Although I have been blogging/keeping a tour diary for quite a few years, and podcasting for the last 2 and a half or so, the whole hobby kicked into high gear when I decided to start my "Immersion Project". Essentially, it was a set of rules to play by that limited certain forms of chat, and made me and my character slow down. I printed out paper maps, for example, and could only use those in real life to get around (and no in-game map, which I disabled.)
It changed the way I play, permanently. The first thing I do in any game is to remove all information that is a luxury: the mini-map, the quest tracker. To me, as soon as you log into most MMO's you are pummeled with too much information that is easily accessible with a single button. The idea is to get your screen as empty as possible, and to use as much of the NPC's information and layout of the land as you can. Now, I know where everything is in Telon, at least enough to get around in most areas, and this is due mostly to using the map and the landmarks of the game.
But after my main character died (thanks to an experimental perma-death rule that made me delete him and all his items) I took some time off Vanguard. I was writing a lot, anyway, and started to cover other games. Then, more recently, I started to write for www.ablegamers.com, a website for disabled gamers. Through them I have been able to meet major developers, and have been able to cover the biggest and best games with the hopes of increasing accessibility in most MMO's. (I am going to be reviewing Vanguard for the site soon.)
I played browser games, and pretty much every single F2P game I could get my hands on. I still love most of those games, but I missed playing VG.
So, I re-subbed for the first time in months.
Now, this happened after a huge binge of browser based games, amazing ones like Fusion Fall and Faunasphere, and after I finally stepped up to 2005 and bought Oblivion for the 360. As I played Oblivion, I noticed how the world felt similar to Telon, namely when I would be doing the a very specific thing: riding my horse, on a stone road, at night. The sound, the look of the stones at night, the grand layout of the hills and water, all reminded me of traveling through Telon.
So, as soon as I played Vanguard on my newly re-born main, I felt like I had stepped into "Oblivion Online."
It was a nice feeling, and I am glad I did it.
So, I need to re-tweek my Immersion Rules. Every so often I do that, I adapt them to a new schedule or new idea. I decided to write an "add-on", though, and even though it had been over-done now-a-days, I want to include a "rule-set" concerning vampires. Now look, I am not into that whole vamp thing, with the silly switchblade teeth and long haired guys with goatees, or the "they move really fast" type thing. All this new Vampire stuff is plain silly, and presents vampires as though they are leather-wearing, industrial music loving, mid-90's d-bags that have their canines WHERE CANINES ARE NOT.
The Rules, tweeked:
1) Only certain forms of travel allowed. No instant travel to homes or home areas. I do not use riftways. Only horsey, boat or walking.
2) Only realistic forms of chat, such as /say channel, /shout channel and letters. (Unless the game explains it, like a sci-fi game. The idea here is to use “old school” forms of communication. ) The chat channel covers this, with some flexibility. If I am asked by a newbie some random OOC question, I won’t ignore him/her. But, I rarely if ever poke my nose into the main chat. My tab is only set on /shout or /say. I usually set a /tell response message that says I am playing that way.
3) Only allow a recall a limited amount of times per month. I will only allow one recall to one place once a week. (Recall meaning instant travel to guild house/house/home point.) I use this sparingly anyway. If I find out I have mail, I will usually go home the old fashioned slow way.This recall usage is to allow for something like being late to a role-play event, or to a in-game meeting. Once, I had to get to the beginning of an event to cover it for the blog, and I used a recall to get there faster.
4) Use “role-play” speech. Not thus and thou’s, but try to avoid “this reality (Hang on, my cell phone is ringing)" speech and references. Try to stay in character. I do this, save for someone like Faeran or any other person that knows me in “real life.” Even then, we usually maintain a certain RP stance when others are around. Of course, I RP to strangers/new people, and at events. Not to say that me and my friends do not RP, but that when one needs to ask me about something real-life, we allow it.
5) Realistic trade: your character has to make a living. Trade is the most common, in a “real life” setting. So, with a little adventuring, I will be a trader. Rikoo is a trader, but while he re-learns everything that was lost when he died, he is adventuring. Meanwhile, his alts raise money to buy him a new boat.
6 ) A “home base.” I have to nominate (my home will be the place in some games, or a certain inn in others) a place that will act as my true home. I can only check my mail there, and have to go there or an inn to log out. For now, Rikoo is homeless. He stays in Inns, but his mail comes to Khal.
7) Only use a physical, blank map that needs to be filled out by me, in real life. Use landmarks and the lay of the land to get around. This has proven to be MUCH more difficult than I thought. But FUN! (Some games need to put out BLANK MAPS officially!) If the game explains maps, try and use it minimally to encourage landmark usage and actual (gasp) memorizing of the landscape. I have found my physical map for VG, and use it alot. I love those things.
8 ) MODs: I use no mods in VG, save for taking information away.
9) Weather: If the MMO has a good weather system, or at least a good ENOUGH weather system as well as a good day/night cycle (if the game world has day/night) then there must be realistic limits put on how long a character can adventure without rest. Even heroic characters need rest.
For example, my little Raki ranger in Vanguard is not a hero. He stumbles through fights and barely escapes alive. I will allow him one and a half day’s adventuring MAX before he needs to rest. And to rest he would need to find a campfire, a house, or some other shelter and either physically lay down or at least restrict his movement for at least another cycle of day or night. (Of course, the timing will be tweaked.)
If the weather becomes poor, but is not that bad, my character can adventure like normal, but would need to cut his adventuring time down by half a day. If the weather becomes SEVERE, he (or she!) would need to find shelter or a campfire. He would need to rest there until the weather passes. I am still working on penalties if he cannot find shelter.
I find shelter easily enough in VG. If the storm persists, I sit and eat, or organize my bags. I just chill, like in real life. I have added on that I will, if stuck in a storm, walk instead of run to represent a penalty. I wish there were a mod that would do all this for me.
10) Food: Some MMO’s (like EQ2) will already tell you when your character is hungry and thirsty. I will have to check in most of my current MMO’s but there will be a set amount of time for my character to go before he needs to rest and eat. Possibly after half a day of adventuring would he need to rest and eat a meal. I am still working on this one. WoW has a built in timer for play, so I can set it to ding when I need to eat again. Does anyone know how food can be timed in VG? Buffs will work, but so many of them are so short-lived.
So, what about vampires? I will avoid making rules concerning leather pants, but here is my first attempt:
1) Only go out at night! This one is obvious, and Vanguards days/nights last (from what I believe) about 30 minutes. During my 30 minutes of day, I can craft, sleep or organize.
2) Wear no silver! Lot's of silver items out there, and I will wear none. This does away with a lot of weapons/blades, but I think Rikoo will stop using blades altogether. He doesn't use them ever (he is a ranged Ranger) and although he might miss some of the stats, he has preferences.
3) Vampires need blood! There are blood items in-game, and the "victims" can also be animals. I will look into this one, it sounds fun.
I am looking to add other rules, and I believe there used to be an actual Vampire de-buff/buff that happened in game. We talked about it on an older show, so I might look into that again.
Anyway, I look forward to playing around with more rules. I just keep finding fun in my gaming, and this is no exception!