I'm about to get a little personal and possibly make some people slightly uncomfortable in the process so let's get this thing started off right.
It's a phenomena trolling is. Something that those who do it seem to enjoy immensely while those who observe it range from being deeply annoyed to rather disturbed. I've always sat on the rather disturbed side of things personally.
See I experienced my first troll sighting here at these very forums at MMORPG.com. Prior to that moment there were only conversationalists and flamers (yeaaaahhhh dig deep into your urban dictionary for the latter of those two terms), and even then the flamers were just conversationalists who, for whatever reason, had gotten really upset. And I mean REALLY upset.
This is the point when I feel compelled to link up any number of flame wars that I have witnessed both here on this site, and on others. But instead of doing that, because I believe that doing so would simply give the potential trolls who might stumble upon this humble blog, more ideas to use while out there in these internets causing havok, I will not. Instead then, I will simply mention who I believe is one of the grandfathers of all internet flame wars....
...and allow you to google his name and what has been going on with him and....
....for the last 30 years or so. This is so that you can truly understand what happens when a disagreement spins completely out of control into chaos. And equally understand what a real "Flame War" can turn into.
And let's be clear about this, for all you new born's who believe that everything that happened prior to your becoming aware is ancient history, Derek Smart is still alive and well and was having some messed up discussion over on Steam as few as a couple of months ago! So I wouldn't go commenting too much on anything unless you want him up your arse too.
Moving on however. The flame war, although most likely the impetus of the internet troll, did not start out as an intentional attempt to drag someone into a heated discussion but was more so an unintended circumstance of two or more highly strung participants falling into a disagreement regarding a topic that all parties involved felt they knew more about.
Internet trolling is something completely different.
It is the intentional provocation of one or more parties in the name of dragging them into a heated discussion regarding a topic that all parties involved feel they know more about than the original poster.
Can you see the difference?
One might ask then, "Why would someone intentionally try to drag someone into an argument?"
The answers being many and varied but also able to be summed up by a single name. A name, coincidentally, that can be linked, in your google search, directly to the previous name that I gave you. That name being.....
Bill Huffman has been called everything from a celebrity stalker to an all out crazy person, and I'm not even going to lie. Right now, at this very moment, the invocation of these two names in the same forum is something akin to saying Voldemort out loud in a Harry Potter movie.
I shit you not.
I am going to go ahead and keep writing however because, in order to really understand the internet troll, you have to be able to understand what happened, and has been happening for years between these two men and their followers. That's right, I said "followers".
Of course I'm not going to go into the particulars. You can discover all of that stuff on your own. Plus, I don't want either of them coming after me and so, short of mentioning their names, which in and of itself is bad enough, I am not going to take any sides or relay any information pertaining to their long winded, and much applauded feud.
Instead, I'm going to go into the consequences of said feud, intended or otherwise, in order to demonstrate to you the exact nature of this thing that we otherwise attribute to a couple of dumb kids clamoring for attention on the internet.
See, prior to now, unless you are really, really deep into the gamer/internet community, you probably have never even heard of Battle Cruiser 3000ad.
That's because it is a fairly old IP that has been recently revamped and re-released as Universal Combat.
What you may have heard of however is this one game developer (Mr. Smart) who, if you give his game a poor review, may do a variety of things to show you his distaste in your opinion. Or you might hear of a another guy (Mr. Huffman), who might stalk your IP address, send strange kids after your personal information, and possibly follow you around the internet harassing your every statement.
Now I'm not saying that any of this stuff is true (haha). All I am saying is that if you type the title of either one of these games into the internet, or likewise type the names of either of those two gentlemen into the internet, the title will bring you around to the names, and thus the flame war, or the names will bring you around to the title, and thus the flame war, or the flame war will bring you around to the names and/or the title.
An unintended circumstance, possibly, but not one that has gone unnoticed by a few fairly savvy marketers.
You see, just the mention of Mr. Smart or Mr. Huffman is, because of the nature of their relationship, worth a certain amount of hits. Likewise certain statements, because of their inflammatory nature, have equal value in their number of hits as well. This is because this is the nature of the troll. To intentionally drag one into a conversation. The consequences of which, be they intended or otherwise, to draw attention to a thing that might have otherwise not drawn attention to itself. Advanced trolls can even elicit certain responses if they want to. So if a troll wants you to like a thing they will hate on it. Or if they want you to hate on a thing they might fanboy it. Heck, the term "fanboy" is an internet troll term!
And so now the light bulb switches on inside your head.
"Jesad! Do you mean to tell me that hidden within all of those idiots. Within all of those asshat's that I hear and see every day, within all of these bigots and homophobe's, all these Obama haters, and deviants, that there might be some hidden marketing genius who is intentionally saying bad things about his very employer in the name of provoking me into saying positive things that I might not have otherwise said without provocation?"
Well, in the name of not being completely paranoid and schizophrenic I am just going to respond this way.
"You don't hear a lot of trolls talking about how great a game is do you? That is, unless it is to compare said game to a game that you KNOW is much more beloved than the game in question. Such as the term "WOW Killer"."
Likewise, an easy way to spot a trolls agenda is to simply think about what response it invoked out of you. Did you feel like you wanted to log out of that game and go away forever? Did you feel like you just had to open your wallet and spend more money in the cash shop or risk falling dreadfully behind? Did you feel like you wanted to prove to that idiot who said that the game was dying that it really wasn't? Or did you feel like telling your kids that this particular game was not the one for you and your family and log off never to return? See, the marketing troll always has an agenda whereas the asshat troll generally does not.
Sure, the asshat's are still there. The asshat's are definitely out there. I just had a personal friend do it the other day and then, and get this, say to me with a chuckle "Did you see what I did there?" And yes, I did chuckle back, all the while envisioning this kid (pictured below) but saying nothing. Because I know that the asshat's are still out there.
This is what makes the marketing troll all that more devious though. Because what they do is such a thing that, to an asshat, it is contagious. It becomes hard to know which thing you are looking at then when you see it. But when you see the weird stuff. The stuff that you just know is over the top. The troll that navigates their way all the way to a page that most fan's don't get to, just to say how little interest the game has or how the game is dying; when you see that same guy or girl on the game every day linking up items that make you feel as though you have to spend more money, or that guy or girl who seems to come into the game EVERY DAY to shout the same obscenity, or racial or homophobic or otherwise totally inappropriate comment, there is a good chance that what you are actually witnessing is an attempt to attract or repel players to or from that game.
You will know this because of the response that the person is trying to elicit from you.
You will know this because of the frequency in which the person attempts to elicit this response. (Sometimes seeming as though the only reason that they came to that place or logged into that game on that day was to elicit responses.)
You will know because of the outcome of their actions. (Either generating positive or negative effects for the string/game, whatever)
And most importantly you will know because you will know that NORMAL PEOPLE DON'T ACT LIKE THAT!
With this knowledge in hand then, you can now enjoy, like I do, trying to figure out which thing they are up to instead of feeding into, i.e. "feeding" their behavior.
Hence the term...
(Special thanks to Derek Smart, Bill Huffman, Tim Thomas (who provided the troll link) and Zach Cumer for their existence as it related to this blog entry.)
And now, as is my customary fashion to do after I have written something that I really don't know if I want to post or not. I am going to let this puppy fly and hope that you understand.
Because, in my understanding, there are some really smart people out there doing some really devious stuff. And so there has to be some similarly smart people out there counteracting some of that if for no other reason than to make sure that everyone doesn't all go to one side of things.
In Geek Speak that's called being Chaotic Neutral.
And no, the fact that the very subject matter of this topic is, in its own way, a troll does not escape me.
It's a crazy world out there. That's why I will...
See you in the games!
I'm on my grind. Every day I'm hustling.
Right now it's all about work, sleep, life, and the MMORPG.
See I'm that certain kind of MMORPG player. For me the game and life has become one and the same. I go to work, I do what needs to be done to maintain my forward pace, then I go home and spend the next several hours doing the exact same thing in the game. When I get up from the game I start grinding at life. And then it's rinse, which means passing out for the night, and repeat.
I even grind at sleeping, making sure I get the exact amount that I need every day. Every aspect of my life has become an exercise in focus and consistency. This is what playing MMORPG's for so long has turned me into.
These whales try to make me feel bad but I don't feel bad. Quested armor, quested weapons, crafted gear waiting to be completed. When it's time to build a house, I build my own damn house. When I go to the market I go there to sell, not to buy. I'm on my grind, and that means that every day I'm hustling.
These ho's try to talk to me. Loot ho's, information ho's, gear ho's, ho ho's. But I can't talk to these ho's. I'm too busy grinding. And you know they're ho's too because when you were the newbie, when you weren't anyone that anyone else ever paid attention to, neither did they. There were no random tells, not "Hi! What are you doing?" No invites to go here or there, no requests for advice. No plots, no plans. Nothing to make you wonder why the F#%@! does this person keep talking to me?
But now I'm out on the front lines. Now I'm involved in every event. They see me rolling and they're hating. And all of a sudden I'm a superstar. But I don't have time for all of that. See, I'm on my grind. I keep it polite, chit chat a little, but as soon as that crap goes beyond four or five tells I'm gone. My hope is to invoke an image to the chattie little Cathy's of me glazing over as they speak. Maybe then they'll learn some manners. Who has time to type all day anyway when there is so much to do.
Same thing at work. Same thing in the game. Same thing in life.
In life it's about the wife. About the kids. About family. It's about keeping this game and this job from causing me to become a disgusting fat ass. It's about exercise. It's about maintenance. Lawn needs to be cut. Snow needs to be shoveled. Car needs to be washed. Things need to be fixed. Kids need to be looked after. Ass needs to be hit. I'm on my grind. Same thing in life as in work as in the MMORPG.
These ho's still try to talk to me. Work ho's, life ho's. They show me pictures of their new bikini's at work. Pictures of their nude bodies through my email at my home. They call me for rides here and there, ask me if they can borrow things. My money, my car, my beds. I actually find it all quite amazing. Pictures of all kinds of nasty things that they think I want. Ideas about all kinds of stupid stuff they think I need. I'm on my grind. I ain't got time for that Sh(#$. I need the money, I need the gear, I want the people who are important to me to be happy, and most of all, I need sleep. No time for ho's in that equation. No time for all kinds of nasty Sh(#$.
But see its because I'm on the front lines now. House in effect, cars in effect, bills paid, wife looking good, kids all educated and whatnot. Back when I was a broke joke no one called me. Nobody asked if they could stay in my house. Nobody even wanted to come to my house. No one wanted to borrow my car, nobody wanted a ride. See I didn't have anything they wanted, and so I didn't mean anything to them.
Same in the game as in life. Same in life as in work. I'm on my grind. And every day I'm hustling.
Whales are talking about phat sh(#$ as I make my way to my job. Things that they purchased to make them seem like they are better than they are. I don't hate. If I had it like that I might have done things the same way. But I didn't have it like that. And so I had to learn how to grind.
I grind like a freaking gold farmer who gets to keep all of his gold. I grind like a coal miner who gets to keep all of his coal. I grind like a heavyweight boxer who knows that he's gonna have to knock a MF out. I grind at work, I grind at home, I grind in the game, than I pass the F*#$ out.
I'm on my grind. Every day I'm hustling. I'm that certain kind of MMORPG player. For me the game and life have become one and the same. See I don't just want to be good at the MMORPG or good at making money, or good at being part of a family. I want it all. I want to be the king of all I survey.
And so I grind. And I hustle my ass off every day.
See you in the games.
Warning!! If you don't want to wreck your weekend gaming DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT perform the March Update for Windows 8.1.
Currently it is hit or miss whether this update works or takes your PC completely out of service. For whatever reason it seems like the tech pages haven't caught on to this yet, maybe because none of them can get online with their Windows 8.1 machines, but the Microsoft Community Forums are full of users making their way there in any attempt to solve the error.
Some of the symtoms are .....
Sound drivers fail following the update.
One Drive no longer initializes
AVG causes the restore not to work properly.
It's almost as bad as if Microsoft had simply sent everyone a virus.
And I'm not even going to mention the unintended consequence that Windows 10 is now up for free download and testing for anyone who is frustrated enough with this patch to go and get it......oh wait.
Anyway, you have been warned. DO NOT install that update until they get something more stable for you to work with.
This has been a public service announcement.
See you in the games.....oh wait....MY RIG IS MESSED UP!!
Have you ever wished that you could have your very own action figure based on a character that you had played in an MMORPG? Well that dream might be just around the corner with the advances now being made in 3D printing technology. Observe the ZPrinter 650 3D Color Printer by ZCORP.
Now imagine a game like DC Universe Online, the latest iteration of Everquest, Champions Online, APB, World of Warcrat, or any of the many other varieties of well loved, highly artistic, highly visually configurable MMORPG's on the market interfacing their already existing character creation engines with the 3D modelling and printing abilities of this awesome machine.
What you would have is the ability to take a snapshot of your favorite character, or characters, at any given point in time and transform that character, their current gear, their face, relative height, weight, and all of the other goodies that you put into them when you created and played them, into your very own, for keeps, action figure.
You could even have the name that you chose, providing it didn't infringe on any copyrights or naming rules, imprinted (like a tramp stamp) on the lower back of the character along with the date, and your own name (just like the action figures in the store) so that you could always remember the time when you were a warrior, mage, superhero, troll, tank, starship or even pod in your favorite MMORPG of all time.
This is a vision that I have of the future. I am putting it here to see just how many hits it might accumulate from the title alone in hopes that those who have the power to bring this concept to life might see how much genuine interest there would be in an idea like this.
In my understanding it could be a very neat, possibly lucrative, addition to any game that could figure out how to make it profitable.
Now back to Archeage.
See you in the games.
So the question of the day is....
"How many gamers does it take to change a lightbulb?"
I searched the internet to find out just how many answers there were out there to this question. The results below are some of the funniest. Special note: these are not my punchlines. Credit has been given below each page where the punchline was found. And so with further ado...
How many gamers does it take to change a lightbulb?
"600. 1 to change it. The other 599 can't stop complaining how the other one was better."
"None. When one gamer finally finds one that he likes, the others will convince him it's broken."
"Only one, though four to six is optimal in order to properly balance the challenge rating."
"Man lightbulbs have been so Nerfed..."
"I'd go with five. One who notices it and complains about it but is too lazy to change it, another to actually do the deed, and then finally the last three to ask the second guy to get them drinks while he's up."
"Just one. And if you argue with me you can just find yourself a new guild!" (adjusted from DM for the purpose of additional humor)
"Only one. Because if two or more gamers are involved, they'll start to argue (about how to do it, what kind of lightbulb they should use, how in days past lightbulbs where oh so much better, who's the greater authority on lightbulbs, who's the most experienced, etc.), and won't get the job done."
"ALL of them! NEVER split the party!"
"A hundred thousand and one. One changes the lightbulb. The other hundred thousand go online on forums to complain how the light is now ruined forever."
"One, but they need to do the same 5 side-quests at least 5 times each to unlock access to the lightbulb, the socket, a ladder..."
"Unless you're using some kind of strategy guide, you'll never know there WAS a lightbulb changing quest."
"Just one, but it takes him hours to manage his inventory."
"Three, one to get confused because the light he bought doesn't work in his socket, another to be condescending, and a third to explain that his socket isn't good enough for the lights voltage."
(Note: I can not vouch for the originality of the following upper section as this "How many forum members does it take to change a lightbulb?" string has been heavily shared across several different forums in the past including the one here at MMORPG.com."
"1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed
14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently
7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs
1 to move it to the Lighting section
2 to argue then move it to the Electricals section
7 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs
5 to flame the spell checkers
3 to correct spelling/grammar flames
6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ... another 6 to condemn those 6 as stupid
2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"
15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct
19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a lightbulb forum
11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum
36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty
7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs
4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's
3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group
13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"
5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy
4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
13 to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again."
(The following however is a conversation that broke out on the same page as the responses posted above. Each statement was made by a different person in the string and they are all original and indicative of the kind of comedy gold that can only happen on an internet forum.)
"Guys, stay on topic please and settle down on the personal attacks. If you want to be idiots, there are plenty of other forums who would love to have you. Idiots."
"He's right. Besides, while y'all are in here talking sh*t about lightbulbs, I'm out having a real life and getting laid."
"lol right ur prolly a 13 y/o v-card lmao looser. unlike U my gf iz hawt and we have SEX like four time a day I know all about that stuff lol so dont tell me abbout it lolmao"
"Oh sure, joke about laht bubs and those that risk life and limb to change them, I hope it makes you feel better about yourself. I supposed you'd all rather curse the darkness. dorks. I'm outtie!"
"I have an announcement.
Some of the members of this site have become increasingly aware of a... change in the maturity and intelligence of the members on this site. While we once enjoyed interesting, informative and grammatically correct posts from our peers, the site has become increasingly flooded with.. well, just see above.
It is with much excitement then, that I announce GamersWithElectricalLighting - a new site, a site designed to provide a home for the more mature posters around here. You can check us out at gamerswithelectricallighting.com. Hope to see (some) of you all soon!"
"I'm not sure I appreciate your tone, are you calling me a racist?"
And finally, an actual gamer/blogger who wrote an actual blog about changing lightbulbs.
I didn't feel like writing tonight. My wife is running me hard and my game is putting me away wet, but I did feel like laughing and so I hope that some of this stuff made you laugh too.
See you in the games.
It's as old as anything you know. Probably the first social game you ever played. That's right I'm talking about "Role Playing."
What? You think that you're too cool to role play? Your DAD role played. Your GRAND-DAD role played.
Your Mom role played, and yes, even your Grand-Ma probably did a little roleplaying, as much as you'd like to believe that she didn't.
Role Playing is part of the human experience.
When I was a kid there was this thing called "The Action Figure".
The action figure was basically a doll for boys. But in the politically incorrect world of the 70's where women were only just then burning their bra's and shaking off the old "barefoot in the kitchen" schtick, it was still pretty uncool to refer to anything that a boy played with as a "doll" as only girls played with dolls.
So Barbie was an 11.5 inch plastic doll made to look like the mans version of every girls fantasy figure, (i.e. everything from Grace Kelly to Linda Evans, depending on when you were checking).
While G.I. Joe was a full 12 inches tall (cause boys dolls had to get that extra inch, even over Ken), and modeled after.....well.....who in the world knows? Some military dude (i.e. a man's version of a man).
Whatever the case thees dolls, both Barbie and G.I. Joe, and yes Ken too for those of you who liked to play with Ken, were pretty much instruments of imagination. Where Barbie came with a million and one different outfits, cars, houses, swimming pools, and even her own personal boy toy, G.I. Joe came with articulated movement, a jeep, guns, and who could ever forget the freaking "Kung-Fu Grip?!?"
Our parents would buy us these things and we'd sit around and play with them and make up stories and have them doing everything from skydiving out of windows to having pool parties over at barbies house. Once, me and my brothers even stormed a pool party over at my sisters Barbie house and tried to steal Barbie from Ken via our use of modern military weaponry and advanced tactical maneuvers.
Didn't really go over that well as Ken had a Vette and all, but we did try that. That is a 100% true story.
And all the while, while all of this was going on, there was never one single moment where where anyone felt stupid or out of place or called anyone any names or shunned anyone for just having fun.
Well.....sidebar on that last statement for a minute. There actually WERE times that those things would happen but the people who usually committed those kinds of acts were generally thought of as JERKS.
These jerks usually came in the form of hostile older siblings, neighborhood bullies, abusive parents, and other undesirable types that society back then generally frowned upon. But who cared what they thought anyway right? They weren't part of whatever was going on at that time in most people's childhood. They were just unnecessary and unwanted interruptions to an otherwise fun and entertaining experience.
Who knows why those kinds of people felt the need to rain on everyone else's parade? All we knew, as kids, was that we were having fun pretending to be things that we would never, ever, ever, probably get to be in real life. And that was kind of cool.
Fast forward to the 80's and video games. Sure, sure, I know they were around before then but it wasn't until the 80's that someone actually put one together that was graphically pleasing enough to allow a person to really sink into one and feel as though they were actually inside the world of the game.
I'll go for something like Defender.
Now Defender was no kind of graphical masterpiece in any way, shape, or form. But for the times it was a fast moving side scroller with just enough control and just enough action to really allow the player to get caught up in their ability to stay alive and kill all the aliens before their supply of ships ran out.
When you played Defender, if you played Defender. That Defender ship was YOUR Defender ship.
Sure, you didn't come into the arcade dressed like some kind of star fighter pilot or anything. And Defender didn't require you to act in any particular kind of way either. All it really required you to do was to stay alive while progressively harder and harder levels of aliens attempted to steal your stuff and/or kill you in the process.
None of that mattered though because that game was harsh and it was your ability, your own personal ability, to handle that harshness that set you apart from anyone else who played alongside you. Such was the case of many of the old stand-up arcade games.
It wasn't cowboys and Indians and it wasn't cops and robbers, G.I. Joe, Action Jackson, Evil Knievel, or Barbie either but it was still the basis of a story being told that you got to take a part in and, through your own personal decisions, decided the outcome of, and so when you got a high score you took that feeling with you away from that machine because it was special. It was something that YOU did that defined YOU.
It is now 2014. MMORPG's have been out now for some 15 - 20 years. We are coming up fast on a generation now that these games have been available to play by both children and adults together and yet it seems as though some of the best uses of these monumental tools for the same kind of roleplay that we have enjoyed for most of our lives are being put on the back burner in lieu of chasing after some invisible score that, unlike the games like Defender and Pac Man of old, these games do not provide.
So here's what happens.
You jump into a game that lets you look like this....
Or like this....
Or like this....
And with all of the landscapes that have been created, with all of the backstory that has been supplied, with all of the functionality that has been included, and all of the other people there are to play with, the best thing that you can come up with is.....
"Level 15 Sorc LF Grind Group! PST!!"
And god forbid that the person who responds to your call answers you in any kind of way that might possibly give you the hint that they are trying to be in any kind of character because then your very next thing is going to be something like....
"Level 15 Sorc LF Grind Group PST, No RP please!!!"
But wait, because this isn't finished. Because you will do this and do this and do this until you manage to level completely through whatever game you are playing just to become bored with that game and move on to another game where you will rinse and repeat until you finally bore yourself with the entire genre of games, and then you will come here to MMORPG.COM and post some sad-sack sucks to be me kind of post about how MMO's, which you now affectionately call them without ever having even asked their name, suck now days and how you "might just be burned out" or how "they don't make them like they used to", or how "the developers are catering to yadda, yadda, yadda, not you" or "insert your bitch here" when effectively, you have never actually even PLAYED an MMORPG in your LIFE.
You've played an MMOG and you've played an OG, you even may have played an MMOPG, but you have never once given any effort to playing the entire MMORPG game because somewhere along the line you got it confused with a game where your score actually counts.
And it really doesn't. It really, really, really doesn't.
The best MMORPG there ever was could, at its best, only offer you the ability to get to a place where everyone else was going to get to eventually.....first. So that's the big race. That's the big thing that all of these hundreds of thousands of people are logging on and spending precious life days, often to the exclusion of things that are far more important, working on. To get somewhere that we are all going to get to eventually, first.
In Defender there was a chance that the next person might not ever achieve your high score. Being good at Defender was a skill. There's no freaking skill at being good at an MMORPG. I'm going to repeat this one more time so that you can all hear and understand me.
WE are all going to get to the same place in the game eventually so racing there has little purpose other than to shorten your overall enjoyment of the experience of getting there.
It took me a couple of pretty solid years of playing before I realized this truth and you can pretty much go through my history of posts and see where I was burned out, where I complained, where I got on my high horse, and where I finally accepted the truth, that there is no score to these things and there are no "special" people playing them. There is only a big ole playground full of make believe tools where people can come and play make believe together.
In short. Unless you are taking advantage of the "playing with dolls/dress up/role playing function of these games all you are really doing is cheating yourself out of a good time and heading, full steam, towards a burn out of epic proportions.
The rules are fairly simple.
1. There will most likely always be someone who is better than you no matter how hard you try to be the best.
2. If you happen to be the person who is the best you will be all by yourself because there will be no one else at that top spot who can possibly understand all the sacrifices that it took for you to actually get to that position.
3. Personal satisfaction only lasts as long as you can maintain.
4. Once you stop playing, if you have spent all of your time trying to maintain, you are going to go into a depression because you are going to look back on all of those levels and all of that grinding and all of that time and say to yourself, "What the hell was I thinking?"
Meanwhile all of your friends and family who have spent that same amount of time doing constructive things with their time are going to be fixing up their new houses, spending the money from their new jobs, taking care of their new families, or going out with their new mates.
And even the people who played alongside you that entire time, those damned roleplayers who were never really worth much and who never could stop rerolling characters or could never make it to max level are still going to be playing and having fun because they will have used their MMORPG responsibly and will still have years of time left to enjoy it and the friends that they have made within it, along the way.
I mean at the end of the day what are we really doing here if not playing with dolls right? And who has ever won anything at playing with dolls?
In my understanding then, the proper way to function within these many, many, many, MANY different realms that we have to exist within is to pace yourself, socialize, make friends, try to touch people in a positive way (even if you have to touch them in a negative way to do so, because bad guys have a purpose in a make believe story just like everyone else) and most of all to figure out how to enjoy yourself without it always having to be some form of competition.
Don't get me wrong. To each his own. I understand kids and competition being a social thing and all. But if you are above 25 and still playing that kind of game you might want to consider that there is really not a lot of people left at that age who really care anymore.
So you may as well come hang out where the fun is. Read the lore, develop a personality and interact with people. You never know, you might find out that there is a whole nother way of enjoying these things that you never knew existed (and I don't mean ERP either, although if that's your thing........don't call me LOL).
My follow up to this post is going to be some simple tips on how to role play in an MMORPG without having to feel completely stupid. I hope that I've made some sense here and if I haven't, well, pay me no mind. I just write what I feel at the time.
See you in the games.
You know I've been watching this whole Elder Scrolls Online marketing campaign for a while now and I don't know whether it's been calculated genius, dumb luck, or Deadric influence that has been guiding the decision making of its marketing department. One thing for sure though? Someone has a horseshoe the size of Kansas firmly lodged in their posterior area and they are milking it for all its got.
Subscription vs Free to Play
In a market saturated with so-called "Free to Play" games, these guys come out with a subscription plan game riiiiight around the time that people, present company included, are beginning to notice the lack of true substance in the "Free to Play" model.
The result? Well it could have easily gone either way but so far it seems like quite a few of the quieter denizens of these forums have spoken up in defense of the subscription plan and have put the full girth of their massive, lurkerish, girth behind the subscription plan.
Then there was the weekend beta key giveaway. For a stress test no less. Where they sent a potential of five hundred thousand people towards one web site at pretty much the same time in order to get what they thought would be free beta keys for the upcoming weekend beta.
Of course with the most hardcore of these people got to said website, which was of course way earlier than most. the first thing that they found out was that the first round of these keys were going to be given away to the paid subscribers of said website first. A marketing ploy for Curse.com if ever there was one. And, coincidentally, the perfect place for many ESO subscribers to be in the future when some of the first Add-on's, that I am sure the folks at Curse already have well underway, are released.
THAT shit could have gone either way. It even almost did as a lot of people immediately began to spam how the whole key giveaway was a sham and how Zenimax/Bethesda/ESO was already grabbing for money, etc....
But it didn't.
In fact it worked out fabulously! Curse got a bunch of new subscribers, both paid whales who couldn't wait to test their luck, and patient persons of interest, again like yours truly, who were willing to hang out until the truly free keys were put up for grabs, as well as a bunch of other dummy accounts made in the name of friends that may or may not pan out to end up being actual users of the site. Meanwhile the game itself had a very successful beta weekend, even under the conditions of a stress test, and left players chomping at the bit for the next round, which coincidentally they made us wait for two weeks to get.
(Ed Lover Voice) C'mon Son!! Seriously? Could someone BE that smart to have planned all of that out or is all of this some weird result of Zenimax's QA department all sitting around a dark cubicle praying to Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots?
Member of Zenimax's Marketing Department
No seriously. Roll with me for a minute here. So not only does this Beta weekend turn out great, but it furthermore causes the negative reviews of many members of the press, who were let in earlier and introduced to server that were not nearly as populated as those that were seen by the masses, and who based many of their reviews on the already assaulted "F2P vs Subscription" argument or the "Depth vs Random Idiotic Fun" (otherwise known as the Old School vs the New School) argument, to not only fall on deaf ears, but to actually be raged against by many of the fans that these very people sought to appease by taking these stances. Thus facilitating many reviews and those who had written them as common hacks against the onslaught of overwhelming player opinion which was, for all intents and purposes, positive in regards to the game!!!!
What in the world? No really! What in the freaking world?
But it goes on.
So then we are at the SECOND beta weekend, which comes after a few very well planned thematic releases of PVP battles, keep sieges, and crafting instances, and Wildstar, it's only real till EQ Next comes out next year, a game that looks like World of Warcraft, that is even being created by people who helped create World of Warcraft, who have even lamented publicly in regards to possibly making World of Warcraft "too easy" and who have promised this upcoming title to be more in-depth and challenging for those players of World of Warcraft who are ready for something deeper, is not even getting half the publicity or forum action that the Elder Scrolls Online, a subscription based, first person, complicated, and by many reviews "boring" game is getting.
Of course in the interim time many of the reviewers, faced with the wave of shenanigan calls and so on for having release such limited and biased reviews, have began back-pedalling towards, "Oh, after a second look the game does not seem that bad." But nobody is even listening to them anymore. Other titles, in order to offset the heroin-like jones that has been produced by the previous weekend, are getting a look but nobody is really investing in anything. And the min/maxers, powerlevellers, and roleplayers alike are all releasing so much information that it's almost impossible to even think about anything else.
And then we all hit level 10. Perfectly. On the second weekend.
As if someone had literally sat down and said, "Well, let's see? In three days the average player "might" make it to around level 8 or so. The advanced player might make it to 10 or 11 but they won't really have anyone to play with until the bulk of the server gets to where they are, so by the second weekend we should have a pretty massive army of pvp'ers making their way into Cyrodill and that should be enough to bury the needle MUHAHAHAHA!!! If it hasn't already been buried!!"
And just like that, that is exactly what happens.
For every person who got a beta key on that first stress test weekend, a buddy key is offered. Word of mouth is now into play and the newbie zones have been made "optional" for those who have studied the variety of build charts, racial benefits, and spell descriptions that have been made public and want to return to the lands of Nirn "born again hard."
Crafting instances are discovered. PVP is discovered on a mass server basis. And all of a sudden it is no longer about IF people are going to play the game but WHEN people will be able to play the game again.
And that's where we come to the real crazy part of this entire tale. The Pre-Order Package.
See, when I first got news of the pre-order package, being the all around geek type that I am, I couldn't help but notice that the day of release was weirdly coincidental to the day that another heavily anticipated geek production was also due to be release.
Captain America - The Winter Soldier, looks like its going to be as good a Marvel film production as any of its predecessors. Even more so because of appearances by such cult heroes as The Falcon, and crazy plot twist villains such as The Winter Soldier himself.
Now you would think that a solid marketing guy would look into what else was going to happen on the day that the game he was promoting was going to release. I mean, who would release a geek, cult, phenomenon such as "Curling - The Video Game" on the same day as they knew the nationwide "Ugly Cardigan Convention" was going to take place?
That just doesn't make sense.........Unless.
Unless there is an option to do one or the other one of those things a couple of days early, such as the early entry feature of the pre-order package of The Elder Scrolls Online.
That's right kids! If you pre-order ESO now, you will not only get to play the game, but you will get to play it early enough to also see Captain America - The Winter Soldier when it opens without fear of falling behind your various non-pre-ordering friends!!
I got five words for how crazy that all works out in Zenimax's favor. GTFOH!!
And so it all comes down to the simple question of, what will you be doing on April 4th? Will you be going to see the kickassed new Captain America Movie? Will you be playing Elder Scrolls Online? Or will you be doing both?
I am sure that there are those of you out there who are going to pick neither, or have something snappy to say in response to this whole web of conspiracy that I have just woven, but that's ok, no one believes you anyway. The Deadric Princes have seen to it!
At least that is how it seems in my understanding.
I come up with the dumbest things sometimes. So here goes.
Assertion - If Socrates worked for the MMORPG industry he would have been a marketer.
Proof - I submit to you the Allegory of the Cave.
To make a very long story short. Socrates believed that in the perfect state the enlightened person was duty bound to enlighten others.
In his "Allegory of the Cave" he tells the story of a person, formerly of a group of people who have been held captive for their entire lives in a cave facing a wall upon which only shadows had been cast, being released and taken up into the real world and shown the reality of things.
In his story Socrates states that it would be preferable to the master of said individual, if the goal of the master was to have a perfect situation where he could rule over a smarter class of captive, to have this released captive return to his fellow captives, whether he liked it or not, whether it was safe to or not, and enlighten those other captives with the knowledge that he, the primary captive, had been enlightened with.
That was kinda deep huh? Yeah, ole Socks was like that.
My question though is how would that theory assure me dominance in a situation where my ability to learn is the only thing that sets me apart from everyone else?
You get where I'm going with this yet?
See, in an MMORPG it is usually the smartest guy who gets to be the most powerful.
Sure, sure, there are legions of folks who, upon being enlightened by the smarter guys, will be able to see a lot of things. But at the end of the day, all things being equal, at the very best they are only following.
It is true in every game you play. There are people who get into the game and figure things out and then there are people who, 5 minutes after installing the game onto their machine (if they even wait that long), immediately rush to the very first website they can find and look up the best way to get things done, these so-called "best ways" usually having been written by the exact same guys who figured them out. Namely QA testers, Developers, Beta Testers, and of course Marketers.
Why then, among all of these different roles would I apply the role of Marketer to Socrates then?
Here's why. Because of all of the other titles, QA tester, Developer, Beta Tester, and Marketer, only the marketer has a vested interest in making sure that the folks who aren't smart enough to recognize what a great product the game that said marketer is marketing is. The QA tester gets paid whether the game does well or fails. Of course if the game fails they may not continue to get paid, but most QA testers are nowhere near as involved with the future to be thinking this deeply from day to day as they are, a lot of the time, in caves of their own waiting for someone to come and enlighten them.
No, the QA tester will instead take the knowledge that they have gleaned from their exposure to the sun and use that to "own" people or build great empires within the games that they have tested. That is if they can even stand to look at the thing for one more second after it is released. More often than not though the QA tester will just be happy that said game is out the door and that they will get to look at something new for the next 6 months to a year of their lives, even if that new thing is just an update to the old thing.
So no. Socrates allegory of the cave does not fit the QA tester.
The developer. Well yes, he has a vested interest in enlightening people to how cool his or her game is. But they aren't going to do anything about it. I mean come on, even God has Angels and Prophets and stuff right? Who has time to create the world and sell it too?
No, Developers spend more of their time doing the exact opposite of enlightening people to how cool their game is. See, Developers are on some whole different kind of stuff. Where they know that the more you know about their game equates to the less time you will put into figuring out there game. So instead of hipping you to the ins and out of how to play the game, which in turn might show you how cool and in-depth the game really is, the developer spends most of their time breaking the things that the enlightened person has enlightened you with, thus facilitating the captivity of all audiences both enlightened and those still sitting in the dark.
The Beta-Tester comes closest but not so much because they are vested but more because Beta-Testers love to show other Beta-Testers how much smarter they are than the other.
In this way the Beta-Tester becomes the "tool" of the marketer by disseminating the information put forth by said marketer much in the way that the guy who used to be chained to his friends in the basement comes back down and tells those same friends how messed up it is that they have been chained up in the basement this whole time.
The test of this truth relating directly to how the Beta-Tester is received when attempting to tell his fellow captives .....I mean Beta-Testers that the game is cool in spite of said fellow beta testers own assertions, because they do not understand the game, that the game sucks.
In the Allegory of the cave the captives decide, because the guy who comes back down to enlighten them, because his eyes are no longer adjusted to the darkness of the cave, can no longer name the shadows on the wall that they have all been looking at for their entire lives, that the guy has somehow been weakened by his trip to the surface, and not only choose to ignore his enlightening words, but actually get pretty nasty about the whole thing and threaten to put to death anyone who attempts to untie another captive and subject them to such a fate.
So no, Socrates would not be a Beta - Tester.
A marketer though! A marketer has a vested interest in making sure that everyone, smart, dumb, old, young, male, female, whoever, thinks that their game is the best thing since ......well since sliced bread!
You thought I was gonna say WOW didn't you? Gotcha!
The marketer then has the task of taking any information that might have been bled down from development or discovered by QA or the Beta -Tester and making sure that EVERYONE knows it!
The marketer does not care if this means that the Beta-Tester or that one or two highly disturbed QA testers won't be able to get a jump on the rest of the players on opening day because the marketer probably isn't even going to PLAY that game.
Long after the dissemination of every bit of information that would have made the game a mystery to behold has been leaked, put out via manipulation, interviewed out of developers, or just plain outright released in Adobe.PDF format for mass consumption, the marketer will still be marketing some other game, while the entire population of the game in question will still be struggling to find some form of differentiation in a world where everyone starts out, plays through, and ends up equal.
This is the purpose of the Marketer much like it was the purpose behind Socrates insistence that those who had been brought up from the cave and shown the light be made to return to that cave, even under the threat of death, to enlighten others because that's how they would be more willing to remain the poor slaves of a rich master instead of having to return to the life of a captive in a cave full of shadows.
And that's what you call your e-peen. It is the badge of honor that you wear that proves that, even though you are still a total MMORPG addict in some way, shape, or form, you at least know your stuff and can stand among other MMORPG addicts and hold a conversation.
And all that is because Socrates is all up in your body like Scotty back when Scotty was just a Star Trek based name for a drug.
So in conclusion.
I believe that if Socrates worked for the MMORPG industry he would have been a marketer. I believe that I have proven this fact by A. Presenting a belief of Socrates, in his own words, that reinforces this fact. B. By elaborating on the ways in which I feel this belief reinforces that fact. C. By demonstrating how this belief does not apply to other members of the MMORPG industry. And finally by D. Proving that, in the end, much like the Philosopher Kings of Plato's Republic, it is the marketer, not the publisher, who gets to laugh all the way to the bank while all of the others operate at some level of investment and/or risk.
At least, that is how it is in my understanding.
(Man, what in the world is this dude's problem? /pointing at self)
See you in the games.
I get inspired by the silliest things sometimes.
This week it was Neverwinter.
Do you want to talk about a fun game? Man I am having a BALL in this thing right now.
Of course, I am at the beginning. My first two characters, my first quests, my first experiences. But wow, what a well put together, completely polished, fun game!
So I am playing this thing and I am thinking. "This would be a cool game to play like real Pen and Paper D&D." A group of people could decide to only play when the entire group was online, they could choose a leader, a DM so to speak, and they could let that leader guide them through the hundreds of different quests that the game has to offer.
Playing by session, in this fashion, would allow for all kinds of relationships to form, adventures to take place, and experiences to be had on each characters way towards max level.
Restraining the gameplay also would help make the game more entertaining each time and allow for the chosen "DM" to provide his or her group with their own, tailor made, experience much like in a Pen and Paper session.
I go on tangents like this in my mind all the time. And then I come to the forums and remember why a lot of this would never work.
Epiphany!!! The relationship between the MMORPG and the average MMORPG player is very similar to the relationship between two people. Both can be deep and meaningful experiences when handled a certain way, but more often than not, both end up being something that is raced through intensely for about 6 months and then complained about until the breakup occurs.
It's like that joke about the Two Bulls.
One day two bulls were standing on a hillside overlooking a field full of cows.
The young bull said to the older one, "Hey! Let's run down this hill and screw one of those cows!!!"
The older bull said to the younger bull, "I'd rather walk down and screw em ALL."
Now I know that I have bordered on being preachy on this blog about enjoying the ride. In fact, it has been an overall theme in one way or another since its very inception. But you can't help but know that what I have been saying is true by now. That the major thing that messes up our MMORPG experience is the way in which we decide to play our MMORPG's.
Back to Neverwinter though. So yeah, I was thinking, that would be a great way to play that game. It would make every drop that much more important. Every quest that much more important. And the people that you play with that much more important.
So I figured that I would just throw that out there in case people wanted to experiment. I've never been one for caring about responses but if anyone does try to play this game in this way I would love to know how it turned out.
I have no understanding of what I have just written about and so I have no catchy "In my understanding" closing line.
I do hope that you have fun though. And I will see you in the games.