This writer has learned that the legendary player of both Space Merchant & Space Merchant Realms, Inspector Fitch, has some time ago gone into permanent retirement as far as both of those games are concerned. This means that his long unupdated website will never get done. Inspector Fitch has kindly allowed that the text from his website, as incomplete as it is, be reproduced here in the Nexus. http://www.angelfire.com/space/inspectorfitch
Here it is:
Inspector Fitch’s Space Merchant Realms Help & History Website
Welcome to the Space Merchant Realms Help & History Website! I am Inspector Fitch, a long time Veteran player of the game who is well-equipped to help you with your SM/SMR needs. Not only am I player of both the original Space Merchant (SM) and also Space Merchant Realms (SMR), but I was also an alliance officer, and in some games an alliance leader. You will also find the History of the game, which should provide you with vaulable lessons from the past on how you should conduct yourself.
In addition, there will be a Biography section where you can read about the players of the past & present so that you can emulate the deeds of the great players while avoiding the errors of the not so great. There will also be an Alliances section where the histories of the most important alliances in the game will be recounted. If you are interested in one day becoming an alliance leader yourself, you should find this section most useful. Finally, I have conducted interviews with some of the most noteworthy players of the past. These luminaries include StarBlade, -=WarZone=-, Ozymandous, Thermopyle, Northern Warrior, jadn, and Brooke the Blue Falcon. You should find these interviews to be both interesting and informative.
This website concerns 2 somewhat different space strategy browser based games: The original Space Merchant & the unauthorized “close clone” Space Merchant Realms. Space Merchant began in March, 1998 as the first webgame version of Trade Wars 2002. Since it was effectively a monopoly on web-based space trading strategy games, SM’s playership grew by leaps and bounds and it quickly became one of the most popular games on the Internet. Its parent company, Shareplay, reaped huge profits from advertising both from SM, and from its other two games, Monarchy and Panumbra. Everything looked fine and dandy for both the game and the company. Indeed, Shareplay in the spring of 1999 initiated two ambitious projects: a space warfare strategy game called The Magellan Conflict and M.A.C.E., a game involving robot gladiators.
However, there was a serious defect that in the late spring of 1999 almost destroyed SM. It is generally well-known by gaming administrators that one of the keys to success in online gaming management is that you must be scrupulously neutral amongst the players and players’s groups. If anything, you must lean over backwards to avoid even the appearance of favoritism. However, the Shareplay staff failed to do that and that failure resulted in a large number of players leaving the game in a very short period of time. There was even an organized boycott with the websites of several alliances changed into Internet billboards advertising the game’s shortcomings. It was a dark time for SM, during which the game and company teetered on the edge of failure.
At this critical juncture, Jonathan Manton, the owner of Shareplay stepped in and seemed to fix things. He expressly forbade the staff from playing SM. This appeared to fix things especially since the staff had all been playing the game as members of the same alliance. This same alliance had received huge favors from the admins and that alliance’s opponents had been unfairly penalized by the admins. Following this decision, the admins became scrupulously neutral and the majority of the game’s players literally turned on the formerly favored alliance and smashed it. This led to changes in the admins’s former alliance. The leadership of this alliance resigned and was replaced by new leaders who promptly changed its name. The combination of the end of the brazen bias, coupled with the infamous alliance’s new leadership and name helped cause many SM players to believe that the old ways of doing things were over and that a new era was beginning. It appeared that the problem had been fixed for once and for all.
However, old habits died hard. And so did the staff’s loyalty to the SM alliance that they had formerly played with. After a period of strict neutrality, the admins eventually slid back to their previously biased behavior. However, this was bias of a more subtle nature. This kind of bias took the form of taking the side of their former alliance in practically every in-game dispute while at the same time muting its impact by making changes after every serious dispute that did not appear to give their former comrades everything that they wanted.
One such incident that sticks out in the memory of old-timers like myself is the “Catronia Incident.” Catronia was the alleged real life wife of the leader of the alliance that the admins had formerly played SM with. She was caught by a Shareplay intern being a multi. Specifically, she created an account to map the universe with, then when that account had run out of Newbie Turns, she deleted it and then played SM with her regular account so that she could use her Newbie Turns expoiting the knowledge that she had gained with her temporary account. Well, the intern upon catching her, froze her account and posted on the SM Webboard about the incident. That brought down the house. The members of Catronia’s alliance claimed that they were utterly unaware that doing as Catronia did was considered multi’ng and hence cheating. That being the case, they demanded that Catronia be reinstated or else they would boycott the game. The admins then announced that they would forgive Catronia on the grounds that they had come to believe that she really did not think that she was cheating. Furthermore, the admins decided that in the future, interns would not be able to make decisions about cheating on their own.
This result was most unsatisfying to the players of SM. However, there was but little appetite for a renewal of the players boycott. Those of us players who still believed in ethics and morals eventually quit playing the game. We moved on to other, honestly run games, and left SM behind to rot. However, SM did not start rotting right away. Shortly after the Catronia Incident, SM instituted separate Newbie Games for beginning players. Also, Shareplay started a massive advertising campaign for the game that reportedly cost $50,000. Additionally, a major computer magazine, in January 2000, published a review of SM that gave the game a high grading. All this publicity had the effect of causing a flood of new players to try out SM.
Having said that, there is a serious problem with lamers in the SMR community. SMR is possibly the single most lamer-infested space trading strategy game there is. While the admins have been fair in their dealings with the players, they have also been remarkably lenient with players who harass others in the SMR IRC Chat and who send harassing msg’s to others in-game. The same is also true for the SMR Webboard where trolls with names like Blum & Elvis Fett who rarely, if ever, play the game routinely trash those who do. This situation has resulted in a steadily declining player base. If the SMR admins don’t get a handle it, they could see all the hard work that they have put into the game go down the drain.