Saturday, September 15, 2012

For some time now, I’ve been on an interesting foray into the world of Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming. By that, I mean I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons Online.

I’m a writer, I swear, it’s just research for a novel! Haha, I kid, I have actually been designing MMOs for a good decade now as a hobby, so it is kind of research.

Anyway, I’ve encountered something interesting and kinda sad. Now, we all hear the stories about the obsessed World of Warcraft players who wear diapers, pee in bottles, etc, and laugh it off, because it’s funny. But when you actually reach into these games, you realize that there is something deeper, sadder, and unfortunately very true.

It manifests itself particularly on the web-forums. I never used the Blizzard forums in my WoW days, but I spend a fair amount of time hanging around the DDO forums because I cannot actually play the game at work. A lot of other denizens of the forums follow a similar habit: this is what they do when they can’t play the game.

And what manifests here is a series of players for whom their self-worth is dependant, not on their own accomplishments, but on seeing the possibility of those accomplishments denied from others. The basic belief that, if you do not play as much as they, you are not entitled to have as much fun as them, and that it is somehow hurting them for you to have something they worked for, without working as hard.

The problem, of course, is that this is just a freaking game. Its not even a hobby, it’s a diversion. I model and write, so when I want to challenge myself, those are the hobbies I focus on. When I just want to watch things die in a video game, I move over to something like an MMO.

And apparently that attitude infuriates some people. For them, the game IS their life, and if you do something they did without being so involved, they hate you for it.

Let me give you an example: Players in these games are allowed to form groups called guilds. Turbine(the makers of DDO) have a level-system for the guilds(guilds earn experience), called Renown.

Now, Guild Renown is a funny thing. Unlike literally every other facet of the game. There is a complicated(its DnD!) formula that calculates how much “renown” is lost on a daily basis, and you loose that. If you loose enough to go down a guild-level, then you go down a level. If, like me, you don’t play every single day for hours on end, this can be a problem.

What it basically amounts to is that my little guild consisting of a few friends hasn’t a hope in hell of hitting the higher hallowed rankings. Alliteration: a-live it, a-learn it, a-love it. Anywho, we’re stuck forever and always at the lower levels.

So, naturally pissed about this, I went on the boards and joined the screaming hoards of other casual players running small guilds, who dislike this system and would like it removed.

We were met with a rapid, vocal horde of players who basically told us “we don’t like you for playing less than us, so we don’t want you being able to level your guilds”. I promptly decided to screw the whole thing and went back to playing the game for fun.

But what amazes me is how I don’t find this sort of thing in other hobbyist communities. I have spent easily twice as much time making 3D models as I have playing any MMO. Lately, I don’t put as much time into it. It’s something I am passionate for, but I have other interests. I go on hobbyist communities occasionally and chat with other modelers, exchange tips, get feedback, etc.

And at no time has another modeler ever hated me for not spending as much time as he does working with 3D. I have never been told that I shouldn’t be allowed to use some feature of MAX because I “only spend” a few hours a week working with it.

I’d be willing to bet that, be it John Dear tractor-enthusiasts or underwater basket weavers anonymous, no one has ever told someone else they shouldn’t be allowed to participate because they don’t spend as much time on it as others. Even if, and I stress IF, your hobby requires some sort of time commitment, the sort of anger I see in these communities would not be expressed.

Games have always been about enjoyment to me, not challenge. I am, apparently, alone in this feeling.

This will likely be my last post until I move my blog to a new service. Blogger has a "new interface" that is absolutely abysmal. Much like I left gmail, I now, too, leave blogger.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More fun examinations of history

Last week, I talked a little bit about Copernicus, and how the way his is taught in school today is heavily misleading. Today, we're going to look at Galileo.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same

As many of my loyal readers(E.G. no one, ever) are aware, I am an avid student of history. The more deeply I dig into the past, well, the more I realize that nothing has really changed in 5,000 years of recorded history.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Small details

So in working on my wiki recently, I have made note of some small, deliberate details of my writing, and I thought I'd share a few of them here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The somewhat shaky return!

After abandoning this log for going on six months, I’ve decided to come back to it, we’ll see how long this lasts.

I’ve been focusing much more on world-design as of late, creating the kind of detailed background only scene in IPs with dozens of contributors. This is of course in line with my goals, which is to create a world on par with major brands(Star Wars, Star Trek, etc) while firmly establishing all of the rules and boundaries myself. When and if others are allowed to contribute, they will be forced, by the existence of my extensive groundwork, to follow my designs.

Of late, I find myself fascinated by the Kami, one of the more enigmatic races from my Course Books. They served as the enemies during the imaginatively named Kamian Succession Wars and are, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, here, basically space-nazis. But the fascinating challenge, here, is to explain why.

Of course my regular readers(E.G. nobody) are aware that I am quite the student of history. By that, I mean I read a lot. I don’t know that much, but I am an avid scholar, and this is because I seek to understand why things happened.

Not all that long ago, I found myself reading through the biography of Albert Speer, who is often reffered to as "Hitler's Architect", and was the youngest member of Hitler's cabinet during WWII. This was while I was, for reasons I cannot fully grasp, trying to learn about Spandau Prison and more specifically Rudolf Hess(who, it is vital to note, was bat-crap crazy). 

Getting inside the mind of someone like Speer, trying to understand what he did, and why, is a fascinating challenge, but more importantly: its a window into a world we can only peek through. What happened in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s that allowed WWII and the holocaust to happen?

While I still haven't fully figured that part out, its the study that is really more important. Isaac Azimov said that Science Fiction is an existential metaphor, which allows us to tell stories about the human condition. In writing about the Kami(who are, in fact, not human), their culture, their values, I'm learning more about the sort of climate that has made so much of our history happen.

Most recently, I spent quite a bit of time on JAL 667 and it's lost civilization, which was entirely too much fun to write about. The whole use of the wiki is of great value in my thought-processes. While creating JAL 667(its a planet, in case you don't click links) I added the Denehi System, which is a major population center despite having never been mentioned in the Course Books.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My review of Wing Commander

Most of you are probably not familiar with this one, coming out in 1999 and not having been too popular, well its probably not that well known here in 2012. It got pretty unfavorable reviews, so I thought I’d take another crack at it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And we are back! Not that anyone actually missed me, but I took a bit of a hiatus for the month of December.