Company failed to respond to the BBB to resolve or address the complaint issues.
    Unpursuable
    BBB Definition:

    Unpursuable - The company cannot be located or is out of business.



    5 - Company cannot be located.

    Customer Service Issues
    BBB Definition:

    Service Issues - Claims of alleged delay in completing service, failure to provide promised service, inferior quality of provided service, or damaged merchandise as a result of delivery service.



    BBB Definition:

    Customer Service Issues - Claims alleging unsatisfactory customer service, including personnel's failure to provide assistance in a timely manner, failure to address or respond to customer dissatisfaction, unavailability for customer support, and/or inappropriate behavior or attitude exhibited by company staff.



    No Response
    BBB Definition:

    No Response - The company failed to respond to the complaint.



    1 - Company failed to respond to the BBB to resolve or address the complaint issues.

    Company Management

    Additional company management personnel include:

    Mr. Edward C. Andercheck - Chairman

    Additional Addresses, and Telephone Numbers

    Additional Addresses
    1801 West End Avenue
    Suite 110
    Nashville, TN 37203


    Additional Phone Numbers
    (949) 705-6825



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Report as of October 27, 2006
    Copyright© 2006 Better Business Bureau®, Inc.

    BBB reports may not be reproduced for sales or promotional purposes.

    The information in this report has either been provided by the company or has been compiled by the Bureau from other reliable sources.

    As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service or company. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period, and are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information contained in this report is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reports are subject to change at any time.


    Yeah, EI is real big on communication lol. What a joke.

  • OrlenaOrlena Lititz, PAPosts: 22Member

    Originally posted by martinj63

    I never said that David Bowman owned Horizons...please learn reading comprehension. image

    Bowman was the chief cook and Bottle washer and the owners were little more than venture capitalist looking for an investment return. Bowman was the one that handled the buyout up to and including the transference of intellectual property and what Tulga did and did not own.  I know this because Glenn Parker, and David Spradling told me so. Glenn and David both left Tulga two weeks before the Ummm”Buyout”  due to ethical concerns.

    This one is going to get messy ladies and gents, I see many Class action lawsuits and DB being charged with fraud.


    Umm... Glenn Parker and David Spradling?  Who the HECK are they?  Sure as heck not former Tulga employees that worked at Tulga until 2 weeks before EII bought out the game.  I was THERE 2 weeks (about) before the buyout, and there were no people there by those names.

    And to set the record straight, Mr. Bowman had nothing to do with the sale of the game until he was told by his boss, the owner, to work with the people at EII to support the transition.  I believe if you look around on this forum and the Gamersinfo.net one, you'll see exactly how much Mr. Bowman knew about the sale and when.  He made an offer to purchase the game himself which was turned down, in fact.  That is how little control he had over the sale to EII.  Sadly it is people such as yourself, martinj63, who are making this messy and should have a  lawsuit brought against them for spreading... well... bullcrap.


  • ShadrakShadrak Hometown, ALPosts: 375Member
    Bowman had his chance then he filed bankrupcty and sold out to Tulga who sold out to EI. Horizons was born to fail and the few dozen fanboys who are left might as well except it. Its been one thing after another for Horizons Ive watched the game go up in flames since the old tazoon.com days I remember the rants bowman made at customers and the promises and lies he and others made. There are SO many MMORPGS's these days the ONLY thing that HZ offers is dragons and crafting. There is no PR person in the world that can turn around public opinion inregards to Horizons or EI at this point.
  • TiiKiiTiiKii Durango, COPosts: 162Member
    I see this game going up in flames evidentually.. which is sad.

    Once.. long ago, I played it, but it was just too buggy for me.. *sighs* I do miss my Dragon though image



    "Huntress"

  • shaeshae Ottawa, ONPosts: 2,509Member

    Wow, just wow!

    I feel so bad for all those people who would swear by Horizons and look at the poor thing now.

    As a side note to mmorpg.com staff, this is by far the best piece of actual reporting that I've seen on this site in a LONGGGG time. Great job and I'd love to see more stuff long this, as well as more on this story in the future.

  • CholaynaCholayna My Boat, FLPosts: 1,604Member



    Originally posted by shae

    As a side note to mmorpg.com staff, this is by far the best piece of actual reporting that I've seen on this site in a LONGGGG time. Great job and I'd love to see more stuff long this, as well as more on this story in the future.



    Tee-totally agree~! image
  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    Originally posted by Cholayna
    Originally posted by shae
    As a side note to mmorpg.com staff, this is by far the best piece of actual reporting that I've seen on this site in a LONGGGG time. Great job and I'd love to see more stuff long this, as well as more on this story in the future.
    Tee-totally agree~! image

    I concur! The staff is on the ball with this one. Keep 'em comin', boys::::20::

  • Ransom73Ransom73 Somewhere, NHPosts: 227Member

    Why hasnt this level of investigation and reporting been done for what is the single biggest story of the last 2 years:  SOE and the utter cluster*edit* that is SW:G?

     

    Oh, I know why....

    You are intimidated by the big boys, and don't mind picking on the little ones who aren't such a threat to your advertising budget.  Instead, we get softball articles like these :

    http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/874/SOEAGCBreakfastwithSOE.html

    http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/817/SOEChrisKramerSeniorDirectorofCorporateComm.html

    http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/setview/features/loadFeature/324/gameID/6/from/features/StarWarsGalaxiesNGEInterviewwithCaseyKeefe.htm

    My unborn son could hit those out of the park, and he isn't even conceived yet.l

  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    Originally posted by Ransom73
    Why hasnt this level of investigation and reporting been done for what is the single biggest story of the last 2 years:  SOE and the utter cluster*edit* that is SW:G?
     
    Oh, I know why....
    You are intimidated by the big boys, and don't mind picking on the little ones who aren't such a threat to your advertising budget.  Instead, we get softball articles like these :
    [
    My unborn son could hit those out of the park, and he isn't even conceived yet.l

    I'd like to know where people somehow get the notion that MMORPG.COM is afraid to say anything bad about SOE? Because of advertising revenue? WHAT advertising revenue?!? Do you see one single ad from SOE here? If you do, please point it out. If you can't, then kindly think of another way to bash the staff here concerning SOE. Because I really don't think they are all too concerned about the ad money::::07::

    For another thing, do they really need to write an article on a game company that has already been run through the ringer on every other site and by gamers on this site for those two+ years? Everyone knows all about the fiasco that is called SOE. However, not everyone is aware of the things these smaller games/developers are doing because they fall under the radar of most of the other gaming sites. You know what you'll see if MMORPG.COM does another article on SOE? "Oh, gee. Here we go again. Does anyone talk about anything else?". With the SWG current crowd supporting SOE and saying the bashing is a lie and the SWG Vets crowd screaming the NGE ruined their game and SOE needs to die. The same damn thing that's happened everytime SOE/SWG is mentioned here. THAT"S why they don't need to do an indepth article on SOE/SWG.

  • xaussxauss londonPosts: 384Member

    for trainwreck fans...

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/97610/page/3

    has any game so good been so badly mismanaged?

     

    image

  • GonodilGonodil San Diego, CAPosts: 335Member



    Originally posted by Zorvan

     WHAT advertising revenue?!? Do you see one single ad from SOE here? If you do, please point it out.




    There was an ad for EQ recently, and there was one before for an EQ2 expansion i beleive.

     

  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    Originally posted by Gonodil

    Originally posted by Zorvan

     WHAT advertising revenue?!? Do you see one single ad from SOE here? If you do, please point it out.


    There was an ad for EQ recently, and there was one before for an EQ2 expansion i beleive.
     

    Ok, I'll grant you that. But compared to games that are advertised here for months at a time? The fact is SOE doesn't advertise here even a third as much as the rest of the games with ads here. And I doubt SOE pays more for their ads than anyone else. So the idea that MMORPG.COM is afraid of losing ad revenue still fails.

  • martinj63martinj63 Saint Albans, VTPosts: 83Member

     

    Bravo! True form of the David Bowman devotee, blame the fans and deny existence of any employee that speaks out against you. And please if you wish to bring legal action against me I welcome it, personally I hope to be in the courtroom the Day the indict Bowman for fraud.

    You may return to your sycophantic adulation of a liar and criminal now.



    Originally posted by Orlena




    Umm... Glenn Parker and David Spradling?  Who the HECK are they?  Sure as heck not former Tulga employees that worked at Tulga until 2 weeks before EII bought out the game.  I was THERE 2 weeks (about) before the buyout, and there were no people there by those names.

    And to set the record straight, Mr. Bowman had nothing to do with the sale of the game until he was told by his boss, the owner, to work with the people at EII to support the transition.  I believe if you look around on this forum and the Gamersinfo.net one, you'll see exactly how much Mr. Bowman knew about the sale and when.  He made an offer to purchase the game himself which was turned down, in fact.  That is how little control he had over the sale to EII.  Sadly it is people such as yourself, martinj63, who are making this messy and should have a  lawsuit brought against them for spreading... well... bullcrap.




  • RageMonsterRageMonster Worden, ILPosts: 120Member

    A big THANK YOU to MMORPG.COM for calling it like it is.  I wrote an email to the fine folks here after I was scammed by EI and asked them to protect fellow gamers from this shady company and today they responded with this excellent report. 

    I loved the part where Ed Andercheck gets caught in a huge lie about not having secured the data and how he tried to fishtail his way out of it when they called him on the obvious lie.  He goes on to spin the huge conspiracy theory that there is this big group of liars that are trying to discredit the game.  Well he is partially right in saying that... the group is called EI.

     

    Can't wait for part 2... go get 'em.

    1

  • KlausWKlausW Denver, COPosts: 165Member

    [quote]Originally posted by martinj63
    [b][quote]
     
    Bravo! True form of the David Bowman devotee, blame the fans and deny existence of any employee that speaks out against you. [/b][/quote]

    Actually, I was in the Tulga offices as well, this past April. I don't recall meeting either of the people you mentioned. The former Tulga employees I spoke with didn't recognize the names, either. Is it possible these people worked for Artifact back in the David Allen era - like five or six years ago?

    Guildleader, Mithril Council, Chaos

«134
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